History of the J

1949

The Seattle Jewish Community Center incorporates; Norman Davis serves as first president.

1959

The J purchases its first home, the Elks Building at 4th Avenue and Spring Street in downtown Seattle.

1966

Eight acres of land on Mercer Island purchased as the site of the J’s new home.

1968

Groundbreaking for Mercer Island campus. Leo Okin hired as first executive director.

1969

Mercer Island campus opens. Early Childhood School started with two teachers and 15 preschoolers.

1977

Lenny Robinson hired as Executive Director.

1980

Groundbreaking for building expansion, which added 47,000 square feet, including the Early Childhood School wing and auditorium. ECS registration expands to 100 children.

1981

Holocaust memorial, designed by Mercer Island artist Gizel Berman, installed.

1982

Barry Hantman hired as executive director. A financial crisis arises when the J is unable to meet its mortgage and construction loan payments. Sam Stroumz”l leads a successful $4 million fundraising campaign to save the J. The J’s name is changed to the Samuel and Althea Stroum Jewish Community Center of Greater Seattle.

1984

Gary Pollak hired as Executive Director. North Seattle branch of SJCC Early Childhood School opens in part of Jane Addams School.

1985

Seattle ECS moves to the basement of Congregation Beth Shalom when the Seattle School District needs the space at Jane Addams School.

1988

First major fundraising event, The NOSH, is held.

1989

Seattle ECS moves to its own building, converting a supermarket into 11,000 square feet of program space.

1992

First Annual Morris J. Alhadeff Memorial Golf Tournament held.

1994

Seattle and Mercer Island Board of Directors merge.

1997

The SJCC hosts the JCC Maccabi Games, bringing 1,000 Jewish teenage athletes from around the world to participate.

1998

Fitness wing of the Mercer Island campus is updated. Membership units increase from 1,000 to 1,400.

1999

Adjacent DOT property (2.5 acres) purchased for $1.2 million for campus expansion.

2000

ECS Mercer Island reaches enrollment capacity of 225. SJCC conducts feasibility study for strategic plan to support community-wide campaign to expand and renovate Mercer Island facility, expand Seattle facility, create an endowment. Plans do not come to fruition.

2002

Barry Sohn is hired as Executive Director.

2004

Property lease with French American School of Puget Sound.

2006

First Annual Circle of Friends Luncheon

2007

Seattle ECS moves into new space at Temple Beth Am in North Seattle. ECS teaching staff grows to 50. SJCC full-time staff grows to 40; part-time/seasonal employees to 100.French American School lease amended with 15-year extension to 2024. Strategic planning process, initiated in 2006, is completed with new strategic plan approved by Board of Directors. Board votes to  proceed with $15 million capital and endowment campaign.

2009

Judy Neuman hired as Chief Executive Office.

2011

Kesher Community Garden opens on land leased from the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center. SJCC also hires its first chief operating officer, Renee Cohen Goodwin.

2012

Thanks to generous donors who collectively gave $5 million, the SJCC purchases the Kesher Community Garden land from WSHERC and prepares to renovate its auditorium and gathering spaces. Board of Directors creates a list of seven Core Values for the J. SJCC brings the Seattle Jewish Film Festival under its wings.

2013

Renovation begins on the auditorium and community gathering space. SJCC Summer Camp enrollment exceeds 900 campers at two locations.

2014

SJCC unveils its newly renovated, state-of-the-art auditorium and community gathering spaces.

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