Jack Lewis Boeko, 77, of Deerfield Beach, Fla., a “true leader” in the Jewish Community Centers movement, who spent close to 20 years as executive vice president of JCC MetroWest, died March 18, 2011. He was born in Calgary, Canada, and in recent years resided in Florida.
Mr. Boeko began his work in Jewish communal service at the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and the YM-YWHA in Montreal. He went on to serve over the years as the executive vice president of the Jewish Community Center of New Orleans, the 92nd Street Y in New York City, and the JCC in West Orange, where he held the top staff position from 1978 to 1997.
He was also the founder of Cinema U, a film series exploring the ties between current issues and film themes and genres that he created after relocating from New Jersey to Florida.
He earned a bachelor of arts degree from Sir George Williams University and a master’s degree from McGill University School of Social Work, both in Montreal.
“Jack was a true leader in the JCC movement, known for his creativity and devotion to cultural arts and teen programming,” said JCC MetroWest board of trustees chair Stephen Seiden, who was president at the time of Boeko’s retirement. “He was an inspirational figure and provided true leadership when JCC MetroWest hosted the JCC Maccabi Games in 1996,” he said.
“Jack was a dear friend and colleague for over 25 years,” said Max Kleinman, executive vice president of United Jewish Communities of MetroWest NJ. “Jack was a great JCC executive. He was also a playwright and impresario through Cinema U and theatrical productions. I remember his reading me his latest work, and I saw several of his theatrical works — all displaying a deep Jewish cultural richness.”
Steven Schauder, former director of teen services at JCC MetroWest, met Boeko as a graduate student in a class he taught at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work. “Upon receiving my degree, I went on to work for Jack for six-and-a-half years,” said Schauder, now director of Jewish education at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County in Florida. “The greatest tribute that I can pay to Jack was that he inspired his staff to try to attain the same level of excellence that he demanded of himself.”
Predeceased by his wife, Rhona Hagler Boeko, he is survived by two sons, Steven of Harrisburg, NC, and Bruce of Nashville, Tenn.; his sister, Fay Boeko of Deerfield Beach; and two grandchildren.
Services were held March 21 with arrangements by Riverside Gordon Memorial Chapel in Deerfield Beach. Memorial contributions may be made to JCC MetroWest’s Boeko/Hagler Purim Fund or the Jack Boeko Visionary Fund (973-530-3427) or the Jack Boeko Endowment Fund at the Adolph and Rose Levis Jewish Community Center, Boca Raton, Fla.