By Stephen E. Lipken
After 36 years of being one of the mainstays of Northern Westchester Jewish community, the Richard G. Rosenthal Jewish Community Center (RJCC) in Pleasantville will close its doors by Thursday, June 30th along with the Yorktown branch and Camp Discovery, Croton-on-Hudson. The Sunrise Day Camp for children with cancer in Pearl River and Florence Friedberg JCC in Oceanside, LI will remain open.
“Our decision is driven by changing demographics, increased competition and rising economic challenges…While heart wrenching, closing our doors is the most responsible path of action,” RJCC Executive Director Ellie Aronowitz and President Jessica Morgenthal stated.
Lois Rosenthal saw a disconnected group of Jewish families in Northern Westchester needing a place to celebrate their Jewish community, beyond religious gatherings and teachings of local synagogues. Convincing area rabbis, synagogue presidents and Jewish leaders that a Jewish “Y” was vitally important, Lois began the “Y without Walls,” working out of the trunk of her car.
In 1991 the YM/YWHA moved to a former elementary school building on Bear Ridge Road in Pleasantville, becoming Rosenthal JCC in 2001 in memory of Lois’ husband Richard G. Rosenthal and later, son Jeremy, developing After School Programs; Early Childhood Center Gym Buddies; Global Jewish Connections/J-TAG fellows (travel exchanges and participating in social activities promoting Jewish peoplehood, values, learning and leadership); J Baby for families with babies, toddlers, preschoolers; Play Care; Rise Above Musical Theater Program; Saturday Night Chillin’ for Tweens and Teens and Special Needs Program for Enhancing Potential (PEP).
RJCC also houses two Shaliachs, Yoav Cohen and Yael Lewis (Israel emissaries) and is an agency for UJA-Federation of New York’s Engage Jewish Service Corps.
Aronowitz stressed that RJCC will try to find “loving homes” for these programs.
“The Rosenthal JCC’s closing is a terrible loss for our community,” according to Westchester Jewish Council (WJC) President Paul B. Warhit. “Positively impacting children and adults, this JCC is a critical asset to the families of Northern Westchester. While we were surprised by this announcement, the WJC leadership will continue to work with UJA Federation to help fill the programming void created.”