• turned a sleepy, outdated organization into a vibrant and important Jewish day camp organization, welcoming over 5,000 campers and staff per day in the New York City area 

  • developed a strong, passionate, and committed board of directors

  • crafted a business relationship with a for-profit entity, providing HKC a stream of income that has become a financial game-changer for the organization

  • created a development department and a culture of giving, a first in the 60-year history of the organization

  • enhanced the partnerships, transparency, and communications between the 16 user agencies (JCC’s and Y’s) and HKC

  • built a solid team of year-round professionals and summer staff, ready, willing and able to carry out the mission and vision of the board

  • developed and maintained a sponsor partnership with The Coca-Cola Company that brought a half-million dollars of annual support to the Games

  • established JCC Association’s preferred vendor program, building relationships with suppliers to bring JCCs preferred rates, superior service, professinal training, and educational programs

  • embedded compassion and sportsmanship into the culture of the Games by instituting the Rachmones Rule

  • incorporated the Munich 11 Remembrance into JCC Maccabi opening ceremonies

  • implemented Day of Caring and Sharing, a half-day of community service woven into the Games to teach tikkun olam (repairing the world) 

  • expanded from a biennial event to running Games every summer

  • grew the Games from 1,500 to over 5,000 athletes at up to six host cities every summer

  • going global: increased participation by international delegations

  • developed the Games’ lay and professional leadership

  • raised thousands of dollars for Israel not-for-profits via auctions of donated items

  • developed resident camp director leadership team to provide support for JCC camps throughout North America

  • helped save underperforming camp from being sold off by the Board 

  • grew attendance from 80 campers to over 800 in just six years

  • expanded numbers of out-of-state campers

  • developed the “EKC = Every Kid Counts” philosophy, building the camp’s reputation as a

  • child-centered environment 

  • began rebuilding the facilities, to leave a healthy camp for the next generation

  • changed camp culture via Jewish programming, and by bringing in young shlichim( emissaries) from Israel

  • expanded from a very small program to nearly 1,000 participants

  • engaged boys and girls of all ages

  • on-the-court successes: multiple all-star travel teams, and over a dozen championships, including six championships in one two-year stretch

  • only Jewish team to play in the Inner City Summer Basketball League

  • created role-model program where top older players coached younger kids

  • created programs to address important issues like substance abuse 

  • only JCC to have a parent support group, PASS (Parents are Super Supporters)

  • only JCC at the time to take a team to Israel, December 1987

Lenny Silberman gives kids tools for living by integrating sports, summer camp, and Judaism. 


He also happens to build great teams, strong organizations, and enthusiastic support networks. 


It's a winning combination.

(Scroll down to learn how he does it.)


In 1972, 11 members of the Israeli Olympic team were murdered in Munich while participating in the Olympics. Before I became continental director of the JCC Maccabi Games, a tribute to the Munich 11 was observed at some sites but not at others, and not even every year... READ MORE


One of the most important traditions I’m proud to have introduced to the JCC Maccabi Games is Day of Caring & Sharing. I knew we had an opportunity to teach our athletes that no matter how important winning or losing may feel in the heat of the moment, what’s far more meaningful in the long run... READ MORE

Coaches do more than just win games.
Coaches teach lessons to help change lives.

It was a game in 1984, and a team of older, taller boys from Baltimore was truly shellacking our younger, smaller, Pittsburgh team. They quickly led by more than 30 points, thanks to their superior size and talent — but also because they pressed their advantage in every possible way, keeping their starting players on the floor the whole time. At half-time, I turned to the other coach and said... READ MORE

There’s a time to learn and a time to teach. Through coaching, Lenny realized early on that those moments often come at the same time. And that the lessons we learn — and the ones we share — have a much bigger impact on our lives and our communities than do points on the board or who’s on top in the standings. 

