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Principles in Action

There are JCCs living the Statement of Principals every day. Read these wonderful examples of JCCs making a big difference.

JCCs of Greater Boston

The JCCs of Greater Boston’s Hot Topics, Cool Conversations lecture series’ goal is to offer diverse perspectives on important topics to its community. It is a forum designed to encourage exploration of hot issues with experts in the fields of politics, faith, economics, Israel and culture through a Jewish lens. Its target audience is adults seeking intellectual engagement in a thoughtful and supportive community setting.

Hot Topics, Cool Conversations’ inaugural season included “Truth, Lies and Politics” with US Rep Barney Frank, The American Prospect’s Rob Kuttner, and Fr. J. Bryan Hehir, SJ; “The States of Jewish Belief” with Hebrew College’s Art Green, Drew University’s Allan Nadler, and Agudath Israel of America’s Avi Shafran; and, on May 24, “The Young and Restless: Where are Young American Jews?” with Peter Beinart, John Ruskay, and Rabbis Avi Weiss and Margie Klein.

The second JCC principle states: “Respecting and supporting diverse Jewish opinions, beliefs, and practices are essential for strong and enduring Jewish communities.” Hot Topics, Cool Conversations is a good example of this principle “in action.” There are few, if any, public fora that bring people together—scholars AND lay people—to discuss and explore contemporary themes without attempting to be “balanced.” The JCCs of Greater Boston seek to honor differences through a Jewish lens, employing the principle of “Eilu v’Eilu” (“These and those [are the words of the living God]” (Babylonian Talmud Eruvin 13b). The Jewish community is strong not because we all agree. It is strong because we know how to disagree, while still remaining a community.

For more information, please contact Fiona Epstein at [email protected].

JCC of Metropolitan Detroit

The JCC of Metropolitan Detroit’s Kindness Project’s slogan is “Kindness: Love it. Learn it. Live it.” The program’s goals are to: use arts and cultural programming to affirm, renew, and increase the understanding of kindness; learn what Jewish thought has to say about kindness through its classic teachings, and; help participants perform acts of kindness. The Kindness Project targets the entire JCC community.

The Kindness Project comprises about 60 programs, each charged with the mission of raising the “kindness temperature” for the entire community. JCC staff model mindfulness of kindness behavior through a 10 minutes-of-kindness-a-day initiative.

The fourth JCC principle states: “Jewish living and learning sit at the heart of the JCC.” The Kindness Project is a good example of this principle “in action.” Kindness is a central value in Jewish life, one that unites all Jews, regardless of knowledge, observance level, economic status, or ethnic background. A kinder social environment also minimizes divisiveness, a pernicious aspect of today’s world. Jewish-inspired kindness also can be the source of a strong and positive Jewish identity. And while acts of kindness target others, we benefit ourselves; studies show that living kindness also produces health benefits similar to exercise. The Kindness Project is an approach to Jewish living and learning that allows each individual to discover its meaning in their own lives.

For more information, please contact Rabbi Tzvi Muller at [email protected].

JCC of Rockland County

The JCC of Rockland County’s Israel Programs Department’s goal is to deepen the community’s relationship with Israel through educational, recreational, and cultural programming. It targets the entire JCC community.

The JCC partnered with the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI) and a local consortium of synagogues and schools to bring an Israeli shaliach (emissary) to the community. The Israel Program Department provides weekly Parashat Hashavua (weekly Torah portion) emails that incorporate Israeli history and culture, screenings of Israeli films, Hebrew “Shmooze on the News b’Ivrit,” a concert for peace featuring Israelis and Palestinians, Shabbat programs Friday afternoon in the ECE program, adult lectures, and more.

The fifth JCC principle states: “Israel is an eternal birthright of the Jewish people, linking us to our past and to Jews around the world today.” The Israel Programs Department is a good example of this principle “in action.” The shaliach creates a vibrant Israel presence in the JCC in two ways: by offering his life experiences as an example of one “Israel story,” and by bringing a wide range of Israel activities into the JCC. Together, they allow Rockland County community members the opportunity to find the relationship to Israel meaningful to them.

For more information, please contact Joshua Krakoff at [email protected].

Michael Ann Russel JCC

The Michael Ann Russel JCC’s Kulanu Tri-Cities Project’s goal is to engage teens to enhance their connections with one another, their communities, and the Jewish people. Kulanu targets Jewish teens from 15-18 from Miami (USA), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and Yerucham (Israel).

Kulanu (Hebrew for “together”) prepares teens from each community in a Jewish leadership training program to be madrichim (counselors) in their respective communities. Five teens from each community participate in a three-part course of study (Israel-Diaspora relations, Jewish identity, and Jewish leadership) while engaged in local service-learning projects. Peak experiences of the program are the three mifgashim (encounters) for the cohort, one in each of the three communities.

The third JCC principle is: “Interaction between diverse groups of Jews is critical for the well-being and future of the Jewish people.” Kulanu is a good example of this principle “in action.” Only when we leave our individual communities can we appreciate both the diversity of Jewish life as well as the ties that bind us together as one community. That understanding is critical to nurturing an abiding commitment to klal yisrael (the Jewish people).

For more information, please contact David Surowitz at [email protected].

The JCC of Greater Palm Beaches

The JCC of Greater Palm BeachesAcademy of Continuing Education (ACE) goal is to create a new learning environment for older adults. It targets the larger Palm Beach community in addition to the JCC membership.

ACE is a life-long learning center offering 26 weeks of classes, divided into three sessions per year. It is modeled on the continuing education programs common in colleges and universities. However, at ACE, teachers, lecturers, and presenters all volunteer their time. New membership levels were created to encourage participation and create greater access to the program. ACE has helped the JCC connect to other programs such as the Palm Beach Jewish Film Festival and Live from the 92nd Street Y to bring an even richer array of offerings to the adult community.

The first JCC principle states: “Creating a Jewish identity is a unique and individual life-long process.” The Academy of Continuing Education is a good example of this principle “in action.” Learning continues at every age, and each time we learn something, it adds to our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Just as learning never stops, neither does the development of our Jewish identity, even as we go from 60 to 70 to 80 and beyond.

For more information, please contact Alan Egenthal at [email protected].