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
I hope you were able to take some time during the fall holidays to relax with your family. As we’ve learned over the past year and a half, family is truly something to be cherished. At the JCC, we feel especially strongly about the importance of providing programs for the entire family to enjoy.
A few weeks ago, we welcomed hundreds of families back to the JCC at our Fall Harvest Festival. It was wonderful to see familiar faces as well as many new ones. Our staff and I really enjoyed seeing kids play, sing, dance, and have fun outside with their families and friends.
The festival kicked off a season of fall programming that is designed with children of all ages, interests, and abilities in mind. From sports to aquatics to School’s Out and Sunday Funday activities, we have something for everyone. We are also offering programs that the whole family can enjoy, like our parent/child music classes, self defense classes, and Pet ‘n Play event with Wild Side Zoo. For more information on all of our fall offerings, check out our Program Guide here.
In a few weeks, we will host Kids Front & Center, a virtual event honoring the work done on behalf of children throughout the pandemic. At the event, we will honor three local leaders, Lt. Rafet Awad, Rose Kerr, and Miriam Prat-Jerez, for their transformative work with children. Their tireless efforts have improved the quality of life for so many kids and families in our community.
We will also recognize all the work our own JCC staff has done for kids throughout the pandemic. While many others were forced to close their doors, we were able to serve hundreds of children with in-person programs throughout the past year and a half. Our programs were a lifeline for families of essential workers struggling to find childcare options. Kids Front & Center will benefit our programs for kids and will make sure we can keep them running throughout the rest of the pandemic and beyond. You can learn more about the event here.
I hope to see you, either in-person or virtually, at one of our many fall kids events!
-Orit Lender, CEO
Next week marks the celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. During the weeks before Rosh Hashanah, we traditionally reflect on the year that has passed and share our hopes for the year that is to come.
Over the past year, we finally got to reunite with friends and family. We were grateful to see our programs reopen in person. While we still have safety restrictions in place, it has been wonderful to see so many people back in our facilities.
At the JCC, we spent the last year finding new ways to reach out to our community. We created new programs, like Learning Bridges and Summer Rising, to provide childcare and help children stay engaged in their schoolwork while learning remotely. We developed our Resource Navigation program, which helped meet the needs of those suffering from Covid. Through our vaccination clinics and referral process, we helped over 3,000 people in our community get vaccinated, including hundreds of seniors and Holocaust survivors. Other traditional programs were tweaked to fit new regulations, but grew nonetheless—like our camp program, which saw the largest enrollment we’ve ever had.
Through the past year, we were able to navigate the changing landscape with grace and perseverance. The core mission of our agency has kept us grounded and allowed us to keep moving forward, even when we were thrown curveball after curveball. Our JCC exemplified the Jewish value of caring for others, reaching out a helping hand to anyone in need. And as we move forward, we know we will face new challenges—but we will surely tackle them with creativity and passion.
Looking to the year ahead, we have plans to further expand our services and provide opportunities for community members to connect with each other. We will kick off our fall season with our Fall Harvest Festival on September 19th—a day of fun for the whole family. Click here to learn more about the free event.
We have activities and programs planned for people of all ages and abilities throughout the fall and winter. You can learn about all our fall programs in our brand-new Program Guide.
As we’ve learned over the past year and a half, spending time with friends and family is incredibly important. I hope you will take time during the holidays to enjoy your loved ones.
I want to wish L’Shana Tova U’Metukah to all who celebrate. May you all have a sweet and healthy new year!
Last week, we hosted a party for our friend Angela Olsen as she celebrated her 60th birthday. But this wasn’t just a gathering to celebrate Angela’s big day—it was the kickoff of a new fund in the Olsen family’s name at Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island, a free camp for children with cancer and their siblings.
Angela and her husband Tom, a JCC Board Member, know firsthand what it’s like for our Sunrise families. They are the parents of three boys, TJ, Andrew, and Mark. As a child, TJ was diagnosed with cancer. Now an adult, TJ serves as the inspiration for the family’s efforts to give back to other children with cancer.
