Mission & History
The St. Louis Jewish Community Center is an interactive multi-generational gathering place which:
- Imparts Jewish values
- Promotes individual physical and spiritual growth
- Creates a caring responsible community and supports those in need
- Encourages an appreciation for our Jewish identity, history and cultural heritage through effective and innovative education, programming and services
- Fosters connection, Jewish continuity and creates Jewish memories in an inclusive and welcoming environment.
The Jewish Community Center (referred to as "the J") has been an integral part of the St. Louis community since 1880. From its early days as the YMHA downtown to our current three thriving campuses – the Staenberg Family Complex in the Creve Coeur area, the Marilyn Fox Building in Chesterfield and Camp Sabra at the Lake of the Ozarks -- the J serves people from as young as 6 weeks to more than 100 years within our five core service areas: Early Childhood Education, Day and Resident Camp, Culture & Education, Group Social Services (including senior nutrition and inclusion programs) and Fitness & Wellness.
The St. Louis JCC began as the YMHA (Young Men's Hebrew Association) in 1880. The first location was close to where the St. Louis Gateway Arch is located now. The Arch symbolizes St. Louis as the Gateway to the West, and due west is the direction that the Jewish community, and the YMHA, began to move. By 1897, after a couple of changes in location, the YMHA moved west to Locust Street.
2737 Locust Street
But the Jewish Community kept expanding and moving. By 1915, we moved west into larger quarters at 3645 Delmar, with space to meet, access to tennis courts, ball fields and swimming pools. The minute the doors were opened, the Y became the "meeting place" for the Jewish people of St. Louis.
3645 Delmar Boulevard
The Jewish Community kept moving west, and, in less than 12 years, the Delmar location was inconvenient. In 1927, the YMHA-YWHA moved west again to Union and Enright. At that time, the Union Avenue location was the geographical center of the St. Louis Jewish population.
724 Union Boulevard Dr., 1927
In 1952, the YMHA-YWHA was incorporated as the Jewish Community Centers Association (JCCA), otherwise known as the J. Times changed, and the Jewish Community continued to move west. In 1961, both the Yalem Building at Olive and Hanley and the outdoor facilities at Lindbergh and Schuetz Roads were completed. In 1963, the Carlyn H. Wohl Building on the I. E. Millstone Jewish Community Campus at the Lindbergh and Schuetz site in Creve Coeur opened.
Yalem Building, 1961
In 1996, the J expanded West with the opening of the Marilyn Fox Building on the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Campus, located on an 11.4 acre plot of land at the corner of Baxter and Wildhorse Creek Roads. It is a full service, 70,000 square foot facility equipped to serve West St. Louis County residents. Shortly thereafter, on January 1, 1998, the JCCA officially became the Jewish Community Center (JCC), dropping the "A" and incorporating as a non-profit entity.
Fitted with upgrades and a complete renovation in 2008, the Marilyn Fox Building has the amenities and features to make it one of the premier fitness centers and gathering places in West County, not to mention our great Early Childhood Education and family programming.
In May 2009, the Jewish Community Center opened the Staenberg Family Complex with a brand new Fitness & Wellness Building in the Creve Coeur area, just off Lindbergh on Schuetz Road. In March 2010, a renovated Carlyn H. Wohl Building was rededicated as the Staenberg Family Complex, Arts & Education Building. These co-joined facilities have allowed the J to experience a renaissance of sorts, particularly with the revitalization of our membership base. With a strategic plan in place, the J has a guidepost to assist the agency in:
• Bringing innovation to all of our programs
• Building on our reputation for excellence across all services and functions
• Providing an engaging experience to all members and guests
• Serving the community’s needs wherever possible