Joan S. Beren Wichita Jewish Community Center (JSBWJCC)

In November 2019, Ahavath Achim Congregation and Congregation Emanu-el voted to accept a memorandum of understanding to create the Joan S. Beren Wichita Jewish Community Center, referred to as JSBWJCC or WJCC. The two congregations are now housed in the same building along with the Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation (MKJF) and the Joan S. Beren Jewish Community School (JBJCS).

 

Being together in the same facility enables both congregations, MKJF, and JBJCS to coordinate activities and share resources as we collaboratively create a vibrant center of Jewish life in Wichita. Renovations and new construction took place from 2020 - 2021 to update the facility and these investments have made the JSBWJCC a new home for the Wichita Jewish Community.

 

For additional information, please reach out to Hannah See, WJCC Administrator at hannah.see@jsbwjcc.org or WJCC president Ryan Bendell. Room reservation inquiries should be directed to Julie Fruhauf, Director of MKJF at jfruhauf@mkjf.org.

All JSBWJCC announcements will be posted below.

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Dear Members of Congregation Emanuel and Ahavath Achim Congregation,


Last night the Board of the WJCC held its annual meeting and officers were elected from the directors appointed by the Presidents of both congregations. As a reminder, the Board is composed of an equal number of representatives from each congregation. From those appointed by the congregations, officers are elected internally. For the year 2022:

President: Ryan Bendell

Vice President: David Moses

Treasurer: Keith Pickus

Secretary: Ellen Beren


The Board is excited to have Keith Pickus join us. Keith has experience and knowledge that will be advantageous to the WJCC’s operations. He has already started to participate and has enthusiasm for the mission of the WJCC.


I again want to take this opportunity to thank Dan Solomon once again. Dan was selected to be the first President of the WJCC and to serve one year. He did such an amazing job during that first year, that the board unanimously asked him to serve a second term, which he graciously did. At the critical time of forming the WJCC and moving into the shared campus, Dan’s leadership was instrumental. We would not be where we are today without him.


I hope that everyone had a good time and enjoyed the dedication ceremony. Many in the community worked hard to make the evening a success. I want to thank all those who worked to get the building to the finish line, help with food and entertainment or did one of a million other tasks to make the evening a seamless success. Thank you.


The WJCC has started to close its books for last year. Early indication is that the bottom line is looking very close to the projections made in the initial shared campus proposal distributed to the community. I think we will see that the WJCC Board is working hard to be good stewards of the funds entrusted to them by our community. When 2021 started, I would not have predicted that, before the end of the year, the WJCC would be taking on certain employee responsibilities for both congregations.


Last summer, the congregations proposed creating a shared workforce to improve both congregation’s office operations. This has been a major unexpected undertaking. Because of the success of this idea both congregations have seen benefits and more will come as responsibilities in the office are redistributed.


Please remember that we are separating responsibilities in the office. Denise Bassett is now the bookkeeper for AAC, CE and the WJCC. Her email is Denise@jsbwjcc.org. Questions about dues, invoices and money need to go to her. Hannah See is the Office Administrator. She is your first contact for everything but bookkeeping functions. Hannah’s email is Hannah.See@jsbwjcc.org.


The year of 2021 presented us with many ups and downs as a community. The unexpected loss of congregation members we loved was the most difficult part for me personally. Interestingly, our low brought out what I think of as one of our highs. The way both congregations came together after our community’s losses reminded me that we are one “village.” In the coming year, we will have undoubtedly more successes as well as more challenges. We are a stronger Jewish community on one campus, and our goal is to continue to strengthen our community together.


One question Board members seem to receive frequently concerns the potential donation of personal property. Please note that the WJCC has adopted the policy that any donations of personal property must be presented to the Board for approval. The goal is to keep the physical decor of the campus consistent, appropriate, and uncluttered.


If you would like to provide a specific gift of tangible property, remember that it must first be proposed to, and approved by, the Board. Thank you for your understanding. The Board’s goal is another smooth year.


Please know that the WJCC Board is working tirelessly to help improve our community. If you have questions about the operations of the WJCC, please do not hesitate to contact any Board member.


Happy New Year on behalf of the Board of the WJCC. Our wish is for a healthy year for all.


Ryan J. Bendell

David Moses

Keith Pickus

Ellen Beren

Adam Beren

The WJCC office will be closed Friday, December 24 and Friday, December 31. If you need access to the building on either day, please make arrangements with Hannah prior to the office closing. Please note that Meals-On-Wheels preparation and deliveries will be taking place on Friday, December 24. It was a joy to celebrate the Grand Opening as a community and we hope you had a wonderful Hanukkah. Thank you for a wonderful year here at the Wichita Jewish Community Center.