As Angela said herself, “Having had a son with pediatric cancer, I knew we had to commit ourselves to this cause and how important this camp is, not only to the kids but their families.”
The family’s generosity and commitment to our campers led to the naming of the Olsen Family Wellness Center Fund for Sunrise Day Camp. The fund will support the Olsen Family Wellness Center, a key component of the Sunrise experience.
While we often focus on the more active aspects of camp, the Olsen Family Wellness Center is crucial for our campers. If they aren’t feeling well or just need a place to decompress, campers can go to the Olsen Family Wellness Center for some quiet time and medical attention. Our camp nurses are trained to care specifically for children with cancer, who have different medical needs than typical campers. This year in particular, the Olsen Family Wellness Center is more important than ever in the face of the pandemic.
The Olsens have long been involved with Sunrise, and this new naming opportunity has brought them even closer to the cause. Tom and Andrew, along with Jessica Caracciolo and Karen Aversa, have chaired our Sunshine Sunday event in the past, and they look forward to bringing the event back early next year. Andrew is also holding his own birthday fundraiser to support the fund later this month.
We are incredibly grateful for their unwavering support throughout the years, as well as their continued commitment to the children of Sunrise. It has been wonderful to see the Olsen family’s love and support of our campers grow throughout the years, and we know there is more to come!
If you are interested in donating to support the fund, you can do so here.
-Orit Lender, CEO
We know that this summer is critical to ensure continued learning, to build trust, and to create space for young people to re-connect and re-engage with one another. To help compensate for the loss of learning that many students have experienced during the pandemic, we are offering several programs to help kids back on track while still having fun this summer.
Our newest program is Summer Rising, which we will run for free at various schools in conjunction with DYDC and the DOE. This is an academic enrichment program that aims to help prepare students for school in the fall. Summer Rising will provide opportunities for young people to learn, to get outside, and engage with peers and caring adults in safe, supervised, and enriching robust programs, readying them for a return to school in September.
In our JCC Day Camp programs, we are partnering with Catapult Learning to provide a summer learning program to enrolled JCC campers. The Summer Learning Experience has been funded through the generosity of a grant from UJA-Federation, which allows us to provide this service to campers free of charge.
In our Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island, we also include STEM as part of our programming. Projects are tailored to children’s ages and abilities. This week, campers learned about engineering using pipe cleaners, sticks, and marshmallows!
These programs are only able to run thanks to the generosity of our donors and funders. This Monday, we will host our 41st Annual Golf & Tennis Classic. Funds raised at this event will allow us to award camp scholarships to children in need, including kids with special needs. While the golf portion of the event is sold out, we still have a few tennis slots available. By playing or donating to the event, you are helping our children thrive in the face of adversity. You can learn more about the Outing here.
We are proud to be able to provide these services, and with your support, we can help even more kids make academic progress before school begins again.
-Orit Lender, CEO
This weekend, we will celebrate the 4th of July and our nation’s independence. For many of us, this is one of the first times we will be gathering with family and friends since the pandemic began. While we are certainly not yet completely out of the pandemic, this holiday gives us a chance to take a breath and have some much-needed fun.
At the JCC, we are also celebrating the successful launch of camp this week, as well as the addition of two new Board Members, Angie Master and Ed Sappin.
Angie Master is a real estate broker at Casandra Properties. Born in South Korea, she was raised in Spokane, Washington before moving to New York. Previously, Angie served on the Board of Trustees at Staten Island Academy, where she chaired the Trustees Committee. She cares about expanding educational opportunities for all children and has volunteered as a tutor at a KIPP Charter school in Newark and at Seamen’s Society on Staten Island. Angie and her husband Dan have two children, Emma and Trip, who attended preschool at the Avis JCC and went on to attend Stanford.
