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JCC Blog

JCC Blog

Category: Jewish Living

Sep22
by admin
Rosh Hashana: The Year of Trying New Things

By Rabbi Ariel Platt, Director of J Life

Are your children picky eaters? Will they only eat mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, pizza, or hotdogs? I hear you. My kids, my daughter especially, are incredibly picky. Which is why I laughed to myself as I read out loud the book, Something New for Rosh HaShanah, by Jane Yolen that my daughter recently received from PJ Library.

The story is about a little girl named Becca who refuses to eat anything new. Sound familiar! Not to give the entire story away, but the book ends with Becca trying a new food. No surprise here, she likes the new food, and is excited to try more new foods each new year. 

I share this story with you because it...

Aug23
by admin
You Thought Camp Was Over? Not Quite Yet!

By Rabbi Ariel Platt, Director of J Life

It happened. I blinked, summer is over, and school is starting. Back to the hustle and bustle of the school year. Let’s face it, our lives revolve around school calendars, and extracurriculars, plus work, and so much more. No big deal, right?! Who wants to sigh with me?

What if you could have one more summer experience with your family? One last hurrah together before your family becomes fully consumed by life’s craziness. The summer was spent sending your kids to camp. What if you could participate in a camp together? A great chance to reset together before Rosh HaShanah, the New Year.

I have to admit I’ve never gone to a family camp, and it’s been years since I have gone to an actual summer camp. My memories of summer camp involve laughing with my friends, getting my hands...

Aug12
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A Letter from Rabbi Ariel: Tu B’Av

By Rabbi Ariel Platt, Director of J Life

Hello JCC Community!

I hope you all had an amazing week! Here is something to make it even better. Did you know that today is Tu B’Av (the 15th of Av), the Jewish holiday of Love? As the Beatles so famously sing, “All you need is love. Love is all you need.” 

During the 2nd Temple period (70 C.E.) Tu B’Av was a day of matchmaking. Now, it is a day to celebrate love and life. Love/ahava is a core Jewish value. In Judaism love is about family, friends, community, other people, God, learning, the earth, and making the world a better place. The truth is Love is for everyone, and Love is a part of everything. It is a value that transcends all labels because everything on earth needs love...

Feb03
by admin
Beyond Baltimore: Learning Across the Globe

Bringing Lessons Home from JCC International Conference

By Barak Hermann, CEO and Randi Buergenthal, Board Chair

What can we learn from a JCC in Istanbul, Turkey? How can we connect to Jewish communities in India, countries in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), and Krakow, Poland? As it turns out, there are countless benefits to connecting to JCCs and Jewish communities from around the globe. 

This December, we traveled to Israel to attend JCC Global: 10th Annual World Conference of JCCs. We were joined by professional and volunteer leaders from 30 JCCs worldwide. Together, we shared stories of our communities, Jewish identity, and new endeavors at our JCCs. In many...

Oct11
by admin
Sukkot 2019

This Sunday evening we usher in the holiday of Sukkot, a week long harvest festival, in which we remember the exodus from Egypt and the 40 years of wondering in desert. Traditionally, each household will build a Sukkah – a ritual booth. This holiday has both historical and agricultural significance. A holiday with many names, it is known as the “Festival of Booths,” the “Festival of the Ingathering,” and the “Season of our Joy.” Sukkot starts this Sunday night October 13 and runs through October 20th. The temporary huts we build during this time remind us both of the abundance of nature, and the precariousness and preciousness of life on earth. We celebrate Jewish peoplehood and shared history and welcome ancestors and friends, dwelling in our Sukkot, eating festive meals, singing and reveling in the autumn sounds and smells. If you don’t have a Sukkah, please join us in ours!! Both the Park Heights and...

Sep19
by admin
Reimagining the Weinberg Park Heights JCC

Chef Dan’s Café, Upgraded Pool and More!

The Weinberg Park Heights J has come a long way since it opened in 1960. Many of you have seen significant changes in the past 15 years, but according to JCC CEO Barak Hermann, we are about to embark on a multi-year improvement plan transforming much of the building and some of the services we offer.

“Over the next two years you will see a major growth of LifeBridge Health wellness programing tailored to the needs of the frum community.” announced Barak. “Rooms and offices will be moved around and redesigned to accommodate LifeBridge and numerous new fitness opportunities. People who haven’t visited in a while won’t believe their eyes!”           

Adds Barak, “The Weinberg Park Heights J is a truly unique JCC, as it is the only JCC in the country that primarily serves an...

Sep12
Barak Hermann and Randi Buergenthal
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Meet Randi Buergenthal, JCC Chair of the Board 2019-21

Designing a J for the 21st century

As a longtime board member of the JCC, Randi Buergenthal is used to fielding questions. Usually, she knows the right professional to ask or where to find information.

But there’s one question that made her stop and think.

"Why should I belong to the JCC? What’s in it for me?"

Today, as the new chair of the JCC board, Randi partners with a board of directors and JCC staff to answer these questions. They recognize the JCC of today and tomorrow must reimagine the JCC experience. Fortunately, the group has done their homework. For several years, Randi worked with other board members and J professionals to take a hard look at what happens when someone participates in the J’s programs, whether at the Weinberg Park Heights JCC, Rosenbloom Owings Mills JCC,...

Sep11
9/11 memorial
by admin
Remembering September 11

A Message From Barak Hermann, JCC CEO on 9/11

Today, on September 11,  Patriots Day, we remember the victims of the terrorist attacks that forever changed our country on September 11, 2001. 

I personally could not believe that planes hijacked by terrorists  would crash into the World Trade Centers, the pentagon in DC, and that a fourth plane was taken down in a field in Pennsylvania by the passengers trying to avoid additional bloodshed.  So many lives were tragically lost, families thrown into upheaval, and our country had to wrestle with a new level of  growing security concerns.  Xenophobia became a new word in my vocabulary and drove my thinking as a Program Director at the time on types of programs that could...

Jun04
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Shalom, Shalom, Shavuot

By Rabbi Jessy Dressin 

In many ways we are coming to the end of the year…the end of a period of time in which we learned together, celebrated together and shared lots of great times and experiences as a community.

There is a famous Israeli song with the words that read: “Shalom Shalom, Shalom Shalom. It means hello and welcome home. And when you want to say goodbye, we use the words Shalom as well.” How great that the same word we use to say goodbye is also the word we use to say hello! It’s like one big circle! Or spiral!

The Jewish calendar also moves according to cycles. We celebrate the same set of holidays year in and year out and yet each year we are in a little bit of a different...

Apr02
by admin
Exploring Judaism Together

My Tribe Families Make Connections to Each Other and Their Faith

When Beth and Dave Markowitz’s oldest son finished preschool, they realized that they wanted a new way to explore Jewish culture and traditions as a family. After doing some networking and searching, they landed on My Tribe. My Tribe is a nine month-long experiential, opportunity for families and communities to come together with others who want to explore fun, meaningful ways to tap into the rhythm of the Jewish calendar and experiences.

My Tribe operates on a “Come as you are” approach, welcoming families of all kinds, and all levels of Jewish observance, interest, and understanding. “My Tribe has been a strategic attempt to build something co-collaborative that resonates with the “New Jewish Family” explains My Tribe founder Rabbi Jessy Dressin, Senior Director of Jewish Life at...