Joel Marcovitch can see the glass walls of the downtown Jewish business incubator he's dreamed up.

Inside, there are young people working on laptops, meeting with business professionals and planning their small businesses.

It's one of many inspirations that have come to the new CEO of the merged Columbus Jewish Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Columbus in the 10 days that he's been working in Columbus.

Marcovitch sees Columbus as a "blank canvas" he can build up, and said he prefers to build communities -- not maintain them.

"It felt right when I came down here," he said.

Marcovitch, 40, and his family are still in the process of unpacking after moving from northwestern Ohio, where he was head of the Jewish Federation of Greater Toledo. Though he just started in his new role Aug. 20, he's forming a far-reaching, big-picture vision for the city and its Jewish community of about 25,000 people.

Over the next decade, Marcovitch said he envisions the business incubator and 10 to 20 startups employing hundreds of community members; a new eruv, a symbolic boundary that allows observant Jews to carry materials on the Sabbath without being in violation of Jewish law, in New Albany, where he's renting with his family; and the community's two Jewish day schools overflowing with children.

He also dreams of a major mission trip to Israel each year; all central Ohio Jewish agencies having enough money to meet community needs; and more amenities and services for local Jews, such as more kosher restaurants.

Marcovitch is the first leader to take over since the Columbus Jewish Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Columbus began merging in January, after the previous leaders of both groups said they would be leaving their posts. Both groups have been housed in the same location, 1175 College Ave. in Berwick. The two boards are working to come up with a new name for the merged entity.

Selected from a pool of 200 candidates, Marcovitch was announced as the new CEO in July. He had served as the Toledo federation's top leader for the past five years. Before that, Marcovitch, a native of London, England, worked with Jewish youth, first through a program for teens that sent them to Israel for a gap year before college, a program he completed himself.

He also worked with Hillel, an international Jewish student organization with chapters at colleges and universities, in Florida, Georgia and Michigan before becoming the CEO in Toledo at age 35, making him the youngest Jewish Federation CEO in the country at the time.

Audrey Tuckerman, board chairwoman of the Jewish Federation of Columbus, said she likes Marcovitch because he respects history and tradition, but thinks differently.

"He loves meeting people," she said.

He's done a lot of that in recent weeks and is counting on many more meetings.

In the next six months to a year, Marcovitch plans to invite people to talk to him about their hopes and dreams for the Columbus Jewish community and Columbus as a whole. He said he wants the vision for the group to be one created by the community, not just him.

He said he hopes to double the yearly donations to the group over the next decade, from $7 million now to $14 million by 2028.

The money donated to the group aids local Jewish agencies and organizations in current activities and future planning.

Among the weaknesses in the local Jewish community are leadership development and outreach to a younger generation, said Jim Bowman, Columbus Jewish Foundation board president.

"I think we have to invest in the next generation," Marcovitch said, noting that one of the things he intends to do is hire an outreach and retention director.

"I see in 10 years a time when anyone has an issue, they know who to pick up the phone to," he said.

"I didn't come down here because it was easy," he said. "I came here to work, and I came here to help build the community."

Marcovitch will have his first public speaking engagement at a community celebration from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 9 on the third floor of the Creekside Event Center, 101 Mill St., Gahanna. The event is free, but those interested in attending are asked to register by Oct. 3 at