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summer 2008 5768 whe


The Magazine of the North American Jewish Community Center Movement

jcccircle Summer 2008 5768 whe

contents 2

A Blast in Miami


Amazing Experiences in Atlanta

8 Creating a Mosaic in Silicon Valley 10 Finding a Jewish Heart in an American Holiday 11

JCC Day Camp Special Section

15 Everyone Has a Seat at This Table 16 Welcome Home to Israel 18 It’s a Small World On the cover: JCC of Louisville

20 JCC Happenings

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

Iron Grip Barbell Co.

Power Systems

Sterling & Sterling, Inc.

American Council on Exercise (ACE)

Landscape Structures


STOTT Pilates

Les Mills North America, Inc.

The Redwoods Group

Strive, Inc.

Leslie’s Swimming Pool Supplies

Retention Management

Take It Off

Club Resource Group




Schlesinger Newman & Goldman

To help support the work of JCC Association and JCC Circle, please contact Fani Magnus Monson, vice-president of development, at:



The Coca-Cola Company


CSI Software

Cybex International

Expresso Fitness

Freemotion Fitness

Recreational Flooring


Network Services Company

New Leaf

The Ostroff Group

Power Plate

Chair Alan P. Solow

I have just returned from Miami after participating in our 2008 JCCs of North America Biennial. Those of you who were there know that it was a week of inspiration, learning and fun. We enjoyed outstanding plenary speakers, wonderful seminar sessions, and the hospitality of a great city. I again want to thank our Biennial Chair Noreen Gordon Sablotsky for her extraordinary efforts, which resulted in a successful convention. The Biennial reflects the strength and breadth of the JCC Movement. Both lay and staff leaders were able to exchange ideas and discuss opportunities to improve their JCCs and camps. We were also able to talk about ways to build upon our successful continental programs such as An Ethical Start® and the JCC Maccabi Games® and JCC Maccabi ArtsFest®. The Benchmarking Project at the Mandel Center for Excellence in Leadership and Management is continuing to have a positive impact on the field, and we are confident that more JCCs will participate as we move forward. At the Mandel Center for Jewish Education, we continue to turn out great new programs such as The Goodman Family Institute: Yisrael Sheli (My Israel): A Teen Program of Israel Education and Experience for JCC Resident Camps, and our new adult education initiative, Journeys, which was highlighted at the Biennial. We have the power as a movement to make a difference when we learn from each other and take advantage of the many services offered by JCC Association. As your chair, working with our outstanding staff, I have been determined to make certain that membership in this organization makes a meaningful difference to the field and to those who are enrolled in our JCC programs. The week at the Biennial provided indisputable evidence that we are making real progress and that our future together is very bright. Let’s make certain that when we gather in Atlanta in 2010, we have many new ideas to share, and that those of you who benefited from this Biennial will bring along a friend to share the experience. Our 2010 continental chair, Marvin Gelfand, and our Atlanta hosts, Lisa Brill and Laura Dinerman, promise that Atlanta will build on the fantastic Miami experience!


Sporting Essentials

Sportwall International, Inc.

Staples Business Advantage

Star Trac

JCC Association 520 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018 tel: (212) 532-4958, x5136 fax: (212) 481-4174 e-mail:

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

jcccircle: Sr. Vice-President, Marketing & Communications Robin Ballin Creative Director Peter Shevenell Communications Manager, JCC Circle Editor Miriam Rinn



Association of Jewish Chaplains of the United States Chase Paymentech

dear friends

Design Jeremy Kortes Dan Hertzberg

Alan P. Solow Chair, JCC Association

For address correction or Information about JCC Circle contact or call Alina at (212) 786-5096. ©2008 Jewish Community Centers Association of North America. All rights reserved. 520 Eighth Avenue | New York, NY 10018 Phone: 212-532-4949 | Fax: 212-481-4174 e-mail: | web: JCC Association of North America is the leadership network of, and central agency for, 350 Jewish Community Centers, YM-YWHAs and camps in the United States and Canada, who annually serve more than two million users. JCC Association offers a wide range of services and resources to enable its affiliates to provide educational, cultural and recreational programs to enhance the lives of North American Jewry. JCC Association is also a U.S. government-accredited agency for serving the religious and social needs of Jewish military personnel, their families and patients in VA hospitals through the JWB Jewish Chaplains Council. JCC Association receives support from the UJC National Federation/Agency Alliance, local federations and Jewish Community Centers. ISSN 1065-1551

“Thank you for allowing us to be a part of this extremely well run, well attended and professional event. We were very impressed and I believe your attendees felt the same.” —Richard Ekstrom, Retention Management

Biennial Delegates

Have a Blast in

T “On behalf of the Baltimore contingent, we want to thank you for a great four days. To a person, our board members couldn’t have been more complimentary. Our delegation is already sharing with their peers that they can’t afford to miss going to Atlanta in two years.” —Buddy Sapolsky, executive director, JCC of Greater Baltimore

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he compliments streamed in during the weeks right after our JCCs of North America Biennial in Miami, and the consensus of opinion was that this was the best Biennial ever. Dynamic and provocative keynote speakers, a redesigned schedule that allowed more time for participants to connect with each other and explore Miami, relevant and information-packed seminars—all left delegates feeling that they’d had a great learning and networking experience. One of our goals was to provide JCCs with concrete take-home ideas. All of the session handouts are available to JCC board members on our password-protected website

“Great program, and looking forward to Atlanta.” —William Grossman, board of directors, Dave & Mary Alper JCC, Miami, FL

and to the recognition of the JCCs of Chicago project, which reached out to recruits at the Great Lakes Naval Base. The Frank L. Weil Award was presented to former JCC Association Chair Edward H. Kaplan, and the Florence G. Heller Professional Award went to JCC professionals Avrum Cohen and Solomon Greenfield, which underlined the critical importance of JCC volunteers and staff in successful JCCs. The Morton L. Mandel Jewish Educational Leadership Award was graciously accepted by The AVI CHAI Foundation, which has done so much to enrich JCC camps Judaically. .

For the first time, JWB Jewish Chaplains Council scheduled its meeting to coincide with the Biennial, so the halls of the InterContinental were filled with men and women in uniform. In addition to reminding delegates of the long and valued relationship between the JCC Movement and Jewish military personnel, the presence of chaplains and military lay leaders gave deeper meaning to the award presentations to Rabbi Philip Silverstein and Major General Ronald D. Silverman,

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Delegates from around the world attended the Biennial through the World Confederation of JCCs, giving an international flavor to the events and joining in as we commemorated Yom HaZikaron and celebrated Israel’s sixtieth anniversary. And our “green” efforts were a great start to a movement-wide initiative. Delegates recycled their soda cans and waste paper, and many turned in their binders and lanyards at the end of the meeting for us to reuse in the future. It gave real impetus to our commitment to bal taschit, the injunction to avoid waste and needless destruction. If you were unable to join the more than 600 JCC leaders in Miami, you can capture some of the excitement by watching video highlights on our website See you in Atlanta in 2010!

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“Customer service is core a culture change to our Jewish mission in building To meet its challenges, the MJCCA chose to make a radical community and creating incredible culture change that began with the adoption of one of the world’s most successful models of customer service, Jewish journeys,” says Michael the Disney Approach to Quality Service. Thousands of the world’s most successful companies, including D. Wise, CEO/executive director Delta Air Lines, IBM, Target, and Sony Electronics, have taken advantage of the business philosophies behind the of the Marcus JCC of Atlanta. “happiest place on earth.” “The value of Jewish welcoming To implement this agency-wide culture change, Jared is deeply rooted in our history, Powers, a senior member of the MJCCA management team, traveled to the Disney Institute in Orlando, Florida beginning with Abraham’s and completed a comprehensive three-and-a-half-day welcoming tent.” customer service training program. “My experience at the In Jewish tradition, Abraham and Sarah’s tent was open on all four sides. Strangers were immediately embraced as friends, cared for both physically and spiritually, and treated as honored members of the family.

Disney Institute is one I will not soon forget,” said Powers. “The Disney approach to quality service is an outstanding business model. Although I came away with an impressive amount of information, what really struck me is their attention to even the most minute detail.”

According to Wise, the MJCCA should be the modern-day equivalent of Abraham’s tent—an open, all-inclusive, warm and welcoming “Jewish home,” where every member of the community, regardless of affiliation or level of engagement, is welcomed and feels an immediate sense of belonging.

Powers met with senior management upon his return, and they began to implement the Disney model by dividing it into four critical categories: Training, “Bumping the Lamp,” Policies and Procedures, and Setting. A staff-driven committee was created to oversee each.

