The JCC’s Bulletin dates back to the 1930s, when it was a premier source of news for the local Jewish community. We are proud to continue this tradition of keeping our JCC community informed via our virtual Bulletin.
The bulletin circa 1974
In honor of Black History Month, JCC hosts economic, entertainment, and educational programming
The Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island is celebrating Black History Month with special community events and learning opportunities.
On Wednesday, February 22, from 4 to 7pm, the JCC will partner with New York State Senator Jessica Scarcella-Spanton and the Richmond County Black and Minority Chamber of Commerce to host a Black Business Expo at the Gerard Carter Center. The expo will feature vendors and networking opportunities, as well as entertainment and an awards presentation.
To register for the expo, visit https://tinyurl.com/bhmbbe-rsvp or contact MCampbel@NYSenate.gov for more information.
During the Central Family Life Center’s 18th Annual Staten Island Black History Town Hall on Saturday, February 25, the JCC will receive the Nelson Mandela Award for its work serving Staten Island youth through its Cornerstone afterschool programs at the Gerard Carter Center.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “We are proud of the important work we do at the Gerard Carter Center to uplift youth in the North Shore community.”
On Tuesday, February 28, the JCC’s Beacon program at I.S. 49 will present Black History Through Time & Sound, which celebrates the journey of Black history from Africa to the Americas through music, dance, and film. During the event, attendees will enjoy dance and step performances by the Beacon program’s dance team, as well as a percussion performance by students in the JCC’s SONYC program at Eagle Academy. The program will also feature music by DJ General Tactics, live jazz instrumentals, a spoken word performance, African drumming, and a marketplace showcasing Black and Brown entrepreneurs.
The JCC’s Beacon program, which is funded by the Department of Youth & Community Development, is pleased to partner with Roc-a-Natural Cultural Foundation, Inc., the JCC Beacon Advisory Board, the YMCA, the Central Family Life Center, and other North Shore community-based organizations.
Black History Through Time & Sound will be held at I.S. 49, located at 101 Warren Street, from 6pm to 9pm. The event is free and open to individuals of all ages. For more information, please contact Desiree Scott at DScott@SIJCC.com.
Lender said, “We’re excited to work with our partners to bring together Staten Island youth and their families for this special celebration of Black History Month.”
Throughout February, students in the JCC’s afterschool programs across the island will also participate in learning opportunities for Black History Month.
Students in the JCC’s COMPASS program at P.S. 65 researched prominent African American figures—such as Thurgood Marshall, Ruby Bridges, Jackie Robinson, Harriet Tubman, and more—before collaborating on a mural to adorn their hallway.
Students in the JCC’s Explorers program at the Bernikow JCC also studied important cultural contributions made by African Americans and completed art projects inspired by the Harlem Renaissance and paintings by Jean-Michel Basquiat.
Dedicated to serving and encouraging harmony throughout the Staten Island community, the JCC is committed to promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging across its programs. The JCC recently added Chief Experience Officer Daisy Olivencia, whose work supports the agency’s efforts in this arena.
Olivencia said, “Part of my role is empowering staff and the communities we serve across the island to bring together their unique experiences, talents, insecurities, hopes, fears—all the things that make us who we are. I’m proud to be part of this important work to create a space where we all belong.”
She added, “This Black History Month, we’re honored to bring Black stories to the forefront for our youth and community to learn from and celebrate.”
Tribute Cards: February 2023
In honor of Lillian Brosnick:
Wishing you a happy 80th birthday with many more healthy, joyful ones to come.
-Joel and Judy Berger
From Our CEO: Reflecting On Leadership
Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
I recently had the privilege of sitting down with three of our JCC’s former Executive Directors – Joe Harris, Lewis Stolzenberg, and David Sorkin – each of whom played a significant role in evolution of the “J” that we know today. Getting a chance to talk to these three former leaders was a unique and special experience. Each of them shared stories from the “old days” – stories of success, stories of challenges, stories of happy times and stories of not-so-happy times.
Listening to my predecessors’ stories reinforced for me what I already knew, each of them possesses the skills of a great leader – high level personal integrity, commitment and dedication, lifelong learning, helping others develop along the way – just to name a few. Though each of them faced different challenges, their underlying goal was the same. They were able to forge a sense of community – kehillah – on Staten Island. And I am honored to follow in their footsteps.
In hearing their stories, I felt the same passion and commitment from our JCC’s former leaders that I feel every day as I continue their work to build community. Their stories and accomplishments inspire me to build upon the foundation they laid. I am equally inspired by the JCC’s Board of Directors, who I view as key partners in the Agency’s work. Their ongoing support and advice are crucial to our success, and I am grateful for all they do.
