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Finally, Jewish Center Finds Home on the Main Line

By Kristin E. Holmes, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Ironically, the 160-year-old social service agency Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia at times has been without a home in a demographic hotspot.

The agency, which started out as a Jewish orphanage, occasionally had no office on the Main Line, a longtime hub of a Jewish community that is one of the fastest-growing in the nation.

So the organization that serves more than 15,000 people a year implemented a strategic plan to expand and found the perfect spot: a Bala Cynwyd office building that once belonged to a titan of area philanthropy.

On Thursday, Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia will host a ceremony marking the beginning of a $4 million renovation project at 349 Montgomery Ave., the home of the agency’s new Barbara and Harvey Brodsky Enrichment Center

The 18,000-square-foot complex – purchased for $2.2 million – will house the agency’s myriad service offerings, including counseling, adoption, nutrition education, financial assistance, and help for people with disabilities. The center is expected to open in the fall of 2016.

“We needed a place where we could really focus on some of the work we do for some of our very isolated clients challenged with disability and aging,” said Paula Goldstein, the agency’s president and CEO.

Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia has four other locations throughout the area – Center City, Elkins Park, the Northeast, and North Philadelphia – but most of that is office space.

The agency has rented space from area synagogues and organizations for the kind of programming that will be relocated to the new enrichment center. The building will include a teaching kitchen, art studio, library, technology hub, seniors’ resource room, food pantry and a community space.

The agency’s other branches will remain open.

The expansion comes at a time of growth for Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia, which serves Jewish and non-Jewish clients. Since 2010, the agency’s annual budget has grown from $9 million to $13.5 million, its endowment from $12 million to nearly $20 million.

Programming also has expanded, with the agency training and hiring staff to reach out to Orthodox Jews. The agency also will increase services to single parents, grandparents raising children, and LGBTQ families.

The agency has completed fund-raising for the total $6.2 million cost to purchase and renovate the building. A campaign to raise an additional $2 million for the expansion of programming and services is underway.

The new center will be named for the agency’s longtime benefactors: Barbara and Harvey Brodsky.

Barbara “Bobbi” Brodsky has donated $2.2 million to the project. Her husband, Harvey, founder the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame at the Gershman Y, died in 2011.

The Brodskys are founders of B’SIDE: Brodsky Support for Independence, Development, and Enrichment for Adults with Special Needs, a program housed at the agency. The initiative helps people with disabilities live independently and remain engaged in the community. The couple, longtime philanthropists, raised two daughters with intellectual disabilities.

Much of B’SIDE’s programming will be housed in the new building, which was purchased earlier this year from another of the region’s major philanthropists, Steven and David Tuttleman. The brothers are sons of Stanley C. and Edna S. Tuttleman, who gave millions to area schools, museums, hospitals and charities before their deaths. Stanley Tuttleman died in 2006; Edna Tuttleman in 2013.

Stanley Tuttleman purchased the building in the early 1970s and used it as a headquarters for the family’s global apparel business. The firm eventually was purchased by the Limited clothing company, which Stanley Tuttleman managed after the sale, Steven Tuttleman said.

The building went on to house business offices, a dental practice, production headquarters for writer and entertainment host Nancy Glass, a furrier, an institute for Jewish studies, and stores that sold curtains, blinds and windows. When Stanley Tuttleman died, the family pondered what to do with the building. It has been vacant since 2008.

The Tuttlemans sold the building to Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia in March, but the family had been a longtime benefactor of the agency, which was a favorite of Jan Tuttleman, Steven and David’s sister, who died in 2012.

The Tuttlemans also have donated a substantial contribution to help with the new center’s building renovations.

“We couldn’t be happier,” said Steven Tuttleman, of New York. “We wanted to see the building put to good use in the community, and JFCS does work that strengthens families and helps the most vulnerable.”

The Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia will renovate a Montgomery Avenue office building. ED HILLE / Staff Photographer