The Jewish Community Center in Sherman has marked its 25th anniversary.

A party was held last month to recognize the milestone.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Barbara Ackerman, a founding member and past president, said of the party. “To see some of the original founding members there, it was an amazing thing.”

Fourteen of the center’s founding members were in attendance.

Ackerman described the celebratory event as “wonderful” and “fun” for the center that grew from a casual conversation about bringing a community center to Sherman.

More than 100 people attended the party that included special guests and presentations, music and more.

“It went very well,” said Henry Cooperman, the eleventh president of the JCC.

Local and state officials, including state Rep. Richard Smith, R-108, state Sen. Julie Kushner, D-24, U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and U.S. Rep. Johanna Hayes, D-5, all contributed to the event in some way, either by sending a congratulatory letter or citation or attending the event.

Ackerman, who is credited as being instrumental in getting the JCC off the ground, was honored during the event.

Also in attendance were past presidents Helen Samuels and Kitty Konecky and family members of past presidents Saul Clateman and Beth Shrafran, each of whom were recognized.

Offerings

The center is rooted in a community spirit, one that reaches across religions, faiths, ages and backgrounds, according to Cooperman.

He praised the center for its focus on cultural events that are educational and fun for members and non-members.

One of the newest offerings is open mic night, which kicked off last month.

The open mic night had been held at Hunt Hill Farm in New Milford but was moved to the JCC to ensure local musicians would have a venue to showcase their talent.

“We had 48 people come and 18 performers,” Cooperman said of one recent open mic night.

Music is held Thursdays, with signups at 6 p.m. and music at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 per musician and $10 per member and non-member.

A new feature of open mic night is the opportunity for guests to order food from local restaurants.

A JCC volunteer will pick up orders at local establishments and deliver them to open mic night guests.

In addition, a “Great Decisions” series that explores world affairs is offered. The program includes reading the Great Decisions Briefing Book, watching a DVD program and participating in a discussion.

This year, the series is co-sponsored by the library and the center.

Upcoming topics will be “The United States and Mexico: Partnership Tested” Oct. 11 at the JCC and “State of the State Department and Diplomacy” Nov. 8 at the library.

The center also presents several staple programs. Among them, two comedy shows, two dinner theaters, a Shakespeare production and a Benny Carter tribute.

The jazz shows have been so successful the center now tries to plan for quarterly performances, the president said.

Ongoing programs also include yoga three times a week and Mahjong once a week.

Cooperman said center officials are exploring bringing cooking classes back to the JCC, an offering that was held in the past.

In addition to cultural and education programs, the center is available for private rentals for baby and bridal showers, birthday parties and other celebratory occasions.

An auditorium, garden room and kitchen facilities, as well as a screen and projector, a microphone and piano, and tables and chairs are available.

History

Ackerman said the center’s beginnings stem from a casual conversation among a small group of people who were interested in establishing a place to hold cultural programs.

“We wanted to hold activities we didn’t have in Sherman…to make it like the 92nd St. Y,” Ackerman said.

The 92nd St. Y is a cultural and community center on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

After placing an ad in a local news publication, 100 people expressed interest in establishing a community center.

In time, 45 families committed to support a center.

Programs such as book talks and signings, musical programs and other activities were offered in the then-vacated Episcopal church space while funds to buy land and construct a building were raised.

“In the beginning, people looked at others and said, ‘These are my neighbors,’ ” Ackerman said of how relationships began to form among those who attended programs.

“People started out not knowing anyone but that moved into lasting relationships,” she said.

Ackerman said she sees in Cooperman qualities of “enthusiasm and willingness” that remind her of those of those who were integral in the JCC’s founding.

“Once again, the JCC has gotten revitalized with open doors to everyone,” she said.

“Given the excitement of that and the enthusiasm of that, and the kinds of programs, I think the JCC will continue to go on,” Ackerman said.

For more information about the JCC at 9 Route 39 South, call 860-355-8050 or visit www.jccinsherman.org.