Scarsdale/New Rochelle, N.Y. (October 22, 2021) — JCC of Mid-Westchester (JCCMW) on Thursday announced its establishment of the Karen Kolodny Center for Jewish Culture, Heritage and Diversity, a fund dedicated to bringing together through educational and culturally immersive experiences people of all backgrounds and faiths to experience the joys of Judaism. Named for JCCMW’s outgoing CEO Karen Kolodny and inspired by her passion for sharing the beauty, richness and plurality of Judaism, the Center has raised more than $600,000 to date from JCCMW patrons and supporters. Click here for pictures from last night’s inaugural funder’s reception.
JCCMW drew inspiration for the Center from Ms. Kolodny’s passion for the richness of Jewish tradition and customs beyond the synagogue walls. It was further influenced by realities affecting the modern Jewish community, including the trend of interfaith marriage that is currently diminishing the rate at which Jews retain their traditional, religious connections to Judaism.
According to a study released in May 2021 by the Pew Research Center, 42 percent of married U.S. Jews have non-Jewish spouses, a number that rises to 61 percent among those who have married since 2010 and further increases to 72 percent when one excludes Orthodox Jews, who marry other Jews at very high numbers. The study further shows that Jews in interfaith marriages are less likely to raise children who retain their Jewish identities into adulthood, and points to growing numbers of Jews who express their Jewishness in non-religious ways.
“As someone who embraces the beauty of Jewish tradition and cares deeply about the longevity of Judaism, I am honored that a Center bearing my name will bring together those within and beyond the Jewish community, engaging those interested in learning more about Judaism,” said Ms. Kolodny.
The Karen Kolodny Center for Jewish Culture, Heritage and Diversity is in the process of hiring a senior, full-time professional responsible for creating and delivering the Center’s culturally focused programming and initiating interfaith dialogues. JCCMW will also continue fundraising efforts for the foreseeable future.
“JCCs nationwide have the opportunity to play a pivotal role helping connect those outside the Jewish faith as well as non-religious Jews with the cultural aspects of our beautiful Jewish heritage,” said Ellen Reinheimer, President of the Board of Directors of JCCMW. “We are proud to be leading an effort in mid-Westchester that is focused on this specific need in our community and are thrilled to be simultaneously recognizing Karen for her numerous contributions to JCCMW.”
Ms. Kolodny has led JCCMW since 2013, helping transform it into a more established, financially sound, culturally relevant local institution during extremely challenging times. Notably, her tenure was marked by a significant rise in antisemitic threats and a pandemic that threatened to shut its doors. Yet under her leadership, JCCMW enhanced its operations; expanded programs for patrons, notably adult programming and early childhood education; increased collaboration with other community, social service and Jewish agencies; and significantly enhanced philanthropic support.
The Jewish Community Center of mid-Westchester is a multi-generational center in Westchester. We support our community by offering outstanding human services, educational, cultural and recreational programs within and beyond our walls. Our programs are grounded in our Jewish values and we welcome all. JCCMW enriches families, connects friends and strengthens community.