When Esther was a small child in Riga, Latvia, her mother unexpectedly passed away. Half of Esther's siblings were sent to Israel; the other half, including Esther, came here to America. Esther settled in New York City, where she was raised by her non-English-speaking grandmother. From the time she was a little girl, Esther would do the translating for her "Bubbie" — to help her interact with a world that was new to both of them.
The Russian Jewish Cultural Center was specifically created with people like Esther in mind. (Her grandmother would have liked it, too!) Located in a warm and spacious room in the Mayerson JCC, the Center brings together Russian, Jewish, and American cultures — as well as cultures from countries that made up the former Soviet Union, such as Esther's home country of Latvia. The Russian Jewish Cultural Center has a membership of about 150 people, and it provides a peaceful haven for Russian-speaking immigrants to gather and socialize. Care management services can also be accessed through participation in the Center.
The Center boasts a Russian library, cultural resources, a full-sized pool table, and enough games and projects to ensure that everyone will find something they can enjoy. Open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Russian-speaking attendees are presented with programs designed to engage, inform, or spark a laugh. Speakers and entertainers are often part of the daily experience, but there are also classes — like English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) and Song Club. Field trips are offered, as well, to encourage members to explore culturally significant events and places in Jewish Cincinnati and the Greater Cincinnati region.
The Center further integrates with the Mayerson JCC programming — through the Friendship Club of the Center for Holocaust Survivors (CHC). This cooperation lets our clientele participate in important events, such as Passover Seder and Victory Day.
Transportation to and from the Center is available each day, through the JCC. And for those who choose to partake, the Center provides a complete lunch, thanks to the support of CHS and the JCC.