Edward Sappin is a native Staten Islander with strong ties to the Jewish community and has been affiliated with the Jewish Community Center since he was a child, going to Family Park and attending summer camp. Ed has a proven track record as a leader and investor, with strong results in fundraising, organizational development and business development. Ed is the founder and CEO of Sappin Global Strategies, an investment and advisory group, and is also a Partner at Nimali, a renewable energy investment group. Ed serves on the Board of the New York Chapter of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) Alumni Group and is a member of the Christer Herter Society. Ed is the father of three children and the son of Sue Sappin, our Board President.
We are so proud to have Angie and Ed on our Board. I hope you will join me in giving them a warm welcome!
Angie and Ed were formally installed at our Annual Meeting a few weeks ago. We were thrilled to be able to have our first in-person Board Meeting in over a year—my first since taking over as CEO last July. Seeing our Board Members was a reminder of how much they have given of themselves over the past year and a half. From serving on emergency committees to answering emails and phone calls at all hours, our Board stepped up in so many ways. We would not have been able to get through the pandemic without their dedication and support. I want to thank each and every one of them for the work they have done and continue to do for our JCC.
Thanks to the guidance of our Board and the hard work of our staff, we have been able to accomplish so much over the past year. I hope you will take a few moments to watch this video of our year in review.
I wish you and your family a safe and happy 4th of July!
-Orit Lender, CEO
Senior services are an important part of the work we do every day at the JCC, but we’re especially excited to put the spotlight on our seniors this month. This June marks a month dedicated to senior health and wellness as our agency hosts the Beatrice Victor Senior Olympics and the Conference on Aging.
The Beatrice Victor Senior Olympics, which began on June 1, has taken on a virtual format this year due to restrictions on in-person events put in place by the NYC Department for the Aging (DFTA). The pandemic has reminded us how important self-care is, so the events we’ve chosen are all about taking care of our minds, bodies, and souls by having fun doing the activities we enjoy.
In addition to traditional athletic events like cycling and swimming, participants can also select activities that improve mental and spiritual well-being, such as word games, reading, meditating, and volunteering. We are co-sponsoring the Beatrice Victor Senior Olympics with DFTA, the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, the YMCA, and the Staten Island Advance.
The free event will wrap up this Sunday and will be followed by a Virtual Closing Ceremony on Friday, June 18th from 3-4pm. You can join us on Zoom here.
Beginning Monday, we invite all to join our Conference on Aging, sponsored by Vitacare LTC: an Enexia Company. Like the Senior Olympics, this five-day virtual educational forum focuses on holistic well-being and offers something for everyone over 50.
Each day, participants can choose from a variety of free workshops and seminars on topics important to seniors. Highlights include exercise and meditation classes, an interactive healthy cooking demonstration with Chef Kim Leo, and a seminar on relationships with acclaimed author and television personality Dr. Pepper Schwartz. Several programs also focus specifically on the effects of the pandemic on seniors, including advice for handling stress and social isolation. You can see all of the events and register here.
Together, the Beatrice Victor Senior Olympics and Conference on Aging reflect the JCC’s commitment to improving Staten Island seniors’ independence and quality of life. These wonderful events are all about empowering older adults to feel their best in every area of their lives.
As we begin to see our city fully reopen, we look forward to welcoming seniors back into the building in the very near future. Stay tuned for a big announcement later this month!
-Orit Lender, CEO
Last week, the ceasefire following Israel’s 11-day conflict with Hamas was welcome news after days of violence and death. We are all so relieved that the ceasefire continues to hold and that tensions in the region appear to be deescalating.
Unfortunately, we soon learned of anti-Semitic acts in our own city. We are heartbroken by these acts of violence and hatred. That’s why I was so proud to stand up with local leaders on Wednesday to push back against bigotry in our community at a press conference on the steps of Borough Hall.
We were joined by elected officials from both parties, leaders from various organizations, and representatives from diverse communities that represent Staten Island. Our message was one of unity, peace, and collaboration.
