Page 1

jerry silverman | torahs for our troops | jcc governance

Pool of Resources are you maximizing the power of your jcc pool?


fall 2009 5770 w`s

Lenny Krayzelburg’s jcc swim academy is bringing an aquatics renaissance to Jccs

inside fall 2009

2 4 10 14 18 20 23 28

5770 w`s

by and about... Allan Finkelstein Before becoming president of JCC Association 15 years ago, Allan held leadership positions at JCCs in Los Angeles, Columbus, and Buffalo. He has taught at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, and at Brandeis University. He is often called upon to speak about one of his passions—new models of looking at Jewish communal life, especially as it applies to collaboration between institutions.

This Time, There Is No Going Back Allan Finkelstein on the Future

Lenny Krayzelberg Lenny is the founder and director of the Lenny Krayzelburg JCC Swim Academy, a comprehensive, learn-to-swim curriculum available only at JCCs. He is a four-time Olympic gold medalist, multiple world-record holder, two-time USA Swimmer of the Year, and won two golds at the 16th Maccabiah in Israel.

An Aquatics Renaissance Spotlight on the Lenny Krayzelburg JCC Swim Academy

East Village Oasis Visit New York’s 14th Street Y — in Digital Paintings

Ann F. Eisen Ann F. Eisen, former executive director of the New Orleans JCC, is the vice-president of community services, governance and leadership for JCC Association. She is certified by BoardSource as a consultant in board self assessment. She is also responsible for organizing the Esther Leah Ritz Next Generation of Leadership Institute at the JCCs of North America Biennial.

Torahs for Our Troops Supporting Jews in the Military

Focus on: Philanthropy Mort Mandel on Giving

Say Hello to the New Kid on the Block

Jerry Silverman

We Catch Up with Jerry Silverman

Jerry Silverman is president and CEO of UJC/The Jewish Federations of North America. He is a highly experienced leader in the North American Jewish community and longtime corporate executive, with over 25 years of experience.

Governance Matters What Every New Board Member Should Know

Beyond the Battle of the Bulge Wellness Is the New Fitness

jcccircle: For address correction or Information about JCC Circle contact or call (212) 532-4949. ©2009 Jewish Community Centers Association of North America. All rights reserved.

Sr. Vice-President, Marketing & Communications Robin Ballin

520 Eighth Avenue | New York, NY 10018 Phone: 212-532-4949 | Fax: 212-481-4174 | e-mail: | web:

Creative Director Peter Shevenell

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, that 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. governmentaccredited 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.

Communications Manager, JCC Circle Editor Miriam Rinn

JCC Association receives support from the JFNA National Federation/Agency Alliance, local federations and Jewish Community Centers. ISSN 1065-1551

Design Peter Shevenell Jeremy Kortes Dan Hertzberg

Chair Alan P. Solow

Secretary Shirley Solomon

Honorary Chairs Edward H. Kaplan Ann P. Kaufman Jerome B. Makowsky Morton L. Mandel Lester Pollack Daniel Rose

Assoc. Secretaries Enid Rosenberg Michael Segal Michael Wolfe

Vice-Chairs Lisa Brill Donald Brodsky Cheryl Fishbein Gary Jacobs Virginia A. Maas Stephen R. Reiner Toby Rubin Stephen Seiden Paula Sidman

Assoc. Treasurers Stephen Dorsky Andrew Shaevel Doron Steger

Treasurer Edwin Goldberg

President Allan Finkelstein

Online Chris Strom


This time, there is no going back. It’s time for JCCs to rewrite the rules. If the economic downturn has taught us anything, it is that the growth we experienced in recent years took place under an unrealistic set of circumstances. We will not likely see a return to the funding patterns that sustained the institutions and services that we built. It’s time for new thinking; time to change the unwritten rules of engagement among Jewish institutions, and put our energy into developing the new strategic directions that will allow our JCCs to adapt and thrive in the future. For instance, today we see the need to reposition the JCC as a leadership institution in the community. The notion that certain institutions “own” particular areas of Jewish life is no longer functional, and hinders us from moving forward. Too often, the high cost of Jewish living forces young families to choose—the JCC or the synagogue, day school or resident camp. It’s time we find a way to make fully integrated memberships in the Jewish community available—and affordable. We need to rethink the way that Jewish communities operate in order not only to be more efficient, but also to provide service, affiliation, and educational models that are easily accessible to anyone seeking involvement. And perhaps most significantly, we see a strong need to put Jewish mission at the fore of the conversation. Too often over the past decade, mission has taken a back seat to business, and the pressures to keep it there are only growing. We must move Jewish mission back to the core of our strategic thinking. This is the only way for JCCs to maintain distinctiveness in the marketplace—and to fulfill our unique role as North America’s most welcoming Jewish space.




New thinking. You see it here in the new format and focus of our JCC Circle magazine. And you’ll be seeing it in everything we do over the coming months, in preparation for the JCC Movement’s forum for new ideas, the JCCs of North America Biennial, to be held in Atlanta, May 2-5, 2010. I urge you—as the leaders of the JCC Movement—to join the conversation and be a part of this new kind of thinking. Visit and submit your hot topic ideas for discussion at the Biennial. I look forward to seeing you in Atlanta, hearing your ideas, and having your input as we rewrite the rules. B’shalom,

Allan Finkelstein President | JCC Association



Q: what


A: the jcc



lives earns good

Money and

makes new

friends every day?

