The Pozez Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (the J) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a strong and vibrant Jewish community through meaningful opportunities to engage in Jewish life. The J welcomes individuals of all ages, abilities, ethnicities, faiths, and backgrounds. Our activities span five counties and touch more than 15,000 individuals each year through cultural, educational, wellness programs and Israel celebrations. We build Jewish connection, community, and peoplehood with the 121,000+ Jews who call Northern Virginia their home.
Guided by Jewish values, the Pozez JCC will spark, foster, and build Jewish Connection, Community, and Peoplehood throughout Northern Virginia by creating outstanding opportunities for every individual to explore the boundless potential of Jewish life. Understanding that our community is widely scattered, we will meet people where they are both within and beyond the walls of the J.
To build Jewish connection, community, and peoplehood through meaningful opportunities for every individual to explore the boundless potential of Jewish life.
In the fall of 1969, and on the heels of the successful first summer of “Camp Achva” day camp, fourteen Northern Virginians met to discuss the idea of a Jewish Community Center in Northern Virginia. Originally served by outreach programs based at the JCC of Greater Washington in Rockville, the growing Jewish population in Northern Virginia needed a home base on the other side of the Potomac. By the late 1970s, Northern Virginia’s Jewish community leaders had reached consensus that the time had come to move forward.
On May 9, 1980, the Northern Virginia Jewish Community Center (NVJCC) officially began operation, receiving a certificate of incorporation from the State Corporation Commission. Later that fall, the Center’s Board of Directors moved to purchase a temporary building on Little River Turnpike, which became affectionately known as “The White House” — and now the Smith-Kogod Cultural Arts Center (more about that later) — to serve as an interim facility until funds could be raised for a permanent structure. For ten years, the building housed the Jewish Social Service Agency, the Jewish Council for the Aging, and Senior Adult Services, and provided a home base for Camp Achva. Gesher Jewish Day School was housed in the JCC from 1993 until 2007, when they built their own campus at 4800 Mattie Moore Court in Fairfax.
Additional contiguous land was purchased in several installments during the mid/late 1980s.
In 1985, the Jewish Community Foundation identified the construction of a permanent NVJCC building as a major component of the “Capital Campaign of the 80s.” With the support of the Jewish community in Northern Virginia and the Greater Washington Jewish community, construction began on the building we still call home in the spring of 1989. In December 1990, the Henry S. Reich building celebrated its grand opening, a community-wide event including a dedication by then-Governor Douglas Wilder.
In 2015 under the leadership of current Executive Director Jeff Dannick, the Board authorized a capital campaign to renovate the main building (including lobby, restrooms, entrance canopy, adult lounge, locker rooms, pool, the lower level fitness center and locker rooms), to repave the parking lot, and to modernize and “green” the HVAC and lighting systems. The project also notably added an additional 3,800 square feet to the west end of the building for a new fitness center, and completely renovated the original “White House” building into the new Smith-Kogod Cultural Arts Center. In addition, the campaign provided seed money for new community outreach initiatives. The campaign raised over $9.5 million. Derek Norton Architect and Scott-Long Construction began work in 2016 and completed most of the renovations in 2019. Renovation of the Chaiken Auditorium was halted during the COVID-19 pandemic and should be completed by May 2022.
In 2019, philanthropists Norman Pozez and Melinda Bieber enabled the JCC of Northern Virginia to complete its capital campaign by making a significant commitment to the JCC, and in recognition of that commitment, the JCC of Northern Virginia changed its name to the Pozez JCC of Northern Virginia.
During the closure and gradual reopening of the J caused by COVID, virtual programming kept the Pozez JCC relevant and connected to its members, the broader community, and even welcomed participants from Israel, Canada, and around the globe. Additionally, in an effort to stay connected to members who were choosing to stay safe at home, the Board created a J-Calls committee to make periodic phone calls to the membership.
As we return to full operations, with the easing of COVID restrictions, we look forward to expanding our community outreach while also attending to the needs of our current members.
KEY PROGRAMMING HIGHLIGHTS
Membership dues and generous support from agencies and corporations help the Pozez JCC to provide ongoing programs like those named above, as well as to introduce a myriad of new classes and programs that keep the Center vital and relevant.
In 1969, a Northern Virginia JCC was just a dream. Today, it is a reality, a true center of Judaism, education, wellness, and good spirit.
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