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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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The Miracle of the Present Moment

As we conclude our second day of school in the Early Childhood Development Center, I want to thank our families for the joyful beginning we’ve had together. We are never without our challenges or opportunities, and I’m struck by how collaboratively our educators and our parents have worked in learning and navigating through the first couple of days together. I am proud to be part …

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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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Mid-Summer Edition: 5 Best Good-for-You Foods

Here are 5 good-for-you foods - a list that's good 365 days a year with a mid-summer twist. Eat hearty and healthy! GREEN BEANS - High fiber foods like green beans can help you prevent weight gain and promote weight loss - without dieting. Research shows: Boosting fiber by 8 grams for every 1,000 calories consumed resulted in losing an average 4 ½ pounds. Also try …

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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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7 Things for Kids and Families to do at the JCC

To be honest, there are many, many more things for kids of all ages to do at the JCC! We just wanted to highlight a few things you may not have known.* Most important: We want you to come here and HAVE FUN!!!   Our South Hills branch offers its own brand of fun in its swimming pool, multiple outdoor playgrounds, gymnasium, access to hiking trails in …

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Stay Safe in the Sun!

As we head into the summer months, I hope you’ll keep your skin’s health - present and future - in mind. Use the following tips to stay safe in the sun. Wear protective clothing. Hats with wide brims not only cover your face, but they also protect other easy-to-forget spots like ears and your scalp. Make sunglasses your favorite accessory. Sunglasses shield your eyes from …

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A Community Conversation on Teen Mental Health

According to a recent report released by the American Psychological Association, mental health issues among young adults have risen significantly over the last decade and social media may be one reason why. The research shows a sharp increase in negative psychological symptoms for young adults born in 1995 or later, otherwise known as iGen. The spike in symptoms occurred in 2011, concurrent with the timing of …

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A Purim Message For Today

Bigotry, hatred and racism of all forms is wrong no matter what continent it occurs on and no matter the victims it claims. The Jewish community has known this for thousands of years.  After all, this week we are celebrating the victory of the Jewish community of Persia over the hatred state-sanctioned supremacy of its day.  When Queen Esther hesitated to stand up and call it …

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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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All Your Teen Needs to Know About HIIT Class: It’s FUN

Exercise is an extremely important part of being healthy but your fitness routine probably will not be of interest to your teenager. We have a solution: Our new fitness program for teens, Teen HIIT.  HIIT stands for high intensity interval training and is taught by Personal Trainer, Harrison Bird. The class is offered Mondays and Wednesdays from 4-5 pm in the Garage,  next to the racquet courts. HIIT …

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Let Your Star Power Shine!

“We do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all of the power we need inside ourselves already.” – J.K. Rowling Here at the JCC, in our Girls on the Run program, we talk a lot about our star power.  Our star power is that light inside of all of us.  We talk a lot of about how we can activate our star power …

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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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Building Community: JCC Town Square

The JCC is excited to announce Town Square, the  $1.5 million renovation of the Forbes-to-Darlington corridor, externally and everything in between, that will transform the center of the community into the 21st Century to encourage social interaction with a more contemporary aesthetic , improved ease of access and upgraded security. CLICK HERE FOR UPDATES ON BUILDING ACCESS The JCC’s Town Square is on the Main Floor of …

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6 Things To Do This Summer at the JCC South Hills

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Our Kids Deserve Our Respectful Debate

These are extraordinary times. As noted in the Jewish Chronicle’s June 21, 2018, opinion piece, “The purpose of a newspaper,” the more polarized opinions become, the more we need lively, respectful debate over issues that are important to us. I couldn’t agree more. Respectful debate between people seems harder and harder these days.  A 2016 NORC Center for Public Affairs Research study found that that 74 …

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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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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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Success is Not An Accident

March Madness has come and gone, and as the city of Philadelphia prepares for a championship parade to celebrate the 2018 NCAA Champion Villanova Wildcats, much of the sports world will turn their attention to Major League Baseball or The Masters or whatever sports season is up next. For the coaches, staff and players at the JCC, however, the end of the competitive season simply …

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International Day of Youth Service: J-Serve

The International Day of Youth Service, J-Serve, is meant for Jewish (and non Jewish) teens from across each participating community to join together with other teens to volunteer at places within the community. The teens learn not only about ways to get involved, but also why it is a crucial aspect of life in their hometowns. J-Serve Pittsburgh this year occurred on Sunday, March 11, and had …

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Heart Health Starts Young!

