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Center for Loving Kindness

RECENT EVENTS

White Supremacy, Racism and Anti-Semitism

How they divide us and preserve unjust systems. How can we undo them right here in Pittsburgh? Three 90-minute Zoom Conversations for members of the community Thursdays, October 8, 15 and 22; 7-8:30 PM Facilitator: Jane Schuchert Walsh, PhD, Clarion University Hosts: JCC PGH Center for Loving Kindness and Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition Talk about...
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High Holidays of Hope – Yom Kippur Reawakening

As we enter the Jewish High Holiday season, we express our heartfelt hopes for a year of health and wellness, moral courage and justice for all of our neighbors. Join us online for this special opportunity: A Yom Kippur Reawakening about Dismantling Anti-Semitism and Racism: From Charlottesville to Pittsburgh Monday, September 28 3-4 PM Register:...
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#CFLKConnectingCommunities: Voting and the Census

It is time to stand UP as a citizen and a resident! For years, the JCC has served as a polling place for voting.  As we saw in the most recent primary and are anticipating in the upcoming election, the voting systems we have come to know over the years are changing.  That is why our Center...
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COMING EVENTS

Jul 13 – Dec

31

#CFLKConnectingCommunities

JCC Center for Loving Kindness Launches New Campaign: Connecting Communities in Conversations “We are living through both a medical pandemic and a moral pandemic. CFLK’s Connecting Communities Campaign offers on line and in person opportunities to get involved.” -Rabbi Ron Symons Director, JCC Center For Loving Kindness Community Conversation with Pittsburgh Pirates first basemen Josh Bell...
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Jul 09 – Dec

21

Art and Quarantine Stories

Online through Virtual Senior Academy
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 membership not required New subjects each week. Thursdays: 12:15-12:45 Join the class:  ZOOM
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Jul 07 – Dec

31

Social Justice – Eternal Values Applied to Contemporary Issues

Online through Virtual Senior Academy
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 events class, these gatherings afford us the opportunity to ground our perspectives in values that humans have been holding dear for thousands of years and...
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Dec

09

Sparking Our Light: A Conversation All About Chanukah’s Customs, Traditions and Social Justice Values

Virtual Program presented by Mt. Lebanon Public Library
7-8:15 pm
A Virtual Program presented by Mt. Lebanon Public Library Rabbi Ron Symons and Melissa Hiller from the JCC’s Center for Loving Kindness guide a conversation around the story behind Chanukah’s festival of lights and the holiday’s customs and traditions. Their conversation also connects Chanukah to social justice values and standing up for neighbors. Rabbi Ron...
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Dec

17

Celebrations of the Season: Lights Across Pittsburgh

Online on ZOOM
7-8 pm
December 17 7-8 pm on Zoom A celebration of Pittsburgh’s diversity presented by JCC PGH Center for Loving Kindness, Christian Associates of Southwest PA, and the Frick Pittsburgh. A demonstration of holiday lighting rituals will be followed by a roundtable discussion, led by Rabbi Ron Symons and Rev. Liddy Barlow. Including Tracy Baton, Pittsburgh Mennonite...
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Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful for our JCC community today and every day. ... See MoreSee Less

Happy Thanksgiving! We are thankful for our JCC community today and every day.

Rob Smith may enjoy preparing the food as much as the children and staff of the JCC’s South Hills Early Childhood Development Center enjoy eating it. We talked to Smith, who is Aladdin’s Kitchen Supervisor in the South Hills, as he was finishing cleanup after providing a special Thanksgiving lunch of roast turkey, corn and mashed potatoes. “That’s the kids’ favorite meal,” he said, theorizing that the kids like it so much because roast turkey is on the menu once a month.

He’s preparing breakfast, lunch and snacks daily for a slightly smaller number of children and staff because ECDC capacity has been modified to meet safety protocols during the Covid-19 Pandemic. But as the only person in the kitchen, “It’s a lot of work,” he said. “I’m happy to do it.” What’s his favorite part of the job? Easy: “Preparing the food and making the kids happy, and seeing their smiling faces.” He added, “They thank me every day. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Meet more of our frontline helpers here: jccpgh.org/blog/thanking-our-front-line-helpers/
... See MoreSee Less

Rob Smith may enjoy preparing the food as much as the children and staff of the JCC’s South Hills Early Childhood Development Center enjoy eating it. We talked to Smith, who is Aladdin’s Kitchen Supervisor in the South Hills, as he was finishing cleanup after providing a special Thanksgiving lunch of roast turkey, corn and mashed potatoes. “That’s the kids’ favorite meal,” he said, theorizing that the kids like it so much because roast turkey is on the menu once a month.  

He’s preparing breakfast, lunch and snacks daily for a slightly smaller number of children and staff because ECDC capacity has been modified to meet safety protocols during the Covid-19 Pandemic. But as the only person in the kitchen, “It’s a lot of work,” he said. “I’m happy to do it.” What’s his favorite part of the job? Easy: “Preparing the food and making the kids happy, and seeing their smiling faces.” He added, “They thank me every day. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Meet more of our frontline helpers here: https://jccpgh.org/blog/thanking-our-front-line-helpers/

We love this World Kindness Day project from the JCC Early Childhood Development Center! ... See MoreSee Less

Happy World Kindness Day and Cardigan Day! In honor of Mr. Rogers, remember to let someone know you love them exactly as they are. ... See MoreSee Less

Happy World Kindness Day and Cardigan Day! In honor of Mr. Rogers, remember to let someone know you love them exactly as they are.
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IN THE NEWS

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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ABOUT

MISSION

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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CENTER FOR LOVING KINDNESS BLOG

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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NEIGHBOR IS A MORAL CONCEPT!

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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