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Center for Loving Kindness


POSTPONED due to Winter Weather – The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Sun, Jan 16 4 pm
An Ecumenical Service of Holy Communion & Call for Anti-racist Action Sunday, January 16 @ 4 pm Berkeley Hills Lutheran Church, 517 Sangree Road, Pittsburgh, PA, 15237 PRESIDING – Bishop...
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The Intersection of Redistricting and Racial Equity: A Case Study in Pennsylvania

As we prepare to turn the calendar to 2022, our thoughts also turn to how we can ensure that all our neighbors have fair representation in the PA voting system...
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Important Passages to Guide Us On Countering Hate

Thu, Dec 02
A monthly conversation series on Zoom Join us as we explore ideas from leading authors for building a more equal and just future. Hosted by the JCC’s Center for Loving...
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Jan 06 – Jan


August Wilson’s Pittsburgh and Beyond

Online through Virtual Senior Academy
Thursdays, 10:30-11:30 am
The Ground On Which We Stand: August Wilson’s Pittsburgh and Beyond Thursdays January 6, 13, 20 & 27 10:30-11:30 am Free Join JCC American Jewish Museum Director, Melissa Hiller, and...
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POSTPONED due to Winter Weather – The Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

4 pm
An Ecumenical Service of Holy Communion & Call for Anti-racist Action Sunday, January 16 @ 4 pm Berkeley Hills Lutheran Church, 517 Sangree Road, Pittsburgh, PA, 15237 PRESIDING – Bishop...
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Dec 31 – Jan


It’s a Beautiful Shabbat in The Neighborhood

Fridays, 5-5:15 pm
It’s a Beautiful Shabbat in The Neighborhood Join Rabbi Ron Symons and our neighborhood guests in lighting Shabbat candles, raising a glass of wine and breaking bread in celebration of...
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Jan 04 – Mar


Social Justice – Eternal Values Applied to Contemporary Issues

Online through Virtual Senior Academy
Tuesdays, 12:15-12:45 pm
Lunch and Learn with Rabbi Ron Symons – Tuesdays, 12:15-12:45 pm Join with Rabbi Ron Symons in discussion around the most important issues of our day.  More than a current...
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Jan 06 – Mar


Art and Quarantine Stories

Online through Virtual Senior Academy
Thursdays, 12:15-12:45 pm
Art and Quarantine Stories: Exploring Artworks and Topics That Relate To Our Current Moment. With Melissa Hiller, director of the JCC’s American Jewish Museum Free and open to all. JCC...
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Spirituality from the comfort of your own sofa

Rabbi Ron Symons and Rev. Liddy Barlow host a new dialogue initiative to foster respect and understanding.

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Mike Clark of WTAE Interviews Rabbi Symons

April 8 at 4:47 PM · “THAT SENSE OF REDEMPTION, OF NEW BEGINNINGS, IS SHARED BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND JEWS AND PEOPLE OF ALL FAITHS” As Passover begins for our Jewish friends, we want to share our conversation with Rabbi Ron Symons from the Center for Loving Kindness - JCC Pittsburgh as he and his family prepare for tonight’s Seder. Rabbi Ron offers his hopeful optimism at the center of …

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Hanukkah celebration provides opportunity to observe similarities

Religious celebrations don’t have to focus on what sets us apart. They can also celebrate what we have in common. That was the message at the kickoff of Hanukkah at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh in Squirrel Hill, as Jewish and Muslim members of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom shared similarities in their customs, beliefs and language. The similarities, they noted, far outnumber the …

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Do Jews in a synagogue have to arm themselves?

