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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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Today, all I have are tears. Tomorrow, maybe we can work to find a solution.

The universe cracks. That’s how you feel when your beloved and peaceful family member is violently torn from this world while they are at prayer.  That’s how more that 40 families feel right now half a world away.  I know because only 6 months ago I was in their shoes.  It’s like I am in a cruel time machine and it’s stuck on a repeating …

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The Conversation Continues – Immigrants’ Stories, Faithful Responses

While our event on Thursday came to an end, the CONVERSATION about strangers, immigrants and refugees continues.  Dr. David Saenz posted this comment on the Pittsburgh Post Gazette web page and asked that we post it on the JCC website. Dr. Saenz began his life as an migrant farmer returning to the US a dozen times before gaining permanent residency.  He articulates a vision of American community that …

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Immigrants’ Stories, Faithful Responses

Rev. Liddy Barlow speaks at Faithful Responses to Strangers, Immigrants, and Refugees Faithful Responses to Strangers, Immigrants and Refugees: A Pittsburgh Conversation - Thursday, November 2, 2017, at the JCC This event, hosted by the Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement, brought together clergy, lay leaders and community members, and refugees and immigrants who shared their stories: Their Stories   "When I first got here, people wouldn't talk to me because I was …

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Rules of the Sukkah

Time to build the Sukkah. Here are some tips...Dr. Seuss Style!

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Shabbat is The First Labor Law

I was struck by this Samuel Rosenberg Image entitled 'Rest' in the spring when Melissa Hiller, Director of our American Jewish Museum, brought me to the Heinz History Center to see the exhibit "The Gift of Art". "For 100 years, the Friends of Art has purchased art to be given to the Pittsburgh Public Schools and enjoyed by tens of thousands of school children. Seeking to …

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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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The Secret to a Sweet Passover: Matzo Brittle

I used to joke that I chose our synagogue because I liked the cookbook. There was some truth to that although as far as recipes go, the very best one was not in the book. Every year, some of us volunteered to do a mass bake of Matzo Brittle to sell to members, using a recipe that I believe was handed down from our rabbi's …

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About Big Night: The Prom

Dancing Queens and limousines – prom night is a magical milestone! We can’t wait for you to make some new memories and have the night of your life at #BigNightBigProm. Enjoy this fun infographic for some surprising facts and history of these big nights! #JCCBigNight2017 Inspired? Join us at this fabulous event. For tickets, click here

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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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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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Fall for Healthy Living

Fall… Ahhhh, that wonderful time of the year when kids go back to school, the leaves turn beautiful colors, and the temperatures cool off. It’s a great time to get back on track with your nutrition and go back to school yourself. Here at the JCC we are starting a 4-week Fall for Healthy Living class, starting Monday, October 31, at 11 am or 7 pm. The …

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Aging Mastery Program – The Jewish Way!

I am writing to you with wishes that you live until age 120! Pupu…. Many of us know that Jewish wisdom teaches us that Moses lived until he was 120 years old. Oy! Could you imagine? But the thing is, that we often forget the description of Moses at age 120. “ Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, his eyes were undimmed and …

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Pokémon Gym Memberships Available at the JCC

By now you've probably heard of this new smartphone game, Pokémon Go. The 90s card game has been transformed into a virtual game. In less than a week,  Pokémon Go has surpassed Snapchat, Facebook and Whatsapp in the number of daily users, with no sign of slowing down. What makes this game so special, and subsequently popular, is an exciting new technology called augmented reality--when digital and …

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Father’s Day Pledge: Breaking the Cycle of Violence

Let’s Continue the Movement of Men Stepping Up to Stop Gender Violence  For the third year in a row, we are joining with dozens of other regional leaders in signing the Father’s Day Pledge #FathersDayPledge  #PAsaysNoMore This vow to break the generational cycle of violence for children, teens and young adults calls on all of us to change public attitudes and social norms around gender and partner …

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Dayenu! Have we done enough yet?

On Friday night, as my family and guests retold the time-honored story of our journey from slavery to freedom, my son Micah inserted his seder gift into the festivities.  He explained how he had been studying Civil War history in school and thought that it might be appropriate to read the Emancipation Proclamation at the seder. The Emancipation Proclamation January 1, 1863 By the President of the United …

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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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Community Spotlight: The Wilson Group

Community and Philanthropy Key to The Wilson Group's Success The Wilson Group LLC functions as much more than a vendor of workflow solutions. With a commitment to Western Pennsylvania as a locally owned and operated company, its Golden Rule to treat customers the way we would want to be treated, and a record of giving back, this fast-growing young firm is truly a partner in the community. …

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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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May I tell you of PFC Nathan Hilu?

Turns out that 90 year-old artist Nathan Hilu, based in New York’s Lower East Side, has Pittsburgh roots. No Hilus remain in the area, however, so the name is unlikely to have a ring of familiarity. Hilu, the subject of American Jewish Museum’s upcoming March exhibition, is an enigmatic character who draws ferociously with any medium he can get his hands on. His writing (drawn memoirs) …

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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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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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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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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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Sherree Hall’s Silver Anniversary

This year marks the Silver Anniversary (25 years) that Sherree Hall has been part of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh. At the Annual Meeting September 9, we will recognize her continuing impact here at the JCC. Sherri began working at the JCC about the same time I started attending as a kid. I remember her tiny office in the Kaufmann gym, where my friends and …

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Entering the Season of Books

As our finger tips scroll through the rest of the summer weeks listed on our phones, we are preparing to enter the season of books. Our students are anticipating the end of summer reading assignments – so many pages divided by so many days… ‘I can do this… tomorrow’. Our business leaders are preparing to close the books on the 3rd quarter of 2015 and open …

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Dealing with Stress

Are you stressed-out and too busy to notice? If you feel like you’re always rushed, never get a break, don’t have enough time, and are dissatisfied with your relationships, chances are you’re stressed. Stress has become so normal that most people don’t even recognize it. Stress can manifest as physical symptoms, such as stomach aches and chest or back pains. Though people often believe they’re …

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Rabbi Ron Symons Appointed New Senior Director of Jewish Life

May 14, 2015 The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh is pleased to announce that Rabbi Ronald B.B. Symons has been appointed to the new position of Senior Director of Jewish Life, effective July 1, 2015. The position will oversee key initiatives that enhance the JCC’s mission and core values to enrich Jewish life, tradition and community. Amongst his duties, Rabbi Symons will oversee the JCC’s …

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