In 1948, we were founded as a gathering place for Jewish families and new immigrants seeking culture, recreation, community and a place to call home. While our programs and facilities have undergone dramatic changes, The J’s commitment to building and strengthening our Jewish community remains dramatically unchanged. We are and have always been dedicated, first and foremost, to improving the quality of life for those in our community.


1948 - In the year that heralded the birth of the State of Israel, another beginning took place in Cleveland. That year the Jewish Community Center of Cleveland was created by the merger of four organizations. The JCC, having no permanent home, ran its programs in converted homes, basements, warehouses and commercial properties.


1956 - A capital campaign is launched to raise funds for a permanent home for the JCC.


1960 - The JCC opens on Mayfield Road in Cleveland Heights.


1960 - First production at Halle Theatre opens to enthusiastic audiences.

1961 - Cardiologist Dr. Herman Hellerstein, one of the early researchers whose work helped in the rehabilitation of heart attack patients using dietary controls and exercise, creates the JCC Physical Fitness Program in collaboration with the Medical School of Western Reserve University.


1966 - The JCC day camp, formerly known as Round-Up Ranch Day Camp, is renamed Anisfield Day Camp in memory of Cleveland philanthropist John Anisfield and has its first summer season at the 75-acre site at Halle Park in Burton

1966 - Camp Wise moves from Painesville to the 325-acre Blanche R. and Eugene S. Halle Park in Burton, Ohio. Anisfield Day Camp is its nearby neighbor.


1968 - A three-day Jewish Book Festival, to mark the observance of Jewish Book Month in November, is launched.


1975 - Mayfield JCC develops programming and resettlement services for Russian immigrants including ESL classes, a lunch program and social events.


1980 - David Berger National Memorial sculpture, created by David E. Davis is constructed at the Mayfield JCC in memory of Shaker Heights native David Berger, one of 11 Israeli athletes murdered at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, Germany.

1981 - Freedom Seder held at Mayfield JCC in honor of the new Soviet Jewish immigrants, includes an English-Hebrew-Russian Haggadah.

1981 - A Master Plan is developed to renovate the Mayfield Building and to purchase a new site for the construction of a second JCC complex.

1984 - Groundbreaking for the Beachwood JCC is funded by a capital campaign that raises $13 million for the construction of the new facility.


1985 - The new Beachwood JCC building is named the Mandel Building in honor of Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel and their families.


1986 - Mandel JCC opens on 53 acres in Beachwood. The new building includes fitness and aquatics facilities, a day camp, Safran Park, preschool and the William C. Treuhaft Conference Center.

1990 - New American Program begins at the Mayfield JCC to help integrate the many Soviet immigrants arriving to Cleveland.

1991 - The Pilloff Family donates funds to establish the Francine & Benson Pilloff Family Performing Arts Camp.

1994 - The Maurice L. and Marjorie H. Stonehill Auditorium addition opens at the Mandel JCC and includes a stage and dance floor.


1994 - The JCC North American Maccabi Youth games is hosted by the JCC and attracts 2,500 teen athletes from around the world.

1997 - Playmakers Youth Theatre has it’s first production at the Mayfield JCC’s Halle Theatre.


1999 - Festival of Jewish Books & Authors is relaunched, now known as Cleveland Jewish Book Festival.


2000 - Rzepka YOUTHFITness Center addition, a dedicated fitness center for teens, opens.


2005 - “Halle-lujah! A Center-mental Journey” tribute event signals the end of the JCC’s Halle Theatre.


2005 - The cost of operating two facilities becomes too large a burden and the decision is made to close the Mayfield building.


2005 - The Jewish Federation’s Centennial Initiative provides $6.7 million to fund much needed additions to Camp Wise and Anisfield.


2006 - David Berger National Memorial sculpture moves to Mandel JCC campus.


2006 - The $2.6 million, 60,000 square foot Preston’s H.O.P.E. handicapped-accessible playground opens


2007 - The JCC of Cleveland is renamed Mandel JCC of Cleveland.


2007 - The J’s Indoor Triathlon & Biathlon is launched.

2007 - Camp Wise celebrates its 100th year.


2007 - Cleveland Jewish FilmFest celebrates its inaugural year with 10 Jewish-themed films.


2009 - A capital campaign is launched to renovate and expand the Beachwood facility. At the groundbreaking Jack, Joseph & Morton Mandel were honored for their $16 million gift


2011 - Dedication ceremony and ribbon cutting for the completion of The J’s $18 million renovation and expansion of its 132,000 square foot facility. Improvements include new fitness center, renovated Early Childhood wing, remodeled meeting space and improved indoor and outdoor aquatic facilities.

2012 - Jewish Arts and Culture Lab artist fellowship program is launched with a culminating Spring exhibit. The program wins an award for innovation from National JCCA.


2013 - After raising $675,000, Camp Wise Infirmary opens and is staffed by a team of nurses and volunteer doctors.

2014 - Membership to the Mandel JCC reaches 10,000 individuals


2016 - Debra Ann November Aquatics Center opens at J-Day Camps in Burton – made possible by a lead gift from Iris November and her late husband, Mort.

2017 - Cleveland Jewish FilmFest and Book Festival attract record attendance of 10,000.

2017 - Receives a $250,000 State of Ohio grant to update Stonehill Auditorium

2018 - $300,000 of new in state-of-the-art equipment is installed in the Fitness Center.


2020 – After a state-mandated closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, The J was able to quickly pivot to on-line and virtual programming. Kosher boxed lunches were delivered regularly to the homes of Lunch Plus participants, personal training sessions shifted to online, group exercise classes were streamed live and recorded for on-demand viewing, our camps held Zoom gatherings, Cleveland Jewish FilmFest streamed movies online and our Jewish Book Festival held programs via Zoom. A virtual 5K kept the community engaged with our philanthropic mission.


2022 – 18-year President and CEO Michael Hyman retired, signaling the end of one era and the beginning of a new one.


2022 – Carnie Rose joins Mandel JCC as the new CEO. 


2022 – The J’s Early Childhood Center opens two infant rooms, expanding enrollment to children who are 8 weeks old.


2022 – Through funding by Mt. Saini Foundation, RecoveryZone, a self-service dedicated room with restorative equipment opened.


2022 – A new two-level static Adventure Ropes Course with 30 elements opens at Camp Wise.