The award-winning JCC’s Early Childhood Education program has three sites in Columbus, with roughly 15 percent of children enrolled receiving financial aid. Because of its goal and ability to create children that are independent, confident, inquisitive and enthusiastic learners, and successful students in a warm environment, it was recently voted the top preschool by The Columbus Dispatch. Jewish learning is an integral part of the JCC Preschool program. Holiday and Shabbat celebrations help children understand the Jewish traditions, customs, and ceremonies and Jewish ethics and values are incorporated into daily activities. This Jewish outlook offers an opportunity for children to experience Judaism while learning universal values.
Beyond offering preschool care, the JCC continues to offer programming for older children through Kaleidoscope, the JCC afterschool program that enrolls over 80 families. The JCC offers transportation for students from the Bexley elementary schools, Berwick Alternative elementary schools, and both Columbus Torah Academy and Columbus Jewish Day School. With the vision of creating a “home-like” environment, kids have varied activities with opportunities to play outside, receive homework help, enroll in additional afterschool classes, or participate in programs centered on Jewish learning. Monthly themes centered on Jewish traditions provided the basis for planned activities.
“It is incredible watching these kids develop day after day. I see them improve on their homework, make friends they are excited to see and really enjoy all we have to offer,” said Kaley Rosenthal, Kaleidoscope director. “Growing up in this community, I know personally how special these programs are to the kids here. I participated in so many events at the J and they’ve given me so many opportunities to explore friendships, activities and Judaism.”
Summer at the JCC delivers a wide array of camp opportunities for children as young as age two through the eighth grade. In 2016, over 600 kids attended JCC summer camps, with nearly ten percent receiving scholarships. Campers experience activities focused on art, music, nature, athletics, Israeli culture, swim, theatre, and Judaic traditions that encourage them to respect and honor the world around them. The JCC also offers many specialty camps such as sailing, soccer, theater, engineering, lacrosse, cooking, and horseback riding.
Attending the Gala will ensure a night of fun – casino-style games, dueling pianos, a full bar, and a silent auction – but it more importantly it will enable children in the community to grow up with a great education, programming and countless Judaic opportunities. “It is so important that we provide these experiences for children in our community,” said 2017 Gala co-chair Julie Cohen. “The activities and opportunities are unparalleled. We are excited that the proceeds of Gala will benefit JCC Children Scholarships. I am looking forward to a great evening of community and support and great fun.”
“Support for scholarships for children to attend JCC programming has never been more important,” said JCC Executive Director, Carol Folkerth. “Funds raised from the Gala will help families who could not otherwise afford to send their child to our amazing preschool, camp or afterschool care programs. The JCC has seen an increase in demand for our programs for our youngest members but also a dramatic increase in need for financial assistance. We are looking forward to providing it with the help of patrons through an exciting and entertaining Gala.