The Marcus JCC was faced with a unique set of challenges, however, which included a rapidly growing Jewish community1 known to have a high rate of intermarriage, a low rate of affiliation, a large base of newcomers, and growing “pockets” of Jewish communities in outlying areas. Innovative approaches were needed if the MJCCA intended to grow its membership base and keep its current members2 happy and engaged.

“The Disney approach to quality service is an outstanding business model.”


1. According to the 2006 Jewish Federation Centennial Study of Greater Atlanta, Atlanta went from the 17th (77,000 Jews) to the 11th (120,000 Jews) largest Jewish population in the United States in just ten years.

Marcus JCC of Atlanta sets the highest standards for customer service. by Pamela A. Morton

2. 17,000+, with 90% Jewish

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“Bumping the Lamp”

Policies & Procedures

Wise, Powers, and the members of the Customer Service Committee knew that the ultimate success of the new plan depended largely on a total staff buy-in. They immediately set about creating a comprehensive training program for staff, detailing the ideology behind the new Disney model. Within three months, all employees had successfully completed a two-hour course. Additional training was also implemented for new employees, requiring them to attend a new hire orientation week that includes working or spending time in every department – from support services to security – in order to gain a better understanding of how the agency works.

According to the Disney Institute, the easiest way to exceed customer expectations is through what they call “bumping the lamp,” another way of saying “raising the bar”: it’s that extra special something that makes the customer say, “ah!”

Consistent messaging is key to offering the ultimate customer experience. Today, all front desk staff are instructed to answer their phones with a warm tone and the added personalization of their names. External e-mail correspondence concludes with a professional “signature,” and staff who will be out of the office for more than 24 hours are instructed to leave voice-mail messages that offer alternative personnel assistance.

One of the most exciting new initiatives to come out of the training program was the creation of a staff professional development program featuring year-round continuing education classes. Whether full- or part-time, salaried or hourly, all employees must earn at least five continuing education credits annually. (Credits equal the number of class hours taken, i.e: a two-hour class equals two credits.) The majority of classes are one- to one-and-a-half hours long, are always offered during business hours, and taken on company time. Classes are taught by business/industry professionals and staff who have volunteered their time and expertise. There are currently 27 courses offered, with many more planned. Offerings encompass everything from personal growth to professional development. A sampling of current courses includes: computer software training (Excel, MS Publisher, MS Outlook, Mail Merge); Jewish learning (Everything Jewish—Purim to Pesach); customer service (Guest Service Recovery, Responding Positively to Your Customer); management training (Effective Supervision, Team Building); financial (Understanding the Budget Process); programming (How to Plan a Successful Program or Event); agency culture (The History of the MJCCA) and skill enhancement (Be a Better Business Writer). According to Terry Spector, a member of the Staff Professional Development Committee as well as the MJCCA’s human resources manager, “The day we posted the classes on our intranet, we were inundated with completed registration forms. Many of our classes filled on that first day, and we had to create wait lists. What was even more surprising was that the majority of those registering for their mandatory classes signed up for more than the required five hours. That told us that we were definitely on the right track.”

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MJCCA member Jacob Greenblat and his 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, became firsthand recipients of “bumping the lamp” when they showed up at the MJCCA at 4:40 a.m. on a frosty January morning to be first in line on camp registration day. Kenny Silverboard, MJCCA membership director at the time (Silverboard is now the director of the JCC Maccabi Games®), was so impressed by the determination of this father to ensure his daughter’s entry into drama camp (typically one of the first to fill), that he immediately upgraded the Greenblats’ membership. “We were totally surprised,” said Greenblat. “Hannah and I enjoyed all of the special attention we received from the JCC staff.”

Setting the Stage Nothing is more important to exceeding customer expectations than setting the stage. To create a sense of identity and continuity, the JCC created staff name tags that included the name and birthplace of each employee. At first, many of the staff were puzzled as to the addition of their birthplace. The reason soon became clear as members and guests could be heard asking questions like, “Are you from San Jose? I lived in San Jose for many years. Do you know..?” The inclusion of the birthplaces turned out to be a key point of engagement with members, sparking conversation where there might not have been any before. The name tags also included what the Disney Institute refers to as a “service theme or statement.” Not to be confused with the JCC Association message “You Belong Here,” a service theme is an internal statement informing customers and employees of the service your company intends to deliver. During initial meetings with the new Customer Service Committee, a Marcus JCC service theme was discussed and adopted: “Creating Amazing Experiences.”

a Marcus JCC service theme was discussed and adopted: “Creating Amazing Experiences.”

While the MJCCA is already aesthetically pleasing, customer-friendly elements such as the new Sheletron electronic signage totems and a membership and customer service office have been added to the MJCCA’s lobby. Additionally, the community service department recently launched a new program, Center Corps, to enlist volunteers to act as JCC greeters. Working in teams of two, Center Corps Greeters will wear MJCCA staff shirts, be schooled in all things MJCCA, distribute program and membership information as needed, escort members to their destinations, and be trained in CPR/first-aid.

Smiles and greetings are the order of the day, every day.

Is It Working? “A week after we initiated the new customer service plan, we began our participation in the 2007 JCC Excellence: A Benchmarking Study. We will definitely have concrete metric data with which to gauge our overall success after participating in the study next year,” said Wise. Until then, the changes at the MJCCA are clearly working their “magic.” Phone calls are returned promptly. Smiles and greetings are the order of the day, every day. People are gathering, talking, enjoying each other’s company on MJCCA’s Main Street, and customers are commenting on the friendly atmosphere and the attentive service they are receiving. “I think that the customer service initiative is long overdue. Both the staff and the members that I have spoken with have commented on the many positive changes around the JCC,” said Dee Goodman, MJCCA development manager. To Wise and his MJCCA staff, the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim – welcoming guests– have become words to live and work by. Pamela Morton is the communications and marketing manager at MJCCA.

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“Because they’re non-denominational, [the JCC] has a broader opportunity to work with all segments of the community…” then encouraged their members to participate. Rabbis from Silicon Valley’s four major synagogues agreed to do a series of lectures at the JCC over several months, discussing topics related to the book such as “Tradition and Modernity” and “Faith and Doubt.” The APJCC also developed a guerilla marketing campaign for One Community One Book. APJCC staff took photos of people of all ages and backgrounds reading Steinberg’s historical novel, and posted the photos outside local Jewish community organizations with the tagline “Have You Read the Book?” The photos created a buzz, and later, when the APJCC sent out an e-mail blast to several thousand community residents mentioning the One Community One Book program, As a Driven Leaf sold out on within a few hours.

Creating a Mosaic in Silicon Valley

by Jenny Green


an reading a book ignite the spark of Jewish life in a diverse community? The Addison Penzak JCC of Silicon Valley in Los Gatos, California, has shown that it can. Before the high-tech boom of the 1990’s, the JCC had struggled in a rundown former school building that few valley residents visited. After the boom, a beautiful new facility rose in its place. But the new JCC faced a challenge: What role should it play in Silicon Valley’s increasingly diverse Jewish community, and how could it have a significant impact on a limited budget? “There aren’t exact numbers, but I’ve heard only eight percent of Jews here are affiliated with any Jewish organization. That’s far below the national average,” said Rabbi Joshua Fenton, head of APJCC’s Center for Jewish Life and Learning, which opened in mid-2007 with funding from the Koret Foundation.

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As Silicon Valley residents of all faiths flocked to join the JCC’s new fitness center, supporters and staff worried that the focus on exercise might overwhelm the building’s role as a center for Jewish life. And the question of how to reach the area’s highly mobile, largely unaffiliated Jewish population was a concern as well. Fenton decided to begin with the One Community One Book initiative, which he based on the One People One Book program developed in Los Angeles. The program encouraged everyone connected to the Silicon Valley Jewish community to read Milton Steinberg’s novel As a Driven Leaf. The novel’s theme of a man torn between his own culture and the larger society struck a chord with Silicon Valley’s diverse residents. Fenton had no funding to market the program, but he partly solved this problem by inviting local synagogues and schools to join the initiative as co-sponsors. Those organizations

