Blog

Shabbat Shmoozings: A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far, Far Away….

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…. A group of children began their J-Care Performing Arts Club class in order to learn some theatre skills and prepare a performance for their families and friends.  They worked so hard. There were challenges they had to overcome along the way… …but they put up… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Gematria, Art and the Aleph Bet

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

The Hebrew alpeh bet (alphabet) is surprisingly similar to the Greek alphabet, as the names are not far off from each other (alpha, beta, gamma, delta, etc)  although their appearances are quite different. The names not only sound very much alike, but the Hebrew aleph bet also adopted the ancient tradition of gematria, an Assyro-Babylonian-Greek… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Jewish Lessons Inspired By Thanksgiving

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Each morning there is an opportunity for Jews to rise with the Modeh Ani prayer.  This prayer instructs the participant to say “I give thanks” and to thank G-d for all the blessings in their lives. There are other opportunities, too, for Jews to show gratitude each and every day such as with the blessings before and… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: And They Shall Beat Their Swords

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The Jewish Chaplains Council has estimated that there are over 10,000 Jewish service men and women currently in active duty.  They have served in the United States military dating all the way back to the time of Christopher Columbus, and more than 20 American Jewish service men have received the military’s highest honor, the Medal… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Israel Virtual Ride

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  The Israel countryside is flourishing with plants from its very Northern tip to its Southern most regions.  Everything from carob trees to olives and almonds and to wheat and barley – Israel is known for its bountiful and beautiful land. From November 13th – 17th, you can get a good first-hand look at Israel… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Mystery of Captain Katz

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There have been a lot of blog posts devoted to the Shay Shay Garden at the Tucson J over the last several months, and it is no wonder why.  The garden is simply a magical place.  As you walk through the gates, there are bright colors and grasshoppers and the smell of fresh Earth all… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Celebrating Sukkot in Shanghai

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It has become a tradition that PJ Library of Southern AZ and The Tucson J have collaborated on their annual Sukkot event in a very thematic way. There was the “Shake It Up Baby” year when the event became a groovy love fest of shalom bayit. (peace in the home) Then our friends at Gabriel’s Angels joined… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: 5 Ways to Inspire Reflection on Shabbat Shuva

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During the 10 days of awe that falls between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur, there is one Shabbat that is considered to be a critical moment of self reflection.  Shabbat Shuva or “The Shabbath of Return” is also a play on words.  Shuva sounds very similar to the word teshuvah or repentance, a very important action that we… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: 5 Honey Recipes for a Sweet New Year

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Honey is a sticky and sweet condiment used for Rosh Hashanah as a reminder for a sweet new year.  We are used to dipping apples in honey as the traditional holiday snack, but there are so many varieties of ways to enjoy this delicious and natural concoction.  Apple dipping aside, below are 5 of our… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Jewish Year Explained Through Seed Tape

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“How does a seed grow,” a teacher asked her students eagerly waiting to create “seed tape,” a new gardening trick for the group. A hand shot up.  “You put the seed in the dirt, water it and let the sun warm it up.  The sprout grows towards the sun, and it grows into a plant.”… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: An Apple a Day

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Apples are an interesting fruit in Judaism.  We all know the story of Adam and Eve and the forbidden fruit.  That tempting fruit wasn’t a kiwi or a cantaloupe, however, it was quite intentionally an apple.  It is said in the Torah that the Garden of Eden was fragrant with the smell of an apple… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: What Makes Community

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The Talmud says: “A talmid haham (Torah scholar) is not allowed to live in a city that does not have these 10 things: abeit din (law court) that metes out punishments; a tzedakah fund that is collected by two people and distributed by three; a synagogue; a bath house; a bathroom; a doctor; a craftsperson;… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Hiddur Mitzvah Flowers For Shabbat

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It is a commandment in the Torah to beautify a mitzvah in order to make it as special as you possibly can.  This commandment is called hiddur mitzvah  or the enhancement of a commandment, and for Shabbat, there are many ways that hiddur mitzvah is practiced.  The candlesticks, kiddush cups and challah cover add aesthetics… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Introducing the J-Care Garden Club

