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jcc circle autumn 2008

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Shalom Havana! JCC Association Board Brings Support and Supplies to Cuban Jews

The Magazine of the North American Jewish Community Center Movement


Autumn 2008

dear friends

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contents 2

The Glatt Kosher JCC


JWB Asks Rabbis to Be All That They Can Be


Out-of-the-Box Fundraiser

8 A (Compact Fluorescent) Light Unto the Community 10 Never Forget, Never Again 11 Special Insert: JCC Israel Office 15 Let My Parents Go 16 Bridging the Gap: Generational Differences in the Workplace 20 JCC Association Board Brings Support and Supplies to Cuban Jews 22 JCC Happenings Cover photo: Fani Magnus Monson

jcccircle sponsors The following sponsors have made this issue of JCC Circle possible. JCC Association thanks them for their generosity.

Association of Jewish Chaplains of the United States


The Redwoods Group

Chase Paymentech


Schlesinger Newman & Goldman

The Coca-Cola Company®

CSI Software

Cybex International

Freemotion Fitness

Landscape Structures

Les Mills North America, Inc. Recreational Flooring


Staples Business Advantage

Network Services Company

Star Trac

New Leaf

Sterling & Sterling, Inc.

The Ostroff Group


Power Plate


To help support the work of JCC Association and JCC Circle, please contact Fani Magnus Monson, vice-president of development, at: JCC Association 520 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018 tel: (212) 532-4958, x5136 fax: (212) 481-4174 e-mail:

This issue of JCC Circle reflects the diversity and depth of the JCC Movement. Going beyond the view of a JCC as “just a gym,” or a preschool, or a camp (all of which are significant aspects of our mission), we feature the many other ways JCCs serve our communities that are not as well known: • We learn of several JCCs that serve ultra-Orthodox populations, providing specialized services to more observant Jews who need the same programs, but within their own religious discipline. • We see a diversity of social-action projects and initiatives, where JCCs play key roles in supporting important causes and issues, such as the fight against AIDS/HIV and the push toward “greening” the JCC, which has become a significant continental-wide JCC effort. • We focus on the special challenges of encouraging young people to build their careers in JCCs, and how new lifestyles and technology have changed the workplace. • We delve further into the critical JCC/Israel relationship, and lay out specific directions for JCCs to bring their agencies and memberships much closer to Israel, both at home and in the Jewish State. Our Israel Office stands ready to work with local JCCs on a variety of exciting Israel programs. • We hear again of the special work of our Jewish military chaplains, and the efforts of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council to recruit rabbis of all denominations to continue to make these critical connections with Jewish armed services personnel wherever they may be stationed. • We focus on the unique ways that JCCs educate their members and guests through various media including art, photographic exhibits, and literature.

Chair Alan P. Solow Honorary Chairs Edward H. Kaplan Ann P. Kaufman Jerome B. Makowsky Morton L. Mandel Lester Pollack Daniel Rose Vice-Chairs Lisa Brill Donald Brodsky Cheryl Fishbein Gary Jacobs Virginia A. Maas Stephen R. Reiner Toby Rubin Stephen Seiden Paula Sidman Secretary Shirley Solomon Assoc. Secretaries Enid Rosenberg Michael Segal Michael Wolfe Treasurer Edwin Goldberg Assoc. Treasurers Stephen Dorsky Andrew Shaevel Doron Steger

Our continental board followed the Miami Biennial with an extraordinary visit to the Jewish community in Havana. This trip provided another perspective on Jewish life for so many of us who had only heard about the situation in Cuba. It was a tremendous opportunity to do tikkun olam, and we brought muchneeded medical supplies to special clinics at two of the city’s synagogues. JCC Association is organizing another trip to Cuba in November, and I encourage you to take advantage of the opportunity. Several JCCs have also fielded such humanitarian missions.

President Allan Finkelstein

As you see, there is much more to see, experience, and learn at the Jewish Community Center. The beauty of the JCC is the opportunity to take part in programs and services beyond those for “which you came.” We are proud of the diverse contributions that JCCs make to their communities, and the high level of engagement of leadership in these efforts.

Communications Manager, JCC Circle Editor Miriam Rinn


jcccircle: Sr. Vice-President, Marketing & Communications Robin Ballin Creative Director Peter Shevenell

Design Jeremy Kortes Dan Hertzberg

For address correction or Information about JCC Circle contact or call Alina at (212) 786-5096. ©2008 Jewish Community Centers Association of North America. All rights reserved.

Allan Finkelstein President, JCC Association

520 Eighth Avenue | New York, NY 10018 Phone: 212-532-4949 | Fax: 212-481-4174 e-mail: | web: JCC Association of North America is the leadership network of, and central agency for, 350 Jewish Community Centers, YM-YWHAs and camps in the United States and Canada, who annually serve more than two million users. JCC Association offers a wide range of services and resources to enable its affiliates to provide educational, cultural and recreational programs to enhance the lives of North American Jewry. JCC Association is also a U.S. government-accredited agency for serving the religious and social needs of Jewish military personnel, their families and patients in VA hospitals through the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. JCC Association receives support from the UJC National Federation/Agency Alliance, local federations and Jewish Community Centers. ISSN 1065-1551

Think of the typical JCC user. Are you imagining a man dressed in a black suit and black felt hat in August? A woman wearing an ankle-length skirt, long sleeves, and a sheitel, or wig? Probably not. Yet there are JCCs that successfully serve the ultra-Orthodox community, and upend common stereotypes about JCCs and the ultra-Orthodox while doing so.

The Glatt Kosher JCC:

How JCCs Serve the Ultra-Orthodox

N by Miriam Rinn

ot surprisingly, most of these Jewish Community Centers are in the metropolitan New York City area, where the mass of ultra-Orthodox Jews live. Two hundred and fifty thousand frum, or highly observant, Jews live in Borough Park, Brooklyn alone, the largest community outside of Israel. Overall, the ultra-Orthodox population in the United States is estimated at a half million. Since JCCs are committed to serving the people who live in their neighborhoods, as well as all Jews, those JCCs located in frum areas work hard to understand the needs of their neighbors and how to satisfy them. To the unknowing eye, frum Jews may seem all alike, but that’s not true. The community is varied, and includes Hasidim (those loyal to specific rabbinic dynasties, such as Satmar or Ger); yeshivish (non-Hasidic, with an allegiance to a specific yeshiva or school of learning); modern Orthodox gravitating toward the right and taking on the lifestyle choices of the more rigorously observant; and people who move from one group to another, such as the businessman who works with women during the day and dons a Hasid’s shtreimel, a flat hat trimmed with fur, and a long black coat for Shabbat. Add to these distinctions ancestral geographic divisions, such as Hungarian, German, Polish, Bukharan, and more, and the general socioeconomic features of education and income level, and you have a real mix. JCCs serve all of these different groups, adapting to meet the needs of their individual communities. The YM-YWHA of Washington Heights & Inwood at the northern tip of Manhattan is located in a community in transition. “Up here, it’s like a mini UN,” says Cyndi Rand, the Y’s Jewish educator. In addition to a group of Holocaust

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survivors, the Y serves Hispanic, African-American, and Russian residents, as well as the Breuer kehilla or community. Not well known even in New York City, this ultra-Orthodox group settled in Washington Heights when they left Frankfurt, Germany in the 1930s, escaping the rise of Hitler. Seeking to reconstitute themselves, the new immigrants established the Yeshiva Samuel Samson Hirsch, named after the great rabbi who founded the original kehilla in opposition to the Reform movement. “It’s a Yekkisheh (German) community,” Rand says, “very respectful, very proper.” The kehilla supports several synagogues and shtiebelach, or small prayer groups, as well as a preschool, an elementary school, and the yeshiva. Rand devised a program for preschool and elementary-aged boys and girls, which offers arts and crafts, drama, sports, karate, and computers in same-sex groups. “It runs on Fridays because the kids get out of school at 12 o’clock,” Rand says, and mothers are eager for some free time to prepare for Shabbat. The Rav, or chief rabbi, approved hiring non-Jewish counselors as long as Rand could guarantee that the children would not interact with children who were not Jewish. Since these children are in public school on Friday afternoons, Rand could comply. Any JCC program for the ultra-Orthodox must be “totally on their terms,” she said, an observation echoed by all the JCCs who work with frum Jews. Rand emphasized that she must cooperate with leaders of the community to be successful, which means in practical terms that she has to sell the rabbis on the worth of any program she wants to offer. She believes they recognize that children need social and recreational outlets. “You live in Manhattan, you don’t have a backyard. They don’t have television, they don’t go to the movies. No central air conditioning.” Because she herself is Orthodox and sends her five children to day schools, she believes the rabbis and the parents trust her, and she’s been able to take the

