By Stephanie Dworkin
Katz JCC, Cherry Hill Marketing Director
For some that meaningful JCC moment comes when they find the love of your life at camp, or discover they really can act after a successful tryout for the J’s theater group. Or it might be meeting a lifelong best friend in JCC preschool, or mastering a new fitness goal or art technique in a class. For Beverly Hersh, that moment came when the JCC helped her get back on her feet after her husband Stephen died.
Whatever that moment is, we want to know. Tell us your JCC story here and we’ll feature it during our Centennial Celebration throughout this year and into 2017. Let us know what your JCC means to you, and how it made a difference. Need some help telling it? Contact our editor.
Beverly Hersh recalls fond memories of meeting her husband Stephen when she was a 19-year-old student at Harcum Junior College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. “I fell in love with his brain and his intellect. He was kind, a gentleman, very humble and very funny. When I met him, I was at the market and I walked right into him, and that was that. I gave him my number right on the spot.”
Beverly and Stephen were married for 46 years and raised three sons in Cherry Hill, New Jersey who all still live in South Jersey and are now raising their own families. She enjoys playing an active role as Grandma to her eight grandchildren, who range in age as young as five months to 16 years old and all live less than 10 minutes away.
When Stephen died in October 2012, it was a very difficult time for Beverly. But with the help of the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, where she’d built a lifetime of connections, she was able to work through that loss.
Hersh has been a member of the JCC in Cherry Hill since the beginning, and she vividly remembers being a member of the old JCC in Pennsauken from the time she was in middle school. Growing up in Camden, N. J., she regularly spent her days at the JCC from the day that it opened. She attended Camp Hilltop in Camden (before it became the present day JCC Camps at Medford) and loved being at the social functions and dances at the JCC with her friends. “I never missed one dance- it was always a big group of friends,” she recalls.
Beverly’s connection to the JCC continued into her adult life, when she taught at the JCC’s pre-school, followed by a stint advocating for special needs children in the public schools. When the JCC opened its current location in 1997, she was quick to join the teaching staff again as a pre-school teacher until she retired in 2001.
Coming to the JCC for more than work was part of her day—early mornings were dedicated to working out in the Health & Wellness Center. And her schedule also included weekend workouts at the JCC with Stephen, who despite a busy work schedule, always made time for the JCC.
After Stephen’s death, Beverly knew she owed it to herself to get back to her routine.
“When I came back to the gym, I wore my sunglasses because if I teared up because I didn’t want to infringe on anyone’s day,” she says humbly. “But the JCC’s health and wellness staff—Gene, Frank, Don and all ‘the girls’—have helped me tremendously. Gradually as the weeks went on, the layers started to come off.”
In the almost four years that have passed since Stephen’s death, staying active is a vital piece of Hersh’s daily routine, which means spending time at the JCC every day. Spinning and yoga are her favorite group wellness classes, but she also enjoys working out on a cardio machine or lifting dumbbells in the weight room. “I love new classes—I’m going to try boxing in the fall!” she says.
Hersh knows just as well as any JCC fan, “There’s something here for everybody! I’ve taken theater classes, bridge and mah jongg, and love coming to the Festival of ABC and the Film Festival. I also love going the Broadway show trips with the adult department.”
No matter where life takes Beverly, she always reflects on fond memories of the life she built with Stephen. “It’s because of the love that I had with my husband that I have been able to open my heart again. “If I had to prioritize the important things in my life, of course first I would put my children and grandchildren first, and then I would say the JCC. Open your heart to the JCC, and it will help you open up to new opportunities. You are here for a reason, and the JCC can help you find love in your life.
“When I’m here, I’m home.”