February is American Heart Month. What better time to teach our youngest here at the JCC about the heart: Its function, its importance, its location in the body, and how to keep it healthy! Some of our oldest students in our Early Childhood Development Center began learning about their hearts last week during Special Gym, thanks to a special lesson planned by one of our student interns from the …

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Minestrone Soup for the Soul

Flu season is in full swing. It seems like you can’t go anywhere without hearing about someone who has the flu or at least someone sniffling or coughing. Other than standard precautions of hand hygiene and getting the flu vaccine what can you do to keep yourself from getting sick? Food of course! I’m sure the first thing that came to mind when I said food …

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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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Celebrating the Lunar New Year

You might be wondering why the JCC opens its doors to the Lunar New Year celebration. Let me begin by sharing a metaphor I just learned on a podcast by my teacher Rabbi Larry Hoffman of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.  While discussing the tension between being particular (having concern for and being interested in the Jewish community) and universal (having concern …

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NEW: Spartan Comes to the South Hills

Live Awesome! Swinging, Climbing, Jumping, Running….  Individually, these are all fun pursuits. Put them all together in one sport and you’ll have real excitement! Obstacle course racing has taken the sports world by storm, and the industry leader is Spartan Race.  With 100+ Kid Races, and Teen and Adult events of various distance levels ranging from 3 to 26+ miles offered nationwide, there is a goal for everyone …

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Sugar’s Surprising Hideouts

January 15 to 19  is Sugar Awareness Week. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends limiting the daily amount of added sugar to about 6 teaspoons (24 grams) for women and 9 teaspoons (36 grams) for men. Most of us consume much more: about 22 to 30 teaspoons per day… more than 90 pounds  of sugar per year! Why limit intake of added sugars? Reducing the amount of added sugars cuts calories and …

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New Year, New Programs!

This New Year has escorted in some seriously cold weather. It's the perfect time for the launch of exciting new sports and recreational classes that will get kids moving and active!  So come join us inside at the JCC and see what these new programs are all about! MINI- MACCABI (grades 3-6) Do you LOVE sports?  Then this is a perfect program for you!  A once monthly …

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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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8 Nights of Light: A Chanukah Menorah Infographic

The menorah is perhaps one of the most widely recognized symbols of Jewish culture and is the centerpiece of the Chanukah celebration. But how much do you really know about it? We’re sharing the fast facts you need to know about the Chanukkiah – from its history and meaning to the logistics of lighting yours – because it’s so much more than just a candelabra!

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Sports are so much more than sports!

With the seasons changing and a chill in the air, you might be starting to look at indoor activities to keep your child busy through the cold winter months.  But does your child really need to start learning sports at such a young age? Contrary to what you may think, the word “sports” is just a small part of the class.  The underlying benefits of enrolling …

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Make Dinner a Family Affair

As you settle into the school year, mapping out your busy agenda - juggling soccer schedules, carpools, and dance classes - don’t forget to include one of the most valuable activities: Family meals. The benefits of sitting down together are remarkable. Children who take part in family dinners tend to eat healthier, do better in school, develop higher self-esteem, eat more nutritiously and have fewer behavior …

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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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Everyone’s a Winner…

Admit it, when you read the title, you thought, “Oh, great, another coach giving us their two cents about participation trophies in youth sports today!?!?!?” And while I could go on for hours about that subject, I am more interested in another interpretation of this title – specifically the multitude of physical, emotional and mental benefits that come from participation in team sports. Team sports are …

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An Italian Journey into Early Childhood!

On Thursday, October 19, a team of 60 early childhood directors from Pittsburgh, Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Israel will travel together to Reggio Emilia, Italy, for a ten day intensive seminar in the exploration of the Reggio Emilia Approach through a Jewish lens. The JCC Early Childhood Development Centers are proud to be a part of the local commitment to the study of best practices in Early Childhood …

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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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Fun Facts about the Jewish High Holidays

It's a special time of year, a time to "Start Fresh." To help you prepare, we put together an infographic -- kind of a "fresh" take with interesting facts and information. Wishing each and every one of you Shanah Tovah Umetukah, "A Good and Sweet Year."

