A Word from the COO

Posted by: Jeff Lasday, Chief Operating Officer on Thursday, January 4, 2018
Jeff Lasday, COO

Dear members and friends, 

Happy new year or, as many of my Facebook friends have been posting, “Happy 20Chai!”*

The new year is a time for self-reflection. It’s a time when we think about who we are and resolutely make promises to become a better version of ourselves. . .

New year’s is a time to reflect on who we are, review the critical factors on our life’s journey that helped to create the unique person we have come to be, and make mid-life corrections to help get us to where we want to go. When you think about your own identity, how do you define yourself? Who are you?

With the integration of Federation’s Jewish education department into the JCC, we have been doing a lot of thinking about identity. In particular, we have been thinking about the JCC’s role in building Jewish identity and strengthening Jewish community. This task is particularly challenging at a time when the very constructs of Jewish identity are so radically changing. Formal membership in religious organizations is down across all religions, yet there is an upswing in the search for spirituality. According to the Pew Research Center, about half of all Americans will change their religious affiliation at least once during their lifetime. The Pew Research Center also found that  a growing number of Jews  claim to have no religion, yet still take great pride in being Jewish. Traditionally, Jews took pleasure in doing Jewish with other Jews. Today, Jews take pride in doing Jewish with other people. 

Given this changing Jewish landscape, below are a few new year’s resolutions that the JCC is making in our efforts to strengthen Jewish identity and become a center for Jewish education and engagement for the mind, body and soul: 

  • No one Jewish organization can build Jewish community by itself so the JCC will seek collaborative partnerships to create a vibrant Jewish community (yes, it takes a village to create a village).
  • Jewish community needs to take in the full geographical landscape of metropolitan Detroit, so the JCC will partner with other organizations to provide Jewish learning opportunities beyond the boundaries of its base campus.
  • To have excellent education we need to have excellent formal and informal educators, so the JCC will provide professional development opportunities for our classroom teachers, educational directors and informal youth professionals.
  • To have a strong Jewish community we need to be all-inclusive, so the JCC will provide learning and social opportunities for all.
  • Strong Jewish identity means being Jewishly literate, so the JCC will provide thought-provoking classes to enable youth and adults the chance to wrestle with classic Jewish texts, history, dilemmas and timeless practices.
  • Strong Jewish identity means being culturally literate, so the JCC will provide opportunities to engage in and celebrate Jewish literature, music, language, film, art and culinary delights.
  • Strong Jewish identity means connecting with the miracle of a modern Israel, so the JCC will take the lead in creating a community-wide celebration of Israel at 70 (stay tuned for details!).
  • Strong Jewish identity means finding Jewish meaning in everyday occurrences, so the JCC will provide opportunities to infuse Jewish values (tikkun olam, tzedakah and chesed) and Jewish mindsets into daily life.
  • Building strong Jewish identity in the digital age means a willingness to try new types of programs and new types of outreach, and to build new types of communities, and so the JCC will strive to be innovative and bold.
  • Building Jewish identity and community in 2018 means being consumer centric and willing to build Jewish community one person at a time, so the JCC will strive to reach out to individuals where they are and connect them to like-minded people and other Jewish organizations. 

We look forward to you joining us in making these new year resolutions a reality (and you won’t even have to get on a treadmill - unless you want to, and we even have one of those, too).

Wishing you and yours an amazing 20Chai!

Jeffrey Lasday
Chief Operating Officer 

*Chai is the Hebrew number 18 and also means life. 

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