The Boards of Directors of the Sabes and St. Paul JCCs have unanimously voted to approve the creation of the Minnesota JCC, effective on January 1, 2021. The news is the culmination of a deliberative and thoughtful process over several years that involved analysis, research, and community involvement.
A JCC Steering Committee, co-chaired by the board presidents and comprised of leaders from both the Minneapolis and St. Paul communities, have spent the past several years doing an in-depth study of the two JCCs. Their work included understanding the important legacies and foundation that the JCCs are built upon, and creating a pathway forward for growth and sustainability
“The process was very thorough and very inclusive,” said CEO Michael Waldman. “The community and staff had multiple opportunities to ask questions. Thousands had a voice. We could have done it more quickly, but knew that would not have been the right approach.”
In mid-September – hours before Rosh Hashanah started – the JCCs announced the combination was ready to occur in January pending the board approvals. 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 combining.
The combined JCC will include two independent non-profit organizations. The Minnesota JCC will operate all of the JCC programs and services at both Centers in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The Minnesota JCC Foundation, with the sole purpose of supporting the JCC, will oversee the management and allocation of JCC invested funds and real estate assets, which includes the Capp Center and Camp Butwin.
“This is an important and historical achievement for our JCC’s and for our community,” said David Kristal, incoming board president of the Minnesota JCC. “The combination of resources, leadership and vision is the culmination of many years of thoughtful and dedicated work, and represents a unique community commitment that will make us stronger and better for generations to come.”
Said incoming Foundation board president Jeff Tane, “Starting from a strong base, the Minnesota JCC Foundation is well-positioned to meet the programming needs and support the services of the Minnesota JCC in these challenging times.”
Waldman said there was a conversation about the name, originally considered to be the Twin Cities JCC. However, the research showed the JCCs could be more far-reaching and inclusive and wanted the Minnesota JCC name to reflect this vision.
Pandemic Wasn’t An Impediment
Waldman said that going through the COVID crisis since mid-March has actually reinforced the decision to move forward. “COVID-19 forced us to adapt and re-envision how we deliver and create community engagement,” he said. “The two JCCs have partnered every step of the way, almost seamlessly, finding new and creative ways to operate.
From the beginning of the pandemic, the Sabes and St. Paul JCCs worked together to create “Our Virtual JCC,” a way to help people stay connected and healthy during the unprecedented time we’re all living through.
“A single JCC with two campuses propels us into the future as our community comes together as one,” he said. “The new model provides opportunities for growth and sustainability – to reach more people, provide more programming and services, and to build upon what the JCCs do best.”
Culture, Legacies Were Important
One of the considerations presented to the Steering Committee was the importance of honoring the legacies of the two agencies.
“The Steering Committee was clear that, in order to be successful, a new organization must honor the history and legacy of past.” Waldman said. “There is an emotional component to doing this, and it was really imperative that the community trust that we are building upon, and not disregarding, the leadership efforts that got us here.”
The community support has been “overwhelming and tremendous,” Waldman said. Through the process, hundreds of people, from staff to members to non-members provided input. An independent culture study was conducted as part of the Steering Committee’s work and showed that the perceptions about each community from the other side were almost identical. “The study revealed that most reservations about a combined JCC were based on folklore, not actual experiences. People looking to the future overwhelmingly believe that this is good for the JCC and the community. And they appreciate our leadership.”
The new logo, website, and branding will be rolled out in the first week of January. Over the coming months, The Minnesota JCC will be focused on ensuring smooth integration and seamless transition. “Everything we do will be guided by two questions,” said Waldman, “First, how can we serve the community in ways big and small? And, second, what are the opportunities for growth that will enhance our ability to create community?”