A Rich Legacy…A Vibrant Future
Since its founding in 1914, Portland’s Jewish community center has provided a wide variety of social, cultural, educational and recreational programming. Today, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center (MJCC) is the core of Portland’s Jewish community– we also offer a welcoming gathering space that is open to our neighbors and people of all faiths.
Our Journey Began in the Early 20th Century
In 1910, the B’nai B’rith Building Association in Portland decided to establish a Jewish community center. The original two-story building, located on Thirteenth Avenue between Market and Mill streets, opened to the community in 1914.
The Jewish Community Center came to life as a beloved gathering place for its members. There was something for everyone in the family to enjoy: meeting facilities, classrooms, athletic facilities, a library, and a billiard room. It was truly a hub of activity, with events ranging from B’nai B’rith Orchestra performances to High Holiday services for the Sephardic community.
Many generations of Jewish Portlanders fondly recall the dances, swimming lessons, social clubs, basketball games, fundraisers, and summer camp activities that were hosted or organized by the center.
We Expanded to Meet Growing Needs
The center moved to its current location in 1971. In 1976, member Harry Mittleman made a generous donation which allowed the community center to retire the building’s mortgage. In acknowledgement of his philanthropy, the center was renamed to honor Harry’s wife, Helen.
The center has expanded over the years: in 1987 a wing was added to accommodate the Portland Jewish Academy, and in 1996 the Early Childhood Learning Center was created.
In 2005-07, the building underwent a major renovation, refreshing PJA and adding:
- New lobby and café for MJCC
- New ballroom with state of the art audio visual capabilities
- New locker rooms, spa facilities and cardio-weight room;
- Family changing rooms;
- New exercise rooms and renovated gymnasium.
We’re a Center for Today’s Community
We are proud to continue our tradition as a center for Jewish life while offering a welcoming environment for all of our neighbors. More than 1,000 people come through our doors daily for classes, athletic activities, meetings, special events, and programs.
People come to the MJCC for services and programs open to the public and found nowhere else in Oregon or southwestern Washington, including community-wide secular Jewish celebrations and performances; Jewish community orchestra and klezmer performances and family activities.
We are immensely proud to offer Jewish cultural arts and social programs; premier fitness and wellness facilities open to all; beautifully-appointed public areas and rental spaces; day camp; programs that serve the elderly, infirm and disabled; and Oregon’s only kosher café.
Our Legacy is the Foundation for Our Future
Since its founding nearly 100 years ago, the Mittleman Jewish Community Center has served the social, cultural, educational and recreation needs of Portland families without regard to religion, background or ability to pay.
Although the MJCC’s stated mission is to fulfill these needs for Portland’s Jewish community, we have always interpreted that imperative to encompass the entire Portland community. This history of service to a diverse, broad-based community, informed by the Jewish imperative of tikkun olam (repairing the world; making the world a better place) infuses the MJCC’s spirit today.
Throughout the decades, the MJCC has evolved into a “living room” for our community. Every day, the MJCC’s programs impact Oregonians’ quality of life; every day, we see ways in which the impacts of our program will be felt by future generations.
For many of Portland’s Jewish community, it is their center for Jewish living and bears the memories of those who enjoyed the original 1914 facility as well as our modern campus. The MJCC is a link in the chain of generations.
We Provide a Welcoming Environment for All
The MJCC, which has historically been involved with social service organizations, continues to work in partnership with groups such as Cedar Sinai Park, Cancer Care Resources, Red Cross, OHSU Medical School, and others. We also provide meeting space for local nonprofits at low cost – whether it is a local women’s soccer organization, a Muslim group seeking a space to hold a holiday celebration or a flu shot clinic staffed by OHSU medical students.
We Educate Future Generations
The MJCC also houses nationally-recognized Portland Jewish Academy (PJA), which operates a renowned preschool, and an elementary and middle school (Oregon’s only U.S. Department of Education Blue Ribbon School for educational excellence in 2005). These programs are also open to the community.
We Invite You to Join Us
We hope that you will come to visit the MJCC – explore our facilities, meet our members, and consider becoming part of the center. We welcome the entire community and we hope to be part of the fabric of your family’s life.