2017-07-19 / Letters

A JCC legacy: The gift that keeps on giving

I am writing this note as happy tears cloud my vision today, because my little grandbaby is carrying out a family legacy we hope will continue for many generations to come. It was 30 years ago that my first born wore her colorful Kindercamp JCC camp shirt—as her bubbly baby boy, Bryce Katz, did today, who arrived today at the Katz JCC in his special camp shirt, backpack marked with his name, and wearing his favorite Mickey Mouse socks.

Bryce began infant care at the JCC only seven months ago because a tradition of Jewish culture accompanied by a loving environment were the drivers of my daughter Dara and husband Jonathan’s choice for daycare. While the JCC’s proximity to home was a gift, it was the opportunity for Bryce to walk the same path as did Dara, Jonathan, and Dara’s brother Cameron—early childhood, Kindercamp, Medford, Chaverim and camp staff. Their greatest childhood memories and lifelong friendships remain intact; borne from their blessings the JCC program provided—safety, educational stimulation, opportunity to create a sense of self and autonomy, friendships, learning the meanings of Rachmanas and Tikkun Olam, and offering a home to root their commitment to Judaism. As a family, we encouraged our children through example to be community volunteers on boards, committees, and at events and fundraisers. And both Dara and Jonathan have traveled that road through their BBYO Advisor roles. I know they too will encourage Bryce to find his “home” at the JCC.

So here we are today, with a spirited, jolly, precious new little JCC “member,” wearing his first camp tee shirt, happily climbing in the Imaginarium, swimming in the JCC pool like a “big kid,” and lovingly hugging his teachers and staff with the sweetest little heart when he arrives each day—the Mayor of the JCC Early Childhood Center. And yet it is bittersweet for me today, as I so acutely recollect my own children’s JCC camp adventures as if it were yesterday, and wonder where the time went. I take pride in the adults my children have become with their strong characters and embedded values. Most of all, the JCC too should accept our gratitude and take pride that a family’s legacy continues because of who and what the JCC represents.

I will happily cry today in the JCC’s honor, with adoration for my children and family, and with an abundance of grandmotherly love that has no boundaries. I am sure at the end of the day when being picked up by his mom or dad; our little Bryce will be adorned with kisses. He will fall asleep on the way home as did his mother years ago when riding the JCC camp bus, from the “exhaustion” that comes from laughing, being protected, and being loved…The gift that keeps on giving.

Shawna Grossman Kates
Cherry Hill

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