Do you ever find yourself wondering, “how did the J come to be?” or, “where was the first JCC?” Then you are in for a serious treat!

We collected fun facts about JCCs all over the world and thought, “we should share these with our members!” We know you’ll find them fascinating. Enjoy!

1. There are 350 Js in the United States and Canada.

In addition to North America, there are 180 in the former Soviet Union, 70 in Latin America, 50 in Europe, and close to 500 in Israel!

2. The first J opened in Baltimore, Maryland in 1854.

Well, sort of–it was not called a “Jewish Community Center.” It started out as the “Hebrew Young Men’s Literary Association” which then lead to the first YMHA (Young Men’s Hebrew Association) being founded in NYC in 1874. The first YWHA (you got it–Young Women’s Hebrew Association) was added in 1888. In 1917, YMHAs and YWHAs were combined into a Jewish Welfare Board and were later renamed “Jewish Community Centers.” Phew…what a process!

3. An Olympic gold medalist is a JCC Alum.

Cullen Jones, who won a gold medal for swimming, was a childhood member of Metro Express, a swim team at the JCC MetroWest in West Orange, NJ.