jcc circle The Magazine of the North American Jewish Community Center Movement
spring 2009 5769 chct www.jcca.org
A Deeper Shade of Green: JCC Expands Environmental Awareness Also: Teens Wake Up to the World Jewish Military Wife Writes Book JCC Maccabi ArtsFest Photographer Helps Young Artists See
A Deeper Shade of Green
4 Eyes Wide Open
8 Teens Lead the Way 11 JCC Association Services: Special Pullout Section
15 My Jewish Journey 16 A Community of Writers 18 Corporate Sponsorships
19 JCC Happenings 25 Enid Rosenberg: Making Connections Is Her Goal
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
Kades Financial, Inc.
Club Resource Group
Landscape Structures www.playlsi.com
The Ostroff Group
Les Mills North America, Inc.
Matrix Fitness Systems
The Redwoods Group
Staples Business Advantage
Network Services Company
Sterling & Sterling, Inc.
The Coca-Cola Company速 www.cocacola.com
Cybex International www.cybexintl.com
First Data Services www.firstdata.com
www.matrixfitness.com www.micro-steps.com www.mondousa.com www.nsconline.com
www.octanefitness.com www.ostroffgroup.com www.precor.com www.redwoodsgroup.com www.StaplesLink.com www.startrac.com www.sterlingrisk.com www.technogym.com
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: FaniMM@jcca.org
Chair Alan P. Solow Honorary Chairs Edward H. Kaplan Ann P. Kaufman Jerome B. Makowsky Morton L. Mandel Lester Pollack Daniel Rose
he economic challenges facing our country confront local Jewish Community Centers throughout the continent, as well as JCC Association itself. The Jewish philanthropic world has been damaged by the general reduction in wealth due to the decline in the equity and housing markets as well as the impact of well-publicized financial frauds. At the same time that Federation campaigns are reported to be down, more of our fellow citizens need assistance from our communal institutions.
Vice-Chairs Lisa Brill Donald Brodsky Cheryl Fishbein Gary Jacobs Virginia A. Maas Stephen R. Reiner Toby Rubin Stephen Seiden Paula Sidman
Ironically, it is just at such times that we must insure that every family looking to its JCC for service will find a welcoming and embracing environment. Reports tell us that members are looking toward their Jewish communal home for exercise and learning experiences because they enjoy the cost effectiveness and camaraderie they find at the JCC. They are looking for the comfort of community during these tough times. So while we are strapped for cash, we all must deliver more.
Secretary Shirley Solomon
At JCC Association, we have reduced our operating costs, but we have made certain that the services we provide to our constituent JCCs and camps remain as strong as ever. That means that we continue to supply and support curriculum in areas from early childhood education to camping, that we are developing innovative initiatives for adults, that our consulting services in wellness, management, and Judaic education remain the envy of others, and that our Jewish personnel in the armed services are cared for by our chaplains. We have done so while maintaining our traditional dues structure, and we are grateful for the support of our members.
Treasurer Edwin Goldberg
Local JCCs and camps are doing their best to provide more with less. We will remain dedicated to adding value to Jewish life. We are not out of the woods yet; difficult times, and perhaps hard choices, lie ahead. As we all move forward, let us resolve to make those choices based on the Jewish values that are central to the Jewish people’s ability to adapt, and not only survive, but prosper, through the centuries.
Communications Manager, JCC Circle Editor Miriam Rinn
Assoc. Secretaries Enid Rosenberg Michael Segal Michael Wolfe
Assoc. Treasurers Stephen Dorsky Andrew Shaevel Doron Steger President Allan Finkelstein
Sr. Vice-President, Marketing & Communications Robin Ballin Creative Director Peter Shevenell
Design Jeremy Kortes Dan Hertzberg
Alan P. Solow Chair, JCC Association
For address correction or Information about JCC Circle contact email@example.com or call Alina at (212) 786-5096. ©2009 Jewish Community Centers Association of North America. All rights reserved.
WE WANT YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS! JCC Circle is spring cleaning, and our e-mail list needs some attention. Please take a moment and send your current contact information to Alina at firstname.lastname@example.org, subject line: JCC Circle. Todah Raba!
520 Eighth Avenue | New York, NY 10018 Phone: 212-532-4949 | Fax: 212-481-4174 | e-mail: email@example.com | web: www.jcca.org 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
A Deeper Shade of Green by Karen Kohn “We often think about saving energy by driving energy-efficient cars, but the energy used in buildings exceeds the energy used to operate cars by about three to four times.” So says Seth Penchansky, vice-president of the board of the JCC of Washtenaw County in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and a member of the Facilities Committee for the last five years. Penchansky should know: The JCC is embarking on an effort to go as green as possible, and their green initiative is much more than just recycling paper or turning down the thermostats at night. As a principal of Penchansky Whisler Architects, a firm that specializes in sustainable architecture, Penchansky oversaw the design and installation of several recent building renovations, which include stateof-the-art green technologies that are making the JCC more environmentally friendly than ever before.
without replacing the entire area. Some of the carpet tiles are held in place with friction to avoid any possible harmful fumes from glue. New insulation was added in the lounge where drywall was used so the heating and cooling system doesn’t have to work as hard. Walls were painted with low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint, which reduces the risk of respiratory and other illnesses caused by more toxic paint. Shatter-proof, insulated windows were installed in the new conference room. These new windows also will be installed across the front of the building thanks to a Federal Homeland Security Grant. Besides the obvious benefit of added safety, the windows offer increased energy-efficiency. Insulated glazing and tinted glass reflect the sun’s heat outward during warmer weather and keep heat inside when it’s cold out.
Heating/Cooling System Uses Less Energy The most ambitious of the JCC’s green initiatives, however, is the installation of geothermal heating and cooling in the overhaul of the Maas Lounge. Unlike conventional heating and cooling systems, geothermal heating technology uses absolutely no fuel to operate. Instead, geothermal systems send coolant through piping buried underground to extract the heat that
Green Building Materials Lower Environmental Impact
Energy-efficient building design is not a new concept for the JCC. Four years ago, the gym was renovated and featured the first energy-efficient rooftop heating and air-conditioning unit with fresh air exchanges to reduce carbon-dioxide levels in the room. In a project completed last fall, the JCC went even further to create a greener and more efficient facility. The renovation included the latest innovations in energy-efficient lighting. In the Maas Lounge, 21 fixtures with four lamps each were replaced by eight fixtures with three lamps each, which also use lower-wattage bulbs. The result was a lighting system that uses just one quarter of the energy previously required. The conference room features the new lighting, as well. Maas Lounge floors were replaced with more sustainable and longer-lasting building materials, such as Marmoleum, a natural linoleum flooring made from linseed oil. In areas where carpeting was needed, carpet tiles made from some recycled nylon were used so that small sections can be swapped if needed 2 jcc circle
exists there naturally. A minimal amount of electricity is used to operate a compressor, pump and fan. The Earth maintains relatively constant temperatures. In southern Michigan, the ground is between 55 and 57 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. By cycling 30-degree coolant through 55 degree earth, for example, the system can increase the temperature of the coolant, which raises the temperature of the air in the room. In the winter, a geothermal system draws heat from the Earth to warm a room. In the summer, it extracts heat from a room and sends it back underground for storage. Since earth is much denser than air, it can change the temperature of the coolant (and in turn, the room) much more efficiently than an air-to-air system. The new heating system also works in conjunction with an energy recovery ventilator, which draws in fresh air from a vent in the roof. The unit runs only when a carbon dioxide (CO2) sensor indicates fresh air is needed, and it recovers 70 percent of the energy that would otherwise be lost by conventional air circulation systems, enabling the heating and cooling system to run more efficiently. While geothermal technology may sound like science fiction, it actually works well and is very cost-effective. There may be a higher initial cost upon installation, but the system can pay for itself within five years in recouped energy costs. Geothermal heating is twice as efficient as standard equipment, has twice the life span, and requires less maintenance. According to Penchansky, it just makes good business sense. “The best things we can do to conserve energy are to use new light bulbs, install better insulation, and improve heating and cooling in homes and offices,” says Penchansky.
