Continuing Our Connections
It’s hard to believe that the days and weeks of isolation introduced in March 2020 turned so quickly to months. Now, well over a year since JCC Chicago reopened its doors to Early Childhood families, appreciation for how and why people connect has taken root.
Family vacations at Camp Chi last summer, Apachi Family Days in Northbrook and Lake Zurich, and pop-up drive-in movies among other programming reminded folks that connection was still possible. From there, community members chose to hold birthday parties, bar and bat mitzvahs, and family reunions under the tents outdoors. In recent months, day schools and synagogues have celebrated Shabbat, graduations, and other important happenings for their communities at JCC Chicago campuses.
Just this past weekend, Trybal Gatherings hosted their Chicago Day Camp at the Lake County JCC. It was a beautiful partnership designed to connect young adults after a period of deep disconnection. As we inch back towards a new normal, we’re excited to welcome our community members back to new spaces at the Bernard Weinger JCC. The Marvin Lustbader Center has been reimagined to support both fitness and a broad array of community programming from film screenings to youth programming to family celebrations. As thoughts turn to fall, BBYO staff and programming will also be welcomed to the Northbrook campus where the Lustbader Center will be outfitted with furnishings and activities based on input from the teen community.
As a true community center, JCC Chicago is eager to share its resources—indeed, it is heartwarming to see the community gathering in our Jewish spaces. And while being together for programming is the focus of so many Jewish communal agencies, the points of connection beyond programs are perhaps even more incredible.
Last week, as I was leaving the J at the end of the day, I spied a handful of families picking up their preschoolers. After signing out, parents and kids alike lingered joyfully to chat, run and play. With so many families new to JCC Chicago’s camps this year, parents have taken to Facebook to connect within the camp community. Alyssa Luck, JCC Chicago Women InPower mentor and parent to two Chi campers, put a call out seeking others also heading to Lake Delton for the first time this summer. This resulted in a park get together and it was the perfect way to launch summer camp after so much time apart.
JCC Chicago is here to provide connection and meaning and does so through near endless programs and partnerships to support an individual’s exploration of how they can join and be part of the community. That was true before the pandemic, was so throughout the past 18 months and will forever be the case. Still, it is important to recognize that when the individuals and families continue to connect beyond the last day of camp, on the weekends during the school year, at a coffee shop after a class… that’s when the impact of JCC Chicago truly shines through.
President & CEO, JCC Chicago