Q & A: Debbie Klein, JCC for London

1. What motivates you to be involved in communal life?

My greatest hope is that the new Jewish Community Centre, JW3, will unite the community. I got involved with the JCC for London specifically because I see that it has the potential to fundamentally transform the Jewish landscape by bringing the entire community together in a place that all can consider their own.

2. What is the most exciting project that you are currently involved in?

Undoubtedly it's the construction of the new Jewish Community Centre which will be completed this year. I feel incredibly privileged to be the Chairman of the JCC for London and of JCC Ventures, the developer of the new building, at such an exciting time. London has never before had a purpose-built community centre on this scale. It is an enormously significant project not just in terms of the square footage but in its ambition to be truly transformative of Jewish life in the capital

3. How has the community changed in recent years from your perspective?

I came from South Africa just over twenty years ago and in that time I've certainly seen the community grow in confidence and indeed in competence. The organised Jewish community is today far better led and more professional that it was when I arrived here. I think it's also become more focused on itself, its future and its place in an increasingly multi-cultural society.

4. What are the biggest challenges facing the community today?

In a phrase it is to "come together" and to place emphasis on what binds us together as a community rather than what divides us. This is the philosophy that underpins the JCC for London and indeed the JCC movement across the world. Experience has shown that it has been greatly to the advantage of communities across North America that Jews of every stripe - religious and secular, Sephardi and Ashkenazi, affiliated and unaffiliated - come together to celebrate and participate in Jewish culture and community at a building that each considers to be their own.

5. How has the JLC added value to your work in the community?

One of the phrases we've coined at the JCC to explain our approach to community is 'Better Together'. I think this chimes well with the aims of the JLC, which I find to be a very valuable forum for the exchange of information, ideas and experience. By participating in the JLC, I gain the opportunity to talk directly to the leaders of organisations for whom the JCC building will be a fantastic new resource. I'm also able to listen and learn about their needs and to gain from their experience and understanding of our community. I've been particularly impressed by how the JLC has brought together communal organisations and enabled them to leverage their purchasing power to achieve economies of scale and through the creation of Lead, to train the next generation of communal leaders.