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These Rat Packers are JCC lifers—and friends


Third place in JCC Association’s “Tell Your JCC Story Contest,” goes to the “Rat Pack” at the JCC of Greater Baltimore. It speaks to why people have always connected to the JCC, to work out, to connect, to find community, and even make lifelong friends. The JCC can do all that and more, and we love how the working out together was simply the entry point for so much more.

Read our first and second place winners, which ran in previous issues of JCC Circle Monthly. And be sure to send us your story—we’re collecting them through our centennial year and will be featuring them in different ways throughout.

Let us know how the JCC made a difference in your life by submitting your story here, or contacting our editor.

When folks around the J talk about the Rat Pack, it’s a safe bet they’re not talking about Sinatra, Martin and Davis. More likely, they’re referencing the JCC’s own Rat Pack, 15 men, from their 50s to 80s, who have been exercising together for over 20 years.

“The first rule of the group is that there are no rules,” says Robert Gerstein, a founding member. “It’s casual, everyone enjoys themselves.”

But don’t let the relaxed vibe fool you. Rat Pack members are committed to their Monday, Wednesday and Friday workouts. “Working out together makes the time go quicker,” Robert points out. “There are jokes, and conversation. We share news about our families. When someone is injured, we visit him.”

“The camaraderie is wonderful,” says Arnie Honkofsky. “It’s a huge part of my retirement.”

Neither “Ratpacker” can imagine meeting anywhere but the J. “It’s heimish (comfortable or homey), you know?” says Robert. “You feel like you’re home.”

Design and photo direction by Judy Oser, creative director, JCC of Greater Baltimore; copywriting by Billy Treger, content and communications manager.

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