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 Friday, September 25th, staff from the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island joined with representatives from the Mayor’s Office and NYCHA to unveil a new mural at the Gerard Carter Center. The mural was created by 30 high school students from the V.I.B.E. and A.G.V.E.P. summer program, which is run through the JCC’s Cornerstone program at the Carter Center.
The students worked on the project for seven weeks and were tasked with creating a mural that represents their “ideal community.”
“We talked about advocacy and art, and how one individual can make an impact in the community,” noted Kayla McGoy, a college student who worked with the youth on the project. “This means so much to me. We worked very hard to make sure these young people can make an impact.”
The mural represents the students’ aspirations for the future of the Stapleton community. The themes represented include health, economic prosperity, family, diversity, and an end to drugs and gun violence.
“Over the past few months, we’ve experienced so much pain and tragedy. That’s why seeing a project like this come to life gives me so much hope. We often look toward our young people to lead the way, and there’s no better example of that than this mural. Seeing our kids’ aspirations for a better community is the light we need in these dark times. I am so proud of our kids for the work they’ve done and continue to do to make our community a better place for everyone,” said JCC CEO Orit Lender.
To learn more about our Cornerstone programs, click here.
From Our CEO: A reflection on Yom Kippur
This evening begins, Yom Kippur which means “Day of Atonement” in Hebrew. This is the holiest Jewish holiday of the year and ends the ten days of High Holidays which began with Rosh Hashanah. In Jewish tradition, on Rosh Hashanah, the Book of Life is written, and on Yom Kippur, a person’s fate is sealed. Yom Kippur is a time for forgiveness, reflection and for wiping the slate clean to start fresh. This year in particular, we look forward to closing this chapter and beginning a new one.
As we look to the future, there is so much to be hopeful for, despite all the challenges we have experienced in recent months. I am inspired by the young people in our community. On Friday, I attended the unveiling of a new mural, created by students at our Gerard Carter Center over the summer. We often look toward our young people to lead the way, and there’s no better example of that than this mural.
Working together, they were able to create a vision of what they want to see in their community. When I saw the drawings of what the mural would look like, I was blown away by the creativity and thoughtfulness that went into this project. I want to thank these students for their commitment to this project. I also want to recognize our devoted staff members who guided the way.
Seeing our kids’ aspirations for a better community is the light we need in these dark times. I know as we pass the baton to the next generation, they will continue the work needed in the community to bring their vision to life.
I wish all who observe Yom Kippur a meaningful day and an easy fast.
The Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center of Staten Island will host a virtual lecture with international journalist Paul Alster, who will discuss his debut novel Kin or Country. The event will take place on Thursday, October 22nd at 2pm. The lecture is presented by the Dr. Esther Grushkin Seminars for Adult Jewish Education.
Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist who has covered both sports and political news for a variety of international outlets. His work has been featured in The Jerusalem Report, The Investigative Project on Terrorism, Forbes, DailyMail Online, The Hill, The New York Post, and others. Alster previously served as the regional correspondent covering current affairs, intelligence, and terrorism in the Middle East for FoxNews.com, where he continues to be a featured commentator.
Most recently, Alster penned his debut novel, Kin or Country, published this summer. A thriller set in 2048 Israel, the novel weaves together political intrigue and a murder mystery. Drawn from the author’s experiences living and working in Israel, the story highlights tensions between secular and religious groups and raises questions about the nation’s future.
The JCC will host Alster on Zoom for a presentation and Q&A on Kin or Country. The event is sponsored by Eileen and Alan Bernstein in memory of Miriam and Eli Cohen. The fee for the program is $10 per household.
“When I wrote Kin or Country last year, I genuinely believed it might take until the end of the 2040s for the massive demographic challenge presented by the growth of the ultra-Orthodox communities to reach a head. However, recent events prompted by the Coronavirus-driven financial crisis and its fallout have already seen many of the issues I envisioned rush to the fore much faster than expected. Seismic changes in the way Israel is governed and in the attitude of the many peoples living within its borders need to take place very soon to avoid a scenario similar to the premise of my book,” Alster said about his book.
This upcoming program joins several lecture series and standalone events hosted by the Dr. Esther Grushkin Seminars for Adult Jewish Education at the JCC. Also known as SAJE, this endowment created by Jerry Grushkin in honor of his late wife allows the JCC to host various events that promote intellectual curiosity and the pursuit of knowledge.
When the pandemic began, the JCC quickly adapted its programming to an online setting and continues to add new virtual programs on a variety of subjects. Recently, the JCC hosted SAJE lectures on the evolving “Jewish American Princess” stereotype in Hollywood films, the roots of Christianity in Judaism, and leading contemporary Israeli artists. All lectures were led by experts in their respective fields.
Given the online nature of these events, the JCC has been able to reach beyond the Staten Island community to welcome virtual guests from across the country and around the world to enjoy its programming.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “We feel so fortunate to be able to host these interesting, thought-provoking events on a diverse range of topics. Our Cultural Arts team has truly made the most of these challenging times, not only by keeping our members connected with each other, but also by connecting them with amazing speakers worldwide and showing people from around the world all that our community has to offer.”
Upcoming SAJE lectures include:
On Thursday, September 24th through Sunday, September 27th, sixteen local restaurants will participate in a Dine Out For Sunrise fundraiser. The fundraiser will support the Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island, a free camp for children with cancer and their siblings. Patrons who dine at participating restaurants during this time can add on a donation for Sunrise to their bill.
