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Smartphones, Social Media & Summer Camp

While society has become more reliant on technology, and benefited from it, children’s use of electronics in daily life has also taken off. On average, American children and adolescents spend more than 7.5 hours each day using an electronic device. Emma Kaufmann Camp (EKC) recently participated in a national survey titled, Smartphones, Social Media and Overnight Summer Camp.  We were one of 48 camps that …

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We Prepare Kids for Life’s Journeys

I don’t have many memories from being 4 years old.  Most of us don’t.  I remember moments with family, vague recollections about my preschool class, and “doing art” with my sister in our basement.  One vivid memory I do have is riding on a school bus for the first time to my local JCC.  I wasn’t exactly sure what I was doing on that school …

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Keep Up the Momentum: Summer Youth Basketball

Keep up your momentum this summer at the JCC The “basketball season” has come and gone and much of the sports world will turn their attention to Major League Baseball or NFL Training Camp or whatever sports season is up next. For the coaches, staff and players at the JCC, however, the end of the competitive season simply means that the beginning of the off-season is right …

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21st Century Inclusion at JCC Camps

Since February 2009, the JCC's Emma Kaufmann Camp has answered the call to action of Jewish Disabilities Awareness and Inclusion Month, a unified national initiative to raise disability awareness and support efforts to foster inclusion in Jewish communities and programs worldwide. Never has focusing on this issue been more important than it is today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 in …

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Staunton Farm Foundation Grant will Broaden Inclusion at JCC Camps

We are excited to announce that JCC camps, Emma Kaufmann Camp and James and Rachel Levinson Day Camp, received Beyond an Inclusion Policy: Ensuring Children and Adolescents Reach Their Developmental Potential, a $100,000 two-year grant from The Staunton Farm Foundation. Our overnight and day camps will utilize the grant to pilot an innovative community project to broaden inclusion at both camps, and also to define …

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Notes from Emma Kaufmann Camp

An Exciting Year Ahead September 9, 2018 by Rachael Speck Rosh Hashanah presents us with an opportunity to reflect on ourselves and think about what we want for the upcoming year. One of the prayers we say on Rosh Hashanah is that the entire world will come to a deep appreciation of God’s existence, awareness and supervision. By making this a prayer of Rosh Hashanah, the Rabbis are teaching …

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What’s New at EKC?

“Hey, Rachael. What’s new at camp this year?” It’s a question I get every year. At the end of each summer, our team sits around the table and talks about what we want to change for next year.  By November, we have it all figured out, or so we think. Then there is that really awesome program opportunity that comes along in April or May …

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7 Things to Do This Summer at the JCC

Summer is finally here and we don't want you to miss any of the fun at the JCC! Here are some suggestions. For details, check our summer Mini Guides. Splash on! #JCCisforEverybody    

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JCC Spotlight Newsletter

Summer 2018 Our new Mission Statement tells the story of the JCC: NURTURING PEOPLE: Early Childhood When will the cocoons become butterflies? Tatum, 4, and Piper, 3, are guided by their teacher Shardaya to observe, experiment and discuss this as part of a typical day in the JCC’s Early Childhood Development Center. Exploring nature is just one aspect of the child-led learning that educators nurture in our ECDC program—inspired by …

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Transfer the Feeling: The Beginning of Summer 2018

Transfer the feeling.  What feeling?  That feeling we all get when we drive into camp for the first time each summer.  As we crest over the hill and get a first view of the ball fields, there are butterflies, nerves, smiles, excitement.  It’s the feeling in the middle of winter when your parents tell you they signed you up for camp next summer, or when …

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Get Ready for Summer: It’s Water Safety Month

As summer weather approaches, outdoor pools begin preparing to open and families are packing up to head to the beach. May is National Water Safety Month. This annual awareness campaign, coordinated by multiple organizations, provides critical information to ensure you and your family stay safe when you're in and near the water, while still having fun. Water safety is serious business. Last year, between Memorial Day and …

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The Power of Summer Camp

One of the steepest learning curves in my 16 months as the JCC’s Chief Program Officer has been in the area of summer camp. I grew up with only limited exposure to a day camp that was run out of my local high school in Rockland County, New York, and while I am a parent of two campers, I did not fully appreciate the impact …

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EKC’s Tush Push: For even more magical Shabbats

Of all the things I love about camp, Shabbat is one of the things I love the most.  There is nothing more picturesque than the amphitheater on a Friday night.  The green of the forest, everyone dressed in white, the natural feel of the bima -- it all goes so well together. There is something so special and pure about it, because it brings a …

