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Life & Legacy: Linda Simon’s Story

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh recently sat down with Linda Simon, a JCC board chair from 2004-2007 and hands-on volunteer who has held an almost uncountable number of leadership positions at the JCC. JCC: Linda, you have been an active part of our JCC for years, contributing and leading in so many ways. What got you started? LINDA: I grew up in Philadelphia and came …

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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 Does Israel Mean to Me?

I vividly remember the endless bus trip from Jerusalem to Kibbutz Hazorea in 1985.  I didn’t know a soul, spoke fewer than a dozen Hebrew words, and had never traveled overseas. But I had a longing to experience Israel, to learn the language and connect to people on their terms – not mine. The journey took me from the kibbutz to community service work in Ashkelon …

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Updating Our Mission Statement

Over the past year, our lay and professional leadership went through the thoughtful and intentional process of updating our Mission Statement. Our goal was simple – to help our members, guests, professional staff, donors, partners and other stakeholders know more than what we do, but WHY we exist and who we aspire to be. Mission statements are more than just assemblies of words. Each word has weight and …

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International Women’s Day – #PressForProgress

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, and Women's History Month during March, we understand the phrase #PRESSFORPROGRESS is needed more than ever.  We live in a world in which women’s voices have been suppressed when it comes to reporting sexual harassment, domestic violence and sexual assault in all areas of society.  Our contemporary conversations are a mirror of conversations and attitudes that have been going …

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Sharing Ideas and History with Warsaw JCC

This week the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Buncher Foundation gathered to celebrate 25 years of investing in an international leadership program for professionals and lay leadership through the  American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) that was launched in partnership with the Federation. In the past quarter century, hundreds of Buncher graduates in dozens of countries have helped build Jewish community.  One of the …

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Community is our Middle Name

February 3, 2017 At this time of challenging and often contentious public discourse, we proudly wear ‘COMMUNITY’ as our middle name. From our founding at the turn of the 20th century, we helped thousands of immigrants and refugees become an integral part of the American dream.  As the work that we began in 1895 continues today in so many ways, we affirm our core value “to welcome …

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It’s a Chai Birthday Year at the South Hills JCC

On January 29, we will mark the 18th “birthday” of the JCC in the South Hills.  This milestone is traditionally referred to as a “chai” or life event, because the Hebrew letters that spell chai correspond to the number 18. It's been a great 18 years of preschool, summer camps, fitness, recreation, swimming and most important, community building, and we're looking forward to celebrating many more. Like most …

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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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Carolyn Martin: 50 Years at the JCC and Counting

Here's an extraordinary story: JCC staff member Carolyn Martin is celebrating 50 years at JCC. Ask Carolyn if things have changed, and she’ll respond with a big laugh. “Yes. Yes. Yes,” she says. “Big time!” Carolyn grew up in the Hill and as a child, attended after-school and day camp (where she had her first train ride on a camp field trip) at the Irene Kaufmann Settlement on Centre …

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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 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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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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Scenes from History: Koerner and the Levinsons

Pittsburgh’s 200th anniversary celebration has me thinking about the JCC’s part in Pittsburgh’s story, and the portraits I recently stumbled upon of James and Samuel Levinson, tucked away in a JCC office, resonated with me. The subjects’ outsized proportions, crossed arms and straight-on gaze are characteristic of all ‘master-of-industry’ style images. There are, however, captivating Pittsburgh narratives beyond the surface. James Levinson (1863-1917), a first generation American and …

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Big Night — BIG FUN

Big Night 120 - Celebrating Yesterday, Imagining Tomorrow, was a blast! Take a look at how we partied:

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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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Men Boycott Big Night Because of Final Four

We're celebrating April Fool's Day early this year. We hope this got a rise out of you. It is true: The Final Four falls on the same night as Big Night. If you have a case of FOMO, it will be Hoops Heaven in our Final Four Lounge. We will be serving beers from Penn Brewery and there's talk about Manischewitz Vodka Shots. It should be a slam-dunk of an evening. Do yourself a favor, buy …

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An Illustrative List of the 613 Commandments.

Community Spotlight: Classic Lines Bookstore The book "The 613" immediately caught my eye as I perused the shelves at Classic Lines, the cozy bookstore located on Forbes Avenue, adjacent to Commonplace Coffee. Wondering whether there was a connection with the 613 Jewish Commandments, I asked the proprietor Dan Iddings if in fact there was one. That is exactly what the book is about, he told me. Mr. Iddings says he is …

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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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Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. Will Knock Our Socks Off at Big Night

Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. has invoked Frank Sinatra more than once to sing his way through adversity. As a West Virginia boy transplanted to the violent streets of Detroit, where, he says, “you could lose your life in a fight on a basketball court,” he’d calm down his buddies by singing Fly Me to the Moon. ”They would bust out laughing,” he says. “They thought …

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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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CreativeMornings: Breakfast of Creatives, in the town of Champions

Our Pittsburgh community is full of creative minds. The CreativeMornings monthly lecture series, a short talk and breakfast that's free and open to all, offers a chance for us to share ideas. This month's CreativeMornings theme is Time and the December event was held at the Hill House, which formerly was home of the JCC. The name Irene Kaufmann Settlement is visibly inscribed on the facade. It was my first time visiting this beautiful structure, …

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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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Countdown to our 10th Big Night

If our past Big Night events have anything to tell us about what to expect at our special 10th anniversary Big Night on April 2, it’s that you never know what you’ll encounter when you arrive. You might be greeted by hippie protesters (2011: Peace, Love and the IKCs) and when you walk in the door, get stared down by Men in Black (2010: Party with …

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Yiddish at the JCC: Keeping Memories Alive

Mary Marks keeps memories alive. Once a week for the past 20 years, she has volunteered to lead a Yiddish Conversation class. “She gets a mob,” said one of the students at a recent session. The class was started in 1989 by Ann Cohen, whose hand-written transliterations are still being used today. When Cohen passed away in 1995, Marks became the class leader. The class starts with …

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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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Carnegie Museums Turn 120

Last week I saw a tweet that the Carnegie Museums are celebrating their 120th year anniversary: I made a new dinosaur friend @CarnegieMNH #CarnegieClash https://t.co/kTLPMIECek — Sally Wiggin (@SWigginWTAE) October 19, 2015 How cool is it that both the Carnegie Museums and the JCC share the same birthday! To celebrate this historic anniversary, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, the Carnegie Science Center and the Andy …

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“You Didn’t Build That!” – “We Built That!”

Who Started Your Journey? The political theater of the 2016 election has made me nostalgic for an earlier time: the 2012 election. You might remember that President Obama made the comment in Roanoke, VA, "You didn't build that." He intended to point out that every generation builds on the successes of previous generations.  The Republicans countered with the phrase, "We built that!" Not only did the …

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The End of an Era: Saying Goodbye to Kaufmann’s Department Store

For those of you who know me well, I am a lover of history (though I often quote American Jewish theologian, Mordecai Kaplan who stated that the “the past has a vote, not a veto.”)  What that means to me is that we need to acknowledge, respect and draw from our history as we move into the future. This is a special anniversary for the JCC. …

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JCC Annual Meeting – Celebrating 120 Years

Join us for our Annual Meeting - Wednesday, September 9, 2015 The JCC's Annual Meeting will include the launch of a year-long celebration of the JCC's 120th anniversary with a special video to commemorate the event.

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