Editorial by JCC Co-President Lowell Richter
Hamilton Jewish News
Change. A word that inspires hope in some, fear in others. To change a community-centered asset clearly presents its own set of challenges. Hamilton’s Jewish Community Centre has been constrained by changes in our community demograhics and desires, and by our ability to service our community in an efficient and sustainable manner. The reality is that we are faced with a limited pool of funds from which to draw, and the community has not engaged with the current JCC on a significant scale for many years.
Our board has reached the conclusion that the JCC needs to build on our strengths and let go of the things that slow us down. In short, we need to reinvent ourselves, so that we can become more relevant to a greater number of people. What we do best, we will continue to do. Camp Kadima, an unqualified success along with the Morris Black and Max Rotman programs, as well as our cultural programs like Yom HaShoah and Yom Ha’atzmaut, will carry on.
We, at the JCC, have always been guided by our mission statement of providing “social, educational, recreational and cultural services within the framework of Jewish tradition ... and to reach out to other ethnic groups in the hope of building bridges to overcome stereotypes, prejudice and ignorance.” How have we been doing? A visit to Camp Kadimah or the Max and Stella Rotman Humanitarian Youth Award ceremony clearly demonstrates how well we’ve addressed the latter, while many programming initiatives failed to get off the ground due to some of the limitations of our current building. We also acknowledge that we’ve been unable to service our senior population effectively.
There has been a great deal of conversation about what our community needs. What does a successful JCC look like? Our needs and wants, versus what we can sustain, seldom align. Many successful Jewish communities function in a campus-like environment, and this is what we envision for our community as well, with the JCC acting as an anchor. While it is our desire to transition into a new home, it will take time. Until then, we will follow the virtual model.
So, what does the future hold? We are excited by the possibilities. Over the next few months the JCC board, along with other community stakeholders, will start to craft that vision. We will look to a model that ensures long-term relevance and can be a “value added” institution to our great community. Jewish Hamilton will need to continue to support the JCC financially to ensure the future of this more than 100-year-old institution. This investment in our present will a yield strong, vibrant and meaningful part of our Jewish community going forward.
We hope you will embrace the change.