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children on outings to amusement parks and bowling. The primary obstacle to more programming, according to Rand, is financial. Like many frum communities, the Breuer kehilla is not wealthy—“The all-mighty dollar is not what they worship,” she says—and Rand is grateful to sponsors such as the Jeannette & H. Peter Kriendler Charitable Trust, who fund her program. “We’re not turning anyone away because they can’t pay,” she says. In Borough Park (usually spelled Boro Park by residents), a large group of modestly dressed women, their hair covered by close-fitting turbans or kerchiefs, exercise vigorously to the beat of a pop tune in the Boro Park YM-YWHA. On another floor, a group of elderly Holocaust survivors listen to a religious lecture, while little girls from the Bobov Hasidic sect answer their teachers in Yiddish in rented space nearby. “Boro Park is more and more Hasidish every day,” says Executive Director Ellie Kastel, who struggles to get the idea across to her community that the Y is more than just “gym and swim.” Sensitive to the norms of her members, Kastel programs so that men and women are rarely in the building at the same time. Programs are segregated by sex and by age, except for special community-wide events, such as a health fair sponsored by a local hospital. Because of their devotion to Jewish learning, frum Jews aren’t looking for the kind of Jewish education that JCCs usually offer. Many of them don’t participate in popular culture, and they take political direction from their leaders. Social and mental-health services also come from the rabbis. The mix of JCC programming that interests them tends to be limited to fitness and practical skills. Of course, there’s always the exception, and a group of women at the Boro Park Y were happily expressing their creativity through oil paintings— still lifes and portraits. “We are very alert and cognizant of their needs,” says Ava Blau, program and membership director. Still, Kastel knows that some of the local rabbis urge their followers not to use the Y. They are fearful, she says, that their children will meet kids from other groups. Her goal is to convince them “that what we do here is not treyf.” This is not a small matter when working within an ultra-Orthodox community; another Brooklyn Y in Williamsburgh, also a Hasidic neighborhood, closed many years ago over mixed dancing among seniors. Boro Park is not a wealthy community, although Kastel says that the population ranges from billionaires to paupers. According to the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, an agency that advocates for New York’s Jewish poor, two thirds of the community lives below or near the poverty line. Thirty percent of residents below 25 have no highschool degree and the great majority do not attend college. Many speak English poorly, according to Kastel, and they

work in small community businesses or as tradesmen if they can’t get jobs in the many yeshivas. The Y offers programs to help people get GED degrees, and has run some ESL and computer programs. Despite the widespread poverty, the ultra-Orthodox community has a well-established and pervasive tzedakah network and believes in taking care of its own, so Jews are fed and dressed and educated, whether they have money or not. But income level affects whether they can support their JCC, and whether they can serve on its board.

Any JCC program for the ultra-Orthodox must be totally on their terms “It’s very expensive to live a Jewish life,” says Rina Shkolnik, the executive director of the JCC of the Five Towns in Cedarhurst, New York, an affluent area on Long Island that has become increasingly ultra-Orthodox over the last 15 years. Shkolnik, who is a native Israeli, describes her community as very diverse, with “those who go with the skirts to the knee and those who go with the skirts to the ankle.” Although she has several ultra-Orthodox members on her board of directors, she understands that it’s hard for many to support the JCC. “Those who live in Far Rockaway can’t support like those who live in Lawrence. But as a JCC, we should support everyone,” she says. Despite the area’s high income level, Shkolnik says the JCC feeds 125 families from its food pantry every week—“we’re talking about young families as well as elderly”—including more than fifty families from the ultra-Orthodox community.

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Shkolnik met with each and every rabbi in the community when she took the job as exec, no matter how long it took to get an appointment. One rabbi finally said he’d give her 15 minutes and then spent two and half hours talking with her. She is frank in admitting that her being Israeli is an asset. The rabbis are impressed by her fluent Hebrew and “they can’t categorize me as a Reform or Conservative Jew.” Since one of her academic degrees is in Bible studies, “I can talk to them in their language,” she says, and all that makes a difference. But she was also honest as to what she could and could not do, she says, and the rabbis understood that the JCC has to serve everyone. “We offer programming for the entire community, and they pick and choose.” The agency is glatt kosher to make it more inclusive, and the fact that the JCC has no fitness center or pool makes many problems moot. “And I don’t fight them. I don’t want to go with my head to the wall,” Shkolnik says. “I want the people to feel comfortable.”

a donor base among the more affluent ultra-Orthodox segments of his community “because they’re staying.” Ultra-Orthodox Jews live outside of New York City too, and one such group frequents the Park Heights branch of the JCC of Greater Baltimore. JCC Vice-President Phil Miller, an Orthodox rabbi himself, says, “This is a traditional yeshivabased community…with a remarkable infrastructure. They are looking to the JCC as a place for recreational, fitnessbased programming for adults and youth-sports programming for their kids.” As do other JCCs working with this population, Park Heights splits their four-lane pool schedule into men and women-only times. Of the two fitness centers, one divides its time between men and women, and the fitness classes cater to women only. On Friday afternoons, when women are preparing for Shabbat, “almost the entire [boys] high school comes here to play basketball or go swimming,” Miller says.

We want to try to help everyone out to be a member of the JCC.

Although the Five Towns JCC attracts ultra-Orthodox children to its preschool, that’s unusual. More commonly, frum children come to the JCC for sports and recreational programming, or special-needs programs. The ultraOrthodox community has significant numbers of specialneeds children, and Bob Friedman, executive director at the Central Queens Y, is hoping that providing such services is a way to reach out to a sometimes distrustful community. “We want to balance special needs with the purpose of a community center, which is to build one Jewish community,” Friedman says. The Y is trying to address the health care needs brought on by a very sedentary lifestyle, too. Another shared interest is Israel. “Zionism is one of the binding forces in the Y, and we’re able to engage people through Zionism.” According to Friedman, the Orthodox community in Forest Hills is aging. “The community that is moving in is Bukharan,” Jews from the former Soviet Union central Asian republics, also very observant. Despite these new immigrants, “the economic [level] of our Orthodox community is much higher than Boro Park,” Friedman says. “The men are working, and learning becomes a secondary pursuit. Many women are also employed.” The ultra-Orthodox Bais Yaacov schools for girls are expanding vocational programs to teach marketable skills such as hospital billing or accounting. Central Queens is affordable and has a wealth of Jewish institutions, and certain neighborhoods such as Kew Gardens Hills are attracting young families. A social worker who once worked for the government, Friedman notes that the Y doesn’t qualify for many government contracts because they’re closed on Shabbat and holidays. He’s hopeful that he can build 4 jcc circle

Because of the community’s modest incomes and large families, the Park Heights JCC has found that their camps have been put out of business by a phenomenon that Miller calls backyard camps. Teenage girls or young mothers organize summer playgroups in their homes for very little money. “We do programming for these backyard camps, and we charge three bucks a kid.” The JCC rents out the pool and gym to them too. “This is a model we invented because we really didn’t have a choice,” Miller says. “We’re sold out for the summer.” The JCCs of Chicago has instituted similar programs, according to Emily Minkow, director of the North Central Region, which draws people from West Rogers Park, Skokie, and Lincolnwood. “We have very large league programs, with 350 kids playing basketball,” she says. “We have special kollel memberships” for young men who are spending several years in Talmud study after leaving the yeshiva. “We want to try to help everyone out to be a member of the JCC.” In the winter, the JCC has motzeh Shabbos hours after Shabbat has ended. They are “completely open for gym and swim,” says Minkow. Those JCCs successfully serving ultra-Orthodox Jews invest time and effort in getting to know their communities and truly understanding their needs. It can be challenging, no doubt. “I spend a lot of time meeting with people in the frum community, talking to them,” Miller says, who adds that he can’t imagine that anyone not Orthodox could succeed. There are “so many nuances” to appreciate, he believes. But the mission of serving k’lal Israel is central to the JCC Movement, and many JCCs are providing valuable and necessary services to their ultra-Orthodox members. autumn 2008

