East Bay JCC moving on up with new Oakland branch

The JCC of the East Bay is opening up a new branch in Oakland — one that center officials hope will be a step up, both literally and figuratively, from their former Oakland digs: The basement of a church.

“It’s so exciting,” said Sally Flinchbaugh, executive director of the Berkeley-based JCC. The new space “makes a difference. Before, we couldn’t do many things we wanted to. Now we can do it all.”

Kids in the East Bay JCC’s after-school program stand in front of the new Oakland branch.

The East Bay JCC’s new branch is located at 5811 Racine St., which is right near the intersection of Telegraph Avenue and 59th Street, and the plans are for it to be up and running by early January.

“It’s a great location,” Flinchbaugh said. “There are a lot of young Jewish families in the neighborhood and it’s a block and a half from an enormous park [Bushrod Park]. From the outside, [the building] is concrete, but inside is warm with nice big spaces.”

On Jan. 9, the JCC will host a housewarming and mezuzah hanging to mark the site’s grand opening. Tours of the space, entertainment and snacks will round out the three-hour celebration, which around 400 people will attend, Flinchbaugh estimated.

The new Oakland site features open space to be used for a variety of activities. Flinchbaugh said the JCC plans to host Oakland Shabbat dinners and gradually expand programming, adding a story time for families, adult classes, music events and lectures that are already happening at the Berkeley site at 1414 Walnut St.

In addition, the building will be available to rent for meetings and events when the JCC is not using it.

Approximately 55 kids are enrolled in the Oakland-based JCC after-school program, Olam Yeladim, which was temporarily convening at the Bushrod Park recreation center. The program will shift over to the new space sometime around the beginning of January, Flinchbaugh said.

Those same kids will likely be enrolled in the JCC specialty summer camps, which will also take place in Oakland. 

“Our new building has the ability to adapt to so many different programs for kids and adults,” Flinchbaugh said. “The possibilities are endless.”

The East Bay JCC used to have an Oakland satellite at 4500 Redwood Road, in the basement of the Bayview Fellowship Church, but the size of the room precluded it from becoming a hub for events and activities.

The lease on that facility ran out earlier this year, and the JCC had to vacate by the end of the September. Members and staff searched Oakland for a new place to call home, and in March, they found a building to their liking in north Oakland. The JCC signed a 10-year lease in July.

The East Bay JCC housewarming will run from 2 to 5 p.m. Jan. 9 at 5811 Racine St., Oakland.

Mezuzah hanging at 3:30 p.m. For more information or to RSVP, call (510) 848-0237 ext. 148.