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Local rabbis felt excited by the program’s success and by the experience of working together and using the JCC as a connection point. “Ultimately, it strengthens the community,” said Rabbi Joshua Berkenwald of San Jose’s Congregation Sinai. “I like what Rabbi Fenton has done so far… in terms of making the JCC a forum for the entire community to come together.” “The JCC has filled a void,” commented Rabbi Aaron Schonbrun of Congregation Beth David in Saratoga, another Silicon Valley locale. “Because they’re non-denominational, [the JCC] has a broader opportunity to work with all segments of the community… and they’re beginning to serve as a conduit to other Jewish organizations, which strengthens the community.” The JCC built on the success of the community-wide collaboration with its Community Night of Learning in February, which brought over two hundred people to the JCC to hear 20 local rabbis and other educators teach on the theme of “Eretz Yisrael: Land, People and Soul.” “Most of our programs thus far have been primarily made up of people from the Jewish community,” Fenton explained, “but increasingly we’re seeing interest from the non-Jewish community as well. Silicon Valley is unique in its ethnic makeup. Our population is 30 percent Asian, and we have

a large Indian community. So when people say ‘I want to see what a rabbi looks like,’ it’s because they actually haven’t encountered Judaism before.” The multicultural nature of Silicon Valley’s Jewish community affects the types of Jewish programming that have been successful at the APJCC. For example, Fenton said, “We have many interfaith families where the non-Jewish spouse is Chinese” and the family is raising the children with a strong commitment to their Chinese heritage. “Because of that, people want to show their children there’s something more to the Jewish side of their background, beyond lighting candles on Hanukkah,” he said. One of the APJCC’s most popular offerings thus far has been its Hebrew crash course, designed to give participants the ability to sound out Hebrew words and follow along in a synagogue service in just five lessons. Every session that has been offered has filled to capacity. The APJCC promoted the program with a large photo of a young man saying “It took me five years to learn Hebrew. It took my wife just five days.” Next on Fenton’s agenda is a discussion group for non-Jewish parents who are married to Jews and want to raise their children with some level of Jewish identity. APJCC executives and board members are pleased with the success of the Center for Jewish Life and Learning thus far. “It has been recognized by area rabbis and educators as a dynamic force for Jews from all backgrounds…Even though they may have many different perspectives [they can come together at the JCC] in an atmosphere where that is okay,” said APJCC CEO Hal Bordy. “I want us every day to become more and more relevant to the Jewish community, and to the greater Silicon Valley community,” Fenton said. “We want to be the place where you send your children to preschool or after-school enrichment classes, you go for parenting help, you work out, you meet friends for a meal, you come in the evening for a lecture series or a film that’s interesting to you… There’s so much we can do from here. We want to embody the idea of being a light unto the nations.” Jenny Green is the marketing communications director at Addison Penzak JCC Silicon Valley.

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n a very rainy Monday in January, nearly 250 people from across the South Peninsula of the San Francisco Bay came together to participate in a range of community service projects as part of the first Albert L. Schultz JCC Mitzvah Day to honor the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Mitzvah refers to our obligations as Jews to live lives based on compassion and justice. But how do we find time to do that in our busy lives? The national movement for a day of community service in memory of the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. provided both the inspiration and the opportunity for the JCC to take a leadership role. Because many businesses are closed on MLK Day, it allowed people to step up and use the time as a “day on” instead of a “day off.” What we needed to take this event off the drawing board and into reality were three key elements: • other community organizations to join us • service projects that could be easily executed in a few hours • participants who wanted to give their time And we needed a “visionary” to pull it all together. That visionary was our new Adult Programs Manager JaneRachel Schonbrun, who became the driving force behind the ALSJCC Mitzvah Day. Schonbrun and her team first reached out to other Jewish organizations from synagogues to schools to service agencies, and they quickly got on board. Our co-sponsors were BBYO, Congregation Beth Am, Congregation Emek Beracha, Congregation Etz Chayim, Congregation Kol Emeth, The Friendship Circle, Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, Hillel at Stanford, Jewish Family & Children’s Services, Keddem Congregation, Kehillah Jewish High School, and Temple Beth Jacob. All agreed to promote this event to their members, students, and constituents. Lining up interesting projects was the next task. We wanted to offer a range of times, interests, and skill sets so that projects would be interesting and age-appropriate for families with young children as well teens, adults, and seniors. The team reached out to local community agencies, and soon had projects that included meal preparation at soup kitchens and homeless shelters; environmental clean-up activities at local beaches, and nature preserves; visiting residents of a senior center; creating cards and gift packages for American and Israeli soldiers on active duty abroad; constructing bookcases for a needy school; and building affordable housing. Additionally, many participants willingly contributed to planting a Palo Alto Jewish Community Tree Garden in Israel. A $5 per person donation to the Jewish National Fund was suggested. 10 jcc circle

JCC Association HELPS

JCC day camps shine

Now, it was time for marketing! The marketing team developed an attractive brochure and poster promoting the various projects and details for participation and distributed it to all of the participating co-sponsors. A press release announcing the event resulted in pre and post coverage by both the Jewish and mainstream press. The word went out at synagogue services, was sent home with students, and was inserted into agency newsletters. We designed an online registration form to ensure that every project had appropriate staffing. Participants could sign up alone or with family and friends. When projects filled up, registration for that event closed. Participants also indicated their T-shirt sizes so that everyone could get a colorful T-shirt when they arrived to sign in on January 21. Thanks to publicity and active word of mouth, every project filled up! Then came Mitzvah Day….and the rains! Despite downpours throughout the day, people showed up—excited to participate even if it meant a day of working in the mud! Most people’s projects took place indoors, luckily. For example, in one classroom at Kehillah Jewish High School, families worked together on making cards and gifts for hospitalized children. In another room, participants of all ages wrote thoughtful letters to Jewish and American soldiers. One small girl wrote on her card: “Dear Soldier—My name is Natalie. I am eight years old. Thank you so much for protecting me and my friends. We love you.“ One of the parents working on gifts for hospitalized kids told a reporter that his family signed up for Mitzvah Day because “it’s important to us to look for opportunities to promote people getting along with each other, no matter their background or skin color.” A parent of preschoolers commented, “I know it seems young, but we feel like it’s good to start early, that it’s not about doing things for ourselves, but about doing things for other people.” Schonbrun summed the day up best: “Mitzvah Day was a unique opportunity for unity and cooperation that brought people together for a shared mission to promote Dr. King’s legacy of tolerance, peace, and equality while improving conditions in our own community. Best of all, it was a fun and inspirational day that left participants feeling accomplished and energized…and ready to come back next year!” Mimi Sells is the director of marketing and communications at the Albert L. Schultz JCC.

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JCC day camps are the solution for busy parents looking for a fun and inspiring summer experience for their children. From traditional arts-and-crafts and swimming to trendy film and culinary projects, JCC day camps offer children the joy of exploring new arenas, making lifelong friends, and just having fun.

Our Days of Caring and Sharing grants enrich camp days With the aid of The Coca-Cola Company® for the past several years, we were able to help our resident and day camps make community service an integral part of the camp curriculum and view it through a Jewish lens. We are continuing to provide grants to camps with the support of another generous donor, and this summer we are helping 45 camps introduce their campers to the satisfaction of helping others, and to a deeper understanding of the word mitzvah. The Mandel Center for Jewish Education prepared a special unit on shalom, peace, with art, music, and drama activities, to provide a richer Jewish context for our camps’ JCC Association/Legacy Heritage Fund Days of Caring and Sharing projects. Happily, our donor has funded Days of Caring and Sharing for three years, so we will be able to continue funding communityservice projects, which add so much to the camp day. For more information, contact: Charlene Wendell, consultant on camping services, (212) 786-5126,

We provide intensive training for day camp directors This past year we concluded our first Lekhu Lakhem for Day Camp Directors Senior Seminar sponsored by the Mandel Center for Jewish Education. Lekhu Lakhem is a two-year, intensive, Jewish educational leadership program with five seminars in North America and one extended seminar in Israel. In the interim between the seminars, the Lekhu Lakhem Fellows studied every other week with our faculty/ mentors, who also visited the camps to watch the directors in action during the two summers of the program. Of the 18 day-camp directors accepted to Lekhu Lakhem as fellows,

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Finding the Jewish Heart in an American Holiday by Mimi Sells

17 completed the program. We even made a shidduch! One couple met at Lekhu Lakhem and were married by the program’s director, Dr. Alvin Mars, in South Florida. Three babies were born to the fellows over the course of the programs, including one set of twins. Participants found the program so enriching that they didn’t want it to end. So we launched an alumni program for graduates of the fellowship, which meets twice a month via phone conference calls. JCC day camps have been immeasurably enriched by this extraordinary program.

TAG: Jewish Values through JCC Camping® TAG: Jewish Values through JCC Camping® is a curricular initiative designed to enrich the Jewish component of the JCC camping experience. TAG has discrete Jewish content and programming units for day and resident camps, finding ways to integrate Jewish life, experience and values into the fabric of camp. Each initiative has drama, discussion, games, art and music components. TAG is: • An acronym for Torah (learning and living), Avodah (service and spirituality), and Gemilut Chasadim (acts of loving kindness). According to the saying of our sages in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Sages), these are the three principles upon which the world stands. • A child’s game in which a special quality of being “it” is passed on by touching another person. • Tagim (plural) are the ornate crowns on letters found in the Torah scroll that adorn and add beauty to the words of the Torah, give them special emphasis and hidden meaning, and make them look different from any other text we read.

