"This is unusual in my career," said Hallenstein. "I think that Schenectady is probably unique now not only in the Jewish community but in the general community. It's easy for someone to live here, it's easy to make friends."
He said that one of the things that makes this community unique is that many people who grow up here eventually leave, but then other people come.
"When you move here, your family isn't here, so your friends become your family and you develop an infrastructure. That was wonderful for my wife and myself, and I think it's what makes some of the institution unique," said Hallenstein.
He said that he is proud of the staff at the center " many of whom have worked there for 20 to 25 years, as well as his younger staff, who he hopes will stick around for a while.
"I think over the next probably five or six years a number of the key staff will be retiring, which will give [the JCC] an opportunity to reinvent and keep what they like," said Hallenstein.
Ellen Carpenter, director of Early Childhood and Youth Services for the Schenectady JCC, has worked with Hallenstein for 29 years.
"He's extremely dedicated and supportive of the center and he definitely has ownership of it to some extent," said Carpenter.
"He works very hard to keep us on the right road and has been willing to try new things, even if he has not agreed with them," said Carpenter.
She said that Hallenstein has always been there to offer advice and support.
"I guess the fact that I've always reported to him directly, I know that if I have an issue I can go right to his office and talk to him. He might not always agree with me and it might not always be the perfect conversation, but he has been supportive," said Carpenter.