More than 250 presidents and executive directors of Jewish Community Centers and JCC networks from 30 countries representing over 1,100 JCCs will convene in Ramat Gan's Kfar Maccabiah Hotel on Monday for the eighth World Conference of the World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers.
The four-day conference will focus on the effect of Israel’s deteriorating international image on Diaspora Jewry and finding innovative ways face this challenge by connecting Jews to their community, to Israel and to the Jewish people. Globalization, post modernism, individualism and most recently, Israel's deteriorating international status greatly affect Jews all around the world.
Smadar Bar-Akiva, executive director of World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers and the conference organizer, says that "JCCs can be the perfect vehicle for providing a safe space for acquiring knowledge and tools, for developing face to face global relationships that break down stereotypes and for building a positive Jewish identity through the great tool of informal Jewish education.
"Several sessions will also be devoted to the global financial crisis, which has had a negative effect on Jewish wealth and has led to a drastic drop in donations and resources for community and educational projects and programs. The conference will suggest sustainably models to confront this challenge".
Additional issues to be discussed at the Conference include: Community building, creative models of Jewish education in the JCCs, cultivating local leadership, mobilizing resources, promoting volunteerism and more.
Among the delegates attending the Conference are Jewish leaders from Azerbaijan, Argentina, Belarus, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Mexico, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, USA, and Venezuela. Many of them will be presenters at conference sessions and will shed light on Jewish communities which very often don't get to center stage.
This conference is part of WCJCC’s ongoing efforts to build a pool of JCC practitioners deeply committed to building Jewish community life. The conference serves as a space for networking and learning centered on key issues for building Jewish community life in contemporary societies and the benefits of JCCs investing in Jewish Peoplehood.
Maintaining and reinforcing Jewish identityPresident-elect Jane Gellman explains that “recent years have not been very good for most Jewish communities, due to the economic situation, the status of Israel and the ongoing trend of assimilation. This situation has made it necessary for Jewish Community Centers to develop new programs for reinforcing the connection with the members of their communities, on the one hand, and to develop creative strategies for cooperation with Israeli institutions and bodies, on the other.
“During the four days of the Conference, the heads of the JCCs together with Jewish community professionals will attempt to propose and develop new models for work, with the goal of maintaining and reinforcing the Jewish identity of the members of their communities, and their connection to Israel.”
The World Confederation of Jewish Community Centers (WCJCC) provides the essential bond that unites over 1,100 JCCs worldwide. It was established in May 1977 in Jerusalem, as the umbrella organization for all the continental, national and regional networks of JCCs. It is sponsored by major Jewish world organizations involved in supporting Jewish communities.
Throughout the world, Jewish Community Centers are the heart of Jewish communities. They are dedicated to the common purpose of Jewish continuity through educational, cultural and recreational activities. They provide services and programs that build and strengthen Jewish communal life and provide Jewish educational experiences by and for Jews of all ages and orientations.