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Shalom to all

Jewish community center to serve entire Triangle

by Allison E. Wood




Deep in the woods behind the Durham Herald-Sun and Pepsi buildings in Durham, there’s some real news being made: A new neighbor is coming to town.


Soon, the Durham-Chapel Hill area will become home to the Charlotte and Dick Levin Jewish Community Center (JCC), a state-of-the-art facility that will offer an outdoor pool, health club facilities, and meeting and activity rooms. It also will house the offices of the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation and its agencies.


But it’s not only for the Triangle’s Jewish population. The philosophy behind the new center is to create shared facilities that serve the entire community of all ages and interests, including communal rooms for art, music, and afterschool activities, as well as a teen activity center, community gymnasium, and atrium gallery space for exhibits. The JCC also will provide seniors with weekly programs and dedicated lounge space.


“Jewish community centers provide outstanding cultural, educational, recreational and social activities that benefit not only the local Jewish population but also extend into the broader community,” says Matt Springer, president of the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation.


A place for all

Centrally located on Cornwallis Road near Route 15-501 in Durham, the center — which is expected to open in late 2010 — will be reached easily from all points of the Triangle. Discussions also are under way with the City of Durham to encourage development of public transportation options.


Once open, the new campus will host several unique offerings as well, including a community-wide initiative that will provide appropriate activities for the area’s special-needs community. The JCC also is forming collaborations with non-Jewish community organizations such as the Maureen Joy Charter School, BounceBack Kids — formerly Hoop Dreams — and Big Brothers and Big Sisters of America to ensure that the new facilities allow access to those with some of the greatest needs.


“We are eager to work together with organizations throughout the Durham-Chapel Hill community to share our heritage and programming with others who might not have had much exposure to Jewish culture,” says Larry Rocamora, co-chair of Partnership for a Jewish Center.


“We expect that many mutually beneficial, long-term relationships will arise from these shared activities.”


Adam Goldstein, the capital campaign’s co-chair, says he’s pleased with the center’s fundraising so far and is enthusiastic about reaching its $10 million goal.


“The finish line is in sight, and the more community members who come forward to support the new Jewish center, the sooner the doors will open,” he notes.


“The new Jewish center is more than just a building,” says Bryna Rapp, the partnership project’s co-chair.


“It is truly a home, a place where everyone will be able to engage in a wide range of activities, where we can exercise, socialize, learn, connect, and simply enjoy being among friends.” 


Allison E. Wood is a freelance writer based in Chapel Hill.


To learn more

For more information on the Charlotte and Dick Levin Jewish Community Center, call the Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation at (919) 489-5335 or visit