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Fitness at the JCC: Back to Basics

NPR recently reported that the top fitness trend for 2018 is a return to the basics: “The latest annual survey of fitness professionals suggests 2018 will find more of us ditching the gadgets and getting back to basics in the way we work out: more resistance training, yoga and jump-ropes; fewer earbuds and iWatches,” according to the article, “Top Fitness Trends For 2018: Back To Basics,” …

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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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New Year, New You: Forming New Habits

As we head into a new calendar year, many people will reflect upon the previous year and look forward to the New Year. We will all be inundated with “New Year, New You!” type of advertisements. So what exactly do you want to accomplish in 2018? Is it something health related such as losing weight, growing your business or starting a new business, or is it …

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Signature Sessions at the South Hills

Maximize results for your specific interests   Mallery Fascetti Positive Psychology and Physiology   In my signature boot camp workout session, I will encourage you to be your best, inside out.     Kelly Letender Couples Conditioning Get in the best shape of your life before your big day! Geared toward couples with a wedding date a few months out.     Steve Manns Primal Lifestyle Fitness Train, eat and live optimally: combat chronic disease manage stress and challenge yourself …

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The Bigger Picture

During the Chanukah season, we are reminded of the importance of light. "Light" is often used in the Torah to mean knowledge and wisdom. Embracing our role in lighting the world can be extremely powerful, both individually and collectively, and there is no better way to do that than “taking the show on the road” - to the JCC Maccabi Games®. Each year, the JCC of Greater …

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It’s about the oil

I'd been making latkes for many years before I finally realized something about this food tradition: Chanukah is the oil holiday - a celebration of miraculous oil that lasted 8 days. For me, good latkes are a small miracle too. Over the years, I've learned a few tricks to making (what I think are) the best latkes. The recipe: Joan Nathan's from her classic book, The …

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Holiday Party: Game Plan for Food!

Everyone is in full holiday mode. Whether you are getting ready for Hanukkah, Christmas, or another celebration you are probably having to navigate through many holiday parties in and out of the office, cookie making and family gatherings. Holidays are synonymous with eating, especially calorie heavy food. It is very easy to gain weight during the holidays without even trying. Due to all the other constraints …

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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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Functional Fitness: Key Element in Every Exercise Program

In the four years that I have been a Personal Trainer, I have had all types of different clients, and every client I work with requires their own unique exercise program. No matter who the client is, however, everyone needs functional fitness. Functional fitness has been defined by the Mayo Clinic as “exercises [that] train your muscles to work together and prepare them for daily tasks …

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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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Stuff the Turkey, Not Yourself

Though most Americans are likely to gain 3 to 7 pounds during the Holiday season, with some careful planning this does not have to be your story. By implementing a few simple tips you can stay healthy through the Holiday season without gaining weight. Plan time for exercise. Exercise helps relieve holiday stress and prevent weight gain. A moderate and daily increase in exercise can help …

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Three Months of Fitness: A Member’s Experience

Follow Bobby West, age 28, as he focuses on losing 100 lbs. A Coldwell Banker real estate agent and 6th generation Pittsburgher who lives in Squirrel Hill, Bobby says, "I've always been a fat kid. I just love food." Now he's focused on getting his weight to 235 lbs., and he already lost 15 lbs. in his first month. Bobby will be blogging about his workouts with Personal …

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Make Dinner a Family Affair

As you settle into the school year, mapping out your busy agenda - juggling soccer schedules, carpools, and dance classes - don’t forget to include one of the most valuable activities: Family meals. The benefits of sitting down together are remarkable. Children who take part in family dinners tend to eat healthier, do better in school, develop higher self-esteem, eat more nutritiously and have fewer behavior …

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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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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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Everyone’s a Winner…

Admit it, when you read the title, you thought, “Oh, great, another coach giving us their two cents about participation trophies in youth sports today!?!?!?” And while I could go on for hours about that subject, I am more interested in another interpretation of this title – specifically the multitude of physical, emotional and mental benefits that come from participation in team sports. Team sports are …

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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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Emma Kaufmann Camp: From “CIT’s” to “SIT’s”

