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2011 Report to the Community


jewish community house of bensonhurst


Dear friends We are proud to share with you this first Report to the Community from the Marks Jewish Community House. The Marks JCH is celebrating its 85th anniversary this year. Throughout its rich history, the Marks JCH has impacted thousands of lives, and to this day, the “J” means so much to so many. We are grounding our members and clients with a sense of tradition and place, a set of programs that educate and inspire and a series of services that lift people up out of poverty and empower them. The Marks JCH meets the needs of the whole family, and it is our ultimate goal to help everyone we serve become self-sufficient and achieve his or her American dream. Every day 1,200 people walk through our doors. This report contains many other notable statistics that demonstrate the impact of our work. Behind each number is a story of personal impact, a life that has been transformed, an individual who has been inspired. Each day we are faced with difficult decisions trying to meet increased demands with limited resources for employment services, youth scholarships and providing a safety net for isolated older adult members of our community.

Among the highlights of the past year are: Empowering the unemployed through job training and placement

· The American Dream Center, supported by the Robin Hood Foundation, placed 245 adults with multiple impediments into jobs.

· Connect to Care, supported by UJA-Federation of New York, worked with 225 people whose dreams were shattered by the economic crisis, offering career transition services, financial counseling, legal services and support.

Another exciting and enriching summer for youth and teens

· Our day camp served more than 500 campers, teaching them sports, swimming and Jewish culture as well as taking them on trips and overnights. Nearly half of our camp families received financial assistance.

· B’yachad offered more than 100 teens a life-changing overnight camping experience focused on building the Jewish identity of the Russian-speaking community.

Providing a warm community for older adults

· The Bensonhurst Senior Center at the Marks JCH, supported by the New York City Department for the Aged, served 33,000 hot kosher lunches to seniors in our area.

· Our Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community, supported by UJA-Federation of New York and the Skirball Foundation, provides support to more than 700 homebound, isolated older adults, many of whom are Holocaust survivors, enabling them to remain in their homes and live their lives in dignity.

The Marks JCH addresses the most urgent needs of a largely immigrant population, enabling them to have a better future. We are empowering families to combat their challenges and we equip them with the tools to become self-sufficient. We now face an increased demand for our services that outpaces our current capacity. We remain committed to our mission. We are grateful to our board members, supporters, staff and volunteers for their hard work, dedication and energy which enable us to continue to thrive in these challenging times. Together we make an impact. We welcome you to join us in making a difference in our community. Your advocacy, involvement and financial support strengthen our organization. We simply cannot do what we do without you.

Alex Budnitsky CEO/Executive Director

Carol S. Goldstein President

Jonathan E. Gold Chairman of the Board

The Marks JCH opens its doors to people of all ages and stages in life, meeting the needs of the whole family.

Touching the lives of more than 20,000 people each year, the Marks JCH creates and sustains a caring community. From the early morning hours through the late evening, our building is abuzz with the voices of our members having fun, getting help, learning, growing and giving back to the place that means so much to so many. The Marks JCH’s impact extends well beyond our building. Our high-impact programs draw people from more than 30 ZIP codes throughout New York City. Our “360°” holistic service model uniquely positions the Marks JCH to assess and address the needs of the whole family. Members of our experienced staff speak more than a dozen different languages, enabling us to serve our members and clients in their native languages and respect

the diversity of all we serve. The Marks JCH is one of the largest providers of critical services in south Brooklyn. What is a day in the life of the Marks JCH? Preschoolers learning the alphabet. Teens experiencing life lessons on the basketball court. Immigrants being trained for new job skills, practicing English or studying to become American citizens. Social workers helping people access counseling, childcare or food assistance. Older adults finding companionship and relieving isolation in a book club or yoga class, or receiving visits in their homes from volunteers. Families celebrating holidays together at the J or making plans to celebrate Shabbat together in one another’s homes.

Marina, 33 years old - “My parents brought me to the Marks JCH or The “J” as they called it, with a slight Yiddish emphasis that none of us spoke, but all of us remembered. They took English classes there late at night and wanted me to be “taken care of” while they were learning. It was there, in an old building with a kaleidoscope of people, rooms, programs and languages that my Jewish journey began in 1992. Twenty years later, I brought my daughter to pre-school at the “J ”… This place has raised me and I wanted my daughter to take her first steps at the “J” as well.”

