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
From Our CEO: Together at Passover
Over the next two weeks, we will celebrate Passover and Easter, two holidays that foster a sense of togetherness. In particular, the story of Passover tells us that, even when facing great adversity, when we join together, we can overcome hardships. No matter what struggles we face, we can persevere if we all work as one.
As we come together as one community, we continue to be there for those who need us. Last Wednesday, we hosted two major events to serve different needs in our community. We worked with the Borough President’s office and VitaCare Pharmacy once again to vaccine 400 people.
In the spirit of community cooperation, our staff and partners pitched in to make sure everything ran smoothly. When we needed an additional person to administer the vaccines, the Borough President’s Director of Health & Wellness, Dr. Ginny Mantello, jumped into action. We are grateful for our partners’ continued support in helping vaccinate our community.
At the same time that vaccines were being given out inside the Bernikow Building, we hosted a Passover food distribution outside in the parking lot. Through a partnership with COJO, Project Hospitality, UJA, and Met Council, we were able to provide over 800 Kosher for Passover food packages to those in need.
In addition, during the food distribution, we received a donation for our food pantry for our friends at Temple Israel. This generosity will allow us to feed even more families this holiday season.
It was amazing to see all the people we were able to help through these initiatives, and it underscored the importance of the work we do every day. We will continue to work with our community partners to serve those in need throughout this pandemic and for years to come.
As we move into the holidays, we will take a short break to celebrate and reenergize so that we can continue this important work throughout the spring and summer. On behalf of our JCC family, I wish you a happy and healthy holiday season.
JCC and Borough President’s Office team up to vaccinate over 700 seniors and Holocaust Survivors
The Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island partnered with Borough President James Oddo’s office to vaccinate hundreds of seniors and Holocaust survivors against COVID-19 over the past two weeks.
Through this partnership, the JCC hosted a pop-up vaccination clinic at the Bernikow JCC March 2nd & 3rd with VitaCare Pharmacy. During the two-day clinic, VitaCare distributed over 650 vaccines to Staten Island seniors.
Additionally, the Borough President’s office helped the JCC get vaccination appointments for 80 Holocaust Survivors and frail seniors at other vaccination sites in the borough.
“We are beyond grateful to our friends at the Borough President’s office and VitaCare Pharmacy for all their work on this issue,” noted JCC CEO Orit Lender. “For our seniors and Holocaust survivors, who are the most vulnerable to COVID-19, this vaccine could mean the difference between life and death. We are so thankful to Borough President Oddo, Dr. Ginny Mantello, and Boris Natenzon of VitaCare Pharmacy for recognizing this and helping us meet the needs of our most fragile community members.”
"Over the last few days, over 650 people were vaccinated at the JCC. This would not have been possible without the cooperation of the city and state in terms of supply, and without the leadership and goodwill of our friends at the JCC and Boris Natenzon of VitaCare Pharmacy who, with his staff, administered the vaccines. Thank you to all of the good people who made this happen," said Borough President Oddo.
The clinic was part of a larger effort on the JCC’s part to help spread awareness about vaccine safety and get vulnerable members of the Staten Island community vaccinated.
“Helping our community members in times of crisis is what we do best. It is a privilege for us to play a part in bringing an end to the pandemic,” Lender added.
In addition to the clinic, the JCC hosted a COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall with Richmond University Medical Center Thursday night. At the virtual event, Dr. Philip Otterbeck answered questions from the audience about vaccine safety and efficacy.
To see the recording of the RUMC Town Hall event or to sign up for more information on upcoming vaccine clinics, click here.
A year ago, our lives changed forever as COVID-19 began taking hold in New York City. On this solemn anniversary, I have been reflecting back on the struggles of the past year.
On March 17, 2020, the JCC’s doors officially closed to the public. But they never actually closed to those who needed us most. While most of our city was forced to shut down, our services were deemed “essential,” forcing us to adapt and find new ways to help those who are struggling.
As the needs of the community doubled, tripled, quadrupled, and even quintupled, the JCC staff was there every step of the way, helping Staten Islanders navigate these uncertain times. Our Kosher Food Pantry and Social Services Department began managing a huge influx of clients. We offered grab-and-go meals and virtual programming to isolated seniors. We began Resource Navigation, connecting individuals with COVID-19 to much-needed services. Our Early Childhood Education had to adapt to ever-changing regulations in order to get kids back in the classroom. We began hosting children at five JCC sites through the City’s Learning Bridges program, which provides a place for students to safely learn virtually on the days they are not physically in school.
