PITTSBURGH — There’s a new man at the helm of the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh.
He knows the JCC is a focal point, not just for Jews, but for the whole community.
Channel 11′s David Johnson sat down with the new CEO of the JCC, Jason Kunzman, and I asked him about leading this organization during a time of rising anti-Semitism, and with the Robert Bowers trial right around the corner.
It’s a job Kunzman is ready to tackle.
“I am humbled. I am honored,” Kunzman said.
For those who live in the East End of Pittsburgh, the JCC is well known for its many programs like early childhood, overnight and camping, the senior center, health center and so much more.
But as its name indicates, it is a community center, though not just a Jewish one.
“You will see folks of all different backgrounds, that’s part of what we love about what we do, bringing in a diverse community together to share in the good and the bad,” Kunzman said.
Sadly, the “not so good” includes a stunning rise in anti-Semitism.
“But when the chips are down and folks are most in need of community, we tend to be the go-to spot,” Kunzman explained.
That includes the 10/27 Healing Partnership and the Pittsburgh Resiliency Center, both located at the JCC.
They will come in handy when the trial for the man accused of killing 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue begins in just a few weeks.
Kunzman said most of the attention for them will be outside the courthouse.
“Making sure that folks are wrapped in what I refer to as a cocoon of care, that’s going to be a traumatic experience for many across the community,” he said.
Meantime, the JCC will be open to anyone.
“It will be open to anyone who might need a cup of coffee, a quiet place, someone to talk to, we will be there,” Kunzman said. “So that when folks who otherwise might feel emboldened to come to Pittsburgh and spread their version of anti-Semitism or any type of identity-based hate, they will think twice about it when they realize how strong Pittsburgh can really be.”
Kunzman officially starts his new job as CEO in September.
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