By David Posner, CEO, JCCs of the Capital Region

Working at a JCC is never dull. That’s because the business of building a strong and vibrant community takes many shapes, and requires imagination and perseverance. Our constituencies are many, as are their relationships with the J. Sometimes those relationships are deep and abiding, perhaps borne out of generations of familial ties. Sometimes they are temporary and transactional and measured in the value proposition we offer. A constant are the four foundational values that appear to unite all JCCs,Regionto welcome all, to treat all with dignity and respect, to do right by all people, and to recognize that we have a mutual responsibility to care for one another.

The work is never dull because we want the JCC to be a reflection of the kind of civil society we wish for our community, city, state, nation and world. That is a heady goal that’s always in process.

Being our best                                              

The work is never dull because another constant is that we are always striving to be the best versions of ourselves. That comes about in different ways. A first is the investment in talent. This is the season for each JCC’s Board Governance committees to attract and recruit new volunteer for our respective board of directors, and outstanding candidates have already been identified and recruited. Through participation in regional JCC conferences, local conferences and larger national conferences, we invest in our staff, who represent the largest part of our budget and are the most essential part of the work we do.

Building improvements

Another way we strive to be the best versions of ourselves is by devoting a significant part of our operating budgets to capital improvements. Using accounting speak, we fund depreciation, and then some, as a part of those budgets. Not only that, we are actively soliciting grants – sometimes private foundations, but lately via available governmental opportunities – to make improvements. You’ve seen examples of that in recent years, from a yurt village, complete makeover over the Betty Clark pool and new fitness babysitting room in Albany to the splash pad, HVAC replacements and coming upgrades to the outdoor pool in Schenectady. We are awaiting funding decisions for other capital projects, all very exciting, and will announce them as we know.

Getting inside

A final way is by doing something less visible. Both JCCs are participating in national JCC Association’s current cycle of its signature Benchmarking program. Through surveys that many of you participated in last fall, surveys of staff and board members, and financial and engagement data we supplied, we get a picture of who we are as a JCC, where our strengths lie and where there are opportunities for improvement. All the data collected “measures what matters” to excellent JCC performance. Examples of the metrics measured include the willingness to recommend the JCC to others, staff initiating or responding to an informal conversation with members and participants, the degree to which people believe the JCC strengthens overall community, and our scores on Jewish engagement.

We’ve just finished the two-day Schenectady visit of the consultant with our Benchmarking results, and the Albany one is scheduled to happen in mid-May. We will share results with you, and the items that merit our attention.

There’s a Jewish saying that while you are not required to “complete all the work of your generation” you are not allowed to desist from doing any of it. Your JCCs are and continue to be evolving projects to become the best versions of themselves. There is never a time when we say, we’re done, that’s it, we don’t have to do anymore. By engaging in this effort, and by asking you to be a part of it, we are closer to becoming that reflection of a world as we’d like to see it be.

I wish all of you a Chag Purim Sameach this coming Sunday. I’m away the next couple of weeks on vacation, which includes time in Buenos Aires during which I have tours of two JCCs in the city. Argentina has the fourth largest Jewish population of a country outside of Israel, and I’m excited to learn more about it. Hasta luego!