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  This past Spring, the Shay Shay Garden, a beautiful community garden built in collaboration with the Community Gardens of Tucson, officially opened at the Tucson J.  The Early Childhood Education Department, Special Need Services and the J-Care after school program all have designated garden plots in order to allow their participants the opportunity to… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Our Top 10 Protein-Packed Back to School Dairy Lunch Options

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

If you are a parent of a child who attends a Jewish school, chances are you adhere to a Kosher or a Kosher style dairy lunch policy.  In modern times, some schools have even passed a “no peanut” policy due to the rise of peanut allergies among children only adding to the already limited food… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Preparing for the School Year

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A new school year has officially begun.  Children are getting to know their teachers and new classmates and are getting used to their new day to day schedules.  It is a time for exploration and sharing and Shehcheyanu (a prayer to celebrate new beginnings) moments as the school year takes flight. In the Tucson J Early… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: As One Door Closes…

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

  Today is a significant day.  It is a day that has been dangling at arm’s reach for 10 weeks.  We knew that it was coming, but now that it’s here, its reality is abrupt.  The last day of summer camp is a time for goodbyes, tears, slide shows and closing circles.  It is a… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Tzedakahpalooza Goes Green

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It has been an exciting week at the Tucson J.  If you walk through the hallways, you might see children and staff dressed in a rainbow of colors cheering  with boundless energy and raucous intention.  Their undying ruach (spirit) is contagious, and you can’t help but be sucked into their joy as you witness the scenes of Maccabiah,… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Camp J’s Got Talent 2016

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The Camp J Talent Show is a beloved tradition, and every year proves to be better than last.  The anticipation of performing is thick, and it’s tension is so solid you could almost cut it with a knife. As each performer takes the stage, however, you can see their nervous jitters pushed aside, and by… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Generations of Tucson J Leadership

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Sixty years ago, the Tucson J’s first board president, Harry Bacal, would have never dreamed that his great grandson would be spending his 4th summer at Camp J in a leadership position. Leadership, however, for Nathan Bacal, the Camp J Sababa Unit Head, is practically a family business that has been passed down from generation… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: An 11th Commandment

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This past month, the Harold Grinspoon Voices and Visions art gallery display at the Tucson J prompted its viewers to allow artwork and Jewish quotes to inspire them to write an 11th commandment to the Torah in honor of the Jewish holiday Shavuot.  (CLICK HERE to read more about the display.) There was a prayer… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor

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With July 4th turning this weekend into 3 days instead of two, there are celebrations aplenty throughout the country this weekend.  For the American Jewish population, we have two Independence days to celebrate during the year – one for the state of Israel (Yom Haaztmaut) and one for our beloved America. Israel opens its doors… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Todah Camp Donors!

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

As we are wrapping up our 4th week of Camp J, we are also coming to the end of our annual camp scholarship appeal.  It is important that we thank our camp donors, as we are humbled with the amount of generosity that was shown to this very special community.  This year, there was more… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Israel’s National Drink, The Limonana

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

  Living in the desert during the summer can be a little unbearable.  The heat is extreme, and most desert dwellers opt to stay in doors during the most intense temperatures.  Tucsonans work hard to try to stay cool, and there is nothing quite like a cool refreshing drink as we try to hydrate throughout… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Shehechiyanu

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    In the Jewish tradition, there is a blessing that is recited each time we experience something for the first time.  The Shehechiyanu is a prayer of thanks and praise for G-d for giving us these special moments, and this past week has been an accumulation of one Shehechiyanu moment after another. The most prominent of our… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Summer Reading “Goes For the Gold!”

