Mission & History

Mission and History

Our History

The origins of the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center date back to 1911, when Eastern European Jewish immigrants formed the Young Men’s Hebrew Association. As the DC Jewish community expanded in the years leading up to World War I, the Jewish Community Center moved to its current location at 16th and Q Streets, NW, with a formal opening in 1926. The JCC was a hub of activity with meetings held by local chapters of Hadassah, B’nai B’rith, and the American Jewish Committee. Members played handball, table tennis, and squash, and enjoyed the steam room. In 1939, the Center added a new wing for a library and expanded the health club with a gift from Washington Post owners Eugene and Agnes Meyer.

Following the race uprisings in 1968, the DC Center closed and a new JCC was established in Rockville, MD, to serve the growing Jewish population in the suburbs. The building was sold to the city and used by Federal City College (later called the University of the District of Columbia). After 15 years, the college no longer needed the building, and the city considered the site for use as a prison or homeless shelter. Meanwhile, the city’s single Jewish population had grown once again. The Rockville JCC opened a DC branch in 1979 – by 1985, the DC branch had split off from the Rockville Center, and the DC Jewish community repurchased the building at 16th and Q in 1990. After extensive renovations, the DCJCC reopened in January 1997 with an exhibit reflecting on the rise and decline of the Jewish population in the district over many decades.

In 2016, the Center was renamed in honor of Ginny and Irwin Edlavitch, long-time philanthropists and community leaders. The Edlavitch DCJCC completed a major year-long renovation in 2019 that updated and unified the preschool, upgraded Goldman Theater, and created Cafritz Hall, a new space for theater performances and film screenings.

Guided by Jewish values and heritage, the Edlavitch DC Jewish Community Center (EDCJCC) engages individuals and families through its cultural, recreational, educational, and social justice programs by welcoming people of all backgrounds to connect, learn, serve and be entertained together in ways that reflect the unique role of the Center in the nation’s capital.

Our Values

Jewish. We are committed to enhancing the vitality of Jewish life.

Community. We strive to be a vital force in the major communities we serve: our neighborhood, city, the metropolitan area and the Jewish community here and abroad.

Teamwork. The staff and leadership of the Center are a team. We seek to use the strengths of each of our members to reach our goals. We help each other. Every activity is important and it is our responsibility to help ensure that the Center and all our activities run as effectively as possible.

Diversity. We welcome all members of the community regardless of race, religion, economic situation, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristics.

Personal Development. We encourage our staff, leadership, and volunteers to truly enjoy their work. We believe in continuous learning, personal development, recognition, and rewards.

Responsibility. We conduct ourselves ethically at all times.

Excellence. We set high standards for ourselves. We strive for excellence in all we do. We are proud of our work and our accomplishments.

Hospitality. We seek to be known for our friendliness, courtesy, and helpfulness. All who enter the facility are our honored guests and we will do all possible to make them feel comfortable, secure and special. The Center is the home of the Jewish Community and we seek to keep clean and orderly for the comfort of our members and guests.

The Edlavitch DCJCC is a beneficiary agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington and a designated agency of the United Way.

The Edlavitch DCJCC does not support or oppose candidates for elected public office. Opinions expressed at all programs of the Edlavitch DCJCC belong solely to those expressing them. The Edlavitch DCJCC partners with many organizations and groups to present programs, but does not endorse the political views or policy positions of any program partner. The Edlavitch DCJCC is committed to presenting a wide selection of programs that present multiple viewpoints and encourage you to visit our calendar for information on dialogues and public affairs programming.

Programs of the Edlavitch DCJCC  are open to all, regardless of membership status, with the exception of certain Fitness Center programs and spaces. Membership is available to anyone wishing to join the Edlavitch DCJCC community.