July 5, 2012
Five Towns’ Best Kept Secret
What is the best kept secret in this neighborhood? Where can you learn, create, and experience something special six days a week? How can one benefit from a broad range of support services from early childhood to senior citizen age? Which organization benefits 16,000 individuals at 18 locations in the Greater Five Towns and beyond?
The answer is the Jewish Community Center (JCC), which resides in a modest house on Grove Street abutting the Long Island Railroad’s train tracks. Although so many enjoy its programs, some Five Towners still don’t even know it exists! I’ve been teaching yoga there since March and have gained a “fly on the wall” insight into the goings on there and can verify that it’s one of the most precious resources we have.
In 1992, I signed up our son Rafi to attend nursery at a house with a bright red door on Grove Street. My two year old called it Tempo Bef-O; Temple Beth El nursery was a warm personal program run by the JCC. In the years since then, my family has participated in cooking classes, book groups and lectures. Witnessing the wonderful Café Europa program for seniors held at my shul, Congregation Beth Sholom, made me want to get involved with the JCC. Now I teach a weekly women’s yoga class and volunteer on the arts & leisure advisory committee there.
Each time I’ve met with Executive Director Rina Shkolnik, I have found her to be warm, engaging, dedicated and competent. You can feel the energy Rina exudes and gives this organization. She raves openly about her staff and co-workers as second to none. I asked her what she envisions for the JCC and she responded she’d like to see this full service JCC as a neutral place where the entire community can meet comfortably, not associated specifically with any one stream of Judaism. She has been working tirelessly to find a new home for the JCC where we can come together for all programs and services in one location. When the JCC has one address, everyone will know exactly where it exists and avail themselves of its offerings more fully.