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
On Thursday, April 27, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island hosted a free family festival to celebrate Israel’s 75th anniversary.
The festival featured performances by the Israeli Dance Institute and by students from local schools including Staten Island Hebrew Public Charter School and Staten Island Hebrew Academy. Families had the opportunity to participate in interactive Krav Maga, Hebrew calligraphy, and crafts workshops.
The JCC also brought a taste of Israel to Staten Island as it transformed its social hall into a shuk, or food market, where families sampled Israeli cuisine.
The festival was co-sponsored by Hillel of CSI, Staten Island Hebrew Public Charter School, and Temple Israel Reform Congregation of Staten Island.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “We’re excited to celebrate this special milestone not only for Israel, but for the global Jewish community, by bringing Israeli culture to the forefront. Whether you have a connection to Israel, or just want to learn more about the culture, we hope to see you at our family festival!”
The festival was just one part of the agency’s yearlong celebration of Israel’s anniversary. The celebration also includes a comedy show, live music performances, film screenings, and art exhibits, with more to come throughout the year.
Coinciding with Israel’s 75th anniversary, the JCC of Staten Island is proud to announce new global partnerships with Jewish community centers in Moldova and Binyamina, Israel. During the festival, the JCC of Staten Island community was greeted with special video messages from their counterparts abroad.
On May 9, the JCC also presented "Am Israel Chai”: A Celebration of Israel in Song. This National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene performance featured Israeli-American singer Magda Fishman and Greek-born legend Avram Pengas, led by Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotek.
This summer, the JCC will send a delegation of high school students for a trip to Israel, where they will immerse themselves in the country’s history and culture.
On Sunday, April 23 at 11am, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island hosted the 14th Annual Nancy Avis L’Dor V’Dor Awards. The event honored five local women for their accomplishments within the JCC as well as in the Staten Island community. The award is named in memory of Nancy Avis, the first female president of the JCC’s Board of Directors.
During the event, Fern Aaron Zagor, Rosalind (Roz) Kurland, and Susan Klein-Perel received the First Generation Award. Felicia Holtzman Otto received the Next Generation Award. Carol Bullock received the Bridge to the Community Award.
“My mother-in-law, Nancy Avis, changed my world and the world of those around her. We are so proud to honor Nancy’s memory by celebrating these amazing women,” said Kim Avis, Event Chair.
“Through her efforts, first as a dedicated volunteer and later as the first female president of the JCC’s Board of Directors, Nancy Avis provided a tremendous example of leadership,” said Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC. “Although she is no longer with us, Nancy’s legacy lives on through this year’s L’Dor V’Dor honorees, who not only make a difference in our Staten Island community, but inspire other women to do the same.”
Funds raised at the event benefit the JCC’s programs and services.
Bios of the honorees are below:
Fern Aaron Zagor
Fern Aaron Zagor exemplifies a deep commitment to social justice and Holocaust remembrance. She has been involved in many initiatives that focus on combating anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred and racial injustice, including at schools such as I.S.2. She has co-chaired the ambitious effort to establish the first permanent Holocaust Center on Staten Island, the WCHC Holocaust Education and Action Gallery, which opened in early April 2022.
Rosalind (Roz) Kurland
Roz Kurland has been involved with the JCC’s Center for Lifelong Development since its inception in 2012. She presently serves on their Advisory Board and is a member of the Arts & Culture, Education and Nominating Committees. She is also very involved at the JCC as a committee member of the Dr. Esther Grushkin Center for Arts + Culture. She feels strongly that the JCC and these two important programs provide the best of everything for the community.
Susan Klein-Perel has worked in clinical practice, and has done consulting and supervisory work on Staten Island as a social worker for many years. Susan has also been involved with the JCC of Staten Island for over 20 years. She has been a member of the board, as well as several committees including the Camp and Youth committee and the committee for People with Disabilities.
Felicia Holtzman Otto
Felicia Holtzman Otto is a co-President of Temple Israel Reform Congregation of Staten Island, where her mission is to ensure that all congregants find peace and joy within the congregation as their spiritual home. Recently, she has been working in collaboration with the JCC on how the JCC and Temple Israel can best partner together to serve the needs of Jewish families on Staten Island.
Carol Bullock, the Executive Director of the Pride Center, focuses on relationship building and development, as she leads the staff in living up to the values of the Pride Center – Community, Brave Space, Inclusion and Allyship. She has been instrumental in creating visibility and community support for the Center, as well as advocating federally, state-wide and locally for equality and inclusion for LGBTQ people and families.
This coming week marks an important time for people of many faiths, as we celebrate the joyous holidays of Passover, Easter, and Ramadan. Passover, in particular, is a holiday where family gathers together to eat a large meal and celebrate. Unfortunately, we know there are those in our community who cannot afford to put food on the table. An ancient Jewish custom, kimcha d’pischa, reminds us of the importance of giving tzedakah, or charity, to those in need so all will be able to celebrate Passover. As we say at the beginning of the Passover Seder: All who are hungry, let them come and eat. All who are in need, let them come celebrate Passover with us.
That’s why during this season, we partner with other organizations to ensure that no one goes hungry during the holidays. We recently joined with the Notre Dame Club of Staten Island’s Bread of Life Food Drive, which collects food at schools and other public locations across the Island. The JCC is proud to participate in this food drive and is honored to receive the Kosher food that is collected for our Kosher Food Pantry.
Last week, we also hosted our own Passover Food Pantry Distributions, in partnership with MetCouncil and COJO of Staten Island. On Thursday, were joined by volunteers from the JCC Kosher Food Pantry, MetCouncil, the Pride Center of Staten Island, Latter Day Saints, Amazon, and Empire State Bank worked throughout the day in the cold to create food packages for the less fortunate. They were joined by Borough President Vito Fossella, Council Member David Carr, and representatives from the offices of Senator Lanza, Senator Scarcella-Spanton, Assembly Member Tannousis, DA McMahon, and Council Member Borelli. Through these partnerships, we were able to distribute food to over 300 families on Staten Island and make sure that no one has an empty table this Passover.
We know there are still so many families hurting in our community, including Ukrainian refugees who have settled here. The JCC continues to work with these refugees to help them learn English, obtain benefits, and find employment. We are also working to expand our camp scholarship program to allow more Ukrainian children to be able to attend camp. The JCC will continue to be here for them to help as long as they need.
As we see needs in our community growing, we are continuing to expand our social services offerings to help. I am thrilled to announce that this spring, we will launch our Digital Food Pantry. This will allow our Food Pantry clients to pick out their food online, as they would if they were ordering from a delivery app. Our Food Pantry staff and volunteers will then pack up the items to be picked up. Our goal is to make shopping in our food pantry easier for our clients. We have some other fun surprises planned, so stay tuned for more details on the launch later this spring!
As we celebrate the beginning of spring and the holidays, I hope you get a chance to spend time with your loved ones and enjoy the season. On behalf of our JCC family, I wish you a happy holiday season.
-Orit Lender, CEO
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1466 Manor Road
Staten Island, NY 10314
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Staten Island, NY 10301
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Staten Island, NY 10312
BERMAN EARLY CHILDHOOD CENTER
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Staten Island, NY 10314