Throughout the 125 year history of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, we have strived to live our values through our daily actions. We aspire to fulfill our mission by nurturing people and connecting communities, each day, through every age, inspired by Jewish values for every person regardless of race, skin tone, ethnicity, country of origin, religion, economic status, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, special needs or citizenship status.
We created the Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement in the summer of 2017 as the Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville revealed long-held stark realities of hate throughout our country. We defined our charge as “Strengthening the fabric of community by amplifying the long-held values of ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ and ‘Do not stand idle while your neighbor bleeds’ while redefining ‘neighbor’ from geographic term to moral concept.” That mandate has guided our work through very challenging times over these past three years, including our response to the deadliest anti-Semitic attack in the history of the United States in our own city.
We begin the Jewish New Year 5781 at a time when racial bias, anti-Blackness, racism, systemic racism, and historic and current societal inequities are being denounced with hopes for long lasting systemic change. We make the following statement, committed to learning and action within our JCC community and throughout our Greater Pittsburgh community, and to invite others into the work.
- TZELEM ELOHIM – Divine Image (uniqueness and dignity)
We believe that Black Lives Matter as an explicit expression of the most fundamental value of human potential.
- B’RIT – Covenant (belonging and commitment)
We engage in this work as partners with sibling organizations across our region and are guided by organizations led by and serving communities most negatively impacted by racial bias, anti-Blackness, racism, systemic racism and historic and current societal inequities. We engage in this work knowing that the Jewish community and the JCC are made up of neighbors with multiple identities.
- K’DUSHAH – Holiness (intentionality and presence)
We are focused and present to address the issues at hand for the work we do within our JCC community and the work we do throughout Greater Pittsburgh. We examine the role each of us plays as a part of the problem and that each of us can play to be part of the solution.
- HIT’ORERUT – Awakening (amazement and gratitude)
Our ears, eyes, hearts and minds are open as vehicles of learning from and with those who are most impacted by racial bias, anti-Blackness, racism, systemic racism and historic and current societal inequities.
- D’RASH – Interpretation (inquiry, dialogue, and transmission)
We are required to be engaged and seek out ways we can impact positive change.
- MASA – Journey (reflection, return, and renewal)
We approach these issues with humility, aware that individuals and institutions are on journeys of understanding and discovery as are we. Even as we journey as an institution, we appreciate the journeys of other individuals and institutions no matter how far along they are. We embrace the long held values of graciousness (chen), loving kindness (chesed) and compassion (rachamim) throughout our journey.
- TIKKUN OLAM – Repair of the World (responsibility)
We are committed to repair the brokenness within ourselves and the brokenness of our world caused by racial bias, anti-Blackness, racism, systemic racism and historic and current societal inequities. As we move closer to a more complete beloved community and a more perfect union, we are guided by the Jewish value of justice (tzedek) and reminded to do so by the double imperative, “Justice, justice shall you pursue!” (Deuteronomy 16:20)
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Bill Isler, Co-Chair JCC PGH Center for Loving Kindness Advisory Committee/JCC PGH Board Member
Hilary Tyson, Co-Chair JCC PGH Center for Loving Kindness Advisory Committee/JCC PGH Board Member
Rabbi Ron Symons, Founding Director JCC PGH Center for Loving Kindness
Melissa Hiller, Assistant Director JCC PGH Center for Loving Kindness
Center for Loving Kindness Advisory Committee:
Rev. Liddy Barlow, Christian Associates of Southwest PA
Zack Block, Repair the World
Nancy Bernstein, Community Leader
Beverly R. Brinn, Community Member
RosaMaria Cristello, Latino Community Center
Rev. Janet Edwards, Judah Fellowship
Jonathan Fischer, Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing Institute
Jeff Galak, CMU Associate Professor of Marketing/ JCC PGH Board Member
Caryle Glosser, Community Leader
Jake Goodman, Opportunity Fund/JCC PGH Board Member
Rev. Glenn Grayson, Jeron X Grayson Community Center/The Center That Cares
Rev. Janet Hellner-Burris, Christian Church of Wilkinsburg/Sanctuary Project Wilkinsburg
Anna Hollis, Amachi
Teddi J. Horvitz, National Council of Jewish Women
Noah Jordan, Rothman Gordon Attorney
Susan Friedberg Kalson, Squirrel Hill Health Center
Samantha Klein, Day Owl/JCC PGH Board Member
Dan Leger, Retired Chaplain and Pediatric Hospice Care Nurse
Marian Lien, St. Edmunds Academy
Geraldine Massey, Center for Victims
Dr. Liz Miller, UPMC Children’s Hospital (Adolescent and Young Adult)/JCC PGH Board Member
Wasi Mohamed, Forward Cities/Islamic Center of Pittsburgh
Elliott Oshry, Non-Profit Consultant and Volunteer
Rita Pollock, Community Leader
Cathy Reifer, Community Leader
Joanne Rogers, Community Leader
Margie Ruttenberg, Community Leader/JCC PGH Marketing Advisor
Kannu Sahni, Highmark and Allegheny Health Network
Ivy Schamis, Holocaust Studies Educator at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School
Sara Segel, National Council of Jewish Women
Rev. Tim Smith, Center of Life
Linda Simon, Past JCC PGH Board Chair
Josh Stein, Attorney
Sharon Werner, JCC PGH Board Member
Rabbi Jeremy Weisblatt, Temple Ohav Shalom
Lynn Zelenski, Community Leader
William Goodman, JCC PGH Board Chair
Brian Schreiber, JCC PGH President/CEO
(The above framework is inspired by the 7 lenses we employ in our Early Childhood Development Center of the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh. Used across all aspects of early childhood education in the national JCC Sheva network, this application of the lenses to racial bias, anti-Blackness racism, systemic racism, and historic and current societal inequities, is unique to the Center for Loving Kindness (founded in 2017) of the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh. We welcome your conversation at [email protected].)
…’Neighbor’ is a moral concept, not a geographic term.
…Every neighbor has strength, wisdom, and value to offer and to gain.
…Civic engagement/social action is best undertaken in partnership with those who will benefit from the change.
Work envisions a community in which
- People will be motivated to move from ‘bystander’ to ‘UPstander’ through exposure, awareness, and engagement.
- Neighbors will be energized through cross-cultural education.
- We will be in authentic partnerships with like-minded community organizations focused on the needs of marginalized and under-served communities.
- The JCC will serve as a true community center, the town square where residents, municipalities, and community organizations enter into dialogue and involve people to strengthen the fabric of community.
- Individuals and communities will have safe space in which to grieve, heal, and grow resilience within the Center for Loving Kindness.