Jewish Community Centers Association of North America
PredecessorHebrew Young Men's Literary Association,
Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA),
Jewish Welfare Board
Founded1854; 170 years ago (1854)[1]
FounderDr. Aaron Friedenwald[1]
Founded atBaltimore, Maryland, U.S.[1]
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization[2]
PurposeTo strengthen Jewish life in North America through direct service to affiliate Jewish community centers, Young Men's/Women's Hebrew Associations, and camps by providing leadership and guidance to the Jewish Community Center movement; and to serve Jewish personnel in the armed forces through the Jewish welfare board.[3]
Headquarters520 Eighth Avenue,
New York, NY 10018 U.S.
Coordinates40°45′13″N 73°59′31″W / 40.753591°N 73.991950°W / 40.753591; -73.991950
North America
Jennifer Mamlet
SubsidiariesThe Florence G Heller JCC Association Research Center Inc 501(c)(3)[3]

A Jewish Community Center or a Jewish Community Centre (JCC) is a general recreational, social, and fraternal organization serving the Jewish community in a number of cities. JCCs promote Jewish culture and heritage through holiday celebrations, Israel-related programming, and other Jewish education. However, they are open to everyone in the community.

The JCC Association is the continental umbrella organization for the Jewish Community Center movement, which includes more than 350 JCCs, YM–YWHAs, and camp sites in the U.S. and Canada, in addition to 180 local JCCs in the former Soviet Union, 70 in Latin America, 50 in Europe, and close to 500 smaller centers in Israel.


The Hebrew Young Men's Literary Association was first set up in 1854 in a building at the corner of Fayette and Gay Streets in Baltimore, Maryland[4] to provide support for Jewish immigrants.[1][5] Dr. Aaron Friedenwald was the group's founder and first president.[1]

The first Young Men's Hebrew Association (YMHA) was founded in New York City on October 10, 1874, with Lewis May as its first president.[6] The first official headquarters were at 112 West 21st Street in Manhattan.[6] Young Women's Hebrew Association (YWHA) was first established as an annex to the YMHA in 1888.[7] YWHA was founded to provide spiritual and material support for the young Jewish women who were moving to cities at the time.[8] YMHA helped young Jewish women find housing and employment.[8] Fannie Liebovitz was one of the founders.[9] The first independent YWHA was established in 1902.[7] The New York YMHA and YWHA now operate together as the 92nd Street Y. (There are two other YM–YWHA organizations in Manhattan, which are not affiliated with the 92nd Street Y. They are the 14th Street Y, and the YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood. The 14th Street Y, in the Gramercy/East Village neighborhood, is a branch of the Educational Alliance. The Washington Heights organization serves a diverse community uptown.) In 1917, these organizations were combined into a Jewish Welfare Board.

Following a merger of the Young Men's Hebrew Association, Young Women's Hebrew Association, and the Jewish Education Alliance, the organization was renamed Jewish Community Center (JCC) in 1951.[1] Many member organizations adopted the new name, but some other member organizations did not do so, particularly in the New York metropolitan area, such as:

An example of the objectives of Jewish Community Centers can be seen within the New Bedford, Massachusetts branch's Constitution. In January 1947, the Jewish Community Center of New Bedford listed the following objectives:


The indoor pool at the Rady Jewish Community Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba

JCC Association offers a wide range of services and resources to help its affiliates to provide educational, cultural, social, Jewish identity-building, and recreational programs for people of all ages and backgrounds. JCC Association[17] supports the largest network of Jewish early childhood centers and Jewish summer camps in North America and is also a U.S. government accredited agency for serving the religious and social needs of Jewish military personnel through JWB Jewish Chaplains Council.[18]

Some JCCs provide services for people with disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorders and learning disabilities. In 2008, The Mandel JCC of Cleveland[19] was awarded $652,500 in grant funding to be used for individuals with disabilities. Cleveland-area children and adults with emotional, physical and developmental disabilities now have many opportunities to get involved in fitness, wellness and recreational activities. Whenever possible, activities are inclusive and children are able to fully participate, usually with the assistance of an aide.