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Variety leads to happier and healthier athletes

As both a parent and a coach, nothing frustrates me more than specialization. Gone are the days of the two- or three-sport athlete. The trend over the past decade or two has been for young athletes to begin concentrating on one specific sport from a very young age all the way through their high school and college years as if this punches their ticket to playing …

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The March on Washington – 54 Years Later in PGH

We are living in very challenging times.  Protesters, advocates, and politicians are trying to spin our moral compasses in such a way so that we have little sense of which way to step.  But we know in which direction we should march: the moral direction that is taught by all of our faith traditions, the direction of “love your neighbor as yourself” and “do not …

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Early Childhood Development Center: The Sheva Journey Begins

Sheva (the number seven in Hebrew) has amazing power in Jewish thought and practice. It is also the name of the JCCs of North America Early Learning Framework and represents the seven core elements of exemplary early childhood practice profoundly rooted in the latest research on child development seen through a Jewish lens. What does this mean for the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh and its two …

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Healthy Recipes for Summer

The poet William Carlos Williams wrote: “In summer, the song sings itself." And it’s true, there is something effortless and bountiful about the colorful vegetables and fruits flowing into the market, and hopefully also our grocery carts and kitchens. Every time you turn around, something else is in season - sweet local strawberries, ruby red chard and glossy zucchinis have already made their appearance. Most of us don’t …

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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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“Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat!”

Year after year, brisket after brisket, matzah after matzah… this line is the highlight of my Passover experience.  There is something that touches me deep down inside when we lift up that memory-laden-matzah and declare: Ha Lachma Anya This is the bread of affliction, the poor bread, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in want, …

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J-Serve Pittsburgh: Teamwork in Action

Last June, four collaborating agencies – BBYO, Repair the World, the Volunteer Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the JCC – came together to begin planning the largest Jewish teen service event of the year. Calendars were managed, Steering Committee applications were drafted, and each organization’s role was clearly determined and defined. Several months later and following a competitive application process, 17 incredible Jewish …

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March Madness: We Feel It Year-Round at the JCC

Ahhh…March Madness…the time of year where die-hard fans, casual fans and just about everyone in-between focuses their attention on basketball and their NCAA Tournament brackets! Here at the JCC, we are no different – whether it’s Sherree Hall running her annual poll for the staff or the typical conversations between members about their brackets or their favorites to win it all or who they like …

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J-Serve: A Day of Community Service for Teens

This Sunday, for the 12th consecutive year in Pittsburgh, more than 300 Jewish teens in 6th-12th grade will join together at the JCC for a day of community service, learning and fun, as part of J-Serve: International Day of Youth Service. Over six powerful hours, these inspiring teens will engage in Jewish values of tikkun olam, gemilut chasidim and meaningful Jewish reflection. (J-Serve Pittsburgh 2017 …

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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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PJ Library Celebrates Authors & Illustrators Week

With the week of February 5th being Children’s Authors and Illustrators Week, what better opportunity than to highlight a few of my favorite PJ Library books!  As the director of PJ Library in Pittsburgh, I get the privilege of receiving nine wonderful, high quality Jewish children’s books every month - one for each age group from 6 months to age 8, and then one for …

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J Line – Teens and Jewish Values at Work

“For I, the Lord, love justice.” -Isaiah 61:8   “You shall love the stranger, for you were strangers.” -Deuteronomy 10:19 At J Line, we are proud to connect Jewish values to the pursuit of peace and justice in the world around us. Last Sunday, during Breakfast B’yachad (“together”), in light of Friday’s ban on immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, I read aloud from a piece published in the Forward. The article tells …

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100 Letters – 100 Days

I would love to read the President's mail.  But of course, that would be illegal without his permission. We do get glimpses of the content of letters sent to Presidents of the past when they have shared stories of citizens as a way of illustrating American values.  They are American values expressed through the voices of citizens. As we begin a new administration, with the anticipation of 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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Let Us Turn Our Thoughts to Martin Luther King

As our country celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I hope that you see it as a call to action based on long-standing Jewish values.  Join me for a brief video-blog with music, quotes and intention.

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Mentoring Happens Every Day at the JCC

January is National Mentoring Month, which focuses on how mentors help ensure positive outcomes for our young people. The JCC – a diverse, dynamic community providing services for individuals of all ages—is a place where meaningful mentorship is encouraged and supported, every day. Effective mentorship is based on relationships of trust and the modeling of positive behaviors. Over the past few years, the JCC, recognizing the many …

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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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Timeless values and lessons through JCC Basketball

The Pittsburgh Clap, a rich tradition that ties decades of JCC basketball together, is alive as we begin yet another basketball season here at the JCC. On November 1, we hosted our annual “Basketbash” to kick off the hoops season.  Each team was introduced as they entered the gym to the same clap that has echoed in the gym for three decades.  The clap has not …

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The Morning After: Be A Role Model

On Sunday, I blogged how I voted.  This morning, as we wake up to a peaceful transfer of power and a celebration of our democracy, I want to share my hope. Every single one of us has to be a role model for the other.  I am still committed to the confluence of Jewish and American values I wrote about on Sunday: We are commanded to strive to …

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I voted as a proud American Jewish citizen. Will you?