Sound like a big fish story? it’s not. the Lenny krayzelburg jcc swim academy aims to transform jcc pools from loss-leaders to revenue powerhouses and magnets for new members...and make a generation of kids water-safe in the process. By Peter Shevenell



aquatics renaissance The parent is bound to teach their children a craft. Some say, also to teach them to swim. —B. Talmud, Kiddushin 29a

Rebirth of the Pool When Olympic champ Lenny Krayzelburg approached Executive Director Brian Greene with a proposition to open a new swim school at the Westside JCC, Greene had nothing to lose. The JCCs of greater Los Angeles were restructuring, and Westside was partially shut down. The pool itself was closed, and Greene, anxious to open it up again, was receptive to any plan, especially one coming from the well-known, world-class swimmer who had spent his early years—after emigrating to America from Ukraine at age ten—swimming in the Westside JCC pool. But his expectations were modest. “When our pool had been open in earlier years, we used to have two or three hundred kids taking swimming lessons, and I thought to myself, ‘Boy, if we could get back to those glory days, that would be wonderful.’ And then Lenny presented us with a business plan that said he was going to have four or five hundred students within a year, and we all thought, hey, it’s great that he wants to be optimistic, but this is ridiculous! We figured if he achieved half of what he wanted to do, that would be great for us.” Within months, Lenny had 750 students taking lessons at Westside—each week. That was four years ago. The program’s success led to the pool being shut down again—this time for an expansion. Westside recently opened its new Harry & Jeannette Weinberg Aquatics Center, a $4.5 million, state-of-the-art swimming facility created through the generosity of major gifts from the Weinberg Foundation and others. The JCC now averages 1,250 students taking weekly swim lessons, with a peak of 1,400 in the summer months. Revenue coming to the JCC from the swim academy has grown accordingly. “It’s even more profitable now, especially with the new facility. It’s become a very key part of our operating revenue,” says Greene. “The Lenny K Swim Academy initialized the revitalization of our Center.”

Brighton Beach Memoir More than just a continent separates Los Angeles’ Westside JCC from the Shorefront YMYWHA in Brooklyn, New York. Shorefront serves the communities of Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach, home to a large concentration of immigrants from the former Soviet Union. Shorefront provides social services to this population, and works to integrate them into American society—in the settlement-house tradition of the first JCCs—while reconnecting them to their Jewish roots.

Within months, Lenny had 750 students taking lessons at the Westside JCC ...each week. 6

Shorefront also had a functioning—and busy— pool, when they decided to bring in the Lenny K JCC Swim Academy. “We already had swim instruction,” says Executive Director Sue Fox. “We had swim classes, junior swim team, senior swim team, and lap swimmers. We were already making money from our swim instruction.” So why make the change? “We were looking to strengthen our program to teach children swimming, and to reach out to

Hands-on training and low instructor-to-student ratios are key elements of the SwimRight method’s success. new families,” says Fox. “The Swim Academy really is bringing a great new resource here.” Shorefront pins its success on adapting to its neighborhood’s patterns of growth and initiating programming that is valuable for its members. Fox saw in the Lenny K Swim Academy an opportunity to reach out to the more affluent members of the community, those who were not drawn to the Y for social services. “Lenny Krayzelburg is a known name to everybody in the Russian Jewish world. He’s one of their heroes.” The program only opened mid-June, but Shorefont is already planning ways to expand its Lenny K swim programming, expanding it into summer camp and preschool programming.

Making New Friends: A Crossover Hit Not only has the Lenny Krayzelburg JCC Swim Academy rejuvenated Westside’s pool and brought a new standard of programming excellence to Shorefront, it’s also been responsible for a lot of crossover at both JCCs, as families attracted initially by the swim lessons discover and take part in other JCC offerings. “We are seeing cross-enrollment all the time,” says Greene. “Families coming in for a swim lesson hear about our preschool, and discover our teen program. Children who are taking swimming are also taking gymnastics classes, etc.” At Shorefront, Fox finds that new people drawn to the JCC for the first time because of the Swim Academy are getting involved in other family programming.

What’s the Secret? What’s so different about the Lenny K Swim Academy? How does it grow so quickly, bring new families to the pool, and on to other parts of the JCC? The answer lies in the SwimRight Method, the academy’s unique teaching curriculum. “We have a very precise teaching style,” Krayzelburg says. “We follow a clear progression, beginning with getting a child comfortable in the water, floating on their back, and getting a good sense of their surroundings in the water. We’re very hands-on—every instructor is required to be in the pool with the kids, and we have a four-to-one ratio of students to instructors, so kids get more individual attention.” As children learn, they progress through different levels that are broken down into individual skills. Parents are given a sticker book detailing the goals of each level of instruction, with every skill spelled out clearly. When children achieve a goal, they are given a sticker for the book.


aquatics renaissance themselves back to the side of the pool. “What makes these survival tests unique is that they’re done fully clothed. We want to stress the real-world situation, and give the child the natural instinct so they won’t panic should they ever find themselves in this situation,” Krayzelburg says. “They’ll know what to do.”