We Make It Easy to Save Money and Save Energy We know that JCCs are trying to save money in every possible way. So we set out to find a way for our affiliated JCCs to reduce the cost of electricity, develop a new revenue stream, and become more environmentally aware and energy efficient. It took a lot of time to find the right company, but we’re proud to announce that we have selected EnerNOC, a leading provider of energy solutions, as our recommended provider for energy curtailment and management. When the electric grid is congested, EnerNOC calls upon its network to reduce its electricity usage according to a pre-determined plan. This is called “demand response.” Lowering demand for electricity helps reduce the risk of brown-outs and black-outs and alleviates the need to build new peaking power plants. With EnerNOC, JCCs will receive the most bottom-line value from demand response, together with cost-savings opportunities. EnerNOC makes participation in demand response easy, as they manage the process and absorb all the risk. Your JCC’s curtailment strategy will be customized for your agency, and EnerNOC’s operations team works to get your site(s) enabled and ready for an energy emergency quickly. They provide world-class support, help you identify and implement a host of sustainable savings opportunities, and best of all, there is no charge for their services. In fact, EneNOC will pay you to participate. EnerNOC rewards the sites in its network, like the JCC, with year-round payments just for being on ready to reduce electricity consumption in the event of a grid emergency. Sites also receive additional payments if and when they’re called into action, creating two new potential revenue streams. Revenue potential varies by region and how much energy a site is able to reduce, but in major metropolitan areas, it can reach $35,000 or more. Not only do JCC facilities get paid directly from EnerNOC for their efforts, they also save on monthly electricity bills.
JCC Plans Future Building Improvements
EnerNOC representatives will customize a plan specific to each facility’s needs after an energy audit of your JCC, which it will conduct at no cost to you.
The JCC intends to upgrade the building further in the coming years, including replacing the JCC’s 23-year-old roof and installing thicker insulation in the new roof. Eventually, the JCC must replace the 40 year-old boiler that heats the main part of the original building. “When the boiler expires, we’d consider using geothermal heating again in the future,” says Executive Director Leslie Bash. The geothermal heating system in the Maas Lounge serves as a pilot project for that possibility. The project would be a large investment, but some of it could be financed by energy savings. Now, that’s efficient.
EnerNOC was founded in 2001 and is publicly traded on NASDAQ. It is licensed in every U.S. state and Canadian province that allows these services. In addition to energy curtailment, in some markets it is also licensed to help you find cheaper power sources than your current electric company, given the power of its group buying ability. To find our how EnerNOC can work for you, contact firstname.lastname@example.org—subject line “JCC Inquiry” or to sign up for the program, visit www.enernoc.com/get-started.
Karen Kohn is a freelance writer based in Michigan. www.jcca.org
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Eyes Wide Open: Showing Teens a New Perspective at JCC Maccabi ArtsFest® by Miriam Rinn
Television. Movies. Video games. Teenagers have been immersed in manufactured images their entire lives. “It’s part of the air they breathe,” says photographer Lloyd Wolf, so when it comes to making photographic images, he finds they can do really good work at a relatively young age.
lthough Wolf believes that photography has always been a manipulative art, the advent of digital photography has destroyed the idea of photographs being a literal reflection of reality. “Most of the students are computer savvy,” he says, and they understand how Photoshop works. “They get it pretty fast.”
between the generations, they went to a senior center and a camp. The young photographers interacted with the older people, and they were able to deal with the technical challenges of young children in constant motion. The workshop’s theme was d’or va d’or, generation to generation, another reason to include subjects of different ages.
As the photography artist-in-residence at last year’s JCC Maccabi ArtsFest®, Wolf led 31 teens through an intensive photo-making experience. “I’ve taught on and off my whole career,” says Wolf, and he found the ArtsFest teens among the best groups he’s ever worked with. Lloyd brought the teens to what he describes as visually rich areas—and sent them out to take pictures on the street. “We went into areas that were funky but not scary,” Wolf says, and the teens ventured out in groups of two and three to take pictures of whatever captured their attention. The photos varied tremendously: some teens took pictures of people, some took landscape shots, some focused on abstract designs. Chuckling, Wolf mentions that many teens photographed public pay phones. “They think they’re antiques,” he says, like Model T Fords.
Wolf has been a photographer since college, and his work has appeared in Vogue, the Washington Post Magazine, National Geographic Explorer, the U.S. Holocaust Museum, and numerous other outlets. He started teaching in the public schools in the early 1970s. He has worked with homeless kids and immigrant students, as well as college students. “You learn from teaching, and you get energy from teaching,” Lloyd says. Lloyd also does general commercial photography as well as more creative projects. He’s currently part of a group working on a documentary about an area in Arlington, Virginia called Columbia Pike. “It’s the most diverse area in the country, perhaps outside of Queens,” he says. He’s also taking photographs of street shrines, those spontaneous memorials to murdered children or automobile accidents one sees along roadsides and against buildings. In addition to a book on Jerusalem and an ongoing series on klezmer musicians, Lloyd is developing an investigation of Jewish time called Circles within Circles. His work can be seen at www.lloydwolf.com.
According to Lloyd, “You can’t play an instrument by just talking about it, and the same is true of a camera.” He put the teens in places where there was a lot to photograph. Because he wants to break down barriers
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A formal exhibition of JCC Maccabi ArtsFest photographs, “Eyes Wide Open,” traveled to JCCs in New Orleans, Minneapolis, and Houston in 2009. A selection of photographs from the show are available through JCC Association’s online store: go to www.jcca.org/eyeswideopen.
At ArtsFest, the teens presented their work in different ways. “I wanted them to have as close an experience to an exhibition as they could. We made beautiful prints with white borders,” Lloyd explains. They also projected their work over a jazz piece created by the instrumental jazz group at ArtsFest. “It went over well,” Lloyd says. “They were very pumped and felt very proud.” Lloyd will mentor another photography workshop in New Orleans for the 2009 ArtsFest, and he’s already excited by the potential. “It’s going to be overwhelming. There’s just so much to see.”
