Our History

Behind every great love is a great story…

Todah rabah (Thank you) to everyone who devoted your passion, time, commitment, and desire to building a thriving Jewish community in Northern Virginia.  We realize that this timeline barely scratches the surface of the list of staff and volunteers who shaped our path forward. The Pozez JCC is proud to be the steward of community connection and Peoplehood in Northern Virginia.

B’yachad (Together), we will continue to honor the past, revel in the present, and shape the future of our Jewish commUNITY.

 

Summer 1969

Camp Achva Founded – 1969

Judy Frank introduced Adele Greenspon to Shirley Waxman… and the rest is history. There were 70 campers the first summer at Congregation Agudas Achim in Alexandria.

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1970s

Hannukah Happening – 1977

Following the overwhelming support of the Hannukah Happening that drew thousands of Jews to Braddock Secondary School in 1977, Northern Virginia’s Jewish community leaders reached consensus that the time had come to move forward to establish the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center.

a group of lit candles sitting on top of a table

1977

The Dream – 1977

As momentum continued to build following the Hannukah Happening, the first meeting of a group of people passionate to establish a Northern Virginia Jewish community center was held at the home of Jerome and Zelda Dick.

1978

Leadership – 1978

Joyce Grand, the Center’s first president was named. An office was set up on Dorr Avenue in Merrifield, VA. Adele Greenspon was hired as the Center’s first Director.

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1980s

May 1980

NVJCC Incorporates – May 9, 1980

The Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center (NVJCC) officially began operation, receiving a certificate of incorporation.

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Fall 1980

Purchase “white house“ – Fall 1980

The Center’s Board of Directors led by President Bennett Finkelstein, moved to purchase a temporary building on Little River Turnpike. The structure, which became affectionately known as “The White House,” served as an interim facility until funds could be raised for a permanent home. Additional contiguous land was purchased in several installments during the mid/late 1980s.

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October 1982

Bronze sculpture, “The Family“ was commissioned – October 1982

Created by renowned Israeli artist Azriel Awret, the sculpture symbolizes Jewish family life in our community. The sculpture was later dedicated to Adele Greenspon for her tireless and passionate work.

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1984

Fair in the Square, June 24, 1984

Held in Old Town, Alexandria, drew an estimated 15,000 people (according to a Washington Jewish Week article dated June 21, 2084) and fueled the desire to establish a Jewish center in Northern Virginia.

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1987

Groundbreaking – March 29, 1987

The community gathered for the ceremony, chaired by Dotty Fuchsman. Dignitaries in attendance included JCC president Herman Hohauser, Executive Director Jeff Karatz, Va. Delegate Bernie S. Cohen, Charles E. Smith, Anne Reich, and Rabbi Itzhaq Klirs among others.

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1989

Construction Begins – 1989

With the support of the Jewish community in Northern Virginia and the Greater Washington Jewish community, construction began on the Henry S. Reich Building which is still the center for Jewish life in Northern Virginia today.

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1990s

1990

A new era: The building opens 1990

In December 1990, under Executive Director Jeffrey Karatz, the Henry S. Reich building opened its doors to the community.

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1990

Dedication Ceremony – March 10, 1991

A community-wide event including a keynote by then-Governor Douglas Wilder. The NVJCC was renamed the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia.

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1994

Gesher Jewish Day School at the J – 1994

When Gesher outgrew its home at Agudas Achim Congregation, it was relocated to the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia in 1994. Then, in 1998, Gesher again needed more classrooms and a satellite campus was established at the Chabad community campus. In 2007, the school moved to its permanent home in Fairfax, Va.

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2000s

2003

JCCNV Bar Mitzvah Celebration – 2003

The evening was co-chaired by David and Deborah Yaffe

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2006

JCCNV-Beth El ECLC – 2007

The J’s Early Childhood Learning Center (ECLC) opened a satellite preschool as a partnership with Beth El Hebrew Congregation in Alexandria.

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2007

JCCNV-JAFI Volunteer Shlichut Program – 2007

Thanks to the vision and financial support of several dedicated community leaders, including Scott & Jane Brown, and the efforts and commitment of the Center, the Pozez JCC-Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) Community Shlichim Program was launched. Shiri Rahamim was the first shlicha in our community. The program was renamed The Shiri Rahamim Shlichut Program to honor her memory when she passed away from cancer in 2015.

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2008

The community hosts ArtsFest for teens from around the US and Israel – 2008

Executive Director, Eric Koehler led an effort to bring JCC Association’s ArtFest to Northern Virginia. The annual event was designed to build connection and peoplehood for Jewish teens with artistic talents. Co-chaired by Marilyn Hausfeld and Connie Pesachowitz, ArtsFest was held on the campus of George Mason University, hundreds of volunteers were recruited to help house participants and serve on committees such as security, food, activities, and more.