Our Proven Record of Success

New York City Department of Youth and Community Development Audit 2010

“The Marks JCH runs one of the best Family Literacy programs… ever… Everything, from documentation, assessment, lesson planning, and code compliance is excellent. The staff are committed to their work and open to suggestions and new ideas. The participants’ interest in the program is evident in the excellent attendance and retention.”

Robin Hood Foundation Evaluation 2010

“The Marks JCH placed…in the upper quartile of all the job training and placement groups Robin Hood supports… The Marks team is polished and professional and understands data and analysis. We share an interest in working with a poor, barriered population and respect Marks’ other support and advocacy services as well.”


Children and Youth: a place to grow, place to learn… Early Childhood Center – great beginnings to lifelong learning

At the Marks JCH’s Farber-Bruch Early Childhood Center, activities are integrated into a daily program that focuses on social skills, cognitive skills and physical and emotional well-being. The curriculum is infused with Jewish values and is adapted to meet the needs of each child, including children with disabilities. Enrollment in our Jewish preschool, Universal prekindergarten program and Mommy and Me classes has doubled in the last two years, which speaks to the quality of our programs. 51 chilren established a strong learning foundation at the Marks JCH’s Farber-Bruch Early Childhood Center this year.

After school – essential enrichment that grows with your child

Under the guidance of trained staff, children at the Marks JCH’s Robbins-Corenman After School Center build their academic skills as they learn and play together in a vibrant, well-rounded environment. This year 190 students received homework help and participated in recreational play, 75 kids learned in our tutoring programs, more than 100 children took dance and private music instruction and 120 students enrolled in the swim academy. Marks JCH After School celebrated the successes of its many students, including more than 50 children with special needs.

186 teens learned life lessons on the basketball and volleyball courts of Cammarata Youth Sports Center


Marks JCH Camp programs – fun, friends, new experiences

For more than 80 years, we’ve provided a safe, affordable summer camp program. The Marks JCH camp is a community of children, teenagers and adults that fosters positive relationships, encourages healthy risk-taking and promotes acceptance. Camp is both a gateway to Jewish life for campers and their families and a destination for Jewish experiential learning. Providing scholarships for youth at risk, single parent families and families fighting poverty is key to helping parents to go out and seek employment to enable their families to become self sufficient. In 2010, we reached our largest enrollment, registering campers from more than 30 ZIP codes in New York. Teens at the J

The Marks JCH has a decades-long tradition as a center of teen life in the neighborhood. Counting more than 300 members, the Zehut Teen Center offers a variety of programs serving at-risk Jewish youth. The Summer Youth Employment Program assisted hundreds of local teens to find summer jobs and internships. The Butler Center for Educational Advancement, supported by the J.E. & Z.B. Buttler Foundation, helps them achieve their academic potential through college preparation and other educational assistance. The Cammarata Youth Sports Center offers neighborhood teens a way to stay healthy and build positive friendships in a fun, competitive, and nurturing environment.

Yelena is 42 years old and is in the fight of her life, battling terminal cancer. Her husband left her recently and as a result of the divorce, Yelena lost access to health insurance. Every dollar was needed to pay for treatments and hospital bills. That meant her daughter Sasha could not go to camp. There was not a spare dollar in the family budget. Sasha is in 3rd grade and was a camper in the Marks JCH camp the previous summer. Given how unpredictable the family situation was, it was only in June that the family applied for a scholarship to send Sasha back to camp, after we’d already distributed all of our scholarship funds. The Marks JCH staff came up with a creative approach to help the family: to advocate with Sasha’s father’s union to cover part of the camp tuition, to simultaneously raise funds from our camp alumni and donors to cover the remaning balance and to create a camp account to enable Sasha to attend camp in future years. Here is what Yelena said after the camp season: “I feel truly blessed for having the Marks JCH in the community. It has been a haven to my daughter with the summer camp program and its generosity to me, when I felt despair and hopelessness with my illness. My daughter comes home shining from the Marks JCH with wonderful stories and songs she learns at camp. Thank you so much. It makes me feel very happy to know that my daughter has another family at the Marks JCH.”