“The greatest Jewish teen program in America for the creative crowd“ — Mattan Klein, jazz ensemble artist-in-residence
New Orleans JCC August 2-7, 2009
Merage JCC of Orange County, CA August 9 - 14, 2009
REGISTRATION NOW OPEN! www.jccmacreg.org jcc circle 5
Standing by A Jewish Navy Wife Tells Her Story
Ethan and Esther run to greet their father.
by Miriam Rinn
ometimes, it takes one lucky break. Alison Buckholtz became an overnight sensation after having been a professional writer for eleven years when her essay about a cardboard cutout of her husband appeared in The New York Times “Modern Love” column. “Flat Daddy,” as the cutout was called, was her attempt to console her young son Ethan when her husband, Commander Scott Buckholtz, a U.S. Navy pilot, was deployed. Flat Daddy turned out to be no substitute for Real Daddy, but Buckholtz turned that break into a book, Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War, published by Tarcher/Penguin. As a young Jewish mother of two preschoolers, three thousand miles away from her family and friends, Buckholtz felt more than a little out
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of her element in tiny Anacortes, Washington while her husband was on a ship half way across the world, and Standing By tells in touching detail how she managed to find a place for herself in that world. While coping with her own loneliness, she struggled to help her children deal with the sense of dislocation and abandonment they felt when their father disappeared for months. “I didn’t know that you could talk about him all the time and feel sad, and still thrive,” Buckholtz said. She had to negotiate the difference between grieving that Daddy is gone, and moving on with life and being happy. Another challenge for Buckholtz was to provide Jewish experiences and a Jewish atmosphere for her family, both when her husband was home and when he was away. Although most people think that few Jews join the armed forces today, “there are plenty of Jews in the military and they do
practice,” Buckholtz said. The trick is finding them. When Buckholtz first asked the base chaplain to recommend a synagogue, he unknowingly gave her the number of a group of Messianic Jews, people who accept Jesus Christ as the messiah while they observe Jewish practices. “That was horrible,” Buckholtz said, but the experience encouraged her husband to become a Jewish lay leader through JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. Working as a team, the Buckholtzes got materials from JWB and started doing outreach. Their first event brought together 30 people for a Hanukkah party—service members, retirees, and spouses. The Buckholtzes have since organized holiday celebrations including a Passover Seder, a Purim megillah reading, and a Rosh Hashanah dinner. “It was a great feeling to know that we provided an outlet,” Buckholtz said. “Being a lay leader has been fantastic. It’s been one of the best things here.” Buckholtz grew up in Charleston, South Carolina—“Everything you could do as a Jew in Charleston was centered in the JCC”—and lived in Washington, D.C. before she married. Twenty minutes from her parents, near her brothers and sisters, in an urban community filled with Jewish institutions, reading the Times and The New Yorker, Buckholtz was not your typical military spouse. For the last three years, Buckholtz has
CAPT Irving Elson, a Jewish chaplain in the U.S. Navy, blesses the jet flown by Scott Buckholtz on the USS Truman.
written about military life for a general population. “I really enjoy writing first-person essays,” she said. “Civilians who don’t have any sense what this world is like think that it’s radically different, and it’s not. My goal [in the book] was to show the human side of deployment.” Buckholtz discovered a natural inclination for military wives to reach out to each other. “That sort of closeness happens faster,” she said, because of the need to have people available to cover when there’s no family around. “You’re always looking for someone who can help you in an emergency,” Buckholtz pointed out, and
others in the same situation are eager to help.
uckholtz spent a lot of time creating a Jewish nest for her children. She ordered challahs and Jewish foods, she bought Jewish DVD’s and CD’s, she celebrated Shabbat and all the holidays at home. “I had always heard that Judaism was centered on the home,” Buckholtz said, and she really worked on ways to infuse her home with a Jewish ambiance. The result is that her children know all the prayers and songs for Shabbat, she said, and can sing confidently when
they visit her family. “It’s very sweet to watch that happen,” Buckholtz said, and she determined to include that part of her life in the book. Scott Buckholtz is about to be deployed to Iraq, and Alison Buckholtz and Ethan and Esther are going back to Washington, D.C. Buckholtz can be reached at http://www.alisonbuckholtz. com and more information about the book is available at http://www. standingbybook.com/Home.html. “ It is so gratifying to me to be able to bring the story of Jewish military families to Jewish audiences.”
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Teens lead the way!
he idealism of youth is one of our great natural resources. Hopeful and filled with energy and optimism, young people yearn to be engaged with the world—whether they know it or not. Lately, they seem to be awakening to their potential to make a huge difference in their communities, in their country, and even in the welfare of the planet. According to the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 55 percent of teenagers volunteer an average of three and a half hours a week, the only age group to increase its volunteer time over the last year. A recent study of
JCC teens by the Florence G. HellerJCC Association Research Center finds even more startling evidence of teens’ desire to be involved—72 percent participate in community service projects, with 40 percent coming to the JCC for that activity. Published studies by Independent Sector, the Panetta Institute, and others have provided evidence of an upswing in activism, volunteerism, and social entrepreneurialism among teens. These trends reflect the value teens place on community service and experiential education. Many teens see such service
as critical in their planning for college and careers, but further, it indicates their reconnection to traditional Jewish values of tzedakah and tikkun olam. JCC youth and teen directors know these facts from first-hand experience. They work with teens every day within the JCC Movement—at JCCs and camps—and have the chance to inspire and be inspired by them. There are many stories similar to the ones you will read here of teens who are creating, building, doing, and supporting efforts in their communities, which indicate we should feel hopeful for our leaders of tomorrow. For more information about other programs or resources related to teen activism, or to share news of successes in your own community, please contact me at email@example.com. Aaron Selkow, director, Merrin Center for Teen Services
The Door and Ladder Society (top row, L-R) Jonathan Berger, Aaron Maslia, Noah Adler, Benjamin Harris, Kyle Schaffer, Nick Myers, (Middle row, l-r) Shayna Brandi, Alex Rubin, Kelli Regenbaum, Nicole Gillman, Rebecca Gaillard, Nikki Cohen, Tammy Bronstein (bottom row, l-r) Erin Smith, Bradley Maran, Marisa Alzadeh (not pictured) Maia Hoberman
Atlanta teens give
t’s never too soon to start training teens to become philanthropists. The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s Door and Ladder Society, a hands-on philanthropy program for Jewish tenth graders, recently awarded $10,000 in grants to programs for children with special needs. Recipients of this year’s grants were Amit’s B’Yachad Buddy program and the MJCCA’s Camp Isidore Alterman, a camp for children with autism spectrum disorders.
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The Door and Ladder Society is an 18-member group of Jewish high school sophomores, who represent each of the Atlanta Jewish youth groups, and whose religious backgrounds range from Orthodox to secular. Members must go through a selective admissions process, which includes both essays and interviews, and then study the Jewish philanthropic tradition, collective grantmaking, venture philanthropy, and community needs. While most of the money comes from community donors, each teen must make a personal contribution of at least $180. In response to a request for proposals from different charities, the group receives
numerous grant requests. The teens evaluate and discuss each proposal, finally deciding on which proposals to fund, just as other funding groups do. The Door and Ladder Society is a program of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta and the Jewish Teen Funders Network: http://www.jtfn.org/. People interested in learning more about The Door and Ladder Society, including the application process and participants’ written reflections, can visit The Door and Ladder Society website: www.atlantajcc.org/doorandladder.
