It was shocking to learn that the new rebranded name of what was the Central Queens Y Jewish Community Center, combining institutions, will be “Commonpoint Queens.” In spite of changing demographics and non-Jews receiving service, there remains a notable Jewish population in Central Queens. “Commonpoint” is certainly the “pareve-ization” of another Jewish organization
A bit of history: The East New York/ Central Queens Young Men and Young Women’s Hebrew Association had resisted the nationwide trends of the 1960s-80s when Ys and JCCs began to dilute their Jewish component. In my 1990 inaugural speech as the first female president, I promised to continue our legacy, keeping it as Jewish as possible, while serving the entire community. We built a Jewishly pluralistic and Queens-centric board including an Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbi. Our Russian service center helped new immigrants; our lecture series featured leading figures; the library was a center of learning and activity; the Jewish performance space was star-studded; and Camp Edward Isaacs became a more Jewishly conscious camp.
Ten years ago, facing severe financial issues, the entire board resigned so the “Y” could receive Federation’s basic funding. Though its independence was now lost, we trusted the new arrangement would maintain the Jewish communal integrity that we had worked so hard to achieve. It was placed under the auspices of the social service oriented “Samuel Field Y” and officially merged this year.
The CQYM-YWHA and its forebears had a rich Jewish past, but what will be its Jewish future with a name like Commonpoint Queens? What will our Jewish common point be?