Joint MJCCA/JKG Committee
Thursday September 15, 2016, noon
Purpose of meeting: To investigate the opportunities, challenges and implications of a prospective future partnership between the MJCCA and JKG
Background on JKG’s Sunday program and MJCCA’s Camp Sunday program
Howie Hyman provided a brief history of the MJCCA’s Camp Sunday program. He shared that when he was serving as Interim CEO in 2010, he and the JCC leadership asked what the agency could do to get more kids and families into Jewish education. In starting Camp Sunday, they intentionally chose to structure it as an informal Jewish educational experience like camp, rather than Sunday school. Howie acknowledge that the JCC knew they would catch grief from local congregations; however, their goal was to capture individuals who were unaffiliated with synagogues.
Howie shared that he met with the ARA during their monthly meeting, which was held at the JCC and it was immediately clear that the rabbis weren’t in support of the JCC running such a program. Howie shared that he tried to emphasize the need to discuss not what each organization or synagogue was doing but rather what they weren’t doing. Howie emphasized that while a synagogue might view a family as being unaffiliated since they weren’t a synagogue member, he argued that if a family was sending their child(ren) to the JCC preschool, day camp or doing anything else Jewish that they were in fact affiliated, just not with a synagogue.
Howie shared that he and the JCC leadership took the approach of trying to work with the synagogues, and only have the program go through second grade to encourage the participants to transition to a synagogue after 2nd grade and to assist with that transition, he invited synagogue Rabbis to attend the Camp Sunday sessions as a way to develop relationships with the participants. Unfortunately, few took him up on the offer.
Howie shared that part of the rabbis’ frustration with Camp Sunday was circumstantial given that at that very time, the MJCCA hired Rabbi. Brian Glusman. While his charge was to bring in Jews rather than conduct life-cycle events, many rabbis were threatened by the JCC having a rabbi on staff.
Steven shared that many of the congregations were threatened by the JCC’s size, and Amanda added that, being at Federation at the time, the perception was that the loudest complainers were those who felt most threatened and whose religious school programs weren’t particularly strong.
Howie explained that 10/65 of the initial Camp Sunday participants were synagogue affiliated. Over time it’s evolved. The group discussed the declining attendance numbers since Camp Sunday was founded (currently 24 enrolled for this school year).
Amanda shared that the JCC believes the declining numbers are a result of both the cap at second grade, nearby synagogues improving their religious school program, and the Camp Sunday curriculum not being best in class, as is evidenced by the surveys from past participants.
Is a prospective partnership desirable?
Steven shared that the JCC would like to figure out a way to take advantage of each organization's’ strengths. He acknowledged that organizations often fracture resources and this partnership is a way to leverage them.
Ana shared her perspective of this being a “warm rental” rather a sterile landlord/tenant relationship.
When asked if the JCC has other partnerships with organizations or businesses, Amanda shared that last year, the JCC outsourced “art” to Purple Hippo when it was clear that we weren’t able to deliver a best in class art program.
When the JCC doesn’t have expertise, they want to partner and vice-versa. Steven shared that the Sunshine school in East Cobb is an MJCCA program that was originally housed at the Shirley Blumenthal campus. In the past several years, the East Cobb market couldn’t support all the Jewish preschools. Steven explained the solution was the JCC had a best in class product and Kol Emeth had a building but not a product. Steve shared that this is an ideal example of where agencies need to know what they do best.
Robert explained that he believes the JKG Board is interested in pursuing this partnership further. He indicated their primary concern was whether the JCC would be willing to deal with the anticipated backlash from synagogues and since this didn’t seem to be an issue for the JCC, Robert believed the JKG leadership is prepared to move forward with further exploration of the partnership.
What big issues do we need to address: How do we socialize this with synagogues, funders and the broader community?
Key stakeholders impacted by prospective partnership and possible challenges
The group discussed the need to think through what the buy-in process would look like. They charged Ana and Amanda with developing a timeline and detailed plan to be discussed by phone with the committee. The group identified a few key stakeholders that need to be part of the plan:
- Marcus Foundation
- Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta
- MJCCA Board (Steven shared that the board will likely ask about the financial implications of a partnership, including what the current financial picture of Camp Sunday looks like)
- JKG Board
- Synagogues (Ana and Amanda to identify which ones to speak with initially. B’nai Torah, Beth Shalom and Emanu-el were mentioned during the meeting as needing a conversation)
Steven: how we’re moving the line on holiday closings etc.
Wants business plan and definition of success. “What does success look like” “what does less than success look like” how might we outline expectations and metrics so that we can...