(translated from the original Dutch) In December 2015, Rabbi Ron Symons, director of the Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh, called with representatives of various religious movements in the area. Whether they should not even get to know each other? "Because we are neighbors," Symons told them. "But also because I know for sure: there will come a time when we are all on a stage and we have to …

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On Yom Kippur, a Tree of Life shooting survivor grapples with forgiveness

Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism, centers on the idea of forgiveness. But what does forgiveness mean in the aftermath of a mass murder? On the first Yom Kippur after the Tree of Life synagogue shootings, what would a survivor say about forgiving the man who shot him and killed his friends? Hundreds of people -- overflowing the neat rows of chairs to sit …

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A new year’s resolution for justice at Jewish Community Center

With the long, drawn-out blasts from a shofar, or ram’s horn, more than 200 people ushered out the first day of Rosh Hashana on Monday, not with a traditional liturgy but with a practical guide to social justice at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh. The JCC’s Center for Loving Kindness hosted the event at the Squirrel Hill center through programming designed to appeal to …

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Battle lines seen as hardening on religious liberty

A longstanding consensus on how to accommodate religious beliefs in government settings is breaking down as the U.S. Supreme Court appears poised to overturn longstanding precedent and allow greater role of religion in public life. Those were some of the observations of Nina Totenberg, the longtime legal affairs correspondent for NPR, at a forum on “The First Amendment for the 21st Century,” held Monday at the …

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Daniel Tabares Wins First Annual Loving Kindness Award

Daniel Tabares, a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, was presented with the first Loving Kindness Award at the JCC's Annual Meeting. Read the featured article in his high school's The Eagle Eye newspaper.

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“Rabbi talks anti-Semitism, rebounding from tragedy”

An interview with Rabbi Ron Symons

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We strengthen the fabric of the community by amplifying the long-held values of
Love your neighbor as yourself and Do not stand idle while your neighbor bleeds
as we redefine Neighbor from a Geographic Term to a Moral Concept.


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Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement – Faith and Politics – Our Fifth Calendar Year

December 2021 “I believe that our faith could influence our civic engagement.” I am hoping that for some of us, the above statement raises at least one eyebrow.  After all, we know each other well enough to understand how precious I hold the rights explicated in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights that prevent Congress from making “…no law respecting an establishment of religion, or …

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Thanking Our Front Line Helpers

Who’s on the front line? Thanking our JCC front line workers. 7-7-21 - Many Thanks, Amy!   Our JCC experienced a beautiful surprise this week, courtesy of Amy Magoun. Amy, a research coordinator at the University of Pittsburgh, is a regular volunteer with “Scent with Love,” an organization that retrieves fresh flowers from weddings and events or that remained unsold, and donates them to Pittsburgh places in need. “I …

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Beyond Potlucks and Panels: Interfaith Dialogue for a Digital Era

  February 1, 2021 One by one the Zoom boxes appear on the screen. A retired Jewish radiologist in suburban Pittsburgh. A self-described “Jew-Bu” in Brooklyn, combining the Judaism of her upbringing with a Buddhist meditation practice. A college professor who has practiced the Baha’i faith since her teens. A lapsed Catholic exploring phenomenological philosophy on the side. Joining us from their own living rooms, tonight this …

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The Ground Beneath Us Is Very Hard

“The ground beneath us is very hard.”  That was our big learning as we began our gardening work today at East End Cooperative Ministries (EECM) in East Liberty. The ground beneath us is very hard because of the dry heat we have been experiencing for too many days to count. The ground beneath us is very hard because of the harsh realities of racism and privilege that …

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“You are a part of me I do not yet know.”

I recently learned this moral and spiritual truth by reading it in See No Stranger, by Valarie Kaur, a civil rights activist and spiritual leader at the forefront of progressive change. I continue to learn this truth along my journey of meeting others who are a part of me I do not yet know. PART 1 – A Pastor, Imam and Rabbi: For the past 6 months, I …

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Neighbor is a moral concept.

The death of George Floyd and the protests across America that followed have been a sobering reminder of how deep our society’s wounds really are.  As I reflect on this tragedy, I am reminded just why we created the Center for Loving Kindness three years ago and the enduring Jewish values universally applicable to love your neighbor as yourself.   We do this in a non-partisan …

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I am on an Anxiety Roller Coaster

June 2, 2020 Once again, far too quickly, frequently and painfully, the curtains covering systemic racism have been pulled back and we see that which is too painful to look at and acknowledge.  The inequitable impact of COVID19 on low income communities and communities of Color is painful enough.  And yet there is more.  The series of injustices perpetrated against members of the Black community in …

