MILWAUKEE – JSummit, the largest gathering of Jewish Community Center leaders in North America, had been scheduled for May 3-5 in Milwaukee this year. It has been canceled.
JSummit, a conference formerly known as the Biennial, was to be held May 3-5 in Milwaukee at the Wisconsin Center. Jewish Milwaukee had been involved with planning tours for visitors, providing kosher meals and more.
It’s a loss of a carefully planned in-person communal experience that can stand as but one example of so many losses in Milwaukee and around the word. The conference had been expected to bring together more than 700 lay leaders, senior professionals and U.S. military chaplains. JCCs had been invited by the JCCs of North America to bring a core delegation that represented a cross-section of lay and professional leadership. The conference is held once every two years.
“While we’re disappointed to miss this opportunity to showcase, celebrate and affirm Milwaukee’s leadership in the global Jewish Community Center movement, we’re proud to demonstrate that leadership in fully supporting this decision and the overall health of every community member,” said Mark Shapiro, president and chief executive officer of the Harry & Rose Samson Family JCC. “There will be no shortage of future opportunities to serve as the beacon for learning, development, and Jewish leadership.”
Sessions, geared toward JCC leadership, were on topics like “Zionism 3.0,” “Building Fundraising Possibilities and Partnerships,” and “Exchange: On the Road to Greater Jewish Community — Focused Alliances & Programs.”
All scheduled meals provided at JSummit were to be glatt kosher under the supervision of Kosher Supervisors of Wisconsin.
JSummit organizers were promoting Milwaukee as a great place to visit, and tours for JSummit attendees were being organized by a Harry & Rose Samson Family Jewish Community Center Host Committee.
Mark Shapiro wrote a welcome letter that was circulated to expected attendees. Shapiro said Milwaukee was honored to be the host city and he described Milwaukee as a “blue-collar town” that has grown into “a hub for innovation.”
“You might even discover comparisons to Israel,” he wrote, citing “water as a dominant force in our future, innovation as a charge in the air, and instead of Jerusalem stone, the Cream City brick used by the titans of industry who put Milwaukee on the map.”
A March 18, 2020 email from JSummit organizers announced the cancelation: “Nobody expected we’d be where we are today. COVID-19 has created a whole new set of issues, dynamics, and concerns for all of us.”