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November 30th Community Update

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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