JWB Asks Rabbis to Be All That They Can Be by Miriam Rinn


t takes flexibility, ability to compromise, and a commitment to the totality of the Jewish people to be an effective Jewish chaplain in the armed forces, according to Rabbi Barry Baron, deputy director of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. The U.S. Armed Forces, facing a shortage of chaplains, is eager to recruit candidates, said Baron. “They are aware they need chaplains, and they are happy to have rabbis.” JWB has been endorsing rabbis as military chaplains since World War I, and in the last year it has stepped up its efforts to find new candidates. The staff visited five rabbinical schools, adding the Academy of Jewish Religion and the Reform seminary in Cincinnati to the Jewish Theological Seminary, REITS, the seminary at Yeshiva University, and Hebrew Union College in New York City. “That was our first broadening of the net,” said Baron. “There are a couple more we’ll add to this, schools on the West Coast, and we hope to add the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia.” Baron also reached out to rabbinical students who had expressed interest in the chaplaincy at some point, and worked closely with chaplain candidates to make a commitment as they neared the end of rabbinical school. One of those candidates, Josh Sherwin, a student at JTS, spent the summer in Newport, Rhode Island at officer development school. This was his second summer with the program, which is a five-week course for professionals— doctors, lawyers, chaplains—to learn how to be officers. Sherwin, whose father is also a rabbi, said, “When I decided I wanted to be a rabbi, I wasn’t sure I wanted to go into the congregational world.” When he met Chaplain Maurice Kaprow, “it seemed that chaplaincy might be a place I wanted to be.” Sherwin said. Last summer Sherwin spent three weeks at the U.S. Navy chaplaincy school and at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina. He met the Jewish chaplain there and filled in at the base when that rabbi was deployed to Iraq for two weeks. “It was an amazing experience,” Sherwin said, who is the recipient of the first JWB rabbinical school scholarship. At services, “we had 25 to 30 people show up, and everyone wanted to be there.” In this much more intimate setting, “you can really see the impact you’re having,” he said, and the experience solidified his decision about becoming a chaplain. In the U.S. Armed Forces, chaplains provide services to everyone in their care, regardless of their religion. That means that rabbis find themselves ministering to many non-Jews. When it comes to religious

services, chaplains are expected to provide to their own faith group, facilitate for those from other groups, and care about everyone. “As human beings, that’s something we should all be doing,” Sherwin said. “It’s a different kind of experience,” and an intriguing one for him. His parents support his decision. “My dad is a sixties liberal,” Sherwin said, “but all politics aside, they’re very proud.” Like many children of immigrants, Rafael Kaiserblueth feels a sense of gratitude towards the U.S. “I feel very strongly that everyone should serve their country in some way,” the chaplain candidate said. Kaiserblueth was born in Puerto Rico, but his parents came from Latin America where his grandparents landed when they escaped Europe just before World War II. A fluent Spanish speaker, Kaiserblueth is eager to bring Judaism to people who haven’t had much, as well as to non-Jews. “My job as a chaplain is to provide for the spiritual needs of everyone,” he said, explaining that he believed an important part of the job is to expose people to Jews. “ A lot of people have never seen a Jew, forget a rabbi.” Kaiserblueth did his basic training in Rhode Island, spent a week on a ship, a week in a hospital, and a few days with the U.S. Coast Guard. All of these experiences gave him “the ability to see the human aspect of military life,” he said. “It’s a connection that you can’t really describe.” Those young people feel a great need for solace and connection. “I know that I can make more money in a synagogue,” Kaiserblueth said, “but there’s no reason that these guys should not get the same spiritual guidance.” Not surprisingly, money is an issue for new rabbis, just as it is for new doctors and lawyers. Like other professionals, rabbis now graduate with a lot of debt, and the substantial difference between military pay and synagogue salaries can discourage candidates, according to Baron. To help eliminate that obstacle, JWB is working hard to raise scholarship funds and/or income supplements for new chaplains. Former Jewish Chaplains Council Chair Rabbi Philip Silverstein donated the first rabbinical school scholarship in memory of his wife Adinah. Jerry Weinstein, a resident of New Jersey, is underwriting a new scholarship for a Reform rabbinical student in memory of his uncle. The armed forces help place chaplains where their spouses can find good jobs, Baron said, and that also makes a difference. Roughly speaking, there’s a need for twice as many Jewish chaplains in the army and navy as serve currently, according to Baron. “Even on the reserve side, we have a need” as reservists are getting older. “The need is very acute.” JWB is doing everything it can to satisfy that need. To discuss funding a JWB scholarship, contact Fani Magnus Monson, jcc circle 5

agreed to donate a signed bike and a unique “LeMond Experience”—the purchaser could choose either dinner for himself and eight to ten friends with LeMond and his wife, Kathy, or a two-hour bike ride through Livermore Valley wine country for herself and six to eight others—to be auctioned off at CC-JCC’s annual gala in June. Angel donors, Hyams promised, would get to meet LeMond in a separate, private event.

When Jamie Hyams, a serious cyclist, decided she wanted to do the AIDS/LifeCycle race this year—a 545-mile, week-long ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles—it was natural for her to invite her regular cycling buddies to join her...

She got two corporate sponsors on board as well: Club One Inc., a Bay Area fitness company that runs CC-JCC’s aquatics program, gave a cash gift, and Cyclepath Bicycles of San Francisco provided discounts to the cyclists on bike

TEAM JCC riders applaud Hyams’ initiative, saying it is a wonderful reflection of the Jewish value of tzedakah in action, certain to generate good will for the Jewish community, over and above the money raised. “There are different ways of doing tzedakah. One way is just giving money, while another way is to demonstrate you are willing to ride 545 miles on a bike, saying, ‘I care enough about this cause to put myself through this torture’,” said Yitzhak Santis, laughing. Santis is director of the Middle East project of the Jewish Community Relations Council of San Francisco. Another cyclist, Laurel Sgro (pronounced Scrow) who is treasurer of the CC-JCC, was excited to be part of a fundraiser that involved her athletic prowess. “Because I’m an athlete, I find it personally motivating to use that as a

Hyams was able to line up three-time Tour De France winner Greg LeMond to serve as honorary co-chair of TEAM JCC

Out-of-the-Box Fundraiser Energizes Bay Area Jewish Community by Jane Calem Rosen


hat came next, however, has created a whole new model for JCCs to raise money, both for themselves and other charitable causes, and build Jewish community—“a triple mitzvah,” as Hyams described it. Her idea—to tie an established fundraiser for AIDS/HIV to a drive for the Contra Costa JCC in Walnut Creek, California, where Hyams is executive director—raised $31,500 for the JCC and upwards of fifty thousand dollars for the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center. The plan was simple. First, Hyams announced the formation of TEAM JCC, to expand the circle of cyclists riding with her to include members of CC-JCC and other Bay Area JCCs. In their colorful team T-shirts, Hyams hoped they would stand out from the pack of 2,200 cyclists on the road from San Francisco to L.A., raising the profile of the Bay Area Jewish community along the way. (AIDS/LifeCycle, which took place in early June, was co-sponsored by the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and 6 jcc circle

the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. Each participant had to raise at least $2,500 for the sponsoring organizations, which provide public education on the disease as well as social and healthcare programs and services to those afflicted by AIDS and HIV. The total ride raised $11.6 million.)

service and cycling products and underwrote the cost of the TEAM JCC T-shirts.

Then, Hyams approached those she called “angel donors,” CC-JCC members and other local residents who would agree to match each TEAM JCC cyclist’s donation to AIDS/LifeCycle and contribute those matching funds directly to CC-JCC.

Hyams has always looked for novel and unconventional ways to fundraise. A number of years ago, she started the Foothill Century, the only kosher ride in the West, complete with rugelach at rest stops and a kosher barbecue and deli lunch break, for the South Peninsula Hebrew Day School, an event that has since become popular with the Peninsula’s Jewish and non-Jewish communities alike.

Finally, Hyams was able to line up three-time Tour De France winner Greg LeMond to serve as honorary co-chair of TEAM JCC. LeMond, “a real mensch,” said Hyams, who often lends his name to charitable causes, helped nurture team spirit and attract additional support. TEAM JCC bikers met LeMond in March for a photo session and some valuable training tips. The champion cyclist meanwhile

JCC of San Francisco supported the AIDS ride by making its personal trainers and fitness facility available to TEAM JCC members. Six others – Addison-Penzak JCC of the Silicon Valley; Albert L. Schultz JCC of Palo Alto; JCC East Bay; JCC of Sonoma County; Osher Marin JCC; and Peninsula JCC– did internal promotion to encourage cyclists in their communities to join the team.

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way to give back to the JCC and to the AIDS community,” she said. “This is a new idea for us, and it looks to be evolving into a great fundraiser for us.” Hyams believes she has hit on a sure-fire formula. “What we did in creating TEAM JCC would work for any athletic or other event where the structure is already set,” she contended. “All that’s needed is someone with the enthusiasm to go to potential donors and say, ‘I’m going to ride (or walk or play) my a-- off, and please support the JCC through my craziness.’ There are no invitations, no logistics. This will raise more money for the CC-JCC than running our own golf tournament, which would take six months to plan.” Jane Calem Rosen is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.

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audit.” Certified energy contractors took a thorough look at our building including heating and cooling systems, lighting, insulation, and drainage.  Their final written report includes recommendations for facility upgrades and estimates of how long it would take for those upgrades to pay for themselves in energy savings.  So, for example, replacing existing light bulbs with high efficiency CFLs will pay for itself much more quickly than a new HVAC system.  This audit has helped us to identify “low hanging fruit” and to plan for future, more ambitious capital improvements with energy efficiency in mind. 

A [Compact Fluorescent] Light Unto the Community by Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield

Abba Binyamin says: “If the eye had the power to see, no human being could handle all of the harmful things in the world.” Berakhot 6a

An Eye-Opening Experience In October 2006, the Riverdale YM-YWHA screened An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore’s illuminating and disturbing documentary about the frightening effect global warming, generated by human activity, is having on the planet. At least one hundred people from our community showed up at short notice to watch the film, and I was among them. Like many of the viewers, I felt (and still do) terrified, almost paralyzed, by the idea of rising ocean levels, violent weather, and the threat to the natural world.  But what took my breath away was the recognition of what this global crisis could mean for human

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civilization and life. As a human being and a Jew, I felt obligated to act, to do whatever I could—even if the gesture seemed small compared with the gargantuan nature of the problem—to save human life.

