Parashat Va-etchanan (Deut. 3:23-7:11)

“Or what great nation has laws and rules as perfect as all this Torah is set before you this day?” (Deuteronomy 4:8) Parashat Va-etchanan opens with Moses recounting his pleading (Va-etchanan) with God to enter the land of Canaan. God stands firm, but allows Moses to climb up the mountainside to see the land once […]

Parashat D’varim (Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22)

“You shall not be partial in judgement: hear out low and high alike…” (Deuteronomy 1:17) “…The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” is arguably one of the most famous phrases of 20th century rhetoric (from Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first inaugural address on March 4, 1933). It is recognized instantly by any American […]

You’ll Find It at the JCC (and the YMCA)


The front window of the JCC Israel Center on Moshe Hess Street in Jerusalem frames the tower of the YMCA on King David Street perfectly. When Jewish communal visionaries in the 1970s determined to purchase the picturesque building of Jerusalem stone that serves as the JCC Movement’s gateway to Israel – and the home for Innovation Lab: Jerusalem – I wonder if they thought of the poetry of placing it face-to-face with the YMCA’s majestic flagship building in the Holy Land. It would only make sense if they had. After all, JCCs and YMCAs have been intertwined in North American history for the better part of 150 years.

JCC Storytelling


How JCCs use the new brand to tell their tale When JCC Association rolled out new branding at the 2014 JCCs of North America Biennial Convention in San Diego, we had created the foundations, but JCCs needed to make it their own. We understood that JCCs had evolved, and so too, must the brand. Today’s […]

Parashat Mattot-Masei (Numbers 30:32-36:13)

“Instruct the Israelite people and say to them: when you enter the land of Canaan, this is the land that shall fall to you as your portion…” (Numbers 34:2) Chalutzim is the word we use to describe the early Zionist pioneers who drain the swamps, build the roads, and establish kibbutzim, or collective communities in […]

The language of art


We are in the midst of the period between the 17th of the Hebrew month of Tamuz and the Ninth of Av (July 5 –26 of this year) when the Jewish world mourns the destruction of the first and second Temples, both symbols of Jewish sovereignty that was lost for 2,000 years. Both Temples were […]

Parashat Pinchas (Numbers 25:10-30:1)

“Say, therefore, ‘I grant him My pact of friendship.” (Numbers 25:12) Parashat Pinchas includes the fourth instance in the Torah of Moses turning to God for a legal ruling. The question is whether Tz’lafchad’s five daughters can inherit his portion in Canaan, since he has no sons. God says and changes the law yes (If […]

Community and Transcendence: Grateful They Are Not Dead

©Jay Blakesberg

Community, tradition, and transcendence: JCCs don’t look much like Dead shows – though anyone who needed a miracle could count on finding a cluster of JCC leaders and a gaggle of members at the Santa Clara and Chicago shows. But as any Deadhead can tell you – as they lived as both Deadheads and teachers, lawyers, brokers, activists, writers and artists, homemakers, dropouts, or JCCers – looks can be deceiving. In its way, the Dead carried values that any JCC would do well to cultivate in service to its members and neighborhoods and towns.

Teens connect to Israel, their past, and their future in ARTEL


By Jonathan Fass In May, the first cohort of the ARTEL Teen Fellowship met for a shabbaton. This group of 21 Russian-speaking teens from Marks JCH spent that time exploring the intersection of their Russian and Jewish identities and their connection to the Jewish homeland. Central to the weekend was a hands-on project where teens […]

Parashat Balak (Numbers 22:2-25:9)

“And the children of Israel set forward, and camped in the plains of Moab on the side of Jordan by Jericho.” (Num. 22:1) Everybody loves Parashat Balak. It’s got a bad guy (Balak, the Moabite King), high stakes (Balak hires Balaam, the local soothsayer to curse the Israelites), high drama (God keeps putting different words […]

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