More than 200 donors and their families and friends turned out for the Trager Family Jewish Community Center Wall of Honor Event on Sunday, September 18. To kick off the program, Camp and Club J children entertained the crowd with a dance performance to “Golden Boy.” Thanks to generosity of donors, more than 650 children attended Camp this year compared with 437 last year.
Amid the program led by those who made the vision of the new JCC a reality, a champagne toast and the Wall of Honor reveal, attendees toured the new 106,000 square foot facility and saw first-hand their donations at work. They spent this time of celebration in a new home for Jewish children, parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters that extends its front porch and open arms and a heartfelt welcome to all who walk through its doors.
After opening remarks from Jerry Abramson, co-chair, Capital Campaign, and the dance performance, he turned the program over to Jeff Goldberg, treasurer, JCL board of directors and chair of the Capital Campaign Steering Committee.
Goldberg led the remarks by reminding everyone that the new facility has attracted more new members for the summer season than ever in the 10-year history of recording membership growth, “The Jewish community is coming together – friends are reuniting in this new incredible facility that makes way for more services that our community wants and needs.”
He added, “Thanks to your gifts, we exceeded our $40 million fundraising goal – we are almost at $44.5 million. We know these dollars translate into more services for seniors, children, families, and individuals.”
This special day marked the culmination of years of research, tireless work, meticulous planning, fundraising, expert architecture and craftmanship and the commitment of an entire community.
GBBN architects will tell you that it’s about far more than “bricks and mortar.” Their vision included the JCC’s unique place within the region’s cultural heritage.
Jason Groneck, principal/market leader, GBBN, said in his remarks, “It is a beacon of assimilation for successive waves of Jewish immigrants to Louisville, home to countless Jewish families over the past one-hundred and twenty years, a place of unity and cohesion for Louisville Jewry and a hub of inclusivity and understanding within the broader community. Inherent in the organization’s mission, vision and core beliefs is a holistic commitment to the fundamental wellness of individuals and their communities, body, mind and soul.”
He added, “It has been an honor and a privilege for me and our team at GBBN to work on such a meaningful project that will serve as the foundation for the JCC of the future.
Phil Rowland, associate/designer, GBBN, spoke to the design of the wall and the intricacies of such a project, “When you look at the Western Wall … you can tell exactly where the work started and stopped for the next generation; you see between the size and color of the stones that are used; you can see this distinct leveling.
He added, “When we designed this donor wall, we mirrored that idea to where the first seven rows of these tiles have a different color and a different feeling, and the next four have a different color and a different feeling. But it’s subtle, just like the wall. Each of 417 tiles on the wall is different, using four different thicknesses in eight different shades of blue and two different colors for text.”
Despite the challenges that came with completing this massive project with the onset of COVID-19 and the restrictions surrounding it, the team soldiered on as evidenced by Jon Fleischaker’s quote, “We’re going to get this done.” Fleischaker, former JCL board chair and co-chair of the Capital Campaign with Jerry and Madeline Abramson, Frank and Barbara Weisberg and Jeffrey Tuvlin, remained steadfast in his commitment throughout the entire process as did the entire community.
In his remarks, Frank Weisberg, in the lobby named for his family, shared the memory of his parents spearheading efforts to build the JCC’s previous home in 1955 and connected that memory with the JCC of today – a source of pride for all.
At the conclusion of the remarks, Jerry and Madeline Abramson led the group in a celebratory toast and invited Steve Trager, executive chair/chief executive officer, Republic Bancorp Inc. and Jeff Polson, president/chief executive officer, Jewish Heritage Foundation, to join them on stage as a sign of appreciation for their generous campaign donations.
Sara Wagner, chief executive officer, Jewish Community Louisville, thanked everyone for their donations, thanked staff and all who made the Wall of Honor event happen. She then invited Stacy Gordon-Funk, senior vice president/chief development officer and Kristy Benefield, philanthropy senior database manager, Jewish Federation of Louisville, to pull those curtains down for the big reveal.
After the reveal and a rousing round of applause from guests, the beautifully decorated Shapira Foundation Auditorium opened its doors for cake, appetizers and champagne.
As they were leaving, guests stopped to visit with one another, tell one more story and set the tone of welcome inclusivity for generations to come at the new Trager Family Jewish Community Center.