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Luzerne Foundation Community Champion: The Jewish Community Alliance of NEPA

In 2019, the Friedman Jewish Community Center (“JCC”) opened the doors to a new, vibrant, 57,000-square-foot facility in Kingston, PA, just across the river from its previous location of nearly 75 years. Located on the 13.4-acre Weinberg campus, the new facility will feature a 9,000-square-foot gym with multiple court sports, a state-of-the-art ballroom, kitchen, one of the region’s premier early childhood learning centers, exercise rooms, locker rooms, sauna and steam room, meeting rooms , weaving mill, pantry, ample parking and more.

When Gary Bernstein, the CEO of the Jewish Community Alliance, arrived in northeastern Pennsylvania in January 2020, he said he wanted the JCC to be motivated from the outside, which means going into the community with an open mind and open arms. Gary began collaborating, inviting groups to use the beautiful new facilities at JCC. After three years, Bernstein can look back on the rich connections that the JCC has forged, both within and outside the Jewish community, to better Northeast Pennsylvania. This fruitful collaboration has led to many achievements including providing counseling and screening support to JCC’s senior groups, running a Parkinson’s program and running diabetes and nutrition programs at JCC. Friedman JCC has also developed one of the most attractive early learning centers in the region, fully enrolled with a waiting list since its inception

A key partnership forged was that with the Commission on Economic Opportunity, which allowed JCC to expand its pantry program, which proved essential to the community during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, JCC served 10 to 15 families per week and now serves nearly 100 families per week. JCC has a team of wonderful volunteers who make everything possible.

JCC’s latest endeavor is a $4 million capital campaign to revitalize the JCC Summer Day Camp experience with new program enhancements and property improvements. Perched on a hilltop overlooking Harvey’s Lake, Day Camp is a sprawling paradise, especially for children, and an invaluable resource for the wider community.

The JCC has worked with local, state and federal legislatures for their support and received $2 million in public funds for the camp campaign. With that, in addition to private donations, grants and founding support, JCC has raised nearly $3 million to reach its $4 million goal.

The Friedman Jewish Community Center in Kingston serves as a common gathering place for the entire community, and of course you don’t have to be Jewish to participate. Stop by for a tour and see why people say the JCC is one of the cleanest, most customer-centric establishments in town.

Working together strengthens our community. If you have a cause you care about and want to make a difference here in Northeast Pennsylvania and beyond, please give us a call at the Luzerne Foundation.

Do you want to make our community better? We also. let’s do it together

Because of you and for you we are…here forever.™

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C. David Pedri is President and CEO of the Luzerne Foundation. This weekly column series is an advertising partnership between the Luzerne Foundation and the Times Leader. For more information about the organization, visit www.luzfdn.org or call 570-822-2065.

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