The ultimate goal of JCC Global is to bring Jewish Peoplehood concepts and programs to each and every JCC around the world; to make it part and parcel of their DNA. A giant leap in this direction was recently accomplished at a visit and retreat of the senior leadership of the Merage JCC of Orange County and Kfar Yona Community Center. This partnership that has been going on for several years now, has expanded, through the Amitim– Fellows- A Global Leadership Program to include CDI Mexico and more recently Hacoaj Buenos Aires. It’s main focus, so far, was on teen education and exchange. The purpose of these meetings was to go beyond a single project and see how the partnership can engage additional JCC departments and additional members of the respective JCCs. It started with articulating a joint vision: “To deepen the relationship, learning and understanding of the partner communities that will enhance a stronger, meaningful and mutual bond among Jews worldwide.” In joint small teams, the groups then continued to see how this vision can be brought home. They were thinking of ways to utilize existing programs and finding ways for collaborations that do not require a large investment. For example, the two communities have active book clubs, so it was advised that they connect in order to read and analyze the same book, preferably a modern Hebrew novel that has been translated to English. Another suggestion was to send each time another staff person to spend quality time in the other community; getting to know the community, learning and teaching. The teams felt that doors could open up for visiting families and youngsters in both communities on a regular basis. They also felt that there should be increased visibility regarding the partnership by way of social media, articles and videos. The teams did not stop there and spent time thinking about the practical ramifications, which additional staff members and lay leaders need to be brought into the fold and what would be the next steps.
This coming August, teen delegations from Kfar Yona Community Center and Hacoaj Buenos Aires will travel to the Merage JCC of Orange County. There, they will join thousands of Jewish teens who will participate in the JCC Maccabi Games. But this summer, the visit will be augmented by a network of intertwining communities. We command the leadership of these JCCs and invite JCC Global Fellows to follow this lead.
The meetings took place while the Merage JCC group was visiting Israel as part of a JCCA Israel Center Seminar.