To our community members:
For the last 65 years, we’ve called the building at 3301 N. Front Street home. It has hosted many simchas and special events, keeping us connected and coming together year after year, and each of us hold it in our hearts in different ways, from remembering the days of the bowling alley or dropping our children off at the Brenner Family Early Learning Center. Before our current location, we occupied what is now HMAC in midtown Harrisburg, which followed the original Y in 1915. With each change came opportunities to reimagine our future as a community.
It’s now time for us to envision a new home, which we’re excited to share with all of you.
After much thought, research, and a thorough review of the property, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education has accepted the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg’s offer to purchase the Dixon University Center. The center, a few blocks south of our current facility, will house the Jewish Community Center, the Brenner Family Early Learning Center, Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg and the Silver Academy. We hope to move to the new location in late 2022 or early 2023.
It was with the complete support of the Alexander Grass Foundation that we won a competitive bid for this property. Our new home will be called the Alexander Grass Campus for Jewish Life, acknowledging the Alexander Grass Foundation for its generous support and honoring a legacy of commitment to the past, present, and future of Harrisburg’s Jewish community. President of the Alexander Grass Foundation Elizabeth Grass Weese shared, "My brother, Roger Grass, and I believe the new Alexander Grass Campus for Jewish Life will stand as the crowning achievement of the lifetime dedication of Alex Grass to Harrisburg and the Jewish community. We share our father's commitment and his vision and we hope the rest of the community will come together to support this vision and participate and enjoy all that the Campus will offer."
This also could not have happened without the tireless work of a group of dedicated community leaders who saw the vision for this new campus that we can call home. We purchased the campus with the enthusiastic support and unanimous approval of the Federation Board of Directors, which includes representation from the rabbinical leadership in the community, the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg, Silver Academy, the Jewish Community Foundation of Central PA, the Jewish Home of Greater Harrisburg, and the five major synagogues.
While our current building is a beloved place for many of us, it is in need of major repairs that would have been cost prohibitive – from a new roof, to replacing and moving the heating and cooling systems, to other significant infrastructure improvements. Plus, our current facility limits our ability to improve and expand our offerings, from our fitness center to senior programming.
This new campus includes six buildings on over six acres of land in pristine condition. We will have dedicated buildings for our JCC programs, Federation offices, Jewish Family Service of Greater Harrisburg, and the Silver Academy. Another building will house a new senior center that will be open to anyone in the Greater Harrisburg area. To make the space work for us, some of the buildings will require construction, including creating a new gym/basketball court. More than just programs, this campus will be a hub for Jewish life in Harrisburg, centralizing, elevating, and celebrating the services and resources of our Jewish community. In addition to enhancing the quality of Jewish life in Greater Harrisburg through philanthropy, education, social services, arts, culture, health, and wellness, this campus will benefit the community-at-large, regardless of religious affiliation.
As the expression goes, L’dor V’dor, from generation to generation. That is our goal with the Alexander Grass Campus for Jewish Life, advancing Jewish Harrisburg for generations to come.
We know you will have many questions about this new endeavor, and we look forward to sharing information with you in upcoming emails, the Community Review, town hall meetings, and more so you can share in the excitement of what lies ahead.
Here’s to the next chapter in Jewish Harrisburg’s history –
Jennifer Ross Abby Smith
President & CEO Chair, Board of Directors