Hitting the quarter century mark

Hitting the quarter century mark

JCC Rockland to celebrate by thanking community

JCC Rockland is about to begin its 25th year, which coincides with the completion of the 2012 JCC Maccabi Games, hosted for the first time in Rockland County.

And the organization wants to celebrate by tipping its hat to those who made the tremendous undertaking possible.

“We want to thank the community for all their support during the Games,” said Joshua Krakoff, JCC’s chief operating officer. “And we also want to celebrate what the JCC has achieved hand-in-hand with the community.”

On Sunday, Sept. 9, the JCC will get that chance. From 9 a.m. ““ 4 p.m., the JCC will host a party they’re calling JCC Open House & Wellness Fair, and the entire community is invited.

The event will also include children’s activities: petting zoo, prizes, games, arts and crafts, a DJ, a Dave & Busters fun crew, a bounce house, giant slide, carnival booths, sandbox, big outdoor barbeque, and more.

Jewish nonprofits and synagogues will be on hand to hawk their wares and share what they offer with the community. There will be a health and wellness fair with information booths, health experts and fitness classes.

A ceremony at 2 p.m. will honor all those who participated in the Games, including all the JCC employees, volunteers, athletes, coaches, host families, supporters and sponsors.

JCC’s Chief Executive Officer David Kirschtel is looking forward to having the opportunity to publically thank the community for all its help.

“We worked very hard for a couple of years along with so many members of the community and we want to celebrate all that we accomplished together,” he said. “It’s amazing what a community can do when it unites.”

It is hard to know how many people will come, said Krakoff. But the JCC is preparing for anywhere between 500 to 2,500 guests.

Co-chairs Jaymi Profenna and Gwen Rosenzweig have been working on pulling together the event for months now and are excited to see the community’s reaction.

“I’m hopeful that everyone comes and enjoys and appreciates the JCC and continues to participate,” said Profenna. “I want to show the community all that the JCC and Jewish organizations in Rockland offer.”

Profenna first got involved in the JCC when her friend was being honored by the organization. “It kept escalating from there,” she said. “I think it’s so important for children to have these programs and activities where no one is excluded and no one is cut. Everyone gets to participate. It’s really important for kids to see that.”

For Profenna, “it’s going to be a treat to watch the kids and families enjoying the day. That’s what it’s about.”

It is also about taking note of a history of dedication and perseverance.

Today, the JCC, in its 135,000-square-foot campus offers more than 1,500 programs annually. Once a “Y without wall,” the JCC wandered for several before finding a home. Known as the Lower Hudson Valley YM-YWHA, the JCC originally opened in 1988 down the road from its current location on West Nyack Road with the help of a group of local Jewish leaders, a $55,000 grant and the assistance of individuals who agreed to match it.

Over the years, programs expanded from just a drop-off center and teen dances to a wide variety of children, teen and adult offerings.

The organization moved from West Nyack Road to the Highview School in Nanuet, to Executive Park Boulevard in Valley Cottage, to Route 45 in New Hempstead and finally back to West Nyack in 2007, in the current campus building that houses several other Jewish organizations.

It changed names almost as frequently, finally becoming JCC Rockland, or simply, “the J.”

“The JCC started out as a dream of a small group of dedicated people and from that dream, we’ve grown to be a thriving organization,” said Krakoff. “We’ve nurtured the idea those people had years ago and made it real. It is now truly a wonderful Jewish cultural hub.

“We’re excited to continue strong into the next 25 years and beyond,” he said.

For more information call JCC Rockland at (845) 362-4400.