In my group of 35 Adult Arts and Education Professionals we were asked to bring in two photos, printed on 8 ½ by 11. One was to be a picture of what we saw when we enter our JCC and the other was to be an image of a Jewish spot within our JCC. We covered the small meeting room walls with taped up photos of multi-sized entrances, front desks, reception areas, sculptures, Menorahs, Mezuzahs, a giant hanging wooden Magen David that hovers over a JCC foyer, as if it is protecting or watching over its guests, children in Purim costumes, comfy, funky-looking couches to hang out on and ponder relevant Jewish paintings (Calgary JCC).
After discussing our pictures, and which pictures resonated with each participant, one of our leaders Dr. David Ackerman was specially taken with Toronto’s Miles Nadal JCC’s Jewish Life Senior Programmer Sharoni Sibony’s photo of our entrance. She chose a photo of our ever-ebullient entrance greeter, Akiva with our security guard Joseph. Akiva is as friendly as he appears in the photo. The message David received from Sharoni’s picture is, ‘yes, we are welcoming, and yes, you are safe here, because you need to be safe in your JCC and did we mention how welcome you are?’ It is an admittedly mixed or layered message, a picture that says a lot. Sharoni and I were taken a-back with this exercise – looking at other JCCs, that are so unfamiliar to us but something about them all is inherently familiar. Is it the thought involved in conveying a warm and welcoming environment at each JCC?
Just listening to what our JCC colleagues across North America love about entering their place of employ, what prides them and what element of the entrance speaks to us as professionals and users – be it a donor recognition spot, a picture drawn by a child, or a ticket booth – made me think about how we differ as individuals on what is important to each of us, what makes us proud and passionate about the entrance to our building. Gently provoking stuff for day one…and that was only the beginning.
Then, JCC President Allan Finkelstein address on 21st Agency for 21st Century Leaders mega-charged me! “if it’s not broke, BREAK it!” among other zingers from his speech (that were being tweeted as he spoke them) tops it off for me. What a speaker! So I signed up for breakfast with him in a couple of days… eeek, I’d better get my act together and think of fascinating but relevant topics to engage Allan while he eats his French toast, or corn flakes.
Esther Arbeid | Miles Nadal JCC