As the mother of two young adults, I pledged to myself that in my role of CEO, I would prioritize the development of the next generation of leadership. It is with great pride and joy that I can say that the JCC has launched it Young Leaders program – a group of young professionals in their 20s and 30s who we believe possess the skills to be Staten Island’s leaders of tomorrow. We are working with both our Board of Directors and the Staten Island business community to provide mentorship and professional development opportunities to these young professionals. We are also providing the group with social, recreational, and networking opportunities.
I came away from meeting with my predecessors with a reinforced understanding of the importance of not only preserving our past but of also building our future. It is incumbent upon all of us to be “leaders” in continuing to build community on Staten Island, so that future generations will be able to share in the same opportunities that we enjoy today. So think about becoming involved – join a committee at the JCC or in your local community – do what you can to make your dreams tomorrow’s reality.
-Orit Lender, CEO
In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island will host community service, youth engagement, and learning opportunities.
On Monday, January 16, the JCC’s Beacon program at I.S. 49 will collaborate with community partners to present a Day of Service and Education for students and their families. The program will feature workshops, including an interactive opportunity to honor Martin Luther King Jr. through hip-hop and poetry, as well as a school improvement project. Students can receive community service hours by participating in at least one workshop or the service project. There will also be a basketball tournament featuring teams from Staten Island, Brooklyn, and Harlem.
The JCC’s Beacon program, which is funded by the Department of Youth & Community Development, is pleased to partner with the Central Family Life Center, CSI LPP, YMCA, Staten Island HBCU Experience, Staten Island NAACP Youth Council, and Staten Island MBK to make this event possible.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “We’re so proud to work with other community organizations to uplift Staten Island youth and their families through meaningful school-based programs like this.”
The Day of Service and Education will take place at I.S. 49 Berta A. Dreyfus, located at 101 Warren Street from 9am to 3pm. Breakfast and lunch will be served. For more information, please contact Desiree Scott at DScott@SIJCC.com.
On January 16, the JCC will also host a free talk by the Honorable Ronald A. Gregg. Judge Gregg will speak about the significance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, offering valuable perspective from his distinguished background and experiences as the first African American judge appointed on Staten Island.
The lecture will take place at the Bernikow JCC, located at 1466 Manor Road, at 2pm. All are welcome to attend.
The JCC’s Richmond Terrace Cornerstone Community Center at 71 Jersey Street will host a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Walk on Tuesday, January 17th at 3:30pm.
To honor Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy of service, the JCC will offer special volunteer opportunities in its Kosher Food Pantry, also located at 1466 Manor Road, from January 16 through January 27. Individuals ages 18 and up can help Staten Islanders in need by stocking the food pantry shelves and assisting clients during their visits. Teens ages 16 and 17 may also volunteer with an adult chaperone. Flexible time slots are available.
As a way of saying “thank you” to volunteers for being generous with their time, the JCC is pleased to offer volunteers a free day-pass to enjoy the Bernikow building’s fitness center and indoor pool. Community service letters are also available for students upon request.
Lender said, “Building community through acts of service and kindness is at the heart of so much of what we do here at the JCC. We’re excited to launch this special initiative in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day and welcome volunteers who are eager to make a difference.”
To sign up, visit https://www.signupgenius.com/go/10c0c45aaa62ba4ffc70-martin#/ or contact David Lutzker, Volunteer Coordinator, at DLutzker@SIJCC.com for more information.
Tribute Cards: December
In memory of Maria Smorgonskaya:
To Bella and family, in honor of your beloved mother and grandmother.
-Iris & Larry Baum
Our condolences on your loss.
-Susan & Ed Sappin
In memory of Ella Topal:
With deepest sympathy.
In memory of Eileen Axelrod:
With deepest sympathy,
-The Home Instead Family
From Our CEO: Shine a Light
This week, we celebrate Chanukah, the festival of lights. Chanukah is an eight-day celebration that commemorates a miracle that happened when the Maccabees, Jewish freedom fighters, fought back against a monarch who banned them from practicing their faith. The Maccabees were able to reclaim the Holy Temple, an important religious site, but only had enough oil to light a lantern for one day. Miraculously, the lantern stayed lit for eight days—which is why modern Jews light eight candles on a menorah during the holiday.
We hosted our own Menorah Lighting on Monday, and we joined with other Jewish institutions this week to celebrate menorah lightings across Staten Island. It was beautiful to see people of all backgrounds coming together to help us light the menorah.
Chanukah is a story of the Jewish values of hope and perseverance, even in the face of difficult odds. Today, we face different challenges that require us to be courageous. Recently, we have seen an increase in Anti-Semitic hate speech and attacks across the country. We even saw it in our own community earlier this month, when two of our own were attacked in front of Island Kosher. I was proud to stand with the Mayor, District Attorney, elected officials, and community leaders to denounce Anti-Semitism and fight back against hate crimes.
