Over the years JCC Manhattan has become a gathering place, where members and friends can discuss the topics of the day, from advances in medicine to the latest from Jerusalem. The JCC is also a living organism, actively shaping 21st-century Jewish life. The stories in this section, which originally appeared in our seasonal program guides, serve as an introduction to some of the people and programs that represent that change, that make us so much more than a community center. We hope they inspire as well as inform!



Teen Tutors Pay It Forward Teen Tutors Pay It Forward

For ninth-graders Jason Johnson and Kevin Morales, volunteering as tutors in JCC Manhattan’s Gift of Literacy and Math programs this summer was something of a déjà vu experience. In elementary school, they were students in the program themselves.

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Healthy Body, Healthy BrainHealthy Body, Healthy Brain

Some may view the link between physical fitness and brain health as a brand-new discovery. But at JCC Manhattan and its Marti Ann Meyerson Center for Health and Wellness, we’ve known the importance of—and nurtured—that connection for a decade.

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Witness Theater: Preserving The Past For Future GenerationsWitness Theater: Preserving The Past For Future Generations

In the JCC’s Goldman-Sonnenfeldt Family Auditorium, a group of 15 teens and senior citizens walk out in silence before a waiting audience. They’re there to share stories—the Holocaust survival stories of the very seniors now seated on the stage. Black-and- white images of the adults, many as children with their families, are projected onto large screens as the teens, solemnly dressed, act out scenes from the adults’ experiences, while the adults and teens take turns narrating their very personal stories.
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Ruth Messinger: Blazing New Trails Ruth Messinger: Blazing New Trails
While the JCC's Joseph Stern Center for Social Responsibility was just launched this summer, it already has significant muscle behind it.

Its origins are in Ma'yan, which, through nearly 25 years at JCC Manhattan, provided feminist, social justice, and leadership training to women and teen girls. And with decades of political and social justice experience, Ruth Messinger, the center's social justice activist in residence, and its staff, are working to spread justice and activism throughout the JCC and the community as a whole.
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10 Years of ReelAbilities 10 Years of ReelAbilities
In 2011, the ReelAbilities NY Film Festival screened the film Wretches and Jabberers, a documentary about two nonverbal men with autism.

Afterward, the film's stars used electronic devices to answer questions from the audience, but it was the communication between the men and the nonverbal children in the audience (via keyboards or pointing to letters on pages their parents were holding) that festival director Isaac (Yitzi) Zablocki found particularly moving.
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Out at the J Out at the J: Welcoming + Evolving
With one of the earliest—and ongoing—goals of JCC Manhattan being the creation of a safe and inclusive space for all populations, it’s not surprising that LGBTQ programs were among the first few established.

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Classes-but Even More, Community. Classes—but Even More, Community
David Hatcher and his husband, Herbert Godoy, found their son, Jaylen, through David's job,
but they found a community through the JCC.

An executive news producer at WNBC in New York, Hatcher was responsible for a recurring segment called Wednesday's Child, which highlights a child in the foster care system who is up for adoption. "I had approved the script for Jaylen's story," he remembers, "and when I went to look at the piece before it went on air, I felt an immediate connection. I told Herbert, ‘This is our boy.'"

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Sharing The Voices of Israel Sharing The Voices of Israel
JCC Manhattan has long prided itself on its deep connection to Israel;
in fact, that connection is one of our core values.

In May 2015, the JCC demonstrated its commitment to that value when it first collaborated with Israel Story, a podcast which has been characterized as the Israeli version of This American Life. The result was a multimedia program called Israel Story Live.

Israel Story Live was conceived to share podcasts that focus on everyday Israelis with American audiences that don't have regular access to thoughtful, provocative, and entertaining material on Israeli culture and life. Through storytelling, animation, video, and music, it aims to amplify Israeli voices and stories rarely heard in the mainstream community.

