Tuesday, December 27

My Journey from 200 lbs Back to 150 lbs: December

by Craig Ervin

You should know that I am writing this after having attended and conquered four out of the five holiday parties scheduled for this year. No cakeball was overlooked. Mother’s homemade meatloaf was devoured. I may have even seen the bottom of a bag of chips. Though I promise, I didn’t eat ALL the chips! So with that being said, how have I done with the weight loss over the past month?

Well, since November 22, I’ve lost 9 pounds!

Last time, I reported that I had been unable to shed any pounds since I started my weight loss journey in October. As soon as I aligned my eating habits with my workouts, the weight started to come off. Honestly, I’m a bit surprised with the 9 pounds of weight loss considering the dizzying amounts of amazing food I’ve had around me this holiday season. Of course, I did allow myself a few indulgences–something I haven’t always done when concentrating on weight loss. I allowed myself a few treats while maintaining the focus of my goal. I found that I was a bit more relaxed when it came to being around the temptation. I told myself that having a few “off” days would not completely destroy my efforts–and I was right!

Believe me though–the extra calories are certainly not staying around for long!

A few Fridays ago I had the “pleasure” of attending my first Kettlebell class. Talk about a workout! I don’t think “pleasure” is a word I would associate with this over-the-top workout. I thought I knew what I was in for. Never underestimate the power of a hunk of metal with a handle attached to it! The instructor, Kara Nefouse, was aware that it was my first class and was very helpful in making sure I was maintaining the proper form. Kara really threw me a curve ball when she stopped at the end of one of our sets and told us to take two laps around the track. She must have noticed the look of, “Oh no, I have to run?!” on my face and decided to take a lap with me to keep me going. The motivation definitely helped! Kettlebell is a tremendous workout and I’ll be mixing more sessions in with my routine.

I think it’s safe to say that I’m officially back in the game, and it feels great! I’m ending 2011 with an enormous sense of accomplishment and will be beginning 2012 with a refined focus. Cheers to the New Year!

More About Craig Ervin


Wednesday, December 14

What You Never Knew... an Interview with Joani Rothenberg

by Susan Gabovitch

Question: How many ways can one woman enjoy the JCC?

Answer: Apparently quite a few!

Joani Rothenberg has been a constant presence at the JCC for over 15 years. What does she enjoy doing here? That all depends on the day and time. Joani has always been an enthusiastic participant in our group exercise classes including, but certainly not limited to, indoor cycling, strength training, Piloxing, Zumba, kickboxing and BodyPump. While she loves having such a wide variety of classes to choose from, Joani says her favorite thing about the JCC is about more than the exercise opportunities. It’s the sense of community she gets whenever she steps through the door that brings her back time and again.

Far from just exercising here, she also shares her considerable artistic talent with our JCC community. As you may know, Joani was commissioned several years ago by the Glick family to paint a mural depicting “Life at the JCC.” Her vibrant interpretation of JCC life now hangs in our west lobby. Joani says she discovered what the JCC community truly is while she worked on the mural in the former café area. As she painted, members stopped by to chat and watch her progress – children, grandparents, families and staff – all of whom offered suggestions and demonstrated how they  are invested in the same sense of community as she is.

The completion of Joani’s mural inspired the creation of our Arts Camp with Joani as the instructor for 4 weeks each summer. She works with the children to develop their own understanding of the creative process and helps them identify the beauty and wonder in the world around them as well as within themselves. This past year, the campers created an enormous mural of their own for the annual all-camp Lip Sync show, and they designed and constructed two mosaic benches for the JCC Community Garden.

Joani’s family, which includes husband Jeff, and kids Leela, Maya, Ben and Tal, each contribute to the incredible sense of community that we are all privileged to enjoy here at the JCC. You will have the opportunity to meet the family in the spring when they participate in a family art exhibit in our gallery

Until next time…

More About Susan Gabovitch

Tuesday, December 6

Winter Exercise

by Katherine Matutes, PhD

Icy side-walks, decreased sunshine hours and colder temperatures can make it a challenge to keep your exercise routine going during the winter months. What can you do to keep your motivation high when lounging around at home sound so cozy?

