Leaders of Jewish organizations in Chandler, Gilbert, Mesa and Tempe will gather this weekend to start a conversation about how to strengthen the East Valley’s Jewish community.
The East Valley Jewish Community Building Initiative will be held 2-5 p.m. Sunday, May 5, in the Memorial Union on Arizona State University’s Tempe campus.
“This program is a leadership summit for members of the Jewish community in the East Valley to strategize about different methods of communication, collaboration and programming that will strengthen and grow the Jewish community,” Marc Krell, Temple Beth Sholom of the East Valley religious school director and community program coordinator, wrote in an email.
During the program, Stuart Wachs, president and CEO of the Jewish Community Association of Greater Phoenix, will present a session on “Community Building: The Empowered Community.”
The association granted $700 to this project earlier this year as an outreach allocation, funded through its Campaign for Jewish Needs.
“This is an important event as we all work together to strengthen the community,” Wachs said. “The East Valley is a growing and important part of our Phoenix Jewish community.”
Other sessions include “Moving Beyond Boundaries: Building Community in the 21st Century” presented by Rabbi Darren Kleinberg, executive director of Valley Beit Midrash, and “Where Do We Go From Here? Moving Forward Together,” led by Steve Tepper, CEO and executive director of the East Valley JCC.
It will also include a strategy session, where breakout groups will discuss opportunities for communication, collaboration and programming among the involved entities. Afterward, each breakout group will present its ideas to all participants to create a foundation for ongoing dialogue.
The ASU Center for Jewish Studies and the JCA were integral in making this event happen, Krell said. Lisa Kaplan, JCA director of planning and organization relations, assisted in the coordination of the program, while Ilene Singer, the assistant director of the Center for Jewish Studies, worked with ASU staff to secure the location for the event and develop PR materials.
The center is hosting the summit on the ASU campus, as well as providing necessary financial and logistical support to make this happen, he said. "Part of my vision with this event was to bridge the gap between the university and the community and the center provides that important connection ... I consider them one of the major Jewish organizations of the East Valley, and they can provide a neutral space for Jews of all affiliations to learn about and build Jewish community."
Krell told Jewish News earlier this year that he got the idea for this event after attending the Jewish Community Foundation’s Jewish Community Conversation, which brought about 340 people to ASU’s Memorial Union in September 2011.
“(The May 5) event is so important because it is initiating a conversation among Jewish agencies in the East Valley about how to work together to unify and empower the Jewish community across denominations and affiliations,” Krell wrote.
Participating organizations are Avde Torah Jayah, the Center for Jewish Studies at Arizona State University, Chabad Jewish Center of Gilbert, Chabad of ASU, Chabad of the East Valley, Chabad of Mesa, the East Valley JCC, the East Valley Jewish Day School, Hillel at ASU, the association, Temple Beth Sholom of the East Valley and Temple Emanuel of Tempe.