Talking Generations with Valerie and Jeff Newberg
Generations is the first capital campaign since the Dell Jewish Community Campus opened in January 2000. The campaign's goal, $25 million, will expand and renovate the Dell Jewish Community Campus.This month, the Jewish Outlook asked community members Valerie and Jeff Newberg to explain why the Generations campaign is important to their family.
1. Why is the Dell Jewish Community Campus (DJCC) and the Jewish Community Center (JCC) important to you and your family?
There are many reasons why our Dell Jewish Community Campus is important to our family. First of all, when we were married 25 years ago and started life in Austin, we hosted a parlor meeting with Harriett Kirsh Pozen and Keith Zimmerman at our house, when the campus was just a vision. Jeff and I grew up at the Dallas JCC. It is where I lived from the age of 10 and up, whether it was attending JCC camps, being a camp counselor for Camp Simcha, attending every BBYO program or sporting event, meeting best friends and playing basketball. We wanted our kids to have the same opportunity that we were fortunate enough to have had since someone had built a JCC for us. It was not even a question that we would jump in and get involved. It is now our responsibility.
All three of our children graduated from the JCC Early Childhood Program preschool and some of their very best friends today are the friends they made while they attended from the age of two to five years. Not so ironically, that is actually how we met many of our best friends too. All of these kids went to different elementary schools, but when they started Sunday school at the age of six, they would look forward to going to synagogue on the Dell Campus every Sunday to see their friends. It was never a fight; they looked forward to being with their best friends every week with those friendships originating at the JCC.
With Austin’s Jewish community still fragmented, the JCC is the place that unites and brings our Jewish community together. Austin’s Jewish community is diverse geographically and with the majority of Austin’s Jewish community having moved here during or post college, it is the singular location that Jews from all parts of the community and all branches of Judaism can come together to celebrate our common interests, our rich culture, sports, arts and education. We also love that the JCC serves the broader community as an asset that so many friends from our non-Jewish community can enjoy. It allows us to connect in meaningful ways.
2. What inspired you to make a major contribution to the Generations Campaign?
We are big believers that we have to take care of our own and it is a gift to give. We are building this campus for generations to come. Selfishly, we want our children, and hopefully one day, grandchildren to have a rich Jewish experience and that can more easily be achieved with a strong JCC as the centerpiece of that experience.
3. Which aspects of the Generations Campaign excite you the most?
There are so many exciting offerings currently envisioned, from expanded fitness offerings to a water park. However, for us, it is the welcome and reception area. It is the first place that you will interact with the J and we want it to have a warm and welcoming feeling. That is what sets Austin apart from the rest. We are a very welcoming city and not many people are from here. Currently, there really is not a place to sit, visit and be greeted upon entering the JCC. I want the new addition to be a place where people immediately feel welcome and at home.
4. Where would you like to see the Jewish community a decade from now?
We want to see our Jewish community larger, stronger and prouder than ever, especially with respect to our Dell Campus and JCC. We hope everyone contributes to the Generations Campaign and takes ownership of our future. A first class Jewish community needs a first class campus. We have been so fortunate to have Susan and Michael Dell in our community and fortunate that they gave us the gift of this beautiful campus. It is now our responsibility to keep it growing and thriving for our future.