WEST HARTFORD – “The Mandell JCC’s 100th Annual Meeting was a heartfelt opportunity to recognize the contributions of a respected and beloved community institution as we celebrated the accomplishments of our past and present leaders, volunteers, donors, employees and members. We are proud of the roles the JCC has played in building community – one century at a time. And we are positive and enthusiastic about the years ahead,” reported David Jacobs, the executive director of the West Hartford organization.
Held on Wednesday evening, June 3, the meeting was led by Annual Meeting Chair, Joyce Mandell, who, together with her husband, Andy, is the JCC’s lead benefactor. The couple has established the Centennial Endowment Challenge to help secure the future of the Mandell JCC.
“This is an institution that stands the test of time. One hundred years of changes, challenges, achievements,” Mandell told those gathered. “We look back with respect and admiration, sentiment and wonder. But we are also compelled to look forward – to think about the community we will build for those who come after us. But for tonight our theme is Kol Hakovod – honoring a job well done. How appropriate that on the occasion of our Centennial Annual Meeting we recognize and honor those people who are at the core of the JCC’s success – yesterday and today.”
A poignant part of the meeting was a tribute to the late Murry Shapiro, who served as the JCC’s executive director from 1955-1984, that began with a short film narrated by Jacobs, as well as Eleanor Caplan, Bob Fishman, Jay Leipzig, Rick Robinson, Paul Shapiro, Ronny Siegel, Al Siegel, Debbie Stein Elman, Merrill Stein, and Mike Wolf. Jacobs and Leipzig, the JCC’s former executive director, then presented the Gerald Steinberg Outstanding Leadership Award to Murry’s grandson Sam Shapiro (NYU ’18), who related his own early experiences in Jewish community leadership and the impact that his grandfather had on the lives of so many people.
Howard Sovronsky and Robert Yass of the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford, and Michael Johnston, of the Jewish Community Foundation, brought greetings from their agencies.
Board of Director teen representatives Ben Leibman and Nathan Schachter honored JCC volunteers who help out in a variety of JCC programs. Also honored were 25 JCC employees who were celebrating anniversary milestones at the JCC – among them, Jane Pasternak, director of the Family Room Parenting Center, and Rhonda Wirth, co-director of the Early Childhood Center, who both celebrated 30 years of service.
Outgoing President Jeffrey Hoffman was thanked for his service. Hoffman will stay active as the JCC’s chairman of the board and vowed to help the JCC meet the Centennial Endowment Campaign goal to raise $5 million by the end of 2016.
The meeting included the election of new and continuing board members. Officers elected included: Richard Fechtor, president; Jeffrey Hoffman, chairman of the board; Gayle Temkin, first vice president; Benjamin Albert, Meryl Braunstein, Brad Drazen, Peter Fishman, Pat Kazakoff, Scott Margolis, Michalee Merritt, vice presidents; Dr. Robert Krug, secretary; Jack Kramer, treasurer; and John Henry Decker, assistant treasurer.
In his first address to the Board as President, Richard Fechtor laid out his agenda for the next two years. “I want to ensure that staff and lay leaders successfully navigate current challenges,” Fechtor said. “I want to help plan brilliantly for the future, to help us get ready for the next 100 years.”
CAP: JCC Board members at dinner before the annual meeting: (l to r) Fran Landy, Robin Gelles, Jay Leipzig (former executive director), Jeffrey Hoffman, Nancy Hoffman, Roberta Woronow, Theodore Kaplan and Joyce Liebert.
Photos by Lorraine Greenfield