JCC DAY CAMPS COME IN ALL FLAVORS AND SIZES Film, fashion, and fun this summer at the 92nd Street Y in New York Two recent additions to the 92nd Street Y’s roster of specialty camps offer children ages 9-12 a chance to experience film and fashion in the Big Apple. At the 92nd Street Y Fashion Design Camp with F.I.T., young Project Runway fans spend a week learning different techniques for hand and machine sewing as they explore how to turn a creative idea into an actual design. Under the guidance of an FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) professor, campers sketch and sew with an eye toward developing both “fashion sense” and a creative flair. The camp takes place the week of August 4–8 at the 92nd Street Y’s main facility in Manhattan. Back for a second season is the twoweek 92nd Street Y Filmmaking Camp, where campers learn basic filmmaking skills and then create their own short films. Last year’s films featured wacky superheroes battling boredom, a series of “on the pathway” interviews called “The Lunchtime Monologues,” and “American Idol: Stranded Edition,” in which a singer lost in a forest is saved by a song. Children work with mini-DV digital video cameras and Final Cut Express computer editing equipment; they get to show their films at a special screening (parents welcome) at the end of camp. The camp runs Monday, July 28 to Friday, August 8 at the Y’s campgrounds in Rockland County (transportation provided). The 92nd Street Y also offers specialty camps in basketball, soccer, baseball, gymnastics, science, and the arts, which supplement its long-running co-ed day camps for children ages 5-14 at the bucolic Henry Kaufmann Campgrounds in Rockland

County, just north of New York City. For more information about the 92nd Street Y’s camp programs, please visit

Cooking and clowning around at Marcus JCC At Marcus JCC of Atlanta Camp Isidore Alterman, campers who register for Clowning Around will be instructed by Babycakes, the professional clown, in magic, costumes, clown face design, juggling, balloon animal making and more! During the weekly Shabbat celebration, Clowning Around campers get a chance to perform their “shtick” for the entire camp! Campers who register for Cooking Capers just may be the next Iron Chef or Top Chef. Creating edible delights from Israel and Jewish heritage dishes, campers also use items from the camp’s organic garden. With an emphasis on healthy recipes, campers prepare, cook, and eat their own creations. They even bring home their own camp cookbook with all the recipes.

JCC day camps promote creativity and a love of the arts through many performing-arts specialty camps.

Merage JCC’s Camp Haverim gets little ones ready for kindergarten To ensure preschoolers in Orange County, California are developing the skills they need for a successful transition to kindergarten, Camp Haverim “Tiny Tots” K’Ton Ton builds on listening skills, motor skills, and cognitive skills through daily routines that incorporate games, songs, movement experiences, stories and art experiences. These developmentally appropriate activities continue to build self esteem and social awareness and also help develop skills in the area of language and early writing. There are many opportunities for children to incorporate kindergarten readiness skills into their daily camp routine: camp greetings and learning each camper’s name, listening to the daily activities, hearing camp rules and guidelines, learning camp songs and movement games—all help children to explore, discover, create and grow.

JCC day campers strut their stuff at performing-arts specialty camps At Spotlight Youth Musical Theatre Camp at the Jewish Community Center of Louisville campers step into a world of imagination and get caught up in the magic of CenterStage’s youth theater program. The camp culminates in a musical theater performance with each child playing a starring role. “The campers work so hard for two weeks in order to perform for all the other campers and their families on the final day of camp.” says Frank Goodloe, lead instructor.

Milton & Betty Katz JCC of Atlantic County Camp by the Sea is a seaside camp along the beach and bay of Margate, New Jersey. Over the past three summers under the direction of Lisa Gajdzis, Camp by the Sea’s performing and visual arts camp has reached approximately eighty girls every summer. This group of talented young stars participate in workshops with professional dancers, vocal coaches, various musicians, and artists in residence throughout the summer working towards a final performance. “By the time the show is performed,” Lisa explains, “the campers have total ownership of the final product, which is magical to watch!”

After a fifteen year hiatus, one of the JCC of Houston’s Performing Arts Camp returns in the summer of 2008. In the first session, which runs from June 16 – July 11, campers will perform the Hooray for Hollywood, a review of popular songs and scenes from classic Hollywood movies such as Singing in the Rain and Hello Dolly. During the morning sessions, campers will focus on building their stage skills in dramatic arts, musical theater, and dance, which will enhance their performance skills and build up their confidence for their final presentations. The curriculum will include guest artists in the specialty fields of make-up, improvisation, dance, voice, stage combat, and other disciplines. In the second session, from July 14 - August 8, campers will Give Their Regards to Broadway, while working on Broadway numbers that are positive and uplifting for all ages. Campers will be exposed to America’s—and American Jews’—great heritage of musical theater and dance. Throughout both sessions, campers will also enjoy many of the great aspects of JCC camping, including Judaic programming, sports, camp games, art and more.

We have a huge network of day camps! CANADA AB AB BC MB ON ON ON ON QC

Calgary Edmonton Vancouver Winnipeg Ancaster Ottawa Toronto Windsor Montreal

Calgary Jewish Community Centre JCC of Edmonton JCC of Greater Vancouver Rose & Max Rady JCC JCC of Hamilton and Area Soloway JCC Bathurst Jewish Community Centre JCC of Windsor YM-YWHA/Montreal JCCs


Birmingham Chandler Scottsdale Tuscon Foster City Irvine Long Beach Rancho Mirage Pao Alto La Jolla San Francisco Los Gatos San Rafael Sherman Oaks Walnut Creek West Hills Denver West Hartford Southbury Stamford Wilmington Washington Boca Raton Plantation Coral Springs Davie Jacksonville North Miami Beach Miami Miami Beach Maitland West Palm Beach Boynton Beach Dunwoody Marietta Savannah Chicago Chicago Chicago Buffalo Grove Flossmor Northbook Indianapolis Overland Park Louisville New Orleans Metairie Portland Owings Mills Rockville Newton Centre Framingham Stoughton Marblehead Springfield Worcester Ann Arbor West Bloomfield St Louis Park St Paul St Louis Chesterfield Omaha Las Vegas Bridgewater Cherry Hill Clifton Deal Park

Levite JCC Barness Family East Valley JCC Valley of the Sun JCC Tuscon JCC Peninsula JCC Merage JCC of Orange County Barbara and Ray Alpert JCC Jewish Community Center of the Desert Albert L. Schultz JCC Lawrence Family JCC of San Diego County Jewish Community Center of San Francisco Addison Penzak JCC of Silicon Valley Osher Marin JCC Friends of Valley Cities JCC Contra Costa JCC JCC at Milken Robert E. Loup Jewish Community Center Mandell Jewish Community Center JCC of Western Connecticut JCC of Stamford Bernard & Ruth Siegel JCC Washington District of Columbia JCC Adolph & Rose Levis JCC Samuel M. Helene Soref JCC Alvin S. Gross Coral Springs- branch Soref David Posnack JCC Jewish Community Alliance Michael- Ann Russell JCC Dave & Mary Alper JCC Miami Beach JCC JCC of Greater Orlando Maitland Campus JCC of Greater Palm Beaches- Kaplan JCC JCC of Greater Palm Beaches-Hochman Zaban/Blank Branch- Isadore Alterman Shirley Blumenthal Park Branch Jewish Education Alliance JCCs of Chicago Hyde Park JCC North Central Region Bernard Horwich JCC JCC at Woodland Commons Sothern Region Anita M. Stone JCC Z Frank Apachi Day Camp JCC of Indianapolis JCC of Greater Kansas City JCC of Louisville New Orleans JCC Goldring-Woldenberg JCC- Metairie Jewish Commuity Alliance JCC of Greater Baltimore/Camp Milldale JCC of Greater Washington JCCs of Greater Boston/ Camp Grossman Metrowest JCC Striar JCC on the Fireman Campus JCC of the North Shore Springfield JCC Worcester JCC JCC of Washtenaw County JCC of Metropolitan Detroit Sabes JCC JCC of the Greater St. Paul Area Carolyn H. Wohl Building Marilyn Fox Building Omaha JCC JCC of Southern Nevada Shimon & Sara Birnbaum JCC Betty & Milton Katz JCC YM-YWHA Div. Jewish Fed Clifton/Passaic Ruth Hyman JCC of the Greater Monmouth