Positive feedback gives students confidence and a sense of accomplishment. “The instruction builds confidence from the moment their toes hit the water,” says Fox. Stickers motivate the children, serving as clear indicators to them—and to the family— of their accomplishments. Greene concurs, noting that children progress rapidly through the steps. They quickly become comfortable in the water, learn basic strokes, and become swimmers. “When children progress that quickly through the steps, they feel successful, and they’re excited to come back every week.”

The Bottom Line: Saving Lives With Krayzelburg’s career successes [see inset], he could be training the next generation of world champions, but instead he chose to return to his roots at the JCC and work with children and infants, the ultimate beginners. Why? “Every single child needs to learn to swim, and every parent has to address water safety for their child,” Krayzelburg says. “For me, coaching elite swimmers and Olympic hopefuls doesn’t bring the same satisfaction as being able to impact thousands of kids, and getting them first and foremost A Strategic Wonder water-safe. Teaching kids to swim When the JCC at Milken, in West Hills, is giving them a gift for life. It’s an CA, underwent a recent transformation, incredible feeling.” the JCC’s strategic plan “led us to the Lenny Krayzelburg JCC Swim Academy as a partner,” says Executitve Director Paul Frishman. The programming partnership with Lenny “helped us achieve all five of our strategic goals: offering quality programs, creating value for our membership, providing quality customer service, building and maintaining partnerships, and being fiscally efficient.” The JCC reopened in early fall with a redone swimming facility, upscale locker rooms, and new fitness center—and a quickly growing Lenny K swim program. “It’s a tremendously positive component of our JCC, and it’s an oustanding program for the community,” says Frishman.


According to the Centers for Disease Control, fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death for children ages 1 to 14 years, and accounts for fully 26 percent of deaths of children ages 1 to 4. Survival tests are part of the Lenny K curriculum. “We teach kids how to behave in the water in case of an emergency,” Krayzelburg says. “They develop the instinct to roll onto their back and float—that’s the first part of our survival test, and we’ve got a tenmonth-old who’s already doing it.” The second part of the survival test involves training the children to get

“It’s critically important,” says Fox. “We’re right here by the ocean, and always very concerned about drowning statistics. I know that because of what we do, parents will not have to go through that awful experience.”

Children are first taught water safety, starting as young as three months.

And parents appreciate it. Both JCCs report their best marketing tool for the Swim Academy is word of mouth. Parents see their kids happy and motivated to be swimming, and they tell their friends. “It’s better than anything else I’ve seen out there,” says Greene. “It’s a first-rate curriculum for swim instruction. Lenny’s name and background attract people to the program initially, but they stay because of the quality of the swim instruction. “It’s a great business venture, it’s created a great name for Westside in the community, but it’s also saving lives, and that’s the bottom line.” For more information on the Lenny Krayzelburg JCC Swim Academy, contact Steve Becker at (212) 786-5105, e-mail:, or visit

Who is Lenny K, anyway? Lenny Krayzelburg is a four-time Olympic gold medalist, and was the U.S. Olympic Team Captain in 2004. A dominant backstroker, at one point Lenny owned all six world records in the event. He won the 100m and 200m back at the 1998 World Championships, and is an 11-time US National Champion. Lenny was born in Odessa, Ukraine. His family faced discrimination as Jews, and in 1989 his parents decided to immigrate to the United States and settle in Los Angeles. He quickly found an aquatic home at the Westside JCC, where he trained with Steve Becker, now JCC Association’s director of heath and wellness services. As a teen, Lenny competed in the JCC Maccabi Games® in Detroit (1990) and Baltimore (1992). He became a U.S. citizen in 1995 and graduated with a business degree from USC in 1998. Following his dominating performance at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney, Lenny surprised many in the swimming world by forgoing the 2001 World Championships in order to participate in the 16th Maccabiah Games in Israel. At that time, Israel was plagued by violence related to the second intifada, and Lenny’s decision to attend helped rally a sizeable U.S. team, which in turn contributed to a hearty turnout of delegates from around the world. He carried in the flag for the United States at the opening ceremonies, and won gold in the 100-meter backstroke and the 4 x 100 m medley relay.


Discover a JCC:

14th Street Y of the educational alliance

an east village oasis

iPhone paintings by Jeremy Kortes JCC Association Senior Graphic Designer Jeremy Kortes recently visited the 14th Street Y of the Educational Alliance, which is located in Manhattan, on the edge of the East Village in a gentrifying area. He created these artworks in a brand-new medium—painting by fingertip on the iPhone! A painter, illustrator and musician, Jeremy used an app called Brushes to make these digital paintings.



Moms and toddlers at the 14th Street Y’s “2 x 2” preschool prep program

The JCC Movement is blessed with wonderful diversity. Jewish Community Centers come in all shapes and sizes. Some boast huge suburban campuses; others are ensconced in multi-story urban buildings; and a few don’t have their own spaces at all. Some JCCs focus on the arts while others emphasize services to the elderly. There are JCCs that are essentially preschools, and others that have a strong emphasis on fitness. All JCCs aim to serve their communities and welcome people in. Learn more about the 14th Street Y at Watch the creation of these innovative artworks at



Photographer: Robert A. Cumins, The 2009 Jewish Federations of North America Annual General Assembly

Now, write down this song and teach it to Israel.* —Deuteronomy 31:19

Who are these men and women?

