Founded in 1989, the JCC's early volunteer programs included JCC Works, a citywide social action day involving over 500 volunteers who worked at schools, shelters, parks, AIDS residences, soup kitchens, and hospitals; The Gift of Literacy, a 10-year partnership with New York City’s P.S. 75—Emily Dickinson School where volunteers mentor 2nd graders at-risk for reading; Partners for Literacy and Early Bird, where JCC volunteers read to children to stimulate interest and enjoyment of reading; and SeniorNet, a program bringing seniors together to learn computer skills. By 2000, the JCC offered more than 400 programs a year.
Following a stint in a 22,000-square foot space at the Jewish Guild for the Blind on 65th Street, the JCC's Samuel Priest Rose Building at 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue opened in January 2002, enabling the JCC to better serve the community through its powerful design and innovative programming. The 137,000 square-foot, 14-story, state of the art building created opportunities to celebrate and participate in all aspects of life, and included a library, swimming pool, nursery school, day camp, after-school programs, computer center and more.
Since its opening, the JCC has created a number of groundbreaking programs that have since taken root across the city and the country. These include:
- The Reelabilities Film Festival, the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities
- Adaptations, a program for adults in their 20s and 30s with developmental and/or learning disabilities and a high level of independence
- Birthright Passport, JCC Manhattan is proud to welcome thousands of NYC Birthright Israel alumni "home" to the JCC, giving them their own individual gift card to use at any of our thousands of programs.
- The Jewish Journey Project, a revolutionary educational initiative for children in grades 3-8 that provides participants with rich opportunities to engage in extensive educational opportunities outside of the classroom, making use of the vast Jewish resources of our great city of New York.
- Shabbat Shabbang and R+R, two programs that seek to revitalize the idea of Shabbat through dinners and free afternoons at the JCC featuring informative lectures, concerts, and programs for children.
- The Parkinson's Wellness Program created with NYU-Langone Hospital, a groundbreaking program designed to improve the quality of life of those suffering from Parkinson’s disease.
First JCC Staff Photo
Top Row: Clement Joseph, Muriel Pfeiffer, Susan Goodman, Jennifer Marcus, Sari Raskin, Haddie, Joshua Krakoff, Yvette Schops, Gary Wartels, Rabbi Carol Levithan, Allison Horn, Jay Fischbein
Middle row: Gideon Isaacs, Debbie Hirshman, Amy Wolfson, Rabbi Joy Levitt, Susan Zuckerman, Joyce Goldberg
Bottom row: Wendy Erlick Isaacs, Margee Chiappra, Amy Lamonsoff, Jessica Folslowe, Reggie Primus, Jeremy Handler
Pictured: Harold Handler
Pictured, left to right: Phil Pachicky, Unknown, Debbie Hirshman, Jeffrey Horowitz, Harold Handler, Hillel Hyman, Steven Rappaport, Jeff Bauml, Peter Kalevzon, Ike Putterman