When Ruth Lehrman was a young mother, the preschool at the Jewish Community Center was a lifesaver. New to St. Louis, Ruth had come from Atlanta, where she had been unable to find daycare or preschool for her daughter, Tanya, then 3. Ruth, who was attending St. Louis Community College for radiological training and working after classes in a hospital, felt relieved when she found the JCC and its preschool. “We became members right away,” she says. It was really essential. I didn’t know anyone in St. Louis.”
As her children grew, they participated every summer in JCC day camps, participating in fun activities that reinforced Jewish values. Ruth says she felt comfortable knowing there were “lovely people” taking care of her children.
Today, 74-year-old Ruth remains active in the community through NORC, a program that promotes healthy aging, swimming and participating in a walking group. Ruth and her group sometimes walk through the woods behind the JCC. She hears the sounds of children playing nearby, and it reminds her of her own children.
Ruth also stays busy by volunteering with the Russian Oral History Project at The Holocaust Museum. Ruth, who is originally from Russia, records the stories of Jewish survivors who lived in Nazi-occupied Ukraine. The stories and copies of photos the survivors share are archived at the Museum.