WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – An organization of culture and heritage in the Wyoming Valley is about to get a new home. It’s preparing to say goodbye to its home of more than six decades. Eyewitness News Reporter Mark Hiller takes a look into the big move underway and gives us a sneak peak of the new facility.
Charlotte Cutler gathered with friends on Thursday for a game of Rummikub at the Jewish Community Center of Wyoming Valley. She’s been coming to the building on River Street in Wilkes-Barre ever since it opened in 1955. “The JCC has many, many, many wonderful memories for me,” she said.
But the building that houses so many memories has some costly wear and tear and is far from being state-of-the-art. It’s time for a new home. JCC of Wyoming Valley Board Member Jason Cohen said, “We’re closing a chapter of one portion of who we are here on this side of the river and we’re just, we’re starting a new chapter on the other side of the river.” JCC member Beverly Nachlis said, “And I look forward to that. It’s exciting.”
Building Committee Co-Chair David Schwager gave Eyewitness News a guided tour of the Sidney and Pauline Friedman Jewish Community Center in Kingston less than six weeks before its ribbon cutting. At 58,000 square feet, it’s much bigger than its predecessor and includes some eye-popping features like the Cohen Social Hall. “Each of the three subdivided rooms are equipped with a very high tech audio/visual system,” said Mr. Schwager.
Darkened rooms are quickly illuminated with motion sensor lighting including two kitchens: one for kosher and the other for general food preparation. With six rooms for early childhood education, it’s five more than the JCC currently has. A never-before outdoor classroom area is also being constructed.
The largest feature of the Friedman JCC is the roughly 9,000 square foot gymnasium. It will be home to a regulation-sized high school basketball court, be lined for pickle ball and include enough space for bleachers. Then on the flip side of this wall, construction is underway on such features as a weight room, cardio room and exercise studio.
But there are also nods to the past. The exterior building name from the JCC Wilkes-Barre site now occupies the lobby, salvaged tambur wood adorns a couple of walls and even part of the old bowling alleys are now a side table. Mr. Schwager said, “We believe that this facility in addition to being an excellent opportunity for the Jewish community also provides an opportunity for the greater community.”
The ribbon cutting for the new Friedman JCC is scheduled for March 24 on Third Avenue in Kingston.
Take a Tour inside- Video from Jason Cohen Click Here