For years, Jim Reed and his wife, Linda, worked together at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia (JCNNV) in Fairfax. While he served as director of public relations and marketing, she was an art teacher and arts camp director.
When Linda died from ovarian cancer last year, Reed thought buying a brick for the center's Walk of Honor in his wife's name would be a fitting tribute.
"It was a home-away-from-home for both of us working here," Reed said. "She was an integral part of the JCC for many years. She affected the lives of so many kids and so many families that I wanted her legacy to carry on."
The JCCNV continued its celebration of its bar mitzvah, or 13th, year with a dedication of its Walk of Honor on Sunday morning, Nov. 9.
Located near the entrance to the center, the Walk of Honor honors the memory of past loved ones as well as celebrating the present.
"The distinguished Walk of Honor is an extraordinary and tangible reminder that we can know only where we are going only if we know where we have been," said Virginia's Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, the ceremony's keynote speaker, in a release.
The ceremony, attended by roughly 150 people, included friends and members of the JCCNV, as well as state officials, including Kaine, Del. Bob Hull (D-38th) and Sen. Dick Saslaw (D-35th). Michael C. Gelman, president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, also spoke.
About 250 people have bought bricks, raising $55,000 for the JCCNV. Bricks are still available for dedication.
"We take pride in the fact that the JCCNV has cemented our presence in Northern Virginia," said Joan W. Sacarob, dedication co-chair. "We are very proud that the Walk of Honor symbolizes our efforts in uniting the community."
Artist Malka Benoff designed the Walk of Honor, and almost every brick on it has an inscription honoring a loved one or congratulating the JCCNV.
"I think it's a wonderful thing," said Linda Kamen of Springfield. Kamen works at the JCCNV. "I wanted to do my part and have my family's name engraved."
Kamen's brick says, "Mazel Tov, 13 Great Years. The Kamens."
The JCCNV was founded in 1980, but moved to its present location in December 1990. It's home to fitness activities and cultural programming for all ages, and houses the Gesher Day School, the only Jewish day school in Northern Virginia.
Nearly 900 people walk through its doors every day, said Reed, whether they come to view an art exhibit, participate in a senior swimming class, or are members of a community group renting space at the JCCNV. The Indian community, for instance, conducts services and classes at the JCCNV.
"It's home to a lot of Jews, but it's home to everyone in general. You don't have to be Jewish to belong here," Reed said.
As the JCCNV wraps up its bar mitzvah year celebrations, center staff members look forward to furthering their connections with the community. In the discussion and planning stages is the possibility to expand by creating an auxiliary campus for the northern and western portions of the county.
"It's a family-friendly institution and facility, and that's how we'd like to keep it," Reed said.