Generations Groundbreaking Kicks Off Construction
Close representation of the final design of the new Welcome Desk and Lobby. Credit: The Beck Group
By Tonyia Cone
The Shalom Austin Generations Campaign began building a brighter future for Austin’s Jewish community Sunday, Oct. 25, at a groundbreaking ceremony honoring the life and legacy of Judy Waxman, Generations co-chair. A tzaddik and pillar of the Jewish and Greater Austin community, Waxman was named Woman of Valor in 2015.
Featured speakers included Rabbi Daniel A. Septimus, Shalom Austin CEO; Shalom Austin Board Chair Abby Rapoport; Keith Zimmerman, Generations co-chair; Harriett Kirsh Pozen, Generations Campaign director, who retired shortly after the groundbreaking; and Janet S. Elam, Shalom Austin COO. Austin Mayor Steve Adler and Austin City Council Member Alison Alter provided pre-recorded comments.
Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the ceremony was held online.
On the heels of the High Holy Days, Septimus explained the event was an opportunity to reflect on the community’s history and look forward to its future.
Close representation of the final design for strength training at the new Dell Jewish Community Center. Credit: The Beck Group
Close representation of the final design of the new Rochelle & Stanley Ferdman Family Aquatic Center. Credit: The Beck Group
“We come together virtually today for our new beginning—laying the cornerstones for the next generation,” he said. “How did we reach this momentous day? We are all here today because of each of you—your support, your contributions, and your involvement in the future of our community and our wonderful facilities. There are so many to thank, including Shalom Austin Board Chair Abby Rapoport, for propelling us forward and keeping Generations at our bow.”
Rapoport and Septimus thanked those who formerly held their positions for laying the groundwork for the project and starting the Generations Campaign.
Keith Zimmerman, Generations Campaign co-chair, and Harriett Kirsh Pozen, (former) Generations Campaign director, next looked back at the history of the campus.
A co-chair along with Kirsh Pozen and Phil Spertus when they found the land and started the effort to create a campus back in 1992, Zimmerman said, “It is time to carry on that legacy, to create something that will touch the lives of all generations for generations to come.”
Kirsh Pozen added, “Even though we are virtual, many people watching this right now should feel incredibly proud to have had a hand in the initial campus, the other Jewish organizations who have joined the project or today’s Generations Campaign.”
“When we set out, I’m sure many of you thought we were crazy to even think this community could do it. Once again, Austin has shown that it can, and it did,” Kirsh Pozen said. “We have a blueprint for the future. An inspired vision for generations to come. More than a facility, this is where we facilitate life in every step of the journey.”
Zimmerman pointed out that the day was missing a key person who made the project possible — Generations Co-Chair Judy Waxman.
“Judy Waxman was both of our partner, every step of the way. She brought us passion, life, energy, humor and experience. This project in turn brought her life as she struggled through cancer,” he said. “It doesn’t seem fair or right to have this groundbreaking without her present, but her presence, legacy and memory will always be a part of these 40 acres.”
Septimus next thanked Austin leaders Adler and Alter.
Close representation of the final design of the new Clifford Zeifman Family Early Childhood Center and the Laura and Andy Pastor Lobby. Credit: The Beck Group
Close representation of the final design of the new Dell Jewish Community Center front facade. Credit: The Beck Group
Close representation of the final design of the new Hurt Family Tennis Center. Credit: The Beck Group
“Their unwavering support of the Jewish community, Shalom Austin and the Dell Jewish Community Campus has helped pave the road of growth and expansion for this community and for the city,” Septimus said.
Participants watched a ceremonial groundbreaking, which included Generations Campaign leaders, contributors, builders and team members before Elam introduced the new Dell Jewish Community Center.
“We are enthusiastic about the myriad ways it will enhance the lives of our community members and campus partners,” she said, inviting viewers to join her for a tour of the new spaces via renderings.
The tour included the courtyard, designed for small gatherings and also able to host large community events; community gathering spaces; lobby, welcome desk and cafe; living room; meeting rooms; The Bernard & Audre Rapoport Center for Jewish Culture and Education; The Epstein Family Community Hall and Gloria & Harvey Evans Performance Hall; The Dell Health and Wellness Center; The Rochelle and Stanley Ferdman Family Aquatic Center; The Hurt Family Tennis Center; the Shalom Austin JCC Early Childhood Program, which was refreshed over the summer, Clifford Zeifman Family Early Childhood Center and Laura & Andy Pastor Lobby; and Krasoff Jewish Family Service Center, designed by Housing Design Matters.
Elam explained that designed by Counsilman-Hunsaker, the first phase of construction includes the Rochelle and Stanley Ferdman Family Aquatic Center. The new 25-yard pool is designed for lap swimmers, campers, lessons and a variety of other programs, and the children’s activity pool will include spray features, dumping buckets, water tables and slides. Scheduled to open in the summer of 2021, the aquatics center will include refreshed bathrooms and a new snack bar with Austin-centric snacks.
The Hurt Family Tennis Center, a new amenity for JCC members, includes six lit tennis courts that will provide opportunities for a year-round tennis program. Courts will include lines for adult and youth tennis and pickleball for lessons, camps, leagues and tournaments.
“It has been exciting to share what we have been working on and we look forward to revealing more in the future,” Elam said.
The event closed with a recitation of the Shehecheyanu blessing presented by Austin clergy, the Jewish prayer said to celebrate special occasions.
For more information on the Generations Campaign, visit shalomaustin.org/generations. ■
On November 7, Jennifer Greenblum will be honored at Mosaic as the 2022 Woman of Valor for her longtime commitment to the Jewish community.
Jewish National Fund-USA partnered with Austin Jewish Academy, Congregation Agudas Achim, and Austin firefighters to host a 9/11 ceremony.