Tucson J Leadership and Board Members Honored to Host U.S. Senator Mark Kelly

On the eve of Veteran’s Day, U.S. Senator from Arizona Mark Kelly visited the Tucson J campus for a meaningful and intimate conversation with J leaders and Board Members, Todd Rockoff, President + CEO; Fran Katz, Chief Development Officer; Mike Gadarian, Chief Financial Officer; Josh Shenker, Chief Program Officer; Abbii Cook, Director of The Weintraub Israel Center; and Yuval Malka, Senior Community Shlicha, as well as Board Members Jordan Emerson, Caron Mitchell, Sarah Singer, Elise Lopez, Lea Standridge and Danielle Kaplan.

Tucson J President + CEO Todd Rockoff shared about the JCC Association’s role in the JWB Jewish Chaplain’s Council, noting that the organization, which has been active in supporting Jewish service members, veterans and Chaplains since 1917, empowers JCC’s to be community leaders on outreach and the engagement of service members and veterans. Kelly was particularly interested in the council’s advocacy on policy measures and thanked the J for our active role in the service community.

The team was also proud to present Senator Kelly with the exciting news that the Tucson J will host JCC Maccabi® in 2025, bringing over 1000 Jewish teens athletes from across the US and the world to Tucson with the goal of inspiring sportsmanship and deepening participants’ and spectators’ connection to global Jewish Peoplehood.

Senator Kelly shared his on-the-ground experience from his very recent to trip to Israel, addressed the grave reality of the situation, and expressed his support for the safe return of the hostages we are still praying come home. He also voiced his solidarity with Jewish people across the diaspora who are experiencing an uptick in antisemitism and stressed the importance of the United States preserving a strong relationship with Israel.

After the meeting, the team had an opportunity to give Senator Kelly a tour of the facility and show what the J’s work looks like in action. Kelly remarked on the expanse of the Jill Rosenzweig Memorial Sculpture Garden, enjoyed seeing the Early Childhood Education Center – pleasantly surprised by the quiet of naptime, and was delighted to see a full gallery of high-caliber art.

It is not every day that a Senator takes time out of their busy schedule to meet with lay people; the visit speaks deeply to the J’s role as the town square of the Southern Arizona Jewish Community, as an embassy that invites others in to experience Jewish Values firsthand, and as a true home for wellness to so many in the broader community. It was an honor to host the Senator and welcome source of pride and hope during this unprecedented time for our community here and abroad.