A not-so-cold open at the JCC

JCC’s ice rink is open for business this winter. Photo by Samantha Smith / The Jambar

By Samantha Smith

In 2020, the Youngstown Jewish Community Center built an ice rink. Opening each year on Black Friday, the ice rink allows skaters to enjoy winter fun.

Tara Bishop, the aquatic and wellness director at JCC, said the center operates multiple services including Levy Gardens, an assisted living facility, and Heritage Manor, a nursing center.

“The Jewish Community Center is different in that we’re part of the Youngstown Jewish Federation. So, rather than just us, we also have Jewish Family and Community Services,” Bishop said. “[The Jewish Family and Community Services] run grief groups and support groups. So we have a lot from the counseling that is tied into here.

According to the center’s website, its mission is to “create and maintain a standard of excellence in the areas of social, cultural, educational, and recreational programs for its members of all ages in a Jewish environment.”

Bishop said the rink has allowed people of all ages and cultures to come together and ice skate, has helped connect the community. She explained how the rink was built.

“We [built it] through a grant,” Bishop said. “I just think it’s nice to have something else to do, to be outside. People get cooped up during the winter, especially when it’s cold and it’s dark and they don’t want to do anything. It’s nice, even if you go for an hour, to be outside and moving and just doing something during those winter months.”

Casey Atkinson, the wellness director at the JCC, worked with the ice rink the first two years it was built, she explained what it is like working with synthetic ice. 

“It’s definitely an interesting experience, working with synthetic ice. That’s something that was new to us,” Atkinson said. “The maintenance of a synthetic rink is very different than the maintenance of [natural] ice. We’re in a good spot now that we really know how to take care of the rink.”

Winter events at the ice rink include Hanukkah on Ice and New Year’s Skate. Hanukkah on Ice will be held Dec. 22 from 4 to 7 p.m. The event will have Hanukkah stories and singalongs, food, games and more. New Year’s Skate will be held New Year’s Day, but the JCC will have more information on the event at a later date. 

The events are free for members and $5 for nonmembers. Skate rentals are $3 for members and $4 for nonmembers. Outside of the winter events, the rink allows free entry for all. 

The ice rink is open Thursday and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. as well as Saturday and Sunday from 12 to 6 p.m. For more information about JCC winter events and its ice rink, visit its website

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