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A Letter to the Community About the Future of the J

Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Posted by: Joel Dinkin, CEO, & Lauren Kaufman Blachman, Board President

Read Our FAQs

As your Evelyn Rubenstein JCC President and Chief Executive Officer, we would like to take this opportunity to share some important updates about the J as we look to the future.

Prior to Hurricane Harvey, we were engaged in a master planning process for the Levit campus which would have included significant renovations and updates to our 50-year-old building. Hurricane Harvey forced us to pause our planning and fundraising to focus on reconnecting the community to the J. We set about reengaging programs and completing post-Harvey renovations. The last of the renovations was completed in December, with the installation of the flood gates and wall in front of the Joe Weingarten Building to protect the J from future flood damage.

Throughout the months-long process, we - like many homeowners - found ourselves contemplating our future. We are pleased to announce that, at our February meeting, the Board of Trustees of the J voted by an overwhelming majority to proceed with plans to reinvest in the Levit campus. We also remain committed to expanding our off-site and outreach programs and opportunities for meaningful Jewish engagement across Houston.

Where Are We Now, and Where Are We Going?

Current landscape and priorities:

  • Our infrastructure is 50 years old and there are areas of the building that need replacement and repairs.

  • Our indoor pool has been closed since the end of January. We have received a number of bids to repair the indoor pool while simultaneously conducting a comprehensive facility and infrastructure review of the entire campus. Maintaining a comprehensive aquatics program is central to our mission; however, we have decided not to repair the existing indoor pool. Instead, we will design a new indoor pool which will be an integral part of our new master plan. In the interim, we will continue to address ways to utilize our other pools to offer our members alternate swimming options.

  • We will maximize the reinvestments that we have already made in the campus post-Harvey.

  • In our visioning and planning for the improved campus, we will include these important priorities:
    • Protect the J from future flooding;
    • Improve accessibility into and around the campus;
    • Enhance security;
    • Create dynamic and flexible program spaces with more areas for gathering and socializing; and
    • Continue to share the campus with the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston.

Next Steps

  • We are engaged with our architects and leadership teams to create a comprehensive master plan. Once finalized, we will be able to share more details with you, including our vision, plans and projected time frames.

  • We have begun laying the groundwork for a capital campaign to raise funds to support these very important and much-needed campus transformation and program enhancement plans.

  • We will continue to provide you with updates and information. To that end, we have prepared a list of FAQs available here. We also invite you to contact either of us if you have any questions.

Our Future

As we remain steadfast in our belief and commitment that our J serves as the hub of our Jewish community, we are pleased to be able to both re-commit to this neighborhood and plan for continued outreach throughout Houston. Most importantly, we appreciate your continued support of the J, as together we shape a meaningful vision for our future.

 

Warmly,

Joel Dinkin
Chief Executive Officer
  Lauren Kaufman Blachman
President of the Board of Trustees

 

Category: News

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