Hanging out at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver – a tradition for more than 90 years. (photo from JCCGV)
For more than 90 years, the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver (JCC) has been a centre of communal life, working to foster positive identification with Jewish culture, embracing diversity with the evolving demographics of the neighbourhood and beyond, and providing programs and services for individuals and families of all ages. The JCC welcomes more than 300,000 visitors a year.
As you step into the JCC’s lobby, you enter a microcosm of the Jewish community itself. From infants to seniors, secular to ultra-Orthodox, and everyone in between, the centre embodies the essence of community. However, the JCC’s commitment to accessibility, excellence and inclusivity requires support beyond membership fees and program registrations. Fortunately, community members, through initiatives like the JCC annual campaign, fill this gap by supporting the JCC’s mission and the work it does.
At the core of the JCC’s mission lies the commitment to provide high-quality programs and services that empower individuals, children and families. Yet, it is often described as a best kept secret. Perhaps the way to learn about the JCC is to learn about what happens during a typical weekday or weekend there.
The JCC comes to life in the morning with group fitness classes or friendly matches of racquetball. Meanwhile, parents drop off their little ones at the licensed daycare. As the day progresses, the JCC transforms into a bubbling mix of families, children and individuals seeking connection, knowledge, fun and exercise. Seniors gather to engage in games of mahjong, bridge or poker, sharing stories. At the same time, people with diverse needs participate in art and cooking programs specially designed to promote inclusivity and empowerment. The sound of snapping flip-flops follows children and adults on their way to the aquatics centre to take swim classes or do laps. Lunchtime brings students from King David High School streaming into Nava Kosher Café.
On special occasions and some Fridays for Shabbat, the JCC atrium echoes with songs and dances, as toddlers from the daycare and preschool come together to celebrate. Families with children of all ages come in to visit the Isaac Waldman Jewish Public Library, to swim, to attend kids programs or to head to the gym for playtime. Holidays such as Hanukkah, Purim and Family Day are filled with activities and laughter.
The JCC’s Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery and Norman & Annette Rothstein Theatre serve as cultural havens, showcasing music, theatre and art from both Jewish and non-Jewish artists. These spaces promote dialogue, understanding and appreciation of diverse artistic expressions, enriching the community as a whole.
From early childhood education and day camps to diverse needs and seniors programs to fitness initiatives, the JCC tries to meet the needs and interests of every generation. While membership and program fees partially cover operational costs, inflationary pressures, compounded by the challenges of the past three years of the pandemic, necessitate additional financial resources. These funds are crucial for maintaining a safe, comfortable and welcoming environment at the JCC. They support staffing, security, maintenance, and allow for the provision of scholarships and subsidies to ensure that no one is left behind due to financial constraints.
The JCC’s annual campaign serves as a lifeline for the organization. It aims to raise $100,000 to meet the growing financial demands and maintain the JCC’s programming standards. Donations from community members, along with a $20,000 matching funds program generously donated by Barry and Lauri Glotman, bring the centre closer to that goal.
– Courtesy Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver