Nearly 250 people came out to “honor the past and celebrate the future” of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Monmouth County at a 70th anniversary gala, where they also paid tribute to Jess Levy, who set a record for leadership at the agency.
Levy, of Ocean, was with the JCC for 25 years, 18 of which he served as executive director — the longest period ever served in that position in the 70-year history. He is now the CEO of the JCC’s Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal.
Other awards bestowed on community leaders at the event, held Nov. 15 at Jumping Brook Country Club in Neptune, were: Jeanne and Donald Epstein of Oakhurst, the Community Leadership Award; Solomon Greenspan of Ocean, the Community Business Leadership Award; Dr. Fred Ezon of Oakhurst and Dr. Richard Marcus of Ocean, the Tzdakah Award; Sydelle Shamah of Deal and Patti Blume of Ocean, the Jewish Community Builders Award.
The event also featured a birthday tribute to Ruth Hyman of Long Branch, namesake of the JCC in Deal.
Leading the speakers at the gala were JCC executive director Aaron Rosenfeld and president Dr. Brian Krost.
In his remarks, Levy said, “I have always been a true believer in the mission of the Jewish Community Center — to build strong educational, social, and recreational programs for the entire community. I had the opportunity to serve with leaders who I consider the best and brightest of Monmouth County.
“Together we transformed a Jewish Community Center into a major arts, educational, and recreational institution and created programs that are now the heart and soul of the Ruth Hyman JCC.”
According to Rosenfeld, the celebration served as a meaningful reflection of the JCC’s 70-year history as the heart of the community. “The gala helped recognize the strong leadership that has guided the JCC over the past seven decades as it successfully provided countless services to members of all ages. We look forward to working together with our board, lay leaders, and community members to ensure many more years of success.”