Laine with her mother Judi and older brother Randy
She set out with a goal to raise $10,000 to start the fund—and truthfully, this amount seemed a bit overwhelming. When it was all over, she had raised more than $16,500. And she’s already planning for next year’s event. “Looking back, I realize what a tremendous impact summer camp has had on my life,” said Laine. She has attended various camps for eight summers, including a summer at JCC Camp Discovery. “I learned many important life lessons at camp, including teamwork, cooperation and independence from my family, all while making long-lasting friendships in an environment that is more relaxed and different from school. I wanted to give other children the chance to have a wonderful, life-changing experience, just as I have had.”
Sweet sixteen charity Tapping the idealistic spirit—and funds—of teenagers. by Sarah DePaolo
hen Laine Meyer’s parents asked her what she wanted for her sixteenth birthday, the Briarcliff High School junior told them she didn’t need anything, but she knew that other kids did. For her Sweet 16, she chose to found the Laine Meyer Camp Scholarship Fund at the Rosenthal JCC of Northern Westchester in New York, and organized a combination Sweet 16 party/fundraiser for her camp scholarship fund. Laine helped the Rosenthal JCC tap into an oft-ignored source for charity and fundraising—teens. Not only do today’s teenagers have expendable income—a result of after-school jobs, chores, and lives with relatively few responsibilities— but Generation Y is also more idealistic
and eager to actively improve the world around them. These teens statistically are more interested in charity and volunteer work than most adults around them. Most are required by their schools to do community service—and that doesn’t hurt their college applications either. They have the potential to become a fundraising force to be reckoned with. More than two hundred teens attended Laine’s party in the JCC’s auditorium, and each donated $36 or more. The DJ donated his time and the lighting special effects. Laine baked some desserts, and her parents bought more. JCC staff helped Laine solicit goods from local merchants for a silent auction for the parents and other family members who also attended. Laine invited her entire high school class, as well as friends from camp and other extracurricular activities.
n this turbulent economy, there will be more families this year unable to pay for summer camp for their children, so the Laine Meyer Camp Scholarship Fund is needed more than ever. While other teens are already involved with social action projects through the Rosenthal JCC, Laine was able to take that spirit to the next step. She knew her peers could do more. These were adolescents who, for the most part, come from very comfortable homes. Instead of buying a new pair of jeans, she asked them to dig into their pockets and make sure a lessfortunate child had some of the same opportunities they had had. And they did. Laine chose the Rosenthal JCC because she has been involved with the JCC for so many years. She is currently part of the JCC’s Youth Leadership Council, and has participated in many afterschool programs in the past. “The JCC was a great place to grow up!” she said. “The JCC has acted as a second home to me.” Sarah DePaolo is a freelance writer based in Westchester County, NY.
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Baltimore JCC teen staff, Melanie Waxman (left) and Beth Steiner pose on the streets of Washington DC with one of the many Inauguration day celebrities.
can’t vote. They have social justice and environmental issues on their minds. Emily Boling, a high school junior, feels fortunate to be growing up in these times when a member of a minority can become president of the United States. “Now children are realizing this reality, that anyone can do anything,” says Emily. “I will be able to say to my kids when they are reading [about it] in their textbooks, ‘Your mom was there.’”
JCC teens take over DC by Robin Rose-Samuels
ifetime memories are made by allowing yourself to be engaged in the moment.” This is the mantra of Melanie Waxman, the Baltimore JCC Maccabi Teen Experience director. That’s why in the fall of 2007 Waxman put a deposit on a coach bus to take a group of Jewish teens to the Presidential Inauguration in Washington. A year later that same bus would cost three times as much, if one could even be found, and Waxman was escorting 45 teens and 10 chaperones to D.C. for the swearing-in of the first AfricanAmerican president of the United States.
“I did not honestly think it would work out! The dream of taking high-school teens to the inauguration to be a part of history was daring!” declares Waxman. “My thoughts ran from ‘How are we going to stay safe?’ to ‘Where are we going to situate ourselves so that we will actually get to be a part of the celebration?’” Waxman and her team worked with the FBI, the Washington DCJCC, and various parents to set a game plan and work towards the goal. Her team made a trial trip to D.C. and mapped out an itinerary step-by-step. “We presented a Powerpoint
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to parents and worked to convince them that the teens would be safe and get to be a part of the day.” Some of the parents were reluctant at first, but the teens were adamant that they could do this and eventually won their folks over. The teens left Baltimore the day before the inauguration, spending the night on the ballroom floor of the DCJCC. In preparation for the monumental day ahead, Waxman led a discussion. “Among the questions I asked was, ‘What other historic event would you have liked to witnesses?’ Their answers included the liberation of the concentration camps, Lincoln’s inauguration, Martin Luther King Jr.’s ‘I Have a Dream’ speech and the march on Washington. Others went for the crossing of the Red Sea and the 1969 World Series. I was blown away.” Waxman had attended President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration, and she remembered the excitement, the energy, the pins, and the people on soapboxes pontificating about many ideas. “I wanted teens to experience and take in the fervor of the times. I knew it would ultimately stay with them the rest of their lives,” she says. Waxman believes teens have become politically invested in recent years, even if they
“Long before the JCC of Baltimore had organized a trip to the inauguration of President Obama, I knew I had to be there,” says Jon Monfred, a high-school senior and founder of the school’s Young Democrats Club. Describing the moment after Obama’s swearing in, Jon says, “Tears flowed freely. Strangers embraced. It was pure and unbridled joy in the nation’s capital…and how spectacular to have experienced such joy amongst friends!”
s a JCC teen staff member, Beth Steiner had the added responsibility of being a chaperone. She helped shepherd the teens from the DCJCC at 6:00 in the morning through a crowded five-block walk that took an hour and half. She talked and bonded with the teens as they sat in front of a Jumbotron along the museum-lined mall, staying with them all day in the frigid cold and finally escorting them back through the throngs of people to awaiting buses at the JCC. “We were starving, freezing, exhausted and exhilarated. I finally made it home by 8:00 p.m. and just crashed. It was 100 percent worth it. I feel a sense of optimism and hope for our country. I don’t know what the next four years will bring, but I can only hope that we will move onward and upward.” Robin Rose-Samuels is the marketing director of the JCC of Greater Baltimore.
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Distinguish yourself in the marketplace while reaching out to many demographic groups with our signature programs. Let our initiatives help you connect with teens, parents, young adults, baby boomers, campers and more. JCC Maccabi Games® • JCC Maccabi ArtsFest® • An Ethical Start® • TAG: Jewish Values Through JCC Camping® • Journeys: Adult Jews Living and Learning • JCC Maccabi Israel® • GesherCity®
Our Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership & Management is dedicated to strengthening the economic base of your JCC. From inperson consultations to webinars to stepby-step guides on running an annual appeal, managing in a downturn, and establishing a business model, we offer tools you can use to run your JCC more efficiently. As an affiliated JCC, you’re not in it alone. We’ve got your back.
Continental Ad Campaign Instead of spending a bundle of money on advertising, use ours. We’ve created fabulous niche-market ad campaigns to increase your membership. You can download them for free from JCC Resources, add your information, and you’re ready to go. Now, that’s a great deal.