Most recently, we’ve helped seniors in our community wade through the confusing and difficult vaccination appointment booking process. We were able to refer seniors and other eligible people to local vaccination sites, and just this week, we were able to partner with the Office of the Staten Island Borough President and VitaCare Pharmacy to vaccinate 650 seniors at our facility. We are also hosting a COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall with Richmond University Medical Center to help educate the public about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine. You can find more information here.
While our staff members have certainly been tested by this pandemic, they have also grown too, rising to the challenge and showing what an extraordinary group of people they are. Having to adapt to this different style of work hasn’t always been easy, but I’ve seen so much creativity from our staff as they find innovative ways to connect with people virtually.
While we celebrate our achievements over the past year, we also must acknowledge the intense sense of loss we feel. Losing over 1,500 of our family, friends and neighbors to this virus has taken its toll on all of us. Our thoughts are also with those who are still recovering from COVID-19, as well as our friends who are struggling financially and emotionally through the pandemic.
To honor those we have lost, we will hold a Virtual Memorial on Monday, March 15th at 3pm. We invite all to join us as we remember our members and participants who were taken from us by COVID-19. We mourn with our community for those we lost, who will never be forgotten.
Jewish teachings tell us it is our duty to heal ourselves and others. At our JCC, we are committed to this principle, guiding those who are hurting in our community to support systems. We will continue to help those who are isolated find meaningful connections. If you need us, don’t hesitate to reach out. You can find our full list of COVID-19 Connect to Recovery Services here. The JCC will always be here for you, no matter what you need, in both good and bad times. We have begun looking towards the light at the end of the tunnel, and with more opening up in our city and state, we eagerly await the day all of our services can be back in-person again.
On March 4th at 7pm, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island will partner with Richmond University Medical Center (RUMC) to present a virtual COVID-19 Vaccine Town Hall. Dr. Philip Otterbeck, Chair of Medicine and Endocrinology at RUMC, will talk about vaccine safety, side effects, and efficacy. He will also answer questions submitted from the public.
This town hall is part of a larger effort on the JCC’s part to help spread awareness about vaccine safety and get vulnerable members of the Staten Island community vaccinated. The event is free and open to all in the community.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said “At the JCC, we have been working hard to both educate and help secure vaccine appointments for Staten Islanders. We feel it is incredibly important to make sure our community is educated about the safety of the vaccine. Thank you to RUMC and our community partners for joining us in this initiative.”
Since December, COVID-19 vaccinations have been taking place across the borough for eligible individuals. Vaccines have been distributed at RUMC and during pop-up clinics at JCC facilities.
Dr. Otterbeck noted, “I hope the Town Hall will provide the members of our community the opportunity to ask questions they have on their minds related to COVID-19 based on the latest evidence in the medical and scientific literature.”
In addition to the JCC and RUMC, the event is presented by the COVID-19 Connect to Recovery initiative. Partner organizations include Arden Heights Boulevard Jewish Center, Congregation B’nai Jeshurun, Congregation Temple Emanu-El, Council of Jewish Organizations of Staten Island (COJO-SI), The Jewish Board, Jewish Russian Learning Center of South Beach, Met Council, Project Hospitality, Staten Island COAD, and UJA-Federation of New York.
To register for the free event, visit sijcc.org/vaccine
To submit questions in advance, email email@example.com
The Richmond Rockets running club and the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island are partnering to present the We Heart Our Seniors Virtual Race. The race, which will take place from February 6 to February 20, will support senior citizens through the JCC’s Seniors in Need initiative, as well as high school seniors through the Richmond Rockets Scholarship Fund.
Participants are encouraged to run a 5K or 10K at their own pace, outdoors at a local park or indoors on a treadmill. Participants can record their running times and submit them to the race coordinators to compete for best pace awards.
Registration fees collected from the race will not only fund scholarships for track athletes but will also help vulnerable senior citizens. During the pandemic, the JCC has distributed thousands of free, healthy meals to seniors through a contactless, grab-and-go pickup program. These meals reach hundreds of individuals who may be facing social isolation, financial hardship, and difficulty shopping for themselves due to the pandemic.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said “Seniors in our community rely on these meals. It’s so important to us that we can continue to make sure they don’t need to worry about where their next meal will come from.”
A registration fee of $25 can provide three healthy pre-packaged meals for seniors. Registration options include individual sign-ups and sweetheart packages for couples.
Ms. Lender added, “Right now, we only have enough funding to run the program through the end of January. With the help of this event and our Seniors in Need campaign, we hope to be able to continue the grab-and-go program throughout the winter. We are grateful to partner with our friends at the Richmond Rockets on this fun and important virtual race.”