As a rule, today JCCs are open to other ethnic groups as well, with a possible exception of strictly traditional Jewish activities. In fact, many JCCs sponsor local events. There are, however, many other activities that anyone can host at the JCC.


The Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center (DCJCC) is located in the Dupont Circle neighborhood. President Calvin Coolidge spoke at the original ground-breaking ceremony on May 3, 1925. The Center closed in 1968, following race riots in Washington, D.C., later reopening in 1997.

There are almost two dozen Jewish community centers in the New York metro area, providing a wide range of social, cultural, and educational services, ranging from lectures, concerts, theater performances, and dance recitals to health and fitness classes, job training workshops, and citizenship classes. Although the majority of JCCs are found on the East Coast, with 17 sites in Florida, JCCs operate in many other communities. For example, California has 17 locations—eight in the San Francisco Bay Area and nine scattered through Southern California—and the Chicago metropolitan area has 10. Almost all of the largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. now have at least one JCC, and a handful of smaller communities also have locations. JCCs all over the country sponsor film festivals and book fairs, bringing world-renowned writers and directors to smaller communities.

Hartford YWHA, gymnasium class, 1922–1923, Burr School gym

Their programs and activities vary by location. Particularly noteworthy is the JCC in West Bloomfield, Michigan,[20] which is the largest JCC in North America, and possibly the world. The Holocaust Memorial Center, which attracts many visitors to its programs and exhibits, used to be a part of the JCC of West Bloomfield, but recently opened a building of its own. The West Bloomfield JCC houses two gymnasiums which can be made into three gyms using a movable wall, a workout area, an indoor full size and kiddie pool, an outdoor full size pool, a kosher restaurant, a Michigan Jewish war veterans museum, an in line hockey center, a library, ceramics/art rooms, a large multi-purpose room (Handleman Hall), an art museum, an area dedicated to teaching and learning about tzedakah (charity) called Shalom Street, a performing arts theater in the basement, a preschool, offices for summer camps, the previously mentioned preschool, and other administrative offices and organizations. The top floor is completely dedicated to The Jean and Samuel Frankel Jewish Academy of Metropolitan Detroit,[21] a Jewish High School which opened in 2000. The JCC building is on the Eugene and Marcia Applebaum Jewish Community Campus along with multiple living quarters for the elderly and mentally disabled and an Alzheimer's treatment building.

The main swimming pool at the Jewish Community Center in Owings Mills, Maryland

A significant addition to the family of JCCs in North America is the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan.[22] This eleven-story building situated in Manhattan's Upper West Side neighborhood opened its doors in the winter of 2002. The JCC offers a diversity of programs, from parenting to fitness and wellness, and each year the organization produces four week-long film festivals, an all-night Tikkun Leil Shavuot, a New Year's Day fitness fair, and an annual Symposium on Positive Aging. The JCC features multiple centers dedicated to segments of its community, including the Jack and Shirley Silver Center for Special Needs, the Bert and Sandra Wasserman Center for Family Life, the Selma and Lawrence Ruben Center for 20s + 30s, and the new Wechsler Center for Modern Aging, for those aged 60+.

JCC of Staten Island solar panels

Solar thermal panels were installed at the Joan and Alan Bernikow JCC in Staten Island 2011.[23]

Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan

Incidents and security

In recent decades, several incidents that have taken place at JCCs and other Jewish-related locations across the United States and Canada, as well as the September 11 attacks, have prompted JCCs in all areas to increase security at their facilities. Some of these events have included:

Notable members

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Young Men's Hebrew Group 100 Years Old This Week". The Baltimore Sun. January 8, 1954.
  2. ^ "Jewish Community Centers Assoc Of North America. Tax Exempt Organization Search. Internal Revenue Service. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Jewish Community Centers Association of North America. Guidestar. December 31, 2016.
  4. ^ "History of the Greater Baltimore JCC," Archived 2015-06-14 at the Wayback Machine Jewish Community Center of Greater Baltimore website. Accessed June 12, 2015,
  5. ^ Shapiro, Marc; Katz, Justin (May 20, 2016). "Envisioning the Future". Baltimore Jewish Times. Vol. 350. Issue 3. p. 54-59.
  6. ^ a b "The Young Men's Hebrew Association: Formal Opening of the New Building of the Society—Addresses by Mr. Lewis May, Mr. De Cordova, and Others". The New York Times. October 11, 1874. p. 7.
  7. ^ a b Jaffe, Maayan (March 26, 2015). "Fitness and JCCs: Does working out with other Jews keep you Jewish?" Washington Jewish Week (Gaithersburg, Maryland). p. 22.
  8. ^ a b Irwin, Mary Ann (2011). "Sex, War, and Community Service: The Battle for San Francisco's Jewish Community Center". Frontiers. Vol. 32. Issue 1. p. 36–70, 204.
  9. ^ Mrs. S. Liebovitz, a Welfare Leader". The New York Times. April 28, 1944. p. 19.
  10. ^ "Financial Statement 2016-2017" (PDF). 92nd Street Y. 2017-11-15. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  11. ^ "Brooklyn YMHA Buys Site". New York Times. 1914-10-31. Retrieved 2018-04-23 – via Open access icon.
  12. ^ "Charter school meets with prospective families". New Jersey Jewish News | NJJN. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  13. ^ "Renamed Y to develop new East Brunswick site | New Jersey Jewish News". Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  14. ^ "Clifton Passaic Jewish institutions undergoing massive changes". Jewish Standard. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  15. ^ "YM-YWHA Joins Forces with the Metro YMCA of the Oranges". Wayne, NJ Patch. 2011-07-11. Retrieved 2018-04-23.
  16. ^ Jewish Community Center Records, 1944–1977. [Manuscript Collection]. (MC 21). Claire T. Carney Library Archives and Special Collections, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Dartmouth, MA.
  17. ^ "Home - JCC Association". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  18. ^ Torahs for Our Troops Archived 2008-08-28 at the Wayback Machine
  19. ^ "Beachwood Mandel JCC". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  20. ^ "JCC of Metro Detroit". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  21. ^ "Frankel Jewish Academy -". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  22. ^ "Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan". Retrieved 24 December 2020.
  23. ^ "Solar energy initiative at Staten Island JCC". SILIVE. 23 November 2011.
  24. ^ Kellman, George (1959). "Anti-Jewish agitation". The American Jewish Year Book. 60: 44–52. Retrieved 8 January 2024.
  25. ^ "Shooting suspect returned to L.A. to face charges". CNN. 12 August 1999. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  26. ^ "Police: Seattle shooting suspect ambushed teen". NBC News. 30 July 2006. Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  27. ^ "US-Israeli bomb hoaxer given 10 year jail sentence - BBC News". BBC News. 22 November 2018. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  28. ^ a b "'Dual US-Israeli citizen behind most JCC bomb threat calls'".
  29. ^ "Man held over US Jewish centre threats - BBC News". BBC News. 3 March 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-03.
  30. ^ "JCC Bomb Hoaxer Indicted in Israel; Charged With Threatening to Kill Ex-Pentagon Official's Kids", Haaretz, April 24, 2017
  31. ^ Levi Epstein (March 23, 2011). "One on One with Tal Brody". Algemeiner. Retrieved April 1, 2011.
  32. ^ Robert Slater (2000). Great Jews in Sports. J. David Publishers. ISBN 9780824604332. Retrieved March 30, 2011.
  33. ^ Berger, Eric (22 March 2013). "Local Forward Sees Hopes Dashed in Davidson Defeat". Retrieved 4 March 2017.
  34. ^ Mallozzi, Vincent (3 August 2008). "U.S. Swimmer Hopes to Inspire". New York Times.
  35. ^ Sandomir, Richard (14 August 2012). "Koufax's Roundball Once Trumped His Fastball". New York Times. Retrieved 24 August 2014.
  36. ^ "Joan & Alan Bernikow". JCC of Staten Island. Retrieved 2022-04-03.
  37. ^ "- Dorothy Delson Kuhn Music Institute at the JCC of Staten Island | Music Lessons | Music Instruction | Music Classes | Private Music Lessons | Jewish Community Center". Archived from the original on 10 June 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2022.
  38. ^ "LA Galaxy re-sign defender Daniel Steres | LA Galaxy".