Despite the increase in incidents, we will not back down in fear. At the JCC, we will continue to speak out about this issue and encourage others to join us to fight back against Anti-Semitism.
In the spirit of Chanukah, we are joining UJA-Federation’s national campaign to Shine a Light on Anti-Semitism. Staten Island has always been a special place, and our local leaders always stand with us when Anti-Semitic incidents take place. Click here to see a video of our community leaders Shining a Light on Anti-Semitism.
We continue to believe that the answer to hate is love. I know that together, we can fight back against hate of all kinds and allow light to dispel the darkness. From our JCC family, we wish you a happy Chanukah and a wonderful holiday season!
-Orit Lender, CEO
The Joan & Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Staten Island is proud to announce the launch of a pilot cybersecurity program made possible by AT&T support. For the first time, Staten Island residents will have access to free virtual cybersecurity training and certification from the highly reputed Per Scholas curriculum and job training program. The program is targeted to underrepresented residents and individuals who would not otherwise have access to the digital literacy training required for the growing sector of cybersecurity jobs. Participants will receive an industry recognized certification, hands on experience, workplace exposure, workforce coaching and connections to employment opportunities.
AT&T’s support for this program is part of the company’s $2 billion nationwide commitment to help bridge the digital divide, while advancing digital equity and universal connectivity for all New York City. Collaborating on this program builds on AT&T’s continued support of narrowing digital divide in New York City, working in all five boroughs to ensure all New Yorkers have access to the digital tools and skills needed for today’s world.
The unique program, which launched on November 28th, is being hosted virtually by the JCC while Per Scholas is providing accepted participants with the technology. The cohort runs for 15 weeks fulltime, Monday-Friday 9 am- 4pm, and learners will work to obtain the CompTIA CySA+ certification, while learning Linux, network administration, behavioral analytics, security monitoring, threat management, cyber incident response and more. Participants will also receive comprehensive professional development, engage with industry professionals and support to obtain employment in entry level cyber security roles. After completion, the participants will be equipped with the experience to fulfill a wide variety of entry level positions such as cybersecurity analyst, junior desktop technician and tech support engineer.
AT&T’s contribution will support this first cohort and lay a foundation for Per Scholas and the JCC to partner to deliver in-person and a scaled cybersecurity training program on Staten Island in 2023. The contribution also covers tuition, materials and digital hardware for all participants.
Orit Lender, JCC CEO, said, “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with Per Scholas and AT&T to bring this new training to Staten Island. Our approach to career training is a holistic one that links our career instruction with our social services offerings. Not only does every person who comes through the doors of this program access the training they need to take their career to the next level, but we also help them overcome any barriers they may have to finding success in their careers. Whether that’s learning soft skills or finding health insurance, our one-stop shop method helps meet a wide variety of needs. We are so excited to add this cybersecurity training to our JCC Career Connections offerings. Thank you to AT&T for making this programming possible for Staten Islanders.”
"The cybersecurity sector is growing and provides many opportunities for successful careers. This new program will help connect Staten Islanders to those jobs and provide a foundation for job training to help unemployed/underemployed individuals for years to come. We are honored to work with the JCC of Staten Island and Per Scholas to help change the career trajectory for Staten Island residents,” said Robin White, Director, AT&T External Affairs. “AT&T is also proud to help local residents impacted by the digital divide obtain the digital literacy skills needed to excel in the cybersecurity sector.”
Digital fluency programs like this one for underrepresented community members are important because the global cybersecurity is rapidly growing industry where available jobs far outnumber qualified candidates. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of cybersecurity jobs is expected to increase by 35 percent by 2031, which underscores the dire need for more cybersecurity trained Americans.
This new cybersecurity training program expands on the JCC’s capacity to assist unemployed/underemployed individuals acquire the tools and skills to secure viable, well-paid employment and has been designed to provide a continuum of concrete critical support to assist participants overcome obstacles to employment. The cybersecurity field involves protecting computer networks and data from unauthorized access, use, or destruction. There are many different types of cybersecurity professionals with various skill levels. AT&T’s contribution comes at a critical time to address unemployment rates on Staten Island and the need for cybersecurity job opportunities are at an all-time high.
On Tuesday, November 22nd, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for afterschool students and their families at the Gerard Carter Center.
Families got to enjoy a free soul food-inspired Thanksgiving meal provided by local restaurant Shaw-naé’s House. In addition to turkey, families enjoyed mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, mac & cheese, and sweet potatoes. For dessert, attendees were treated to sweet flavors of cornbread, including chocolate chip and blueberry.
Volunteers and staff helped serve the meals, including notable faces like JCC CEO Orit Lender and Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks.
“This was a great evening full of fun, food, and family time,” Lender noted. “This party was a fantastic way to kick off Thanksgiving week. Seeing all of our participants smiling and enjoying time with their families warmed my heart. This is what the JCC is all about, bringing families together.”