Emma Kaufmann Camp’s (EKC) Counselor-In-Training (CIT) program is a 49-day leadership development training program, where young adults learn, through real-world experiences, how to become role models and mentors for children ages 7-15 years old as well as productive members of their home community. A critical component of EKC’s CIT program has been a 3-week immersive experience in Israel so that the CITs can weave their Jewish …

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Rules of the Sukkah

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

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Renewing the “Ruach”

Although I have only been on the job for a short time as Department Director of Children, Youth and Family Services for the South Hills JCC, I have a number of new and exciting ideas that I would like to share with you. Renewing Ruach We are going to dramatically increase the energy, or ruach (spirit), in all of our programming. Take for example flagpole each morning …

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Fun Facts about the Jewish High Holidays

It's a special time of year, a time to "Start Fresh." To help you prepare, we put together an infographic -- kind of a "fresh" take with interesting facts and information. Wishing each and every one of you Shanah Tovah Umetukah, "A Good and Sweet Year."

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Variety leads to happier and healthier athletes

As both a parent and a coach, nothing frustrates me more than specialization. Gone are the days of the two- or three-sport athlete. The trend over the past decade or two has been for young athletes to begin concentrating on one specific sport from a very young age all the way through their high school and college years as if this punches their ticket to playing …

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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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Moral Compass

Elie Weisel taught 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; he no longer even amused them. The killers went on killing, the wise kept silent, as …

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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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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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Tisha B’Av: Our Eastern Walls

Each morning, as I leave my bedroom and head downstairs, I find myself facing east on the midpoint landing on my staircase.  Just before I turn right to make it all the way downstairs, I come face to face with these eternally contemporary words: If I forget you, O Jerusalem, Let my right hand forget itself. Let my tongue cleave to my palate If I do not remember her; If …

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Mindful Eating: An Experiment

Follow-Up - What I've Learned It has been a few weeks since I started my experiment with mindful eating. In that time, I’ve gone on vacation with friends, had multiple visitors to my home, and done lots of other summer activities. It has been a fun and enjoyable summer. And I must say, not having to painstakingly count every calorie that I’ve consumed has helped me enjoy …

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Healthy Recipes for Summer

The poet William Carlos Williams wrote: “In summer, the song sings itself." And it’s true, there is something effortless and bountiful about the colorful vegetables and fruits flowing into the market, and hopefully also our grocery carts and kitchens. Every time you turn around, something else is in season - sweet local strawberries, ruby red chard and glossy zucchinis have already made their appearance. Most of us don’t …

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Giving the Father’s Day Pledge New Meaning

For the fourth year in a row, I am joining scores of regional leaders in signing the Father’s Day Pledge #FathersDayPledge  #SouthwestPASaysNoMore. This declaration calls attention to the urgency to break the generational cycle of violence for children, teens and young adults by changing social norms around gender and partner violence of any kind. I remain engaged in this effort as a parent of two teenagers and …

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Kirshner Family Weekend at EKC

This past weekend was our annual Kirshner Family Weekend at Emma Kaufmann Camp.  More than 35 families came to spend the weekend and get the full camp experience.  Everyone had a blast and the weather couldn’t have been better.  From tubing on the lake to horseback riding and zip lining, we all had so many fun adventures. The weekend kicked off Friday afternoon with swimming in …

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“Next Steps” Program is Part of the Wellness Continuum at the JCC

Completing physical therapy isn’t the end of an individual’s journey back to wholeness. For many making a full recovery from an injury or surgery, it’s just the beginning. The JCC’s Next Steps, a post-rehabilitation program, is designed to help in that transition from physical therapy to long-term fitness and wellness through working with uniquely qualified Personal Trainers, says Jason Stowell, Fitness and Wellness Director. “We’re able to immediately …

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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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JCC Day Campers Will Wish the Summer Would Never End

Kids: Get ready for the best summer, ever, at JCC Day Camps. We’re counting the days, minutes and seconds until the camp season starts in June. At James and Rachel Levinson Day Camp, our flagship day camp at the Family Park in Monroeville, new activities and returning favorites set the scene for each child to learn, create, explore and experience. “We give campers the opportunity to make …

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New Fitness Equipment / New Challenges!

As I await the delivery of our new equipment to Squirrel Hill Centerfit, I've been thinking about how much has changed!  Cardio equipment has evolved from just providing a great workout to providing a great entertaining workout. Yes, most of our cardio machines already have their own private televisions. We even have machines that simulate outdoor biking. But with this new fleet of machines, we will be …

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Drink your water!

