By Brian M. Adler, JCC Development Director / JCC Assistant Director
This time of year always brings about joy, love and an obvious and welcome, reminder that what’s most important is family, friends and the experiences we have together. Don’t get me wrong – the pizza oven my wife bought for me is a pretty awesome Chanukah gift – but the time we spend together over the food we make is what is most important.
The JCC is a place that is near and dear to my heart, for what is now over 25 years. I remember my humble beginnings in the old building in the 3 and 4-year-old classes. Judy Stahl, Lori Spector, Marylee Alperin, Muriel Laverson and Sheila Goodman all played a role in starting me on my Jewish journey at the JCC. Not only did I attend the JCC Camps at Medford as a young child, but I was fortunate to work there as a teenager and serve in a variety of roles. My work at Camp led me back to the Center as the Children’s Program Coordinator at the old J which transitioned into my life’s work here at the Katz JCC.
So, looking back on this year…I don’t need to tell you that it’s been weird, stressful, difficult, a little scary…you all know that, and you’ve experienced it. But as the days of 2020 dwindle into the single digit countdown, I can honestly say that I think I’ve seen more good in it than anything else.
I’ve seen our staff come together when the JCC’s doors were closed, to provide virtual programming and outreach to their communities. I’ve heard about phone calls made to isolated older adults, who needed nothing more than someone calling them to simply ask, “how are you?” (By the way, if you didn’t see the amazing documentary film produced by students from Rowan College at Burlington County about our adult department, you can watch it here).
I’ve watched our JCC Camps at Medford open in a modified way, to offer families a chance to come out and experience a day outdoors at Family Camp, and Summer Fun Days, which plainly and simply, let kids be kids for five weeks. My nephews both cried on the last day, which shows how much Camp means to them.
I was there when our littlest members came back in July to the Sari Isdaner Early Childhood Center, welcomed by our incredible administrators and loving, adoring teachers. Knowing that we were providing such an essential, safe and caring place for people to once again send their children overwhelms me with emotion. Now, hearing the laughter of over 150 children in ECE, seeing them running around on the playground without a care in the world, I’m reminded that this is what we’re all about.
These are just a few examples of how vital the JCC is to this community – I can’t imagine South Jersey without it. This is why, with all these incredible things happening, it’s been difficult because the JCC has faced more financial challenges in this past year than ever before. Our answer to solving this crisis is our Chai Campaign. Inspired by the Hebrew word Chai, which means life, will provide virtual support that ensures the Katz JCC remains a pillar in the community for years to come.
We are so grateful to those of you who have donated thus far, including our lead gift from Tracy and Jeff Brown & Family, who are longtime supporters of the JCC, perhaps most notably, through their support of the JCC’s Sports Award Dinner for over 10 years. Thank you to the Brown Family for your truly selfless gift. Jeff recently shared some thoughts on behalf of his family, “The JCC has been our home away from home since our children have been little. We love everything the Center has offered to our family and are proud to show our strong support this year and always.”
From the bottom of our hearts – we thank you for being a part of our community, we thank you for your support and we thank you for believing in us.