Moving a Mountain
The Jewish Community Center movement includes more than 350 JCCs, YM–YWHAs, and camp sites in the United States and Canada, as well as 180 local JCCs in the Former Soviet Union, 70 in Latin America, 50 in Europe, and close to 500 smaller centers in Israel. Having just returned from the JCC Association Executive Conference, where I spent six days immersed in the energy and commitment of the JCC movement, I am struck by both the impact and potential of our collective work.
This month marks my fifth year at JCC Chicago, the largest JCC in North America. Like raising kids, the days are long while the years seem to slip by quickly. Upon reflection, it’s incredible what has happened in such a short period of time.
Five years ago…
- JCC Chicago was absent from the cultural arts arena. Today, the JCC Chicago Jewish Film Festival welcomes 12,000 attendees and is growing exponentially each year.
- Teen involvement was limited to overnight camp. Today, Jewish Student Connection and other new, signature programs have expanded reach to nearly 3,000 teens annually.
- Only a handful of children with special needs participated in camp programs. Today, 200 campers with disabilities are integral to Apachi J Camps and Camp Chi communities and new program offerings provide engagement and inclusion year-round.
At a gathering of 92 JCC executives last month, JCC Chicago’s All Star Abilities program was selected for the inaugural Innovation Incubator. The six presentations were chosen among 17 entries, exemplifying projects of impact that have the potential to scale across the movement. Five years ago, JCC Chicago would never have been on that stage.
A popular Microsoft interview question is, “How would you move Mt. Fuji?” The answers, via Google, are pretty interesting… Analyze the problem, dig a canal, the water method, the pressure method. Looking around the room at the Annual Agency Board Members & Non-Profit Professionals Dinner on Tuesday night, I know what my answer would be—there’s nothing Jewish communal professionals can’t do.
Five years matches my longest tenure with any agency. I’m going for a PR with JCC Chicago. What an awesome privilege it is to do the work, to contribute to the movement, to be in the company of so many who care so deeply. We are moving mountains.
President & CEO