The York JCC’s diversity department began in the summer of 1994 when a coalition of Jewish leaders, school administrators, and community members who shared a passion for diversity met to discuss the concept of prejudice reduction programming in York County.
This coalition formed due to a growing alarm caused by hate incidents happening in the area, including recruitment efforts by organized hate groups. At the same time, there was increasing concern about some acts of intolerance and misunderstanding happening in schools. The group called themselves the Prejudice Reduction Task Force and agreed to first focus on a diversity program for elementary-aged students.
In 1995, the York JCC’s diversity department purchased and became certified in the Green Circle program, a series of lessons designed to help young children develop an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of human differences while encouraging a positive sense of self-worth.
Since then, newer programs, such as Get Real, Reality Check and 4Real have been developed and instituted at middle and high schools around York County. These programs work to reduce stereotyping, bullying, discrimination and violence in schools while bringing about positive changes in attitudes, behavior and knowledge.
The York JCC’s diversity department offers a framework to ensure diversity is viewed by schools, businesses, and organizations as more than an item on a “To Do” list. We offer Climate Assessments to measure how people treat each other, Culture Assessment to measure if “how things are done” is fair to everyone, and Building Audits to assess the messages and priorities conveyed by artwork, bulletin boards, displays, communications, etc.
Since the York JCC’s diversity department began in 1995, we have directly touched the lives of over 200,000 children and adults with our diversity programming. Our services are designed to help people become more aware of their biases towards all human characteristics and behaviors. We encourage respect for differences through OUR thoughts, words, and actions.
With the future of the York JCC’s diversity department growing to address the needs in the community, the concept of a dedicated space for diversity and inclusion resources began to develop.
In the fall of 2018, with the generous support of Elliott and Sue Weinstein, opened the IDEAS Center (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Social Change). The IDEAS Center is the former IDEAS Center’s Diversity Department and also houses other like-minded organizations, such as the LGBTQIA Resource Center/Equality Fest, The Movement, The York City Human Relations Commission and the Confronting Racism Coalition (CRC).
The purpose of the IDEAS Center is to bring together diversity and inclusion resources, organizations, and influence together in a coordinated manner to increase these programs’ impact, to address multiple barriers to equity, lay the groundwork for collaboration and make deeper and wider impact in our county.
The concept of the IDEAS Center came from the value of Tikkun Olam, (pronounced tee-KOON oh-LUHM) or Repair the World.
Tikkun Olam is a Jewish concept defined by acts of kindness performed to perfect or repair the world. Humanity's responsibility to change, improve, and fix its earthly surroundings is powerful. It implies that each person has a hand in working towards the betterment of his or her own existence as well as the lives of future generations. Tikkun Olam has become synonymous with the notion of social action and the pursuit of social justice.