The event took place in partnership with The Gerard Carter Foundation, Richmond County Black & Minority Chamber of Commerce, and Literacy INC.
The Gerard Carter Center, which is operated by the JCC, provides free year-round out of school time activities for youth ages 5-21 as well as adult programming. The Carter Center is part of the Cornerstone Community Center program, which is funded by the NYC Department of Youth & Community Development (DYCD). For more information on the JCC’s Cornerstone programs, click here
From Our CEO: Thankful for our Caregivers
As we approach Thanksgiving, it is a time to show gratitude. The Jewish value of gratitude, or hakarat hatov, instructs us not only to be grateful for what we have, but also to see and acknowledge the good all around us.
It is in this spirit that we celebrate National Family Caregivers Month. This month, we honor and recognize the hard work that people do to take care of their loved ones. Caregiving can be extremely exhausting, stressful, and expensive. Caregivers often don’t have time to take care of themselves, and caring for someone else often takes a physical toll on the caregiver.
For those in need, the JCC provides care for both the caregiver and the care receiver at no cost to families. Our memory loss programming provides stimulating, specialized day programs for individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease/dementia. Knowing that their loved ones are safe and cared for during the day allows caregivers to have time for themselves and gives them peace of mind.
One of our caregivers noted, “It is a comfort to know that my mother is not home alone all day and is actively participating in activities like games and dancing. The JCC’s memory loss programs fill a void in the Staten Island community for caregivers and their loved ones.”
Additionally, our Caregiver Support Center offers services to help caregivers access benefits, coordinate home health assistance and long-term care, and get supplies. The Caregiver Support Center also provides emotional support for caregivers to help them through these difficult times. Our joint enrichment programs for caregivers and care receivers allow them to relax and have fun together.
Earlier this month, we held our Falling into Fun carnival at our Avis/South Shore location. Grandparents, parents, and children got to participate in carnival games, face painting, Zumba, chair yoga, line dancing, sittercise, and quilling together. It was heartwarming to see these families get to shake off their everyday stresses and just have some fun!
We are grateful to all who joined us, as well as our Carnival Sponsor, Enexia Specialty Pharmacy, for their support. We couldn’t do any of this without the support of our donors and funders, who allow us to provide these free programs for members of our community with memory loss. We are able to serve Staten Islanders in need through the generous support of NYC Aging, Northfield Bank Foundation, Richmond County Savings Foundation, and Michael Manzulli.
Knowing the demand for these programs is far greater than our current capacity, and our desire is to continue expanding these services, we need your help. This Giving Tuesday, please consider supporting our memory loss programs. Your support is important to us. Together, I know we can help those with memory loss and their families. You can learn more and donate here.
Thank you for being an instrumental part of our JCC and this great Staten Island community. Without your continued commitment, we would not be able to provide these vital services. I want to personally thank you for always being there for us, and please know that we are here if you ever need us.
On behalf of our JCC family, I wish you and your families a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
-Orit Lender, JCC CEO
On Saturday, November 19, over 150 guests joined the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island for a celebration of the Dorothy Delson Kuhn Music Institute’s Golden Anniversary.
Recognizing the need for a high-quality music school in the Staten Island community, the JCC’s Music Institute was founded in 1970. Since its inception, the Music Institute has offered private and group lessons taught by exceptional faculty members to students of all ages. Many of the Institute’s graduates, such as Emmy-nominated musician Ingrid Michaelson, have gone on to pursue music professionally.
Saturday’s Golden Anniversary celebration, long delayed due to the pandemic, was a special moment to honor more than half a century’s impact and the two women who made it possible, founders Bertha R. Mandel and the late Dorothy Delson Kuhn.
During the program, guests were treated to performances by current Music Institute students and alumni, as well as Viva Voce Winds, featuring Nicole Auriti, Dorothy Darlington, Dan Kelley, Barry Nudelman, and Carolyn Clark, and the Community Jazz Ensemble under the leadership of Ray Scro.
The event also served as a fundraiser for the Foundation for the Music Institute, which helps ensure that promising students continue to pursue their passion for music, regardless of financial hardship.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “Music is a gift that touches so many lives and we’ve seen that firsthand here at the JCC’s Dorothy Delson Kuhn Music Institute. We are so proud to celebrate the history of our music school, which has given that gift to hundreds of talented students, and we look forward to a bright future ahead.”
Watch the video history of the Music Institute here.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.
1466 Manor Road
Staten Island, NY 10314
485 Victory Blvd
Staten Island, NY 10301
1297 Arthur Kill Road
Staten Island, NY 10312
BERMAN EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER
2221 Richmond Ave.
Staten Island, NY 10314