It's Drinking Water Week -- a good time to remind us of the many, many benefits of drinking water. Here are some of the benefits of staying hydrated from Patti Sciulli, our JCC expert on fitness and building a lifelong healthy habits: Improved digestion: Every system in the body requires water to function properly. Water helps distribute the nutrients we consume, making the vitamins and minerals …

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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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“Borcas” — Grandma Cele’s Beet Preserves

Another Passover Recipe My husband's Grandma Cele always talked about making her specialties just before Passover, and as a very old woman, she would bring in "help" to peel carrots for carrot candy and to prepare something she called "borcas." I did not grow up in a home with Old Country food traditions, so I didn't really know what she was talking about. In fact, after she'd …

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“Let All Who Are Hungry Come and Eat!”

Year after year, brisket after brisket, matzah after matzah… this line is the highlight of my Passover experience.  There is something that touches me deep down inside when we lift up that memory-laden-matzah and declare: Ha Lachma Anya This is the bread of affliction, the poor bread, which our ancestors ate in the land of Egypt. Let all who are hungry come and eat. Let all who are in want, …

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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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J-Serve Pittsburgh: Teamwork in Action

Last June, four collaborating agencies – BBYO, Repair the World, the Volunteer Center of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the JCC – came together to begin planning the largest Jewish teen service event of the year. Calendars were managed, Steering Committee applications were drafted, and each organization’s role was clearly determined and defined. Several months later and following a competitive application process, 17 incredible Jewish …

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March Madness: We Feel It Year-Round at the JCC

Ahhh…March Madness…the time of year where die-hard fans, casual fans and just about everyone in-between focuses their attention on basketball and their NCAA Tournament brackets! Here at the JCC, we are no different – whether it’s Sherree Hall running her annual poll for the staff or the typical conversations between members about their brackets or their favorites to win it all or who they like …

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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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Make a Meal of Hamantaschen!

Don't get me wrong; we LOVE traditional hamantaschen. Yiddish for "Haman's pockets" and also interpreted in old legend as Haman's three-cornered hat, some of us consider these delectable sweet pastries as a way to get back at Haman, the villain in the Purim story in the Biblical Book of Esther. To commemorate his downfall, we eat his hat! Miriam Szokovski, in an article on unique hamantaschen recipes, was really thinking outside the box, or …

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National Nutrition Month: Let’s Talk About Food!

OK, it’s National Nutrition Month, so let’s talk about food. Quick: what does a healthy diet look like? If you are like a lot of people, your answer might include a list of Nos. No sugar. No white foods. No salt. No dairy. No junk food. No processed foods. Veggies are good, but no carrots! Yes, eat fruit, but no pineapple! Or no, don’t eat fruit, …

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Heart Healthy Eating

Did you know that heart disease is the number one killer of women AND men? It causes 1 in 3 deaths for woman and 1 in 4 deaths for men per year. That’s a huge number of people!1,2  It's national Heart Health Month. What can you do to help combat heart disease? Add exercise to your daily routine - It is recommended by the Department of Health …

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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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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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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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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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The Wellness Continuum at the JCC

One of the most unique things about PT @ the JCC powered by the JAA is our dynamic location. Just steps away from a state-of the-art fitness and aquatic center, we at PT @ the JCC are able to utilize these wonderful facilities to help any physical therapy patient meet his or her goals. Perhaps more importantly is the relationship PT @ the JCC has formed …

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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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Celebrate the Slow Cooker

Among the many important events in the new year, January is National Slow Cooking Month. The ubiquitous slow cooker - the small appliance that makes it all happen - should not be taken for granted. How wonderful is it to be able to throw a bunch of ingredients into a Crock Pot just before leaving for work in the morning, set it on low, and then come …

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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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Our Resolution:  Helping Older Adults to AgeWell

Typical New Year’s resolutions include exercise, lose weight, learn a new skill, spend less, volunteer more, and spend time with friends.   At AgeWell at the JCC, we have one resolution: To help you with all of those things and more! We hear daily from seniors who have found a home at the JCC; seniors like Allan. Allan joined us just two years ago at the urging of …

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New Year, New Goals!

