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Strengthening the New Jewish Community

As you prepare to build your Biennial delegation, consider who in your JCC and in your community will be inspired by the following:

As we enter our second century together, we need to embrace overlapping communities whose connections to Jewish life are not so clear cut and who find meaningful identity in being, intermarried or LGBTQ or disabled or not Jewish or as part of  wider local communities.

We have a large aging generation of baby boomers who needs and desires are changing. Some began their journey as children at the “center.” They have now transitioned from parents who brought their children to JCCs for recreation, education and friendship, to active adults looking for their own entertainment, wellbeing, and community and who may be in need of other services as they retire and age. A large proportion of the boomer generation just want to keep going, and are looking for community to do so.

We have an even larger generation of millennials who look at the world through a different lens and have their own set of needs and desires. They are our growing population of potential customers, participants and  decision makers. They appreciate diversity, are fixated on flexibility and convenience, desire to make or be part of making their experiences, and have an expectation of having excellent experience. They are online, expect mobile-ready technology, are prepared to participate remotely if they can, or at an offsite location that is not a JCC facility. They do not necessarily consider face-to-face as the best way to connect or engage.

Gen Xers may be driving your revenue at the moment with children in early childhood programs and camp. Members of Generation X are product stalkers. They research everything they buy, from toasters to blue jeans to cars. This has implications for your JCC in terms of your programs and services and the way they are marketed and delivered. How  you move these folks into leadership roles now and as your future donors age will affect  the $30 trillion in wealth that will be transferred from one generation to the next over the next few decades.

By 2020 Generation Z, those born in 1995 -2015, will account for one-third of the U.S. population. Gen Z’ers were born social. Nearly 92 percent of Gen Z has a digital footprint. This generation lives in a world of continuous updates. When “it” doesn’t get there fast they think something’s wrong. They expect businesses, brands and retailers to be loyal to them. If they don’t feel appreciated, they’re going to move on. Generation Z will become more global in their thinking, interactions, and relatability. What is your JCC’s approach to meet these expectations?

Our community’s connections may begin in the local JCC but they certainly extend outside its walls, walls that are now both physical and virtual. Right now we’re living in a societal  revolution powered by the internet, in which people connect to people, computers connect to computers and our culture changes ever faster, daily.

Now it the time to grapple with how this revolution affects you, your J and your community. It is going to require an entire rethinking of the very ways we do business and coming up with solutions that fit very different populations. This revolution is already changing how  we communicate to all of these groups. It will change the way we impart the importance of Jewish life, the ways we connect to Israel and how the Jewish homeland can serve as a galvanizing force for Jewish connection.

As we enter our second century as the Jewish town square we must look at what all of this means today and for the not too distant future. We must develop an evolutionary plan to take us to where we aspire to be and that can lead us to what we are capable of accomplishing tomorrow.

What are the questions we need to ask and to answer about the future of our community? Who do we want to connect with and who wants to connect with us? And how can we make that happen? How can we best influence, imagine and be prepared for the New Jewish Community?

Join this conversation at the JCCs of North America Biennial Convention, May 6-8, 2018, in Memphis, Tennessee.

The 2018 Biennial information can be downloaded here.