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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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