The Sid Jacobson Jewish Community Center in East Hills epitomizes what community is all about.
The center founded in 1960 to offer early childhood and adult programs has grown to become a thriving multipurpose programming facility answering the needs of every age and population.
“We are not a religious institution,” says Executive Director David Black. “we operate out of Jewish values and are open to the entire community. Our function is to enable life to flourish. We are connecting, giving back and creating connections.”
The center has a program for young people on the autism spectrum, those recovering from opioid addiction, people with Alzheimer’s, those with young-onset dementia, an early childhood center, and a cancer wellness program that is part of a consortium of hospitals treating patients with cancer and staffed with certified trainers and social workers.
“The hospitals know that their patients don’t want to recover in a hospital setting but, want to recover in a life-affirming setting and this is what we are providing,” says Black.
The center that Black describes as “exploding with activities and members” is already growing out of its 100,000-square-foot space and is in the midst of a new capital campaign to expand its space and modernize the campus at the Bernice Jacobson Day School and Camp.
“We went from a JCC without walls at the beginning in 1960 to a JCC with walls in 1988 to a JCC beyond walls in 2018,” says Black.
The Sid Jacobson JCC has a community theater program, a cultural center that features prominent speakers and authors, and an annual film festival. There is also an aquatic and health and wellness center.
“On Sundays there is something called Shooting Stars,” he says. “Volunteers teach teens who are on the spectrum basketball, and the teens get community service. Our 4-year-olds will go sing to the seniors on Shabbat. Our teens will take the music of the ’40s and ’50s and put the tunes on iPods because people with dementia relate to the music they had in their era.”
Black adds enthusiastically, “My program guide alone is close to 60 pages.”
The center also has a vibrant volunteer community with more than 400 people volunteering through 35 partners across Long Island. It has a center for Israel, the only one that exists on Long Island, according to Black, with a staff of Israelis who work in different area synagogues, day schools, and JCCs. The five camps available include a special needs which gives those young people who might not survive in an inclusive environment an exclusive environment and a chance to thrive, explains Black, adding, “It is a beautiful thing to see.”
For more information on the Sid Jacobson JCC visit sjjcc.org