What is the obligation of a JCC to engage with global affairs? The question is often asked in the context of flashpoints like the war in Ukraine, or longstanding geopolitical situations like the Middle East. The Kaiserman JCC is a local institution, charged with fostering community here in the greater Philadelphia region. As a result, how might we answer this question? Simply put: In concert with our community.
Over the past few weeks we have seen hundreds in our community impressively step up to support relief efforts in Ukraine, in particular under the leadership of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia. As a result, the JCC is proud to amplify such efforts, and serve as a collection point for critically needed items donated to our partners at IAC Philadelphia for the cause. Our constituents have also answered the call for help from our sister Jewish Community Centers in Ukraine, and we stand with those centers embodying the Jewish concept of Klal Yisrael – or Jewish peoplehood.
We have also seen our community wrestle with this concept of peoplehood in other contexts over the years – oftentimes when it comes to the politics of Israel. Later this month the JCC will participate in the world premier of a new play on this topic – fascinatingly set at a Jewish Community Center not unlike our own. Settlements, by Seth Rozin, explores how a provocative play impacts the dynamics of a Jewish community, thematically centering the question so many of us ask when presented with thorny topics that rattle our community: How might we find common ground? This seems the essence of a JCC’s work, and I’m humbled to have been invited to participate in one of the production’s talkback sections as a guest speaker in order to present on how the JCC can address this important communal need.
More information about the play can be found in our original newsletter!