With JCCSF reopening, city will get Jewish epicenter

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It’s here.

After years of losing money, in a building that was becoming more dysfunctional as time went on, the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco will reopen in mid-January in a brand new space.

And as our story and accompanying photos attest, what a new and improved center it is.

It’s been a long haul. There was the debt. There was the $80 million to raise. There was the opposition from the preservationists. And then, there were the last two-plus years spent in makeshift quarters in the Presidio.

But come next week, all of that will be just a memory. A host of events will be taking place in the coming months to unveil the new facility to the public.

The big moment has finally arrived.

Nate Levine, the center’s executive director, promises the new JCC to be “the new Jewish public square, the epicenter of San Francisco’s Jewish community.”

That’s a tall order. But with such a beautiful edifice, and all that’s promised to be inside, we think the JCC will be able to live up to its mission.

Especially since everyone involved is cognizant of the fact that its success will hinge on programming.

As Paul Resnick, president of the JCC put it: “A sparkling new building doesn’t mean

anything unless you have programs that serve the Jewish community and also reflect Jewish values.”

Observers of the Bay Area’s Jewish community know how hard it is to create a central address here. With Jews spread out over such a large area, Jewish neighborhoods don’t exist in the city. Jews live everywhere, so drawing them to one place can be a challenge.

Plus, many Bay Area Jews are unaffiliated and not inclined to seek out Jewish activities in the first place.

We know the new center will engage its current members. But a JCC is often the first entrance into the Jewish community for some families, those who appreciate having a cultural tie to Judaism but don’t feel the need to worship. We hope the new center will attract those families even more so now.

In a related story, we report on the burgeoning relationship between the JCC and a new India Community Center in Milpitas. The two brothers who started the ICC felt they could learn much from the way JCCs operate, and Levine, in fact, continues to sit on the ICC’s board. Cultural exchange programs are planned between the two in the future.

While the timing of this new relationship is coincidental, we hope it is an omen of all the good things to come. We believe that the new center will bring along with it all kinds of exciting possibilities and fresh ideas.