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 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 718.475.5236.
-Orit Lender, CEO
On Thursday, February 3rd, the Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC of Staten Island joined The Clean Energy Academy and other community partners to announce a partnership that will offer workforce development opportunities in the Staten Island community.
The JCC and The Clean Energy Academy will 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.
Additional partners in the program include New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), ConEdison’s Small-Medium Business Program, Energy EDC, Soulful Synergy, GreenTech LEADers, and Life3.
The program is part of JCC Career Connections, which offers comprehensive assessments that guide individuals looking for career help to the appropriate trainings, workshops, job fairs, mentorships, and internships.
JCC CEO Orit Lender said, “We are so excited to add this training to our Career Connections programming. This is beneficial for people looking to begin their career in this field and will help make our community greener and more energy efficient. Thank you to our community partners for their crucial work in helping us get this program off the ground. We are thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to Staten Islanders looking for career training in this sector.”
Assembly Member Michael Cusick, the chair of the NYS Assembly Energy Committee, noted, “The Clean Energy Academy’s work in energy efficiency training is a valuable tool in our continued effort to clean up our energy grid in the state of New York, and to have it on Staten Island at the JCC is a great thing. This is a tremendous workforce development opportunity for our local community, and it will have a strong impact on how our local businesses contribute to our shared goal of reducing emissions in the state of New York.”
Director of Workforce Development and Training at the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority Adele Ferranti said: “NYSERDA is excited to partner with Energy EDC, the Staten Island Jewish Community Center, and the members of the Willdan Clean Energy Academy to expand the Academy’s Small Commercial Energy Efficiency Analyst Electrical and Thermal Systems training to Staten Island. The project builds on curriculum that was successfully piloted and leverages a winning workforce development model that will provide residents with hands-on technical training, industry-recognized certifications, and generous supportive services – all with a direct pathway to well-paying clean energy jobs, which is vital as New York transitions to a clean energy economy.”
“The transition to a clean energy future is producing good jobs for people who have the skills, knowledge and commitment,” said Shaun Hoyte, who oversees Con Edison’s energy efficiency programs for small- and medium-sized businesses. “This comprehensive training program that JCC of Staten Island, Soulful Synergy and other partners are offering can be a first step for those looking to get started in a career helping energy customers make upgrades that will save them money and reduce emissions.”
This 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.
In memory of Nancy Cohen:
Please accept our sincerest condolences on your recent loss. We only just heard of Nancy's passing.
-The Brenner Family, Roz, Murray, Susan and Steven
In memory of Monica Buchnik:
Our deepest condolences to you and your family on the loss of your beloved Mother.
-Belinda and Howard
Over the past few weeks, we have been shocked and saddened by the news of anti-Semitism in our community. We know that Jews are the most common victim of hate crimes, with anti-Semitic hate crimes accounting for more than half of all religious bias crimes.
Recently, just over the bridge in Brooklyn, a young College of Staten Island Hillel student was beaten up for wearing an Israel Defense Forces hoodie. Over the weekend, the news out of Colleysville, Texas horrified our nation. We are grateful that the hostages were released, but every incident like this continues to shake the Jewish community.
In response to these anti-Semitic acts, we are taking additional precautions to ensure the safety of our members, participants, and staff. We are following our security protocols, which include working with NYPD, UJA, and JCRC’s Community Security Initiative, which connects us to many law enforcement agencies. We are also grateful for COJO’s effort to mobilize NYPD to places of worship.
Earlier this week, I attended a gathering of elected officials, clergy, and community leaders to push back on the anti-Semitism and hatred we have seen locally and nationally. It was fitting that we came together on Martin Luther King Jr. Day to talk about the importance of tolerance and understanding each other.
At the JCC, we are open and welcoming to people of all walks of life. At the core of our mission are the Jewish values of caring for our neighbors and Tikkun Olam—repairing the world. We believe in unity and inclusion, and we condemn hate and bigotry of any kind. It was heartening to see this message echoed by our community and elected leaders on Monday.
Sadly, this was not the first time we have joined together as a community to deliver this message, and it will likely it will not be the last. We are fortunate that the Staten Island community is not willing to be silent on this issue. Every time we see anti-Semitism and bigotry, we will be loud in voicing that it is not acceptable.
We continue to work with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League and the American Jewish Committee to educate our community on these issues. We are also beginning to work on a new initiative called PATH, in partnership with JCRC, to help combat anti-Semitism and hate crimes. We look forward to sharing more about this in the near future.
I am grateful to our local leaders for confronting the issue of anti-Semitism head on and encourage everyone to join us as we stand up against hate in our borough.
-Orit Lender, CEO
Two unique local Girl Scouts troops have begun their annual cookie sales. Troops 5227 and 5312, which meet at the JCC of Staten Island and P37R, are inclusive troops open to girls of all abilities.
Proceeds from the sales will help cut participation costs for the troops, which are comprised of girls with disabilities. The programs’ inclusivity enriches the experience for all troop members, regardless of ability.
“Girl Scouts allows our girls with special needs to have a chance to just be children and interact with their typically developing peers,” said troop leader Lisa Rosenfeld. “In turn, by being part of a collaborative troop, our typically developing girls grow up with girls who have special needs as their friends and peers. They don’t look at them any differently.”
These programs offer unique opportunities that children might not have elsewhere. Several members of the troop travel to Staten Island from the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn to participate. In addition, the troops allow children with disabilities to participate and make memories with their siblings. Rosenfeld said, “Without our Girl Scout troops, many of these sisters would not have the chance to participate in an extracurricular activity together.”
Selling cookies is one of the hallmarks of the Girl Scout experience. For all members of Troops 5227 and 5312, this is an opportunity not only to raise money for their troops but also to develop valuable communication, social, and life skills.
Many girls in these troops are non-verbal and rely on AAC devices to communicate. After hearing their devices repeatedly say the phrase, “Buy cookies please,” some have even said their first unprompted words while selling cookies and have gone on to help their troops sell thousands of boxes.
Orit Lender, CEO of the JCC of Staten Island—home to Troop 5227—said, “We are so proud of our Girl Scout troop for being a safe space for girls of all abilities to grow and have fun together. We hope you’ll support our hardworking Girl Scouts by buying a box of cookies!”
Cookies can be purchased from Troop 5227 here and from Troop 5312 here. Free shipping is available through January 23 when you buy a minimum of five packages.
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