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For the third summer in a row, The Tucson J and PJ Library of Southern Arizona are combining forces once again to bring a summer reading program to Camp J.  What makes this summer reading program different from the ones at your local public library is that this program, “Go for the Gold:  Read Your… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Voices and Visions

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

In 2012, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation released its first series of Voices and Visions posters, which is described by the organization as “a collection of 18 images in which the series pairs leading figures of contemporary art and design with powerful quotes from Jewish thinkers across the ages. Originally offered as a limited release, the Masters Series took off and… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Magic Bet Etz

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

  One of Merriam Webster’s simple definitions of the word “magic” is “special power, influence or skill.”  Not only does this definition perfectly describe the content of this season’s J-Care Performing Arts club’s production of “The Magic Bet Etz,” a Jewish spin on Mary Pope Osborne’s “Magic Tree House” book series, but the definition also… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Remembrance and Celebration

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With Yom HaShoah (Holocaust memorial Day) now behind us and Yom Hazikaron (Israel’s memorial Day for fallen soldiers) coming up in this week ahead, one might think of this as the most dismal time on the Jewish calendar.  In fact, it really is not.   Remembering is a way to honor a memory.  It is a way… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: A Guide to Matzah

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The Passover holiday begins this evening at sundown, and for the next 8 days, we observe the dietary laws that the Torah commands us to during the holiday.  There is plenty of chametz (forbidden foods) for us to rid our homes of, and consequently, we must also stock our homes with food that is Kosher for Passover…. Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Passover Story Walk

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For the first time ever, the Early Childhood Education (ECE) children were treated to hearing the story of Passover in a very unique and special way this past week.  In years past, the preschoolers would pile into the J’s ballroom and watch a stage production of the story dramatized by staff.  They would eat chocolate… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Getting Back to Our Roots in the Garden

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In the hour when the Holy one, blessed be He, created the first person, He showed him the trees in the Garden of Eden, and said to him: “See My works, how fine they are; Now all that I have created, I created for your benefit. Think upon this and do not corrupt and destroy… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Science Sunday

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With Passover just around the corner, there are scores of Jewish children across the globe practicing their Mah Nishtanah (Why is the night different?) questions.  G-d was so practical when planning out and implementing the practices of a Passover Seder, as G-d knew that if the children were engaged and asked questions about the holiday, then everyone… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Purim Fun at the J

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The annual Purim celebrations at the Tucson J have become an adored tradition filled with all the joy and fun that the Purim holiday should embody.  The excitement blooms from the minute each child walks into the doors dressed in their costumes anticipating the parade and happy celebrations ahead.  There are Hamantaschen on sale at… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Savory Hamantaschen

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  Poppy seed, prune, a variety of jams and chocolate.  These are the flavors that first come to mind when thinking about hamantaschen, the traditional Purim treat which mimics the evil Haman’s hat in the form of a cookie.  Spend one afternoon on Facebook, however, and you possibly might encounter a barrage of hamantaschen that… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Musical Purim

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Purim, the most joyful holiday on the Jewish calendar, is almost here.  Children and grownups alike look forward to the holiday that tells the story of Queen Esther, the female Jewish hero who saved the Jews of Shushan from the evil Haman.  There are costumes and cookies (Hamantaschen) and noisemakers called groggers.  There are kings… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Yom Huledet Sameach

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In ancient Biblical times, it was suggested that Jews viewed birthdays as a gloomy reminder that they were one step closer to the end of their lives.  That said, even though the Torah only mentions birthdays once, there was a festive meal served. “And it came to pass on the third day, which was Pharaoh’s… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Crock Pot Shabbat

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A beautifully prepared Shabbat dinner for a working person can sometimes seem like an unfulfilled and completely unrealistic fantasy.  How is it possible to be able to participate in a traditional Friday evening brisket or chicken when you don’t get off work until 5pm or even later? Lo and behold, Shabbat dinner is within your… Read more »

Down to the Home Stretch

Hey Gang!!!!! We are coming down to the final weeks of the first round of JXT. I know we have had some bumps and hurdles along the way, However we are getting better! What I’d like to encourage each of you is to Stay the path and stay strong. 8 weeks is a short time… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: A Grand Reopening

