Sure, the JCC’s brand new Cafe J, housed in the JCC of Greater New Haven, is a great place to stop by and enjoy a cup of coffee and a bite to eat. But If you think it’s all about the food, think again.
“Cafe J isn’t only serving up coffee and food,” Michael P. Storz, president of Chapel Haven Schleifer Center (CHSC), an renowned nonprofit organization that empowers adults of varying abilities to live independent and self-determined lives.
“It’s also serving up inclusivity and opportunity. And it’s the continuation of a beautiful friendship,” he told the crowd of well-wishers gathered for the grand opening of the Cafe J eatery on May 22, also known as the “Cafe with a Cause.”
A unique collaboration between CHSC, the JCC, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven and The Towers, the JCC’s Cafe J provides internship opportunities to individuals with developmental and social disabilities to help CHSC meet its goal. These agencies work in partnership with The Towers at Tower Lane
and with Jewish Family Service of Greater New Haven (JFS)
who is helping to train and coordinate mentors and interns.
Café J is made possible in part through a generous Community Impact Grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven.
In addition to Storz, other speakers at the grand opening included David Sirowich, JCC President and JCC Executive Director Scott Cohen; Amy Holtz, Interim CEO and CDO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven; and Rabbi Josh Pernick- Jewish Community Relations Council Director and Rabbi in Residence, Jewish Federation.
Also on hand were Cafe J Consultant Shelly Gan; Jennifer Bayer, Associate Vice President, Strategic Initiative of the Towers; Rachel Scolnik Dobin of Jewish Family Service who is overseeing the CHSC interns working at Cafe J.
Doron Krakow, President and CEO of the Jewish Community Center Association of North America, who made the trip to New Haven from the organization’s headquarters in New York, talked about his recent visits to both the CHSC and the New Haven JCC.
“And when we come to a place like New Haven and have a chance to spend some time at the Schleifer Center, and then we come here to the JCC of Greater New Haven and see how these institutions are working not just in partnership but in the warm embrace of a community committed to the success of one another, we find that we have something in New Haven that we need to share with the169 other [JCC] communities across the continent because you are a roll model — a guiding light for the building of a greater Jewish community and a greater jewish community everywhere that there is a JCC.
“So, we couldn’t wait to be back here and share in this celebration; to revel in the magic of this community; to spend time with Harriet Schleifer and her son David…with Mike and his team…with Scott…with Amy and the Federation leadership. We are very proud to be among you today, and may we all continue to go from strength to strength.”