It has been 18 months since we celebrated the grand re-opening of the Beckerman-Lender JCC Building after fire closed our doors for more than a year. Much hard work was invested by community volunteers to determine the best course in the wake of the fire, leading to a road map that has guided the re-imagination of programs, services and facility enhancements.
Café 360 is a great illustration of how re-imagination led to revitalization. The kosher café is at the heart of the building and draws many for great coffee, snacks, meals and conversation. With the addition of the new “MEATing Room” bringing a selection of deli lunches, takeaway meals and treats, the buzz is even better than what you get after downing a cup of fresh brewed Willoughby’s coffee drinks. Personally, having my favorite kasha knishes recently added to the offerings has provided a happy and tasty treat, even if my waistline is not as grateful. We are so blessed by the investment of Abel’s Caterers into Café 360. They are truly a terrific and devoted partner.
Today we benefit from the wisdom of our leaders with bustling activity involving people of all ages, abilities, backgrounds and interests. While this is more than encouraging, we are still recovering from the financial impact of the fire as well as the realities that confront a facility that is more than 25 years old, with many structures on the campus having exceeded their expected lifespan.
The Jewish Federation merged with the Jewish Community Center more than ten years ago. During the past four years we have worked with determination to fully integrate the operations, resulting in a combined budget and economies of scale with the elimination of redundancies and the streamlining of program delivery. We are very proud of the work we’ve done internally to strengthen the combined Jewish Federation/JCC enterprise.
Simultaneously while working to ensure the sustainability of the Jewish Community Campus, the Jewish Federation must also work toward an executable vision to ensure the sustainability of Jewish Greater New Haven. We are undertaking an effort to help identify core priorities and will take the additional important step to determine their feasibility. In an environment of shifting demographics, economic challenges and changing philanthropic investment, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Haven understands its great responsibility to secure the future. We need your help.
It will be critical to heed the words of the author George Sand who said “Let us accept truth, even when it surprises us and alters our views.” We look forward to engaging the community in this effort of uncovering our truth and pursuing the path it puts us on. The road ahead will be challenging. To navigate the path we will keep in mind the words of Rabbi Tarfon, who said that while we are not obligated to complete the work, we still may not desist from it.
As I reflect on the continuity of community I cannot help but reflect on the continuity of my own family in the great circle of life. Ensuring a bright Jewish future is even more important to me as I think about the next generations. Yes, Rabbi Tarfon—I may not complete this critically important work but I must never desist from it.
November and December bring us the cyclical opportunity to reflect on all that we’ve been given and to offer our gratitude. It is also a time when we celebrate the joy of giving to others and bask in the warmth of family, friends, community and light. As you celebrate Thanksgiving and Chanukah, please remember the Jewish Federation, Foundation and JCC in your end-of-year giving to enable us to continue our important work as your philanthropic partner, so that we may ensure the continuity of a bright and lasting Jewish future.