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Mandell Jewish Community Center Celebrates 120 Years of Presidents

David Federman (JCC President 1986-1988), Richard and Ann Dee Robinson (Richard JCC President 1988-1990), Bob Samuels, Joyce Mandell (JCC President 1995-1997). Courtesy photo

A new President’s Courtyard and President’s Wall was recently dedicated in West Hartford.

Alyssa Temkin, Gayle Temkin (JCC President 2017-2019), and Bonnie Weiner. Courtesy photo


On Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, community leaders joined the Mandell JCC in West Hartford for a special event, celebrating 120 years of past presidents with the dedication of a new courtyard and tribute wall in their honor.

Under the direction of visionary landscape designer Ching Lin of Artistic Outdoors, along with some guidance from art students at the University of Hartford, the former entrance driveway of the original building was transformed into a garden oasis. The new President’s Courtyard, which strengthens the range of programming at the JCC by creating outdoor opportunities for members and guests, recognizes the extraordinary legacy of 44 presidents whose generosity and leadership have built the JCC into a community that serves thousands of people in the Greater Hartford area every year.

The tribute wall, located in the Herbert & Evelyn Gilman Theater hallway, includes the photographs of the 44 past JCC presidents.

Ribbon Cutting. Courtesy photo

“We are so deliberate about ensuring that every part of our JCC is carefully designed to serve many purposes,” says former president Joyce Mandell (1995-1997). “The Courtyard is no exception. We can’t predict all of the purposes that this space will serve in the years to come, but we do know that like all of the magnificent plantings, it will always be flourishing.”

“We are so grateful to the Mandell Braunstein family, the Samuels family, the Temkin Weiner family and the Zachs family for helping to bring the Courtyard to life,” says David Jacobs, Executive Director of the Mandell JCC. “It is truly an honor to celebrate a century of commitment and service each president has devoted to the JCC. These men and women have played a crucial role throughout our history, meeting the ever-changing needs of our community – and they did this in partnership with countless lay leaders and professionals.”

Brad Drazen, Current JCC Board President. Courtesy photo

“The president’s role at the Mandell JCC is sacred,” says newly elected JCC Board President Brad Drazen. “We are charged with fulfilling our very important mission to build community, cultural identify and bridges of understanding by celebrating diversity and foster appreciation for Jewish culture and heritage. Leadership is an honor, and it is beyond inspiring to me to take in the new president’s wall and to know that I am now a part of such an esteemed group.”

Included in that esteemed group is Gayle Temkin (JCC President 2017-2019) who announced the creation of the Mandell JCC Presidents’ Courtyard Endowment Fund at the Jewish Community Foundation “We are so grateful to the past presidents and their families who made the initials gifts,” says Temkin. “Like the JCC, the courtyard landscape will change and grow in the years to come. This endowment fund will support those efforts.”

The dedication concluded with a ceremonial ribbon cutting.

The Mandell JCC, which was recently recognized as the “Nonprofit of the Year” by the West Hartford Chamber of Commerce, serves people of all backgrounds and at every age and stage of life. The center provides recreational, cultural, educational, and social programs designed to promote physical, intellectual, and spiritual well-being of its members and others who participate.

David Federman (JCC President 1986-1988), Richard and Ann Dee Robinson (Richard JCC President (1988-1990), Bob Samuels , Joy Mandell (1995-1997). Courtesy photo

Harry Davidson (son of Herman Davidson who served as JCC President 1953-1956), David Federman, Henry Zachs. Courtesy photo

The Mandell Braunstein Family. Courtesy photo

Richard Fechtor (JCC President 2015-2017). Courtesy photo

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