Simon Family JCC Biennial Meeting honors the hard work of many, focuses on future collaborations

by | Jun 27, 2016 | Featured

Marcia Hofheimer presents The Thomas L. Hofheimer Humanitarian Award to Dana Cohen and Kitty Saks. Marcia Hofheimer, Kitty Saks, Tonie Wilkins, Marty Einhorn and Dana Cohen.

Marcia Hofheimer presents The Thomas L. Hofheimer Humanitarian Award to Dana Cohen and Kitty Saks. Marcia Hofheimer, Kitty Saks, Tonie Wilkins, Marty Einhorn and Dana Cohen.

The 2016 Biennial Meeting of the Simon Family JCC took place on Wednesday, June 15. During the meeting, outstanding community accomplishments were acknowledged, awards were presented, a president bid his farewell, and a prospective president explained that the JCC-initiated merger with the United Jewish Federation of Tidewater was why he was not taking office.

Marty Einhorn, outgoing JCC president, gave a state of the Center address following Rabbi Rosalin Mandelberg’s uplifting D’var Torah, focusing on change.

After thanking the professional staff and lay leaders for making the JCC great, Einhorn highlighted the JCC’s most recent accomplishments—Camp JCC’s waiting lists and the largest Israel Fest crowd to date, just to name a few. He also acknowledged the fitness center’s ongoing struggle to bring in new members and pointed to the partnership with Town Center Fitness’ owner Tom Purcell as a ray of hope.

After detailing a few fun childhood stories about the JCC—working in the snack bar and riding his bike to the former location on Newport Avenue— Einhorn explained how important his role as president for the past two years was to him on a personal level: “Thank you for challenging me to be the best that I can be. It’s been an honor.”

Terri Sarfan, a past JCC president, thanked Einhorn for his quiet, thoughtful leadership, countless hours of work on the merger, Strelitz Early Childhood Education Center reconfiguration, and quantified the growth the JCC has seen under his leadership.

“Marty, you worked really hard on fundraising this year, and under your leadership, we have surpassed a half a million dollar mark in fundraising for the JCC, which is a huge feat for one agency in the Tidewater community,” said Sarfan.

The awards presentation at the 2016 Biennial included The David and Sylvia Krug Award for Outstanding Service to the Simon Family JCC, presented to Sandra Porter Leon; The Thomas L. Hofheimer Humanitarian Award, presented to Dana Cohen and Kitty Saks; The Joseph “Buddy” Strelitz Community Service Award, presented to the Hampton Roads Community Foundation; The Jewish Programming Award, presented to Terri Denison and the Jewish News Team; The JCC Youth Award, presented to Evan Roesen; The Mary & Avalon S. Krukin Award for Senior Adults, presented to Bernice Greenberg; and The JCC Service Award, presented to Jaime Brathwaite.

Each award winner received a standing ovation for their incredible service, but the roar of the crowd was a bit louder for Jaime Brathwaite’s more than three decades of service as he took the stage. In Harry Graber’s speech indicating why Brathwaite was nominated for the award, he repeatedly noted how much everyone who has crossed paths with Brathwaite loves him for his kind, patient, and thoughtful demeanor.

David Leon, prospective president, had the honor of addressing the JCCUJFT merger, first noting that the merger was a JCC initiative.

“A number of us had been discussing the challenges facing the JCC over the last few years. In particular, the overlap and duplication of programing between the JCC and Federation was an obvious issue. From first-hand experience and surveys taken, many people who step foot on the Sandler Family Campus often have no idea which agency is sponsoring any of the many events and programs they’re attending,” Leon explained.

“We convened a restructuring committee made up of current, past and future leadership of both agencies to start the process of discussing, debating, researching and planning the best way to move forward.”

Leon said the team contacted other communities that have previously gone through similar mergers, including Louisville, Austin and Phoenix.

“Our long term goal is to provide a vibrant community for our all our members and ensure a thriving Jewish community for our children and grandchildren,” said Leon.

Jay Klebanoff, UJFT president, thanked the crowd for attending the last JCC Biennial meeting and dismissed the group.

Danielle Kavan