The first Jewish Community Center in Charleston opened at 54 George Street in 1922 with Sam Rittenberg as president. The JCC’s fortunes waxed and waned over the years. Run by volunteers, it hosted a Hebrew school and other activities for children and adults. In 1945, after a span of inactivity, the organization was incorporated and hired its first director, Nat Shulman; programs took place in its two-story brick building at 58 St. Philip Street.

In 1959, the organization bought land west of the Ashley, opening its outdoor facilities there in 1963. In 1964, it sold its St. Philip Street building and, in 1966, reopened in the new building on Millbrook Drive (later Raoul Wallenberg Boulevard). By the time it had celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1995, it had increased greatly in size and function, sharing its campus with Addlestone Hebrew Academy and the Sherman House for low-income senior citizens.

The Jewish Community Center left its West Ashley location in 2015 and became the JCC Without Walls (WOW), which ran Jewish programming in a variety of venues around the city for the next five years. In 2019, the JCC Without Walls ceased programming and shifted to a grantmaking agency charged with supporting Jewish programming in the Lowcountry. Beginning in 2020, the JCC’s two signature series, the Jewish Bookfest and Filmfest, were absorbed by the College of Charleston’s Jewish Studies Program.

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