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Fly Fishing Vets Fly Fishing Vets Cast their Sights on The JCC
JCC Manhattan's third-floor gym may not be the first place you'd expect to see a group of anglers practicing their fly fishing skills, but the JCC is a surprising place.

JCC member and fly fisherman John Enochty discovered Project Healing Waters eight years ago through an ad in a fly fishing magazine. The organization helps disabled veterans learn a new skill while interacting socially with others. Though he had no connection to the veteran community, Enochty was immediately drawn to the idea. "I found the vets to be an interesting mix of people who wanted to immerse themselves in the sport of fly fishing. I was very happy to share my knowledge with them and also lend my support to a group who are talked about frequently in the news but for the most part are abandoned and forgotten about.

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Best Summer Ever "Best Summer Ever": Reflections on Camp Settoga's Inaugural Year
The JCC purchased a beautiful 21-acre property in Pomona, NY, in January 2016. The site, formerly a German biergarten known as the Platzl Brauhaus, quickly morphed into a state-of-the-art Jewish day camp we named Camp Settoga, complete with a heated Olympic-size pool, a 16-element challenge course, tennis courts, basketball, gymnastics, golf, culinary arts, a working garden, and much more.

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A JCC Opens in Harlem A JCC Opens in Harlem
In the years since it opened its doors in 1989, JCC Manhattan has worked to shape a vision of 21st-century Jewish life on the Upper West Side and beyond. That vision is the inspiration behind JCC Harlem, a 6,000-squarefoot space opening its doors to the public in January 2017.

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Judy Gross: Making A Difference at the JCC and Beyond Judy Gross: Making A Difference at the JCC and Beyond
JCC Manhattan's literacy programs rest on one basic truth: One person can make a huge difference in another person's life. Judy Gross, JCC Manhattan’s director of literacy, math, and volunteer programs, embodies this principle while inspiring thousands of others to make a difference as well.

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Radiating Out: Shabbat Hits the Road Radiating Out: Shabbat Hits the Road
Since 2008, JCC Manhattan has encouraged the community to welcome Shabbat not with a bang, but with a "Shabbang." Thousands of people have come together on Friday evenings to break bread with friends, family, and neighbors. Shabbat Shabbang and Shabbat Shabbang Jr. dinners feature gourmet dinners, Shabbat rituals, and entertainment in a warm, welcoming environment.

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Stories from the Fall 2016 Program Guide

On the Front Line: Meet Colton Tracy On the Front Line: Meet Colton Tracy
If you've stopped by JCC Manhattan's Box Office to ask a question or register for a program, chances are you've met Director of Registration Colton Tracy and his team of registration associates—the smiling, patient souls who share the impossible task of knowing a little bit about everything that goes on at the JCC—and the Upper West Side in general, for that matter. Managing registration for approximately 1,200 programs in any given season can be a challenge, but with a decade at the JCC under his belt, Tracy has got it down.

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Circles of Welcome: Building Jewish Communities Circles of Welcome: Building Jewish Communities
Navigating unfamiliar territory is often easier when you don’t have to go it alone. This applies to learning to play a new sport, buying a property, or discovering how to raise a Jewish family, whatever that means to you.

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Creating Treasures from Trash: Daniel Passantino Creating Treasures from Trash: Daniel Passantino
For Daniel Passantino, "one man's trash is another man's treasure" is not a phrase to be taken lightly. In fact, the 28-year-old Manhattanite takes it literally.

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It Takes a Community: A Groundbreaking Approach to Parkinson's Care It Takes a Community: A Groundbreaking Approach to Parkinson's Care
For those affected by Parkinson's disease, a progressive neurological illness, life can seem an endless series of challenges—to one's mobility, to one’s physical and mental well-being, and even to interactions with others. But for the past nine years, the Edmond J. Safra Parkinson's Wellness Program- NYC, a partnership between JCC Manhattan and the Fresco Institute for Parkinson's and Movement Disorders at NYU Langone, has helped New Yorkers with Parkinson’s and their families turn those challenges into opportunities.

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