Here are some examples, in Lenny’s own words:


One of the highlights of my career was being able to help bring a fully functional fitness center to the Israel Sport Center for the Disabled. Here is the story about how it happened... READ MORE

I’m always looking for “win-win” situations, but when I can find a “win-win-win” it’s even better. Like the one involving a game bat used by one of my heroes, Roberto Clemente; a 150-year-old Torah scroll from Iraq; and Roberto Clemente Jr... READ MORE


Basketball legend and Israeli Goodwill Ambassador, Tal Brody (left) and four-time Olympic Gold Medalist, Lenny Krayzelburg (right), celebrate with Lenny at Israel's Wingate Institute for Physical Education and Sports, in July 2017.

The International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame honored Lenny Silberman with its Chairman's Award for Excellence in recognition of his decades of devoted service to young Jewish athletes and campers.   

See AWARDS, below. 


Lenny is a life-long learner, always willing to evolve in pursuit of being a better leader, coach, colleague, and person. He learns from his own experience, as well as from people (of all ages!) that he works with, socializes with, or mentors.

Over the years, he developed the habit of crafting these life-lessons into informal aphorisms, often appropriated from existing sayings and invested with his own meaning. These maxims guide him in his life and career, and he is never shy to repeat them whenever applicable. 

His use of these “Lennyisms” is infectious. They get picked up by colleagues and repeated, the ideas behind them becoming part of the culture of any organization or team Lenny leads.


Here are a few examples:

Little things

make big things


Do the



At the end

of the day...

They're all

our kids.

It's all


Stay on the 

high road.

How can I

be helpful?

I'm just

a coach.

I cannot tell you how many times at camp I would notice a teenager spending an extra twenty minutes a day hitting a tennis ball against a wall, and then see the improvement in her game over the course of the summer.

It’s the little things that help you win.

We always have choices. We could do the easy thing, the thing that will benefit us the most, and often to the detriment of others. Or we could do the right thing.

Do the right thing.

It is easy to panic and think that the world is going to come to an end because you made a little mistake.

You know what? It’s all good

Some things may seem very big in the moment, but at the end of the day, they are just a blip on the radar.

Gossip, friction, and pettiness are almost inevitable in any situation, even among “grownups.” Try to remain above it, stay focused on the big picture, and keep working toward the greater good.

At the JCC Maccabi Games, I encouraged coaches to focus on all kids, not just the ones on their team. Our job is to make sure everyone is safe, happy, and having a positive experience.

I think my DNA has always been to be helpful to others in whatever way possible. Something I could do personally, connecting people, or just trying to help people in need. I always find you get more out of it than you put in.

Since my first days at the Pittsburgh JCC when I coached basketball, the goal was always to build a winning team, showing youth how to be good people, work hard, be a good sport, etc. Throughout my career I’ve been building winning teams… and by winning I don’t mean the final score, but rather winning in life.




in color

You don't win by following the same old strategy.

When we are retooling an offense or defense, it's not good enough to just score a few points — we want to change the landscape of the game. This is true in everything I have done. From the JCC to Emma Kauffman Camp to JCC Association and the Continental Maccabi Games to Henry Kauffman Camps, we changed the game we were playing.

A lot of dreamers are in the clouds, but when I dream I dream in color. Never black and white -- it’s clear and vibrant, and I can see how to build it, how to make it come true. When I think about a program or activity I think about what’s going to make it snap, crackle and pop, and bring it to life.


If you ask Lenny Silberman what he does, he’d simply answer, “I’m just a coach.”

During the span of his professional career, his actions have had a positive effect on the lives of more than 250,000 Jewish youth, many of whom have grown up to be leaders in the Jewish community and beyond. 

While his job title and description have changed throughout the years, from Director of Sports and Recreation at the Pittsburgh JCC, to Director of the Emma Kaufmann Camp in Pittsburgh, to Continental Director of the JCC Maccabi Games and Vice President of Program Services of JCC Association of North America, to CEO of Henry Kaufmann Camps in New York, Lenny’s mission and mantra has stayed the same: “They’re all our kids.”  