NJ Margate City NJ Scotch Plains NJ Tenafly NJ Township of Wash. NJ Wayne NJ West Orange NM Albuquerque NY Albany NY Vestal NY Getzville NY Rochester NY New City NY Niskayuna NY Utica NY Bronx NY Brooklyn NY Brooklyn NY Brooklyn NY Brooklyn NY Brooklyn NY Long Beach NY Cedarhurst NY East Hills NY Plainview NY Commack NY New York NY New York NY New York NY New York NY Forest Hills NY Little Neck NY Staten Island NY Tarrytown NY Pleasantville NY Scarsdale NC Asheville NC Charlotte NC Durham NC Raleigh OH Akron OH Canton OH Cincinnati OH Beachwood OH Columbus OH Dayton OH Sylvania OH Youngstown OK Oklahoma City OK Tulsa PA Allentown PA Harrisburg PA Wynnewood PA Pittsburgh PA Pittsburgh PA Scranton PA Wilkes Barre PA York RI Providence SC Charleston SC Columbia TN Memphis TN Nashville TX Austin TX Dallas TX Houston TX Houston TX San Antonio UT Salt Lake City VA Fairfax VA Virginia Beach VA Richmond WA Mercer Island WI Milwaukee

Milton & Betty Katz JCC JCC of Central NJ Kaplen JCC on the Palisades Bergen County Y, a JCC YM-YWHA of North Jersey JCC MetroWest Ronald Gardenswartz JCC Grtr Albuquerque Sidney Albert Albany JCC JCC of Binghamton JCC of Greater Buffalo JCC of Greater Rochester JCC-Y of Rockland Robert & Dorothy Ludwig Schenectady JCC Jewish Community Fed Mohawk Valley Riverdale YM-YWHA Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton Edith & Carl Marks JCH of Bensonhurst Sephardic Community Center Hebrew Educational Society Kings Bay YM-YWHA Barry & Florence Friedberg JCC: Long Beach JCC of Greater Five Towns Sid Jacobson JCC Mid-Island Y JCC Suffolk Y JCC JCC in Manhattan YM & YWHA of Wash. Heights & Inwood Sol Goldman YM-YWHA Educ. Alliance 92nd Street Y Central Queens YM-YWHA Samuel Field/Bay Terrace YM-YWHA JCC of Staten Island JCC on the Hudson Richard G. Rosenthal JCC JCC of Mid-Westchester Asheville JCC Sandra and Leon Levine JCC Durham-Chapel Hill Jewish Federation Raleigh-Cary JCC Jerry Shaw JCC of Akron Canton JCC JCC of Cincinnati JCC of Cleveland Leo Yassenoff JCC of Greater Columbus Majorie & Oscar Boonshoft Center for Edu. JCC of Toledo Youngstown JCC Oklahoma City Jewish Federation Charles Schusterman JCC Allentown JCC Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg Kevy K. & Hortense M. Kaiserman JCC JCC of Greater Pittsburgh JCC of Greater Pittsburgh/ South Hills Scranton JCC JCC of Wyoming Valley York JCC JCC of Rhode Island Charleston JCC Katie & Irwin Kahn JCC Memphis JCC Gordon JCC Jewish Community Association of Austin Aaron Family JCC of Dallas JCC of Houston JCC/ West Houston Barshop JCC of San Antonio I.J & Jeanne Wagner JCC JCC of Northern Virginia The Marilyn & Marvin Simon JCC Weinstein JCC Stroum JCC of Greater Seattle Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC

For more information, contact: Charlene Wendell, consultant on camping services, (212) 786-5126,

everyone has a seat at this table The Educational Alliance and Boys & Girls Clubs of America Help Kids Succeed by David Billotti


he Educational Alliance has been serving Lower East Side youth and teens since its founding in 1889, introducing innovative youth programs in the arts, in counseling, in addiction services, and in education. In those early years, the youngsters who flocked to The Educational Alliance’s classes and programs were the children of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, eager to learn the language and customs of their new home. As the years passed, The Educational Alliance continued to serve the children of immigrants, but most of them came from Latin America and Asia. Many of their needs were the same, and some were different. Recently, after a careful planning process, The Educational Alliance began seeking out like-minded organizations that could help expand their offerings for neighborhood youth. So the partnership between the Educational Alliance and the equally-venerable Boys & Girls Clubs of America (BGCA) was born. The BGCA, through its mission statement, defines its purpose as “to enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.” This is the same business The Educational Alliance has been in since its inception. With seven sites serving youth through after-school programs, The Educational Alliance was immediately ready to put to use the additional resources BGCA brought to the table. As a charter member (which means an organization that houses a BGCA club), The Educational Alliance was eligible for funds, and the

BGCA grants it received were more than enough to get two new sites running, raising the number of Alliance youth sites to nine. The Alliance now serves nearly three thousand boys and girls through BGCA Charter Clubs. Those signature programs range from homework help and tutoring to financial education. In addition to expanding The Educational Alliance’s slate of offerings at its youth sites, the partnership with BGCA has sharpened the skills of The Alliance’s staff. Through conferences and curriculum training sponsored by BGCA, Alliance staff has the opportunity to learn about the latest trends in working with youth, as well as to interact with peers from around the country. This active listening and learning keeps The Alliance youth programs vital. The BGCA offers a wealth of trainings, including both program specific and general, to make sure the sites are up to the standards and maintain the quality experience expected of a Boys & Girls Club. In addition, the BGCA maintains a robust intranet site for program administrators, which has reports, position papers, tool kits for assessment, and much more. BGCA staff are also easily available by phone as needed to answer questions and give guidance. There are numerous examples of how the partnership has paid off for program attendees. In the fall, Francisco Feliz and Samantha Grant from the Edgies Teen Center in The Alliance’s flagship building on East Broadway won two of only ten $2,000 scholarships awarded

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Welcome Home to Israel by Stephanie Golden “Welcome home.” When you are 6,000 miles away from home in a place you have never been before, “welcome home” is not what you expect. But after you’ve heard it over and over from strangers on the street, at Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, and everywhere in between, the words seem right.

nationwide by Money Matters: Make It Count, a BGCA financial literacy program sponsored by the Charles Schwab Foundation. The Alliance has incorporated programs like Power Hour and Project Learn, which not only reinforce the importance of homework and study outside of school, but explore fun ways to make the most of that study time. And, offerings like Smart Girls and Passport to Manhood address life skills and health and wellness. Says a program attendee, “These after-school programs keep me off the street and thinking about things that are important.”

For me, going on Taglit-Birthright Israel with JCC Maccabi Israel® was taking advantage of a free trip to visit the land where it all began—where the Jews have faced hardships (and still do) and where they fight to maintain a Jewish state, a place that all Jews in the world can feel at home every single day. I didn’t expect to come home changed. To be completely honest, I had no idea what to expect. I did know, though, that I wanted to have fun, and friends who had taken the trip told me I would have a great time. I had no idea that I would return feeling closer to 40 people I’d met ten days earlier than to others I have known for years. I never expected to meet eight Israeli soldiers who joined us for the second half of our trip and discover they are just like me. More than anything, I never anticipated feeling the connection with Israel that I feel upon returning home.

To be a charter member, The Educational Alliance pays BGCA $11,000 in annual dues and also files regular reports, including an annual CELEBRATING ISRAEL @ 60Hiking up Masada at 5 a.m. to watch the sun rise from behind Impact Assessment Report. This 29-page book the mountains was amazing, one of the most beautiful sights of checklists assesses every point of contact I have ever seen(2 inpossibilities) my life. Floating effortlessly in the Dead a client will have with the clubs, from what Sea was easily one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had; I happens when the client walks in the door, to giggled uncontrollably because it felt so peculiar. Everyone was relationships with staff, quality of programs, and enjoying slapping mud all over themselves and posing for funny even the environment of the building and space pictures. Looking out at the mountains in the Golan Heights was in which the programs are housed.


