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 Sunday, May 15th, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island will present its highest honor, the Allan Weissglass Distinguished Leadership Award, to David Sorkin and Stephen J. Blumert. The event will begin at 6pm at the Bernikow JCC (1466 Manor Road).
The gala, which is named for the late Allan Weissglass, honors individuals who have supported the mission of the JCC and served as leaders in the Staten Island community. This year’s honorees, David Sorkin and Stephen J. Blumert, have a long history of leadership within the JCC. Sorkin is the JCC’s CEO Emeritus and Blumert is a longtime JCC board member and prominent attorney.
“We are so proud to be able to recognize David and Stephen with this prestigious award. Both of them have been instrumental to the success of the JCC over the past few decades. David and Steve far exceed the criteria for receiving this award for their dedication, leadership, and generosity to the JCC and the community-at-large. They truly exemplify Allan Weissglass’ legacy of service and are most deserving of this award,” said Orit Lender, JCC CEO.
The proceeds from the gala will support the JCC’s Memory Loss Programs—Rosemary’s Place and My Place. These programs are vital to assist those with memory loss and their families as they provide in person services for individuals in need. Both program options allow for individuals to participate in programming that best meets their needs outside of their homes and allow caregivers to receive respite in order to attend work or other activities.
“My grandfather held both David and Steve in such high regard,” noted Allison Cohen, the JCC’s Director of Marketing & Communications and Weissglass’ granddaughter. “Our family could not think of two more appropriate people to honor in his memory. We hope the community will come together to recognize these two distinguished honorees and this important cause by supporting the event.”
Watch videos below about each of our honorees:
This weekend marks an important time for people of many faiths as we celebrate Passover, Easter, and Ramadan. These are joyous holidays marked by family celebrations.
As the story of Passover tells us, even in times of great hardship, we are able to join together to overcome adversity. Our ability to be resilient has kept us going, even through the past few difficult years. Passover is a celebration of freedom that inspire us to work towards a world when every person will be free from hatred.
We are seeing resiliency in the Ukrainian refugees who have been forced to leave their homes and families behind while fleeing a war. Our hearts are with them, and the JCC stands ready to help any families who come to Staten Island. We are already providing services to help them acclimate to America and access everything they need, including benefits, health insurance, ESL classes, food, and jobs. We will be here for them as long as they need.
Jewish values tell us that it is our responsibility to help those in need—globally and at home. To help those in need in our own community, this week, we partnered with MetCouncil, the Hate Has No Home Here initiative, and the Notre Dame Club Club of Staten Island’s Bread of Life Food Drive to provide Passover meals for over 300 families at a drive through food distribution. It was heartening to be able to provide a holiday meal for those in need.
None of this would be possible without our dedicated volunteers and staff who worked in the rain to unpack boxes and distribute the food packages. Their hard work brought out the sun in the afternoon. Thank you to our community partners and our volunteers from the JCC Kosher Food Pantry, Amazon, MetroPlus Health, Wagner College, and the Pride Center of Staten Island for being generous with their time! I would also like to thank Council Member Borelli and representatives from DA McMahon and Assemblyman Tannousis' offices for supporting us during the distribution.
In times of joy and hardship, the JCC continues to serve our community. We are here for you—whether you just need a place where you feel connected, to work out and swim, or send your kids to camp and Early Childhood programs. Everyone is welcome and belongs at the JCC.
I hope you all get a chance to spend quality time with your loved ones over the holidays. On behalf of our JCC family, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.
-Orit Lender, CEO
The Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island will host an exhibition of paintings by award-winning artist Anita Cimino. The works will be on display in the Murray Berman Art @ the J Gallery, located on the second floor of the Bernikow JCC at 1466 Manor Road, throughout April and May.
A retired educator, Anita Cimino is active in the Staten Island arts community. She is a member of the South Shore Artists Group, which meets to create and share their art across the island.
Cimino’s work has been featured in many solo, juried, and collective exhibitions in Staten Island and beyond. Besides the JCC, her paintings have also been displayed at other local cultural institutions including the Staten Island Museum and the Noble Maritime Museum.
Cimino is known for her vibrant, abstract paintings that reflect on themes such as aspiration, nature, and relationships. She has received several honors, including an award for her painting, Can You Imagine!, in a St. John’s University juried exhibition, as well as grants for art development from the Council on the Arts and Humanities for Staten Island.
Twenty-five of Cimino’s pieces will be displayed at the JCC’s Murray Berman Art @ the J Gallery during April and May.
As many of the JCC’s in-person programs have resumed, the exhibition signifies another step towards a return to normalcy for the agency. Public art displays at the gallery were put on hold at the height of the pandemic.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “Our members, participants, and staff truly look forward to seeing new exhibitions by local artists at the Murray Berman Art @ the J Gallery each season. We are so happy to bring this program back with an array of beautiful, thought-provoking pieces by Anita Cimino.”
The exhibition is free and open to the public from April 1 through May 30. For more information about the Murray Berman Art @ the J Gallery, please contact Ela Seeley at ESeeley@SIJCC.com.
Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs is set to open for a full summer of fun in the sun! This summer, the JCC is pleased to resume two of its services for Marvin’s campers—transportation and trips—that were placed on hold during the height of the pandemic. Camp families will have the option to have their child transported to and from camp via bus for free each day.
Marvin’s Camp, located at the Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds, provides an educational, creative, social, and safe environment for kids and teens with developmental disabilities. Led by highly experienced staff with degrees in special education, social work, and school psychology, Marvin’s campers participate in a wide array of fun and enriching activities. Campers enjoy swimming, boating, and playing sports, along with hands-on activities like crafts and woodworking. Low staff-to-camper ratios ensure that each child receives excellent care and attention.
JCC CEO Orit Lender noted, “The Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island is committed to the idea that all children—regardless of ability—should have the same opportunity to have an unforgettable summer camp experience. That’s why the JCC is planning another amazing summer for campers in Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs.”
Additionally, the camp will resume offering its Marvin’s M.O.R.E. division for campers ages 15 and up. Marvin’s M.O.R.E. campers will have the opportunity to go on trips to exciting destinations twice a week, with transportation provided. When they aren’t going on trips, campers will enjoy fun activities on the campgrounds.
Ms. Lender said, “We can’t wait to welcome our Marvin’s campers back for another incredible summer! We’re especially thrilled to be able to bring back trips, as we know our Marvin’s M.O.R.E. campers look forward to going on fun, enriching adventures with their friends each year.”
The JCC is currently accepting registrations for Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs. You can learn more about the camp here. To register, contact Laura Irizarry at LIrizarry@SIJCC.com or 718-475-5268. The JCC also offers an inclusion program in its traditional camp for those who would benefit from it. An interview is required for all new Marvin’s and inclusion campers.
This week, we mark the celebration of Purim, which commemorates the story of Queen Esther. Esther was a strong female leader, using her position for the good of her people. In the story of Purim, Esther hid her Jewish faith from her husband, King Ahasuerus. The king’s trusted advisor, Haman, had a plan to kill all the Jewish people in the Persian Empire. Esther had a choice—to stay silent or tell the truth in order to save her people. She acted courageously, risking her life for the good of the Jewish people. During Purim, we celebrate Esther’s heroic actions that saved the lives of so many others.
We have many strong women in our community, like Queen Esther, who have used their power and standing to help others who are less fortunate. As we celebrate Women’s History Month, it is important to acknowledge their contributions to our JCC and the community at large.
One of the most inspirational stories in the JCC’s history belongs to Nancy Avis. Nancy was a barrier-breaking woman who cared deeply about Staten Island. Like many other women interested in making a difference in their community, Nancy began volunteering her time for JCC initiatives close to her heart—namely children’s causes. She became involved with our Camp Committee and took a lead role in the formation of the JCC Nursery School in 1961. As the Women’s Division President, she encouraged and inspired other women to get involved as well. In 1986, Nancy made history as the JCC’s first woman Board President and led the agency through significant expansions. While Nancy is no longer with us, her legacy lives on through the generations of women leaders at the JCC—including our strong female Board Members and Presidents.
Every year, we present the Nancy Avis L’Dor V’Dor Awards to honor women who have made an impact on our community. L’Dor V’Dor, which means “from generation to generation,” recognizes women who have carried on the legacy of those who came before them, while also inspiring the next generation to make the world a better place.
This year is particularly special, as we are honoring Nancy’s granddaughters Sydney, Samantha, and Morgan Avis with the “Nancy Avis Legacy Award.” These three young women are continuing the legacy of their grandmother Nancy through their community service and advocacy of social justice issues. It is so beautiful to see the next generation getting involved and giving back.
Alongside them, we are so excited to be able to recognize other female leaders in our community. The “First Generation Award” will be presented to Allison Romeo, a Speech/Language Pathologist in our Early Childhood Education program, and Stephanie Mizrahi, a CLLD board member. Just as we honor women whose years of service have benefited our community, we will also honor an up-and-coming leader in our community, nine-year-old Maddie French, with the “Next Generation Award.” The “Bridge to the Community Award” will be presented to Dr. Ginny Mantello for her work advocating for health and wellness throughout Staten Island. Each of these special women have made their mark on Staten Island, and we are so proud of everything they have done to improve life in our community.
You can learn more about the L’Dor V’Dor honorees and register to watch the virtual ceremony on April 3rd here.
We are so proud to have a history of strong female leadership at our Jewish Community Center and in the larger Staten Island community. Women like Nancy Avis inspired me in my journey to becoming the first female CEO of the JCC. I am blessed to be surrounded by these strong women leaders, on our board, throughout our organization, and in our local community. I hope that women continue to feel empowered to raise their voices and make an impact. We honor them not just during Women’s History Month, but throughout the whole year.
-Orit Lender, CEO
In loving memory of Chrissy Debaise.
-The Reiter Family, Jackie, Bari, Gabriel & Jared
February is Jewish Disabilities Awareness, Acceptance, and Inclusion Month. Our JCC welcomes individuals of all abilities, rooted in the shared Jewish values of dignity and justice.