One-stop destination for Brooklyn families

125 young families practiced Jewish values through our Family Programs

Health and Wellness

The Marks JCH helps community members of all ages, backgrounds, and fitness levels to stay active and to adopt healthy lifestyles and habits. Team sports, fitness classes, nutrition classes, a swim academy and a full-service gym are available to members and non-members. Health and wellness are integrated into programs for children, teens and seniors, promoting healthy habits that will last a lifetime. Expression and Tradition: Cultural Arts Programs

A lively and diverse Performing Arts Series welcomes musicians, dancers, actors and singers of the highest caliber who enhance the cultural vibrancy of the community while celebrating Jewish, American, Russian and other global arts traditions.

Jewish Life and Learning

At the Marks JCH, there are ongoing opportunities for families and children to discover the culture and traditions of our rich Jewish heritage. The Marks JCH’s festival celebrations – for Chanukah, Purim and Passover – bring together hundreds of people, young and old, to dance, sing, learn and strengthen the ties that bind them together. This year’s Chanukah and Purim festivals drew more than 500 attendees each. Through the generosity of the Genesis Philanthropy Group, coupled with the Grinspoon Foundation and support from UJA-Federation of New York, this year the Marks JCH launched the PJ Library, immediately selling out of our first 500 subscriptions. PJ, short for pajamas, is a national book program implemented on

More than 2,000 people attended 21 CULTURAL ARTS performances last year

the local level, mailing high quality Jewish children’s books and music to families each month and presenting book-themed programming in the community. Focus on Young Families – building a future together

The Marks JCH’s experiential learning programs provide informal Jewish education for a community that otherwise would have no Jewish content. Through our Chavurah Family program we are building a community for the increasing number of families with young children in the neighborhood. In our Tot Tussovka program we are also reaching the underserved Brownstone Brooklyn Jewish community with new exciting content for young families.



Pursuing the American Dream…

The Road to Economic Self-Sufficiency Learning English is THE first milestone in your new life …

Since the 1980s, the Marks JCH has played a key role in resettling more than 50,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union in southwest Brooklyn in addition to serving immigrants from more than 40 other countries. The Marks JCH’s job training, health services, English classes and other educational, cultural and social service programs are a vital lifeline for these immigrants, many of whom fled persecution in their countries of origin. Employment Services

Many of the immigrants who are part of the Marks JCH’s community are chronically unemployed or underemployed. While many are talented and eager to succeed, they face social, educational and vocational barriers to economic self-sufficiency. The American Dream Center (ADC), funded in part by the Robin Hood Foundation, is the Marks JCH’s most comprehensive employment service

program, empowering its participants. This year, the Marks JCH offered services under the auspices of ADC and numerous other New York City and New York State-funded programs. Innovative approaches to émigré empowerment

Marks JCH creates opportunities for Baby Boomers to build a secure and successful future. Our Career and Business Transition Center (CBTC) is a comprehensive program that focuses on planning the economic future of every program participant and helps to make this future a reality. Our Bensonhurst Business Club brings together more than 200 local entrepreneurs and employers for networking and mentoring. Our partners include Brooklyn Chambers of Commerce, FEGS, Hebrew Free Loan Society, Metropolitan Jewish Coordinating Council on Jewish Poverty and the New York Legal Assistance Group.


