Come Celebrate 100 Years of the J at the July 4th Reunion Weekend


A weekend of reminiscing, reconnecting, and reuniting with friends old and new is fast-approaching. The J is opening its doors to the community for a spectacular July 4thweekend celebration.

The excitement begins on Thursday, July 4, as we kick off the fun-filled weekend with the Bexley 4th of July Parade. Everyone is invited to walk alongside the JCC 100 float. Participants are encouraged to wear a vintage JCC t-shirt and meet at 9:00 am at the parade line-up at the corner of Maryland Avenue and Remington Road.

“The parade is for all members, past and present,” explained Mary Beth Zacks, who leads the Reunion Weekend committee and the organizing efforts behind all the events of the weekend. “This weekend is really about reuniting members from preschool to camp to sports. We want everyone to visit and celebrate our 100 years together by meeting up with old friends who you went to preschool or camp with, or played a sport with. If you were involved in the Jewish Center, come on back. Come see what we’ve done in the last 100 years!”

After the parade, visitors are invited to stop by the JCC on College Avenue for an Open House at 4:00 pm. A tour showcasing all the updated features of our expanded facilities, including the new J-Zone, gym, and enlarged fitness area complete with brand new equipment, will be offered.

That evening, gather for the Bexley Fireworks at 9:30 pm. Participants should plan on bringing a blanket or chairs to gather with JCC family and friends from near and far. Our group will meet in front of Graeter’s Ice Cream on E. Main Street and from there the gathering will find a spot to enjoy the fireworks together.

The fun doesn’t stop there. On Friday, July 5, the JCC is hosting a campground celebration, reuniting campers young and old. From 12-1 pm members and their guests are invited to come down to the JCC campgrounds for an hour of nostalgia that will bring back memories of camp, and, of course, for silly summer fun and favorite summertime treats.

The reunion weekend fun continues from 3-5 pm on Friday, July 5, when current and former BBYO and teen club members are invited to reunite at the J. This will be a time to visit with old friends and honor the advisors who made teen club programming so special.

The afternoon will be a time to mingle, kibbitz, nosh, and catch up with former BBYO advisors like Buzzy Kantor and Hani Hara. Jon and Robyn Bogante Silberstein will host theJuly 5 mixer. Robyn first became involved with BBYO as a high schooler looking to reconnect with Berwick friends who were no longer in her neighborhood.

Now, she looks forward to reconnecting with those same friends all over again. For Robyn, reuniting with former BBG advisor Marilyn Mendelman will be a highlight of the event. Mendelman was a mentor for her, who helped guide Robyn on to becoming president of both her BBG Chaverim chapter and the entire KIO BBYO region in the 1970s.

“I still maintain friendships that were formed in those years,” Robyn reflected. “I was involved in every aspect of BBYO and I absolutely loved it. I would never trade those four years for anything,” she said.

Hosting the reunion event is especially meaningful for Robyn. She recalled how BBYO was a way to keep connected with Jewish friends from all over the city, just as the JCC remains for her today. “It was an opportunity for me to keep in touch with my Jewish friends from all over the city. My parents graciously opened our house to host to anybody and everybody. My mom would cook for anywhere from five to 25 BBYO kids from all around the region who were coming in for events we were having here in town. It’s nice to be able to keep that tradition going by hosting the BBYO reunion weekend this July 5.”

Ted Fireman is also on the planning committee with Mary Beth Zacks. He was a very active BBYO member in his younger days, and went on to become a youth advisor, as well. “For lots of Jewish teens, the JCC and BBYO were synonymous. A BBYO reunion will be a great draw for the JCC’s 100th anniversary,” said Fireman.

Fireman reminisced, “BBYO was a highlight of my high school years. Some of my closest friends today were fellow Heart of Ohio AZA members more than 40 years ago! In our era, it was common to have more than 200 BBYO’ers together in the lobby of the old JCC. Our meetings were total chaos but a highlight of the week. With the characters in our chapter, we could have sat in a circle reading the phone book and had the time of our lives. However, we also took great pride in our community service work, Shabbat services with residents at Heritage House, and our social action projects.”

Hani Hara advised the Heart of Ohio AZA boys after belonging to the chapter as a youth, he said, because it “was a big part of my young teenage life and I’m very much looking forward to the reunion weekend.”

For those looking forward to seeing all their favorite old advisors, the weekend will truly be a treat. Buzzy Kantor, Marilyn Mendelman, Hani Hara, Ted Fireman and more plan to attend and reflect on the many years of memories made at the JCC.

“What I love about the J is that we have infants to seniors in one building interacting and enjoying programs as a community. It represents a full cycle of life, so come by and see for yourself where we are today after 100 years,” said Mary Beth Zacks.

And a special treat is in store for those who remember the bowling lanes in the former Jewish Center. Sunday, July 7, is your chance to gather around a game of ten-pins. From 9 am to 12 noon, it’s tournament time at Holiday Lanes, located at 4589 E. Broad Street. The JCC Bowling Tournament promises to bring back fond memories, thrilling competition, and more. Knock down some pins, swap stories about the old bowling lanes, and of course have a nosh; light brunch will be served.

Don’t miss a thing! To find out more, help out, or participate in any or all of the JCC Reunion Weekend activities, contact Mary Beth Zacks at; Jeanna Brownlee at (614) 559-6274 or; or Nancy Rosen at And check out our website for the full list of weekend events.