The Kaiserman JCC in Wynnewood celebrates the 15th anniversary this year of what some would call a turning point in how local Jews viewed and utilized the center – the opening of the Conston Fitness Center.
"With the new center, people became connected and the size of the summer-camp enrollment grew dramatically," said Amy Krulik, spokeswoman for the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia. "People mark their connection with the building beginning at that time."
To kick off the yearlong celebration, hundreds of people attended the Kaiserman's Jan. 8 Community Fun and Fitness Day, which featured a disc jockey, a moon bounce, yoga and aerobic classes, Israeli dancing and, of course, use of the pool, gym and indoor track.
Over the course of the year, said Krulik, the plan is to hold a reunion for past campers, and maybe even roll back membership prices to those of the 1990s.
According to Krulik, Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia purchased the land on Haverford Road that houses the JCC campus in 1968. A few years later, a small building with room for a basketball gymnasium, a weight room, and perfunctory space to hold classes and spaghetti dinners was dedicated as the Kaiserman JCC.
But by the late 1980s, the Jewish community was growing, and organizers began to raise funds to build a full-service JCC that could accommodate more members. The Conston Fitness Center allowed the JCC enough space to provide more programming and events.
The original building later became the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School's Stern Center, Robert Saligman campus.
"This year, we're celebrating the milestone that made the JCC what it is today," said Krulik. "People say they can't imagine going on with their day-to-day life without it. The fitness center brought them there."