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A Message from the Center for Loving Kindness

The JCC Pittsburgh Center For Loving Kindness was founded in August 2017 in response to the violent, racist and anti-Semitic march in Charlottesville Virginia. We gathered our interfaith and interracial community on the anniversary of the August 1963 March of Washington to make a declaration.  More than 200 spiritual leaders signed it. We believe the events of this past week serve as a reminder of the importance of that …

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It Could Be You!  You have an UPstander inside of you

June 2020 It could be you!  That’s right.  Don’t look to the right or the left, in front of you or behind you for someone else to stand UP and make a difference.  You have the ability to be an UPstander in your own right. It really is quite simple.  Take the East End Cooperative Ministries (EECM) located in East Liberty.  Just read Carole Bailey’s words: "Since becoming …

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Practicing Kindness and Social Distancing

I just finished editing our church’s response to the coronavirus pandemic. It has taken me awhile to complete it because I keep receiving one email and text after another canceling events and engagements. Our church members' responses range from extreme denial (“It’s a hoax”) to extreme concern. At this point no one is panicked – yet. But we are taking precautions as a congregation to …

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Coronavirus Has Not Reached Pittsburgh, but Fear and Racism are Spreading

Over the last few weeks, I’ve watched anti-Asian sentiment spike not just around the country as China fights to contain the coronavirus on the other side of the world, but right here in Pittsburgh, in the city I call home. The panic about a sudden, deadly virus can be understood and even expected. But this panic has exposed a deep-seated xenophobia in the West, and with …

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Campaigns, Civility and Conversation

First, a confession: I am a news junkie, a Twitter addict and a political wonk. It comes from my years of working in TV news in Washington, DC. It used to be part of my job. Now it’s just part of me. I left DC and moved home to Pittsburgh for many reasons. One being how difficult it was to have a civil discussion in what …

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We are still dreaming. Let’s ensure every person is counted

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” As we celebrate the life and legacy of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., his dream that every person be judged for their character and not the color of their skin …

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Reflecting on World Kindness Day and Planning for February’s Random Acts of Kindness Day

Although I have only been in Pittsburgh for two years, I have come to identify with and take pride in being a Pittsburgher. When I first arrived in Pittsburgh, I was overwhelmed by the sense of community and openness as a new resident and college student. I am a Master’s in Social Work student at the University of Pittsburgh, specializing in Community Organizing and Social Action …

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Shining Light on that “They Lived”

I Lived, We Live: What Did We Miss? was an exhibit about the community of Hazelwood organized by Hazelwood residents and presented last winter here at the JCC's American Jewish Museum. While the origins of our relationship stem from loss and trauma, our two communities have forged bonds, shared experiences and built meaningful friendships. Center of Life’s Geraldine Massey shares her story about losing her …

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An Unprecedented Year

I distinctly remember two phone calls my wife and I received shortly before 10 a.m. that day. “Are you in shul? The street is blocked by police cars,” the congregant inquired. We replied that we were out of town and not at synagogue. A minute later the phone rang again. It was Sam Schachner, president of Tree of Life, who informed us of an active …

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The Concept of Forgiveness

When Rabbi Ron Symons invited me back to Pittsburgh for Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement, to worship with our Pittsburgh neighbors and to participate in a community event at the JCC, I did not hesitate to say yes. The slogan “From Parkland to Pittsburgh, Stronger Together” has heartfelt meaning for me, as our two communities forged an unbreakable bond when we first came together …

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As we turn the page on the calendar from Summer to Fall, from vacation to the academic year, from the old Jewish year 5779 to the new Jewish year 5780, the work of the Center for Loving Kindness are all the more relevant to the lives we lead in and around Pittsburgh.  Planned throughout 2016 and 2017 and launched on August 28, 2017, to commemorate …

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I Need Shabbat This Week

I need Shabbat this week because all I have heard is people talking over and through each other. I need Shabbat this week because all I have seen are images of children separated from their parents. I need Shabbat this week because all the values about family and human dignity I thought were foundational to our American way of life are being challenged. I need Shabbat this week …

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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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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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