JCC Greater Boston stands with Israel. Find Out More.

From The President/CEO's Desk

Breaking Ground on the JCC’s Next Chapter

Lily and Mara at the groundbreaking ceremony.

Photo of President/CEO Lily Rabinoff-Goldman and Governing Board Chair Mara Riemer Goldstein at the groundbreaking ceremony.

I am so proud and grateful that at long last, we’ve made it to the groundbreaking of our exciting, transformative lobby renovation. This has been one of most challenging seasons in our lives as Jews and in Jewish community in recent memory. I don’t take for granted what a privilege and blessing it was to gather in person to celebrate this wonderful milestone. It is also a reminder of the deep, enduring, and profound importance of the Jewish community, the Jewish people, and of the JCC, which gives us a place and an opportunity to bring affirmative, proud, joyful Jewish experiences into the world. 

Renovating the JCC lobby and upgrading its security infrastructure has been a dream of this organization’s for many years. The fact that we broke ground on it this month, which is both a milestone for our organization and a time of great uncertainty for the Jewish community and for the world, has great resonance. This project is both a security upgrade and a gathering upgrade. In that, it holds all of our fear and all of our hope inside it. We want and need the JCC to be a safe and secure place not because we want to live inside a fortress – we don’t. We want and need the JCC to be a safe and secure place because we want to gather, joyfully and proudly. We want to be able to offer our children and grandchildren the great gifts of community, connection, and belonging that the generations that came before us have provided for all of us. And the truth is, from my perspective, this whole equation works in the other direction as well. When we gather together with joy and with pride, we create the conditions in which the Jewish community can be safe and secure. We do that by strengthening our bonds with one another, and we do that by creating relationships and allyships with the diverse mosaic of amazing people who come through these doors and want to be part of what we have to offer. Every day at the JCC we hold both of these truths, that being safe allows us to gather and that gathering helps strengthen us and make us safe. This gorgeous renovation that we are embarking on will allow us to do this work better, more expansively, and more beautifully. The fact that this community has invested in those priorities is an incredible gift. It brings us light and hope and a promise for a better future in a moment that has felt challenging and dark, and I am humbled and grateful to everyone who has made that investment with us. 

I would be remiss to not acknowledge and thank the work and leadership of many people who have allowed us to arrive at this milestone. The dream of this lobby project predates me and even some of the key drivers in executing the vision today. In reality, it was the dream of the Leventhal and Sidman families who founded the JCC. It was Mark Sokoll and Sami Sinclair’s dream. It was Lou Grossman and Lori Sidman’s dream. It was Gavin Andrews’ and Kait Rogers’ dream. And our recent groundbreaking celebration wouldn’t have been possible without the incredible work of all of those leaders, and so many other staff and volunteers who came before us over the past many years to lay the groundwork for this project. We are grateful, too, to our partners at Margulies Peruzzi Architects, and Ken Wexler and his team at Elaine Construction, who have literally been building this center for more than 40 years! 

We also could not have even begun to imagine breaking ground, on our 40th anniversary no less, without the generosity of donors who made this project possible. In particular, three visionary families without whose selfless generosity we would not be here today. Paul and Phyllis Fireman, and Arthur Winn, his daughter Jennifer Winn Aronson, and their families, have been friends of the JCC for decades. They saw early on that this was the moment for this project to come to fruition, and their key investments allowed us to know that we could move forward this year. The Chleck Family Foundation, and its Executive Director, Ross Levine, are a new generation of JCC supporter. Their understanding that joining the Winns and the Firemans was an opportunity to transform the JCC for the Greater Boston community and the next generation inspired all of us.  

All of these families, plus the Board members, lay leaders, and community members who have given so generously of their time, treasure, and talent to this project have invested in the mission of the JCC in ways that I cannot begin to thank them for. I am incredibly grateful to each of them for seeing the importance of this place and this organization, for believing in us and understanding the urgency of this project in this time, for holding our twin goals of security and gathering so dear, and for helping us to make them a reality. We are so lucky to have them as part of our community every day. 

This moment of celebration makes me think of a poem shared recently by my rabbi, Dan Berman, with our community. It’s a poem by Yehuda Amichai, the informal poet laureate of Israel, whose words never fail to open my heart. The poem is called, “Ein Yahav,” after a farming community in the south of Israel. “Ein Yahav” also means, “wellspring of hope.” 

Ein Yahav 

A night drive to Ein Yahav in the desert. 

A drive in the rain. Yes, in the rain. 

There I met people who grow date palms, 

there I saw tamarisk trees and risk trees, 

there I saw hope barbed like barbed wire. 

And I said to myself: That’s true. Hope needs to be 

like barbed wire to keep out our despair. 

Hope must be a minefield. 

This milestone celebration is a bittersweet moment that is also full of great hope. In it we are reminded to look backwards with pride at the community and community center that has raised us, and to look forward to the community that we will continue to co-create. I can’t wait to celebrate with everyone on the other side. 

We use cookies to improve your browsing experience on our website. By closing this banner or interacting with our site, you acknowledge and agree to our Privacy Policy