The state of The J is pretty darn good

Board member Marissa Grayson gave a heartfelt tribute to Cohn ECLC Director Barbara Traweek in recognition of Barbara’s 30 years of service to The J.

More than 60 people showed up at the Levite Jewish Community Center for The J’s first in-person annual meeting since 2019. The agenda included recognition of Cohn ECLC Director Barbara Traweek for 30 years of service and membership awards.

Board President Hilton Berger’s welcome message included the news that the organization’s net debt position has been reduced by 75 percent since 2019 – a reduction of more than $1 million from December 2019 to December 2022, which has led to an especially strong financial position as we begin 2023. 

“During a time of still so much uncertainty and division, I am proud of the ways the LJCC has bridged communities and built and developed relationships,” said Hilton. “The LJCC has embodied the Jewish value of chesed [caring] and tikun olam [repairing the world], and continues to be a beacon of light for those less privileged and also those in need in our community.”

Board member Marissa Grayson then gave a heartfelt tribute to Cohn ECLC Director Barbara Traweek in recognition of Barbara’s 30 years of service to The J.

A thriving facility

In her “I am The J” reflection, board member Rebecca Rothman outlined the many ways The J is thriving. “There is so much happening here, day and night,” she said before listing the numerous activities that bring her family to The J: filmmaking class, swim team, tennis lessons, swimming laps, walking the tracks, working out on the fitness floor, and summer’s Thursday Family Fun Nights.

“But it’s not just that,” she adds. “I came to visit the jam-packed summer camp program this summer to do shabbat blessings with the kids one Friday and it was so gratifying to see a really full house here.”

Next up was Membership Director Cody Bass, who presented awards to three members, including The J’s longest-serving members — Richard Pizitz Sr., a member since 1950, and Ann Cohen, who joined in 1957 — and the member who clocked the most visits in 2022: Lydie Emrich. 

Membership Director Cody Bass (at right) honored the following members (l-r) during Sunday’s gathering: “Lifetime Lifter” Ann Cohen, who joined The J in 1957; our longest-serving member, Dick Pizitz Sr., who joined The J in 1950; and Lydie Emrich, who clocked some 400 visits to The J in 2022 — the most of any member.
Making strangers neighbors

The final speaker was Interim Executive Director Brooke Bowles, who assumed her new role in November. “I’ve learned that the Torah tells us multiple times to love the stranger, to welcome the stranger, to provide and care for the stranger, and to not oppress the stranger,” said Brooke, who is not Jewish. 

“Living up to this responsibility will help that stranger to become our neighbor. Every day I get excited to build our neighborhood here at the J as I walk around, meet new people, and see how things are going.” 

Brooke cited numerous accomplishments from the past year, including regrowing membership to 87 percent of our pre-pandemic level, increasing revenue by 31 percent over the previous year, and increasing collaborations with numerous Jewish and other organizations. 

Further accomplishments from last year include a major renovation of the indoor pool and initiating the transformation of the HVAC system. “But I know that’s not enough,” she added before citing surveys that note The J’s aging facilities as the top concern among members. “We are listening,” she continued, explaining that progress on reducing the debt has freed up time and energy that can now be directed at resources, including partnering with a local firm to complete a property condition assessment that will help prioritize and address facility needs.

The meeting adjourned after approval of the 2023 board, including new members Lauren Axelroth, Andrew Bryant, Susan Lapidus, Andrew Newcomb, and Courtney Reed. 

Read more from Hilton and Brooke, and see highlights from last year in our 2022 Annual Report.