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2008

Growing Jewish Families is established – 2008

Originating as a program funded by the United Jewish Endowment Fund, the Growing Jewish Families program is a trusted community resource. Efforts include organizing Jewish holiday and values-based experiences for families raising young children in a Jewish environment. Programs foster micro-communities meeting families where they are. GJF is the “umbrella” brand connecting a variety of programs such as PJ Library, Shalom Baby, J-Family Ambassadors, and more.

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2013

Strategic Plan – Vision 2020 – 2013

Building upon its historical and current successes and a profound need to address changes in its building and in the community, the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia began a strategic planning process, led by Allon Shiff, in February, 2013. Named “Vision 2020,” the plan was a forecast of how the JCCNV would shape and impact the future of the Jewish community in Northern Virginia.

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2013

ReelAbilities Film Festival: Northern Virginia – 2013

Founded in NY in 2007, the Pozez JCC was among the first agencies to bring to its community when the opportunity was presented. ReelAbilities screens award-winning films by and about people with disabilities in multiple locations throughout each hosting city.

ReelAbilities Film Festival: New York 2019 Closing Night

2015

“It’s Time“ Capital Campaign Begins -2015

An effort, led by Executive Director Jeff Dannick, the Board of Directors, led by President Scott Brown, and Co-chairs BJ and Allon Shiff, Alvin and Connie Pesachowitz, and Scott and his wife Jane, the community supported the campaign that included capital improvements and community-building projects. The campaign raised over $9.5 million. Derek Norton Architect and Scott-Long Construction began work in 2016 and completed most of the renovations in 2019.

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2015

Capital Improvement Projects Begin – 2015

Phase I capital improvement projects began. Projects included the lobby renovation, front entrance, bathrooms, locker rooms and more..

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2016

Phase 2 Capital Improvements Begin – 2016

The campaign raised over $9.5 million. Derek Norton Architect and Scott-Long Construction began work in 2016 and completed most of the renovations in 2019.

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2019

Renaming the J – 2019

Philanthropists Norman Pozez and Melinda Bieber enabled the JCC of Northern Virginia to complete its capital campaign by making a significant commitment. In recognition, the JCC of Northern Virginia changed its name to the Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia.

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2020s

2020

The Smith-Kogod Cultural Arts Center Opens – 2020

To provide a space for community gatherings, the “white house,“ the original JCC building, was renovated and re-opened as a beautiful space to celebrate the arts. “The Family“ sculpture was moved from the lobby of the main building to its permanent home outside the Cultural Arts Center.

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2020

2020 – Sensory Room Opens

The Pozez JCC designed and built a sensory room to provide a special space for children with various physical and social-emotional needs to decompress. The room was funded by a generous donation by the Rales Foundation in honor of longtime community members Mel z”l and Sandy Rosenblatt.

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2020

J-Fit Health Club Opens – 2020

The new, spacious fitness facility includes an indoor fitness center with separate weight and cardio areas, outdoor turf gym, swimming pool, full court gymnasium which also houses full and half-court basketball set-ups and 3 pickleball courts, as well as a cycling studio.

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2022

Horizon Day Camp Launches – 2022

Partnering with Sunrise Association, Horizon Day Camp-Metro DC, welcomed 32 campers its first summer. The camp, free of charge to the families, brings the joys of childhood to children ages 3 1/2-16 years who are battling pediatric cancer. Siblings are encouraged to attend to enjoy bonding over the fun activities and friendships made. In its first year, staff included Camp Director, Joellen Kriss-Broubalow and Assistant Camp Director/Family Support Specialist, Ilana Adler. Inova L. J. Murphy Children’s Hospital was our first affiliate, followed by Childrens’ National and other area pediatric medical institutions.

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2022

Camp Kesher Launches – 2022

Camp Kesher (Connection) is a day camp designed for neurodiverse teens (Grades 9-12) and young adults (ages 18-27). Held at the Pozez JCC, the camp helps participants to build friendships and gain independence skills. Each day, campers embark on a field trip to explore and experience all that Greater DC has to offer.

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2023

Strategic Repositioning – 2023-2025

In 2022, a task force led by David Yaffe, completed a strategic repositioning of the Pozez JCC’s role in the Northern Virginia Jewish community. Initiatives that support the priorities for the 5-year period 6/1/23-5/31/28 include: 1) Provide meaningful Jewish engagement to families with young children. 2) Engage more adults in social impact/responsibilities activities. 3) Establish the Pozez JCC as a community connector – serving the community beyond its walls and nearby zip codes.

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