Stephen Hazan Arnoff, the head of the Jewish Community Center Association, has resigned after little more than a year in the position, The Forward has learned.
The decision was a personal one, received by the JCCA’s board with “regret and understanding,” according to a statement from the association. Arnoff will return to his home in Israel to pursue other opportunities.
“He was asked to be a change agent and that process has begun,” said Stephen P. Seiden, the association’s board chair, in the statement. “The board is committed to continuing those efforts.”
The search for his successor will begin soon, according to the statement.
Hazan Arnoff, 46, was hired after a global search. His mission was to take the venerable JCC Association’s nearly 350 chapters in North America, including YW and YMHAs, into the future.
He was director of the Office of Culture, Community, and Society at Shalem College in Jerusalem when the JCC annoited him and prior to that executive director of the 14th Street Y in New York City, where he received high marks for innovative outreach, recreation and cultural programs. He was also a member of the senior leadership team at the Makor-Steinhardt Center of the famed 92nd Street Y in Manhattan.
The JCC chapters, including the Ys, serve as important centers of Jewish life — and are welcoming of non-Jews too.
They are places filled with activities, from swimming for seniors to summer camp for kids. But they also are gathering places in times of crisis. In Baltimore, the JCC in the city’s Northwest section, recently was host to a massive town hall meeting with police after a rash of home burglaries hit the community.
And in far-flung places, like Poland, a JCC there earlier this year issued a calendar with portraits of Holocaust survivors.
Hazan Arnoff took over from Alan Finkelstein, who headed the JCC Association for more than two decades.
“JCCs touch more Jews than any other institutional framework in North America,” Hazan Arnoff said last February, as he stepped into Finklestein’s shoes. “The challenge is to maximize JCCs’ potential to inspire and engage the next generation of Jews who now live in a world of choice. This is an extraordinary opportunity.”
Hazan Arnoff could not be reached for comment.
With Josh Nathan-Kazis and Helen Chernikoff
John Oswald is The Forward’s deputy digital media editor.