In order to emphasize its service to Jewish Community Centers, JCC Association has named its office in Jerusalem the JCC Israel Center. Previously referred to as the JCC Association Israel Office, the historic Mary and Solomon Litt building located on Moshe Hess Street in the center of Jerusalem had served the Polish Red Cross during World War II as well as the International YMCA. The building was donated to the Jewish Welfare Board (the former name of JCC Association) by Solomon Litt, an American philanthropist. Litt had been chair of the JWB and a former governor of the American and New York stock exchanges.
The JCC Israel Center is the hub of educational planning for JCC staff and board member seminars in Israel, Boarding Pass trips for members of JCCs, JCC Maccabi Israel teen travel programs, Merrin Teen Fellows seminars, as well as the locus for partnerships with matnasim, Israeli community centers. It also serves as the headquarters for the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers.
According to Asher Tarmon, the first Israeli shaliach on the JWB staff, “The office was one of the first North American Jewish organizations to have planted roots in Israel.” Tarmon became director of the Israel office in 1973. The current director is Leah Garber.
JCC Israel Center also strengthens the JCC/Israel relationship by providing program content and materials, webinars and other resources for JCCs and their participants to connect with Israel. “Our mission is to enhance the significance of Israel within every Jewish Community Center,” said Garber. “We believe that a fully developed Jewish identity includes strong connections with Israel and Israelis, and we are here to assist our JCCs in making these ties.”
The JCC Movement is committed to strengthening the bond between North American Jews and the Jewish State, as expressed in the JCC Movement Vision and Statement of Principles for the 21st Century. One way to do that is to encourage JCC professionals to visit Israel, so they in turn can inspire JCC members to do the same. “I cannot think of anything more worthwhile for a JCC professional to do than visit Israel,” said Allan Finkelstein, president of JCC Association. “We have brought our staff to Israel three times since I’ve been president, and I believe that an Israel seminar experience should be the goal for every Jewish communal staff member.”