By Douglas Kuniansky | Marcus Jewish Community Center Board Chair
As we celebrate the new year and move into the Days of Awe, we reflect on the year that has passed and look forward to the opportunities ahead. The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta has been a vital part of the Atlanta Jewish community for more than 100 years, and I am proud to say that it continues to be, impacting the lives of more than 55,000 participants and 12,000 members this past year.
What is really important is the lives we are touching, the connections we are making, and the positive impact we have on generations of Atlanta families. There is much to be proud of this past year. More than 2,000 children experienced the excitement of Jewish camping at MJCCA summer day camps, and more than 1,340 campers met lifelong friends at Camp Barney Medintz and our new overnight camp, Adamah Adventures.
Our Blonder Family Department for Special Needs continues to break down barriers and give children with special needs an opportunity to learn, grow and succeed through sports, theater and social opportunities. Our inclusion program enables children to learn and play, side by side with their typically developing peers, through inclusive preschools, camps and recreational programming. Our new transitions program, which helps young adults with autism develop independence by learning social and life skills, has made a significant impact on 27 individuals and their families in its first year.
Our BBYO program continues to receive national recognition and is now the largest in the country with more than 2,800 active teens involved. More than 900 young adults have formed friendships and made connections within the Jewish community through our vibrant sports leagues and social outings.
Last year we entertained and educated 10,000 people during the 23rd edition of the Book Festival of the MJCCA, one of the South’s most comprehensive and widely respected literary arts festivals, and this year’s lineup promises to be just as diverse and entertaining.
We brought our programming in-town, hosting Lisa F. Brill Institute for Jewish Learning classes at The Temple and Emory University and for the first time holding our popular performing arts camp on the campus of Emory.
Thanks in large part to the generosity of our capital campaign donors, this past year we renovated and enhanced our Zaban Park campus and Camp Barney Medintz. Our outdoor pools were enhanced with new decking, tiling, and shade coverings that were no doubt appreciated by many families during the hot summer months. The parents of our preschoolers are raving about the Weinstein School’s new, dedicated infant and toddler wing with state-of-the-art classrooms.
We continue to improve our fitness facilities and add classes that appeal to a variety of ages and abilities. In addition to recent enhancements to our fitness center and locker rooms, we opened an indoor cycling studio this summer that is home to an exciting lineup of fun yet motivating classes. Through our small group fitness classes, combined with the amenities of our 52-acre campus, the MJCCA has something to appeal to practically every fitness level and interest.
Those are but a few of the highlights of this outstanding agency. But we all know none of this would be possible without the hard work and support of our staff, volunteers, donors, members and vibrant community. During the coming year, we plan to continue to strengthen the services and programs we offer while adding programs that will enhance the lives of our community. We hope we can continue to be the thread that ties us all together, turning everyday minutes into Jewish moments that are remembered for a lifetime. Thank you for your support of the MJCCA.