Helping Seniors Thrive


Helping Seniors Thrive

The local area served by the Marks JCH is home to more than 40,000 elderly residents, many of whom live below the poverty line. The Bensonhurst Senior Center provides a comprehensive approach to offering supportive services for our older adults, including hot meals, recreational programs, cultural celebrations and case assistance so older adults can remain vital members of our community. work with Holocaust Survivors AND WORLD WAR II VETERANS

Holocaust Survivors and World War II Veterans’ Clubs are among 16 volunteer-led initiatives in the Marks JCH senior center. These programs ensure a life of dignity for frail and vulnerable survivors, most of whom lived through the war, then Stalin, then immigration and are now fighting social isolation. Our staff and volunteers provide home visits to homebound seniors who essentially are cut off from the outside world. Our teenagers, through

intergenerational programming, provide friendly visits, and deliver food and holiday packages. Those who can travel to our center say the Yiddish Conversation Club is one of their favorite experiences. It brings English and Russian speaking seniors together to share family stories, speak their “mother tongue” and build bridges across cultures. Thanks to a New York Times Neediest Cases article about the Yiddish Club, a generous donor enabled the group to continue meeting. THE DEDICATION OF 88 SERVICE VOLUNTEERS MAKE OUR SENIOR PROGRAMS VIBRANT AND ENGAGING

The Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NNORC) provides personalized case management and health care services, in our office and at clients’ homes. Social workers and registered nurses help seniors to age in their own homes. Minor home repairs and community advocacy round out this holistic approach, which also features social and educational activities.

The Marks JCH Good Neighbors NNORC PROGRAM served 800 seniors with social services and wellness ACTIVITIES.

Larisssa and Victor Shchetinina survived the poverty and hard labor of the Hitler and Stalin eras in Ukraine, only to be faced with emerging, rampant anti-Semitism and major economic challenges as the end of the 20th century approached. When they arrived in the United States in 2002, at the ages of 64 and 65, they settled in a onebedroom apartment in Bensonhurst with their son. Speaking no English, and with no money and few possessions (when they emigrated, they had to sign away their rights to their pensions from their lifelong careers in the former Soviet Union), they turned to the Marks JCH for help. The Marks JCH helped them obtain the Supplemental Security Income and Food Stamps that have become their lifeline. Through our ESL classes, they were able to learn English, take the citizenship exam and became American citizens, all with the help of charitable funds that have been set aside for Holocaust survivors. The Marks JCH also has helped them obtain urgently needed medical care for serious illnesses that both of them have fought. While their challenges – medical and financial – unfortunately continue, Larisa and Victor know they can always rely on the J.

Thanking Our Supporters

The Marks JCH is grateful to its many supporters for enabling us to meet the needs of whole families. We appreciate the foundations, funders, individual donors, board members, volunteers, staff and members who support our work. In recent years, our local community has begun to give back to the J in many ways. Neighborhood business leaders who got their start through our Bensonhurst Business Club offer pro bono services; a young adult who learned to play basketball as a new émigré teen at the J joined our Board of Directors; a local café owner offers free Thanksgiving meals to needy Holocaust survivors as a way of saying thanks for the help he received in launching his business through our microfinance program. It is our goal to continue to engage recent alumni of

Marks JCH Board of Directors Carol S. Goldstein President * Cary J. Davis Honorary Chairman of the Board * Jonathan E. Gold Chairman of the Board Rachel Epstein 1st Vice President David Klafter 2nd Vice President David E. Rubinsky 3rd Vice President Yale Fergang Treasurer Alvin Kuneffsky Secretary

* Past Presidents

the J in supporting the work we do and reach out to older alumni to reconnect. On April 18th, 2010, we launched the first annual “18 on the 18th Community Challenge Campaign” which focused on engaging recent alumni of the Marks JCH through social media and to participate in the decision-making process about where their contributions should go. Many young JCH alumni who benefitted from our programs when they were immigrants just a few years ago – young professionals who are now in a position to give back – donated their vacation time to help staff a camp trip and contributed their money to make sure that children in our community who needed a scholarship to attend summer camp 2011 or the JCC Maccabi Games 2011 received one. Their contributions totaled more than $18,000, collected in just two months.