Preferred Vendors Save money and solve problems with our Preferred Vendors. We’ve found great companies that want to work with you to make your fitness centers, playgrounds, campgrounds, and early-childhood centers the best. We’ve signed up suppliers to save you money on maintenance, software, insurance, and so much more. Don’t miss this benefit of affiliation.
Great staff is key to a successful JCC, and our professional development services department is entirely focused on finding you the right staff, training the staff you have, and educating the next generation of JCC staff. Find out how we can bring your staff to the next level—that level of service that keeps your members happy to belong to your JCC.
Do you know your consultant? You should. Each JCC has a committed consultant who can provide or lead you to the help you need with governance, fitness planning, camp, marketing, FRD, early childhood, even executive search. Private consultants’ fees run into many thousands of dollars. As an affiliated JCC, you’ve already got one on the payroll.
My Jewish Journey Dina Weinstein My sons and I are singing as we drive home from camp at the Dave & Mary Alper Jewish Community Center:
our hands are strong and our hearts are young/ and a dreamer keeps a dreamin’ ages on/ keeps a dreamin,’ keeps a dreamin’ along/ ba-da-bu-da-ba/ What did we do when we needed a farm? We plowed and we sowed ‘til the sun went down/ O, our hands are strong and our hearts are young and a dreamer keeps a dreamin’ ages on/ keeps a dreamin’ keeps a dreamin’ along... I learned that song as a child at the JCC of Greater Boston Jacob & Rose Grossman Camp. I also went to Camp Ramah and to Kutz Camp in upstate New York. My Jewish camping experiences were all over the map and I’ve lost track of my fellow campers, but the songs stay in my mind. They were my favorite part of summer camp, and I judged how well the summer went by how much singing I did. When my camp group was busy singing, cliques disappeared and there was unity. Summer camp singing sessions were where and how I learned prayers, Israeli anthems, and goofy songs to sing in the car with my kids. Now Yehuda and Benjamin, my five and seven-year-old sons, come home from camp singing every day. On a few mornings, I sit in on some of the song sessions at camp, mostly to avoid adult life and to soak in the happy atmosphere of camp. Leading the tunes is Aaron Margolis (photo, below), a smiling man with a scruffy beard, dressed in a camp T-shirt, a bandana, and shorts, and wielding a shiny black guitar. To the children at camp, Aaron is as glamorous as a rock star. They crowd around him when he leads them in song, and stare at him adoringly when he passes by. My sons don’t know it, but the singing sessions subtly convey Jewish stories and values. Songs my boys sing at camp tell them to be a good friend, pitch in and help, get things done, have fun, don’t be petty, be patriotic, be proud of who you are. These are American and Jewish values that could be taught through a boring lecture, but I’m glad a song leader like Aaron is getting them across in singing sessions replete with silly hand gestures. I surprised my seven-year-old the other day by joining him in a Hebrew song he had learned: Ani v’ata ne’shaneh et ha-olam – You and I shall change the world. “How do you know that?” he asked me. “I learned it a long time ago at JCC camp,” I told him, as he looked at me, amazed. Dina Weinstein is a freelance writer living in Coral Gables, Florida with her two sons and husband.
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A Community of Writers by Michelle Brafman
abuse, rape, and the loss of children, parents and husbands.
even winters ago, I dragged my very pregnant self to hear author Faye Moskowitz read at Politics and Prose, Washington DC’s renowned indie bookstore. She drew such a vivid picture of her late grade-school English teacher Miss Bartlett that I forgot that my esophagus felt like it was on fire, or that my bloated body barely fit on the small folding chair. I knew that one day I would find a way for Faye to become my teacher. What I didn’t know was that Jean Graubart, director of the Leo and Anna Smilow Center for Jewish Living and Learning at the Washington DCJCC, was sitting several rows away, hatching a plan to make this happen. I didn’t know that she would recruit Faye and visual artist and poet Miriam Mörsel Nathan to lead an annual summer writing retreat just outside of Baltimore or that this would evolve into a community of writers I would join and eventually help lead. Every August, a collection of returning participants and newcomers gather at the Pearlstone Retreat Center to study memoir with Faye, poetry with Miriam, and now, fiction with me. Some arrive with trepidation, insisting that they have no story to tell; others speak longingly of college notebooks filled with poetry, and a few quake slightly at the prospect of writing outside their preferred genre. By the end of the four days, every participant has written memoir, poetry, and fiction; they’ve cried, laughed, and entrusted their fellow writers with tender pieces of themselves. On the last day of the retreat, members swap
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The group members possess a common hunger for the tools to tell their stories: some to publish, others to preserve their family histories, and all because they know the healing and redemptive powers of shaping an experience into a narrative. Before the first meeting I led, I sent out a writing exercise in the hope that one or two participants would arrive with stories. Fourteen members showed up with essays and poems to share. Now my challenge and joy is to squeeze everyone’s submission into a two and a half hour workshop.
Faye Moskowitz (left) and Miriam Mörsel Nathan e-mail addresses and vow to continue writing after they leave Pearlstone. Three years ago, Jean devised a way to keep the community alive by creating an ongoing writing workshop at the JCC open to anyone who has ever attended a retreat. Roughly every sixth Sunday afternoon from fall to spring, a group of women ranging in age from 30 to 80 meet at the JCC to share their writing. These women are scholars, visual artists, social workers, high-school teachers, administrators, physical therapists, journalists, and one is even an ex-CIA operative. They’ve survived cancer, domestic violence,
I begin each workshop by giving a prompt, a tool to launch longer pieces that the writers can develop between sessions. I organize the sessions around a theme, which I tie into a specific element of craft. For example, in an effort to urge the writers to engage their senses, I asked them to describe a family recipe. This prompt yielded a host of wildly funny and moving bubbe stories and enough recipes to fill a sisterhood cookbook. Some of the most powerful essays appear around the High Holidays when I ask the group to write about forgiveness. One woman, a retired executive who initially intimidated me with her husky voice and razor sharp wit, wrote about her troubled relationship with a sibling. I suggested that she write a letter from her sibling’s point of view.
ur workshop has evolved into a community. When one member underwent major
surgery, several writers visited her bearing hearty soups and flowers. One woman showed up with a volume of Pablo Neruda’s work, and they spent the afternoon sipping tea and reciting poetry to each other. These writers swap their work outside of class, and during the workshop, they listen to each other with respect, compassion and an increasingly discerning ear for language and narrative structure. One of my favorite parts about our meetings is the chance to steal wisdom from the stories I hear. Empty-nesters and grandmothers speak wistfully of their years changing diapers and playing marathon games of Crazy Eights. I remember their words when my kids are bickering or a snow day interferes with the time I’ve set aside for work. They tell me through their poems and memoirs, “Enjoy, this intense parenting phase will be over in a nanosecond.” They’re right. The son I carried when I heard Faye read is now in kindergarten, and last session, our youngest member brought her infant to class, the first baby born to the group. The baby girl, swaddled in pink with cheeks to match, nursed and nuzzled while a few of our writers read poems about mothers and daughters. The young mother listened intently, and when it was her turn to read, she told of the kabbalistic thread that binds the souls of her grandmother and her baby. A few days later, we learned of the death of our Neysa, the eldest member of the group. Be it the lost family members who show up in our collective writing or Faye’s Miss Bartlett or Neysa, we are bound to the living and the dead through memories and the stories they summon. Michelle Brafman teaches creative writing at George Washington University. Past winner of the Lilith Magazine Fiction Award and the F. Scott Fitzgerald Prize, her short stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New American Voices 2009.