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JCC Camps: Preparing for Life’s Journeys

C O N N E C T I O N S • V A L U E S • G R O W T H • F U N This is our responsibility: To prepare the next generation for the journeys that lie ahead. We hope that every journey will be fair and just. We hope that every journey will be filled with joy and happiness. We hope that …

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The Bigger Picture

During the Chanukah season, we are reminded of the importance of light. "Light" is often used in the Torah to mean knowledge and wisdom. Embracing our role in lighting the world can be extremely powerful, both individually and collectively, and there is no better way to do that than “taking the show on the road” - to the JCC Maccabi Games®. Each year, the JCC of Greater …

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Great Camp = Happy Campers

James and Rachel Levinson Day Camp: By the Numbers We learned a lot from our survey of last summer's camp families. Please join us at Pittsburgh's premier day camp this summer! For more information and to register (it's Early Bird season - get the best rates for summer 2018!) contact Lewis Sohinki, Camp Director, at 412-697-3537, or fill out the contact form and we'll get right back …

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Emma Kaufmann Camp: From “CIT’s” to “SIT’s”

Emma Kaufmann Camp’s (EKC) Counselor-In-Training (CIT) program is a 49-day leadership development training program, where young adults learn, through real-world experiences, how to become role models and mentors for children ages 7-15 years old as well as productive members of their home community. A critical component of EKC’s CIT program has been a 3-week immersive experience in Israel so that the CITs can weave their Jewish …

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Renewing the “Ruach”

Although I have only been on the job for a short time as Department Director of Children, Youth and Family Services for the South Hills JCC, I have a number of new and exciting ideas that I would like to share with you. Renewing Ruach We are going to dramatically increase the energy, or ruach (spirit), in all of our programming. Take for example flagpole each morning …

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Kirshner Family Weekend at EKC

This past weekend was our annual Kirshner Family Weekend at Emma Kaufmann Camp.  More than 35 families came to spend the weekend and get the full camp experience.  Everyone had a blast and the weather couldn’t have been better.  From tubing on the lake to horseback riding and zip lining, we all had so many fun adventures. The weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with swimming in …

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ECDC South Hills “Backyard” Enhances Learning

The South Hills Early Childhood Development Center is blessed with what some call “Our Backyard.” But what people are referring to is more than any old backyard. The JCC South Hills is situated on a huge site that includes three playgrounds, a large field, a grassy hill and direct access to the adjoining Scott Conservancy, and ECDC makes full use of all these wonderful resources. “The …

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JCC Day Campers Will Wish the Summer Would Never End

Kids: Get ready for the best summer, ever, at JCC Day Camps. We’re counting the days, minutes and seconds until the camp season starts in June. At James and Rachel Levinson Day Camp, our flagship day camp at the Family Park in Monroeville, new activities and returning favorites set the scene for each child to learn, create, explore and experience. “We give campers the opportunity to make …

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Seder supplements to make your Passover relevant this year

What I love about the seder is that the ritual that began the night before we left Egypt has been transformed thousands of times over throughout the generations.  In fact, the Passover haggadah is said to be the most published Jewish book in history with editions that meet the needs of assorted Jews throughout history.  Just look at how many Maxwell haggadot are featured in …

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A Lesson from the J&R Day Camp Garden

Children have an innate affinity to being in nature, to sensory play, to experiential learning that we see every day in the summers at J&R Day Camp. The Torah teaches us a lot about the importance of nature. From the start, the book of Bereshit details God’s creations of heaven and earth. Each time God created something in this epic beginning story of the world, the …

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Explore your hobbies at J&R Day Camp

January is National Hobby Month but we keep it going all summer long at James & Rachel Levinson Day Camp, where we cultivate children's interests every day. Hobbies are good for us. Besides improving creativity and generating good moods, hobbies enhance the ability to focus and concentrate, training our brains to retain an interest and sparking enthusiasm. J&R Day Camp provides the ideal setting and an exceptional experience to each …

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The Maccabee Way of Thinking

Each year, as I re-encounter the story of Chanukah, I am inspired by the persistence of a small group of Maccabees who fought for their core values in the face of seemingly incredible odds. When confronted with oppression and limitations, they thought broader and wider than any narrow definitions that others might have used to define them. No matter the historical circumstances, that 'Maccabee way of thinking' is …

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Bring on The Light – Chanukah!