Lenny’s career is defined by his devotion to young people and his belief in the power of sports and recreation experiences to transmit values. It’s why he sits on the board and has worked tirelessly on behalf of the Israel Sports Center for the Disabled in Ramat Gan (Israel), and single-handedly raised the funds to build them a fitness room. And why he and was selected to represent the JCCs of North America as a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee. 


He served on the USOC for 14 years, espousing, along the way, ideas he was incorporating into the JCC Maccabi Games. Ideas like the “Rachmones Rule” (encouraging compassion and sportsmanship) and “Days of Caring and Sharing” (a break in the competition for athletes to perform community service). Ideas that may have raised some eyebrows among other committee members, but privately had them confessing they wished they could implement similar programs in their youth leagues. 


His actions have not gone unnoticed. Lenny has received recognition from the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, the Western Pennsylvania Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, and the National Council of Youth Sports.


Lenny has left every organization he encountered stronger than when he arrived. From guiding Pittsburgh JCC basketball teams to a dozen championships, to invigorating the JCC Maccabi Games, to strengthening the Henry Kaufmann Camps, he sees the potential in an organization and knows how to get it there.


To Lenny, the values of sportsmanship and the values of Judaism go hand in hand. He has a gift for synthesizing the two, each informing and magnifying the other. The result invests sports experiences with richer meaning, and makes the lessons of Judaism more accessible. It’s a message that resonates, especially with young people. 

At JCCs, at summer camps, and through the JCC Maccabi Games, Lenny’s unique approach has helped tens of thousands of kids develop tools for living, for being a good person, and for understanding the importance of community.


Lenny knows that nothing connects with teens like sports, arts, and travel. And that living, learning, competing, and performing with other Jewish teens from all over the world offers a powerful identity-building experience at a critical moment in young lives. 


Under his direction, the JCC Maccabi Games grew dramatically in size and reach, and expanded to offer intensive arts and Israel travel experiences along with sports. These programs give teens an overwhelmingly positive experience of what it means to be a Jew, just when they are beginning to make the choices that will determine what kind of adult they will become. 


Lenny’s passion translates just as easily to colleagues and peers as it does to kids and teens. His enthusiasm is infectious, and his highly collaborative approach to management generates energy, eliciting and fostering ideas from everyone on his team. In the process, he creates the kind of buy-in that makes big things happen. 


As an executive, Lenny is all about building bridges. Friendships come naturally to him, and just as naturally become partnerships that build community and benefit everyone involved. He’s the kind of visionary who inspires others to think big as well, and who knows how to connect the dots and turn dreams into reality.


Since my first days at the Pittsburgh JCC when I coached basketball, the goal was always to build a winning team, showing youth how to be good people, work hard, be a good sport, etc. Throughout my career I’ve been building winning teams… and by winning I don’t mean the final score, but rather winning in life.

I'm just

a coach.

I think my DNA has always been to be helpful to others in whatever way possible. Something I could do personally, connecting people, or just trying to help people in need. I always find you get more out of it than you put in.


International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Chairman's Award of Excellence

July 4, 2017: Ceremony at Wingate Institute, Netanya; reception at Kfar Maccabiah, Ramat Gan, Israel

On July 4, 2017, in Israel, Lenny was honored with the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame’s Chairman’s Award of Excellence, an award that has only been given out to six other people, in recognition for his “dedicated service to integrate sports and summer camp and Judaism as part of worldwide efforts on behalf the youth of today.”

Lenny is the first JCC professional to be honored by the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.

National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

The Dick Steinberg "Good Guy" Award

April 2012

Western Pennsylvania 
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Hershey Strive Award

April 2007

Israel Sport Center for the Disabled

Special Recognition

July 2005

Western Pennsylvania 
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Special Achievement Award

November 1994

Western Pennsylvania 
Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

Ziggy Kann Award

November 1999

National Council of Youth Sports

National Youth Sports
Administrator of the Year