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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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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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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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“Self Portrait” — a Portrait of Hope

As we retreat into the warmth of family and holiday tradition, we’d like to share a poem that envisions the shared values of our community. Self Portrait The Day After The Paris Massacre Today I identify with my All-Clad colander on the granite counter between my kitchen and the table where sits my racially, all-clad American family. I pour a boiling pot of noodles through the colander into the sink. The water runs off but the noodles stay, ready for …

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412 Food Rescue Boards the J Line

A special program at the JCC with J Line on Sunday defined for me the positive direction in which we’re moving, and our own potential and enthusiasm to bring Jewish learning to life for teens. Last Sunday morning, in partnership with 412 Food Rescue, nearly 40 J Line teens and staff met at the JCC to pack more than 120 bags of food for local students in …

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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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