Getting Started In an effort to educate ourselves and to build awareness in our community, my colleague, Faye Lieman, and I began to work with representatives of the Sierra Club and the New York State Energy and Resource Development Association (NYSERDA) to plan an Earth Day Fair. With over thirty local environmental groups and green businesses participating, our fair attracted more than three hundred people who were eager to learn what meaningful steps they could take in response to global warming.  We were subsequently awarded a grant from our local energy provider, Consolidated Edison, to grow our “greening initiative.” After a year of internal and external action, we refined our understanding of the community’s needs, and at our second annual Environmental Fair this year, we offered opportunities to responsibly recycle worn textiles, electronics, compact fluorescent bulbs, hard-cover books, and even set up an industrial shredder to destroy and recycle personal documents.

Greening our Facility From NYSERDA, we learned that the first step to making our building more energy efficient is to conduct an “energy

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Similarly, in partnership with the Council on the Environment’s Office of Recycling Outreach and Education (OROE), we conducted a recycling audit, determining where recycling bins should be placed in the facility and even arranging a special Friday pick-up with the sanitation department (we are closed on Shabbat, their regular pick-up day).  OROE also conducted recycling trainings for our staff, nursery school, and seniors.  In addition, we recently switched to green cleaning products, which according to our facilities manager cost less and work better. We are currently planning to incorporate waterless urinals into a bathroom renovation.

Green Jewish and Interfaith Programming In the middle of Sukkot, the Riverdale Y sponsored a program called “To Green and To Grow.” Several houses of worship, including the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale and the New Life International Church, discussed their own faith’s perspective on stewardship of the earth during services.  Then Sunday afternoon, joined by Hebrew school students, Y members and other volunteers, we headed to a local urban park where we planted bulbs, mulched, and raked.  As Pastor Cabrera of New Life Church put it, “It was a tremendous experience for our church and community members. . . thank you for the opportunity to join forces together and work toward a worthwhile goal.”  In partnership with the Y, the Riverdale Green Team, a town-wide group of diverse concerned Jewish individuals, developed a template for a “green” Kiddush. Our “Green Kiddush in a Box” includes key Jewish environmental texts to display on oneg tables and resources for making green choices like serving vegetarian food, fair trade coffee, and using biodegradable plates or, better yet, glass!

Creating New Community Partnerships In addition to our new relationships with partners in city government, we recognized a shared concern for addressing environmental issues among local social service agencies. In partnership with the Riverdale Neighborhood House (a local community center) and the Council on the Environment of New York City (CENYC), we launched a Youthmarket.  This farm stand, run by local teenagers, trained teens in business skills and provided locally grown produce to our community every Thursday during the growing season.

JCCs Can Make a Difference JCCs and Ys are uniquely poised to confront the global warming crisis. We are in a position to lead by example through greening our own facilities; to raise awareness of young children, older adults and everyone in between; to create service-learning programs that green our communities and those of our neighbors; and to organize our community’s resources to cut back overall consumption.  We have a wealth of Jewish texts and teachings at our disposal that underline our obligation to be stewards of the earth and partners with God in the ongoing work of creation.  We have a model, in Shabbat, of what it means to refrain from creating and consuming for one day a week.  Now each of us needs to find a reason to take leadership in reducing consumption, despite the overwhelming nature of the problem, and we need to start now.  Do it because it saves money.  Do it because it builds community. Do it because it’s a mitzvah. Do it for your children or grandchildren.  Find the reason that opens your eyes just enough to see what needs to be done and do it! Rachel Jacoby Rosenfield is the director for program development and Jewish life at the Riverdale YM-YWHA in Bronx, New York. Look for tips on environmentally friendly living at

Do it because it saves money. Do it because it builds community. Do it because it’s a mitzvah.

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The Story Behind the Anne Frank Exhibit at the Barness Family East Valley JCC, Chandler, Arizona

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NEVER FORGET, NEVER AGAIN By Meg Gabay When Executive Director Steve Tepper introduced his idea to the management team at the Barness Family East Valley JCC, it seemed almost unimaginable. He proposed contacting Anne Frank USA and leasing one of their traveling exhibits, Anne Frank: A History For Today, and housing it for one month in the JCC’s one available space, the multi-purpose room. A national exhibit? Here? At our small facility? We weren’t sure if the idea was feasible.

It soon became clear that everyone knew who Anne Frank was, they just didn’t know everything about the Holocaust–or they weren’t aware that genocide continued in parts of the world. As members of the executive staff, board of directors, and Steering Committee met with more people, they realized that education had to be the key. We wanted people to leave the exhibit a little more informed, a little more aware, and little more committed, to helping humanity.

Just a few months later, not only was the staff on board, but the JCC had the support of the local office of the ADL (AntiDefamation League), the City of Chandler Police Department, the Jewish Federation of Greater Phoenix, and the City of Chandler’s Diversity Commission. A Steering Committee soon developed, with volunteers manning sub-committees to oversee every step. We approached the local synagogues and informed them of what was planned and how they could be involved. A website dedicated to the Anne Frank: A History for Today exhibit at the JCC was created, where people were able to reserve docent-led tours, volunteer for the exhibit, or to make donations. The response was overwhelming. Finally, we knew it would work!

To help us reach that goal, we approached the Chandler Unified School District (CUSD), and the district quickly embraced the idea of supporting the exhibit. The Education Committee chair, two teachers from CUSD, and one retired teacher from Phoenix Union High School collaborated on the curriculum to help teachers prepare their students for visiting the exhibit. We knew that some students might not have heard about the Holocaust, and we didn’t want them to be shocked about what they heard and saw. Louise Moskowitz, Education Committee chair, said, “Our goal was to have the students understand that we all need to be tolerant of one another and accept each of us for who we are, not by the color of our skin, our religion, or our ethnicity.”

As the project progressed, the Steering Committee guided the sub-committees to think outside the box—be creative, think large, set goals and then push beyond them. The Marketing Committee wrote marketing plans and sent letters to the local Jewish community about the upcoming exhibit. They imagined a bookstore and ordered supplies. They bought silicone bracelets and customized T-shirts with the exhibit dates and name imprinted. The Logistics Committee began planning out facility usage in conjunction with the authorities. The Volunteer Committee began visiting and speaking at local synagogues about volunteer opportunities, and they hosted tables at Jewish festivals and other community events. The local Jewish Film Festival Committee agreed to bring a related film and speaker to kick off the exhibit. Local artists with Holocaust or diversity projects were invited to participate. The Phoenix Jewish Holocaust Association agreed to support both the exhibit and the JCC’s Yom Hashoah commemoration. 10 jcc circle

Panels of butcher paper were taped up on the hallway exiting the exhibit, with markers readily available for anyone who wanted to share thoughts or feelings. Inside the exhibit were notebooks where people could write as well. All of those messages were transcribed for us to keep, read, and share. Twenty thousand people from all walks of life, ages, religions, and backgrounds shared in learning what hate can do, and what they could do to change that. Two hundred volunteers made it happen. Steve Tepper summed up the experience, “The most wonderful part of the exhibit was seeing our staff and volunteers marvel at what they had accomplished. Both the Jewish and non-Jewish community was truly transformed by this experience. I was extremely proud to have been a small part of it.” Meg Gabay is the membership and marketing director at the Barness Family East Valley JCC.

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Israel A powerful allegiance to Israel has the potential to connect JCC members to the Jewish people, to strengthen their Jewish identity, and to help them find pathways to continue their Jewish journeys. JCCs can play a critical role in building bridges between Jews in North America and Israel, the two great Jewish communities in the world today.