Ultimately, the partnership with CELEBRATING Boys & ISRAEL @ 60 Girls Clubs of America demonstrated The Educational Alliance’s commitment to blending public and private dollars to benefit the organization’s neighbors. And, it forwards The Alliance’s interpretation of its role as a Jewish organization: to be open to all opportunities to advance its efforts in caring for the community of which it is a part.

breathtaking, although it was freezing and my feet were numb within 20 minutes. I look back on these moments and realize that they were firsts for me, and to experience them with my group added so much to the intensity I felt. Not all of our stops during our ten-day tour of Israel were to admire the landscape. We visited the Old City of Jerusalem


“It’s an obvious partnership,” says Robin Bernstein, president and CEO of The Educational Alliance. “I don’t know why every JCC doesn’t do it.” David Billotti works in the communications department at The Educational Alliance. 16 jcc circle

For more information about JCC Macccabi Israel, go to, or contact Adinah East at summer 2008

twice—the first and last days of our trip. I approached the Western Wall for the first time, a little nervous, folded piece of paper in hand, trying to absorb the moment. Touching the cool, smooth stones and placing my prayer in a crack was unforgettable. I’m not a particularly religious person; I never have been and don’t expect to become one. I know that the Kotel is a place of worship, but it is also a place where one can make her time her own, and in my moment in front of the Wall, I felt a strong connection to my Jewish heritage. I felt proud to stand there. We slept in Bedouin tents our second night, which was New Year’s Eve. I was a little apprehensive, especially after seeing that 40 of us would sleep all in one tent. Although it was a little chilly and definitely out of many people’s comfort zones, it turned out to be wonderful. A few people made a mock ball drop, and everyone danced around a fire and sang songs and hugged friends and strangers alike with happy wishes for the new year. Our group was also able to meet different people with stories to tell: a Bedouin woman who went against her community’s standards, never married, and started a successful skincare line; a man who left Detroit 13 years ago looking for something to define his life, found Tsfat and Kaballah and never came back; eight Israeli soldiers who shared stories of courage during their service, as well as personal likes and dislikes, which helped us realize that they are just like us—fun-loving, gossipfollowing, loudmouthed, talented young people. Meeting many different people from many areas of the country from diverse communities helped open our eyes to the real lives of

the people who live in Israel, not just Jews, but all the different people who make up the country. The soldiers added so much to our experience. In many places, we weren’t able to interact with the people. Having young adults give us a glimpse into their lives in Israel helped us to understand so much more about the country. They were so open and honest, no matter how serious or frivolous our questions were. Many of us weren’t sure what army service was like, but hearing about the experiences that helped them grow up and mature was important for us. On the last night, we talked as a group about our “ah ha!” moment. It was hard for me to choose. I felt like the whole trip was my moment. But being in Independence Hall in Tel Aviv, listening to our tour guide who closed with words along the lines of, “This is your home, my friends. We welcome you with open arms, and I want you to know that I consider you as much of a citizen of this country as I do myself and my children. You will always have a home here in Israel. Welcome home.” Then she played “Hatikva,” and the whole group began to sing. It was a moment when I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was a Jew in Israel, and it was the right place to be; any other place wouldn’t have felt the same. Leaving Israel was hard. I remember looking over at my friends and seeing all our faces so gloomy. But I know that’s an opportunity to go back— hopefully, within a year or so. More than anything, I look forward to hearing “welcome home.” Stephanie Golden is a junior at Hofstra University.

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It’s A Small World After All:

A three-county project initiated by the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers and the Suffolk Y JCC in New York, with the help of UJA Federation of New York in partnership with JAFI (Jewish Agency for Israel), is bringing together Jewish teenagers from Israel, Argentina, and the U.S. to form personal and communal relationships. The Suffolk Y JCC in Commack and the JCC of the Greater Five Towns in Cedarhurst, both on Long Island, already had an ongoing relationship with the French Hill matnas in Jerusalem through UJA’s Partnership 2000, so it wasn’t such a stretch to include a JCC from another country. “Nine years ago, we were the Partnership 2000 pilot project for New York,” says Joel Block, executive director of the Suffolk Y JCC. “We once again played the same role for Tri-Center,” as the project is called. Twenty-seven teens participated in the project, nine from each community, with three adult staff members. The teens have visited New York and Buenos Aries, and plan to go to Israel in July with their parents. Executive Director Marcelo Taussik of Lamroth Hakol JCC/ Synagogue in Buenos Aries, Argentina explained that when his JCC was invited by the WCJCC three years ago to join with Long Island and Israel, “it helped that we have a lot of people who speak English, so we could communicate on many levels, from the board to the children.” Taussik sees the project’s overall goal as creating a new group of young Jewish global leaders who can think of Jews as one people rather than small separate groups in the Diaspora, unconnected to one another. “These nine, as of 2009, will take over in our community as young leaders. We believe these are our future leaders.” Israeli teens don’t know anything about Diaspora Jews, says Yochanan Bechler, the director of French Hill, and he believes that visiting outside communities makes them better Jews and better Israelis. “Most of them have too much to do or have too many priorities, but one of them is not the Diaspora.” When the young Israelis have the opportunity to see established Jewish communities outside of Israel and to see how Jews live— particularly anything that has to do with religion—“it opens their eyes,” Bechler says. Secular Israelis—most of the population— don’t view religious practice as part of their Jewish identity, according to Bechler, and visiting synagogues in Argentina or the U.S. helps them to feel less threatened by Judaism the religion. The ultra-Orthodox they encounter in Israel do not represent something they want to be attached to, Bechler says. “That’s why this connection is so important.” There are other Tri-Center projects on the way. The Sephardic JCC in Brooklyn is being matched with a JCC in Toulouse, France and one in Gilo, Israel. JCCs in Staten Island, London, and Pisgat Ze’ev are also beginning to work together. Bechler and Block are developing a joint program with the Islamic Center in Westbury and an Arab center in Jerusalem. “We like this position of being leaders for international projects,” Block adds. “It is the dream of the World Confederation that every JCC in the world have at least two fellow JCC partners—one in Israel and one in another Jewish community,” says Jerome B. Makowsky, WCJCC president.

The Tri-Center Project 18 jcc circle

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e all come from different corners of the world, we eat different kinds of food, we speak different languages, we live in different cultures, and each one of us is at a slightly different stage in life. Evan is about to conclude high school, Adi will begin college in a few months, and I, Ofer, will graduate only in a year and a half and will then begin my military service in the Israeli army. Despite these differences, we were able to develop a special relationship through the Tri-Center Project initiated by the World Confederation of JCCs together with the Suffolk Y JCC and the Greater Five Towns JCC in New York, the French Hill Community Center in Jerusalem, and the Lamroth Hakol JCC/Synagogue in Buenos Aires, and thanks to a generous grant from UJA Federation of New York that is administrated by the Jewish Agency of Israel. I’m writing this sitting in Evan’s room in Buenos Aires; Adi is here from New York. We have spent a whole week together experiencing unique programs, and we have also found time to discuss every topic imaginable and develop an amazing friendship. On Friday, we went to the synagogue at Lamroth Hakol. Adi and I felt it was so different from our synagogues back home. In Lamroth Hakol, they sang and played the guitar. But still, the text was the same text. We are the same people with the same roots. This special atmosphere made us open up and speak about everything—school, friends, love, disappointment, and all the issues that engage youth all over the world. This encounter in Buenos Aires is part of a three-year project that began two years ago. We first met in Long Island, New York last summer. We then continued to meet back home and prepare for the next visit in Buenos Aires, and in a few months all of us, together with our parents, will spend a week in Jerusalem.

We want to thank everyone involved in the project, and we’re certain that this is not the end… Ofer Polivoda, Jerusalem Adi Ramer, New York Evan Rusak, Buenos Aires

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jcc happenings what’s going on in the north american jewish community center movement JCCSF Photo Exhibition Shows Common Ground among Jerusalem’s Children JCC of San Francisco San Francisco, CA In Jerusalem, Jewish and Muslim children are deeply divided by adult issues of religion and politics, but are they really so different? “Beyond the Wall: Kids with Cameras—The Jerusalem Project,” a recent photography exhibit at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, was born when New York photojournalist Jason Eskenazi set out to teach photography to Jerusalem’s children, and in the process discovered the common ground of childhood among these disparate neighbors.

Eskenazi spent eight months teaching 24 kids—12 Israeli, 12 Palestinian—basic photographic techniques. Then he stood back and watched as the budding photographers, ages 8 to 12, told the stories of their day-today lives in photos. The photographs presented the expected contrasts—a girl reading the Koran, Jews praying at the Western Wall—as well as similarities in how children experience the world around them. Language barriers and cultural tensions made a joint workshop impossible, but the two groups were ultimately brought together, at least figuratively, by viewing the others’ work. The children initially expressed hostility towards one another, but once they saw the photographs, they were drawn into each others’ worlds. “They were fascinated to see the lives of their counterparts,” Eskenazi said.

The exhibition, on display from February 1 through April 30, 2008, came to the JCCSF through a longstanding relationship with the JCC in Manhattan, where the show ran last fall. “A very special relationship has developed between these two JCCs,” explains Director of the Eugene & Elinor Friend Center for the Arts Lenore Naxon. “We’re very similar: we’re both in diverse, urban areas and we’re at the same stage in our organizational life cycles. We’re constantly sharing ideas and resources; it is a pleasure to work with colleagues there.”