Mix it up!
Now is the time to try that new group exercise you’ve been curious about (check out piloxing with Anne on Wednesdays at 7:30-8:30 am or Fridays at 9:30-10:30 am). You'll be amazed at how a novel type of exercise will challenge your fitness and improve your body in new ways.

Hook up with an exercise buddy.
One of the biggest obstacles to continuing a fitness routine is maintaining a commitment. Find a partner with a similar schedule and commit to showing up together. Knowing that someone else is expecting you to show up will make it easier to follow through even when you don’t really feel like it.

Take a pedometer out for a spin.
Being aware of how much or little you are moving can be a great motivator to squeeze even more movement into your day. Hitting 10,000 steps a day is an ideal goal. If you stop by the new Health & Wellness wall in the Mordoh Fitness Center, you'll learn how you can win a pedometer!

If you plan to keep up with your outdoor exercise, be sure to invest in high quality thermal layers to regulate body heat by adding or removing layers. But also be aware when the temperature or wind chill is below 0 degerees, it's time to move your exercies indoors.

Commit to a thirty day challenge.  
Set a new fitness goal to achieve over the next thirty days such as increasing the time or distance that you usually walk and promise yourself a reward when you reach this new goal, like a new pair of walking shoes. Maybe you’re ready to take on the JCC Annual Indoor Triathlon coming up Sunday, January 29th!

Give yourself an early holiday gift
of personal training sessions.
You can take your fitness to a new level or just learn new exercises during personalized training sessions. The trainer will help you find the extra motivation to push yourself a little harder!

More About Katherine Matutes, PhD

Tuesday, November 29

Kids Say/Do The Darndest Things!

Today’s blog introduces you to another one of our wonderful JCC families enrolled in our Early Childhood Education program.
  Michael and Amber Woodside
Proud parents of:
  McElla (19 months)

How long have you been a JCC member?
  A little over a year

Have you had other children in ECE?
  No we haven't, but McElla is the second-generation Woodside to
  have attended the ECE! Michael is an ECE alum.

Please share a brief story with us – a funny moment in ECE or at the
JCC, a heart-warming moment, etc.
  The cutest thing happened just a few weeks ago. McElla is very fond
  of her classmates. One day we saw her classmate Yonatan down the
  hallway with a teacher and I asked her if she wanted to give him a hug.
  She didn’t hesitate to run down the hall to give him a huge hug. (That
  was so heartwarming!)

 What is the funniest thing your child has done?

  (So hard to narrow down :)  McElla's aunt bought her some new clothes
  and she was adamant about trying them on immediately. After putting
  on each new clothing item, she stood in the middle of the living room
  with her hands on her hips to seek our approval for her new wardrobe.

What is the funniest thing your child has said?

  We were in the drive-through and there was a man in front of our car
  taking his time with his order. All of a sudden, coming from the back
  seat, I heard "Go buddy, go."

Who is your child’s favorite movie star/superhero/sports figure/personality?
  Her favorite is Elmo and she will call his name all day long. We’re wondering
  how long that will last!

Tuesday, November 22

My Journey from 200 lbs Back to 150 lbs: November

by Craig Ervin
Back in October I declared a bold goal of losing 50 pounds by June of 2012. As of today, I have lost an amazing - an astonishing - 0 pounds. 
Now, that’s not to say that I haven’t begun working towards my goal. Since the beginning of October, I’ve started getting myself back into a routine. I’m currently working out twice a week at the JCC. My primary focus during those workouts has been cardio. I’m already finding that my stamina has increased, and I should be back to my full cardio workouts before too long. 
With the extra weight, I find that I simply cannot maintain the levels I’m used to. I was tempted at first to cut the workouts short. Instead, I have kept the length of the workouts consistent but have lowered the intensity. So far, so good!
Food, on the other hand, is a different story.
There's never been a buffalo wing I could say "no" to. Or chocolate. Or ice cream. By far the greatest obstacle I face is in my own inability to say "No." A few weeks ago life decided to give me something else to think about before reaching for my next meal. Quite unexpectedly, my mother suffered a heart attack.
Her heart attack was a shock to us all. She never suspected any issue with her heart. Thankfully, she will make a full recovery with minimal damage to her heart. In an instant her entire way of living was challenged. Her challenge has become my catalyst.
Needless to say, with the holidays fast approaching, I’ll be a bit more mindful of my eating selections. Seeing my mother struggle with her heart has renewed the commitment I made to change my lifestyle. In changing my own lifestyle, I hope to help my mother make better choices for her own future.
With my renewed commitment to eating smart, coupled with my workouts, I should be able to speak of my progress with my next post. Until then, everyone have a safe, happy & healthy holiday season.
More About Craig Ervin

