JCC Movement Vision and Statement of Principles
Read the Vision and Statement of Principles
A Letter from Paula Sidman & Allan Finkelstein
An Introduction to the Statement of Principles
Commentary from Leading Jewish Thinkers
Frequently Asked Questions
- Why do we need a statement of principles?
The JCC Movement comprises many communities of Jews (and non-Jews) spread across North America, with very different approaches to Jewish living and learning. The statement of principles unites these communities and individuals by articulating the core values that animate the JCC Movement and distinguish it from other movements in Jewish life.
- What do we mean by the JCC Movement?
The JCC Movement is driven by a vision of Jewish living based on individual meaning. The JCC Movement’s Jewish mission is to strengthen Jewish communal living in North America. The statement of principles helps guide its members’ activities as they pursue the goal of strong and vibrant Jewish communities. Anybody who shares that vision of Jewish communal living, whose life is informed by its principles, and participates in JCC programs, thereby helping achieve the vision, is part of the JCC Movement.
- Why is being “a primary destination” important?
The JCC Movement believes every Jewish institution (schools, synagogues, museums, libraries, camps, and JCCs) is simultaneously a destination for Jewish engagement, and a portal to Jewish communal life. No institution is THE destination. Since it is the individual who determines the journey’s path, it is important to recognize the significance the JCC may play. For some, the JCC is their Jewish home. For others, the JCC is one among many Jewish institutions that engage them Jewishly. What is critical is the community provides a variety of options for Jewish engagement. Each is important. Each is necessary. Each is legitimate.
- Does this mean JCCs are competing with synagogues?
Not at all. As stated above, the JCC Movement believes synagogues are important and necessary institutions for Jewish life. It also recognizes JCCs and synagogues share the same ultimate goal: strong, vibrant Jewish communities. However, synagogues look at Jewish life mostly through the lens of Judaism, the religion of the Jewish people. JCCs look at Jewish life mostly through the lens of Jewishness, or the more general culture of the Jewish people. In the end, it is up to the individual to choose which approach to Jewish life is meaningful to them.
- What does “being a connector to Jewish life” mean?
The JCC Movement agrees with Elizabeth Herzog and Mark Zborowski: Life Is with People. It understands that JCCs create community by encouraging relationships between members. It is the inter-personal connection, not the institutional affiliation, that engages and links individuals with Jewish living and learning. Those relationships are the catalyst for exploring institutions beyond the JCC. Whether the relationships remain within the JCC, or serve as a bridge to other institutions, the JCC serves as a connector and a relationship builder.
- Why doesn’t the statement of principles define what Jewish identity is?
The JCC Movement doesn’t presume to define what being Jewish should mean to its members. It is committed to creating ways for individuals to explore Jewish ideas to create their own Jewish identity.