I live in Pennsylvania, where things matter this year in presidential politics, and I already voted through absentee ballot because my schedule won’t allow me to vote in person. Sitting on my family room couch as I looked at the ballot, I took into consideration my shared identity as an equally proud American and Jew, as I cast my vote.  I want to share with you ‘how’ …

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Meet Deborah Brooks

Hey everyone! Welcome to the third installment of our health and nutrition blog. I’m Deborah Brooks, one of the JCC registered dietitians, and I want to tell you a little bit about myself. I’ve been working at the JCC for about 5 years, counseling and teaching classes.  I also own my own nutrition consulting company, Deborah Brooks Awareness Nutrition. I love the field of nutrition and I’m …

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OY!!??!! What is going on in Politics? A Yom Kippur Exploration

My concern about the US political discourse has been simmering for months.  It all came to a boil this weekend with videos and commentary and photo opportunities and debate and more commentary....  I am simply embarrassed about the level of discourse and wish it would change.  Do you? Without getting political, I did a little soul searching in the the great Jewish wisdom tradition of Mussar, values …

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Recipe Makeover – Rosh Hashanah Edition

With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to let loose and celebrate with loved ones and food. Lots and lots of food! While it's healthy to make exceptions during times of celebration, you can help yourself by sticking with your goals during the holidays. One food ritual for Rosh Hashanah is eating apples dipped in honey. If you searched for recipes that include both honey and apples, …

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Nutrition Classes Will Promote Healthy Lifestyle

Hello! And Welcome! I’m Brittany Reese, a registered dietitian, personal trainer, group exercise instructor and food lover. I am excited to start this blog series about helping people to achieve their health and wellness goals. This blog will provide information and support concerning nutrition, health and wellness to our community at the Jewish Community Center. It is a platform to get people talking, thinking, debating and supporting each other. While …

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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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Kids Love the JCC’s After-School Clubhouse

The programming at the JCC's after-school Clubhouse is what sets our program apart from other programs. Clubhouse is able to take full advantage of the JCC’s facilities, from tournament-sized gyms and heated indoor swimming pools to grade-appropriate homerooms, art rooms and play rooms in a dedicated area - the Clubhouse. Participants are able to choose from a variety of electives, or Clubs on a daily basis and …

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JCC Digital Update

Capping off our year-long celebration of the 120th year at the JCC, we are moving swiftly into the future with significant updates to our digital presence -- the JCCPGH.org website. In the next couple days, the homepage will have a new feel to it. Reflecting what members have told us matters most to them, we simplified both the desktop and mobile experience and made the Program Guide …

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The JCC’s Philosophy of Early Childhood Learning

Reggio and Jewish Values Enrich Our Early Childhood Program We often are asked how the Reggio Emilia Approach (REA) to learning--the philosophy that we embrace at the JCC Early Childhood Development Center preschool--prepares children for Kindergarten and for life. As part of the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative, which provides educator professional development opportunities and program support, ECDC actively melds Reggio principles with Jewish values. The world-renowned REA, …

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The Untold Story of Gino Bartali – Le Tour de France Legend

For the next three weeks Le Tour de France will dominate all conversation in my household where race coverage will be blasting from every electronic device from sun-up to sun-down. Most discussions center on routes, team tactics, doping scandals and tour favorites. My thoughts every July, though, turn to Italian cycling champion and humanitarian Gino Bartali. Italian cyclists have been crowd favorites since the Tour began …

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Shavuot – Come! Look in the Mirror

We do it every day.  Maybe twice.  Maybe three times.  And each time we look in the mirror, we very well might see something different: a hair out of place, a blemish, a twinkle in the eye, a sense of calm…. Jewish wisdom encourages mirror-gazing…. of a different type.  You see, our collective mirror stood from ground to sky at a place called Mt. Sinai shortly after …

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Father and Son: Klezmer Insights

PSO Brings Music for the Spirit to the JCC The JCC's Katz Theater will be the site of a special Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra Music for the Spirit event - Father and Son: Klezmer Insights on Wednesday, June 15. Noah Bendix-Balgley, the former Concertmaster of the PSO, will share a behind-the-scenes look at Klezmer in anticipation of the June 17-19 world premiere of his new violin concerto, Fidl-Fantazye: A Klezmer Concerto. …

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CDS Artwork Shines at AJM

The artwork included in Community Day School’s (CDS) Student Art Show at the American Jewish museum, organized by CDS art teacher Jeremy Lerner, reverberates with playful exploration and buoyant energy. The works are based on curriculum around aesthetics, the principles and elements of design, and analysis of the methods and concepts artists throughout history have used. Some of the student artists reference specific artists including Constantin …