As the days get shorter during the end of 2016, Chanukah could not come any sooner. As I prepare for the Festival of Lights this year, I am particularly aware of the eternally contemporary message of the Macabees.  Way back when, around 2100 years ago, when the Assyrian Greeks radically changed the structure of society by not allowing our ancestors to celebrate Shabbat, study Torah nor perform …

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Rachel Marcus: A Lifetime of Service to the Community

“Take a look at these photos,” says Rachel Marcus, handing over a snapshot of three campers in T-shirts, smiling broadly, and a beautifully composed black and white photo of a young girl sitting on a counselor’s lap, both laughing gleefully. “Happy kids,” Rachel says, characteristically matter-of-fact. “That’s what we’re about.” Marcus, JCC Associate Executive Director,  has been focused on providing programs that enrich the lives of families and children …

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Four Questions About…Specialty Camps!

With my favorite holiday, Passover, just around the corner, I can’t help but thinking about when I was the youngest child at our family Seder and would have the opportunity to ask the Four Questions. The Four Questions, traditionally recited by the youngest person at the table, highlight the ways in which Passover customs and foods distinguish the holiday from other times of the year. Although …

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Dayenu! Have we done enough yet?

On Friday night, as my family and guests retold the time-honored story of our journey from slavery to freedom, my son Micah inserted his seder gift into the festivities.  He explained how he had been studying Civil War history in school and thought that it might be appropriate to read the Emancipation Proclamation at the seder. The Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863 By the President of the United …

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Yummy! Matzah

So many of us have an ongoing relationship with matzah.  You might be one of those people who loves it so much that you eat Tam Tams all year round.  You might have a preference for a brand either out of habit or as the result of an intentional taste test.  You might be dedicated to a particular type: Egg, Whole Wheat, Lightly Salted….  You …

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Pet Memberships now Available

Imagining Tomorrow: Pet Memberships Let me share an interesting stat with you. According to a recent study by the USDAW, 34% of family households in the United States own a pet. When you narrow this geographic range to Pittsburgh, this figure jumps to 47%. Given the growing trend in pet ownership, the JCC has recognized an opportunity to spread our impact through the animal community. That is why I am pleased to announce the JCC will begin …

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Square Cafe–With Love

Community Spotlight: Sherree Goldstein, Community Champion It’s often said that it takes a village to raise a child. It’s no stretch to say that it takes a Sherree Goldstein to raise a community. “In 2003 I had the vision to bring fresh seasonal and local food to Regent Square,” Goldstein writes on the restaurant’s website. “The quality and tastiness of the food were as important to me …

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I’m Thinking of Spring

Even as we dig our way out of our first (and hopefully last) major snow storm of the winter, I am thinking about SPRING. After all, Tu biShvat begins on Sunday, January 24 at sundown. If you have cabin fever and want to bring spring into your world, might I suggest three things: Plant a tree in Israel!  No need to wait for your next trip, just click …

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Are there any mentschen on the grid-iron?

You and I have heard it described as 'our generation's immaculate reception'.  What happened on Saturday night in Cincinnati electrified Pittsburgh.  I saw the game slipping away from the Steelers throughout the 4th quarter to only be surprised with the victory. Victory wasn't the only thing slipping away.  Morality slipped away too.  Marc Hardin described it well: ...Call the late and fateful penalties and all of the …

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39 S’more Recipes That Will Warm You Up for J&R365’s Next Event

On January 31, our next J&R365 event will take place at the Family Park. Expect a day filled with arts & crafts, sledding, hot cocoa and of course, s'mores! To get you ready, we came across this Buzzfeed listicle of amazing s'more recipes that we will try out, but we won't blame you if you can't wait and go ahead and test cook some beforehand. Don't forget to register by January …

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“Shed a Little Light” – We need it so bad

It has been quite a run of lights. It all began back on the 25th of Kislev when we began to bring more light to a dark world. ‘Dark’ is the operative word. It was dark back on December 6 when the first Chanukah candle was lit because of the national conversations around immigration and gun violence. It was getting darker with each night as …

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Winter Camp: Hands-on creativity and fun for kids

As we prepare for the New Year and the kids enjoy a break from their daily school routines, Winter Camp at the JCC is in full swing (although it feels like summer). Winter Camp offers kids an opportunity to get hands-on with new skills, way beyond the classroom. Last week, Winter Camp included of a rotation of three specialty classes: Exploration and discovery with Mad Science, paint and crafts with guest artist Erica …

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I am Not Done SCREAMING!

