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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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#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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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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My Baby & Me and PJ Library at the Family Park!

My Baby and Me and PJ Library head to the Family Park in Monroeville for extra fun this summer. My Baby and Me Swim Times are Wednesdays and Fridays, 10 am to 1 pm, through August 14. Bring your little ones (age 4 and under) and plenty of sunscreen; we will provide snacks and water. (No Swim Time Friday, July 3) No fee; JCC members and Splash Pass …

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Early Childhood: Transitioning Into Fall

It’s not just the leaves that change during this time of year. Fall can be an exciting time for families, as children return to more structured schedules. Here are some tips for making and maintaining a smooth transition: Children may have feelings both positive and negative about changes. Be a good listener and encourage your children to express their true feelings rather than trying to mold their answers …

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