The Jewish Community Center of Greater Columbus is in the midst of a yearlong birthday celebration in honor of its 100 years as a part of the community.
Like any birthday party, ice cream and entertainment are must-haves, and the JCC will combine those traditions in a big way May 23 at the Grand Celebration.
Following an evening of music performed by Michael Feinstein, who has been hailed as the "Ambassador of the Great American Songbook," the JCC will debut its very own ice cream flavor, created specially by Graeter's in honor of the milestone.
"It's very exciting for one agency to remain a relevant and effective part of more and more people's lives over the course of 100 years," said Lisa Newmark, who, along with Jeff Milgrom, is leading the Grand Celebration committee that's been meeting since late 2011. "It's a big deal and we're really proud and looking forward to the next 100 years."
Newmark said more than 100 volunteers have been working for the past year to organize as many events as possible to recognize JCC's work.
In January, the celebration kicked off with a birthday party, and in February, the center hosted the Kosher Food and Wine Tasting. March was a busy month, with performances of Gallery Players' Fiddler on The Roof drawing record-number crowds and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People honoring the JCC for its civil rights efforts.
On May 1, a visual timeline highlighting 100 years of JCC in the community was unveiled in the center's lobby, where it will be on display through the end of the year.
The May 23 Grand Celebration at the Lincoln Theatre, 769 E. Long St., will take the place of the annual gala as the center's largest fundraising event of the year.
Sheila Cline, special events and donor relations coordinator for the JCC, said it will be an honor to host Feinstein because the Columbus native, who is a five-time Grammy nominee and two-time Emmy nominee, got his start on the center's Gallery Players' stage performing in such shows as Fiddler on The Roof and West Side Story.
Tickets for the Grand Celebration range from $175 to $500 and don't just buy a seat at the concert, but the opportunity to be among the first to taste Graeter's JCC ice cream flavor.
The limited-edition flavor will be unveiled at the Grand Celebration and then 1,000 gallons will be made and sold as long as supplies last at all 30 Graeter's stores and online. Cline said it was inspired by a traditional Jewish delicacy, but wouldn't give any more hints except that it's not matzoh ball, she joked.
Graeter's spokesman Nick Whitney said the company gets plenty of requests each year from groups that want CEO Robert Graeter to personally oversee the creation of their own signature ice cream flavor. Whitney said choosing to honor JCC among all the requests, "made sense because we're both family-oriented organizations."
"It's very rare that an organization has a 100th anniversary," Whitney said. "We're just extremely excited that they thought about us as a partner to celebrate this once-in-a-lifetime event."
For more information about JCC's 100th anniversary celebration and to purchase tickets to the Grand Celebration, visit ColumbusJCC.org/JCC-100.