The Jewish Community Center threw open its doors Sunday, March 18, to celebrate the re-opening of its facility at 360 Amity Road after a devastating fire in December 2016 had closed the building. Jewish Federation President Norm Ravski welcomed elected officials, friends, donors and volunteers to the ceremony in a tightly packed Café 360. Many thank-yous were the order of the day, making it clear that the community was at the heart of this renovation.
“What we found through this process was that 360 Amity Road is essential to our community,” said David Trachten, chairman of the building committee. The inclusive process of reaching out to the community and hearing out its needs has brought about new commitment to the location and its purpose.
Since the soft opening in January, one by one new areas of the building have been opening up to the membership, including a reconfigured fitness area, spa and locker area, the updated gym, a climbing wall and more. New and novel are also a co-working space as well as rooms dedicated to the creative arts, an area referred to as the Maker Space.
“Sometimes we are tested in ways none of us ever imagined,” said Jewish Federation CEO Judy Alperin in her speech, adding that the community came out stronger than ever. She thanked elected and town officials for their support during the fire and in its aftermath, and above all the staff who worked tirelessly to keep things running even while they were “in exile.” Alperin in particular thanked JCC director Scott Cohen and his family for their time and patience.
JCC President Scott Hurwitz thanked the many donors who helped make the renewal possible, in particular the Rothberg Family of Laticrete, who contributed not only materials, but know-how and technical support; as well as the Levy Family. A year ago, the JCC board had set a fund-raising goal of $2million to make the new features possible. They had reached the $1.25 million mark, Hurwitz announced. He said they would increase their fundraising goal to $3million to help secure the future of the JCC.
The bookends of the celebration were the renaming of the Yeladim Early Learning Center to Beverly Levy Early Learning Center – putting the focus on the future leaders – and the signing of the Holocaust Proclamation with New Haven Mayor Toni Harp and Woodbridge First Selectman Beth Heller in remembrance of the terrors of the Shoa.
Meanwhile, crowds of people were visiting the different parts of the building, including the Mitzvah Fair in the Vine Auditorium, where area non-profits had booths to inform about their work.
“Every Sunday should be like this, here at the JCC,” commented Norm Ravski.
- The greater Jewish community celebrated the rebirth of its community center in Woodbridge with a ribbon cutting Sunday, March 18. Shown holding the ribbon are, from left, Building Committee Chairman David Trachten, Norm Stacey, JCC president Scott Hurwitz, Federation president Norm Ravski, and Jewish Federation Chief Executive Officer Judy Alperin.
- Jewish Federation President Norm Ravski opens the ribbon cutting ceremony in a tightly packed Cafe 360 at the Jewish Community Center. Officials in the audience included Woodbridge Selectman Joseph Crisco and First Selectman Beth Heller; behind Heller is State Sen. George Logan and, partially hidden, New Haven Mayor Toni Harp. State Sen. Gayle Slossberg also was in the audience.
By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent