For longer than Moses wandered in the desert in search of a home, the South Peninsula Jewish community wandered from place to place, seeking a permanent location to call its own.
That dream of creating a central place where we can celebrate the diversity of our Jewish heritage and the breadth of our community's interests was magnificently realized in fall 2009.
The Oshman Family JCC and Moldaw Family Residences now reside on the Taube Koret Campus for Jewish Life, a multi-generational environment where people of all ages can live, learn, play and connect.
We want to recognize those donors who stepped up with lead gifts to make this campus possible. They are: the Taube Foundation for Jewish Life and Culture and the Koret Foundation joint campus naming gift; the Oshman Family Foundation; The Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund; Stuart (z"l) and Phyllis Moldaw; and the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties.
Finally, there would be no JCC today without the ongoing vision, tenacity and passionate belief that Carol Saal brought to this project. To everyone involved in creating this new home, our heartfelt thanks.
Palo Alto began to have some semblance of a Jewish Community Center more than 50 years ago, originating with a handful of people meeting in a storefront on El Camino Real. In response to increased participation, the JCC moved to a small house downtown and later to another house on Middlefield Road.
After outgrowing the house on Middlefield, the JCC leased the former Ortega School site on East Meadow Drive. But as the community continued to grow, we once again needed to find larger quarters.
The JCC made its new home at the then-closed Terman Jr. High School site on Arastradero Road, thanks to a generous gift from Albert and Janet Schultz (z”l) for whom the JCC was then named. For nearly 20 years, the ALSJCC offered preschool, afterschool care and enrichment programs, adult and family activities, summer day camps, émigré and senior services, and a popular fitness and aquatics program.
With steadily rising school enrollments, the Terman campus needed to be used as a functioning school, and we were left to re-evaluate our living situation once again. We moved to the Cubberley/Greendell campus in 2002 where the ALSJCC continued to provide outstanding programs and a welcoming community—but with limited facilities and the knowledge that a permanent home needed to be found.
A coalition of Jewish organizations and individuals conceived the idea of creating a multi-generational campus incorporating both the ALSJCC and senior residences in a vibrant, 24/7 Jewish community. That idea became the rallying cry for the successful $140 million Capital Campaign to build the TKCJL and its two cornerstone institutions—the OFJCC and Moldaw Family Residences. The location was the former Sun Microsystems headquarters site in Palo Alto.
A remarkable lead gift from Barbara and Ken Oshman gave the Capital Campaign a major boost and gave the ALSJCC a new namesake. The Schultzes graciously continued their unwavering support to build, endow and name the Schultz Cultural Arts Hall on the new Campus. Other extraordinary donors named other facilities, as well as the Campus itself. After almost two-and-a-half years of design, planning and fundraising, the Campus received unanimous approval from the Palo Alto City Council in 2006. The official groundbreaking was held on October 7, 2007.
It was a busy year: the ALSJCC officially changed its name to the Oshman Family JCC in January, construction continued on schedule, staff moved to the new Campus in July and we opened our doors on September 1. On October 18, we had a Grand Opening Celebration to share our new home with the entire community!
Further expanding the Oshman Family JCC's green building credentials, we installed Palo Alto's second largest solar roof system, totaling over 1,800 panels.
In 2016, the Oshman Family JCC welcomed two major improvements to campus: the Oasis Play Space on the Jessica Lynn Saal Town Square and Nourish: A Newish Jewish Cafe. Both features make the Taube Koret Campus a center for gathering, schmoozing and creative play. At the same time, the OFJCC redefines its mission and vision to reflect the spirit of innovation, focusing on being Architects of the Jewish Future™.