As the new year begins, many of us are thinking about what we did or did not achieve this past year and what goals we want to set for the future. I am a big proponent of making goals for the New Year, or anytime for that matter! It’s a great time to reflect on the past year and make some decisions about how you’d like next year …

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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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Personal Trainer Embodies Jewish Values

As the Membership Director at the South Hills JCC, I often hear comments from our members about the facility, the equipment, the classes, the water temperature in the pool and the instructors. I recently received a compliment about one of our newer personal trainers.  Mallery Fascetti has been a personal trainer at the JCC for less than 6 months.  In that brief time, she has built …

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Holiday Eating Survival Guide

Oh no! Here they come! Are you bracing yourself for cookie trays, gratuitous boxes of chocolates and endless office parties? I just saw my first Whitman’s Sampler yesterday. And that’s just the beginning! But if you think I’m about to advise you to drink a gallon of water before every party, head for the raw vegetable tray at the buffet table, or virtuously decline every …

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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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Ask the PT: Hot or Cold?

I am often asked whether heat or ice is better to use for pain or minor injuries.  Like many answers in the physical therapy world, it depends. The first 48-72 hours after an injury is known as the acute phase. There will be localized pain, inflammation and possible redness at the injury site. During this time it is appropriate to use ice.  The goal is to …

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Day Without Art

Day Without Art, begun on December 1, 1989, and recognized annually, makes us aware that we can all be affected in some way by AIDS. The straightforward, potent phrase compels us visualize the bleakness of life devoid of art, creative expression, or artists. To recognize the gravity of the day, museums exercised a form of activism for many years by dimming their lights or covering artwork. These days, …

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Banish those Post Holiday Regrets

Did you maybe eat a little bit too much turkey or stuffing over Thanksgiving and the subsequent weekend? Maybe indulged in one too many pieces of pie? Feeling like you fell off the wagon a little bit? Don’t worry about it! No, really, don’t worry about it. So you could have been better during the holiday, eaten a little less or made better choices for …

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What is Physical Therapy?

"Physical Therapy is an active approach to your wellness via a combination of manual techniques, rehabilitation exercise and movement analysis.  We’re not going to do all it for you; we’re going to teach and educate and show you how to continue to independently maintain well-being and functionality." Scott Rosen, PT, DPT, Clinic Director and Physical Therapist for the new Physical Therapy clinic at the JCC in Squirrel Hill, …

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Timeless values and lessons through JCC Basketball

The Pittsburgh Clap, a rich tradition that ties decades of JCC basketball together, is alive as we begin yet another basketball season here at the JCC. On November 1, we hosted our annual “Basketbash” to kick off the hoops season.  Each team was introduced as they entered the gym to the same clap that has echoed in the gym for three decades.  The clap has not …

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The Morning After: Be A Role Model

On Sunday, I blogged how I voted.  This morning, as we wake up to a peaceful transfer of power and a celebration of our democracy, I want to share my hope. Every single one of us has to be a role model for the other.  I am still committed to the confluence of Jewish and American values I wrote about on Sunday: We are commanded to strive to …

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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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Just What IS Mindful Eating?

Sometime in the past several years, you may have seen a flyer for a Mindful Eating class here at the JCC. So here’s a good question: What exactly IS Mindful Eating? And why should you care about it? Mindful Eating is a little less about WHAT you eat, and a little more about HOW you eat. I stumbled on it in the course of my meditation …

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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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Meet Deborah Brooks

Hey everyone! Welcome to the third installment of our health and nutrition blog. I’m Deborah Brooks, one of the JCC registered dietitians, and I want to tell you a little bit about myself. I’ve been working at the JCC for about 5 years, counseling and teaching classes.  I also own my own nutrition consulting company, Deborah Brooks Awareness Nutrition. I love the field of nutrition and I’m …

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OY!!??!! What is going on in Politics? A Yom Kippur Exploration

My concern about the US political discourse has been simmering for months.  It all came to a boil this weekend with videos and commentary and photo opportunities and debate and more commentary....  I am simply embarrassed about the level of discourse and wish it would change.  Do you? Without getting political, I did a little soul searching in the the great Jewish wisdom tradition of Mussar, values …

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Recipe Makeover – Rosh Hashanah Edition

