Sabes, St. Paul JCCs Usher In New Era

It may be the last day of 5780, but the two Jewish Community Centers in the Twin Cities had one last big piece of news to squeeze in before the holiday.

In an email sent Thursday afternoon, Michael Waldman, the CEO of the Sabes and St. Paul JCCs, announced that the 18-month process to bring the two separate agencies to one JCC was done, and would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2021, pending final approval from both boards. The Minnesota JCC will have the two existing JCC campuses in St. Louis Park and St. Paul

“For the past four years, the St. Paul JCC and Sabes JCC have been working together to create a vision and path for the future, building upon our shared Jewish values and cultures, and emphasizing serving others, inclusivity, community, mutual respect, excellence, and innovation,” Waldman said in the email. “Their unanimous conclusion is that when our two JCCs work together we are successful and, a Minnesota JCC with two campuses provides greater opportunities and resources for programming and people. The Boards of Directors of both JCCs agree.”

The Minnesota JCC will join the likes of large community organizations like the Red Cross, United Way, YMCA, NCJW, and Planned Parenthood that all had separate entities in both Minneapolis and St. Paul before merging.

“There is a ton of pride in the history of each community and what it has done and how it was built, but a vision for the future is that we’re better together,” Waldman said in an earlier interview. “Not just the Jewish community, but the whole Twin Cities community is coming to this realization. At the same time, we know that we have to build upon the legacy of the past to create a strong future.”

The combined JCC will include two independent non-profit organizations. The Minnesota JCC will house all of the JCC programs, services, staff and fundraising efforts and operate programming at both Centers and throughout the Twin Cities. The Minnesota JCC Foundation will manage the endowment funds and valuable real estate assets with the sole purpose of supporting the JCC. David Kristal has been nominated to be the JCC president and Jeff Tane has been nominated to be the JCC. Foundation president.

The decision to complete this move was anything but an easy decision. Starting on Jan. 1, 2019, Waldman – the St. Paul JCC CEO since 2010 – became the CEO of both the Sabes JCC  and St. Paul JCC  under a management agreement. Later that month a JCC Steering Committee made up of community members from both sides of the river and co-chaired by Stephanie Chauss and Hillary Feder – then the board presidents of the St. Paul and Sabes JCCs, respectively – began the investigative work.

The committee studied six critical areas: Communications, Organizational Culture, Real Estate and Capital Investment, Strategic Business Planning, Fundraising, and Governance. The steering committee found that a combined JCC with multiple campuses will serve more people with greater impact, and mitigate operating and performance risk by providing additional funding to invest in program innovation and growth; facilities and people through scholarships and professional development.

In the fall of 2019, there were four different information sessions where Waldman presented a sample of the committee’s work and took questions. He was quick to point out that there was no timeline for the completion of the process – the work that went in would dictate the timeline.

Waldman said that despite the global pandemic that is still ongoing, the time was still right to complete such a move.

“As COVID-19 has reshaped our community and our work, one might ask whether this is an optimal time to move forward with such a bold initiative. The answer is a resounding, yes,” he said. “As our two JCCs have adapted to the pandemic, we began to work as one – sharing resources and ideas – allowing us to be innovative and inclusive and to serve our community in ways both big and small. Over the past six months, we have experienced first-hand, the power of collaboration, and that – when we come together, we are better.”