* David P. Berkowitz Katherine Boas David Dubrow Gerald P. Farber Eli S. Feldman Felix Filler * Cheryl Fishbein Mel Goldfeder Anton Gorshkov Dayle J. Henshel Ben Krull Glenn Markman Irene Molod * Leon Pollack * Philip Schatten Allan L. Shaw Honorary Board Members Andrew Boas Stanley Goldberg Arthur Press Dr. Benjamin Sherman

Marks JCH Executive Team Alex Budnitsky, MA, MSW Executive Director/CEO Melanie Levav, MA, LMSW Assistant Executive Director, Financial Resource Development Gelena Blishteyn, MSW Director of Program Services and Operations Vladimir Vishnevskiy Director of Immigrant Services Faye Levine, LMSW Director of Social Services Violetta Shmulenzon, MSW Director of Camping and Leadership Development David Smith Director of Finance Inna Kuznetsova Director of Administration

Marks JCH Financials

UJA-Federation of New York is our largest single funder, providing both core operating support and numerous program grants. Nearly one third of our budget comes from New York State, federal and local government sources, sponsoring programs in all areas of service. We also are supported by foundations such as the Robin Hood Foundation, the Skirball Foundation and the Harold Grinspoon Foundation as well as numerous individual donors. In the 2010-2011 fiscal year, several government-funded programs were cut significantly, including the mid-year elimination of our prized family literacy program. Despite significant cuts in government funding, we were able to achieve a balanced operating budget, primarily as a result of streamlining our operations, securing new grants and with generous support from funders. The current economic environment challenges our ability to provide key services, causing wait lists for many of our programs. In the 2011-2012 fiscal year, we expect to continue to operate in extremely difficult economic conditions resulting from the State and City of New York’s drastic budget shortfalls and cuts back on grants and contracts that provide vital services. We are working diligently to secure new funds from all available sources in order to meet the continuing and urgent needs of the community. Full financial information is available by request to the Marks JCH and at

Funding Sources




Fee for Service

Government Grants


$2,207,877 UJA Federation

Private Foundations












Revenue 48%



Program Services $3,265,635

Social Services $822,783

Immigrant Services $1,824,497





Program Services $2,994,173

Social Services

Administration $1,119,701

Immigrant Services



Immigrant Services (Job Placement, Vocational Training, ESOL, Citizenship, Case Management) Social Services (Senior Services, NNORC, Senior Housing, Bensonhurst Senior Center, Multi -Service Center) Program Services (Children & Family, Youth, Camp, Sports & Fitness, Cultural Arts, Leadership Development, Educational and Recreational Services, Jewish Life and Learning)



360° approach to services for the whole family

Marks JCH Programs and Services Farber-Bruch Early Childhood Center

Computer Center

Mommy & Me Classes

Connect to Care

Summer Day Camps

Single Stop Center

Robbins-Corenman Afterschool Center

Health Insurance Counseling

Out of School Time (OST)

Nutrition Outreach Educational Program

Swim Academy & Swim Team

Citizenship Preparation & Civics Education

Sunday Academy Classes for Children

Voter Registration Outreach

Special Needs Programs

Domestic Violence Prevention Program

School of Music and Dance

Healthy Families Program

Children’s Fitness Center

Family Literacy Program

Tot Tussovka Family Program in Park Slope

Health and Wellness Center

Chavurah Jewish Family Education

Bensonhurst Business Club

Zehut Teen Center

Goldberg Senior Center

Cammarata Youth Sports Center

Russian-language Older Adult Clubs

B’yachad Teen Overnight Camp

Bensonhurst Senior Center

Annual Brooklyn Mitzvah Day

Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community

“We are Family Teen Leadership Institute:

Supportive Community Program

Brooklyn(USA)-Ashdod (Israel)-Dnepropetrovsk(Ukraine)”

Subotnick House and Senior Center

JCC Maccabi Games & ArtsFest

Psychological Support for Seniors

Summer Youth Employment Program

Silver Sneakers Senior Fitness

Butler Center for Educational Advancement Dor Hadash Leadership Development Alumni Association: Young Adult Chapter Job Placement Services Vocational and Educational Training English for Speakers of Other Languages

144 teens and young adults participated in 5th Annual Brooklyn Mitzvah Day

Design by Ilya V. Gleikh us write the next chapter together... To make a contribution or volunteer, or to support the “J� in any way, please call our development office at 1.718.331.6800, ext. 117 7802 Bay Parkway, Brooklyn, NY 11214 Tel.718.331.6800

JCHB Message to Community 2011  

Edith & Carl Marks Jewish Center of Bensonhurst

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