e at the JCC take our middle name seriously. In a world where it’s increasingly difficult to find time to connect to others in person, we decided to think outside the box—or in this case, the building. Many of us have forgotten how to get together with like-minded souls for anything that’s not absolutely necessary, and the only way to get back to it is with a big jump start. A retreat serves as a reminder of the sense of purpose and engagement that comes into our lives from sharing common interests with new people, learning together, and of course, relaxing and having fun, without the distractions of cell phones, computers, work and family. We are there for a purpose—in this case, writing—that unites us with the goal to challenge ourselves and each other. This taste of condensed community is never enough—after returning to our busy lives, participants inevitably long to see each other again and feel grateful to have a place to do so at the JCC. Many find themselves newly committed to finding more ways to integrate a sense of connection and inspiration into their lives, and the JCC is there waiting with open arms. Jean R Graubart Director, Leo and Anna Smilow Center for Jewish Living and Learning
Opinions, ruach welcomed. ING CALL CC J ALL :
S 2010 Washington, DC | January 24-26 Join the dialogue: contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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Shared Values, Shared Missions: the Core of Corporate Sponsorships We celebrate The Coca-Cola Company® and welcome New Balance®!
s JCC Association and local JCC host communities head into the home stretch of preparation for this summer’s JCC Maccabi Games® and JCC Maccabi ArtsFest®, we are celebrating our nearly two decades of partnership with The Coca-Cola Company® of North America, presenting continental sponsor of the Games, and a sponsor of ArtsFest, and welcoming a new Games continental sponsor, New Balance.® At the root of both of these sponsorships is a shared vision and sense of mission. The Coca-Cola Company’s connection to the Jewish community goes back to the early 1900’s when Coke became the first soft drink to acquire kosher certification. Coca-Cola’s corporate platform is “live positively”—they appreciate our commitment to Days of Caring and Sharing and its community service activities, the Games ethos of rachmanus—placing fair play and enjoyment above winning at any cost—and our desire to help our teens connect to their Jewish identities and Israel in the most positive way. Because Coca-Cola believes in promoting a healthy, active lifestyle, they donate mostly Dasani bottled water and Powerade. When JCC Association created JCC Maccabi ArtsFest
four years ago, Coke added that program to its sponsorship as well, in the belief that living positively can be expressed not only through sports, but also through the arts. New Balance’s core values include integrity and teamwork. Originally founded in the early 1900’s, New Balance has grown to be one of the largest athletic footwear and apparel companies in the world, but it remains committed to giving back to the communities in which it does business. At New Balance, support of grassroots marketing initiatives is part of the company’s history. The core of this is a sponsorship philosophy that follows its brand positioning around the importance of fit. When the “fit” is right, New Balance will gladly sponsor a nonprofit’s program. A quick look on the New Balance website shows how many important programs it supports. As you look to develop corporate sponsors for your local JCC, remember, if the “fit” is right, and if there is a shared vision and mission, there’s a good likelihood that a mutually-beneficial partnership between JCC and company can be made.
What’s especially exciting about the New Balance sponsorship of the JCC Maccabi Games—through which it is providing both financial support and the uniforms for the host community teams—is that it is accompanied by a preferred vendor relationship that will benefit both JCCs and individual JCC members. Now that we’ve rolled out the Games sponsorship, be on the lookout for team clothing for JCC Maccabi Games teams, all other JCC leagues, camp clothing, and New Balance footwear. Individuals as well as JCCs can order online via special websites, getting extraordinary discounts, and JCCs will also get a rebate on every order they, or their individual members, place with New Balance. Elite Team Supplies is the exclusive distributor of New Balance for the JCC preferred vendor program. Log on to www.elitets.net/newbalance/jcc for details.
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jcc happenings what’s going on in the north american jewish community center movement
JCC Works to Help SpecialNeeds Children Get the Services They Need Houston JCC, TX When two-year-old Julien Herschkowitz first started in the STARS program at the Bertha Alyce Early Childhood Center he was nonverbal, developmentally delayed and sensory challenged. “Between not talking and having sensory and feeding issues, we had our challenges ahead. We knew this program was going to help him but I never knew it would help him this much,” says Rebecca Herschkowitz. STARS is a preschool program for children with autism spectrum disorders. Kids get intensive intervention with one-on-one instruction, speech therapy and occupational therapy in small classroom settings. It’s a highly regarded program that costs more than $30,000 a year, beyond the reach of the Herschkowitz family without the help of the Irvin Kaplan Children’s Scholarship Fund of the JCC of Houston and other sources. Scholarships give more than 300 children a year the opportunity to participate in all JCC programs for children. “Our children are our future. If we can’t give them the things they need from the beginning then our future is gone,” says Cindy Falik Lipshutz, a retired school teacher and chair of the 19th Annual Children’s Scholarship Ball. Now at four years old, Julien is a different little boy. “He is singing, dancing, talking. He comprehends and plays with his siblings. It’s a miracle. He’s still got a long way to go, but it is still a miracle!” says Rebecca.
Dancing in the Dark Addison Penzak JCC, San Jose, CA The Addison Penzak JCC held one of its most successful galas when it chose a theme based on the reality TV show Dancing with the Stars. In addition to the usual fundraising methods—tickets sales, live and silent auctions—the reality TV show theme gave the APJCC the chance to introduce several innovative ways of raising money. The highlight of the gala was a ballroom dancing contest featuring seven APJCC past presidents, who practiced for weeks with professional ballroom dance instructors before the event. Attendees received one free ballot to vote for their favorite dancer, but they could buy additional ballots to increase the tally. A panel of judges also weighed in. Before the gala, the amateur dancers competed to see who could raise the most money online by creating individual fundraising pages using www.firstgiving.com. The Web pages made it easy for the dancers to
raise money from family and friends outside the area, expanding the fundraising reach of the APJCC. A big draw was that Jonathan Roberts and Valentina Kostenko from the television show would be performing at the gala. Roberts and Kostenko live in Silicon Valley and volunteered to help the APJCC. “Feedback from the event was great and we raised over $100,000, making it one of our top fundraising events ever,” reported Susie Weitzman, the APJCC’s special events coordinator. “Our past presidents really put their hearts into the dance contest. Our panel of judges did a lot to make the event fun for people too. The panel consisted of two professional ballroom dancers and the APJCC’s director of Jewish life & learning, Rabbi Joshua Fenton. They used a sense of humor in critiquing each dance and they kept people laughing.”
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Shimon & Sara Birnbaum JCC, Bridgewater, NJ The Shimon & Sara Birnbaum JCC changed its pool sanitization system from chlorine to salt. The new salt system is healthy for the skin, non-irritating to the eyes, eco-friendly, does not damage swimwear, and is extremely cost-effective.