Thursday, November 17

The Doctor's Office

by Frank J Klene, PT, DPT, CSCS

Hello, JCC blog followers! My name is Frank Klene, and I am here to give you sound advice and opinions on physical therapy, injury prevention, and orthopedic conditions. This month I want to talk about low back pain, an epidemic in the United States today. 

So what can be done to prevent low back pain or a recurrence of low back pain?  Well, if you read the fitness magazines most might say..."You gotta work on your core" or "A strong core will decrease your back pain." Well this might be true, but you are probably thinking what is your core and how do you make it stronger!?!

The popular terms “ripped” and “washboard abs” are not exactly the type of core strength that will help protect your back. Core strength that protects your back consists of 2 muscles: the transverse abdominis, a stomach muscle, and the multifidus, a back muscle. When these muscles are working the correct way they act like a corset or back brace. They stabilize unwanted motion in your spine, thus decreasing pain and risk of injury.

The best way to engage these muscles is to pull your belly button toward your spine WITHOUT holding your breath. This is the same motion as attempting to put on a tight pair of pants...a cue most of us can relate to. Hold the contraction 6-10 seconds, then release and repeat. Try this simple exercise this week when you are at your desk. 

Once you "find your core" you can turn any regular exercise into a core exercise by simply drawing in your stomach. So before and during any exercise, such as a bicep curl, draw in your abs without holding your breath. This will help stabilize and protect your back and could decrease your pain.

More About Frank J Klene

Tuesday, November 15

A Monumental Outlook

by Kelly Young

I’m definitely goal-oriented when it comes to exercising. I need an event to look forward to. So now that I’ve completed the 3-Day Komen Walk (60 miles in 3 days) and the Indianapolis Monumental (half) Marathon, I can’t help wondering, “What’s next?”

I actually spent some time online last night thinking about it. I clicked around the JCC website to see what classes are offered (until now I’ve only used the cardio machines and the pool). I read several weight-loss success stories. I even Googled “fitness challenges” to see what others are doing.

Since triathlon training for me won’t start until February, and as part of my “Fab at 40” mantra I’ve decided I want to come back from my summer injury stronger, leaner and fabulous! So, I’ve decided that my next goal/challenge will be to focus the next four months on my overall health and wellness: lose a few pounds, eat healthier and move different muscles.

Here are a few things I’m going to try to help get me started. I welcome your ideas too.

1. Skip the cardio machines once a week for a fitness class. I’m going to give BodyPump, Piloxing or Total Body a try; maybe I’ll try all three.

2. Keep the cardio but mix it up. On Saturday I ran with someone who does speed work on the treadmill. I’m guilty of just doing the same routine on the treadmill and even when I swim laps. I’m going to challenge myself with some speed work.

3. Keep a food journal and see if that really helps me eat healthier.

4. Limit caffeine and chocolate. I’d like to think I could cut those out completely, but I’m trying to be realistic.

While I know there won’t be a medal for me at the end of this four-month training, I’ll reward myself with a new outfit – maybe even in a smaller size.

Thank you for reading my blog posts: You are helping me be more accountable and more successful. Maybe I’ll even connect with one or two of you who would want to join me on my challenge or offer some good advice along the way.

