Friedberg Jewish Community Center is putting extra care into the “community” aspect of its mission.
Along with providing a wide array of activities and services to members of all ages, the Oceanside facility offers discounts to 50 local businesses and counting. Known as the J-Perks program, the offer adds value to the membership and acquaints the JCC with the surrounding community, said Julie Frenkel, assistant director of membership and community outreach.
“It’s a great way to connect with local businesses and a great form of reciprocity,” she said. “We’re still in the early stages and trying to breathe new life into it.”
About 2,500 individuals, families and couples hold membership accounts at the JCC. New members receive a welcome packet, which includes a directory of participating J-Perks businesses. Members also get a membership key tag, which gives them access to facilities and programs at JCC. When members show their key tags at participating businesses, they receive a discount that is pre-determined by each individual business.
Places that currently offer J-Perks discounts range from hair salons and car washes to coffee shops and pizzerias. Businesses are in Oceanside, as well as several nearby towns, including Long Beach, Island Park, Rockville Centre, Malverne and Lynbrook.
In addition to its main campus on the corner of Neil Court at Oceanside’s southern edge, the JCC has facilities Merrick, Long Beach and Lynbrook. By visiting establishments in neighboring areas, Frenkel has the opportunity to promote JCC’s range of services.
“We’re the best-kept secret because we’re a bit off the beaten path,” Frenkel said. “There’s a huge misconception that you have to be Jewish to come to JCC. Immediately, I share that we’re non-secular and open to all. We serve all ages, from early childcare to teen summer camp to programs for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s.”
At the same time, businesses that participate can benefit, Frenkel said. JCC promotes each business through the J-Perks program by telling their roughly 5,000 members about them and highlighting a different J-Perks participator each week on social media. Participating business owners also get reduced JCC memberships.
The JCC will honor community members who have contributed significantly to the organization at its annual Purim Gala on March 24.
This year’s honorees are Ellen Hoffman, a retired early childhood program director who worked in the Merrick branch for more than 30 years; Larry Weissman, a volunteer who revitalized JCC’s basketball leagues for kids; Simon Berger, a Holocaust survivor; and Charlie Arrowood and Aiden Jay Kaplan, strong advocates for LGBTQ youth who work for Pride for Youth.
The dinner fundraiser will be held at Temple Avodah and proceeds will benefit the JCC’s scholarship fund, which helps the center serve more people. Attendees can expect cocktails, dinner, dancing, silent and live auctions, raffles and camaraderie as the honorees receive their plaques of distinction.
Stephanie Abrams, the JCC’s director of development, noted that the evening is a great way for the community to come together.
“The significance of Purim lies not so much in how it began, but in what it has become: a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival,” she said. “The Friedberg JCC Purim gala is a celebration of the Friedberg JCC, the surrounding community and our honorees.”