Portland, OR. 275 attendees came to the Mittleman Jewish Community Center (MJCC) on March 4th for the Friends of the Center Brunch. The event raised nearly $100,000. The Brunch featured special guest speaker, Susan Stamberg, the nationally renowned broadcast journalist and Special Correspondent for NPR. She posed for a photo with MJCC Executive Director, Steve Albert and Sarah Glass, the event emcee, to Stamberg’s left.
Susan Stamberg is the first woman to anchor a national nightly news program, has won every major award in broadcasting, and has been inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame and the Radio Hall of Fame.
Also at the brunch, MJCC inducted Tom Goldman, NPR’s Sports Correspondent and Aidan Schneider, the most accurate kicker in the history of Oregon football into the Oregon Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and honored two students: Laz Glickman and Layton Rosenfeld with the Harry Glickman Scholar Athlete Award.
Founded in 1914, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center began its life as the B’nai B’rith Building on SW 13th Avenue and Mill Street, quickly becoming the hub of Jewish living for Portland’s growing Jewish population. From its beginning, the Center has always served all families without regard to religion, background or ability to pay.
For many local families, the JCC has been a tradition for generations. Many recall learning to swim from the legendary Mickey Hirschberg (who taught swim lessons for 49 years), or playing basketball with Harry “Polly” Policar (who spent 45 years at the Center). More than one family can trace their roots to the Center since many married couples tell stories of meeting at the Center.
In 1971, the Center moved to its current location on SW Capitol Highway and has expanded immensely over the years. During this period, before they had their own facility, the Portland Trailblazers held their practices in the MJCC gymnasium. The building’s name was changed to the Mittleman Jewish Community Center in 1976 to honor Helen Rena Mittleman following a significant donation from member Harry Mittleman. In 1987 and in 1996, wings were added to accommodate Portland Jewish Academy. In 2003, the Sportsplex was created for indoor soccer and gymnastics.
In 2004, the Center faced a challenging period. Due to the commitment of Jordan Schnitzer and the emergency board he led, the MJCC embarked on a major capital campaign to renovate the building and thrive in a new era. The MJCC’s subsequent capital campaign—Roots & Rafters—has enabled the Center to make much-needed upgrades to the aging building, while providing an endowment to address future capital needs.
Thanks to these major facility improvements, the MJCC is now a thriving community center, with close to 1,800 member units, representing more than 3,750 individuals. Several monumental events and activities take place at the J including Israeli Independence Day celebrations, Purim carnivals, Jewish Community Orchestra concerts, bar and bat mitzvahs, weddings, quinceañeras and more. The Center welcomes people of all faiths and backgrounds for cultural events, sports classes and leagues, a state-of-the-art fitness facility, afterschool activities for kids and drop-in childcare. Over 1,000 people come through the doors daily.
Summer is a particularly busy time on campus when MJCC summer day camp—one of the oldest camping traditions in Portland—is in session, offering full-day coverage to working families with a variety of options including arts and crafts, swimming, sports, theater, cooking, and more. Since 1947, kids love their summers at the J and return year after year.
For over a century, the MJCC has served as the living room for the Jewish community as well as Southwest Portland. With your help, the MJCC will continue to meet the needs of our community for generations to come.