Winner: 2012, 2013, 2014
Stroum Jewish Community Center Founded in 1949, the Stroum Jewish Community Center is dedicated to the enrichment of life for the Jewish and general community in the greater Seattle area. The J offers diverse social, cultural, and recreational programming for the entire family. Programs include community-wide events, a premier Early Childhood School, an award-winning summer day camp, before- and after-school care, kids and adults sports leagues, youth enrichment classes, teen and tween events, and a host of activities for specifically for adults and seniors. Youth and Recreation Programs The SJCC offers a variety of youth and camp programs throughout the school year and during the summer. These programs include Kidstown before- and after-school care, youth enrichment classes, and SJCC summer camp. Kidstown is a before- and after-school program for pre-k through 5th grade, where children participate in a variety of engaging and enriching activities. From baking cookies to creating works of art to playing gaga, there’s never a dull moment in Kidstown! Kidstown staff members promote and encourage teamwork and hands-on activities that are crafted around monthly themes, Judaic programming, and community events to keep kids engaged and stimulated. Kidstown offers bus transportation to and from Mercer Island schools, Jewish Day School, and Seattle Hebrew Academy. Van pickup is available from select Bellevue schools and St. Monica on Mercer Island. The J offers a variety of after-school youth enrichment classes throughout the year for kids ages 3 to grade 5. Kidstown kids and Early Childhood School students can easily participate in programs during their afternoons at the J, or they can just be dropped off for their specific activities. Class offerings change every session, but can include chess, photography, robotics, ceramics, cooking, soccer, basketball, and more. SJCC summer day camp has a 50-year tradition of excellence, with more than 35 camps for ages 5-16. Staff members encourage Jewish values such as helping others (tzedakah), welcoming everyone (hachnasat orchom), and respecting each other (derech eretz). Camp sessions range from one to three weeks and include sports, performing arts, science, arts and crafts, and specialty camps such as photography, rockets, robotics, junior lifeguards, and film production. When school is out, the J is in! Camp is available for all school vacations, and one Saturday a month for Parents Night Out, a fun-filled evening with dinner, games and a movie. And programs such as J Explorers bring together pre-k to third-grade kids and their dads to build, play games, learn new skills, explore Jewish values, and enjoy the great outdoors. Day or night, summer or winter—kids love the J! Fitness Programs Whether you’re starting a new fitness plan or you want to join the SJCC softball league—or anything in between—the J on Mercer Island has just what you’re looking for. The SJCC offers a range of specialized fitness programs for preschoolers, teens, adults, and seniors. The Fitness Center features a variety of exercise equipment, including 18 new strength machines. Personal training and group fitness classes for all skill levels are also available. The 7,000-square-foot gymnasium is open for recreational play and hosts several indoor sports leagues, including recreational and master’s men’s basketball, women’s basketball, and kids’ basketball and indoor soccer. Every spring and summer the J facilitates a co-ed softball league on Mercer Island. There are several preschool programs, such as yoga, dance, martial arts, and sports skills. Campers who attend SJCC summer camp engage in a variety of recreational activities including basketball, baseball, football, soccer, tennis, dance, kayaking, and rock climbing. The J also boasts an award-winning aquatics program for swimmers of all ages. From the Lil’ Bubblers program that helps parents introduce their infants to the water to the Red Cross Learn to Swim program that focuses on water skills and stroke refinement, there’s always someone splashing around. Recreational and lap swimming, water aerobics, and private swim lessons are also available. Early Childhood School The SJCC Early Childhood School, both Mercer Island and Seattle campuses, are based on the internationally-embraced Reggio Emilia philosophy. Children ages 3 months through kindergarten are encouraged to test their theories of the world so as to develop a love of learning, a strong sense of self-reliance, and a foundation for critical thinking. The Early Childhood School’s developmentally appropriate curriculum is a blend of stimulating play and challenging experiences within a supportive environment where children feel welcome, comfortable, and nurtured, and where they grow as individuals. Children enjoy music, art, movement, storytelling, and swimming in the SJCC indoor pool (for older children at the Mercer Island facility). Shabbat is celebrated every Friday with song, stories and challah. Enrichment classes are offered in yoga, dance, martial arts, and sports skills. The SJCC holds open houses for prospective families in December and January. New family registration is open each February. Full- and part-time options are available. Parenting Center The SJCC Parenting Center is nationally recognized for family outreach, parent education and support, and social activities for infants to age 5. The Parenting Center offers activities for all ages: infants, toddlers, preschoolers, parents, and grandparents. Educational classes and lectures, support groups, and baby playtime bring the Parenting Centers alive with activity and learning. Parenting Center programs include a free weekly Tot Shabbat with live music, Jewish holiday celebrations, Listening Mothers support groups, and music and movement.