The restaurants that will participate are Brioso, Casa Belvedere, Italianissimo, Jimmy Max Restaurant, Joyce's Tavern, La Fontana, Marina Café, O'Neill’s Irish Pub, Reggiano's (both locations), The Richmond, The Stone House, Sofia’s Taqueria, Violette’s Cellar, W's Bar and Grill, and the West Shore Inn. Dine Out For Sunrise is sponsored by A-List Janitorial Supplies.
The event is part of the Sunshine Sunday Series, a four-month long fundraising series that will take the place of the Sunshine Sunday event that is traditionally held in-person every January. Other virtual events in the series include a fall-themed kids party, a Thanksgiving cooking class, and a holiday-themed mixology class and happy hour. The events will culminate with a journal, called the Sunshine Pages, which will allow businesses to highlight their community work, new initiatives launched during the pandemic, and their involvement with Sunrise.
“This is a wonderful way to support our local restaurants, which are so important to our community, and Sunrise Day Camp at the same time,” said Orit Lender, CEO of the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island. “We hope you will enjoy a delicious meal and add on a donation to help give summer back to children with cancer and their siblings.”
Jessica Caracciolo, Event Co-Chair, noted, “I am so excited to kick off the Sunshine Sunday Series with our September Dine Out! I think our committee did an amazing job pivoting our fundraising efforts to meet the current restrictions in place. I can’t wait for the rest of the series and, as always, am so thankful to be a small part of the fundraising efforts for Sunrise Day Camp.”
Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island recently celebrated its fifth year, concluding its virtual camp season in August. Recognizing the extraordinary financial demands that a child’s chronic illness can have on a family, Sunrise Day Camp and its year-round and in-hospital programs are offered completely free of charge to all children being treated for cancer and their siblings, on a non-sectarian basis.
A member of the Sunrise Association, Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island is one of several camps in a growing network dedicated to providing safe, fun summer camp experiences for children with cancer and their siblings. Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island is the only day camp for children with cancer in New York City and serves families from Staten Island, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and New Jersey. The JCC raises funds for the camp through donations and community events, including the annual SunriseWALKS.
For more information on the Sunshine Sunday Series or to donate to the fundraiser, click here.
From Our CEO: Celebrating the new year
This weekend marks the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. The Hebrew month of Elul precedes Rosh Hashanah and is traditionally a period of reflection and introspection. This gives us time to take stock of both the year that has passed and our goals for the future. This year in particular, we have so much to hope for.
After many months of not being able to hold in-person gatherings, we are finally able to safely reopen many of our programs. We welcomed back our Early Childhood Education students, who we missed teaching in person. Earlier this week, we reopened our fitness center after being closed since March. And later this month, we will be joined by new students as part of the Learning Bridges hybrid learning program for school children.
As we celebrate the new year, we also celebrate the fact that we are finally able to see many of our members and participants in person once again. Though everyone is wearing a mask, please know that we are smiling behind them and are incredibly excited to welcome people back into our buildings. We look forward to reopening even more of our programs throughout the fall.
For those programs that are not yet functioning in-person, we continue to offer many virtual options to connect with our community. You can see all of our programs that are currently running in-person and remotely in our Fall Program Guide.
We know that as we commemorate this new year, so much opportunity lies ahead. I want to wish Shana Tova to all who celebrate. May you all have a sweet and healthy new year!
On Friday, August 28th, the Joan and Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island ended its camping season and hit a special milestone—no confirmed COVID-19 cases across its in-person camps.
Of over 700 campers in JCC programs, none tested positive for COVID-19 at any point throughout the summer. Camp programs took place throughout the borough and include Traditional Day Camp, Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs, Trident Aquatics Camp, Core 24 Basketball Camp, Soccer Camp, Gymnastics Camp, and camp programs at several Cornerstone and Beacon sites. There were also no cases among over 250 staff members.
“We are truly thankful for a wonderful summer. Despite having everything stacked against them, everyone rose to the occasion and continued the JCC tradition. Providing our boys with the escape back to normalcy will forever be appreciated! We’re looking forward to next year already,” said camp parent Jason Rappaport.
“It was my son’s first year, but it won’t be his last,” said Bobbe Fernando, mother of a camper. “On our way home on the last day, he asked if he could come back next year. As a parent, I was so reassured by all the measures they put in place to keep our kids safe.”
Before the camp season began, a camp committee comprised of medical professionals laid out strict guidelines in order to preserve the health and safety of the campers and staff. Temperature checks and health screenings of both campers and staff took place every morning before camp started.
Campers were put into families/pods and kept socially distant from other groups. Staff members were required to wear masks and sanitized shared spaces regularly. Directors changed activities to comply with government standards.
“We navigated multiples sources of ever-changing guidelines, while dealing with uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. We flipped our model of camp on its side. We endured changes of plans and adapted to new policies and procedures in a moment’s notice. But most importantly, we laughed, we played, we cheered, and we were together,” noted Glenn Wechsler, JCC Day Camp Co-Director.
Orit Lender, JCC CEO, said, “This summer, more than ever, it was important for kids to play outside, get away from screens, and reunite with their friends. I’m so proud of all our camp staff, medical committee, campers, and families. By working together, we were able to keep our campers healthy and give them a summer to remember. We are so grateful to the parents who trusted us with their children!”
The JCC plans to continue health screenings similar to the ones used by camp as it opens up more of its programs in the fall.
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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