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

This Sunday, a long anticipated event for the Tucson Jewish community is finally coming to fruition and history will be made.  History is always at the core of the Jewish History Museum and the Holocaust History Center, and this unique and education driven museum will open its doors for the first time for the community… Read more »

2 tips to better health and Nutrition

There is a lot of information and opinions out there on when and what to eat. Over the next several posts I’ll be exploring tips to give you an advantage to making better decisions in the kitchen 1.Don’t drink Sugar Calories the Brain doesn’t process liquid calories the same as it does solid foods and… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: It’s Time for Adar

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With a new moon gracing our skies this past week, it was time for Rosh Chodesh (the “head of the month”) and with it came the Hebrew month Adar.  On any given year, the entrance of Adar is synonymous with the Jewish holiday, Purim, and all the silly fanfare that comes along with it. This year, however,… Read more »

Halfway there, no turning back now!

Hello all, I cant’ believe we have hit the halfway point of our 8 week adventure! Kudos and much respect to all of you, (TEAM 1,2,3). Team 1 starts there week 5 tonight and teams 2/3 start week 5 next week. I am very impressed with the ability and the amount of work all of… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Four Chaplains

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Over 70 years ago, on February 3, 1943, four U.S. military army chaplains lost their lives at sea as their ship, the U.S. Army Transport Dorchester, sank into the water. As the ship went under, Methodist minister, Rev. George L. Fox, Rabbi Alexander D. Goode of the Reform Jewish movement, Roman Catholic priest, Rev. John P. Washington and Reformed Church in America minister, Rev. Clark V. Poling,… Read more »

Should I do more, will I get in better shape?

Often I hear people discuss how much they workout and hard they train. I’m usually left with asking myself “why?” “what for?”. What I’d like to advise to all is understanding what working out really is and it’s purpose. Most people think that the more they do and the harder they work the better in… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Room for Failure

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

As Shabbat falls upon us this weekend and the Torah is pulled from the ark, perhaps arguably  the greatest Jewish historical moment ever is retold in synagogues all throughout the world.  Parshat Yitro is the Torah portion where Moses receives the 10 Commandments atop of Mt. Sinai.  It all sounds so simple.  Moses receives G-d’s… Read more »

JXT Small Group Training

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    From Brandon Wagner the Tucson J’s head coach for JXT: JXT is off and running, with 20 athletes committed to make a change and four coaches guiding them along the way. What can I say for my first post. Let me start with an applause to all that have stepped up and forward to make… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: A Menu To Eat Your Way Through the Seven Species

Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the new year of the trees, arrives on Sunday evening, and it is traditional to eat foods that represent the seven species of fruits and grains that commonly grow in the land of Israel.  The seven species are: Wheat – ChitaBarley – Se’orahGrapes  – Anavim Fig – Te’enahPomegranates… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Rock in the Red Zone

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Just 26 minutes (27.5 km) south of Hof Ashkelon, one of Tucson’s partnership region communities, lies the city of Sderot.  Sderot was once known as a rock ‘n roll town that nurtured young talent and was a hub for Israel’s music scene.  Today, it is known as the most rocketed city in Israel sitting just… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Holiday Hebrew

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Tu B’Shevat, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the new year of the trees, falls on January 31st this year.  As the holiday is approaching, we are reminded to appreciate and take care of our environment and how trees add so much to the ecosystem and to the quality of our everyday lives. To honor the… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: A New Year’s Shabbat

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  After watching the ball drop at midnight (or 10 pm for the early Tucson set) and spending New Year’s Day watching football and the Rose Bowl Parade, how does one approach Shabbat after 24 hours of whirlwind activity? Shabbat, in essence, is a time of rest, and with New Year’s resolutions crafted and in… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Avi Sandler and the Terrible No Good Meshuganah Oy Vey Day

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

On Monday evening, the J-Care Performing Arts Club put on a stellar performance of a production they had been working on since October entitled “Avi Sandler and the Terrible No Meshuganah Oy Vey Day.”  The story was an original Jewish twist on the children’s book (and movie) “Alexander and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: 5 Ways To Add Even More Fun To Hanukkah

