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Fantastic Facilities

Trager Family Jewish Community Center Has Something for All Ages

Writer / Renee Larr
Photography Provided

The new Trager Family Jewish Community Center (JCC) is opening this spring. The $43 million facility is located behind the current facility on Dutchmans Lane. It includes a year-round indoor aquatics facility, a modern, 37,000-square-foot fitness space offering 75-plus weekly group fitness classes, 50-plus cardio machines, a new performance room, a learning center for preschool children, and a multipurpose auditorium space that will serve as the new home of CenterStage.

The Trager family members have been longtime supporters of the Jewish community in Louisville and the new facility. The Trager family doubled their initial pledge of $1.5 million to $3 million, earmarked for construction of the new building.

The new facility was designed to embody the Jewish community’s values. It was designed with purposeful spaces that reflect Jewish culture and welcome every person regardless of faith. The JCC partnered with architectural firm GBBN to create the new building.

It’s broken into three main areas – the heart, mind and soul, according to Susan Kwasny, JCC fitness director. She calls the main lobby the heart of the building. The ceiling features a large display of hexagons that create the Star of David. The heart then opens to the body, the state-of-the-art fitness center as well as indoor and outdoor aquatics. The Early Learning Center nourishes the minds of young children.

The project was under construction for 18 months. On March 10, Governor Andy Beshear attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony to dedicate the new building.

“The ribbon cutting was wonderful,” Kwasny says. “Having the governor there signified how important this project is to the whole community. We want to serve the Jewish community and the general public alike. We wanted to make sure this was a place where everyone felt welcome.”

The fitness center is more than just a place for members to work out, Kwasny says. “We want to be a multifaceted center,” she says. “We want to provide fitness opportunities, aquatics opportunities, arts programming and preschool. We want to be a one-stop shop for families.”

The fitness center includes a dedicated performance room with TRX straps, squat racks, barbells, dumbbells, kettlebells, medicine balls and more. The center is equipped with new Peloton bikes, 45’ of indoor turf for strength training and conditioning, and an elevated indoor track. In-house services include personal training, massage services, physical therapy and nutrition coaching.

The indoor and outdoor aquatics facility is open year-round and includes a six-lane, 25-yard lap pool, a large recreational pool with a water slide, a vortex pool, steam rooms, saunas and a whirlpool. The ADA-accessible, zero-depth entry improves access for all ages.

The Trager Family JCC offers programming and enrichment opportunities, including top-tier kindergarten preparation and care for the youngest members in the Roth Family Education Center. Camp J offers summer and winter day camp opportunities for kids to grow and learn. Club J offers after-school pickup with activities for kids to have fun, do homework and be active every day.

The Shapiro Auditorium is home to one of Louisville’s most renowned theater programs, CenterStage. CenterStage delivers quality community theater and spectacular musicals. The theater allows local performers, designers and musicians to practice their passions. Budding young actors participate in arts education programs.

“We have had a home at the old building for over 20 years, and our program is over 100 years old,” says Erin Jump, educational program coordinator. “The space is state of the art, with integrated sound. We’re using a lot of our old equipment and getting new drapery and lighting, which makes it feel like a whole new space. We can’t wait to make art together in the new area.”

J Arts & Ideas Acting Out is a professional touring children’s theater troupe that travels to Kentuckiana schools and community centers to present educational and relevant musical theater to students of all grade levels. The program will utilize the auditorium for production, planning, preparation and rehearsal.

J Arts & Ideas Academy is a youth musical theater training program that allows students to discover and develop their talents as performers. Each child will work with theater professionals in three disciplines including acting, singing and dancing.

Our Academy kids and their families are extremely active in the behind-the-scenes aspects of our experience,” Jump says. Weve been in the process of moving things over to the new space and checking it out. Well have our first show in the new auditorium in May. The kids are so excited to get in there.”

Jump says the CenterStage board has worked tirelessly to plan the space out so they can showcase the programming. She says they poured over concerns with tech elements, lighting and sound, and audience experience, to ensure the best use of the space.

The JCC’s Active Adults programming provides year-round nutrition, fitness, recreation, education and cultural activities that promote health, social connection and independent living for active and senior adults. They also offer weekly film viewings, book clubs, games, sing-alongs and craft activities.

“We serve congregate kosher meals Monday through Friday for seniors in our cafe,” Kwasny says. “We also provide the only kosher Meals on Wheels service in Kentucky.”

St. Matthews resident Bud Schardein has been a member of the JCC for almost 50 years. He says he and his wife Sandy raised their children there, and now his grandchildren are members as well. He also says there is something for everyone regardless of age at the JCC.

“I was raised to believe in inclusive facilities and clubs that would allow membership and welcome everyone,” Schardein says. “To me the JCC has always been that way. No one is judged by their religious affiliation or financial status. Everyone, no matter who they are, is welcome as long as they’re a good person. It’s a place that embraces good people and diversity.”

Schardein served on the capital campaign committee to raise funding for the new building.

“I’m not Jewish by faith, but I have Jewish ancestry on my father’s side and many friends in the Jewish community,” Schardein says. “I felt honored to be asked to be part of the project to help raise funds to build the new center. It’s such a unique place where members support other members.”

Jewish Federation of Louisville leaders say the Jewish community and everyone who has been involved in the planning for the new building kept the Jewish value, “tikkun olam,” close to heart at every stage in the process.

The Trager Family Jewish Community Center is located at 3600 Dutchmans Lane in Louisville. For more information, call 502-459-0660 or visit jewishlouisville.org/the-j.

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