Todd Rockoff, the new president and CEO of the Tucson Jewish Community Center, has worked for JCCs from Akron, Ohio, to Calgary, Alberta. He started out at age 16 as a camp counselor in his hometown of Rochester, N.Y. “I’m honored to never have received a paycheck from anyone but a JCC,” Rockoff told the AJP.
An “aha” moment about his life being so aligned with JCCs occurred around 10 years ago, soon after he became director of the Shaw Jewish Community Center in Akron. Standing around talking with other adults, they realized, he says, that their experiences — no matter where they grew up — were similar. “We all grew up in JCCs. If I wasn’t playing sports in high school I was hanging out with my friends at the JCC.”
Rockoff began his new position in Tucson on July 8. His wife, Jenni, and their four children arrived in Tucson on Aug. 5. Three of the children will return to college back east; the youngest will be a freshman at Catalina Foothills High School.
“It’s incredible to follow someone as respected in the field as Ken [Light]. I’m honored to be here at the Tucson JCC,” says Rockoff, adding that this facility is well-known throughout the United States. His vision is to promote wellness as a holistic activity: It’s not just about diet and exercise, or physical activity, he says. Wellness is also about spirituality, social action, cultural/arts experiences,
financial security, education and including those with special needs.
Promoting wellness “is an individual process,” says Rockoff. “It’s also a family process. Our job is to create those opportunities for families to grow together. People may join the JCC for camp or other activities, but what will keep them here is a sense of community and involvement [for their whole family]. Then they’re not going to leave.”
Within the Tucson JCC, there will be a “new approach to programming. Departments will be working together, not as individual silos,” he says. “Externally, we’ll work closely with all Jewish agencies and synagogues. We’ll also find meaningful partners in the general community.
“Stay tuned next spring for a wellness expo with other nonprofits and for-profits who help provide wellness opportunities. People will stop and do, not just stop and talk” at the expo, says Rockoff. Participating organizations may include the Pima County Public Library, Tucson Art Museum and members of the area medical community.
Rockoff will strive to enhance a sense of community that he already sees at the Tucson facility, he says, providing “more outreach into the Jewish and general population. It’s not about what we’re going to build but about what we’re going to do.
“I collaborate a great deal. We’re going to be a big ‘collaboratory,’” affirms Rockoff.