Nearly a century ago, a dedicated group of local Jewish individuals and families passed onto the Stamford community an invaluable gift: our Stamford Jewish Community Center.
These founding mothers and fathers understood that what has ensured the survival and vitality of the Jewish People throughout the Diaspora has been our ongoing commitment to seven essential elements: family, community, faith, remembrance, culture, our relationships with outside constituencies and communities, and Israel.
Indeed, these elements remain central to the JCC’s vision and mission to this very day, and the JCC’s role within the ever-compelling Jewish story has never been greater.
These earliest generations appreciated the notion that, “just as their parents and grandparents had planted trees for them, so too must they plant trees for their children and grandchildren.” And out of that passion and deep sense of communal responsibility, they financed, built and maintained the JCC – not just for themselves and their families, but ultimately for the many future generations of Jews.
The JCC is, quite literally, the center of all social, recreational, cultural and educational activities and programs within our Jewish “neighborhood” – serving the needs of our community’s children, teens, adult and senior populations, including the able bodied as well as those with special needs – all within the broadest and most inclusive Jewish context. A proudly pluralistic Jewish institution, the JCC warmly welcomes not only all streams of Judaism, but people of all other faiths, ethnicities, races, and economic circumstances.
The JCC Sara Walker Nursery School, JumpStart, O-la-mi, Mitzvah Day, the Jewish Arts & Film Festival of Fairfield County, Tzahal Shalom and POSH are but a few of the JCC’s signature programs and activities. Nevertheless, these do not come close to measuring the full value of the JCC to those within our community, and to the Jewish People. Without the vibrancy and Jewish family atmosphere of the JCC, our local Jewish community would be missing its all-important “magnet and anchor,” roles that could not be fulfilled by any other community organization or agency.
Consider how many of us were warmly welcomed by the JCC. For how many of us has the JCC’s fitness center, Sunday morning basketball games, Center Women activities, and Jewish cultural experiences represented important opportunities to work out, play, socialize, learn and appreciate with adult acquaintances and friends having common interests and backgrounds?
In all of the most important ways, the benefits of JCC membership go far beyond whether or not one makes current active use of the fitness center, programs or activities. The JCC was and forever remains our community’s “Main Street,” the comfortable and ever-reliable centerpiece of our Jewish neighborhood.
A Brief History
The JCC was founded in 1916 as The Hebrew Institute, a social meeting place for the Jewish residents of Stamford. In 1930, the name was changed to the Stamford Jewish Center and the doors were opened to a brand new building on Prospect Street. It was the first building of its kind in all of New England to serve an entire Jewish community. There the Jewish Center grew and prospered, becoming a focal point of life for the city’s Jews and non-Jews alike, as thousands of people jammed its gymnasium, bowling alley, dining room and swimming pool each week.
As the City of Stamford grew and the Jewish community expanded, the Jewish Center outgrew its home on Prospect Street. In 1973, the 15-acre Nyselius estate on Newfield Avenue was purchased. While its new home was being planned and constructed, the JCC functioned as a Center “without walls,” continuing to offer its members an extensive range of activities and programs by borrowing or renting needed facilities. In 1977, the Jewish Center was renamed the Stamford Jewish Community Center, and in that year membership nearly doubled. Ground was broken at the Newfield Avenue site in 1978. The William and Sally Tandet Building was completed in 1981.
Today, the JCC continues to maintain the tradition of communal pride and heritage envisioned by its founders nearly a hundred years ago.
JCC By the Numbers (data as of September 1, 2013)
5,600 individual members
1,500 membership units
2,000 non-member participants
5,100 individuals receive our e-mail newsletter
120,000 total unique visitors to our website from Jan. – Sept. of this year
10,000 individuals come through the Stamford JCC’s doors each month
85,000 square foot building
5,000 people use JCC fitness classes, the fitness center and gymnasium
900 Friends on Facebook and growing
325 children attend O-la-mi each summer
175 children attend Nursery School or Early Childhood programs each year
103 hours of operation each week
14.79 acres total campus area
The JCC is a non-profit social service agency whose purpose is to sustain and enrich Jewish identity, to enhance personal, social, cultural and physical development, to develop leadership ability and a commitment to a democratic process, to maintain and enrich family life, to enrich the lives of individuals and single parent families, and to develop participation in and contribute to the welfare of our entire community. JCC membership is open to everyone. No one is denied membership because of race, religion or financial limitation. The JCC is a recipient agency of the United Jewish Federation of Greater Stamford, New Canaan and Darien, and the United Way of Western Connecticut.