With the holiday season upon us, it’s easy to let loose and celebrate with loved ones and food. Lots and lots of food! While it's healthy to make exceptions during times of celebration, you can help yourself by sticking with your goals during the holidays. One food ritual for Rosh Hashanah is eating apples dipped in honey. If you searched for recipes that include both honey and apples, …

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The Jewish Holidays are LATE this Year

Yes, the holidays are late this year...but they are coming. It is the middle of September and I have yet to dunk one piece of apple in a bowl of honey.  How about you? The holidays are late because last year, as a part of the regular calculations to ensure that the Hebrew intercalcualted solar/lunar calendar stays on time (Passover always happens in the Spring) we added …

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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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Nutrition Classes Will Promote Healthy Lifestyle

Hello! And Welcome! I’m Brittany Reese, a registered dietitian, personal trainer, group exercise instructor and food lover. I am excited to start this blog series about helping people to achieve their health and wellness goals. This blog will provide information and support concerning nutrition, health and wellness to our community at the Jewish Community Center. It is a platform to get people talking, thinking, debating and supporting each other. While …

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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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Kids Love the JCC’s After-School Clubhouse

The programming at the JCC's after-school Clubhouse is what sets our program apart from other programs. Clubhouse is able to take full advantage of the JCC’s facilities, from tournament-sized gyms and heated indoor swimming pools to grade-appropriate homerooms, art rooms and play rooms in a dedicated area - the Clubhouse. Participants are able to choose from a variety of electives, or Clubs on a daily basis and …

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JCC Digital Update

Capping off our year-long celebration of the 120th year at the JCC, we are moving swiftly into the future with significant updates to our digital presence -- the JCCPGH.org website. In the next couple days, the homepage will have a new feel to it. Reflecting what members have told us matters most to them, we simplified both the desktop and mobile experience and made the Program Guide …

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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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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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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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AgeWell at the JCC Receives Senior Community Center Grant

A state Senior Community Center grant will fund AgeWell at the JCC's pilot of an innovative program for caregivers. The Aging Mastery Program (AMP)® for Caregivers through AgeWell at the JCC, developed by the National Council on Aging (NCOA), will be offered in both Squirrel Hill and South Hills beginning in the fall of 2016.  AMP for Caregivers is a 12-week course that will “wrap around” …

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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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Shavuot – Come! Look in the Mirror

We do it every day.  Maybe twice.  Maybe three times.  And each time we look in the mirror, we very well might see something different: a hair out of place, a blemish, a twinkle in the eye, a sense of calm…. Jewish wisdom encourages mirror-gazing…. of a different type.  You see, our collective mirror stood from ground to sky at a place called Mt. Sinai shortly after …

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Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream

If you're wondering what that long line is across the street from Casbah on Highland Avenue, people are waiting to try Millie's homemade ice cream. It's worth the wait. Millie's is the brainchild of husband and wife duo Lauren and Chad Townsend. Chad was the executive chef at Salt of the Earth. Before opening their brick-and-mortar storefront in Shadyside, the couple made ice cream out of their home in Wilkinsburg, …

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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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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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Israeli Cuisine: A Culinary Feast

We're all proud (and sometimes surprised) that Pittsburgh has been anointed a culinary capital, but a recent JFilm presentation of the film In Search of Israeli Cuisine, hosted by once Pittsburgher Michael Solomonov, reminded me that the 'Burgh may not be at the very epicenter of the food universe. Israel may well be. Solomonov, now a famous Philadelphia restaurateur (Zahav, Federal Donuts, Percy Street Barbecue), leads us to eateries all over …

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Four Questions About…Specialty Camps!

With my favorite holiday, Passover, just around the corner, I can’t help but thinking about when I was the youngest child at our family Seder and would have the opportunity to ask the Four Questions. The Four Questions, traditionally recited by the youngest person at the table, highlight the ways in which Passover customs and foods distinguish the holiday from other times of the year. Although …

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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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Yummy! Matzah

So many of us have an ongoing relationship with matzah.  You might be one of those people who loves it so much that you eat Tam Tams all year round.  You might have a preference for a brand either out of habit or as the result of an intentional taste test.  You might be dedicated to a particular type: Egg, Whole Wheat, Lightly Salted….  You …

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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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