What Makes the Edlavitch DCJCC So Special

By Edlavitch DCJCC June 30, 2023
16th street entrance.

A note from CEO Jen Zwilling

Dear friends,

As the Edlavitch DCJCC’s programming year comes to a close today, I’ve been taking the time to joyfully look back at everything that’s happened and everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting since I joined this vibrant community in January.  In my reflections and through my day-to-day work, a few themes about our work and our community are becoming clear to me. I’d love to share those with you. 

Our Trade is Relationships

While I am always impressed by the quality of the EDCJCC’s programs, what I have come to quickly appreciate is that when we have relationship-building in mind, the real magic of creating community happens!   It may seem obvious, but facilitating ongoing points of connection for a group of individuals like monthly Shabbat gatherings for young professionals or warm spaces for new parents to come together over coffee is our sweet spot. When we do this for people whose Jewish connections are tenuous or uncertain, we help to ensure that Jewish life is relevant, accessible, and welcoming for all Jews.

We Are Masters of Jewish Storytelling

We use Jewish wisdom – the stories of our people, both ancient and contemporary – to help people connect more deeply with their own distinctively Jewish and universally human story.

I witnessed this personally in my own teenagers who joined me at a JxJ film screening last winter. As we walked out of the theater, they remarked to me about a new sense of pride at seeing a Jewish story on the big screen. This spring, I saw it in each performance I attended of Gloria: A Life, where the second act invited patrons to share their own stories about the ways they have been impacted by the women’s rights movement. And folks who engaged in Jewish study cohorts this year tell me not only that they felt more deeply connected to Jewish wisdom, but also to their study partners.

We Are Bridge Builders

Several people have asked me over these past six months what the role of the EDCJCC is in combating rising antisemitism across the US.  While I certainly think there is more that we can and will do, my first answer is that I deeply believe that our mere presence and our work in both building relationships and sharing our Jewish story is a vital part of the strategy.

Our community is diverse, and whether we are welcoming people through our doors each day to exercise, attend camp or preschool, live our Jewish values through acts of service, or enjoy art on our stage or screen, we are building bridges to the community around us in powerful ways.

Every day on my way to my office, I pass a photograph of President Calvin Coolidge addressing the community at our cornerstone laying of our 16th and Q building in 1925. I recently read the speech that President Coolidge delivered on that day,  and the following two sentences struck me. He said: 

Such an establishment, so noble in its physical proportions, so generous in its social purposes, is truly a part of the civic endowment of the nation’s capital. Beyond that, its existence here at the seat of the national Government makes it in a peculiar way a testimony and an example before the entire country.

As the JCC of the nation’s capital, we not only serve the Jews and broader community of those who live in and around DC, but we also serve as a model and an example for the vibrancy of Jewish community, of our rich culture and tradition, and in the ways in which Jewish community extends ourselves to better the world around us. 

Thank you to each of you for all that you do to help ensure the vibrancy and vitality of the EDCJCC and for all that we will do and create together in the years ahead. I hope to see you around the Center this summer!