The JCC of Western Monmouth County has finalized plans to take up residence at the Freehold Jewish Center, at 59 Broad St. in the heart of Freehold.
The JCCWM was scheduled to move to its new location on Aug. 26, leaving the offices at the Galleria Mall in Manalapan that it shared with the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County.
The federation previously announced that it was moving to new headquarters in Holmdel.
Avrum R. Glassoff, JCCWM’s executive director, estimated that the JCC will occupy about half the total 9,200 square feet at Freehold Jewish Center — the home of Congregation Agudath Achim, a “traditional” synagogue with about 175 member families — plus have access to other rooms when they aren’t being used by the congregation.
“We’ll have small-group spaces where we can put on Mommy & Me, arts and crafts, karate, and Zumba classes,” said Glassoff, “as well as other rooms where we can accommodate larger events. The only things we won’t have are a pool and gym.”
An open house celebration will be held at a later date.
In addition to providing programming space, the new location has branding advantages.
“It was a good experience being roommates with the federation, but it also led to some confusion,” said JCCWM’s president, Howard Topal. “Some people thought we were one organization rather than two distinct entities with different purposes.” As he sees it, federation’s focus is on increasing Jewish philanthropy and supporting Jewish programs and organizations locally and overseas, while the JCC develops and delivers cultural and recreational programs for the local community.
The move, said Glassoff, “gives us our own identity. It also gives us the space we need to run an expanded schedule of programs, which is the core of our mission.” Target audiences will include all age groups, with a special focus on singles, seniors, teens, and children in the community.
When a sports facility is needed, Glassoff said, the JCC will often have access to Marlboro Jewish Center’s Chai Building on Topanemus Road or All Star Sports 4 Kids, a 5,000-square-foot facility located on Ginesi Drive in Morganville.
Topal said moving to the synagogue “is a good situation for both of us. FJC has a big building, and it was being underutilized.”
He added, “It’s nice looking, too. The interior was recently remodeled, there is a fully decorated catering hall, the lobby is all new, and the entrance is currently under construction.”
Topal said he is looking forward to mounting two major initiatives in the coming year. “We expect to hold a community seder — probably on the second seder night when some people have a harder time connecting with family or friends.” JCCWM leaders wanted to offer a seder last spring, he said, “but the lack of space was an obstacle.”
And, in cooperation with Marlboro Jewish Center, Topal added, “we plan to hold workshops for and about interfaith families. Our hope is to make them feel warm and welcome.”