The first Jewish Community Centers were founded more than a century ago to teach Jews, newly arrived as immigrants, how to become good Americans. We succeeded in that mission, and Jews have served this land proudly through the decades, as civilians and in the military, contributing to the arts, the sciences, to government, business, and all facets of community—to the very fabric of American life.
We continue in this mission today. Informed by Jewish values, Jewish Community Centers, open to all and welcoming, provide a connection to anyone who seeks it. Through social, cultural, educational and recreational activities, we provide an inclusive and diverse environment that works to create community and provide sustenance and welcome to all—including newly arrived immigrants. They continue to flock to this country today, seeking the things that Jews themselves still want: opportunity, safety, education and a chance to dream and better themselves within the American framework.
JCC Association and JCCs will be there for those seeking refuge in their time of need. The United States is a beacon of hope to immigrants of all faiths and nationalities. They are what has made us great and will continue to do so.
The Jewish poet, Emma Lazarus, wrote:
Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!
Her words are emblazoned on the base of the Statue of Liberty. Let them forever ring true.