The event coincides with February’s designation as Heart Health Month. Lisa Lubarsky, president of the Richmond Rockets and staff member at the JCC, said, “This race is a wonderful way to promote heart health while also opening our hearts to those in need in our community, especially seniors who have been impacted by the pandemic. We miss the excitement of running races together in-person, but it feels great to know that so many people on Staten Island will be out there getting healthier and doing some good for others.”
To register for the race, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-richmond-rockets-jcc-presents-we-heart-our-seniors-virtual-race-tickets-135576257235.
Learn more about our Seniors in Need campaign here.
Through its COVID-19 Connect to Recovery program, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island continues to provide critical social services to Staten Islanders experiencing hardships brought on by the pandemic.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC, said, “As we approach what might be a second wave of the virus, we want you to know that we will still be here for you and we are prepared to serve you with compassion and care throughout this crisis.”
With temperatures dropping and positive case rates rising, many are worried about a severe winter, especially for the vulnerable senior population who may be isolated and unable to shop for themselves. The JCC recently held a virtual food drive—a safer alternative to traditional collections of canned goods—to raise money to provide free, grab-and-go meals to seniors for the next six weeks.
Since moving its wide range of social services under one COVID-19 Connect to Recovery banner in May, the JCC has also connected thousands of Staten Islanders with access to food, health insurance navigation, legal help, mental health support, and much more. Upon contacting Connect to Recovery, clients complete a remote, initial comprehensive intake and assessment with a JCC social worker. The program is open to everyone, regardless of religion, JCC membership affiliation, or other identifiers.
Samantha—a Connect to Recovery client whose name has been changed to protect her privacy—is an example of the kinds of help available at the JCC. Samantha used to clean houses for a living, but once the pandemic struck, her customers were afraid of exposure to the virus and stopped using her services. Out of work, she contacted Connect to Recovery to get food from the Kosher Food Pantry. During her initial conversation with a social worker, she mentioned that she had over $10,000 in credit card debt that she could not pay due to her situation. The JCC put her in touch with a New York Legal Assistance Group financial counselor to discuss her options. She also received referrals for SNAP benefits and other social services. Now that Samantha has been diagnosed with COVID herself, the JCC has even arranged to have her neighbor pick up food from the food pantry and deliver it to her.
“I was unaware of the positive impact that one phone call to the JCC would have on my life,” Samantha noted.
Like Samantha, many clients first contact Connect to Recovery for help with one problem but, through their conversations with the JCC’s social workers, realize that assistance is available for other hardships they are facing.
Neshama Marcus, Chief Program Director of Community Based Programs, said, “Individuals in crisis don’t need added difficulties right now. Connect to Recovery makes it easy to get all the help you need from our caring staff members.”
If you or someone you know is in need of any assistance from Connect to Recovery, you can contact Carolyn at COVID19@sijcc.com or 718.475.5264. For more information, click here.
From Our CEO: Serving Families in Need
Over the past few months, you may have noticed stories of people we’ve been able to help in our email blasts and social media. These stories have been just a snapshot of the work we’ve been doing since COVID-19 hit. The JCC was forced to adapt to the new normal incredibly quickly—offering new services remotely to meet the needs we saw in our community. To help those impacted by the virus and its economic effects, we launched COVID-19 Connect to Recovery, a full array of free services to assist those in need.
In the first few months following the crisis, requests for our food pantry more than doubled. We’ve helped hundreds of people find health insurance and other benefits after they lost their jobs. We moved educational classes online to continue to serve children and adults. Seniors, including Holocaust survivors, reached out to us—not just for necessities, but also for the chance to connect to other people and help break their social isolation. We created new programs to address the mental health issues that arose from the pandemic.
While many businesses have begun to reopen, we know that the issues this crisis created will not go away overnight, and there are so many people in our borough who still need our help. At the JCC, we are constantly working on new programs to serve the new and growing needs we see in our community. Our staff has worked incredibly hard to get these programs up and running, and I am so proud of their dedication to our agency’s mission.
Luckily, we are not alone in this effort. The outpouring of generosity we’ve seen over the past few months has been incredible, and we are so grateful to all of our donors and funders who helped us keep our programs running through these turbulent times.
We know this will be a long road, so I hope you will consider donating to our Families in Need campaign, which helps us continue to run these essential programs in our community. With your support, we can continue to provide these life changing services to those hit hardest by the pandemic and help get Staten Islanders on the road to recovery.
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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