by Rick Pezzullo
A celebration of the construction of the first Jewish center in more than 40 years in Westchester was held June 7 with the official unveiling of the Harold and Elaine Shames JCC on the Hudson in Tarrytown.
“We are really lucky to be the host community for this JCC,” said Tarrytown Mayor Drew Fixell, one of many local dignitaries to attend the festivities. “It adds a quality that is invaluable that very few other institutions can provide.”
In October 2015, the JCC broke ground on its plans to expand its 17,600-square-foot facility on South Broadway to 75,000 square feet. The completed first phase includes a sparkling new gymnasium, fitness center and an indoor swimming pool, along with state-of-the-art amenities.
“It just seems like yesterday we were holding shovels and breaking ground,” said Peter Boritz, chairman of the JCC Board. “No words can describe. It’s surreal. We will use this campus to enrich people’s lives at all stages.”
Longtime supporters Harold and Elaine Shames were on hand for the dedication and credited retiring JCC Executive Director Frank Hassid with having the vision and commitment to ensure the dream of a bigger and better JCC would become a reality.
“If it weren’t for Frank I don’t think we would have made it,” said Harold Shames, a former Ardsley village trustee and more than 60-year resident of the rivertowns. “When I looked at the sign I was really overwhelmed.”
Hassid, who received a standing ovation from the appreciative crowd on hand, returned the praise to the Shame’s, calling them “amazing people who could see what other people could not see.” He noted the new JCC already had more than 1,000 members.
“I am indebted to so many people here,” he said. “We never saw this coming in terms of how spectacular it is. Nobody believed we were going to do it. There was always a sense it wasn’t happening….we did it! It’s just a perfect time for us.”