By Fani Magnus Monson


They are your brother, your sister, your son, your daughter, your husband, your wife. They are part of our Jewish family, and they serve in the United States Armed Forces. And we, through JCC Association’s JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, make sure they and the more than 10,000 other Jewish members on active duty in the U.S. military have everything they need to stay connected Jewishly while they serve.

Noreen Gordon Sablotsy, chair of the JWB Services to Military Personnel Committee and the mother of an officer in the United States Navy, recently explained to the JCC Association board of directors that while Jewish military chaplains certified by JWB, and lay leaders trained by JWB lead services, conduct Seders, insure the availability of kosher food, provide ritual necessities and offer comfort to Jewish military personnel they are often lacking the most powerful, important and essential symbol of Jewish ritual life—a Torah scroll. “Chaplains in

* It is a mitzvah

for every Jew to write a Torah scroll. Writing even a single letter fulfills this mitzvah.


Photo: Robert A. Cumins The Jewish Federations of North America Annual General Assembly

Jewish members of the Air Force, Marines, Navy, and Army escort the unfinished Torah at the JFNA General Assembly.

the field and aboard ships need Torahs that can accompany them from site to site, as they move around the combat theater,” said Sablotsky, “so we are undertaking a new project to commission the writing of small, lightweight and fully kosher Sifrei Torah (Torah scrolls).”

“I’m proud to be American, and I’m proud to be Jewish. This is something that lets me be both at the same time.”

At the recent Jewish Federations of North America Annual General Assembly in Washington, DC, more than three thousand delegates stood together at the closing plenary as 21 Jewish American representatives of the United States Armed Forces reverently escorted a newly commissioned, as yet unfinished Torah to the stage. Chaplain Col. Brett Oxman explained that this and hopefully five additional small, portable Torahs will be carried by Jewish military chaplains as they travel to visit our Jewish troops. Many in the audience were moved to tears by the sight of these brave men and women. One delegate reacted, “I’m proud to be American, and I’m proud to be Jewish. This is something that lets me be both at the same time.”

“This is a project that unites the entire Jewish community,” added Oxman. RADM Harold Robinson, (Ret.), director of JWB said, “I know how powerful it will be for the American Jewish community to provide these Torahs to serve those who serve us. I only wish I had a Torah I could have carried with me when I was visiting the troops in Iraq.”

Torahs for our Troops is a project of JWB Jewish Chaplains Council, a service of JCC Association. To bring the Torah to your community to help us raise the funds to complete it, and others, or to find out more about the project, please contact Ziva Davidovich at or call her at (212) 786-5099. To donate, visit For more information, visit


And helping JWB provide more for our troops… David Everett, lawyer and retired U.S. Army Reserve colonel, recently spent five months in Afghanistan as a senior military advisor to the police chief of Kabul. “It’s my sense that the typical Afghan is most concerned with four things,” Everett said. “Putting food on the family’s table, putting clothes on their backs, having a roof over their heads, and security.” And whoever is able to provide those things best, Everett believes, will win the fight. Everett’s family has a long and proud military tradition. His father and three uncles all served in World War II. Each uncle was awarded a Purple Heart, a military decoration given to those who have been wounded or killed in battle. His mother’s brother, Fred Brenner, an Air Force B-24 navigator, was killed on a mission to Germany. Everett also has powerful and long-time connections to JCC Association. His father, Henry Everett z”l, served on the JCC Association Board of Directors for many years, and David serves on the JWB Committee on Services to Jewish Military Personnel. Everett’s parents, Henry and Edith Everett, co-founded the Everett Foundation in 1955. A generous grant from the foundation recently underwrote the publication of a new JWB Tanakh, the first full Jewish Bible published for the U.S. Armed Forces in many years. JWB, working with the Jewish Publication Society, published the new edition, specially sized to fit into combat uniform pockets; it is now being provided to all Jewish troops. Copies of the Christian Bible have been generally available for all recruits at boot camp, and now Jewish recruits have a Tanakh readily available at every initial training site. The Everett Foundation was a natural partner for JWB in making publication of the Tanakh possible: it is dedicated to the memory of Henry Everett, who died in 2004, and Fred Brenner. The senior Everett was a passionate lover of Jewish books, having served on the boards of, and supported, JPS and the National Jewish Book Council, in addition to JCC Association. All of these intertwined connections made it seem bashert (meant to be) that the Everett Foundation would support the new JWB Tanakh. But ultimately, says Everett, the impetus for providing the grant was his personal understanding of how comforting it can be to have a Tanakh when serving in a combat zone. “It’s all about the Jewish men and women whose lives will be touched in such profound ways by having this Tanakh while they are serving our country, so far away from home and in harm’s way.”

COL David F. Everett, inspecting checkpoints in Kabul, makes new friends with neighborhood kids

Everett was in Afghanistan when two Jewish service members from his base were killed this past spring. Speaking of his lost colleagues, Air Force 1LT Roslyn Schulte and Shawn Pine, a civilian contractor who was also a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve, Everett said, “They were very highly regarded by their colleagues in the U.S. and coalition forces, as well as by the Afghans. It was very important to me that the memorial service which our command held for them included a Jewish chaplain.”


