A mother’s love of sportsmanship and great-grandparents’ journeys to America were recounted at the opening Dec. 14 of a new Atlanta Jewish Academy sports center and gym in their relatives’ memory.
Members of the Zisholtz and Minsk families recalled their relatives and the lessons learned from their lives at the opening of the new Vivian Zisholtz Sportsmanship Center and the Ida E. & Harry Minsk Gymnasium.
Stephanie Zisholtz Fishman spoke about her mother’s love of sports and Hannah, Rebecca and Sarah Solon – three AJA students – remembered their great-grandparents as U.S. immigrants.
The late-morning ceremony began with opening remarks from AJA’s Head of School Rabbi Ari Leubitz to more than 100 teachers, students, community members and donors.
Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul reminded everyone of the groundbreaking ceremony just eight months earlier for the gym and the importance of the community that would occupy the space.
“Without the people and the community in that space, a building itself is meaningless,” Paul said. “The space itself is secondary to what it enables us to do.”
Following the opening remarks, attendees braved the rainy day for the ceremonial ribbon cutting. Leubitz and Paul, along with Barry Zisholtz, and Alan, Betty and Malcom Minsk, cut the white ribbon to a new era of athletics and sportsmanship at AJA.
Leubitz explained that the fundraising for this project was phase two of the school’s expansion, following the completion of the upper school.
“The financial goal overall was over $14 million, and we are almost there, with various naming opportunities at the gymnasium still available,” Leubitz said. “We hit the ground running. Our fundraising efforts began immediately, and support was tremendous.”
A schoolwide pep rally followed in the new gym, where sports teams were recognized individually, and students practiced their Jaguar cheers.
Upper school boys’ and girls’ basketball teams were the first to break in the new gym in matches against The Cottage School Saturday. First were the girls, who dribbled their way to a 50-27 victory, followed by the boys who routed TCS, 51-43. The wins were fitting firsts for the new space.
Leubitz emphasized that while the gym itself is a physical space, it enables so much more for the school, and the community.
“The kids will play, exercise and learn life lessons, but they’ll learn so much more. They’ll learn to be builders,” Leubitz said. “AJA is giving our children the tools to be builders.”