More About Kelly Young

Tuesday, November 8

What You Never Knew... an Interview with Tracy Cox

by Susan Gabovitch
Have you ever wondered…who is that tall, smiling man who is so friendly and helpful and always at the JCC? Well, if you are a frequent JCC user, you know that I am talking about Tracy Cox. Tracy first joined the JCC with his parents when he was just a boy. Both his folks were diabetic, so, health and wellness were and continue to be a priority for him. Tracy moved away from Indianapolis in 2002. While away from Indianapolis, he served as a youth sports coordinator at the YMCA in Elkhart and as a coach at the YMCA in New Castle.
Upon returning to Indianapolis last year, the first thing Tracy did was re-join the JCC. He has become one of the JCC’s most active and enthusiastic members. One of the things Tracy most enjoys is Cherri Jaffee’s dance class, which he professes is “the best class in the world.” Tracy has also become involved with JCC member Eric Gordon in coaching and training kids interested in basketball through Eric’s E3 Basketball Academy. This Academy brings kids from all over the city to the JCC to work hard on improving their skills.
Tracy was also responsible for bringing Drums Alive to entertain at the JCC last summer. His enthusiasm for this program was contagious. Kids of all ages had a ball making music as Tracy encouraged their involvement.
Tracy says that what makes the JCC so special is that it embraces the entire community and that this is reflected in everyone, from its staff to its members. That sense of family and belonging is what keeps bringing him back, day after day.
When you see Tracy in the hall, be sure to say hello. This is a man who enjoys  giving his time and energy and who loves to see people happy. We are so lucky to have him with us at the JCC.
Until next time…
More About Susan Gabovitch

Tuesday, November 1

Got Picky Eaters?

by Katherine Matutes

Opponents step up to the battle line in preparation for the impending face off. It’s not a war, it’s just dinner time! The feud begins with: “That looks gross! I’m not eating it!” and is usually volleyed with “just try one bite,” which eventually turns into “just have one bite and then you can have some dessert.”

Does this battle happen at your house regularly? You’re not alone. It is a common source of frustration for parents trying to encourage their kids to try healthier foods. Parents often resort to bribing children with the promise of something sweet if only they will try the vegetable (or other food your child refuses), assuming that once they taste the food the child will enjoy it. It does work on occasion, but the net result is the child is inadvertently taught that dessert is the more elusive and desirable item.

The good news is that there are several ways to turn this scenario around. One of the most important steps to encourage a diverse diet is by getting kids involved in the process. Allow children to tag along to the grocery store and select something from the produce section to cook for dinner. Get them involved in the kitchen (even a two year old can rinse broccoli). They will be much more vested in trying something if they’ve had a hand in the preparation. It may not work the first few times, but hang in there and continue offering the food repeatedly. The real trick for parents is to not let refusals become a test of wills because the child will win every time.

You can’t really force a child to eat something–and if you do they usually harbor a permanent dislike of the item. I know one mom who told her toddler to sit at the table until he swallowed the one bite of peas he was holding in his mouth. Thirty minutes later he spit the pea mush out and was sent to bed. The toddler in question is now a 6’2” healthy, nineteen year old–who still hates peas. A better tactic is for parents to model good eating behaviors themselves and follow this rule of thumb: the parents decide what and how much goes on the child’s plate, and the child decides what and how much they eat. Giving the child a sense of control goes a long way towards reducing their resistance. Eventually the child’s curiosity will get the better of him.

You can learn more healthy eating tactics for kids by attending the JCC Spirit & Place Event “Feeding the Community Body: A Day of Wellness” where  Katherine Matutes, PhD. nutrition and wellness expert, will lead a workshop to encourage families with young children to use familiar foods as stepping stones to new and healthier foods. Food will be provided by our friends at Green B.E.A.N. Delivery and a chef from Second Helpings will prepare tastings using seasonal and local foods as main ingredients.

Join us November 6th, Noon-1 pm for the free Nutrition event. The Day of Wellness runs 9 am until 4 pm. Ride your bike, participate in a yoga or dance workshop, try an art therapy project. Four of Indy’s favorite food trucks will be parked on the premises too.

Visit http://www.jccindy.org/Day_of_Wellness.aspx for more information.

More About Katherine Matutes

Tuesday, October 25

A Healthy Cuban Dinner in 15 Minutes

by Katherine Matutes

I went for tall, dark and handsome when I married my Cuban-born college sweetheart, Jose Ramon Matutes (his friends call him Ray). The marriage commitment came with a promise to my lovely mother-in-law that I would do my best to teach our children about their Cuban heritage.

