JCC stories

The Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan is actively shaping 21st-century Jewish life. The stories in this section, which also appear in our seasonal program guides, serve as an introduction to some of the people and programs that represent that change, that make us so much more than a community center. We hope they inspire as well as inform.

Several of the stories that appear here have short video companions. To watch these videos, click the link in the sidebar of each story. To watch all of the videos now, click here.

Story Editor: Sherri Lerner

stories from the Fall 2019 program guide

In Step with the Pucketts

If the family that plays together stays together, what about the family that dances together? For Yvonne and Roger Puckett, popular Nia and Zumba instructors at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan, bringing these forms of dance to others has not only allowed them to share their love of movement, but keep young too. And, at 81 and 82 years old, respectively, that’s not a bad thing.


Ladi Lopez Has Us At Hello

If there's anyone at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan who knows the building inside and out, it has to be Ladi Lopez. After 18 years at the JCC, the last eight in the role of greeter, there isn’t a single location—and very few people who walk through our doors—she doesn’t know.


Tweens and Teens Give Back—And Receive Too

There's no shortage of community service opportunities at the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. For members age 50 and up, there’s the Engage Jewish Service Corps; the 20s and 30s cohort participates in Repair the World; and volunteers of all ages work as literacy and math volunteers or teach technology skills through SeniorTechNYC.


stories from the Summer 2019 program guide

A Week In the Life: The Pool Deck

Three thousand people come through the doors of the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan every day. Many attend programs with others close in age or with similar interests. Toddlers and parents or caregivers make a beeline for our early-childhood classrooms. Established and aspiring artists head to our creative spaces on L3. Adults seeking to clear their heads through meditation end up in Makom.


This Conversation Has Stood the Test of Time

It’s somewhat surprising that the inspiration for the JCC’s Conversations series What Everyone’s Talking About with Abigail Pogrebin, celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, came not from its host’s illustrious broadcast news background, but rather her first book, Stars of David: Prominent Jews Talk About Being Jewish, published in 2005.


Embracing Possibilities—and Giving Them to Others

Andy Chaleff knows firsthand about feeling uncomfortable in your own body. “For someone with a disability, it’s really hard to have self-esteem,” says Chaleff, who was diagnosed with a learning disability as a child. He came to the JCC in 2010 when he was introduced to The Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs’ (CSN) Adaptations program through a family acquaintance.


stories from the Winter/Spring 2019 program guide

"Playing" It Forward
: Jose Vargas

Jose Vargas has been a valued member of the Elite maintenance crew for more than four years. At the JCC, he does everything from setting up rooms for programs to disassembling the sukkah in which you celebrated with friends to making needed repairs on all 14 stories of our building. If you’ve encountered him anywhere in the building, chances are he’s shared a smile or kind word with you.


Senior Ceramicists Make Art—and Family

In Ava McNamee’s Thursday ceramics class on L3, the dozen or so students who gather each week create more than just beautiful works of clay. In the decade and a half since the first members started coming, the students, all in their 70s and above and almost all women, have created a family.


At JCC Harlem, a Diverse Community Takes Shape

It seems nearly impossible that it’s been only two years since JCC Harlem opened its doors. What’s even harder to believe is how much it has accomplished—and what it has added to the community landscape—in such a short time.


stories from the Fall 2018 program guide

ImmerseNYC: Mikveh Ritual for a Diverse Jewish Community

From its earliest days, the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan has been dedicated to innovating in the Jewish space. One way it does this is by presenting rituals and traditions to the community it serves in new and inspiring ways.