Everyday Extraordinary: Stories From The JCC Community (2014)

Over the years JCC Manhattan has become a gathering place, where members and friends can discuss the topics of the day, from advances in medicine to the latest from Jerusalem. The JCC is also a living organism, actively shaping 21st-century Jewish life thanks to the contributions of our incredibly diverse community and to our wide range of programs and classes. In the videos below, shot and edited over the course of 2014/2015, you'll learn about some of the people and programs that represent that change, that make us so much more than a community center. We look forward to adding to this section as time and resources allow.

“They used to come home and say, ‘You know, Pearl River needs to be ten months, and school should be two."

Debra Alvo
Former Pearl River Camp Mom

“There’s a feeling of, ‘You are genuinely welcome here, no matter whether you’re an infant or you’re ninety five years old."

Anne Byrnes
Member

“It’s a very welcoming kind of experience, which can be rare for fitness. I also think we have a lot of fun.”

Eve Coulson
Member

“This place is a piece of me. It’s a piece of my heart. It’s my second home. It was the best door I’ve ever opened.”

Nina DiLeo
Counselor/teacher, camp
and school-age programs

“There’s no more special place than if you meet your husband there. I just came here to make friends.”

Marc Dreyfuss and Judy Fettman
Adaptations Participants

“The JCC is a place with a mission to allow people the freedom and opportunity to be their true, creative, and passionate selves.”

Allison Charney Epstein
Founder, PREformances

“It’s a good feeling of, ‘I belong here.’ This is my place. And they value us. They value our group. And that makes us feel good.”

Marcia Epstein
Member

“I was convinced I was going to burst into tears. And instead it was this moment of, ‘Oh my God.”

Ayelet Gruenspecht
Member

“I feel like I can never give enough back to this place. They’ve given my family such an amazing experience.”

Pam, Rebecca, and Julia Hacker
Members

“[The JCC has] allowed me the freedom to be creative and grow a program that is really close to my heart.”

Maria Hanley
Ballet Instructor

“The children realized they were a part of something larger. The school is not just the four walls of the classroom.”

Noah Mencow Hichenberg
Director, the Saul & Carole Zabar
Nursery School at JCC Manhattan

“I don’t think there are many places you could come from your birth to your death and every time in between.”

Bethany Kandel
Member

“I can see, if I put my mind to it, the person who’s inside me is the person people really want to see, not the person I’m not.”

Amanda Kauftheil
Connections Participant

“It’s not just about the Upper West Side. It’s about the whole world, the special needs community at the JCC."

Renee Khatami
Member

“This is what it means to do the work of strengthening our community’s attachment to its values.”

Rabbi Joy Levitt
Executive Director

“I actually started it as a little experiment, a little meditative practice: could Sheila actually ride the elevator with patience?”

Sheila Lewis
Meditation Instructor

“You don’t have to be Jewish. The space is built with so much love. Everybody just wants to be here.”

Ladi Lopez
Greeter

“I think 71 is a number that’s attached to having been born in 1943. It doesn’t even occur to me that I am that age.”

Judy Margolis
Community Volunteer

“It was the first time I saw my son was fully included, with a big broad smile on his face, alongside other class members.”

Jordana Mendelson and Aedan
Members

“Old age sucks, I must admit. But it doesn’t have to if you have a home away from home.”

Gladys Nussenbaum
Member

“You don’t want to be defined by your disease. You want to be defined by your interest in participating in life.”

Pamela Quinn
Parkinson’s Movement Class Instructor

“The progress that I’ve made, and the progress that I’m going to make, wouldn’t have been possible without the JCC.”

Alicia Richardson
Member

“I feel like this whole place is community, and that’s what it should be... I feel like I come here and I’m back home."

Amy Rosenfeld
Librarian, the Saul & Carole Zabar Nursery School; former Adaptations fellow

“So here I was, taking all of this very seriously, and she said, ‘Mike, slow down, this is your time."

Michal Simon
Member

“The level of commitment of the people here was so high, and the community they created was so strong, it was beautiful.”

Gabriel Specter
Mural Artist

“Without the JCC’s program, I would not have had access to this child, nor would she have had access to me.”

Barbara Stark
Literacy Volunteer

"It's a special place because back home in Africa, community is a big part in our life, so when I got here, it's like I was home."

Toure Vakaramoko
Personal Trainer/Instructor

“We are all human beings, and we are all sharing this common human experience, whatever it is.”

Lynn Bartner Wiesel
Member

“It was a real blessing for us because it felt like we immediately became part of a community.”

Rachel Winter
Member

“People didn’t know who to talk to about these schools, and they felt uncomfortable... so the JCC said, ‘We’ll help."

Member/Founder,
Special Needs School Fair

Series produced and edited by Eric Winick, November-December 2014.

Camera: Randi Klein
Interviewers: Jamie Roth and Eric Winick

Thanks to: Melissa Donovan, Jeff Fontaine, Judy Gross, Rachel Israel, Hannah Kaplan-
Cohen, Susie Kessler, Allison Kleinman, Susan Lechter, Jordana Merkin, Kathy
Morgenstern, Jamie Roth, Dava Schub, Genna Singer, Matt Temkin, Megan Whitman,
Julie Wolpov, and all of our desk volunteers and amazing interviewees.

Music by Josh Woodward.

334 amsterdam ave at 76th st
new york, ny 10023 | 646.505.4444
jccmanhattan.org [192.168.26.82]