Easier said than done, as I now understand the challenge of cooking healthy foods that kids will eat while not spending all my time in the kitchen. Cuban meals are often heavy on the starch and are fried. But, there is another lighter side to Cuban cuisine that pairs common ingredients in an unusual way and results in tasty and somewhat exotic fare. Here is one my family’s favorites, Picadillo (pronounced pick-a-dee-yoh). I promise a healthy and delicious meal in 15 minutes!

3 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/2 large bell pepper, diced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp. dried oregano
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 C. dried cherries or golden raisins (raisins are traditional)
15 large olives drained and sliced
2 tbsp. fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a skillet and sauté onions and peppers 'til somewhat soft (about 2 minutes). Add ground beef and continue to cook until almost completely browned (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and oregano and heat 2 more minutes. Add remaining ingredients except cilantro, reduce heat to simmer to allow flavors to blend (5-7 minutes), top with fresh cilantro before serving.

To round out this meal I cook brown Minute Rice while the peppers and onions are sautéing and I also serve with peas and corn on the side (although once served it is traditionally all mixed together). I use frozen peas and corn and the whole thing comes together in 15 minutes!

More About Katherine Matutues

Friday, October 21

T-minus 1 Day and Counting…

by Lisa Freeman

It’s hard to believe there is only 1 day until the 13th annual Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts kicks off. Most people have no idea how much preparation and planning go into this event. As I continue to make lists in the middle of the night and lists during the daytime, thought you might enjoy a behind-the-scenes peek, so step right in…

Eight months before we sell the first ticket or book, we generate our very first list. Our festival committee, a group of extremely dedicated volunteers, reviews approximately 200 authors and book titles sent to us from the Jewish Book Network. With list in hand, Larry Rothenberg, Director of Arts and Education, and I travel to NYC in late May to attend the Jewish Book Network fair where we spend a very intense 3+ days. We meet with colleagues, but most of our time is spent listening to the 200 authors give a 2-minute presentation about their work. Imagine boiling down all those months of writing and editing to a 2-minute “make it or break it” presentation. Our hearts go out to all of those earnest authors.

We generate our next list shortly after we return from “the Big Apple” and meet with our committee. Together we whittle down the long list of authors to those we wish to invite to our book festival. By mid-July, we know which authors accepted our invitations and then the list-making really takes off. From travel details for our guest authors, to raising sponsorship money to be able to present the fine programs we do, to choosing and ordering books for the book sale, to targeting partners for individual author events, the lists are never-ending.

The Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts is truly a labor of love. We look forward to welcoming all of you at our author, performance and film events as we kick off the festival this Saturday, October 22, at 7 pm and Sunday, October 23 at 3 pm with the “the prince of Kosher Gospel,” Joshua Nelson. Don’t miss this weekend’s performance – you’ll be hearing about how Joshua rocked Laikin on Monday morning!

I hope to see you soon at the festival.

More About Lisa Freeman

Tuesday, October 18

The Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts

by Larry Rothenberg

I gotta do it. How can I not write about the 13th Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts? After working almost all year on one big blowout–heart, soul, brain–of course I must tell you about it. It is right around the corner: October 22–November 19.

Something for everyone...LITERALLY!
Reading and ordering books, meeting authors, arranging art displays, working with performers...those are just some of what Lisa Freeman and I have been doing for months. All to create the greatest Ann Katz Festival of Books and Arts...ever. For you.

We kick off October 22 and 23 with an extravaganza–Joshua Nelson–the Prince of Kosher Gospel. There has never been such an uplifting, finger-snapping, jump-out-of-your-seats show like this at the JCC. And we do not slow down. 

Discussions with 8 authors, a full Day of Wellness, two full-length films, award-winning shorts from the Heartland Film Festival and an intriguing art show in partnership with the Herron School of Art and Design.

Be part of it! I am positive there is something there for you. Lots of somethings. We’ll be here. How about you?

I hope I have whetted your appetite. To find out more, check us out at http://www.jccindy.org/JCC_Festival_of_Books_and_Arts.aspxThen, please register for our outstanding offerings.