Katz JCC, Cherry Hill, NJ As part of their going green initiative, the Katz JCC recently collected old sneakers for the Nike Reuse-A-Shoe program, which takes worn-out kicks and turns them into Nike Grind, a material used in sports surfaces, playgrounds, and even new Nike products. The JCC collected over six hundred pairs of sneakers.
Fixing the World, One Cup at a Time JCC of the Greater St. Paul Area, MN The simple things you do have a profound effect on others, even something as simple as a cup of coffee. Mirembe Kawomera coffee (means “delicious peace” in Luganda, a native Ugandan language) is grown by a 750-member cooperative of Jewish, Christian and Muslim farmers who have put aside ancient differences for the benefit of their community. The St. Paul JCC is helping these farmers by offering the certifiedkosher, organic coffee to its members. Sales from the campaign help to improve Ugandan schools, health care, and farming. “The program is powerful and we have been making this known to our members through our Web site and monthly newsletter. We are proud to help make a difference in the lives of others,” commented Penny Schumacher, program director at the St. Paul JCC. Mirembe Kawomera coffee, which has been featured in local newspapers, O magazine, and the St. Paul JCC’s Web site, is available for sale at the JCC.
Staten Island Gathers in Sorrow, Joy and Strength Alan & Joan Bernikow JCC, Staten Island, NY Within a six week period, the Staten Island community gathered at the Alan & Joan Bernikow JCC to mourn, to celebrate, and to voice support. In each case, the whole Jewish community came together in less than two weeks. The first time was on December 3, 2008, shortly after the massacre at Mumbai, India. Within days, the JCC became the center of communal grief over the senseless end of so many innocent lives. More than 450 people listened to speakers, watched a video, and offered prayers that such a tragedy would never happen again. Then came Hanukkah and the wish to bring the community together again, this time in celebration. Although there have been outdoor ice carvings of menorahs in the New York City area, none had ever taken place on Staten Island. A few hundred people came out to enjoy seeing the menorah carved and lit—a modern day version of the miracle of light. The community rallied a third time in support of Israel during the Gaza conflict. It was standing room only as speaker after speaker, including representatives from the Israeli Consulate and Knesset to nearly every public official on Staten Island, declared the undeniable right of Israel to protect its citizens. None of these events would have been possible without the support and efforts of the diverse Jewish community, which recognized the need to work together to show solidarity—in sorrow, in joy, in strength.
To find out how to be part of this unique opportunity to help build peace and prosperity around the world, visit www.deliciouspeace.com and request a community organizing guide.
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Lawrence Family JCC, La Jolla, CA At the Lawrence Family JCC of San Diego County’s annual meeting, the 41 JCC Maccabi Games Committee chairs were honored with the Volunteer of the Year Award. The JCC Maccabi Wall of Honor thanks donors and volunteers.
Long Locks Benefit Others Samuel Field/Bay Terrace YM-YWHA, Little Neck,NY This past summer at Camp Poyntelle Lewis Village, campers were doing more than just swimming and sailing. They were growing their hair for children suffering from serious illnesses. In doing so, they were expressing one of Camp Poyntelle’s core values: mitzvah goreret mitzvah, one good deed begets another. Campers and staff who decided to grow their hair for donation joined a new club called Ponytails from Poyntelle. For some it was their second, third, or even fourth time, and they inspired others to follow their actions. Members of the club met throughout the summer to share their individual experiences and reasons for taking on this personal challenge. Ponytails from Poyntelle allowed campers to see that their mitzvot extend past their bunkmates to children in need all around the country.
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Camp Deeny Riback Gives Back at First Ever “Big Give” The best lessons learned are often the ones that take you by surprise. Just ask the 2008 Leaders-in-Training (LITs) at Day Camp Deeny Riback in Flanders, New Jersey. This group of ninth and tenth graders learned much more than sports, crafts, and swimming last summer. They learned about tikkun olam (repairing the world) and the importance of respect, kindness, and charity. But their most important life lesson was the one they might not have expected: how great it feels to work together to give back to your community.
That was the genesis of the first ever “CDR Big Give” to benefit the Mt. Olive Police Department, Flanders First Aid & Rescue Squad, and Mt. Olive Kiwanis Club. Big Give Team Leaders Anna Bauch and Amanda Nessel worked with a dedicated group of LITs contacting these organizations and determining their specific needs. They settled on 10 Big Easy Lockout Tool Kits for the Mt. Olive Police Department to open locked vehicles without harm to the vehicle and eight Jr. & Sr. Epi-Pens, along with eight sets of pediatric defibrillator pads, for the Flanders First Aid & Rescue Squad. For the Mt. Olive Kiwanis Club, a generous group who volunteered their time in June to help build “Deenyville” (a playland for CDR’s youngest campers), a new tool-filled toolbox and power tool set was proposed.
It all began with a generous JCC Association grant to participate in a Days of Caring and Sharing project, funded by the Legacy Heritage Fund. “Our 25 LITs were split into two teams with a starting fund of $750 each,” explained Camp Director Diana Ackerman. “The teams chose three organizations that play a vital role in both community and camp life. Their goal was to raise funds to purchase essential items for each of them.”
Their efforts raised close to $3,000, and representatives from the recipients gathered at CDR for a special presentation ceremony during the last week of camp. Ackerman summed it up best when she said, “It was wonderful to watch these young men and women focus their efforts on giving back to our community. They learned from their community partners and friends and experienced first hand the responsibility—and the joy—of being a true leader.”
Job Search Assistance Open to All
During the private, individually tailored job-search sessions, the employment specialist helped job seekers:
JCC MetroWest, Flanders, NJ
Peninsula JCC, Foster City, CA In response to the growing economic and employment challenges facing many people, the Peninsula Jewish Community Center partnered with Jewish Vocational Service to offer free individual consultations with an employment specialist. The confidential service, available by appointment, was free to the entire community. “Our doors are open to everyone,” said Deborah Pinsky, PJCC executive director. “One of the PJCC’s guiding principles is ‘Repairing the World.’ We want to help our community weather this economic crisis and provide them with resources that will enrich their lives and offer opportunities for wellness, reflection and growth.”
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• Identify goals, work-related skill sets, interests and work environment preferences • Remain current on the Bay Area labor market and its trends • Identify employment barriers and challenges, and develop strategies and referrals to overcome them • Create strategies for developing job leads and employer contacts • Articulate and market skills and work experience In addition, visitors to the PJCC found a helpful kiosk in the lobby stocked with current employment and networking resources.
Stranded Dog Touches Children’s Hearts Indianapolis JCC, IN When Indianapolis firefighter Rick Hines rescued Biscuit, a Great Pyrenees dog, from the freezing waters of the White River on January 21, 2009, he could not have known how many young hearts he would touch. The 14 three- and fouryear-old children of the Indianapolis JCC Early Childhood Education Center’s Bet class voted unanimously to donate the funds raised through their regular charity collection to help defray some of the cost of Biscuit’s medical bills. The large white dog, a stray, had escaped from temporary caretakers and somehow wandered onto the icy river, where it became trapped on a large piece of ice and couldn’t swim to shore. Rescue divers were called to retrieve the dog and bring it to safety. On January 29, the children presented their gift of more than $75 to Biscuit’s handlers when Biscuit and a second Great Pyrenees visited the Bet classroom at the Arthur M. Glick JCC.
