26001 S. Woodland Rd.
Beachwood, OH |
(216) 831-0700
Today's Hours:
8:00 AM 1:00 PM
5:30 AM 8:00 PM
5:30 AM 8:00 PM
5:30 AM 8:00 PM
5:30 AM 8:00 PM
5:30 AM 4 PM
8:00 AM 1:00 PM
Young Family Services


 Building Blocks with the Sulzer Family                      

When Mandel JCC preschool mom Cara Sulzer sings “the chicken soup”song (...put some oil in a pot; stir it up nice and hot...) or waxes poetic about her sephardic charoset recipe, it’s clear The J’s Early Childhood program has hit its mark.

Cara and Matt Sulzer have been actively involved with The J’s Early Childhood Program from the moment their son Liam, now 6, entered preschool three years ago. Their 2-year old daughter Ella is in the three-day a week program.

Raised in a traditional Catholic family in the Canton area, Cara met Matt, a lifelong Clevelander with strong Jewish roots, while both were students at John Carroll University. “One of the many wonderful things about The J’s Early Childhood Program is how it has infused our entire family with a broader appreciation of Jewish holidays and traditions,” says Cara. “As an interfaith family this has meant a lot to us.”

Cara says The J’s staff could not have been more welcoming and inclusive. “My children’s teachers are so nurturing and passionate and they have been a tremendous resource. As I learn about Judaism with my children, I am able to share Liam’s joyful anticipation of Shabbat dinner with family and friends, and I see the pride on his face when we light the clay candlesticks he made in class.”

Joan Morgenstern, former Director of Early Childhood Services at Mandel JCC
reads to a group of pre-K students

Joan Morgenstern, director of The J’s Early Childhood Services, is happy Cara finds The J’s environment nurturing and welcoming. “At school, we don’t just support children – we support parents too,” she says. “Creating a warm, inclusive community for the entire family is as integral to our mission as educating young children.”

Cara is also enthusiastic about the scope of activities offered throughout the day. “It’s so great to expose my children at
such young ages, to yoga, swimming lessons, music, drama and even outdoor gardening,” she says. “Liam’s class planted seeds in the Stanley and Hope Adelstein Garden and last fall, at harvest time, prepared dishes using the herbs, fruits and vegetables the children grew themselves.”

As their children made new friends, so
did Cara and Matt. Cara is now part of a group of Mandel JCC preschool parents who regularly meet for a mom’s night out, arrange play dates with their kids, and celebrate Shabbat together at each other’s homes.

Becoming part of The J’s preschool family has been transformative for Cara. “I love all The J has to o er, not only for my children, but for the enduring friendships we have all made,” she says. “I never cease to be amazed by the acts of kindness and warmth I feel from the Mandel JCC community.”