"We truly are trying to be a community center," says J.J. Korman, marketing director at the Uptown JCC. "We are a Jewish community center, so we value Jewish culture, Jewish traditions and Jewish thought, and we try to bring some of that information into our programming. But we are part of New Orleans and we want to be there for our entire community, whether they are Jewish or not."
The Uptown center's three main areas of focus are its nursery school, summer camp and state-of-the-art Goldring Fitness Center. The 5,600-square-foot fitness center offers a weight room, cardiovascular workout space, top-of-the-line exercise equipment, an indoor cycling studio, outdoor pool, racquetball court, batting cage, gym, personal training studio and group workout room. Members can choose from 50 exercise classes a month, including Zumba, spinning, kickboxing, Pilates and more. The Kohlmann Health Spa offers massages, waxing, manicures and pedicures, a steam room, sauna and Jacuzzi.
There are swimming pools (open from May through September) at both the Uptown and Metairie locations, and the Metairie JCC's fitness center has a range of offerings for men and women (check the website for details).
This summer, the New Orleans JCC is holding driver education classes for teenagers, as well as an Alzheimer's care and support program.
A variety of classes aimed at different age groups are offered, covering exercise, movies, music, cooking, ballroom dancing, the art of massage, ballet and more.
Some programs — those planned for Jewish holidays and celebrations — are designed to introduce Jewish traditions to people of other religions, she says.
Ultimately, Korman says, the goal of exposing non-Jews to Judaism and vice versa is to help the different groups focus on their commonalities instead of their differences.
"We are a Jewish community center, but the majority of our members are not Jewish," Korman says. "We try to serve all the different ages and interests in our community."