ECE teachers Beth Grimm and Tammy Smith emphasize the value of tzedakah by encouraging parents to let their children earn money for charitable donations by doing small tasks around the house. Each time the classroom’s tzedakah box accumulates enough money for a donation, the children vote on the recipient of their funds.
Aaron Family JCC, Dallas, TX On December 24, from 8:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m. Aura Lounge was the place to be in Dallas, Texas. Nearly seven hundred people had an incredible time partying at the 2008 Matzoh Ball. The party is a co-production of the Jewish federation and the Aaron Family JCC.
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Big Giving Starts Small Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, Tenafly, NJ Penny Harvest—a “common cents” initiative that grew from one child’s desire to feed the homeless—has come to the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, the first agency to embrace the project in Bergen County. The Penny Harvest mission is to collect unused pennies gathering in jars and pockets all across America, and turn those pennies into grants for community organizations. Leading the New Jersey effort, the children’s department at the JCC encouraged first to fifth grade students who attend the JCC after-school program, Finish the Day at the J, and other children in the community to join together to make a difference in the lives of others. And that is just what they did. The JCC maintenance department hand-built a giant container, shaped like a menorah in honor of Hanukkah, and the children placed it in the JCC lobby so that members and visitors could deposit their loose change in the bin. Six weeks later, the group went on a field trip to the Valley National Bank in Tenafly to count what they collected. Each child got to drop bags of coins into the bank’s change-counting machine, and watched attentively as the dollar amount on the counter rose higher and higher. To everyone’s surprise and delight, when the last bag was counted, they had raised more than $1,300. “A key mission for the JCC is to teach everyone the importance of giving back, and Penny Harvest takes this concept to a new level, as it teaches young children that they can really make a difference,” says Michal Kleiman, director for the JCC Finish the Day at the J program. The group decided to donate $800 to the UJA Northern NJ Emergency Crisis Fund to help people in the local community recover from the current economic crisis, and gifted the remaining $500 to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Skylar Oliver (left) and Noa Slotky, two students in the JCC after-school program, count pennies at Northern Valley Bank.
No Dropped Stitches Here Soloway JCC, Ottawa, ON Each and every Wednesday afternoon, on the second floor of the Soloway JCC, you can hear lively conversations and debates taking place among piles of wool and knitting needles. The Mitzvah Knitters are women in their 70’s, 80’s and 90’s who meet once a week for a couple of hours to make blankets, hats, shawls or whatever else they can create from their donated wool for senior homes, shelters, street people, or anyone who needs it. In honor of Mitzvah Day in early December, the knitters made 200 hats and scarves. Half of them were distributed in lunch bags for people living on the street, and the other half went to the Snowsuit Fund. They made blankets that were paired with stuffed animals and distributed to children who have been removed from their homes. This remarkable group of women is keeping Ottawa warm and cozy, one stitch at a time.
Wee Recyclers Clean Up Sid Jacobson JCC, East Hills, NY The Sid Jacobson JCC Early Childhood Center (ECC) is going green and supporting different environmental initiatives. The drive began last year when a conscious effort was made dramatically to reduce the amount of parent notices being printed. Instead, the JCC sent them electronically. Parents reacted positively, and the amount of paper saved was considerable. The next phase of the program began in October, when teachers and students started recycling water bottles. The classes made a spot for the bottles in the classrooms and then brought them to a big recycling can in front of the ECC office. The children became enthusiastic recyclers and pushed their carts to the bin to dump their bottles. In just three months, the ECC has recycled over 1,350 water bottles that otherwise would have gone into the landfills. Staying with the theme of water, the ECC donated one month’s tzedakah money to the Jewish National Fund’s Reservoir Project. Last year they purchased a garden of trees in Israel, and this year they helped fund the reservoirs that water those trees. During Tu B’Shevat, the ECC donated money to plant a circle of trees in Israel’s Children’s Forest, in addition to planting a tree and 50 bulbs closer to home through Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project.
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Enid Rosenberg: Making Connections Is Her Goal by Miriam Rinn
t’s no surprise to learn that Enid Rosenberg likes to get things done. The lifelong Cleveland resident exudes energy and optimism. She sits on ten different boards including JCC Association’s, meets many people, and revels in making connections. “I’m a professional volunteer,” Rosenberg says, and the best part of her work, to her mind, is bringing different people together and building bridges—within the Jewish community and beyond. “I connect people I know from here to there,” she says. “What I’m trying to connect is talent.” After several years as a teacher, Rosenberg started her volunteer career by serving as PTA president and then president of the Orange City School Board. She then moved to the board of trustees of the Jewish Community Federation of Cleveland, and also the Oakwood Country Club, a 100-year-old organization where she served as the first female president. She’s active in the American Jewish Committee as well as United Way of Greater Cleveland and, an enthusiastic golfer, with First Tee of Cleveland, a group that introduces disadvantaged children
to the pleasures and discipline of golf. A tomboy when she was young, Rosenberg says that despite often being the only woman sitting at meetings, she always feels comfortable. She’s currently the chair of Menorah Park Center for Senior Living, again the first woman to serve in that position.
as a volunteer leader,” she recalls. “The JCC was the connector to the broadest spectrum of Jews.” Later, Rosenberg served as chair of the JCC and presided over a turnaround. She’s very proud of the Mandel JCC and what they’ve accomplished. “We’re vibrant, we’re alive, we’re doing a great job.”
Cleveland hasn’t changed much since her childhood, according to Rosenberg. It’s still easy to get around and a great place to raise a family. “It’s Midwestern but it thinks East. It’s a very giving community,” she says of the area’s 75,000 Jews. “We feel we’re sort of leaders in the country.” She is justifiably proud of a community that produced national leaders such as Morton L. Mandel, who she credits as a mentor. Rosenberg first became involved with the JCC in Cleveland when she and her husband, a physician and head of occupational health at University Hospitals of Cleveland, returned from several years in the Washington, DC area. That was the time when the community was starting to build the Mandel JCC. As soon as she learned about the project, she wanted to get involved. “It was a way for me to get excited about something, to use my skills
While Rosenberg chose to return to live in Cleveland, she acknowledges that the city’s Jewish community is shrinking. “People don’t stay close to home anymore,” she says, and when teens go away to college they often don’t return. Her own two children, both lawyers, settled in New York and Chicago, and now the Rosenbergs enjoy visiting a little granddaughter in Chicago. Rosenberg has served on the board of JCC Association since 2006 and been the Marketing Committee chair since 2008. “It’s been a delight to be involved and be part of a larger picture,” Rosenberg said, adding, “I like people. I want to make the world a little better.” That could serve as the mission of all professional volunteers.
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To get good answers, you have to ask the right questions. Plenty of questions will arise in the coming months, as JCCs contend with the perils of the shifting economic landscape. But which ones will lead to solutions? In the leadup to the 2010 JCCs of North America Biennial, let your voice—and your questions—be heard. We will be starting Biennial forums for JCC leaders on Facebook and LinkedIn. Share your ideas and experiences, as we work together to develop tools that will help JCCs maintain high quality service while meeting today’s unprecedented operational challenges. Join the conversation. And help shape the course of Biennial 2010—the JCC Movement’s essential forum for questions...and answers.