JCCs of North America

FOCUS ON: Philanthropy

Mort Mandel: Giving Gives Meaning to Life Philanthropist extraordinaire Mort Mandel grew up in a home where helping others was a given. Even though his family didn’t have a great deal of money, there was always enough to share with someone in need. “Someone needed to have her refrigerator fixed,” Mandel recalled, “and my mother [gave her the money and] said, ‘Someday you’ll do me a favor.’ She never made a loan.” Mandel and his brothers took their mother’s example to heart. As soon as they started making more than they needed in their auto-parts business, they formed a foundation. “We gave back really two ways,” Mandel said. In addition to financial donations, “we’ve given of ourselves. We’ve taken volunteer assignments since we’re young adults. Our involvement in the larger community has added a lot of meaning to our lives. Giving back has been one of the most important reasons that I feel comfortable with myself. I do it because that’s how I define myself.” Mandel is a former chair of JCC Association and the impetus behind the Mandel Center for Jewish Education and the Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership and Management, with each Center receiving an annual grant of $500,000. Mandel refers to these as “evergreen grants”— enabling the two centers to know that their funding is ongoing, so they can plan ahead to have maximum impact.

“Giving back has been one of the most important reasons that I feel comfortable with myself. I do it because that’s how I define myself.”

MCELM was formed to ensure that the JCC Movement develops the highly qualified lay and professional leaders it needs to guide complex institutions such as JCCs. Through its Benchmarking Project and other services, the Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership and Management has become the go-to place for JCCs wanting to be the best they can be.

The Mandel Center for Jewish Education’s mission is to infuse Jewish learning into JCCs and camps. Through camp curriculum such as TAG: Jewish Values through JCC Camping®, thousands of Jewish children absorb Jewish values during their camp experience. Other foundations see the value of the mission, funding Mandel Center programs such as The AVI CHAI Foundation-funded Lekhu Lakhem: Jewish Educational Journeys for JCC Resident Camp Directors, which transforms camp directors into Jewish educators. Another AVI CHAI initiative, Chizuk, brings Jewish educators to resident camps. The Goodman Family Institute-Yisrael Sheli, provides intense Israel education to highschool-age resident campers.

The AVI CHAI Foundation awards a new grant to the Mandel Center for Jewish Education A grant of $175,000 has just been awarded to the Mandel Center for Jewish Education to implement a new cohort of the Lekhu Lakhem alumni program called Netivim. In awarding the grant, Yossi Prager, executive director of AVI CHAI North America, said, “AVI CHAI is delighted to be the Center’s partner in this program, which has demonstrated its success in strengthening the Judaic programming at participating JCC overnight summer camps.” Since its inception, directors and assistant directors from 18 of the 26 JCC Movement-affiliated resident camps have participated in Lekhu Lakhem. “With this new grant,” says Dr. David Ackerman, director of the Mandel Center for Jewish Education, “we are seeing these directors continuing into their fourth or fifth year of ongoing Jewish learning and leadership. It’s having an enormous impact on Jewish life and learning in our camps.”

By establishing and continuing to fund the two JCC Association Mandel Centers, our foundation is accomplishing two of our most important goals... We are seeing a great return on our investment. — Philanthropist Mort Mandel

Mandel believes that Jewish Community Centers are integral to Jewish life in North America. “I’ve stayed with JCC Association longer than I’ve stayed with any other organization” he said. “I’m also involved with the JCCs in Cleveland and Palm Beach. By establishing and continuing to fund the two JCC Association Mandel Centers, our foundation is accomplishing two of our most important goals: strengthening the quality of leadership in the JCC Movement and strengthening Jewish identities throughout the Jewish community. We are seeing a great return on our investment.”



Say Hello to the New Kid on the Block Meet Jerry Silverman, the new face of Jewish Federations of North America by Miriam Rinn Jerry Silverman has been on the job as CEO of the newly named Jewish Federations of North America for just a few months, but the expectations surrounding him have already ballooned to gigantic proportions. The Forward named him one of the 50 most influential Jewish leaders, adding that he enters his new job “amid messianic expectations.” Silverman comes to JFNA (formerly United Jewish Communities or UJC) from a hyper-successful stint as the director of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. There he greatly enhanced the agency’s profile as well as its annual budget. Now, many Jewish communal leaders are watching to see what Silverman can do for the JFNA, which has struggled to maintain its relevancy with local federations since the 1999 merger of three central agencies. The former for-profit marketer Silverman sees that struggle as an opening. “The biggest opportunity is to begin to focus our organization on areas that will really add value to the local federations,” he said, acknowledging that there are doubts. While some JFNA services are highly regarded, others are not as appreciated. “I think it’s mixed,” Silverman said. “Our public policy office in D.C., people feel very confident with. There are other areas where there are questions.”