New York JCC Hosts Nation Of Bhutan JCC of Mid-Westchester Scarsdale, NY The JCC of Mid-Westchester in Scarsdale hosted various dignitaries from the small nation of Bhutan in January. The visitors were on a factfinding mission on special-needs education in the United States. They spent time in the JCC’s “Toward Tomorrow” special needs nursery program and visited all classrooms, therapy areas, and the JCC’s gymnastics facility. The JCC site was recommended by Laurie Levine, a New York State regional trainer for SETRC, Special Education Training and Resource Center. Based on what they learned during their trip, the Bhutanese team intends to define a special-needs education system appropriate for their country and to begin training staff and teachers accordingly. Currently, the primary providers of special education in Bhutan include one school for the blind and one school for the hearing impaired, plus a vocational school for young adults that offers training in local handicrafts and music. Bhutan is a small country in the Himalayan Mountains between India and Tibet, east of Nepal. Until the middle of the twentieth century, Bhutan was almost completely isolated from the rest of the world—the only way to see it was on foot or horseback.

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Innovative MultiSensory Therapy Room for Special Needs Children and Adults JCC of the Greater Five Towns Cedarhurst, NY Expanding the services offered to children and adults with special needs, the Jewish Community Center of the Greater Five Towns in Cedarhurst, New York opened a multi-sensory, or Snoezelen® room to treat those with a wide range of cognitive and neurological disorders such as autism, traumatic brain injuries, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The idea to incorporate the innovative therapy came from Executive Director Rina Shkolnik. “I saw a Snoezelen room in Israel and noticed there was a positive response to multi-sensory therapy and wanted to know more about it and how we could successfully integrate it into our programs,” explained Shkolnik. The room is housed at the JCC’s site at Temple Israel in Lawrence. Made possible by a special grant from New York State Senator Dean Skelos, the Snoezelen room is a therapeutic multi-sensory environment that uses lighting effects, color, sounds, music, scents and touch to create a soothing and relaxing atmosphere. Based upon individual needs, each sensory component can be adjusted to enhance therapy, learning, and relaxation. Multi-sensory rooms have been proven to enhance awareness and positive behaviors for those with severe sensory impairment or neurological disorders. “Thanks to Senator Skelos, the JCC is able to offer a safe and non-threatening environment for people with special sensory requirements where they can experience greater self-control and achievements that overcome inhibitions, enhance self-esteem, and reduce tension,” concluded Shkolnik.

You Go, Girl! St. Louis JCC St. Louis, MO The St. Louis Jewish Community Center celebrated the twenty-second annual National Girls and Women in Sports Day (NGWSD) by hosting a “Girls Night Out” for more than forty girls from the St. Louis community at the newly renovated JCC Marilyn Fox Building. First to eighth grade girls had the run of the JCC to participate in sports and fitness activities. Former high school and college athletes coached soccer, basketball, track, and cheerleading, and the girls tried their hands in the batting cages, and the sport wall. The night also included a T-shirt, refreshments and raffle prizes from local sports teams, stores and the JCC. NGWSD began in 1987 as a day to remember Olympic volleyball player Flo Hymann for her athletic achievements and her work to assure equality for women’s sports. Hyman died of Marfan’s syndrome in 1986 while competing in a volleyball tournament. The St. Louis JCC has supported NGWSD since 2003, and is passionate about female athletics and getting girls involved at a young age.

Chicago JCC Opens Separate-Gender Workout Rooms Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center Chicago, IL How can religious women work out in a Jewish environment and still maintain a sense of modesty? This past February, Chicago’s Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center provided a way when they launched separate-gender workout facilities. Keycard-only access and window blinds give the areas privacy. The JCCs of Chicago designed these spaces to help Orthodox Jews maintain the level of modesty with which they are comfortable, and a large spike in membership was the result. By the end of the two-hour grand opening event, 55 people had signed up for trial memberships (the number has since climbed to 121). The facilities opened at a time when the Orthodox community is becoming more conscious of the importance of health and fitness, according to Emily Minkow, regional director, Northern Region of Jewish Community Centers of Chicago. A 2006 study published in the Jewish Community Health Survey of West Rogers Park and Peterson Park found that 31 percent of adults were overweight, with an additional 25 percent were obese.

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A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody

Read Me a Story JCCs of Greater Boston Boston, MA

Springfield JCC Springfield, MA Golden Girls are strutting their stuff at the Springfield Jewish Community Center. This year the Springfield JCC is celebrating its sixteenth year as sponsor and organizer of the Ms. Senior Massachusetts Golden Girl Pageant. Any woman 60 years of age or older and living in Massachusetts can enter the competition. The pageant’s main purpose is to give women who have entered the “age of elegance” a showcase for their talents, life experiences, intelligence, and inner and outer beauty. The winner of the Ms. Senior Massachusetts Golden Girls Pageant goes on to compete on the national level for the title of Ms. Senior America. In the months leading up to the pageant, contestants meet several times to get to know each other and to rehearse with Frank P. Jackson, the pageant’s musical director and accompanist. Each contestant is given advice on hair color, hair style, and stage make-up by a local beautician, and coached on modeling and interviewing skills by two former contestants. The mayor of Holyoke, where the pageant is held, hosts a brunch for the contestants at a city museum. “Although the pageant is based on competition, we stress the opportunity to make new friends and improve one’s self image,” says Bobbie Levin, director of the senior adult department at the SJCC. The Springfield JCC invites all contestants to join the approximately sixty members in the JCC’s Cameo Club, and they perform throughout Massachusetts during the year. They also write and produce an annual cameo performance at the SJCC. Proceeds support the reigning queen to go to the next national competition. The JCC welcomes women from all backgrounds to the Ms. Senior MA Pageant and encourages them to enjoy traditional JCC hospitality.

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The Jewish Community Centers of Greater Boston (JCCGB) launched the largest educational program in its 50year history with The PJ Library, an initiative providing free Jewish books and CDs for as many as four thousand young children within the next year. Each participating child will receive a monthly gift of an age-appropriate Jewish book or CD at no cost for a full year. Along with the books and music, families receive parent guides designed to complement and enhance the PJ experience. After the first year, families can re-enroll their children at a significantly subsidized rate.

Protecting Creation and Bettering the Community One Tree at a Time JCC of Indianapolis Indianapolis, IN Summer soon will be a little cooler and a little greener for children and families at the Arthur M. Glick JCC in Indianapolis, and the JCC will fulfill the Jewish obligation to care for the world. The JCC planted 26 trees—made possible through a partnership with Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc.—around the JCC sports field and playgrounds at a tree-planting event in April. Families, those concerned about the environment, and the general public joined in this celebration. The tree planting was part of the NeighborWoods program, a partnership between Keep Indianapolis Beautiful, Inc. and the City of Indianapolis to plant 100,000 trees in Indianapolis over the next ten years. NeighborWoods is made possible in part by sponsors, including founding sponsors Indianapolis Power & Light Company; Veolia Water, Indianapolis; and from recent federal funding secured by U.S. Senator Richard Lugar, U.S. Senator Evan Bayh and the late U.S. Representative Julia Carson.

Levite JCC Knitters Keep Their Needles Clicking for Others Levite JCC Birmingham, AL Thirty-five knitters meet regularly at the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham, Alabama, to practice their craft together and to let those whose lives are touched by cancer know that their community is surrounding them with love, warmth, and hope. The Circle of Life knitters recently presented 180 pink scarves and shrugs to the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s (UAB’s) Comprehensive Cancer Center in honor of National Breast Cancer Month for patients in the radiation and chemotherapy outpatient clinics. Erin Shaw Street, director of UAB’s Comprehensive Cancer Center, said she was tremendously grateful for the efforts of the knitters and the LJCC and thanked everyone for starting what she called a “caring revolution.”

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Boston is among the latest cities to participate in the program, which was started two years ago by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in West Springfield, Massachusetts, and has now expanded to more than fifty-five communities across the country. “Reading stories and listening to music together are among the most powerful and nurturing early childhood experiences. The PJ Library will turn these special moments into Jewish moments,” said Winnie Sandler, a member of the Grinspoon Foundation’s board of trustees. A team of experts in children’s literature, music and education selects the PJ Library books and CDs to communicate Jewish stories, heritage and values. ”This is one of the most exciting and important programs in the JCC’s history,”

said Mark Sokoll, president and CEO of the JCCs of Greater Boston. “The PJ Library makes it possible for a kid to ask for a great Jewish book as often as she wants Goodnight Moon, and for parents to have the tools they need to talk about the book with their child as they embark on their Jewish journey together,” he said. A Harold Grinspoon Foundation survey found that before joining The PJ Library, the families in the program owned five or fewer Jewish children’s books, and only 23 percent of the parents said they were very likely to buy Jewish books or CDs. However, 75 percent of the participants surveyed said they now read The PJ Library books to their children once a week or more. More than $230,000 has already been raised by the JCCGB to launch the local program. The JCC will be sending out letters to nearly 60,000 families in the region inviting them to participate in The PJ Library. The annual cost of the books and CDs is being entirely covered by donations.

