Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

JCC Southwest campus welcomes new program director


Eric Lightman

Eric Lightman jokes that he had been living in Boston for the past year and knew it was going to start snowing any day. So he, along with his wife, Margo, packed up and moved to Orlando in December.

But it wasn't just the sun and warm weather that lured them down to Florida- Lightman has been appointed program director of the Jewish Community Center's Jack & Lee Rosen Southwest Orlando Campus.

In this capacity, Lightman will be overseeing all of the location's youth and sports programming, including the after school program, summer camps, youth and adult sports leagues, and youth enrichment classes.

"We are so excited to have Eric lead our JCC programs," said Bonnie Rayman, the branch director. "He brings to the table significant experience in the JCC world, as well as a passion for building Jewish community."

Lightman is thrilled to be working at the JCC's Rosen Campus. "The opportunity to work at the well-respected JCC here, in a position that really fits my strengths, and to work with David [Wayne] and Bonnie [Rayman], was the primary motivator," Lightman said. "I've moved around quite a bit in my career, and have always enjoyed learning about the unique qualities of each community. Being from the north, but having worked in the south, Orlando seemed like a good fit (since it's in the south, but everyone seems to be from the north)! Having been recently married, Orlando also seems like a great place to start a family."

A Maryland native, Lightman comes to Orlando with significant JCC experience. He served as the 2012 director of the JCC Maccabi Games at the JCC Rockland in West Nyack, N.Y. In Rockland, he hosted more than 1,200 teen athletes, while also launching a campaign for a minute of silence on the 40th anniversary of the "Munich 11" tragedy at the 1972 Olympics, which received international attention.

He also was the teen services director at the Weinstein JCC in Richmond, Va., where he also served as the BBYO city director and assistant camp director. In Richmond, he established that JCC's first teen delegation to the JCC Maccabi ArtsFest program, and also won a JCCA programming excellence award for a new college-readiness program for high school students and their families.

He is also a past participant of the JCC Association's Merrin Teen Professional Fellows program.

"I have always felt personally fulfilled when I have a strong connection to the Jewish community, and I believe in the power of Jewish communal institutions to have a positive impact on the lives on both children and adults," Lightman said.

As a recipient of the JCC Association's prestigious group scholarship program, Lightman received an MPA in non-profit management and an MA in Judaic Studies from New York University. Prior to that, he received a B.S. in Computer Science from the University of Maryland. Following graduation from Maryland, he spent a year volunteering in Israel through Project Otzma.

He is a lifelong product of the JCC world, having frequented BBYO in high school and grown up at the JCC-affiliated Capital Camps overnight camp, where he also worked for five summers.

Lightman has set his sights high. "The JCC has a fantastic reputation for delivering quality programs, and I want to grow both the size and number of these programs while still maintaining the high level of service we are known for," Lightman said. "With the campus being five years old, we are still in a growth phase, and I hope to continue to make inroads into the local communities to expand the reach of our programs."

One of the things that drew Lightman to Southwest Orlando is the uniqueness of the community. "The southwest part of town strikes me as unique on a few levels: 1) it's a rapidly growing community; 2) most people are from elsewhere, and especially from the northeast; and 3) there is only one synagogue. The presents both challenges and opportunities in the years ahead, as there will be a great, increasing demand for Jewish community offerings, and a population that likely has a high level of expectation based on their experiences densely-Jewish northeast."

Lightman hopes to get really get to know the community. "We're very excited to be here and hope to stay for a long time! I love meeting community members and encourage anyone to drop by my office to say hello, or give me input into the types of programs they'd like to see offered at the JCC in the future."

Eric Lightman can be reached at EricL@orlandojcc.org or at 407-387-2742.


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