Last Wednesday night, the Jewish Alliance proudly dedicated our shining Dwares JCC. The following constitutes excerpts from my speech:
“From our humble beginnings in a house on Benefit Street many, many moons ago, the Bonnie and Donald Dwares JCC has become the central home for Rhode Island’s Jewish communal life, as well as a place that welcomes countless people from all faiths and backgrounds. We are the primary gateway to Jewish engagement for many young Jewish families who participate in our outstanding early childhood, afterschool, and summer camp programs. The Alliance’s JCC reaches out with a warm embrace to people of every age and circumstance who want to connect with and learn about greater Rhode Island’s Jewish community.
Our wonderful friends, Bonnie and Donald Dwares, had a brilliant vision, a quite contagious one in fact, to create an inclusive, secure and welcoming JCC facility that would have a transformative impact on our ability to sustainably serve the community well into the future.
The new realities called for a revitalized Jewish Community Center – one that provides many different ways for families and individuals to explore their Jewish identity, celebrate Jewish culture, and build community. Our vastly improved facilities now allow us to leverage our strengths and deliver exceptional educational, social, cultural, and wellness programs to meet our community’s changing needs. From this building emanates the core of the Alliance mission. Our reach extends to Jews in all corners of the State and the world, educating children in Providence and Afula, Israel; feeding seniors in Cranston and those isolated in Odessa; fostering Jewish life in Rhode Island and the renewal of Jewish life in Eastern Europe.
Thank you to the more than 400 donors, fiduciaries, volunteers and professionals who made this community dream become a stunning reality. This center is dedicated to not only you, but as well to those who have made the JCC their home through the years and all those who are about to enter these doors:
To the children who will come to learn about their history and traditions.
To the teens who will come to contribute to tikkun olam.
To the seniors who will come for camaraderie and nutrition.
To the families, fitness lovers, casual creatives, and lap swimmers.
To the many who will stop by and relax in our lobby, try a new skill, get inspired by top lecturers and find new ways to learn, create, and celebrate.
Fond of word play, the rabbis teach us that banim (children) are our bonim (builders). A pun on the same Hebrew word–children in the sense they have inherited a tradition; builders because they take the tradition and give it life in their time. To me this is acknowledgment that while we are blessing a building, we are also building a blessing.
Chazak, chazak v’nitchazayk….Be strong, be strong, and together may we be strengthened.”
I look forward to continuing the celebration next Thursday evening at the Jewish Alliance’s Sixth Annual Meeting, which shall take place in our gorgeously renovated Victor and Gussie Baxt Social Hall.
Shabbat Shalom and all my best,