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  Hanukkah is an adored holiday, and Jewish families from all around the world add their own uniqueness to the typical flare.  There is dreidel spinning and latke frying and candle lighting, and of course, presents. Today’s Shabbat Shmoozings blog post is designed to give you some additional out-of-the-box activities to make Hanukkah even more… Read more »

Giving Thanks

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

It isn’t particularly on trend, but my favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. There are no gifts. The biggest stress is whether I’ll be making pecan or pumpkin pie and exactly how and when will I squeeze in a little run during this day long feast. I adore sitting around the extended-by-folding-banquet-tables dinner table and seeing the… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: How To Make a Paper Plate Hanukkiah

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Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins this Sunday evening, and so often children in Jewish schools come home with a wide variety of hand-made Hanukkah menorahs also known as Hannukiahs.  Many Jewish homes have a collection of these do-it-yourself candelabras, and each year, there seems to be a newly thought up version of the old-time… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: #OptOutside With a Jewish Lens

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The national retail chain, REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) announced last month that it would be closing all of its 143 stores on Black Friday and paying its 12,000 employees despite the day off in order for them to honor the Thanksgiving holiday and to follow the mission of the outdoor recreational stores by spending the… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Taglit’s Barnes and Nobel Book Fair

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Today we’re wishing a big hol hakavod (way to go!!!) to the Taglit, adult with special needs department.  All week long, they have participated in a book fair at Barnes and Nobel.  Not only did they organize and facilitate this very special holiday fundraiser that raised money for their program, but they set up shop in… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: How to Make a Shabbat Dinner From Thanksgiving Leftovers

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Thanksgiving is the most beautiful holiday…one that focuses on family and friends and the love and gratitude that we feel for them.  Of course, the holiday also focuses on an elaborate meal made with great care and recipes that are cherished and passed on from generation to generation. What is sometimes overlooked, however, is that… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Thank You, Stars!

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

  One of the mitzvot (commandments) in the Torah is to practice the Jewish value hakarat hatov (recognizing the good).  As Thanksgiving is fast approaching, it is a great reminder for all faiths to recognize the good and to take stock of priorities in all areas of life. The J, too, often stops to recognize the good of our members,… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Happy Aftermath of the Mega Challah Bake

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

  It’s hard to believe that an entire week has gone by since the amazing Mega Challah bake co-sponsored by the Tucson J and Chabad Tucson.  What a wonderful event it was  – rich with tradition and equally rich with community. Over 250 women and girls gathered, and together, we simultaneously mixed, kneaded and braided,… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: A Visit to the Lawrence Family JCC

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My family and I went on a vacation to San Diego this past week.  We enjoyed many of the attractions and activities that San Diego has to offer, but one of the highlights of our trip was a visit to the Lawrence Family JCC in La Jolla. The Tucson J’s Director of Children, Youth and… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Noah’s Ark and the Ethical Treatment of Animals

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

This Shabbat, the Torah tells us the story of Noah’s Ark, and not only is it a recreation of the world in G-d’s effort to preserve peace and kindness on Earth, but this story also indicates the importance that G-d places on animals. When G-d decides to destroy all that is in the path of… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Celebrating in the Garden

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

When the Torah is taken from the ark this Shabbat, we will listen to Pasrsaht B’reishit, the story of the creation of the world and all of the living things in it.  The setting for the very first story in the Torah is the Garden of Eden, a pristine ecosystem that harmoniously thrives under G-d’s direction before… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Candy Apples for Simchat Torah

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For many years now, it has become a tradition to eat candy or caramel apples on Simchat Torah. The holiday begins next week on the eve of October 5th until sunset on the 6th, and most of the local congregations will be having Simchat Torah celebrations complete with a parade of Torahs and marching with flags…. Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Mutts in the Hut