The hatred we’ve seen cannot continue to spread unchecked. We cannot stand by while seeing anti-Semitism, anti-Asian hate crimes, and other bigotry take place in our community. At the JCC, we are proud to stand strong with our fellow Staten Islanders to say that we will not allow hatred to take hold in our community.
As we always say at the JCC, the answer to hate is love, and we will continue to help spread that message in any way we can.
Additionally, we are partnering with JCC Association of North America to present a special virtual town hall on the rise of anti-Semitism in North America. The two-part series, which features Israel’s Acting Consul General Israel Nitzan, will help us understand the current rise in antisemitism in North America and what we can do in response. The series begins Tuesday, and you can register here.
We are fortunate to live in a diverse community and get to interact with people of different races, religions, ethnicities, and identities. As we approach Memorial Day, a somber reminder of those who have sacrificed so much for our country, I am grateful for the rich tapestry of American life and culture. We will continue to work to ensure that everyone, no matter their background, feels safe and accepted in our community.
I wish you all a peaceful holiday weekend.
Summer is right around the corner, and we want to share some great news about Lucille & Jay Chazanoff Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island, a free camp for children with cancer and their siblings.
After a virtual camp experience last summer, we are happy to announce that Sunrise will resume in-person camp on July 1st. We are also excited to announce that we have found a new home for Sunrise on the campus of Staten Island Academy.
Staten Island Academy boasts a 12-acre campus, offering ample space for Sunrise campers to take part in activities both indoors and outdoors. In addition to previous summers’ activities, campers will also now have access to two swimming pools and larger field space. To ensure the health and safety of all its campers, Sunrise will have exclusive use of their own program areas separate from the Staten Island Academy’s summer programs.
Unfortunately, over the past year, we have all experienced firsthand what it feels like for a family of a child with cancer. The fear and uncertainty that we have been feeling is what our campers and their families have felt every day since their diagnoses. That’s why we’re thrilled to be able to bring back a safe, in-person experience for these children to allow them to socialize and enjoy themselves. Sunrise Day Camp brings back the joys of childhood to children struggling with cancer, transforming months of loneliness and isolation into summers filled with friendship, laughter, and happiness.
Sunrise will operate this summer from July 1 - August 5, with enhanced safety protocols in place to minimize the potential of any COVID-19 transmission at camp. A virtual camp option will also be available for those families who may prefer or need distance-camping.
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, Sunrise Sundays and Sunrise on Wheels, are provided completely free of charge to campers’ families. Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island proudly serves children with cancer and their siblings from Staten Island, Manhattan, Brooklyn, and nearby New Jersey on a non-sectarian basis. We are a proud member of the Sunrise Association, whose mission is to bring back the joys of childhood to children with cancer and their siblings worldwide.
Funds for Sunrise Day Camp-Staten Island are raised through donations and community events, including our annual SunriseWALKS in June. We hope you will join us for this year’s event, SunriseWALKS YOUR WAY, which will take place on Sunday, June 27th. You can participate in the walk from anywhere that is fun, meaningful, and safe! You can learn more and register here.
We are eagerly counting down the days until summer is here, and we can’t wait for our Sunrise campers to get to explore their new summer home!
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.
Recently, we’ve seen a frightening uptick in violent acts across the country. Many of these acts have been targeted against members of the Asian-American community. We are horrified and saddened by these hateful acts and stand strong with the AAPI community to condemn this bigotry and violence. We grieve the loss of life and pray for peace in our community and country.
At our JCC, we truly believe that the answer to hate is love. Hate and violence of any kind have no place in our society, and every day, we push back against those who promote racism and bigotry. Through education and community building, we work to make sure everyone feels included in our programming. Everyone is welcome at the JCC, regardless of race, ethnicity, or religion. We will continue to work to ensure that all people are treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve.
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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
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Staten Island, NY 10314