Accomplishments and Impact August 2017-December 2021
Welcome to The Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement of the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh
The Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement (CFLK) was established in August 2017 to strategically counter the demoralizing rhetoric of public discourse to 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.
We realize this goal by creating safe spaces in which neighbors can live in community with one another based on our shared humanity through real and perceived differences.
We break down the geographic, cultural, economic, and racial neighborhood divides in order to build community connectivity.
- We encourage Jewish, Black, Latinx and Asian neighbors to share community resources.
- We are active in supporting immigrants and refugees as they become our neighbors.
- We focus our attention on neighborhoods that are underserved by community resources.
- We were leaders in making sure that all our neighbors were counted in Census 2020. We continue to lead to make sure that every neighbor can wholeheartedly say, ‘I belong to Pittsburgh; Pittsburgh belongs to me; we belong to each other.’
We ignite people of good will move to action.
- Our Project UPstander volunteers show up for their neighbors. They make them feel welcome at COVID testing and vaccination clinics. UPstanders also make meals, rally, support, stand shoulder to shoulder in solidarity and more when needed.
- We organize like-minded partners and educate the community about accessing the polls so that all citizens have unrestricted voting access.
We support neighbors on their journeys towards more open minds to new and different perspectives relating to living together in diverse community.
- We host book discussions in partnership with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, exploring our roles in bringing about changes in the systems that perpetuate hatred and injustice.
- We create relevant events like our First Amendment Conference in September 2019 on freedom of religion.
- We nurture unique relationships with other communities that experience violence like the one with members of the 2018 Parkland FL Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
- We teach weekly lessons in Jewish values and the Humanities that speak to pressing community issues of the day (racism, democracy, voter access, refugees, the American history we tell and don’t tell, diversity…) for all members of the community through AgeWell at the JCC Virtual Senior Academy
- The JCCs American Jewish Museum explores contemporary Jewish art that facilitates dialogue about art, philosophy and culture to promote interfaith and intergenerational explorations.
- We work externally and internally about how our values apply to our work so that anti-racism and diversity are living expressions of our efforts.
We inspire people to move beyond their interfaith differences.
- Our ‘We Have to Talk Interfaith Spiritual Leaders Network’ connects over 500 people in Southwest PA in both Pittsburgh and across the region who have little engagement with leaders of faiths others than their own.
- We are local leaders of the national Multifaith Neighbors Network bringing Evangelical Christians, Muslims and Jews together..
- We work across the country on our new web platform, Sofa Spirituality, to lead interfaith dialogues filled with curiosity, openness, respect and self-reflection. Our participants discover and affirm the particularities of our diverse faith traditions while celebrating all we hold in common.
- We use the themes of Jewish and civic holidays to gather community of all backgrounds for relevant and accessible cultural, values-based, intellectual, holiday and spiritual experiences without religious formality
We create safe spaces for Pittsburgh police officers and spiritual leaders to build relationships, seeing each other as human beings.
- In direct follow-up to the role we played on the City of Pittsburgh Mayor’s Police Reform Task Force Summer 2020, we are facilitating Rebuilding and Restoring councils in every one of the 6 police zones in Pittsburgh. This behind the scenes work is strengthening the fabric of community with hopes it will survive the next tear.
We embolden neighbors to talk to each other through their different political partisan affiliations.
- Working with our national partners Braver Angels, we convene 10 local community partners in bringing hundreds of Pittsburghers into depolarizing conversations
Our theory of change is that by intentionally inviting people into the diversity of community we might change attitudes; changed attitudes can lead to changed behaviors.
The Center for Loving Kindness, a 21st century platform for community engagement, is at the heart of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh who has been doing this work for over 125 years ever since it was established as settlement house in the Hill District of Pittsburgh. We are a full-service community center serving our neighbors in all of life’s stages, a town square, and a community hub where neighbors find safe space to learn, live, and thrive with each other.
Community is our middle name at the JCC, and ‘loving kindness is our north star.
The Community we are building: What we do
WE BREAK DOWN THE GEOGRAPHIC, CULTURAL, ECONOMIC, AND RACIAL NEIGHBORHOOD DIVIDES IN ORDER TO BUILD COMMUNITY CONNECTIVITY.
Community members and organizations will engage with each other based on the expanded definition of ‘neighbor’ not just as a geographic term but as a moral concept.
WE IGNITE PEOPLE OF GOOD WILL TO MOVE TO ACTION.
Neighbors will provide acknowledgement, understanding and support for neighbors facing challenges because of one-time and/or systemic hateful acts, natural disasters, violence, bigotry, or intolerance that threaten the integrity of community.
WE SUPPORT NEIGHBORS ON THEIR JOURNEYS TOWARD MORE OPEN MINDS TO NEW AND DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES RELATING TO LIVING TOGETHER IN OUR DIVERSE COMMUNITY.
Neighbors will integrate current events through values-based lenses.
WE INSPIRE PEOPLE TO MOVE BEYOND THEIR INTERFAITH DIFFERENCES.
Neighbors of different faiths will cooperate as a normal part of civic life for the sake of community engagement and for building resilience against bigotry and violence.
WE CREATE SAFE SPACES FOR PITTSBURGH POLICE OFFICERS AND SPIRITUAL LEADERS TO BUILD RELATIONSHIPS, SEEING EACH OTHER AS HUMAN BEINGS.
Police and spiritual leaders will engage in covenanted relationships with one another to promote a resilient community for all in both good times and bad.
WE EMBOLDEN NEIGHBORS TO TALK TO EACH OTHER THROUGH THEIR DIFFERENT POLITICAL PARTISAN AFFILIATIONS.
Neighbors will be energized towards constructive resolution of common problems beyond partisan divides.