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Our Israel Office:

your home in Israel Many groups lead tours, but our seminars offer the opportunity for intensive— and intense—personal and professional Jewish learning experiences in Israel.


et JCC Association customize your JCC’s trip to meet the expectations of your group. For instance, staff members from the JCC in Rochester met with Jewish and Arab Israeli parents who had lost children to violence and heard how they cope with their shattering loss. A group from the Michael-Ann Russell JCC in Miami had lunch in a Moroccan woman’s home and learned more about the program of her matnas to encourage women entrepreneurs. Such transformative Jewish experiences have enriched the Judaic quality of North American JCCs, from program content to ambience to mission. Most seminars are staffed by an experienced tour educator and an informal scholarin-residence. To incorporate the Jewish educational vision of your JCC, we develop the seminars through an ongoing exchange of ideas. Our collaborative process includes extensive preparation and follow-up for all the participants. JCC Association, together with our Israeli partners, develops

“sophisticated” The executive seminar explored our relationship with Israel at an in-depth and comprehensive level, with experiences that both the new and veteran traveler can appreciate. The JCC Association Israel Office provided sophisticated and thoughtprovoking content that challenged the executive leadership of the JCC field to explore a new, more complex relationship with Israel. The seminar broke many of the traditional rules of the typical mission. My first JCC Association experience in Israel (my 23rd overall) left me engaged at the highest level and determined for more lay/ professional seminars in the future. —Brian Schreiber, executive director, JCC of Pittsburgh

and implements the seminars. They are unlike any other Israel experience, even for the seasoned traveler. For our teen and young-adult groups, we make sure the program is informal and fun without giving up substance. It focuses on themes such as Jewish history and Israel, the Israel-Diaspora dialogue, leadership training, Judaism and spirituality, and the role of community in Jewish life. A central component of the experience is a mifgash (encounter) with Israeli youth. Often this project is organized with a sister city or a Partnership 2000 community in Israel, so your teens can develop deeper connections. A group of Merrin Teen Professional Fellows spent two days with their Israeli counterparts and shared the joys and challenges of working with youth. A group of graduate students took a behind-the-scenes tour of a Tel Aviv museum and explored with museum staff how to make cultural institutions contemporary and meaningful for young people. Young staffers from Bay Area JCCs met with a popular Israeli rapper and talked about the music scene. Our staff works to create bridges between Israel and the Jewish community of North America. A bridge goes both ways, bringing the Jewish community to Israel and bringing Israel to Jewish communities overseas. As effective as an Israel experience within your community can be, nothing can compare to the impact of an actual visit to Israel, and when your JCC leadership or staff or teens are ready to come, we’re here to make sure their visit will be unforgettable.

We’ve planned extraordinary experiences for many JCC groups—and we can do the same for you.

“so much happening” This Shabbat was very different. We lit candles in the lobby of our hotel in the heart of Tel Aviv as Birthright groups from the U.S. and basketball teams from Uganda and Turkey walked and talked nearby. A hum came from the crowd in this room. As we were each taking a turn to light a candle, I momentarily got lost in the din. This is such an international city. There is so much happening here, so many wonderful things that people need to see and experience for themselves. Where will I be next Friday at the start of Shabbat? Who will I be with? I will miss this place, but I know I’ll be back soon, maybe with another group. I want to bring as many people here as I can. — participant, Interfaith Couples’ Israel trip, JCC of San Francisco

JCC Association’s office in Jerusalem: • Plans Jewish educational seminars and other special programs for JCC leadership and JCC professionals. • Oversees JCC Maccabi Israel® programs for teens so that the specially designed Israel trip becomes a memorable event that builds Jewish identity. • Guides JCC Maccabi Israel Taglit-Birthright free 10-day trips for college students and young adults, ages 18-26. The JCC Maccabi Israel programs are operated by IsraelExperts, a leading Israeli educational travel company. • Cultivates ongoing people-to-people partnerships between North American JCCs and Israeli matnasim (community centers), often under the auspices of Partnership 2000. • Represents the interests of JCC Association and North American Jewish Community Centers in Israel. • Houses the office of the World Confederation of JCCs.

“warm and welcome” Eight Michael Ann Russell JCC staff members returned highly energized from an inspiring 10-day training seminar in Israel. Through their experience, they hope to give the MAR-JCC a plan to enhance our agency’s and community’s connection to Eretz Yisrael. According to Scott Ehrlich, group leader, ‘A real highlight of the trip was our visit to Yerucham, where the community laid out the red carpet for us and made us feel so warm and welcome. Not only were we inspired by the residents who are building a vibrant community in the middle of the Negev, but we each gained so much from our meetings with colleagues from early childhood education to caring for the environment, from the daily operations of their community center, to working with youth. The relationships that we have started will continue through the Internet, and we hope, with further one-on-one encounters. —Dror Gershoni, community shaliach, Miami, Florida

Introducing new inspiring Israel journeys for JCC members! What could be more exciting than planning your first trip to Israel? What could be more enjoyable than a return trip to see things you missed or revisit places that touched your heart? What could be more inspiring than bringing your children to learn about their Jewish heritage? The answer is: doing it with your JCC friends. And now you can, with these two great opportunities from JCC Association, coming your way in 2009!

Please, let my parents go, too!


To plan a trip for your JCC, contact:

amp is in my blood,” says 27-year-old Meredith Fine, who last summer worked as a unit head at the day camp run by the Bernard & Ruth Siegel JCC in Wilmington, Delaware. That’s why when her camp director forwarded her an e-mail about a winter Taglit-Birthright Israel trip being organized by JCC Maccabi Israel for camp staff from JCCs around the country, Meredith knew it was time to go. She registered without hesitation for the group that left in December, led by Hagar Ben-Eliezer, director of Jewish cultural programs at the Osher Marin JCC in San Rafael, California. That Meredith, a biology and environmental science teacher In the video, at Montgomery High School in Meredith discovers Skillman, New Jersey and an EMT, her mother lighting had an amazing time was no surprise. “Because the participants menorah candles were all camp-involved, it was so easy backwards and to meet people quickly. There was a placing an apple very friendly feeling among everyone, on a Seder plate. just like there is at any JCC,” said Meredith. Furthermore, everything she did and saw in Israel inspired pride in her Jewish identity and feelings of connection to the Jewish people. “In Israel I didn’t need to explain why I wear a Star [of David] or a chai around my neck. Everyone there celebrates the holidays I do, understands the same culture I grew up with and appreciates what it means to be Jewish.” When she got home, she was glowing, and her parents, Nanette and Alan Fine, who had never been to Israel, were jealous, she recalled. So, when Meredith heard about Taglit-Birthright Israel’s video contest for birthright alumni, “Let My Parents Go,” conceived in honor of Israel’s 60th anniversary, she knew she had to enter—even though she had never made a video before. “Thank God for the tech guy at school who showed me what to do,” she laughed. “I had so much fun.” In the video, Meredith catches her father eating a ham and cheese sandwich with a glass of milk (“It’s skim milk,” he protests.) and affixing a mezuzah to the wrong side of the front door of their home – upside down. Her mother is discovered lighting menorah candles backwards and placing an apple on a Seder plate. (“Don’t we eat apples on one of the holidays,” she wonders.) After Meredith finds each of them, she asks, “What are you doing?” instructing, “You really need to go back to your roots.” In May, when Taglit-Birthright Israel announced the nine contest winners, Meredith and her parents were thrilled to learn the Fines were among them. The trip was scheduled to depart

Leah Garber or Sara Sless

ion t i d e p x E y Culinar re u t n e v d A y Famil When families discover their heritage together, they share a bond forever. Our 10-day Israel family adventure program is designed to open the door for you and your whole family—including children from ages five and up and active grandparents—to enjoy an adventurous, fun-filled learning experience in Israel. A special bonus is the madrich noar (youth counselor) who will travel with your group. This young Israeli will supervise age-appropriate programming for your children at the places you visit and allow you the time to explore on your own. This really IS what memories are made of! Here are just a few of many highlights: • Float in the Dead Sea, the lowest point on earth, and cover yourself in its skin-replenishing mud • Help with food delivery and preparation at Table to Table, Israel’s version of Second Harvest • Take a donkey or camel ride—it’s more fun than you think! • Party in Tel Aviv–The Big Orange–the Israeli city that never sleeps • Hike, raft, and train outdoors • Take part in a scavenger hunt in an Israeli market—and then eat what you find! • Experience an interactive encounter with Israeli Arab culture in a drum circle with Bishara • Hang out at an Israeli community center and find out what Israeli daily life is really all about And besides all this, we’ll visit the sites you’ve always dreamed of seeing—the Kotel, Yad Vashem, Masada, and more—and you’ll feel like you’ve finally come home. Will your family be celebrating a bar or bat mitzvah during your Israel trip? We can help you plan a ceremony and celebration your child will never forget.

All over the world, culinary tours are gaining popularity; so why not combine a great nine-day tour of Israel—together with other JCC members—with the fabulous food expedition you’ve been contemplating? Israel’s wineries are now world-renowned, and the cuisines of Israel’s various ethnic groups have combined to create spectacular and exotic dishes. We will explore places where Israeli farmers, chefs, and vintners are creating this extraordinary food and wine, and combine that with a historythrough-food view of our country. You’ll come home a real food “maven” with a much deeper understanding of today’s diverse Israel. Here are some of the things you’ll do: • Visit kitchens in the Ethiopian, Moroccan, Russian, and Arab communities to learn about their history and culture • Breakfast at an organic dairy and goat cheese farm • Sample Israel’s best olive oil • Enjoy wine tastings throughout Israel • Shadow and cook with a top Israeli chef • Shop with an Israeli and prepare a meal together • Visit Machane Yehuda, Jerusalem’s outdoor fruit, vegetable, and spice market • Lunch in a Druze home and learn about Druze culture • Indulge at a boutique chocolate shop • Volunteer at a soup kitchen • Take a jeep tour of the gigantic Ramon Crater • Stop at the Nabatean village of Ovdat • Visit the Bedouin market (in case you want to buy a camel) • Attend optional Shabbat services at local ethnic synagogues • Relax at an Israeli spa • For night owls: Participate in a Hebrew karaoke night

JCC Association is working in conjunction with IsraelExperts™ (IsraelExperts– Initiatives in Education, Ltd), and together we will create the custom-made tour to Israel that you have been waiting for. We know you and what you’re looking for. Come with us for an inspired Jewish journey.

