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A centre of unity

by: Leslie Bunder - Last updated: 2003-10-10

Unity in the community

Uniting for a centre

Imagine the scene, orthodox Jew and secular Jew side by side, a disabled Jewish teenager taking part in a music event and hundreds of Jews of all ages and backgrounds together under one roof.

Sounds like a dream? No, this is something that is being planned for in London. A Jewish community centre (JCC) where Jews of all ages, backgrounds and religious affiliation can gather, share and partake in a wide range of leisure, spiritual and cultural pursuits.

A centre which is inclusive of all.

Leading communal philanthropist Dame Vivien Duffield has pledged her commitment and support into seeing a JCC become more than just an idea, but a reality.

The London JCC is being based on an existing JCC in New York. There, the Manhattan JCC has been a great success with its inclusive policy of welcoming all and providing a comprehensive range of programming and events to cater for all Jews. It even has leisure facilities including two swimming pools.

Having such a JCC in London will certainly cost money. Such a centre is likely to need many millions of pounds. But if this project is to become reality, then it certainly marks the start of something positive for UK Jews.

At a recent launch for the project, voices of support could be heard from left of the Jewish spectrum to the right.  But will the voices of support actually mean the project will happen or will it end up like lots of other Jewish projects that are well meaning but due to internal UK Jewish politics just end up not happening?

I sincerely hope that those in the community, who have raised their voices and concern about the project, quickly drop their voices and concern.

Dame Vivien has a vision that many Jews in the UK want to see happen – they want to see a modern purpose built building where all are welcome regardless of background.

Such a centre is about sharing and communal groups in London will need to learn about sharing rather than trying to compete. It is about pooling together resources, people and talent.

I would like to see those who represent religious bodies, cultural bodies and educational bodies to put their support behind the project and forget about any previous problems they may have had in working together.

If we as a community can work together today in seeing a London JCC become reality, then we can be proud of the future we will have.

“If you build it, they will come,” was the theme in baseball movie Field of Dreams, let’s build a JCC I say.  Not only will a building be created, but we will be building stronger foundations for communal unity and provide services and resources our people are needing.