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Last night, the Tucson J and PJ Library shared a wonderful evening together in the Sukkah at the J, and this year the theme was “Mutts in the Hut.”  Gabriel’s Angels, an Arizona non-profit based out of Phoenix and dedicated to delivering healing pet therapy to at-risk children, brought a team of their therapy dogs to… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Building Character with Crayola ColorCycle

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This afternoon, the Tucson J will be participating in the second annual global “Character Day,” a day conceived by filmmaker Tiffany Shlain, which urges attendees to be a “mensch” or a “good person” throughout the year. In addition to watching Shlain’s 13-minute short film, “The Making of a Mensch,” school-aged children will participate in activities… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Top 5 Rosh Hashanah Parodies to Help You Feel Festive For the Holiday

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

The apples and honey are sliced and soaked in lemon juice waiting to be set out as a wish for a sweet New Year to all who enters into the Tucson J today.  The Shofar has been dusted and practiced and perfected for the ultimate Tekiah Gadolah sound.  The round challahs have been ordered, Torahs… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The New Senior Shabbat Lunch Series

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

  A member of the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s senior task force, the J’s arts and culture coordinator, Harriet Meador, has been well-schooled on the need for providing home-bound and resident home seniors an opportunity to attend Jewish celebrations and religious gatherings in Tucson.  Meador sits on the transportation subcommittee  of the senior task… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Selfies at the J

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

The past weekend, the Tucson J held its 2nd annual Sunday Oneday Funday Sale.  It was a great day filled with fantastic one day only membership deals, a visit from 92.9 FM radio station broadcasting live from the J, fitness classes, swimming, snow cones and a fabulous selfie station.  Check out some of the great… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Havdalah on Mondays

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This past week, the Early Childhood Education department (ECE) participated in a school-wide Havdalah ceremony for the first time ever.  As the children sat in a circle around the Havdalah set and gazed from over the balcony, the beautiful weekly closure to Shabbat brought about an energy and excitement throughout the hallways as J members… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: A Fresh Look For a New Year

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

You may all recall that a large portion of the Early Childhood Education (ECE) classrooms moved to Tucson Hebrew Academy (THA) this summer as construction crews broke ground on new programming space and an indoor playground on the second floor of the J.  What you may not realize, however, is that the vacated rooms received… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Sharing Shabbat With ECE Staff

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This week, before the first day of school, ECE teachers spent three days in training learning about procedures, policies and useful tools and tricks of the trade.  On Tuesday afternoon, however, unaware of the presentation before them, the teachers were treated to a special surprise Shabbat luncheon cooked by ECE co-directors, Wendy Edmonds and Joline… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: L’hitraot Camp J

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Boker tov campers! As I wipe away the sleep from my eyes this morning and throw on my Camp t-shirt one last time, I am flooded with nostalgia as I ponder the last 10 weeks.  Today marks the end of Camp J 2015, and it’s been jam packed with memories made, friendships established and lessons… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Lessons of Love

The Jewish people have been in a time of mourning for the last couple of weeks.  This mourning period is not a result of recent events, however.  Rather, the three week mourning period stems from the destruction of the holy temple in the city of Jerusalem in 69 CE. The saddest day on the Hebrew… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Camp J Talent Show

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Once a summer, the Camp J stage, which is used daily for morning announcements, cheers and all sorts of other camp activities, is transformed into a platform for campers to try out their skills in a variety show.  There are singers and dancers and comics and gymnasts, individual performers and performances by each camp group,… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Summer Salad Tabbouleh

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Summertime is often associated with picnics and outside barbecues and pool parties.  Lighter foods and cool salads are typically preferred to warmer winter dishes.  Often times, it is customary to bring a variety of salads to your summer soirees, so why not try a delicious and healthy option with Israeli flavor?  Tabbouleh, a salad made… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: What’s Jewish About Hail?