July 14, and her parents couldn’t have been more excited, she said. Now it’s Meredith’s turn to be jealous. “My parents spent time in different places than I got to see; for example, they are going to the Galilee wine country; and our tour didn’t get to do that. And I’d love to go back to some of the places I did go, like the Dead Sea, which was so cool, and Masada, which I absolutely loved.” To view Meredith’s video and the other winners of “Let My Parents Go,” log onto

This winter, bring your friends and travel to Israel for free!

Registration begins September 10, 2008 This trip is a gift from Taglit-Birthright Israel. Eligible participants are 18-26, Jewish, and have never been to Israel on a peer group tour. jcc circle 15

What system do you have in place for your Millennials to save for retirement? Do they have to wait months or years to be added to retirement plans? The changing concept of career is one of the primary generational differences. Gen X and Millennial professionals follow their instincts and often proceed with no detailed career plan. They feel the need to be constantly challenged, included in decision making, and given the opportunity to express their opinions. This is a departure from the Boomers, who have often worked in one field for many years and have been content to continue on a slow-growth path. We have seen good Millennials enter the JCC field only to leave 18 months to two years later because they do not feel challenged or valued.

What are you doing in your JCC to ensure that young, talented staff are valued and encouraged to stay in the field?

Bridging the Gap Generational Differences in the Workplace By Joy Brand


he only works her set hours. He’s always listening to his iPod. How can they concentrate on their work with their IMs popping up all the time?

During recent years, as the JCC Association professional development services staff traveled the continent to deliver programs aimed at strengthening the skills of JCC staff, we began to see a change in workplace culture, and we noted its direct relationship to the generational diversity of the JCC staff. Older and younger staff members seemed to be talking past each other. Because we’re in the business of helping JCC professionals perform at the highest levels, we want to take a look at some of these issues, and see if there are ways that older and younger JCC employees—and volunteers—can communicate more effectively. Although there are a number of different definitions for the current generations in the workforce, we have settled on the following for our purposes: The G.I. Generation was born between 1901 and 1925; they have lived through both World Wars and the Great Depression. The Silent Generation arrived between 1926–1944, during the Great Depression and World War II. The Baby Boomers, 1945–1962, were born after WW

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II, and they are the supervisors and leaders today. Generation X was born between 1963–1980; they were shaped by the Cold War and are starting to come into their own. Millennials, born 1981–2002, do not know a world without computers. We are focusing on communication between Millennials, currently 27 years old and younger, and Boomers. While the relationship between these two groups can cause friction in the workplace, it’s important to remember that one is going out and the other is coming in. These two cohorts are the ones with the most common communication difficulties, but we found that problems are experienced across all generations. Unlike any previous generation, 37 percent of Millennials expect to start saving for retirement before they reach 25, with 46 percent of those working reporting that they already do so, according to a September 2007 survey by Purchase, New York-based Diversified Investment Advisors. And 49 percent say retirement benefits are a very important factor in their job choices. Among those eligible, 70 percent of the Millennial respondents contribute to their 401(k) plans. This places an added level of responsibility on JCCs who seek to recruit these workers.

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The speed of communication and the use of technology also leads to miscommunication in the workplace. The Millennial Generation is all about speed of information. These professionals have always worked with computers. They are quick to communicate their thoughts, and they expect to be able to find an answer on the Internet, not in a library. Millennials would rather shoot off an e-mail than pick up the phone. Baby Boomers tend to think through issues, like to have meetings to make decisions, and generally move at a slower pace in areas of communication and technology.

Are systems in place at your JCC to allow Internet access, e-mail between staff, and between staff and members? Do current systems bog down the flow of productivity?

What can be done at your JCC to share the work load so that the building and programs are covered, but the responsibility does not rest on a select few staff members? Millennials believe in their own value enough that they are not shy about trying to change the JCCs where they work. This characteristic dovetails with Gen X (born mid-1960s to the late-1970s), known for its independent thinking, addiction to change, and emphasis on family. JCC governance and management systems must accommodate these employees by creating an open environment to give younger workers access to change mechanisms. Chuck Underwood, founder and president of multigenerational consulting firm The Generational Imperative, Inc. and one of the developers of the generational divisions we’re using, states, “Baby Boomer leaders in today’s JCCs need to shift gears and inspire their subordinates by delegating legitimate responsibilities.” This will not only free up the executive to focus on other tasks, but it will “inspire the Millennial and Gen X staff by giving them a piece of the action to work on.”

COMMUNICATION BETWEEN MILLENNIALS AND BOOMERS, can cause friction in the workplace.

Another area of generational divide is the issue of work/ life balance. For many Boomer JCC professionals, a 60-hour work week was not uncommon when they were coming up the ranks, and still may be the norm. Generation X and Millennials have different visions of work/life balance than their older colleagues. They value their time off, and often see their peers working 9-5 jobs with no weekend duties. While this is not the way a JCC functions, Millennials are vocal about needing some weeknights and some weekends free. Finding ways to offer employees more time with their families and friends can boost morale and benefit the JCC.

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How do you involve Gen X and Millennials in meetings that focus on visioning and brainstorming for the future of your JCC? Since 2001, JCC Association has emphasized the need for a healthy balance between work and personal life, and has reminded JCC leaders of the importance this carries for JCC staff. Unlike the soon-to-be-retiring Boomers, who put a high priority on their careers, often sacrificing their family obligations, today’s youngest workers are more interested in making their jobs accommodate their family and personal lives. They want jobs with flexibility, telecommuting options, and the ability to go part time or leave the workforce temporarily when children are in the picture. They want to be able to afford to live in the communities where they work, and to attend events and participate in functions in their home Jewish community. JCC boards must develop policies, and executive directors must enforce those policies, to make working at a JCC and living in the community an attractive option.

Are your staff adequately compensated to allow them to live in the community where they work and enjoy the programming options available? JCC recruitment has always emphasized longevity in the JCC world, and entry-level staff understood they could move from JCC to JCC to advance in their careers. Millennial employees don’t enter the JCC field with a career in mind. They don’t expect to stay in a job for too great a period of time. They don’t like to stick with any one assignment for too long. This is a generation of multi-taskers; they can juggle e-mail on their BlackBerrys while talking on cell phones and trolling online. We must accept this as the norm in our young professionals’ behavior. We must also help Millennials move within the JCC and when possible help them stay in the field by encouraging them to move to other JCCs to advance the scope of their work. Underwood cautions JCC leaders, “Do not fall into the trap of older generations—and do not insist it be done in 2009 the way it was done in 1979.” JCC leaders today need to be more receptive to change than prior leaders. “Millennial workers are looking for ways to be socially active and make a difference. Helping people and doing good is what JCCs are all about,” Underwood says. Jewish Community Centers can attract this group of workers if we market our positions to their interests and talents.

Do you have an internal system for growth and advancement within your JCC? Do staff have mentors they can speak with about their professional goals? Unlike previous generations who have in large part grown accustomed to the annual review, Millennials have grown up getting constant feedback and recognition from teachers, parents, and coaches. This generation may resent it or feel less valued if communication and recognition from supervisors and executive staff isn’t more frequent.

How are you giving feedback and evaluating the staff at the JCC? When looking for intergenerational communication opportunities, a great place to start is by thinking about leadership versus management. Generation X and Millennials crave leadership, but do not like to be micromanaged. Supervisors should set out clear, concise goals and then get out of the way. Leaders could implement mentoring programs so that younger staff can learn from more experienced staff, and older staff may learn from younger employees as well. The generations should be learning from each other. Just as with age comes experience, so youth brings enthusiasm and energy. Open communication is the key. It is important to discuss things when they happen and not allow generational miscommunication and possible misunderstanding to get in the way. Keep in mind the importance of training and growth opportunities for all JCC professionals. Conducting JCC in-service trainings, having staff participate in JCC Association sponsored regional and continental conferences

and trade–specific learning opportunities helps keep staff motivated and current and underlines the JCC’s desire to help them grow as professionals.

What percent of your operating budget is allocated for staff training? Effective JCCs that have mentoring programs in place are more likely to have higher staff enthusiasm and lower staff turnover. ** Despite the many differences, it is important to recognize the commonalities between the generations. All people who choose to work in the JCC field have a passion and desire to enrich the lives of others. They are not motivated by money, but they expect to be fairly compensated. To attract these idealistic young people, JCCs need to be sensitive to the values and preferences of their new professionals while remaining steadfast in their mission and conviction. Younger professionals may want to jump in and out of their work in the Jewish community, and often return to the JCC field later on. These employees made a positive contribution to the JCC while they were there, and their experiences outside of the JCC Movement could be a benefit in the long run. JCC executives should consider these applicants as viable candidates for advanced positions, appreciating the skills and experiences they bring with them.