Silverman is convinced that a central federation agency can add value in several ways. For instance, in financial resource development. “We don’t raise money,” he said, “but we can add value to the local federations in their fundraising.” A national entity can create affinity groups, can help to build community foundations, can collect and share best practices. JFNA is “creating a powerhouse cohort of women across the nation,” he said, “and the same with the young leadership cabinet.” Recruiting and mentoring great talent is the mission of the JFNA’s Mandel Center for Leadership Excellence, and Silverman wants to ramp up that service. Silverman grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, not usually considered a seedbed of Jewish communal influence. But it was a traditional home, grounded in Jewish learning. His father is a cantor and a rabbi, and his mother is descended from rabbis. For 25 years, Silverman worked in the clothing industry, first for Levi Strauss, and then at Stride Rite. Moved by his daughter’s wonderful experience at a Jewish resident camp, Silverman decided to switch to the nonprofit sector when he took over leadership of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. Now, he laughs at the idea that he may have traded agile and rapid decision making for the deeper emotional satisfaction of working in the Jewish community. “I don’t think that the for-profit world has a quicker pace,” he said. Silverman’s inspiring experience with Jewish and JCC resident and day camps reinforces his belief in the ability of JFNA to engage the next generation of givers, something it must do if it’s going to reverse its shrinking donor base. There are programs in the Jewish community that already are making a difference, he said, citing camps and Taglit Birthright-Israel. Both of these avenues are open to a diverse range of Jews—different backgrounds, races, family definition—which mirrors the Jewish community of the future. A JFNA service-learning pilot had 600 young adults come to New Orleans to do hands-on volunteer work. “Young people don’t want structure and systems. They’re cause oriented. They’re interested in moving with agility on an issue. We have to insure that there is breathing space for them,” Silverman said. “You’re going to see more portals of entry that will allow young people to feel empowered” at JFNA. Through the Jewish Agency, Israel continues to be the beneficiary of a large percentage of federation funds, and Silverman doesn’t see that changing. He points out that despite its economic success Israel still devotes a huge part of its budget to defense, and that a “surprising number of families live under the poverty line.” But just as much as Israel needs the contributions of American Jews, Diaspora Jews need to support Israel. The benefits go both ways. “We’re living a miracle for the last 61 years,” Silverman said, and every federation needs to feel a part of that miracle. “I think contributing dollars is an essential part of that connection.” “I have a lot to learn,” Silverman said, when asked about the relationship between federations and JCCs. “One of the great things is that I have a prior relationship with Allan Finkelstein. We are committed to coming up with a shared vision that hopefully we can model and share with communities.” Silverman will address JCC executive directors at the Executive Seminars in Washington, DC in January, and he’s one of the speakers at the JCCs of North America Biennial in Atlanta in May. He will no doubt have thought more about JCCs and their local federations by that time. JCC leaders’ hopes are as high as everyone else’s.



Catch up with Jerry Silverman at the JCCs of North America Biennial 2010 in Atlanta! Register now at and take advantage of early bird pricing.

JCC Boards & Governance


matters: What every new board member should know...

I’ve just been selected to serve on the board of directors of my JCC. What am I supposed to do besides show up at meetings?

By Ann F. Eisen JCC Association Vice-President, Community Services and Consultant on Leadership Development

leadership First, congratulations! You’ve accepted a position that should provide exciting challenges and serious responsibilities. You’ve agreed to lead, support, and oversee a critically important institution in your community. These three aspects of the job—strategic leadership, communal and financial support, and oversight of mission implementation—can get confusing, and sometimes even contradict one another. But successful nonprofit boards fulfill those roles, and do it well.


What does it mean to lead strategically? How do I go about doing that? As a member of the board, you will be involved in deciding on and planning the JCC’s strategic vision, or where the JCC wants to end up in, say, five years. Maybe your board decides that the JCC should strive to be the wellness center of your community. Encouraging people to become healthy and giving them ways to improve their physical, emotional, and spiritual health is what your JCC is all about. Such a vision expresses the JCC’s commitment to bettering its community. Does that mean that the board will choose the wellness director or plan the schedule of nutrition lectures? No, that is not the role of board members. Your role is to establish an overall direction and then leave it to the JCC staff to make it happen. This is one of the most important distinctions for board members to appreciate: you are on the board to lead, not to manage. The JCC’s executive director is the person responsible for implementing the policies that the board sets. But it’s critical that the board and executive director work closely and in tandem. Even though there’s a natural pull and tug between the two, your JCC depends on the successful partnership of board and exec.


Okay, I get that. Now, how do I provide support? I understand my responsibility to help the JCC raise money, but what other kinds of support should I provide? Board members do indeed have an obligation to support the JCC financially by making personal gifts and by soliciting gifts from others. But you also need to share the benefits of the JCC with your community. Tell people what a great institution the JCC is and all about the strategic vision that you helped to form. Make yourself available to community organizations or to members when they need information about what the JCC does. Share your excitement and enthusiasm. Support the JCC’s programs by showing up. Be an ambassador. Another way to support the JCC is with your knowledge and expertise. Whether you’re an accountant or an electrician, an architect or a music teacher, you can volunteer your professional know-how to make the JCC a more successful organization.


So that leaves oversight, which sounds serious. What does that entail? You’re right, oversight is an increasingly important aspect of board membership, especially in light of the widely publicized examples of the failure of board oversight in the past few years. In response to that failure, Congress, the courts, and leaders in the nonprofit world have urged boards to improve transparency and accountability.


