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Ezra Margolis (l) presents Boulder JCC Executive Director Jonathan Lev (r) a bag of change he has collected for the building fund while mom Beth looks on.

LEGOs, Tzedakah, and the New Boulder JCC

Ezra Margolis (l) presents Boulder JCC Executive Director Jonathan Lev (r) a bag of change he has collected for the building fund while event chair and mom Beth looks on.

More than 250 people joined together at the Boulder JCC on Sunday, October 14th for a “Day of Building” as families read stories about philanthropy and tzedakah (doing the right thing), participated in activities to learn more about giving, played with Legos, and ate ice cream. This day was one of the first of its kind in the Boulder Jewish community, a day specifically designed to help families teach children about the value of giving, to connect with multi-generational giving, and to launch the Boulder JCC’s Kids Campaign.

The day began as all of the families gathered in the Boulder JCC gymnasium to learn about the meaning of the day. Together they heard from Boulder JCC Executive Director Jonathan Lev and Assistant Executive Director Wendy Aronson, and watched a video about Asher Rubin, who decided a year ago to donate to the campaign. Asher’s choice helped inspire this incredible day. Jonathan shared:

This event brought together the amazing elements of family, learning, and philanthropy. The words philanthropy, tzedakah, and giving were being talked about by families throughout the JCC. It was inspiring.”

One of the highlights of the day was when Susan Rona, Boulder JCC Board President, and Beth Margolis, “A Day of Building” Event Chair, revealed the full scale Lego model of the new Boulder JCC. Lego Master Builder Alex Shullman, Vice President Curriculum Development and Training of Play-Well TEKnologies and builder of the model was present and answered questions about the incredible structure. He shared that the table sized model, “took more than 150 hours and 7,000 Legos to complete.” One parent remarked:

Boulder JCC Board President Susan Rona with Executive Director Jonathan Lev and the Lego model of the new JCC building.

This model gives me a real idea of what the new building will look like. Before participating in this day, I had no idea about all of the different parts and programming spaces available to the community in this new building. It’s awesome”.

There were activities, games, stories, and more. Children played with the more than 300,000 Legos provided by Play-Well TEKnologies and ate ice cream donated by Glacier Ice Cream.

As children moved throughout the building, they engaged in age-appropriate activities to learn more about philanthropy.

Parents of preschool age children read an adapted version of the “Warm Fuzzies and Cold Pricklies” story (originally written by Claude M. Steiner) to their children. The story illustrates tzedakah. After, the preschoolers made their own Warm Fuzzies to give to a sibling/parent/teacher to make them feel special.

The Kindergarten-4th graders and parents learned about the definition of tzedakah as well as philanthropy (giving your time, talents, or treasure for the common good). Then families decided on their talents and created the ABC’s of Philanthropy — a huge chart that shares what our community thinks these attributes are based on each letter of the alphabet.

The 4th – 7th graders and parents took a quiz to see what they currently know about tzedakah (questions included: Should you only give to Jewish funds? At what age is a person required to give tzedakah? and Should you only give what you feel like giving when you feel like giving it?).  Working with their parents, these participants learned about what Jewish tradition has to say about tzedakah. (Did you know that the Talmud states that tzedakah outweighs all other commandments? It’s true! Baba Batra 9a.)

Finally, the middle and high school students had the opportunity to align their core values with issues they care deeply about to create a tzedakah mission statement. The tzedakah mission statement can help people of all ages determine their funding and volunteer priorities.

Wendy Aronson shared:

What an incredible event! And, this is only the start. The Boulder JCC is planning a Tzedakah Fair in mid-February to match up families with local non-profits for volunteer opportunities. More information will follow in the upcoming Center Point (the Boulder JCC’s Programming Guide).”

The Lego model of the new Boulder JCC will be on display in the lobby of the current JCC as well as at their 2nd Annual Exclusive Preview of First Bite Boulder on October 30th from 5:30 – 9:00 pm at the Boulder Theater. Last year more than 575 people participated at this event. Click here to learn more about this event or to register.   Click here to learn more about the Boulder JCC’s Kids Campaign.

Here are many more pictures from the event:

About Jonathan Lev

Jonathan Lev, MPA, joined the Boulder JCC in 2010. He is a passionate educator and entrepreneur who combines his experience at Jewish summer camp and founding of Boulder based Renewable Choice Energy to influence his leadership as a Jewish professional. He was certified as high school teacher and Summa Cum Laude graduate from the University of Colorado in Boulder. For more than six years, Jonathan was a leader in the field of Jewish summer camp where he worked tirelessly to enhance the level of supervision and mentorship for both campers and staff through innovative summer and year-round trainings. In 2007, Jonathan continued his studies and was selected as a Taub Fellow at New York University in the dual-master’s degree program for a Master in Public Administration in Nonprofit Management (MPA) and Master in Hebrew and Judaic Studies (MA). He and his wife Lyndsay spend their free time hiking trails, skiing, listening to music, and planning their next great adventure. Follow him @jonathanlev on twitter.

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