Baby Boomers, Here’s How to Make Generational Differences in Your JCC Work:

All JCC professionals need to feel respected and worthwhile, need to know what is expected of them through specific job descriptions, and need to have the tools to do those jobs. They need understanding and compassion, too, when they must confront the inevitable issues, both personal and professional, life presents.

Open communication is the key

As we move forward, we need to recognize that generational differences are an unavoidable challenge in today’s workplace, and JCCs must understand and address this issue in developing current staff and leaders for the future.

The generations should be learning from each other.

What are you doing at your JCC to address these differences? Joy Brand is associate director of the professional development services department at JCC Association.

Set up and manage expectations from the time of hiring Millenials may need training on how to work within the culture of your JCC.

Good communication and office relations are a two-way street. Discuss what you will do to keep the lines of communications open.

Involve all levels of staff in discussions regarding changes and challenges Ideas for improvement can be gleaned from everyone, regardless of age or position.

Sarah Levithan contributed research and organizational help. JCC Association’s professional development services department is available to help you with your staffing concerns or to offer career counseling. Contact us at, or 212-786-5114.

Give feedback often All staff like to know when they have done a good job, and all staff need to know where they can improve. Be sure to show others you care by giving feedback.

** JCC Excellence: The Benchmarking Project

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JCC Association Board Brings Support and Supplies to Cuban Jews by Jane Calem Rosen


faded beauty whose magnificent architecture is all but crumbling, Havana greets travelers with open arms. The warm, outgoing Cuban people eagerly share stories of their lives against a backdrop of poverty and deprivation. Residents subsist on meager food rations, unable to obtain or afford modern conveniences. Private homeownership is prohibited. Until recently, cell phones were unavailable. The Jewish community in Cuba, along with everyone else, suffers from these harsh economic realities. But cultural and communal life is rich and vibrant. Three Havana synagogues, two Ashkenazi and one Sephardic, continue to attract crowds to weekly Shabbat services and other programs. One thousand Jews remain of a community that numbered fifteen thousand

and quickly took hold. So instead of heading home when the JCCs of North America Biennial concluded in Miami, a group of 45—board members, JCC presidents, and executive directors and spouses—boarded a plane at Miami International Airport bound for Jose Marti Airport in Havana.

before the 1959 revolution that put Fidel Castro’s communist government in power.

government has encouraged educational, cultural, religious, humanitarian and athletic missions, as well as limited business and professional contacts.)

Those are some of the impressions a group of JCC Association board members and staff took away with them after they visited Cuba in the spring. The group toured the national art museum and took in a performance by the Cuban National Ballet. “It was spectacular,” said Honorary JCC Association Chair Ann Kaufman, from Houston. “Even though the carpet was torn and the seats were broken [in the performance hall], the dancers were A-plus.” The idea for the trip was generated at a Biennial Committee meeting chaired by Noreen Gordon Sablotsky

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This first mission to Cuba was led by Arnie Sohinki, senior vice-president for program services, who arranged for the required license from the U.S. Department of Treasury for travel to Cuba under the State Department’s “People-to-People” exchange program. (Although the United States and Cuba still do not have diplomatic relations, since 1999, the U.S.

Perhaps the most surprising discovery was the lack of anti-Semitism and the degree to which Jews may openly practice their religion. Although Castro has been outspoken in his condemnation of Israel and Zionism, a picture of his visit to a Havana synagogue hangs prominently in the congregation’s lobby, and Cuba’s Jews are proud of their country’s history of welcoming Jewish refugees. Today, mission participants were told, there are no barriers to anyone who wishes to make aliyah. Cuban Jewish community leaders expressed autumn 2008

the desire to see relations with the United States normalized, the better to foster closer ties with the American Jewish community, said Steve Rubin, a St. Paul, Minnesota attorney who went on the trip with his wife, Wendy. The larger of the two Ashkenazi congregations, known as the Patronata, with a fitness center on the premises, functions as much like a JCC as a house of worship. Moreover, it is an open secret throughout Havana that the synagogue operates a pharmacy where shelves are stocked with prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, medical supplies, toiletries and cosmetics. The pharmacy, which serves the entire community, is wholly supported by donations from abroad, hand-delivered by religious-cultural missions and in care packages sent by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee. “We came with suitcases filled with Tylenol, Advil, BandAids and more,” said Rubin. The pharmacy, he observed, “is run by an incredible woman, a physician who volunteers her time.” (The group also brought books and baseball cards for the children. Cubans are crazy about baseball, and the island has produced some spectacular players.) While Cuba’s national health care system does provide free high-quality care and exports doctors to the rest of Latin America, a combination of factors, including the U.S. embargo (which covers some food and medicine),

the merger of large pharmaceutical companies, and the collapse of Cuba’s patron the Soviet Union, makes it difficult for ordinary citizens to obtain medications and other common medical supplies. The group also visited the small Orthodox congregation in Havana’s historic district. Learning that the synagogue serves breakfast after the morning minyan, but sometimes finds it hard to feed everyone who shows up, Sablotsky, a Miami resident, suggested that mission participants do something hands-on to help. Because tourists have a separate currency and access to goods and services not available to Cubans, she explained, “we were able to buy five to six dozen eggs, coffee, milk and

cookies right on the street. Cubans are not allowed to do that.” It is important, suggested Rubin, for those who made the trip to bring the story of Cuban Jewry home with them. “As active leaders in our communities, we can try to persuade everyone [including Congressional representatives] of the importance of re-opening the borders to further cultural and other types of exchanges.” Added Arlene Fickler, a Philadelphia lawyer who has served on the JCC Association board for the past two years: “American Jews have always reached out to Jews in other countries when they are at risk, politically or economically. It was clearly important for us as a board to go to Cuba and let Cuban Jewry know that we view them as brothers and sisters and are there to advocate for them. In the 1960s, when the Cold War with Russia was hot and we were at war in Vietnam and had no relations with China, it may have made sense for us to freeze out Cuba as well. Today, in a very different world, that isolationist policy no longer makes sense.” Finally, the mission proved to be a wonderful bonding experience for the board. Said Jane Gellman of Milwaukee, a board member since the mid-‘80s, “This was a great way for us to get to know each other better.” Jane Calem Rosen is a freelance writer based in New Jersey.

JCC Association is organizing another mission to Cuba November 9-16, 2008 Open to anyone affiliated with a JCC. For complete information, including visa application, registration and costs, please contact:

Cippi Harte

vice president program services JCC Association 520 Eighth Avenue, 4th floor New York, NY 10018.

jcc happenings what’s going on in the north american jewish community center movement Older Painters Express Themselves Aaron Family JCC, Dallas, TX Clarice Post says in amazement, “I had never held a paintbrush in my life until I was inspired to take this art class at the J. Just look at what I have accomplished!” Thirteen members of the senior adult department displayed artwork in the JCC main lobby during a May art show. When the art class started about five years ago, many of the students had never painted before. Now they enthusiastically tackle different media, experimenting with color and texture in paintings and collages.

Book Festival Focuses on Peer Harassment Mandell JCC, West Hartford, CT School bullying. Victimization. Harassment. Violence. The Mandell JCC’s The New Jewish Book Festival featured New York Times best-selling author Jodi Picoult, whose latest novel Nineteen Minutes documents a shooting in a small-town high school. After reading the book, it became clear to Executive Director David Jacobs that “Ms. Picoult’s talk presents a unique opportunity to engage and sensitize the very people who could have a positive impact on school climate—the high school students and faculty themselves.”

To throw more light on this pervasive problem, the JCC conducted a student leaders’ forum entitled Improving School Climates before Picoult’s presentation. The session was led by Dr. Jo Ann Frieberg, the associate educational consultant for bullying, improving school climate, and character education at the Connecticut State Department of Education. Fourteen area high schools each sent three student leaders and a faculty member to the event. Just before Picoult’s talk, Dr. Frieberg led an interactive discussion about school climates and helped students to identify action steps they could take to support one another. Ms. Picoult also met with the students before the lecture and provided autographed copies of her book.

Twelve-Week Triathletes Each Butterfly a Soul Joan & Alan Bernikow JCC, Staten Island, NY Shai Bar, a community shaliach working for a year as an emissary at the Staten Island JCC, heard from a friend in Israel about a project at the Holocaust Museum of Houston. The museum wanted to collect one and a half million butterflies to commemorate the number of Jewish children killed in the Holocaust. As the word spread, Staten Island schools—public and private, elementary to college—responded, as did many individuals, and eventually four thousand butterflies painted in watercolor and crayon, made with crepe, construction paper, and even a foam plate, came into the JCC. Two thousand of them were the centerpiece of a Yom HaShoah service at the Bernikow JCC, hung from a chain-link curtain. “Every single butterfly represents a child,” said Bar, who said he was amazed “by so many people from all over putting their hearts into arts and crafts butterflies.” The memorial ended with a siren, as is traditional in Israel.