Have a safe and happy New Year. -The WJCC Board

Dan Solomon, Ryan Bendell, Adam Beren, Ellen Beren, and David Moses

Dear Ahavath Achim Congregation and

Congregation Emanu-El members:

We hope you will attend the Grand Opening and Hannukah celebration this Saturday December 4 at 6pm at the Joan S. Beren Wichita Jewish Community Center. The deadline to RSVP is November 29. If you haven’t already RSVP’d, please contact Hannah See in the WJCC office (Hannah.See@jsbwjcc.org or 316-685-1340). We are looking forward to celebrating the official opening of our campus and our future living together in our shared home.


Please note the Covid mask policy at the Grand Opening event is to protect our community.Mask will be required for everyone attending, even for those who have been vaccinated. Masks may be removed while eating but we ask that you replace your mask when you are finished. If you have had any symptoms, please do not come. We will miss you but appreciate you putting community before yourself. You may also participate in the Grand Opening event online. Please look for an email later this week with the link.


As we have been finalizing the campus renovation project, the WJCC board and community volunteers have also been hard at work on beautification projects. The funds budgeted for campus beautification are being used to complete installation of art belonging to both congregations throughout the building, painting inside and outside, refinishing the woodwork in the lobby, installing new carpet in the Shalom sanctuary, reworking the landscaping and flower beds around the building and installing plaques to recognize generous contributions members of both congregations made toward creating our shared home. The WJCC also installed a new sign on Woodlawn to identify the campus entrance and prominently recognize the Joan S. Beren Wichita Jewish Community Center. There are several more beautification projects to complete, including a memory wall in the lower level. The investments made with the

beautification budget will enable us to recognize the vibrant history of both congregations and our community, while also creating a new look and feel that will signify our future together.


You may have also noticed that we recently refinished and repainted the parking lot and we are in the process of installing new parking signs. The parking lot renovation was an important capital project to complete as the traffic in and out of the campus has increased now that we have four organizations using it regularly. It has been wonderful to experience the increased frequency and volume of activity at the WJCC, and the parking lot investments will help ensure enough parking and that traffic flows smoothly.


In July we shared an update on several important changes in the office team and administrative support for the WJCC, AAC and CE. We welcomed Hannah See as the WJCC Office Administrator. We announced that Denise Bassett would transition to the role of WJCC Bookkeeper. And AAC bid farewell to Ralpholene Marache after her many years of service as the AAC congregation administrator. As WJCC Office Administrator, Hannah is supporting the 1850 N Woodlawn | Wichita | KS | 67208 administrative needs of WJCC, AAC and CE. As WJCC Bookkeeper, Denise is handling all bookkeeping for WJCC, AAC and CE. Both Hannah and Denise are also cross-training to provide backfill support for each other as needed. The transition is ongoing for both as there is

a lot to learn to support 3 organizations. But we have a professional and collaborative office team in Hannah and Denise, and we are pleased to report the office administrative changes have been going very well.


As we head into the new calendar year, we will begin our third year of existence as the Joan S. Beren Wichita Jewish Community Center. We have managed to find our way through many ‘firsts’ as an organization – first bar mitzvah, first sukkot, first high holidays, first joint mailing, and more. We are still navigating a lot of first-time experiences as an organization and community. We have more to learn, but we have learned that two congregations sharing space is not difficult. We have been able to make compromises and respect the traditions of both congregations. In so many ways it has been a natural transition to have our congregations under one roof.


The WJCC board is also fulfilling our responsibilities to our founding organizations, as defined in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that establishes the guidelines for governance and oversight of the WJCC. We have been reviewing the 2021 budget and we have begun developing the budget for 2022. There have been some new costs incurred by the WJCC in 2021, but we have also saved in other cost categories. The net result is that we are still tracking very close to the original budget presented. The WJCC will present the 2022 budget to the boards of the three founding members (Joan Beren Foundation, AAC and CE) in January of 2022.


We will also be making changes to the WJCC board composition, consistent with the MOU. Beginning in January 2022, the new board will consist of David Moses and Keith Pickus (both Directors nominated by Congregation Emanu-El), Ellen Beren and Ryan Bendell (both Directors nominated by Ahavath Achim Congregation) and Adam Beren (Director nominated by JSB Foundation). These board Directors have been nominated by the respective organizations and approved by the WJCC. Please be sure to thank them for agreeing to serve in this important role.


On a personal note, I want to say that it has been an honor to serve our community as president of the WJCC. Thank you to Joan Beren for the legacy you have left for the Jews of Wichita, Kansas. And thank you to every member of our community for the many contributions you have made to bring the WJCC to reality – financial contributions, personal time, creative ideas, and encouragement. There will always be more work to do, but I am so proud of what we have accomplished together and grateful for the opportunities we have ahead.


With warm regards,

Daniel Solomon

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