History of the JCC

Upon its founding in 1990, the JCC was home to several volunteer programs, including JCC Works, a citywide social action day involving over 500 volunteers who worked at schools, shelters, parks, AIDS residences, soup kitchens, and hospitals; The Gift of Literacy, a 10-year partnership with New York City’s P.S. 75 Emily Dickinson School, where volunteers mentored second graders at risk for reading; Partners for Literacy and Early Bird, where JCC volunteers read to children to stimulate interest and enjoyment of reading; and SeniorNet, a program bringing seniors together to learn computer skills. By 2000, the JCC had branched out, offering more than 400 programs a year.

Following a stint in a 22,000-square-foot space at the Jewish Guild for the Blind on 65th Street, the JCC's Samuel Priest Rose Building, at 76th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, opened in January 2002, enabling the JCC to better serve the community through its powerful design and innovative programming. The 137,000-square-foot, 14-story, state-of-the-art building created opportunities to celebrate and participate in all aspects of life, and included a library, swimming pool, nursery school, day camp, afterschool programs, computer center, and more.

Since its opening, the JCC has created a number of groundbreaking programs that have since taken root across the city, the country, and internationally. These include:

  • The ReelAbilities Film Festival, the largest festival in the country dedicated to promoting awareness and appreciation of the lives, stories, and artistic expressions of people with different disabilities. This festival began in NYC through the JCC and now lives in over a dozen cities across North America.

  • Adaptations, a program for adults in their 20s and 30s with developmental and/or learning disabilities and a high level of independence

  • Birthright Passport at The JCC is proud to welcome thousands of NYC Birthright Israel alumni "home" to the JCC, giving them their own individual gift card to use at any of our thousands of programs.

  • Jewish Journeys, a revolutionary educational initiative for children from Pre-K through b’nai mitzvah and beyond that provides participants with rich opportunities to engage in extensive educational opportunities outside of the classroom, making use of the vast Jewish resources of our great city of New York.

  • Shabbat Shabbang and R&R, two programs that seek to revitalize the idea of Shabbat through dinners and free afternoons at the JCC, creating space to "pause" and be in community through the arts, recreation, and programs for adults and children of all ages. Shabbat Shabbang has been replicated in Boston, Washington DC, and Orlando.

  • The Parkinson's Wellness Program is a groundbreaking program designed to improve the quality of life of those suffering from Parkinson’s disease. This program has been replicated in Boston and Washington DC.

In September 2014, following an extensive rebranding process, the JCC in Manhattan was renamed JCC Manhattan.

In June 2016, the JCC launched Camp Settoga, a 21-acre wonderland in Pomona, NY, marking its 10-year anniversary in out-of-city day camping (previously located at the Henry Kaufman Campgrounds) but now in an amazing "forever home" just 25 minutes over the George Washington Bridge.

In January 2017, the JCC expanded its campus by opening JCC Harlem, a community space on West 118th Street. An initiative of the JCC, JCC Harlem is a collaboration with UJA-Federation of New York.

In February 2018, following the presentation of an unprecedented gift from the Meyerson family, the JCC was renamed the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan. You can read more about Marlene Meyerson here.