2017-11-22 / Columns

Time to celebrate all the great things happening at the JCC

FRONT & CENTER
LES COHEN
Katz JCC Executive Director

Two weeks ago, my office became the “green room” for a series of authors, speakers and entertainers. Thousands of people attended the 8-day Festival of Arts, Books and Culture brought to you by Bank of America and other local supporters.

It is a remarkable accomplishment that we are able to do this each year, and it seems to get better each time. Over 100 volunteers help as we sell books in honor of Jewish Book Month and present a wide array of the finest Jewish authors on the tour. If you were not there, you missed a lot.

I have the special honor to sit and chat with the stars of the evening as they relax in my office.

I have gained great insights through these short conversations and it never ceases to amaze me how Jewish geography rules. There is always someone we know in common or a neighborhood shared growing up. It makes us all feel like we truly know one another. We are known in the world of authors as being a very good house to speak at. We treat our authors well and sell a lot of their books.

The authors enthrall us with tales, make us laugh, and capture our imaginations with their stories.

On Saturday night, Oz Pearlman entertained a capacity crowd with feats that defy description and explanation. He “read our minds” and maybe made some lucky guesses, but he had us all gasping and wondering, “how did he do that.” Of course, he is an entertainer, but our authors had the same impact by drawing us into their stories. It was a great week. Special thanks and recognition to Sabrina Spector and her team and Co-chairs Sharon Green and Lois Bromberg.

That was one week of magic, with a yearlong celebration of the 20th anniversary of this Campus underway.

Seems like yesterday when David Butler and Roger Davis and I would discuss what the new facility would look like. There were so many volunteers and supporters who helped to make this dream come true.

It is a legacy to the strength of this community. At a time when there is such despair among our young people, we all need more opportunities to come together to celebrate.

I’m very pleased to share that the parking project will begin soon and we hope to have a completed auxiliary parking lot by late summer. Meanwhile demolition on the old garage at Camp in Medford has begun. The new Welcome Center includes a sensory room for use by the Open Hearts/Open Doors program and a more efficient setting to meet with parents.

The former camp office will become STEM Village, an unbelievable addition to camp that will teach children to code, problem solve, and construct space-age type projects: Think robots and drones.

STEM or STEAM education for our children will best prepare them for the challenges of the future. It is a combination of mad science meets leadership development. It is perhaps the most important training they will receive beyond a traditional education.

Watching these young people puzzle through complex problems that result in building something to solve the challenge is inspiring.

That’s why, in addition to STEM Village at Camp, we are building a dedicated STEAM Lab here at the JCC.

This is only a sampling of some of the things that we are discussing and planning at the JCC. Stay tuned…you will like what you see.

lcohen@jfedsnj.org

Return to top