Serving people with disabilities is a core part of our agency’s mission, and we strive to provide inclusive programming that everyone can enjoy. One example of this is our collaborative Girl Scout troop. The troop is unique—the JCC’s Troop 5772 and its sister Troop 5312 are the only troops in New York City that serve girls with disabilities alongside their traditional peers.
Troop 5772 functions like any other troop—the girls work together on projects, participate in fun activities, and even sell cookies! You can purchase cookies here to support the troop.
The girls and their families were so excited to be profiled by PIX11 at their February meeting. You can see the whole story here.
As one of our Girl Scout moms, Kathreen Torres, told reporters, “Having a special needs daughter, it tends to be more difficult for her to make friends, so this is a safe place for her.”
Kathreen is the mother of six, and our Girl Scout troop allows four of her daughters to all be in the same group at once. Within the troop, the girls have made friends and love being together.
Our Girl Scout troop is just one of many programs we run for children with disabilities. During the school year, we offer our First Foot Forward special needs preschool, Dr. and Mrs. Megna Kids Club for Special Kids, Teens After School Program, and an inclusion program in our Explorers After School Program.
In the summertime, Marvin’s Camp for Children with Special Needs provides an educational, creative, social, and safe environment. Marvin’s Camp is a unique recreational summer program customized for children with disabilities. With a wide array of both social and developmental activities, children are engaged by professionally-supported trained staff to create some of the best memories of their summer. This year, we are excited to bring back transportation and trips for our Marvin’s Campers! You can learn more about Marvin’s Camp here.
For young adults, we offer our Day Habilitation Without Walls program. The program, which continues to grow, offers social, recreational, and vocational activities at the JCC as well as in collaboration with our partner organizations. Young adults take part in activities such as delivering meals to the homebound, music and aquatics classes, and working with various departments in the JCC. We engage our participants in opportunities to be healthy, social, and active members of the community with a maximum degree of independence.
In all of our programs, we emphasize the importance of creating a space where everyone feels welcome. The JCC is proud to be a place where people of all abilities can feel at home, make friends, and have fun.
On Sunday, April 3rd at 10am, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island will host the 13th Annual Nancy Avis L’Dor V’Dor Awards. The virtual event will honor seven 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.
At the event, Allison Romeo and Stephanie Mizrahi will receive the First Generation Award. 8-year-old Maddie French will receive the Next Generation Award. Dr. Ginny Mantello will receive the Bridge to the Community Award. Sydney, Samantha, and Morgan Avis will be receiving the Nancy Avis Legacy 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.
“We are proud to be able to honor the memory of Nancy Avis, who paved the way for so many women in our community,” noted JCC CEO Orit Lender. “Our seven distinguished honorees truly represent the best of Staten Island through their tireless work serving the community. We are especially excited to honor several young community leaders, including Nancy’s granddaughters, who are continuing her legacy in our community. We look forward to celebrating all our honorees at our L’Dor V’Dor event!”
Funds raised at the event will benefit the JCC’s programs and services. Tickets are complimentary, but preregistration is required.
Learn more about the event and register here.
Last week, we were excited to join with several community leaders to announce a partnership that will offer workforce development opportunities in the Staten Island community. Through this partnership, we will join with the Clean Energy Academy to offer a free 70-hour energy efficiency technical training, combined with professional development career advancement support services. The program, which will be delivered virtually, focuses on energy efficiency, outreach, education, and implementation assistance initiatives for small commercial properties.
This training will be beneficial for people looking to begin their career in this field and will help make our community greener and more energy efficient. The JCC has always been ahead of the curve with our commitment to green energy, from putting solar panels on the roof of the Bernikow Building to making energy efficient upgrades to our buildings with ConEd. We are proud to lead the way on Staten Island when it comes to energy efficiency, so this partnership is a natural fit for our agency. We are proud to make an impact on both our borough’s workforce and our environment through this program.
This initiative is just one piece of JCC Career Connections, which we launched last fall. Career Connections offers comprehensive assessments and wraparound social services that guide individuals looking for career help to the appropriate trainings, workshops, job fairs, mentorships, and internships. We are now consolidating all of our social service programs under the umbrella of JCC Connections, helping anyone in need access crucial services.
We know that people looking for help often need more than one service and don’t know how to access it easily. Our one-stop-shop method helps link people to community resources, benefits, legal and financial counseling, our Kosher Food Pantry, and so much more.
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, 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 holistic approach helps meet a wide variety of needs.
We are grateful to our community partners for this project, the Clean Energy Academy, NYSERDA, ConEdison’s Small-Medium Business Program, Energy EDC, Soulful Synergy, GreenTech LEADers, and Life3. I would also like to thank Assembly Member Cusick, Borough President Fossella, and the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce for the support they have given the project.
I want to send a special thank you our staff members who have worked tirelessly on this initiative. Without their crucial work, we would not have been able to get this program off the ground.
We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to Staten Islanders and hope it is the beginning of a larger shift to embracing green energy on Staten Island. For those interested, the program is open to everyone aged 18+ with a high school diploma or equivalency, regardless of background. All applicants will undergo interviews, evaluations, and a screening/selection process. For more information, contact Kathi Indelicato at email@example.com or 718.475.5236.
-Orit Lender, CEO
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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