More About Larry Rothenberg

Tuesday, October 11

My Journey from 200 lbs Back to 150 lbs

by Craig Ervin
Four months ago something quite tragic happened in my life. 
I turned 30.
Yes, 30. That’s the age when everything starts to break down, right? Since turning 30 I’ve fallen down stairs (while on my 30th birthday vacation in Australia!) and damaged my ankle to the point that I cannot run distance. I’ve been diagnosed with Barrett’s esophagus due to an increasing issue with GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease) aaaaaaand, I’ve hit the big 200 lbs on the scale. Admittedly, I’ve played my own pity party. However, boo hoo time is over and I’m ready to get things back on track.
I am committing to losing the 50 lbs I’ve gained in the past 18 months. Losing the weight will directly affect my GERD issue and my ankle. I’ll also be able to fit into most of my clothes again! It’s not easy being a 5’6” gent with a size 38 waist!
When I started working in the JCC accounting office in 2007, I was out of shape and an uncomfortable 190 lbs. It took me almost a year of employment before I finally ventured down to the Mordoh Fitness Center. It’s the best thing I ever did for myself! (2nd best would be the day the fitness staff introduced me to the stair master!) I started working out with a personal trainer and found myself 50 lbs down in a matter of 8 months. So with that being said…
Let it now be declared from atop the highest stair master; Craig Ervin will be back to 150 lbs by June 2012. You are invited to follow my journey and perhaps embark on your own.
How will I accomplish my goal? Eating smart (no fad diets), working my butt off and relying on YOU! Having the support and dialogue of fellow gym-goers is priceless. Over the next 8 months, I’ll update everyone through the JCC Banter Blog as to how I’m progressing, but don’t wait until my next post to hear how I’m doing–come down to the Mordoh Fitness Center and see firsthand! Better yet, how about attending a BOOTCAMP session with me? BOOTCAMP returns this month beginning October 15th–I’m ready for it!
Here’s to the journey and the new friends to be made along the way!

More About Craig Ervin

Tuesday, October 4

Then and Now: Some Thoughts about the Environment

by Bruce Sklare

I’ve been doing some thinking lately. Do you remember the 1973 Arab Oil Boycott and the long lines at gas stations and the inflated gas prices? How did we–the collective we–respond to the “crisis” back then? I recall three ways. We:

 1) Reduced our use of energy.

2) Became more energy self-sufficient.
    (Including using renewable energy sources.)

3) Adopted a simpler lifestyle in order to use less fossil fuels
    and became better stewards of the resources we have.

It was shortly after the Oil Boycott that Buckminister Fuller coined the term “Spaceship Earth” to underscore the fact that we are all traveling together on our planet and that our cumulative actions impact our environment.

A few years after the Oil Boycott ended and the cost of fuel dropped, most people returned to their previous habits and lost interest in the ideas of sustainability, environmental awareness, and reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. So much for Spaceship Earth.

Today we see a resurgence of the values that were prevalent during the Arab Oil Crisis. Are we any more committed today than we were in the 1970s and early 80s to preserving our natural environment? I have been wondering how we can take what we learned then and apply it to the situation we’re in now. How can we promote interest in preserving our Spaceship Earth when oil prices stabilize and the economic crisis settles down?

One way is through education. Another is through recognizing and experiencing  the beauty of the natural world around us. That’s what the national Earth Day celebration is all about.

I invite you to join in the JCC’s celebration of Earth Day on Sunday, April 22, 2012. If you would like to volunteer to help us plan this campus-wide event to explore the great outdoors contact me at brsklare@JCCindy.org. I look forward to hearing from you!

Tuesday, September 27

What Do You See?

by Freddie Kelvin

That doyen of American landscape photographyAnsel Adamsonce said: "A photograph is usually looked atseldom looked into." Of course, images of people tend to provoke more questions than those of nature-especially if the viewer is unaware of the context. Here are several photos from recent trips to Israel. I'll tell you what thoughts they arouse in me. What springs into your minds will likely not bear any similarity. Vive la difference!

(Fig. 1 Safed.)
(Fig. 1 Safed.) An Ultra-orthodox Jew walks past an ultramodern shop selling fine art Judaica. Does he approve of this commercialization of his proudly held heritage, or is he disgusted by such an unholy alliance of old and new? The winding lanes of the artists' quarter in Safed are filled with such shops, which seem to be the main tourist attraction. Meanwhile, the venerable synagogues have fallen into variable states of disrepair. A sad state of affairs.