JCC of Mid-Westchester Scarsdale, NY Christine Verna described herself as a middle-aged housewife. “I’ve jogged the same three miles for over thirty years and never pushed myself,” she admitted. Michael Steinman, on the other hand, is a veteran of the New York Marathon. Ned Bakelman wanted to be “as graceful in the water as a dancer on the stage,” and Helene Walisever set a fortieth birthday challenge for herself. What brought these four Scarsdale residents together poolside with several other participants on a Tuesday evening? A 12-week pilot program for first-time triathletes—a partnership between the JCC of Mid-Westchester and Race with Purpose, a national organization that provides opportunities to combine community service with athletic performance.

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personal boundaries “one workout at a time.” A successful athletic experience, he believes, can lead to achievement in additional, seemingly unrelated endeavors. The other coaches were Roger Kahn and John O’Brien, JCC sports and fitness director. Kahn, a nationally ranked swimmer who has competed for 40 years, is a member of the JCC. He volunteered his time as a coach to help group members develop technique and increase strength and endurance. “Swimming is in my blood,” he asserted. The program, which began in March, culminated in a half-mile swim, a 12-mile bike, and 3.1 mile run on Father’s Day at the Long Island Gold Coast Triathlon.

Asheville JCC’s First Annual “Falafel 5K” Run/Walk & Fun Run Asheville JCC, Asheville, NC To celebrate Yom Ha’azmaut, the Asheville Jewish Community Center held its first annual Falafel 5K Run/Walk and One Mile Fun Run in May. This familyoriented race was held in conjunction with neighboring Congregation Beth Israel’s annual event, “Celebration Israel.” Race participants had a great time enjoying live music, plenty of falafel and a post race party sponsored by the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company. The event drew more than 150 runners, and promises to become an Asheville tradition. Proceeds from the race will benefit the scholarship funds of the Asheville JCC.

Shorefront YM-YWHA, Brooklyn, NY

One night, Triathlon Club members had an hour to practice their kicks, strokes and breathing in a supportive atmosphere at the JCC pool. Other sessions were devoted to bicycling and running. “The coaching has been amazing—so professional with lots of personal attention,” said Dr. Walisever. “They are taking us seriously,” added Ms. Verna, who especially wanted to improve her 3.2 mile/40-minute jogs, “so now I really have to do this.” Adam Krajchir of Race with Purpose was head coach for the triathlon training. He aims to help adults break past their

Paul Bierbriar with his painting “Woman with the Lilies”

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Photograph by Alice Longworth

West Point cadets visit with Russian-speaking members of the Shorefront YM-YWHA to practice their foreign language skills.

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leadership profile

understanding of the Jewish culture and helped enhance her work with children, teachers and parents.” From organizing a preschool shuk (an Israeli marketplace), to setting up a biblical preschool garden, to spearheading camp and scouting programs, as well as An Ethical Start® (a JCC Association program that explores Jewish values based on the classic Jewish text, Pirkei Avot), Elliot serves as a key force in the ECE community. Currently, the 12-year PJCC teaching veteran is leading a special project between the PJCC preschool and a sister school outside of Tel Aviv. She established a connection with this school during her 2007 trip to Israel.

PJCC Educator Receives JCC Fitness Program Prestigious Award Wins Grant Peninsula JCC, Foster City, CA Lisa Elliott, an early childhood educator at the Peninsula Jewish Community Center (PJCC) has been selected as a winner of the 2008 Helen Diller Family Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education. For the past eight years, the award, which is sponsored by The Jewish Community Endowment Fund, has recognized outstanding teachers who imbue youth with a strong sense of Jewish identity, encouraging them to explore their rich Jewish heritage while incorporating Jewish values and building Jewish community. The prestigious award carries a prize of $10,000 for the educator and $2,500 for the educator’s institution. For Elliott, the award is all the more profound, given that she is not Jewish. In her nominating letter, PJCC Early Childhood Education Director Ellie Rosenberg wrote, “Lisa is a model of a non-Jewish teacher working in a Jewish setting. She has embraced Jewish values and is always willing to participate in workshops and conferences that will further enhance her knowledge of Judaism. Lisa eagerly accepted an opportunity to visit Israel last year…she researched and read everything she could get her hands on in preparation for this trip, which ultimately transformed her life both personally and professionally. This educational experience further added to her knowledge and

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Louisville JCC, Louisville, KY Good health habits start at home. The Louisville JCC received a $3,500 Mayor’s Healthy Hometown grant from the Metro Department of Public Health & Wellness to improve the health of the JCC’s community. The grant supports a new program developed by Sports & Wellness Director Dotty Battoe called the “J Fit Challenge,” a comprehensive fitness and wellness program for people ages 18 and over. Participants will be offered exercise activities to promote variety in fitness routines, alleviate exercise boredom, and establish healthy patterns of behavior toward life-long fitness. Those who attend 20 sessions per month will be rewarded with internal incentives, such as program discounts.

Marvin Gelfand: Staying True to Himself By Miriam Rinn

In support of the Cherry Hill, New Jersey Betty & Milton Katz JCC’s “Going Green” initiative, students at the Sari Isdaner Early Childhood Center have been using recycled material all year to make their special class projects. Menorahs, piggy banks and Mother’s Day gifts are just a few of the projects that have come to life from recycled materials brought from home.

Sixty group fitness classes will be available each week for a 16-week program for 100 clients. In addition, four health and wellness seminars will be offered. In this win-win situation, the JCC helps Louisville residents improve their health while introducing itself to those who may not know what the JCC offers.

Marvin Gelfand got hooked on Jewish communal life early on. As a teenager living in the San Fernando Valley, he was an active participant in the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization. “I started my own chapter” of AZA, he recalled. “The organization was very vibrant then. Superb athletic programs—and the social part was, of course, wonderful.” While he attended the University of Southern California School of Law, Gelfand worked as a field supervisor for BBYO, and then became chair of their advisory board. At the same time, he was participating in a federationled leadership training program. “As a result of that, you joined a board,” and Gelfand became a member of the Bay Cities JCC board of directors. After he and his wife moved, and their children started preschool, he happened to sit next to the executive director of the North Valley JCC at an event. “I found myself on the board and never looked back,” Gelfand said, and he’s remained deeply interested in Jewish life and in the JCC Movement ever since.

Ironically, both Bay Cities and North Valley JCCs have since closed, and Gelfand served on the committee that made the decision they were not viable. Sensitive to the dynamic nature of the JCC Movement, Gelfand said, “Organizations change on a constant basis. We see that in the business community too. That’s why planning is so important. Are you serving the needs of the community? What will the future needs be? What are the trends?” Looking at Los Angeles, Gelfand sees a diverse and widely

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dispersed Jewish community. Although it is one of the largest in the world, it has a very low affiliation rate, around twenty percent. According to Gelfand, there is not the same sense of a cohesive Jewish community in the West as in the Northeast. He makes the point that adventurous Jewish immigrants left their homes in Europe to come to New York, where they got to know gentiles, many for the first time; and then there was the group who continued West, even farther away from the close-knit and perhaps claustrophobic Jewish neighborhood. “The feeling of neighborhood, what people get out of being part of a JCC, I think people are missing here,” Gelfand said, rather ruefully. “That doesn’t exist in L.A.”

the organization, he said. “We’ve tried to stay ahead of the curve.”

While he believes that there is definitely room for relevant JCC programming, Gelfand is a realist. “For educational programming, you’re not going to get someone to travel for more than 15 minutes.” The challenge is to discern and provide the particular service that appeals to a targeted area. “The way that JCC services will survive in L.A. is within creative partnerships, both Jewish and non-Jewish.” For instance, the JCC could offer an art class in conjunction with a YMCA, or a Jewish literature class in a synagogue. Gelfand believes that JCCs without walls—not tied to a building or facility, in other words—may be expanding in the future. According to Gelfand, JCC Association has recognized this development and adjusted its by-laws accordingly by removing the word facility. That’s one of the strengths of

Gelfand has been highly active and productive during his tenure on the JCC Association board. Among other responsibilities, he chaired the Governance Task Force and the Metro President’s Council. He found that project particularly interesting, he said, and he also headed the Western Task Force of the Beyond 2000 strategic plan. His next major assignment is to chair the continental committee for the 2010 Biennial in Atlanta, with host-community chairs Lisa Brill and Laura Dinerstein.

As deeply rooted as he is in Los Angeles, Gelfand was actually born on the East Coast, in the Bronx. His father was stationed in Fresno during World War II and fell in love with the California lifestyle. As soon as he earned his business degree from Pace College, he packed up the family and drove cross country, Gelfand said. His father was a founder of Congregation Ner Tamid of the San Fernando Valley, and although the synagogue was Conservative “I was the first bar mitzvah to read the entire Torah portion,” Gelfand said, along with the Haftorah, a task that’s usually reserved to Orthodox boys.

Gelfand believes that the challenge for any organization “is to remain true to who we are and what we stand for. That’s at the top of the list for even JCCs.” And for individuals too, no doubt.

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Circle Fall 2008  
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JCC Circle Fall 2008