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 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
As 2020 comes to an end, I am writing to wish each of you a happy and safe holiday season and to express my gratitude for all that you have done in this most difficult time.
Though this year has been one of great pain and loss, I’m so proud of the work we’ve done to come together as a community. We had to change the way we operated, with protocols taking over our lives—from social distancing to contactless pickups to new reservation systems. For many of us, we got more acquainted with technology and learned the most important lesson of 2020: how to hit the mute button on Zoom. We wore masks, washed our hands, and navigated ever-changing rules. But through it all, we’ve been able to persevere. We’ve worked hard to continue to provide our community with vital services, meaningful connections, and heartfelt care. This is, truly, something to be thankful for this holiday season.
I ask that, as we continue celebrating joyous moments over the holiday season, you continue to do your part to stop the spread of COVID-19. We know that small gatherings have been a major source of transmission, and we are seeing higher rates on Staten Island than in the rest of the City. In order to help keep our JCC family safe, please do not enter any of our facilities if you’re not feeling well, have been exposed, or are living with someone who is experiencing symptoms. Though we can now see the light at the end of the tunnel, until the vaccine is readily available, we still need to be vigilant about protecting our community.
We are grateful for your continued care and patience as we continue to navigate the next phase of this crisis. Thank you to all our donors, members, participants, volunteers, and partner organizations for sticking with us throughout the past year. We were only able to succeed because of your unending support, and that is a tribute to how much it means to have you as part of our JCC family.
I wish you and your loved ones a happy and peaceful holiday, as well as a healthy and joyous new year!
As the holidays and New Year approach, we reflect back on the unprecedented events of this year. There is no doubt that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be etched into our collective memories forever. Through it all, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC has been here for our community, through our in-person and virtual programs, as well as through our work helping those hit hardest by the pandemic.
While we know that this has been a hard year for everyone, for seniors who have been isolated for months, it has been even harder. We were proud to be able to bring back grab and go meals to help seniors access healthy food options in a safe way.
Thanks to the generous donations we received from our Virtual Food Drive, we will be able to provide these meals through the holiday season, and we hope to secure enough funding to continue them throughout the winter. Learn more about our Virtual Food Drive here.
We’ve also hosted virtual social events for Holocaust survivors through our Café Europa social club. In the fall, we held a Sukkot celebration where we celebrated the 100th birthday of one of our survivors, Margot Capell. Her family and friends from all over the country were able to join us virtually for this special evening.
To celebrate Chanukah, we’re hosting another special event for our Holocaust Survivors this Monday at 6:30pm. The event will include a candle lighting ceremony, music, art, and more. All are invited to join us at this Zoom celebration.
This Chanukah, we compelled more than ever to do good for others as we face these tough times. This week, on our social media accounts, we will be highlighting eight values for each night of Chanukah. Though these values are based in Jewish tradition, they are universal to the human experience:
This year, more than ever, we can see the importance of these values in everything we do, from wearing masks to protect those around us to checking in on those who are isolated. We at the JCC will continue to follow these values as part of our core mission, and I hope you will continue to include them in your own daily life.
While this season naturally leads us to care for others, I also want to remind everyone that, now more than ever, it’s important to take a moment for self-care. Whether it takes the form of meditation, exercise, watching a movie, or even just taking a long breath at the end of the day, it’s crucial to take some time for yourself this holiday season. For me, spending time with my husband and kids reenergizes and rejuvenates me on my days off. I hope you can experience the same joyful time with family, either in-person or virtually, this holiday season.
On behalf of the JCC family, I wish you a happy and safe holiday season.
This year has taught us to be even more grateful, not just for what we have individually, but for the community around us. We’ve seen essential workers step up to the plate and take care of our community. I want to say a special thank you to our staff members, who have been doing this essential work day and night over the past few months. Without them, the JCC would not have been able to weather the storms and continue to serve our community.
Through this work, we can see that so many of our friends and neighbors are still hurting. Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen an uptick in cases through our Resource Navigator program, which links those who test positive with needed services. The need for our Kosher Food Pantry has quadrupled over the past few months. Our other social services, including navigation for health insurance, benefits, and legal services, have also been in high demand.
For anyone in need, the JCC is here for you. Our COVID-19 Connect to Recovery services are free and available remotely to anyone who has been negatively impacted by the pandemic. We are excited that we were able to restart our Grab & Go meal distribution for seniors this week, and we are prepared to provide additional services as needs arise throughout this next wave of the pandemic.
While we work together to heal the wounds caused by the crisis, my hope is for all of us to continue to do our part to help keep our community safe. Our individual actions can help keep others—even those we’ve never met—healthy, and I hope you will continue to stay vigilant during the holidays.
As this is the season of thanks, I could not end this letter without thanking you, our members and participants, for sticking with us over the past year. Our board and staff are so thankful to all of you for continuing to support us throughout these difficult times. Your commitment to our mission is a major part of what makes the JCC so special.
Wishing you and your families a safe and happy Thanksgiving!
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.
Throughout the year, the JCC is proud to offer family-oriented programs that bring children and their families together to create special memories. The most recent in our great lineup of events was a Hanukkah party on December 15.
The Cultural Arts department put together a fabulous party with activities for everyone to enjoy together. Partygoers were entertained by a clown and a magician, who performed an act with a live rabbit. The entertainers also painted the children’s faces and made balloon animals! Everyone got into the Hanukkah spirit with the help of a costumed dreidel character. Families decorated Hanukkah-themed gingerbread houses with candy and gelt. No party would be complete without food, so guests were treated to delicious latkes and soufganiyot.
Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate the Festival of Lights with us! We wish you and your families a very happy Hanukkah!
In celebration of Veterans Day, we are collecting the following items at the Bernikow & Avis/South Shore Buildings through the month of November:
· Body wash & liquid soap
· Shampoo/conditioner (full sized)
· Single edge disposable razors
· Large print word puzzle books
· Sweatpants sizes M - XL
· Craft/art supplies: adult coloring books, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, art books, watercolor books
All donated items will be distributed at the Brooklyn VA Medical Center. Thank you to all our Veterans for your service!
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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