I am The J: After ‘growing up at The J,’ Isa Dorsky is our new board president

Annual meeting attendees on Sunday happily noshed on a delicious brunch arranged by Lori Dorsky, while her husband Stephen was proud to introduce their daughter, Isa, for her inaugural address. Such close family ties have played a longtime formative role in Isa’s relationship with The J, and now she’s president of the board.

We caught up with her to ask a few questions about the past, present, and future…

A smiling woman wearing a very light green sweater smiles for the camera
“The LJCC is in the best position it’s seen in many years, and I’m honored to be serving this organization that has given me so much during my lifetime,” Isa says of her new role.
LJCC: What does it mean that you “grew up at The J”? 

ID: The J proudly serves people of all ages, and I’m a product of that. I went to preschool at the Cohn Early Childhood Learning Center, took swim lessons, and was a camper at Camp JCC. I have vivid memories of us being in trailers in the parking lot while the JCC was being renovated in the 90s. I was on the soccer and swim teams, took tennis lessons with Coach Dale in high school, and one summer even pretended I was an art specialist for camp. I probably spent more hours at the J than anywhere else. They called us “J rats” (not a cute name, but it is what it is). Some of my best friends today are from growing up at the J. I love that The J is here for everyone, from cradle to grave.

How did you learn the importance of community service?

This is something that was instilled in me by my parents at a young age. They both served on boards of various community organizations, and my dad was president of the LJCC from 2002 to 2003. 

As a teen I was very active in two youth groups (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and the North American Federation for Temple Youth), and tikkun olam (repairing the world) was a core value in both. We regularly participated in hands-on community service projects. I think it is so important to be able to give back to our community and those in need. 

When did you decide that you’d like to be board president?

I think in the back of my mind I knew that it would happen at some point. Did I think I would be president at 36? Absolutely not! But now is my time and the timing feels right. I love that I’m following in my father’s footsteps. The LJCC is in the best position it’s seen in many years, and I’m honored to be serving this organization that has given me so much during my lifetime. 

A woman in a dress stands at a podium that is flanked by some potted plants
Isa gives her inaugural address at the January 28 annual meeting.
How has Birmingham’s Jewish community changed during your lifetime?

The landscape has really changed. In my childhood, it’s fair to say that the majority of the Birmingham Jewish population lived in Mountain Brook. We all went to school together, saw each other at Sunday and Hebrew school, played sports together, etc. This isn’t the case anymore. Families are spread all around the Over The Mountain area now, so I think you really have to make being engaged in the Jewish community an active choice if it’s something that’s important to you. 

At our annual meeting on Sunday, our keynote speaker, JCC Association of North America Board Member Kara Bierman, noted that JCCs stand out in Jewish communities because of their strength and vitality. What makes the Levite Jewish Community Center so vibrant?

Our members! The J welcomes everyone, regardless of race, religion, etc. I’m proud of the diversity of our membership, and I truly believe that everyone who walks through the front doors contributes to the vibrancy on our campus. 

What are you most looking forward to during your two-year term?

I’m excited about working with our staff to continue serving our members and community, and hopefully offer great new ways to continue to grow it all forward.

Your baking skills are legendary. Are you planning to bake some delicious treats for every board meeting? 

While I might not be planning this for every board meeting, stay tuned! You just never know what might show up and when.

We might have some readers who would love to see you repeat the “Bake Like Your Bubbe” class that you taught last year…

I’m happy to give the people what they want!

Anyone interested in Jewish culinary traditions is welcome to make a donation to the Isa Dorsky LJCC Kitchen & Jewish Delicacies Fund at the Birmingham Jewish Federation.

From preschool to soccer to tennis, swimming, and camp, Isa (front row, third from right) has a long history at The J.