Will you SCREAM with me about HATE SPEECH and how it can lead to HATE ACTION? Elie Weisel teaches us: One of the Just Men came to Sodom, determined to save its inhabitants from sin and punishment. Night and day he walked the streets and markets protesting against greed and theft, falsehood and indifference. In the beginning, people listened and smiled ironically. Then they stopped listening; …

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At the JCC, the First “C” is for Community

There’s a lot of disturbing talk these days, talk that is designed to play on people’s frustrations and fears. It’s talk that seems to free some people from their common decency, from tolerance and acceptance of others. It’s talk that breeds the hatred that destroys community. It won’t happen here. The JCC is a diverse, welcoming community. Our members come from down the street and all over …

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STAND UP! Be the SHAMASH

Each and every year, as we light the candles for Hanukah, we are very particular to ensure that the shamash serves its purpose. You know what I am talking about: the shamash (helper candle) is supposed to a light the fire for all eight days.  It has a weighty responsibility, that shamash, when it comes to the rituals of Hanukah.  Without a shamash, the other 36 …

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We need more light!

Ain’t it the truth.  We can’t seem to tune on the news, pick up our phone or read the paper without feeling a great sense of darkness nowadays.  Shootings in Colorado Springs, San Bernardino and Pittsburgh, let alone Paris and the challenges of refugees fleeing their homelands for fear of their lives… we need more light! Thank God for Hanukah.  Every year, as we enter the …

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#GivingTuesday – A Chance to Think Beyond the Turkey

#GivingTuesday – A Chance to Think Beyond the Turkey You’ve made it through Thanksgiving dinner. You’ve fought your way through the spend-so-you-save shopping on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’ve had a chance to start working off Thanksgiving bounties at the JCC. You’ve had a weekend to recover and a day back at the office. Now it’s time to think beyond the turkey. Join us, Tuesday, December 1, …

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Thankyou for Our Families and our Nation

An adult study partner of mine recently turned me onto a new author, Anne Lamott. She suggested that I read Anne’s Help, Thanks, Wow (2012), a beautiful exploration of the essence of prayer. I was hooked, and read 2 or 3 more of Anne Lamott’s books making my way through her Christian references to find the essence of humanity within the books and each other. …

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How quickly will our pulse return to normal after Paris, Beirut, Sinai…?

Yet again, we are under attack.  The attack is two-fold. It is life-threatening.  People across our globe are being killed and oppressed because too many of us are not embracing the concept “Love your neighbor as yourself” as a way of life.  The devastation in the Sinai, Beirut and Paris (just to mention a few of our current challenges) are the recent expressions of this hatred. It is also …

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The Dodgers are Still in Brooklyn

My Hat of Choice: Brooklyn Dodgers My Dad, Jerry, still thinks that the Dodgers play in Brooklyn! He won’t give up on that reality even though he and I, along with my son Micah, have actually been to a Dodgers game in Los Angeles. It is my Dad’s honor that I wear a Brooklyn Dodgers hat as my baseball hat of choice (except when I am …

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Girls Just Want to…Run!

As I was reviewing the curriculum for our Girls on the Run team, I realized that we are now more than halfway through the program. We have such an amazing group of third to fifth grade girls from five different schools, and with so many different personalities.  It got me thinking about the vision of the program: “We envision a world where every girl knows and …

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Minecraft Camp Helps Round out STEM Learning this Summer

The growing trend in STEM education is something we pay attention to at the JCC. This summer, we made sure to incorporate more STEM programming into our Specialty Camps. Next week -- August 10-14 -- is our last week of Specialty Camps, including two STEMulating programs. It's no surprise about the popularity of Minecraft camp. It sold out for both of the weeks that it was offered! For Minecraft camp, we …

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Shabbat Shalom from J&R Day Camp

Shabbat Shalom J&R Day Camp Families, What an incredible ending to our 1st week of Camp as we welcomed in our 1st Shabbat! It’s incredible to see how much our campers have done in only one week. Some of our weekly accomplishments include: We have planted, maintained, and cooked with all of our veggies and herbs in our very own sustainable garden. We have returned to the nature of …

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Kirshner Family EKC Weekend

August 21-23, 2015 Experience the excitement of camping with the entire family at Emma Kaufmann Camp in Morgantown, WV. We have private bathrooms in every cabin and a new gluten free kitchen! Weekend Highlights include: Swimming in our Aquatics Center *3 pools, diving boards, waterslides Lake Activities *Tubing, canoeing, kayaking, "The Blob" and "The Rave" Ropes Challenge Course *Cargo net, climbing tower and zipline Arts & Crafts projects Sports *Basketball, tennis, archery, soccer and many more! Horseback …

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