Unsigned editorial in Jewish Week on JCC-Hirshman flap

A Gap At The JCC

If there was a soul to the 11-story, $85 million JCC in Manhattan that opened last year, it was Debby Hirshman, the executive director who took over the enterprise more than a decade ago when it was just a blueprint and a dream. She helped make it a vital source of Jewish living for thousands of New York families through her vision and dedication. Today, with its over-subscribed programs for tots and seniors and every age group in between, the JCC is a facility with intellectual and spiritual content as well as state-of-the-art equipment.

While the details of her abrupt departure last week remain private — her resignation was received by the board of directors, which issued a terse statement — it is a shame that Hirshman did not receive the recognition she deserved for her years of leadership. No doubt that leadership included a management style that rubbed some people the wrong way and may have contributed to her untimely leave-taking. But a Jewish community that teaches and preaches treating others with respect should have found a way to honor Hirshman for bringing the JCC project to fruition, and let her leave her post with an air of dignity rather than mystery.

Too often the Jewish community bemoans the fact that it cannot attract quality people to its professional positions, from the rabbinate to the federation system. But too often it treats its professionals with little respect. We and the community owe a debt of gratitude to Hirshman for her grand vision and many skills, and wish her well in the future.

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