The Marcus Jewish Community Center marked a double transition in leadership at its annual meeting Tuesday night, March 22, and both involved Douglas Kuniansky.

Kuniansky, who brought a heavy heart to the meeting because of the recent death of his father-in-law, had the joy of passing the board chairmanship to lawyer Joel Arogeti, a partner at Kitchens Kelley Gaynes, and in seeing Jared Powers address his first annual meeting since becoming chief executive officer three weeks earlier, relieving Kuniansky of the interim CEO role.

Joy, or simcha, was the theme of Rabbi Brian Glusman’s Torah teaching to start the meeting. As he looked ahead to Purim, which started 24 hours later, and back to that morning, when terrorists bombed Brussels, Rabbi Glusman said simcha can’t happen in a vacuum or alone.

The leadership of the Marcus JCC board has passed from Douglas Kuniansky (left) to Joel Arogeti.

The leadership of the Marcus JCC board has passed from Douglas Kuniansky (left) to Joel Arogeti.

“Simcha is found in community,” he said. “Simcha is found in the JCC.”

The rabbi had cause for more of that joy a few minutes later when he was awarded the Phillip Bush Award for Leadership. Other award winners included Liz Mennen, Volunteer of the Year; Sheila Gonzalez, Team Player Award; Carlos Auger, Customer Service Award; and special needs program Transitions, Best New Program, accepted by Elizabeth Waddey.

In handing over the leadership of an institution that has struggled at times in the past decade but is now in strong financial shape, Kuniansky called it “the most rewarding work of my life.”

“The MJCCA has filled my soul,” he said.

Arogeti praised his predecessor, saying love was at the root of Kuniansky’s 1,051,200 minutes (or two years) as chairman. Arogeti presented a chanukiah to Kuniansky in thanks for his service.

Arogeti served as vice chairman under Kuniansky and has been involved with the JCC since he attended preschool at the center 53 years ago when it was in Midtown. He played sports, served as a BBYO officer and went to Camp Barney Medintz, a pattern his children followed.

Looking ahead to his expected two years as chairman, Arogeti said the center must continue to work to meet the needs of all members while striving to bring in new members and to forge new partnerships.

“The J is a blessing on our community,” Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta Chairman Howard Feinsand said.

“We’re in the business of people,” Powers said, emphasizing that the center relies on people, partnerships and programs. He did not offer any details about his vision for the Marcus JCC.

He joked that Kuniansky warned him that it’s easier to get to the top than to stay there, but the excitement about his rise after most of a lifetime involved with the JCC is no joke.

“Jared’s appointment has electrified our staff and our membership,” said board Treasurer Sammy Grant, who chaired the meeting.

Photos by Michael Jacobs