JCC boards need to establish conflict-of-interest and whistleblower policies, and they must be careful to do due diligence and follow up on problems. Sometimes, board members feel that their oversight responsibilities run counter to their role as the JCC’s ambassadors, and since the latter is more fun, they spend more time promoting the JCC than poring over audit reports. Remember that as a board member you’ll feel better praising an institution that you know is operating judiciously and effectively. People naturally respect a board that is known for providing strong oversight, and that respect translates into influence and prestige. It may even have a positive effect on fundraising. Donors feel more comfortable contributing to agencies with engaged and responsible boards of directors.

I see that there’s a lot involved in being a board member. I think I need some preparation. Where can I find help?


You’ll be glad to hear that we have just completed a revision of the JCC Association Manual for JCC Board Members, which is filled with information that will help you be a more effective board member. We also publish other manuals and reports about fundraising and governance, which you can find on JCC Resources. Each JCC has a designated JCC Association community consultant who is available to answer questions or to do board training. The 2010 JCCs of North America Biennial in Atlanta provides numerous opportunities to learn the latest ideas about governance and the chance to meet board members from other JCCs. You can contact me at to schedule a governance training or evaluation. You should also find a mentor on your board—someone who has served for a while. Many boards have formal mentoring or orientation programs for new board members. But even if your board doesn’t, search out an experienced board member to talk with about your role.



• contact Ann Eisen at (504) 866-5090, or via e-mail: • Find a mentor on your board • Read the Manual for JCC Board Members, available from JCC Association at • Attend the JCCs of North America Biennial 2010. Register at


This year is different. Should you attend Biennial 2010?

Take this quick quiz:

JCCs are facing challenges like never before. We recognize the problems you’re confronting, and we are re-tooling the JCCs of North America Biennial Convention to focus on strategies for dealing with the future head-on. Biennial 2010 will inspire you to imagine new possibilities—and then show you how to achieve them. In this environment, it is critical that we collaborate, share ideas, and re-envision the future of our JCCs.

Yes No 1. Are you conc erned about how your JCC will fare in this e conomy? 2. Are you look ing for ways to b ecome a more effective le ader? 3. Do you have a responsibility to improve your JCC? 4. Do you hate th e phrase “becau se that’s the way it’s alwa ys been done”? 5. Do you consid er yourself a life long learner? 6. Do you enjoy being surrounde d by other bright and curio us Jewish leaders with a thirst for know ledge and a pass ion for sharing ideas?

The Biennial is the only place where all JCC leaders—including presidents, executive directors, board members, advanced leaders, Next Generation leaders, and community leaders—can get together to learn from one another. At Biennial 2010, every seminar will be designed and executed to deliver the tools you need to move forward in this difficult economic climate. The Biennial will deliver actionable insights for you to apply immediately to your JCC and your staff team. You can’t afford to miss this opportunity. If you do one thing all year for your JCC, it should be to attend Biennial 2010. And bring your fellow leaders with you, to gather a wealth of costsaving and revenue-generating ideas to strengthen your JCC today.

Speakers include:

Bernie Marcus

Arthur Blank

Reynold Levy

Jerry Silverman

Co-founder, The Home Depot

Co-founder, The Home Depot

President, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts

CEO, Jewish Federations of North America

• Understand how the economy is impacting the whole JCC Movement and how you can achieve success in your community. • Gather actionable ideas and practical tools to improve your JCC. • Learn from experts about issues and challenges facing your JCC. • Develop your leadership and management skills; work with your delegation to determine ways to enhance the functioning of your board.

If you answered yes to any of these questions, then Biennial 2010 in Atlanta is the place for you.

• Gain valuable information about operations, programming and technology. • Energize your leadership and build relationships among your delegation.

act now for Early bird registration rates! through January 15, 2010 at 26

atlanta MAY 2–5 27

beyond the battle of the

bulge Dieting and workouts are no longer the whole story of healthy living, and JCCs are perfectly suited to take center stage in today’s more holistic concept of wellness. Americans are becoming less healthy every year. According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, 12 percent of the population suffers limitations on activity because of chronic health problems, and 32 percent of people over 20 years old have hypertension. Two-thirds of the population is now considered overweight. Our life expectancy at birth (how long a baby can expect to live) lags behind Japan, the U.K., Germany, Switzerland, and 43 other countries. How did we get here? By Miriam Rinn



living well Looking for a way to get people active Every strip mall boasts a gym and thousands of weight-loss books are stacked on bookstore tables, yet Americans are fatter, less fit, and unhealthier than ever. According to JCC Association Health and Wellness Services Director Steven Becker, the fitness-center model of exercising three times a week has not worked for the majority of the population. Most fitness clubs are competing for the approximately fifteen percent of already-motivated adults instead of trying to engage the other eighty-five percent. “The hard-body advertising strategy has done more to turn off prospective members than to attract them,” Becker said. “In fact, at the current rate, this will be the first generation that will not live longer than their parents. We’re looking for a way to get people active,” walking or biking rather than driving, eating healthier foods, and doing stress-relieving activities such as yoga and meditation.

Baby boomers are concerned about maintaining good quality of life. They remember their parents’ later years, and they don’t want to repeat that experience.

“People want balance. We’ve become the instant gratification society,” said Ronald Katz, the JCC Association board member chairing a task force on fitness/wellness services at JCCs. While the goal of the task force is to provide JCCs with recommendations and guidelines regarding wellness programs, it is first surveying what JCCs mean by wellness, since there are different definitions. One definition is that wellness is the science and art of helping people change their lifestyle to move toward a state of optimal health. “It’s not a diet, it’s a way of life,” Katz said. “We have to take care of ourselves. I think people want to do that.”

