February 26, 2024
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JCC of Middlesex County Breaks Ground on $6.6 M Expansion

JCC President and CEO Adam Glinn, left, accepts a proclamation from Assemblyman Sterley Stanley (center) and state Sen. Patrick Diegnan Jr. celebrating the JCC groundbreaking.

 

The day was cold and cloudy but there was an electrifying buzz going through the large crowd gathered outside the Jewish Community Center of Middlesex County in Edison for the groundbreaking on a $6.6 million expansion.

Political leaders joined with leaders from the Jewish community and supporters on Jan. 30 for the ceremony for the expansion that will ultimately provide new services and allow expanded programming in a thriving institution that now boasts 7,500 members.

“This will really be transformative for both the Jewish community in northern Middlesex County and the general community,” said president and CEO Adam Glinn.

The new construction for the facility, which already provides a broad array of Jewish programming, will add new space for its Bright Beginnings Preschool and Norman and Marion Tanzman Center for Lifelong Living, which offers classes, lectures, holiday celebrations, performances, trips and senior adult club events. It will also be the home of Temple Emanu-El, which sold its former property of more than 60 years across from JFK Medical Center in Edison to Hackensack Meridian Health, which operates the hospital. Its JCC site will include a new sanctuary, offices and social hall.

Included in the 22,000-square-foot expansion will be lounge space, outdoor courtyard, kitchen and state-of-the art-classrooms, staff offices, security and reception area and a large multipurpose room for the JCC; it will also allow for enhanced health and wellness services for older adults, added mental health services and expanded childhood education, including special needs offerings, among other initiatives.

Jewish community and political leaders join in a groundbreaking ceremony for a $6.6 million addition to the Jewish Community Center of Middlesex County in Edison.

 

The JCC first opened 40 years ago in its Morris and Lydia Goldfarb Building and has since continued to grow and expand services.

Its current capital campaign has raised about $3 million toward the expansion, which was kickstarted by a $500,000 donation from the Woodbridge-based Marion and Norman Tanzman Charitable Foundation.

Barbara Spack, who co-chaired the campaign with Howard Zuckerman, said five years before when it first started, “We didn’t have any idea we would be expanding so much with over 60 people working on this so diligently.”

The ceremony was attended by leaders of the JCC; Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey; Temple Emanu-El; the Marion and Norman Tanzman Charitable Foundation; JCC Association of North America Executive Vice President Jennifer Mamlet; New Jersey Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin; State Sen. Patrick Diegnan Jr.; Assemblyman Sterley Stanley’ and Edison Mayor Sam Joshi.

The JCC’s importance as a community institution was stressed by Jewish community and local leaders throughout the ceremony. Coughlin said the JCC “puts our values to work with people of all faiths during this time” when there is so much division.

The JCC is located on the community campus, a more than 21-year-old collaboration with the YMCA of Metuchen, Edison, Woodbridge and South Amboy, the only such partnership in the nation. Despite initial fears the JCC would lose its Jewish flavor, the collaboration has allowed the facility to increase revenue and Jewish programming and it remains fully kosher.

Among other initiatives, the JCC runs a summer camp, hosts two Orthodox summer camps and works with Orthodox yeshivot to host special pool activities.

Although the pool and athletic facilities are shared with the YMCA, in a sign of respect for each other’s religious traditions, times are set aside for men- and women-only swimming to accommodate Orthodox swimmers’ needs. Along those lines, both the JCC and YMCA are closed on Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Christmas and Easter.

It hosts a large Chanukah luncheon and Passover seder, Purim carnival and a Sukkot celebration featuring entertainment and other Jewish programming. Its Purim carnival, co-sponsored with Congregation Neve Shalom in Metuchen and Temple Emanu-El, features “fun fact” sheets explaining the holiday to any non-Jewish attendees.

As those attending the ceremony entered through the shared front entrance to attend the reception following the groundbreaking, they were greeted by a display encouraging support for the Israeli hostages with a table of blue ribbon pins to take and wear.

The area has a significant Asian population and Joshi, who is Indian-American, was among those reflecting on the spirit of community and respect found at the JCC, where he went to go swimming when he was a child and has wonderful memories of friendships formed there.

“This is such a wonderful, exciting time for our community,” he said. “So many people will benefit.”


Debra Rubin has had a long career in journalism writing for secular weekly and daily newspapers and Jewish publications. She most recently served as Middlesex/Monmouth bureau chief for the New Jersey Jewish News. She also worked with the media at several nonprofits, including serving as assistant public relations director of HIAS and assistant director of media relations at Yeshiva University.

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