On Thursday, October 8, the JCC on the Hudson broke ground on a new 6.6-acre community campus in Tarrytown and announced its new name, “The Harold and Elaine Shames JCC on the Hudson.” It will be the first time in 40 years that a new JCC will be constructed in Westchester County.
The new campus will quadruple the organization’s current space, adding two indoor swimming pools, a 6000-sq.-ft. fitness center, a gymnasium, an auditorium and more. The future JCC will encompass the organization’s current site and the site of the former GM Training facility right next door. With all its new facilities, the new JCC will offer exciting opportunities for everyone in the Rivertowns.
“We hope to create a community center built on core values that will engage and connect the entire community in a meaningful way,” said Frank Hassid, executive director of the non-sectarian Jewish Community Center.
The festivities on the 8th were much more than just a shovel in the ground to the Rivertowns, which boasts the fastest-growing Jewish population in Westchester–19 percent, according to the UJA-Federation of NY Jewish Population Study (2011), since its last measurement. It is the culmination of a journey beginning 25 years ago with the Yonkers JCC.
“I met my husband Jeff at the JCC in Yonkers when I was 15 years old and belonged to a club called the Slick Chicks,” recalled Carole Siegel, of Hartsdale. “There were many clubs in the 1950s for teenagers and it was truly a place to socialize and meet new friends. The Yonkers JCC was such a wonderful community.”
As demographics changed and the Jewish community moved north, so did the JCC–becoming JCC on the Hudson, a “J” without walls–implementing programs at local synagogues, churches, public schools, and storefronts. In 1995, the JCC opened a permanent home in Tarrytown, establishing a thriving nursery school, a pre-school day camp, music school, after-school programs, cultural arts, adult programs, special needs programs and fitness center and programs.
Today, the JCC on the Hudson hosts many families with young children (including those moving out of Manhattan and Brooklyn); active seniors, including 105-year-old Dr. Gunter Lorenz of Ossining, who exclaimed “I can’t wait for the next 100 years!”; and everyone in between. Newcomers are as welcome as multiple generations of the same family.
“We are still members of the JCC and are enjoying the many wonderful adult activities at the J,” said Siegel. “Both Jeff and I can’t wait to experience the new facility.”
20 years almost to the day after opening in Tarrytown, the “J” broke ground on its new, larger campus to better serve the broader community.
By Lori Robinson