The former Jewish Community Center, located in West Bloomfield, is now known as The J.

The former Jewish Community Center, located in West Bloomfield, is now known as The J.

Photo provided by The J

JCC changes its name as part of rebranding campaign

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published October 23, 2023


WEST BLOOMFIELD — The former Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit has made a profound change in the way it operates, the organization said.

According to its website, the organization was established in 1926, and its facility, which is located at 6600 W. Maple Road in West Bloomfield, offers year-round programming for families, children, teenagers and adults.

Like so many other organizations and businesses, the pandemic has led to a shift in the way things are done.

“We moved from a place-based organization, very, very rooted in a specific building on a specific campus, the D. Dan and Betty Kahn building on the Applebaum campus in West Bloomfield, to offering more programs out in the community in order to meet the needs of shifting demographics, changing geography in our community, and of course, the pandemic, which changed everything,” said Chief Operating Officer Sarah Allyn. “So now, emerging from the pandemic, we find ourselves an organization that is much more agile, more flexible — able to offer our community programs here at our current campus in the D. Dan and Betty Kahn building, but also out in the community, whether that’s in a coffee shop or in partnership with a synagogue or at a public park. We are much more focused on the programs that we offer to the community than where those programs are physically held.”

As part of a rebranding campaign, the former Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit now goes by the name The J.

“Find your Jewish center” and “No need to join because you already belong” are new taglines for The J.

“So we say that now you can find your Jewish center with a J, whether that’s in person, online or out in the community,” Allyn said. “And now, emerging from the pandemic, we really (want to) make sure that the community understands this shift, and that they understand there’s a lot of flexibility when it comes to accessing our programs.”

The J’s CEO, Brian Siegel, shared some thoughts about the change that the organization has undergone.

“The J has a long and impressive history in our community, and we are no longer solely dependent on our building for providing the important programming and services which keep the community strong, vibrant and connected,” Siegel stated in a press release. “Over 50 percent of the Jewish community has some level of engagement with our programs, which is a figure many times more than the engagement of the community with any other organization in the area. We see these numbers as only growing in the future as we offer the community a greater platform for connection, meeting them physically or online where they need us to be.”

Allyn explained the meaning behind the tagline, “No need to join because you already belong.”

“That tagline speaks to the old paradigm of membership,” she said. “It used to be that in order to participate in JCC activities, you and your family would have to become a member and pay annual dues. We’ve eliminated the membership, which is super innovative when it comes to the JCC model across the country.”

Allyn said that there is “no more membership fee.” She explained how things are now being done.

“We now have programs that are absolutely free to the community — anybody can sign up,” she said. “We have programs that are associated with a fee or a cost for participation. … We have other programs, like our early childhood center or our camp program, that charge tuition, but you don’t necessarily have to be a member of The J to access those programs.”

In addition to the West Bloomfield location, a new center in Berkley is expected to open in the next 15 months.

“We are very pleased to share that we’ve signed a lease in Berkley for another space, a new programming space that we are tentatively referring to as off-center, although I don’t think that name is gonna be permanent,” Allyn said. “It’s going to be a flexible programming and gathering space that will have classes and community events, as well as co-working space, food, (and) coffee. We’re really hoping that it just becomes sort of a space that really belongs to the community.”

Although at press time the exact address was not disclosed, the new center is set to be located on Woodward Avenue.

“With the new Berkley location, and summer 2024’s Maccabi games, which is the largest event that the Jewish community holds, with 1,300 visiting athletes, and 600 coaches and volunteers, there are many exciting times ahead for The J and the community we serve,” Siegel stated via the release.

Allyn shared information that some residents may not be aware of.

“I think that the primary message is that you do not have to be Jewish to participate in our programming,” she said. “Our programs are rooted in Jewish culture and Jewish values, but that does not mean you have to be Jewish to participate. We have something for everybody, whether you’re looking for arts and culture, education, programming for seniors, programming for families, or even recreation. The J offers all of the above, and we encourage you to look at our website and find something that speaks to you, that helps you find your center.”

For more information, visit