Portland's new Jewish Community Center to open Sept. 10

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PORTLAND — The Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine will celebrate the grand opening of the new Morris A. and Bertha Levine Portland Jewish Community Center Sunday, Sept. 10.

The new complex at 1342 Congress St. replaces the old community center at 57 Ashmont St. It will double the space for the Alliance’s programs and community support.

“It is tremendously exciting, the culmination of years of effort,” JCA Programming Director Deena Schoenfeld said Tuesday.

Levine, a Portland native and former tailor who died in 2011, left his assets to the JCA. The gifts helped seed funding for the new center.

The JCA also received a $2.5 million gift from the Alfred and Dorothy Suzi Osher Foundation to build the center.

Built on the site of the former St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church, Schoenfeld said the new community center will bring expanded preschool and afterschool services for the entire community.

The preschool has added two new classes that will include infants, rather than starting with 2-year-olds. The afterschool program for children in kindergarten through third grade is completely new. Schoenfeld said the JCA will also provide transportation.

Continued services include diaper and food pantries run by Jewish Family Services, and open to the entire community, Schoenfeld said. The JCA will also offer cooking and art classes for adults.

Sunday’s events, from 2-4:30 p.m., will include a 3:15 p.m. dedication in the Sam L. Cohen Community Hall, tours, music by the Casco Bay Tummlers, games for children, face painting and food vendors. Visitors are advised to park offsite, because only limited parking will be available for people with mobility issues. There will be a drop-off and pickup area.

Before moving to its Ashmont Street building in 1982, the community center was on Cumberland Avenue. St. Patrick’s was built in 1964, deconsecrated in 2013, and torn down in November 2015.

David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or dharry@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.

The new Morris A. and Bertha Levine Portland Jewish Community Center opens Sept. 10 at 1342 Congress St. in Portland.

Portland City Hall reporter for The Forecaster. Baltimore native, lived in Maine since 1989. A journalist since 2005, covering much of Cumberland and York counties. I joined The Forecaster in 2012.