EVJCC Breaks Ground
Lease-Purchase Marks Long-Awaited Milestone
Newspaper: Jewish News
Author: Leisah Namm
Leader of the East Valley Jewish Community Center launched a $7.5 million capital campaign during the Oct. 26 groundbreaking for the JCC's new Chandler location.
So far more than $1 million has been raised, according to Ben Benedict, JCC campaign chairman.
About 100 people turned out for the late afternoon ceremony, including a number of dignitaries: Chandler Mayor Boyd Dunn, who welcomed the JCC to Chandler; Gilbert Mayor Steve Berman; Queen Creek Mayor Wendy Feldman-Kerr; and other Chandler and Tempe city officials.
Rabbi Bonnie Koppell of Temple Beth Sholom in Chandler delivered the invocation. Rabbi Mendy Deitsch of Chabad of the East Valley and Rabbi Andrew Straus of Temple Emanuel of Tempe also attended.
At the ceremony, Benedict recounted the history of the EVJCC, which was founded 32 years ago as the Jewish Organization of Tempe (JOT).
In rented space from a church on Broadway Road and College Avenue in Tempe, JOT ran a preschool, kindergarten and summer day camp. Benedict was a pupil in JOT's first preschool class.
In 1983, leaders changed the agency's name to the Tri-City Jewish Community Center. It is now known as the East Valley Jewish Community Center.
Through the years, the JCC has added a day school and other programs. "Today's ceremony marks the first step in fulfilling a long-term dream of becoming a full-fledged Jewish community center," Benedict said.
The JCC is an agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix. At the ceremony, Lanny Lahr, federation president, pledged that the federation will "do everything in our power to make sure that you will not fail."
Adam Schwartz, federation executive vice president, and Fred Zeidman, assistant executive director, were also present.
The new site, at 908 N. Alma School Road, includes a 25,000 square-foot building and 4.4 acres of land. Renovation of the building is expected to begin in late January, said Michael Waxman, JCC building committee chairman.
Future plans to include adding a ball field, swimming pool, health club and auditorium.
Three couples donated an initial gift to the capital campaign in the 1990s: Dr Leon and Lynnberg; Dr. Herbert and Lynne Rigberg; and Joyce Cooper and the late Dr/ Jay Cooper. Developer Michael A. Pollack, owner of P & P Development Company, sold the JCC the land and arranged for the lease-purchase of the building.
The JCC leased a site from the Tempe School District for 17 years. in July 2002, it moved to its current location at 1515 S Indian Bend Road in Tempe. JCC leaders expect to relocate all the JCC programs, including the preschool and day school, to the new location in August 2005.