(Fig. 2 Umm El Fahm.) 
(Fig. 2 Umm El Fahm.)  A young Arab girl readily poses for a photograph in Umm El Fahmm, a city of 43,000, nearly all of whose inhabitants are Arab citizens of Israel. This city is often described as a hotbed of Palestinian nationalism. We are a group of American Jews on a Jewish Agency excursion. What does the girl think of our intrusion into her world? Is she being paid to be photographed in order to promote co-operation between Arabs and Jews? I should confess we felt slightly nervous in this city!

(Fig. 3 Jerusalem.)
(Fig. 3 Jerusalem.) An old lady in the soup kitchen of Hazon Yeshaya in Jerusalem. Every time I look at this haunting image, I ask myself why she has stopped eating. Was she too depressed or feeble, or was she lost in a multitude of far-away thoughts? She spoke to no-one, and no-one spoke to her. Close-by, in the nearby dining room, others in hunger clawed at the trays of food being handed out. I doubt the old lady was even aware of the commotion.

(Fig. 4 Sde Boker.)
(Fig. 4 Sde Boker.) An Israeli army induction ceremony takes place in Sde Boker, just in front of the tombstones of David Ben Gurion and his wife, Paula. The high location overlooks desert hills in the far distance. During this solemn occasion, each soldier receives his or her rifle as well as a copy of the Bible. With these at their side, they will defend their country and its right to exist. As I watched, I was almost in tears... for these were innocent kids, forced into a risk-filled, precocious maturity.

As a tourist, one rarely has enough time to reflect before being whisked off to the next site or attraction. Nowhere is this more true than in Israel, where so much is crowded into such a precariously small area. Everywhere you go, you will find unforgettable sights and a warmth that will resonate deeply. But, remember to take your camera, even if only a point and shoot or an iPhone. Some of the pictures you take, whatever your skill level, will capture those fleeting moments destined to become indelible memories.
More About Freddie Kelvin

Friday, September 23

Kids Say/Do The Darndest Things!

Today’s blog introduces you to another one of our wonderful JCC families enrolled in our Early Childhood Education program.
  Erin and Kevin Trisler

Proud parents of:
  Georgia Trisler, Age 7 and Grant Trisler, Age 3

JCC: How long have you been a JCC member?
  Erin: Since 2004-ish...pre-kids.

 JCC: Have you had other children in ECE?
  Erin: Yes, Georgia, who is now in
  the 2nd grade. She enjoyed her
  time in the ECE hall from age 1
  to 5. More recently, in JCC summer
  camp she and her friends loved to
  find the "Muffinhead" brick on the
  walkway outside leading up to the
  east entrance and hop on it for fun! 

JCC: Would you share with us a brief
heartwarming story about the JCC?

  Erin: Grant has become quite the gentleman as he loves to hold all the
  doors for us as he's entering the JCC
for pre-school in the morning. And
  when we pick him up in the afternoon, Kevin and I agree this is one of
  the best moments of our day when he spies us walking into his room
  or onto the playground to pick him up...he drops everything and sprints
  to us with a great big smile...a clear sign he's had a fun day (but still
  missed us enough to greet us in such a magical way).

JCC: What is the funniest thing your child has done?
  Erin: On the way to many places from our home, we pass multiple ponds
  and in or near those ponds are, of course, 
geese. We were trying to be
  creative and educational at the same time by telling Grant "Look, buddy,
  one goose, two geese!" as he was in the
earlier stages of learning animal
  names, etc. Now, he sees a gaggle of geese and simply says "One goose,
  two geese!" He thinks this whole phrase is their official name!

 JCC: What is the funniest thing your child has said?
  Erin: Just after Grant transitioned in June to a new room and thus the
  "big playground," we asked him at home what he did at school that day.
  He exclaimed, "Today, I played on the TATER-totter!"  We never had
  the heart or desire to correct him. This video validates the quote!

JCC: Who is your child's favorite movie star/superhero//personality?
  Erin: It's a toss-up between Mufasa, Simba, Lightening McQueen or
  Rowdy at Victory Field....it all depends on the day. 

