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The 3-Minute Interview: Michael Feinstein, CEO of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington

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People,Alan Blinder,3-Minute Interview

Feinstein is CEO of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington, which is marking its 100th anniversary.

What has been the center's secret for success? It has been a set of core values that have served the community well through many, many changes. Those values are being welcoming, inclusive and accessible.

So, what have you done to implement those ideals? We've had to rethink how we deliver programs. We've moved many times -- I think this is our seventh location from when we were founded -- to be able to be more inclusive and accommodate more people. We moved from downtown to Rockville as the community was moving out. We moved a little further than where the community was at the time, so we were prepared for more of the shift to the suburbs.

We see survey after survey that shows religious life is on the decline. How do you plan to remain relevant for another 100 years? I view us as more of a communal institution than a religious institution. While our members are predominantly Jewish, there are many who are not. We view part of our job as not only connecting our community with each other, but with the broader community. I think we're a great place for Jews and non-Jews to come together.

What kind of events appeal most to people these days? Arts events. We have a book festival, and we have a film festival that we've been doing here for the last five or six years. We're seeing a shift where more and more people are interested in film over books. The value of arts programs and music programs is that you can connect to Jewish and broader culture on a base level without it being religious in any way, and I think that's why those types of programs are really appealing. - Alan Blinder

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