The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life will be an inclusive and welcoming community hub with a physical Brooklyn location. We will be a gathering place for local Jewish groups and organizations that don't have their own space, for new programming, and for cross-community collaboration. We will produce programs to fill gaps, raise up underrepresented perspectives, and welcome the thousands of Brooklynites that have not yet found their Jewish home. We hope to create a welcoming space that reflects the spirit of Brooklyn -- future-thinking and deeply historical, iconoclastic, and sacred. And that serves an excellent cup of coffee.
The underlying premise of The Neighborhood is that it's of and for the community. We believe our area needs additional infrastructure to support our growth and bring us together. We know this once-in-a-generation project will only be successful if many of us collaborate and co-create.
We are building a vibrant, creative, evolving, Jewish space where our community can come together. Our space will function as a connector, across life stages, organizations and activities. We will create a welcoming culture for those who may feel outside of Jewish life and those who have strong existing Jewish connections, engaging with a spectrum of identity and practice, honoring the diversity of Brooklyn. We are working thoughtfully to create a space that has a Brooklyn aesthetic and will be physically inclusive from the ground up. With seed funding from UJA-Federation of New York, we are excited to work with existing Jewish organizations and community members.
This idea has been cooking for a number of years, but as we begin to refashion our regular life, there is a palpable feeling of wanting to come back together and share meaningful experiences in person. And for many of us, we are also looking for new ways to connect to our Jewish identity and bring our friends and families with us on that journey. The Neighborhood is here to help enable our renaissance in Brooklyn.
In a short time, we’ve established a track record as one of the most innovative hubs in Brooklyn by co-producing 34 events and welcoming over 3,100 individuals into The Neighborhood. We've partnered with 30 organizations and collaborated with 153 artists, chefs, writers, spiritual leaders, historians and other creatives to bring diverse, vibrant programming to communities across the borough! And we're just getting started.
Rebecca Guber is the Founding Director of The Neighborhood and was previously the Director and Founder of Asylum Arts, a global network of 700 Jewish artists, co-founder of the Six Points Fellowship for Emerging Jewish Artists. Over several decades, Rebecca has built an international community of artists exploring Jewish ideas through commissions for new work, international retreats, and professional development. Her work represents the most significant direct support of emerging Jewish artists in this generation. Rebecca has also worked at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Museum of Jewish Heritage. She has lived in Brooklyn for 20 years and spends time with her family biking around, raising bees, and creating adventures.
Arts and Culture Senior Manager
Danny Smith manages arts and culture programming at The Neighborhood. He is an artist, curator, and art historian whose work balances the contemporary and the historical. Prior to joining The Neighborhood, Danny completed a PhD in medieval art history, writing about art, science, and politics in 13th century Rome. Danny has taught classes in the art and art history departments at Carleton College, Williams College, Stanford University, and San Francisco State University and has worked as a studio assistant to the conceptual artist Jenny Holzer and a fabricator at the Judd Foundation in Marfa, Texas. An inveterate reader of Wikipedia, Danny spends his time running in Brooklyn and working in his tiny Gowanus studio. He is also a licensed New York City sightseeing guide.
Martine Duffy is Programs Manager at The Neighborhood. They are a playwright, musician, and Jewish ritualist whose work focuses on bringing deep Jewish knowledge to the contemporary world. Before joining The Neighborhood, Martine completed an M.A. in Individualized Study with a concentration in Jewish Storytelling. Their work has taken them everywhere from Archaeology to the Zohar, but always ties back to a community practice and a focus on accessibility. They are particularly passionate about the participation of Queer people in Jewish life. Martine has worked with a variety of other NYC- based Jewish organizations such as Lab/Shul, Tkiya, the Union for Reform Judaism, and NYU’s Bronfman Center. Martine is a lover of Jewish mysticism, the Lower East Side, and anything with stripes on it.
A resident of Brooklyn for nearly twenty years, JJ has served the Jewish community in lay leadership capacities at Hannah Senesh, where has served on its board for nearly twelve years and helped develop the school’s strategic approach to financial sustainability and accessibility, at UJA Federation of NY, where he chairs the Brooklyn Advisory and has made new models of Jewish engagement and “being better neighbors” key foci of UJA’s work in Brooklyn, and at The Neighborhood, where he is a co-founder. Over the years, JJ and his family have been members of Kane Street Synagogue, Congregation Beth Elohim, and Altshul and very much feel like community members at large within Brooklyn’s vibrant and diverse Jewish community.
On the professional front, for nearly 20 years JJ has been a senior executive at some of the world’s most important financial institutions, including Goldman Sachs and Citadel Investment Group, where he was partner in the firm’s public market global equities
practice. Following the wind-down of his own firm and a one-year family sojourn to Jerusalem, JJ has focused on entrepreneurial and community activities in both the for-profit and not-for-profit arenas.
Marcella Kanfer Rolnick has served on a wide variety of nonprofit and for-profit boards and is currently deeply focused on nurturing vibrant Jewish community in Brooklyn through lay leadership of The Neighborhood: An Urban Center for Jewish Life, Romemu Brooklyn, Hannah Senesh Community Day School, and UJA Brooklyn. She believes in the power of a galvanizing vision, collaboration, and strengths-based approaches to getting good work done.
Professionally, as the third generation of family leadership, Marcella creates meaning and value every day through her diverse family enterprise. She serves as Executive Chair of GOJO, makers of PURELL® Hand Sanitizer, and Executive Chair of Walnut Ridge, a family office and private capital firm. She also is a board member of both Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah and Lippman Kanfer Family Foundation.
Philippe has lived in Brooklyn with his family for over 20 years and has been involved in the Jewish community as a long-time member and past Trustee of Kane Street Synagogue, member of Natan’s Jerusalem Committee and Prospect Heights Shul and a Hannah Senesh and Heschel School parent. Philippe is President of Related Office Development leading the Related Companies’ expansive commercial office development efforts across the country. Philippe has managed the execution of real estate projects and transactions valued at billions of dollars including the Hudson Yards project, the largest ever development in the U.S.
Philippe previously served as Director of World Trade Center Redevelopment for the Port Authority and has over 25 years of experience leading large scale real estate projects at Tishman Speyer, Vornado Realty and Forest City. Philippe has served on multiple non-profit boards including the YMCA of New York, the Regional Planning Association and the Downtown Alliance and is an active partner of Project Destined.