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South Hills ECDC: Launching a lifetime of learning

What’s the best way for young children to spend their day? At the JCC South Hills, children from six weeks through age 5, including Pre-K and Kindergarten Enrichment, are engaged in activities that nurture and inspire them as they grow, preparing them for kindergarten and a lifetime of learning. The JCC’s Early Childhood Development Center is a “home away from home,” where parents can trust that their …

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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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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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PJ Library Launches New Program: PJ our Way

PJ Library, a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh in partnership with the JCC, is expanding! A new program, PJ Our Way, will provide books to children ages 9-11 who live in the Pittsburgh community, bringing Jewish books into older children’s lives as effectively as PJ Library has done with younger children over the last ten years. Building on the success of PJ Library, which …

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Which Purim Character are you ?

Purim is the Jewish equivalent of Halloween--in Spring We dress up in costumes, have our faces painted and eat homemade hamantashens. Still deciding on a costume? Take this quiz, find out which Purim Character you are and pick your costume accordingly. Then come join us--we have planned quite the extravaganza. The JCC will host Peace * Love * Purim at the JCC in Squirrel Hill on Sunday, March 20, from 1-4 pm. There …

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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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Who is The Greatest JCC Basketball Player Ever?

Two years ago, Arthur Pitt, my Harry B Davis Coach growing up, sparked the greatest JCC Basketball (Facebook) debate ever. 681 comments by former players, coaches and kids who grew up at the JCC. Who is the best basketball player ever from the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh. Dan Florian Jimmy Wedner Josh Marks Jordan A. Marks (sorry Jordy), Joshua Schachter, or Freddy Rabner? // // Posted by Arthur …

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Creating Chutz-Pow

Artist Marcel Walker illustrates Superheroes of the Holocaust I recently visited the studio of artist Marcel Walker, one of the illustrators behind Chutz-Pow: Superheroes of the Holocaust. Chutz-Pow is a graphic novel series developed by the Holocaust Center that focuses on civilians during the Holocaust who resisted Nazi ideology and risked their safety by coming to the aid of victims. Marcel and I had just met at …

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AJM shines light at First Fridays on Penn

Unblurred: First Fridays on Penn is a monthly event sponsored by the Penn Avenue Arts Initiative. It is a chance for folks to come check out amazing art and meet the artists and the gallery owners. For last week's Unblurred, the JCC's American Jewish Museum partnered with artist Lori Hepner to create a series of interactive workshops that will evolve as an exhibition over the next month at Assemble, a community …

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Squirrel Hill Celebrates the Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year celebrations began Monday and for the next couple weeks -- it's a 15-day celebration -- a multitude of events celebrating Asian culture and diversity will take place around Squirrel Hill. This is the Year of the Monkey, which is the 9th animal in the 12 animal cycle.  People born in the Year of the Monkey include 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968. The Chinese New Year, also known as the …

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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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Repair the World: Living the Value of Tikkun Olam

Tikkun Olam or to “Repair the World” is a continuing theme through different movements in Judaism. In all of these, a common thread has to do with the universal value of taking responsibility for the welfare of others. Like the Dao of eastern philosophy states, “Love the world as yourself; then you can care for all things.” And the revered 12th century rabbi and physician Moses Maimonides, "Whatever I want for myself, …

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What Have We Been Up To On the J Line?

At J Line, we often recognize a reflection of our own lives, and most pressing questions, in the stories we encounter – in the text, in film, in humor, and even in Hebrew. (And we even enjoy ourselves while doing so!) Under the guidance of Ronit Pasternak, our Hebrew students learn Hebrew as a modern language. In early January, advanced students began discussing the concepts of …

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Beverly’s Birthdays Spreads Cheer Across Pittsburgh

One of my best birthdays was a party I had at the JCC. I spent that day with my friends swimming, playing basketball and deck hockey. After three hours of non-stop activity, we congregated in Room 301 to eat kosher pizza (remember Yacov's?) and cake. Of course, presents! I still remember it like it was yesterday. When I first heard about Beverly's Birthdays in Next Pittsburgh's article, 5 People Making Pittsburgh a Happier Place, the …

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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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PJ Library: Creating Community All Around Town

How many books does it take to grow a community? PJ Library, a Jewish family engagement program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh in partnership with the JCC, seems to have come up with the formula. In December, PJ Library reached a huge milestone: 1,000 children in the Greater Pittsburgh area are now active subscribers. The milestone caps a growth of 38% in the past year. Expansion has not only occurred in the …

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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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