Helping people set attainable goals Risa Olinsky, the lifestyle and wellness director at the JCC MetroWest in West Orange, New Jersey, agrees. “A wellness program is not just moving your body on a machine or what you eat. Wellness is the umbrella that takes in all the pieces of how your life works.” Olinsky started her fitness career in the 1970s as an aerobics instructor. She recalled the routine then—bounce, bounce, stretch, on concrete floors—laughing at how foolish and dangerous that seems now. Science has learned much more about how the adult body works and the effects of aging on that body, according to Olinsky. She plans to develop a wellness coaching program at the JCC, which will work in conjunction with the registered dietician at the facility.

that baby boomers are concerned about maintaining good quality of life. They remember their parents’ later years, and they don’t want to repeat that experience. “They tell me, ‘I want to be able to lift my grandchildren, I want to go on an active vacation,’” Olinsky said.

Partnering with local health professionals At the Peninsula JCC in Foster City, California, a partnership with Kaiser Permanente Redwood City Medical Center is providing local residents with health education and preventative healthcare resources for free. “It’s been a very rewarding collaboration,” said the PJCC’s Associate Executive Director Jane Post. “It is helping the JCC fulfill one of our guiding principles, Shleimut, which means wholeness of body and spirit.” People have been showing up in significant numbers for nutrition lectures and other Kaiser preventative health programs. A recent Family Fitness Day, co-sponsored by the PJCC and Kaiser Permanente, drew over 1,300 visitors, the largest event the JCC has ever had.

Connecting people keeps them healthier This fall, the JCC rolled out Kaiser Permanente’s walking program, 10,000 Steps® to members and staff. “This is a fun way to get our community involved in wellness,” Post said, “and because we organize them into walking groups, it should also enhance social connections.” Research suggests that people enmeshed in social networks lead healthier—and longer—lives. Isolation and loneliness is a variable comparable to high blood pressure or smoking when

Wellness is “not a diet, it’s a way of life.”

Done mostly on the phone, wellness coaching helps people set pragmatic and attainable goals. Someone may decide to take the stairs rather than an escalator, or to walk on a treadmill for 30 minutes three times a week. “One of the simplest exercises is to learn how to breathe.” Olinsky believes



living well it comes to health, some research has shown. According to DeAnn Jacobson, group fitness director at the Marcus JCC of Atlanta, their Les Mills group classes and the Silver Sneakers program encourages healthful socializing. “Someone notices if they’re not there,” she said, and an exercise instructor may call to find out why. Especially for older people, a scheduled exercise class gives them a reason to leave the house.

Tackling youth obesity The Shaw JCC in Akron, Ohio is also partnering with medical facilities in their community. The JCC runs a children’s health program called Future Fitness with Akron Children’s Hospital. “They refer obese children to our facility, and we work with them on making physical activity part of everyday life,” said Stephanie Davis, the JCC’s health and wellness director. Using games such as relay races and obstacle courses, along with swimming, the program encourages overweight children to become active without the danger of embarrassment. The kids meet with a dietician to learn about healthful eating as well. They’re all in it together, Davis pointed out, so they’re more willing to try things. Parents pay $15 a month, but the program is underwritten by a grant to the hospital from Kohl’s Community Youth Fitness. “We’ve had children lose weight. We’ve had children develop social skills,” said Davis, but the best thing



How to make your JCC the go-to place for wellness in your community

ask an expert Contact Steve Becker, JCC Association director of health and wellness services: e-mail Work on your ‘definition’ Develop a definition for wellness—and wellness programming— for your JCC

A Family Fitness Day at the Peninsula JCC drew over 1,300 visitors, the largest event the JCC has ever had.

to come out of the program, she believes, is the bond that the kids form with the instructors. The children felt comfortable enough to teach the instructors some of the latest dance moves, something they would never do at school, Davis said. Because JCCs are full-service facilities with activities for all ages, they are perfectly positioned to encourage healthful living. JCCs have always responded to their community’s changing needs. And a healthy community is part of the JCC’s mission. As Katz puts it, “As a community center, we’re about bettering the community.”

break out of the fitness box Offer big-picture wellness education: cooking classes, stress management, smoking cessation, life coaching, et al track encourage the good ones Evaluate facility/program usage by new health & fitness members within first 30-60 days of membership Partner up Look for other organizations interested in providing wellness to your community and work together to offer value to your members and users


Where the world finds your JCC. is the new online source for potential members and users to learn about JCCs — and find the one nearest them. Packed with information on services and programs that local JCCs offer, this site was created by JCC Association to help the world discover the JCC Difference.

Whatever the size of your pond, plan on joining the school in Atlanta next May for four days of ideas, learning, and the tools your JCC needs.

in 2010, the big fish will gather at the Biennial, the JCC Movement’s essential leadership forum.

Calling all big fish.

Address service Requested

520 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018

Jewish Community Centers Association of North America


Downtown Atlanta hosts the world’s largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium.


Circle Fall 2009  
Circle Fall 2009  

JCC Circle Fall 2009