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
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
On Thursday, March 30th, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island hosted a drive-thru Passover Food Pantry Distribution in conjunction with MetCouncil. Three hundred families, comprised of over 1,500 individuals, received Kosher for Passover food packages during the distribution.
JCC CEO Orit Lender noted, “Passover 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. That’s why we are proud to be able to step in to help make sure no one in our community goes hungry during the holidays.”
Volunteers from the JCC Kosher Food Pantry, MetCouncil, the Pride Center of Staten Island, 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.
“I want to personally thank our volunteers and staff for their hard work to ensure that everyone in our community has food on their plates this Passover,” said Lender.
Additional Passover distributions took place earlier this week in conjunction with COJO of Staten Island. The JCC also participates in the Bread of Life Food Drive, which distributes food throughout the borough during the spring holiday season.
On Thursday, March 23, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island will host Women Front and Center at Li Greci’s Staaten. This new event celebrates female empowerment and raises funds for the Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island.
The JCC’s Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island is a free summer camp that brings back the joys of childhood to children with cancer and their siblings. Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island is a proud member of the Sunrise Association and is located on the campus of Staten Island Academy. Recognizing the extraordinary financial demands that a child’s chronic illness can have on a family, Sunrise Day Camp is provided completely free of charge, on a non-sectarian basis.
Women Front and Center will highlight women in business, public service, and healthcare. The event will also spotlight women-owned businesses, whose generous contributions will make it a memorable evening for all who attend.
During the program, the JCC will honor three incredible women for their leadership and support for Sunrise Day Camp. The honorees are Gabriella DiMaggio, the Honorable Edwina Martin, and Ann Marie Quinn, LCSW.
Orit Lender, the first female CEO of the JCC, said, “As women, it is so important to uplift other women and celebrate all that we can accomplish by working together. We are proud to honor these women who truly make a difference in our Staten Island community.”
Women Front and Center, which is presented by TD Bank, will take place from 6:30pm to 9pm and will feature dinner, wine and beer, raffles, music, and dancing. Tickets for a special raffle prize—an Yves Saint Laurent pouch—can be purchased online in advance. Winner need not be present.
Event tickets, raffles, and sponsorships can be purchased online at https://www.sijcc.org/wfc.
This spring, Israel will celebrate its 75th anniversary on Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israeli Independence Day. In the months leading up to the milestone occasion, Jewish communities around the world will celebrate with special events and programs.
The Dr. Esther Grushkin Center for Arts + Culture, housed at the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island, has planned a months-long celebration with fun and enriching activities for folks of all ages.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “We’re so excited to highlight Israeli culture and honor this important milestone for the global Jewish community! From art, music, and dance, to film, sports, and family activities, there is something for everyone to enjoy during this special celebration!”
The center kicked off the festivities on March 11th at the Bernikow JCC with a Comedy Night. Over 200 people attended the night of laughs with a Jewish flair, which featured up-and-coming NYC comedians.
The second event, “Language of the Soul,” took place on March 12th and featured Yonatan Grinberg performing classical violin works by Bach, Ysaye, and original works based on Jewish tunes.
On March 26, the JCC will present a free children’s music show, Timbalooloo, at the Arden Heights Boulevard Jewish Center. The show features internationally renowned composer and musician Oren Etkin, who guides children to express themselves musically across cultures.
The JCC will also host the Richmond County Orchestra on March 26 at the Bernikow JCC. The orchestra will perform its “Musical Miracles” symphony.
On April 23 at the Bernikow JCC, sports fans will enjoy an afternoon with Jewish baseball legend Art “The Smasher” Shamsky. Shamsky, who helped bring the Miracle Mets to the World Series Championship in 1969, will share stories and sign copies of his New York Times bestselling memoir, After the Miracle.
The Bernikow JCC will bring a taste of Israel to Staten Island on April 27 with a free festival for families with children of all ages. Guests will enjoy music and dance performances, interactive Krav Maga and Hebrew calligraphy workshops, arts and crafts, giveaways, and more. The JCC’s social hall will be transformed into a shuk, or food market, where families can sample Israeli cuisine.
Broadway and film fans can look forward to a documentary screening of Fiddler’s Journey to the Big Screen on April 30 at the Bernikow JCC. Following the screening, audience members can participate in a Q&A by actress Neva Small, best known for her portrayal of Chava in the 1971 film adaptation of Fiddler on the Roof.
Photography can immerse us in the lives and cultures unfamiliar to our own. The Bernikow JCC is excited to host an exhibition, Humans of Tel Aviv, by street photographer Erez Kaganovitz, whose work highlights the diversity and rich complexity of Israeli stories.
On May 1, guests are invited to a gallery viewing and Israeli wine tasting. On May 2, the JCC will also host a meet and greet with the photographer. The exhibit runs from April 26 to May 9.
On May 9, the Bernikow JCC will present “Am Israel Chai”: A Celebration of Israel in Song. The special performance by the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene will feature Israeli-American singer Magda Fishman, Greek-born legend Avram Pengas, led by Artistic Director Zalmen Mlotkek.
To buy tickets and learn about additional events celebrating Israel at 75, visit https://www.sijcc.org/israel75.
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.”
In honor of Lillian Brosnick:
Wishing you a happy 80th birthday with many more healthy, joyful ones to come.
-Joel and Judy Berger
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.
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
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
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