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Progress, though slow, being made to save JCC
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Progress, though slow, being made to save JCC

Members of the Sephardi community in Deal continue efforts to rescue the financially strapped Jewish Community Center of Greater Monmouth County. In the meantime the facility remains open, operating on donations from community members.

It’s a tedious process, but progress is slowly being made, said Jeffrey Saka of Deal, president of the Deal Sephardic Network’s board of directors and a leading player in the negotiations with the JCC.

“We have been working with the current JCC board on a resolution to come out of bankruptcy, but the process takes time,” Saka wrote in an e-mail to NJJN. “As soon as there is something concrete, we will share the information.”

JCC board president Stephen Levy said he is operating as acting executive director of the center. Former executive director Aaron Rosenfeld left the position in June to take the helm of the JCC of Omaha, Neb. TD Bank initiated foreclosure proceedings on the Deal facility last spring.

“We are still talking to certain members of the community,” Levy said. “I believe there is a bailout in the works, but I don’t have any specifics yet.”

Jewish Federation of Monmouth County continues to encourage community efforts to rehabilitate the JCC. “We want to maintain this important facility in the Jewish community,” said federation executive director Keith Krivitzky. “We are encouraging all parties to negotiate in as broad a community way as possible.”

Throughout the JCC’s predicament, federation has played a key role in efforts to devise a workable solution and bring the relevant parties to the table, he added. “Federation is eager to fund vital Monmouth County programs and initiatives going forward,” Krivitzky said. “We hope to resume funding revitalized programs based out of the JCC in Deal.”

The JCC’s two gymnasiums and fitness center are currently open and being used by members, and the facility’s conference rooms continue to serve meetings of the Jewish War Veterans posts and weekly bridge tournaments, Levy said. The adjacent Axelrod Performing Arts Center has performances scheduled through March. Axelrod CEO Jess Levy said a lineup of additional events will be announced soon, including a Rising Stars Youth Performing Arts production and a film series.

Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore and the J Cafe — which both rent space in the building and are separate entities from the JCC — continue to operate as usual.

The JCC’s Center Play School closed its doors Dec. 2, and the facility’s indoor pool is also closed. Group fitness programs are not being held.

The only JCC employees remaining in the building are maintenance staff, one finance department staff member, and physical education staff members who operate programs for Yeshiva at the Jersey Shore and Hillel Yeshiva, Stephen Levy said.

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