“We have funding for over three thousand families and I am convinced that we will be able to attract additional support, as needed,” Sokoll said. He said the JCC’s goal is to enroll 11,000 children over the next three years, representing more than eighty percent of all Jewish families with young children in the Greater Boston area.

Documentary Is the Highlight of Tenth Annual Louisville Jewish Film Festival JCC of Louisville Louisville, KY Capacity audiences at the JCC and a local theater enjoyed the eight international award-winning films screened at the tenth annual Louisville Jewish Film Festival sponsored by the JCC. This year’s festival included The Black Book, Saved by Deportation, What a Wonderful Place, Jellyfish, The First Basket, The Tribe and Mauvaise Foi. The festival received support from over fifty individuals and patrons. The highlight of the festival was the Speed Art Museum Gala. This evening in the Speed Sculpture Garden and theater featured hors d’oeuvres and a screening of the award-winning film The Rape of Europa. The stunning documentary depicts the story of theft, destruction and miraculous survival and recovery of Europe’s great art treasures during World War II. Prior to the film, Kim Spence, associate curator at the Speed Art Museum, discussed the museum profession’s ongoing attempts to return looted artwork to its rightful owners and the Speed’s research on its own collection.

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leadership profile

Olé for JewMex!

Andrew Shaevel: Planning Ahead Insures a Better Future

Boulder JCC Boulder, CO “This is why there are JCCs. This was a perfect event,” Wayne Seltzer said as he headed out the door of the Boulder JCC on a chilly January night following JewMex: The Sights, Sounds and Tastes of Jewish Mexico. Wayne was not headed home, despite having just enjoyed an art show, a concert, a meal, a film, and a panel discussion. He and his wife were off for a nightcap at Mamacita’s, where they kissed the mezuzah on the cozy Mexican restaurant’s door on the way in and out—and where the idea for JewMex began. Boulder JCC program director Kathryn Bernheimer was having dinner with friends when she noticed that a Mexican painting on the wall looked suspiciously like a yeshiva bocher. She thought life as a Jewish professional was causing her to see everything through a Jewish lens. Turns out, owner Carmen Epstein was indeed a Jewish Mexican artist.

By Miriam Rinn followed by a screening of the one-hour documentary, Tijuana Jews. After the film, five local Jews from Mexico took the stage to share their own crosscultural experiences. The audience, a mix of BJCC regulars and first-timers, left feeling satiated with ideas, flavors and music. Enlightened by their immersion experience, they headed home to bed. All except Wayne.

Rosh Hodesh: It’s a Girl Thing! JCC of the North Shore Marblehead, Massachusetts

For JewMex, Carmen put 35 large, colorful canvases on display at the Boulder JCC. The opening night reception included a Sephardic Mexican meal—the pistachio mole was fantastico. The overflow crowd of 100 then settled in for a short concert of melancholy Ladino music by visiting cantor Robert Micha’el Esformes,

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The JCC of the North Shore invites girls in grades 5 and 6 for a couple of hours one night a month—and encourages them to bring some friends. Rosh Hodesh, the first day of the Hebrew month, is traditionally a holiday for women. Girls get together at the JCC on or near the new moon to do ritual, to munch on snacks, to learn, and to feel comfortable, Jewish, and good about themselves. Jocelyn Segal, the leader of the group, said, “The girls are full of deep questions about Judaism and life. It is amazing how much they want to talk and discuss. Activities I predict will take 10 minutes take easily 20-25! They were equally engaged in discussing society’s pressure from the media to look a certain way. They critiqued magazines and had to find positive and negative images. After that the girls began a letter writing campaign, letting companies and magazines know what their reactions were to the content and pictures inside.”

Beach Boys Provide the Beat for the Soloway JCC’s first Purim Play Soloway JCC Ottawa, ON Canada Purim is a time of topsy turvey masquerade—rabbis in carnival costumes, the roaring of greggars over the voices on the bima, and lots of up-turned wine glasses and overthe-top escapades. The Soloway JCC celebrated Purim mishigas with its first Purim play, The Megillah According to the Beach Boys. What do the Beach Boys, blonde icons of California’s surfing culture, have to do with royal intrigues in the Persian court and Jewish tradition? The answer was not immediately apparent, but as in the Megillat Esther, many secret identities were revealed. Beach Boys Purim was directed by Gavriella Silverstone, who majored in theater at the University of Ottawa and is now finishing her degree in drama therapy. Silverstone captured the essence of Purim, “Our cast members were from 18-80 years old, and our focus was on fun and playfulness. No matter what age you are, you should still have fun and silliness in your life.”

Andy Shaevel is a Buffalo booster. “Buffalo is an incredible place to live and raise a family. It’s small enough so that you feel you can make a difference, but big enough that you don’t feel you’re living in Mayberry,” he says. Although Shaevel loves his adopted home town, he’s not sanguine about its problems. Like many rustbelt cities across the North and Midwest, Buffalo faces real economic and demographic challenges. Many of the factories, mills, and plants that provided middle-class lives to thousands of workers are gone, and the population is shrinking and graying. “A lot of my friends went to college out-of-town and rooted their careers in major urban centers,” Shaevel says. “What remains in Western New York are their parents and grandparents.” To maintain an inviting place to live, a place where young people want to stay or settle, Buffalo needs to find a new nexus of opportunity, he believes. Because the State University of New York has multiple university locations across the state, one strategy is to transform Buffalo into the Ann Arbor of New York. “We have a solid core of hospitals and research centers in Western New York, and in conjunction with the University at Buffalo, significant research and spin-off business opportunities are being created,” Shaevel says. “This is an investment that I believe will pay real dividends.” Similar challenges face Buffalo’s Jewish community. Demographic trends show a population of 25,000 Jews in the 1970’s, less than 12,000 today and recent forecasts project only 8,000 by 2018. The Jewish

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federation is raising roughly the same dollars, but with inflation, the dollars are worth less and they’re coming from fewer donors. Yet Buffalo has more Jewish programs, services and institutional buildings now than it did 25 years ago. Shaevel believes there’s a need to adjust the community’s infrastructure. “We’re supporting the infrastructure of 30 years ago with a population and donor base that is less than half the size it was then. All the agencies in this community need to come together and collaborate in a smarter way,” he says. “One of the projects I’m heavily invested in is to bring all the constituencies together to realign our community. We’re doing some very inclusive and creative large-scale planning, with the hope of proactively creating new scenarios for our community before we are besieged with crisis.” Shaevel moved to Buffalo from Parsipanny, New Jersey, at nine years old when his father went to work for a frozen-food company. A food technologist by training, Shaevel’s father started his career at Manischewitz and then went on to Nabisco where he developed delicious new products, including doublestuffed Oreos. The younger Shaevel, an entrepreneur, is more interested in finance and marketing than cookies or crackers, and has focused his career in investment banking and strategic planning since he graduated Canisius College. “It’s the thrill of doing deals,” Shaevel says, that interests him. “The exciting part is developing a unique strategy and then figuring out how to put the pieces together.” Shaevel has successfully crafted businesses in banking, automobile finance, mortgages and receivable

management, as well as applying his energy and talent to the local and national philanthropic community. His list of communal affiliations is long and diverse, ranging from the Hillel Foundation of Buffalo to United Way to Junior Achievement, as well as the Florence G. Heller-JCC Association Research Center and the Executive Committee of JCC Association. Shaevel chairs the Branding Implementation and Marketing Task Force, which rolled out the JCC Brand, the wide-ranging branding project that JCC Association offered to JCCs. A former president of the JCC of Greater Buffalo and chair of the Long Range Planning Task Force of the Jewish Federation of Greater Buffalo, Shaevel has definite ideas about what needs to be done to ensure the vitality of the Buffalo Jewish community. “We have to break out of the traditional institutional silos, eliminate the duplication of efforts, and share space and resources across the community.” In addition to providing health and fitness services, early childhood programs, and camping, “the JCC has the unique opportunity to serve as a central gathering place, a nexus where our community gathers.” Early on in the planning process, Shaevel consulted with JCC Association and learned that other mid-size communities were facing similar challenges, although some are growing while others are shrinking. “They have similar issues but different emotional baggage. We’re hopeful that the outcome of our planning process will be very successful and create a new model for us and other communities. Despite our challenges, in many ways, I think we’re ahead of the curve.”

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Thank You.

To our Host Communities

JCC Maccabi Games® Host Communities: Akron • Detroit • San Diego

JCC Maccabi ArtsFest® Host Communities: Fairfax • Minneapolis

Special Thanks to Our Presenting Sponsor AND to Our Continental Sponsors

jcccircle Jewish Community Centers Association of North America 520 Eighth Avenue New York, NY 10018 Address service Requested


Circle Summer 2008  
Circle Summer 2008  

JCC Circle