The JCCs of North America Biennial is less than a week away, and we couldn’t be more excited. Nearly 500 lay and professional leaders from 90 JCCs across the continent will join together in Baltimore for four days of learning, networking, idea-sharing—and fun! The theme of the conference will be “Building on Our Past to Shape Our Future,” and we’ll kick off a yearlong centennial celebration.
Keynote speakers include Caryl M. Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, Dr. Charles Asher Small, executive director of the Institute for Study of Global Antisemitism, and Amy Webb, author, futurist and founder of the Future Today Institute.
This year’s JTalks, informal, TED-style talks, will focus on JCC core businesses, with experts in camp, early childhood, fitness and financial resource development. With several Israel-related seminars and sessions featuring JCC Global, we’ll take on the challenge of “Israel in the Courageous JCC”—how to tackle honest Israel programming. In “Jewish Peoplehood: from Paradigm to Practice,” Avraham Infeld—a mentor at the Reut Institute, past president of Hillel International, and a founder of Melitz, a non-profit educational organization grounded in a pluralist approach to Jewish identity—will inspire us with his vision about Jewish peoplehood.
We will also be sharing data from JCC Benchmarking’s new governance module. This year, 49 JCCs took part in a comprehensive survey, and the full results will be released in Baltimore. The continental findings apply to all JCCs and this valuable information will only be available at the Biennial.
JCCs will have three opportunities to break into groups with other Js of similar sizes, comparing best practices and thinking about setting goals for community engagement, innovation, and governance.
More than 50 vendors will be setting up booths in our vendor hall to share their products and services with you. You can also visit J’s Solutions Bar to learn about all of the services JCC Association offers your J.
Our continental leadership awards, which will be presented on Sunday night, are going to four very accomplished honorees. We have such outstanding leaders in the JCC field, both lay and professional, and these awards give us an opportunity to honor them and their service. It’s part of what makes Biennial special, and helps inspire others to get involved, step up and lead. Paula Sidman, JCC Association’s immediate past board chair, will receive the 2016 Frank L. Weil Award for Distinguished Contribution to the JCC Field. Renowned sculptor Richard Edelman will receive the Frank L. Weil Award for the Advancement of Jewish Culture in North America. Mark Horowitz, JCC Association vice president for early childhood and family engagement will honored with the 2016 Morton L. Mandel Jewish Educational Leadership Award. And Allan Finkelstein, JCC Association’s immediate past president and CEO, will receive the Florence G. Heller Professional Award.
As we celebrate the last 99 years and look forward to the next 100, Biennial attendees will have the opportunity to contribute to our special Centennial murals with Artist in Residence Jay Wolf Schlossberg-Cohen. The completed panels will be revealed at the closing plenary on Wednesday, and will represent the past, present and future of the JCC movement.