Tuesday, September 20


by Susan Gabovitch

You finally find the courage to leave an abusive marriage. You are broken. You have no self-confidence and when you look in the mirror, all you can see is a 220-pound woman who is on unemployment. You are pre-diabetic, on blood pressure medicine and your knees hurt. With money still owed on a student loan and no job, you have to move back home with your parents. Just imagine.

JCC member Victoria Connors doesn’t  have to imagine. She lived this life just two years ago. Instead of this being the end of the road for Victoria, it was the beginning of her new healthier and happier life.

Victoria’s mom, Carolyn Connors, a JCC member, decided to give her daughter the gift of good health, good nutrition and self-esteem. She bought Victoria a membership to the JCC. Victoria began coming to the JCC every day to swim for an hour. The weight began to come off. At home her mom was teaching her how to cook properly and to make healthy food choices. The more pounds she lost, the more confidence she gained.

Then Victoria heard about Spinning. With her new-found confidence, she jumped into a class. That’s when the weight really came off. That was how it all started. It has been two years now and Victoria has lost 100 pounds. She is off her blood pressure medicine, is no longer pre-diabetic and her knees are feeling much better. Imagine that.

Until next time…
More About Susan Gabovitch

Thursday, September 15

Practicing Deliberate Stillness

by Katherine Matutues

Ten years ago I started practicing yoga to reclaim some of the strength and flexibility that I had lost during a pregnancy that demanded 4 months of bed-rest. As with many yoga practitioners, I got involved for the stretch and physical challenge of yoga but I stayed with it for the immense sense of well-being and calm that accompanied my practice. At the end of most yoga classes there is a restful period called "shivasana" or final relaxation. Most classes reserve 10-15 minutes to allow the practitioner to enhance their mind-body connection while trying to keep the mind focused on stillness.

Turns out keeping your mind quiet is not an easy task, but the benefits are immense. Conscious relaxation is a type of meditation, which is now being studied for its vast array of health benefits including altering metabolism, blood pressure, reducing the effects of stress, reducing pain and increasing one’s overall sense of happiness and well-being. When I leave a class I notice my whole body is calmer and more relaxed. My shoulders are not hunched up by my ears, my jaw is not clenched, my mind is quiet and there is softness on my brow. The physical changes translate into behavioral ones as I find greater depths of patience and humor in dealing with my busy life as a working mother of two.

I became so enamored with the transformation that I became a certified instructor myself, in part to expand my own knowledge, but also to be able to share this powerful wellness technique with others. My favorite yoga class at present is Restorative Yoga for Stress Relief, which holds poses for 7-10 minutes using props to aid in tension release and avoids engaging muscles. The best part of the class is the restful stillness in my mind followed by the complete and utter relaxation in my body. Join me on Saturdays 9-10:30 in the Pescovitz Dance studio.  

Drop in:  $15 public /$12 JCC member.

More About Katherine Matutues

Tuesday, September 13

Wassup with All this Great Music?

by Larry Rothenberg

Who would have thought that we would be able to offer the performances that are coming this Autumn? I certainly would not have seen it coming a year ago, but here we have it. Some of the best music you will find in the world! This is what we do and we love it! We sure hope you will too.

September 20: Yuval Ron Ensemble
  This internationally known group of musicians from the Middle East bring their
  eclectic musical traditions and message of peace and understanding.

October 22 and 23: Joshua Nelson “The Prince of Kosher Gospel”
  THIS IS BIG! The black Jewish Hebrew teacher from New Jersey who mixes his
  Jewish heritage with amazing gospel. Joshua and his 5 person gospel group
  will join us. Seriously, you do not want to miss this. 


The Elegant Partnership: A JCC Series at the Center for the
Performing Arts at the Palladium
Only the JCC has a partnership with the Center for the Performing Arts. Order
  at the JCC and receive
    • discount pricing
    • no handling charges
    • preferred seating

September 24: Jazz at Lincoln Center with Wynton Marsallis
  Arguably the most famous jazz musician alive and deservedly so.

October 12: Compania Flamenca Jose Porcel
  One of the premier dance ensembles in the world today.
  Exciting and colorful.

Support the arts at the JCC, because the arts are here for you.

More About Larry Rothenberg