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

A few days ago, golf ball-sized hail dropped from the heavens at the Tucson J filling up the Sculpture Garden and our grassy area and the playgrounds with beads of ice as members and staff gazed in awe out the windows.  It is a not-as-uncommon-as-you’d-think event that occurs in late afternoons during monsoon season, and… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Tucson’s Tzofim Visit

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Once a year, the Tucson Jewish community is treated to a 24 hour visit consisting of a high-energy performance and specialized cultural programming from the Israeli Tzofim Friendship Caravan.  A 15 passenger van with a large U-Haul truck attached pulls into the back lot of the Tucson J, and one by one, the scouts tirelessly… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: A Day With the Arizona Territorial Specialty Camp

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

This past Monday, Camp J participated in a day-long specialty camp dedicated to educating campers on the diverse cultures of Tucson’s first inhabitants.  The program is a pilot from the Arizona Sonora Western Heritage Foundation, and campers spent the day learning about the Jewish, Tohono O’Odham, Mexican, and Chinese cultures that settled in Pima County from 1885-1912…. Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Family Day at the Diamondbacks Game

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Last week, the Tucson J filled up all 56 seats on a Gray Line luxury passenger bus and headed up the I-10 Freeway to Phoenix to enjoy the great American pastime, baseball.  Not only did we travel together in style, but we traveled together as one big family enjoying each other’s company and the 2… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Splash and Dash

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Throughout history, Jews have celebrated the triumph of human spirit.  We celebrate the Maccabees and their victory over the Greeks at Hanukkah time and celebrate Queen Esther’s heroism and bravery standing up to Haman and his desire to banish the Jewish people from Persia.  Simply, the Jewish people have successfully brushed themselves off and have… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Jewish Content of Camp J

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

You’ve all seen the enthralling Camp J schedule by now, a fun-filled, action-packed 10 week celebration all based upon weekly themes such as “Out of the This World” and “Madagascar Madness.”  What you may not realize, however, is that with every specialized week, there is also a Jewish theme based on values attached, as well…. Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Establishing the Rules

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

The Jewish holiday, Shavuot, begins on Saturday night, and this is the holiday where Moses accepted the 10 Commandments from G-d on top of Mt. Sinai and then presented them to the Israelites to adhere to.  It was these rules that established a governed way of being for the Jewish people that was solely led… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: How to Make a Paper Kippah

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

A kippah (or yarmulke) is a skullcap that’s used during prayer, study and meals as a show of respect for G-d who is above you.  The most observant Jews wear one at all times, and some Jews  don’t wear them at all.  Whatever  level of observance you fall into, it is easy to create a… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Oooh Aah Maccabiah

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

The end of the school year is coming to a close, and summer camp is just around the corner.  The children of the J-Care Performing Arts Club built up the ruach (spirit) this week and brought excitement to the upcoming summer fun with their performance of “Ooh Aah Maccabiah:  A Race Between Tortoise and Hare.”… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: How to Light a Bonfire for Lag B’omer

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

The Jewish holiday, L’ag B’omer falls at sundown this upcoming week on Wednesday, May 6th and continues through sunset on Thursday, May 7th.  In order to understand the holiday, one must look back at the calendar to the end of Passover.  There are 49 days between the last day of Pesach and the holiday of… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Shmita 101

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Once every seven years, the “land of milk and honey” takes a break.  It is not just a year-round hiatus, but it is a mandated agricultural rest period that is referred to as “shmita,” and Israelis take it very seriously.  The year of 2015 is a shmita year, and if you’ve never heard of this… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The J’s 12 Torch Honoree, Marnea Adams

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

When one walks into Marnea Adams’ pre-k classroom in the Tucson J’s ECE, it is impossible not to notice how the walls are littered with photographs and letters and posters all representing a connection to another classroom somewhere away from the J.  At first glance, these children look like they could be our next-door neighbors…. Read more »

Shabbat Chag Shmoozings: How to End Pesach

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Shalom chaverim! Welcome to a special Shabbat and chag (holiday) edition of my weekly blog post.  Tomorrow, the Tucson J is closed for the end of Pesach, so an early Shabbat shalom to all of you and happy almost-time-to-eat-chametz, too! With the 8-day Passover holiday ending Saturday evening at sundown, I thought I’d give you all a… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Song of the Sea

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Chag Pesach sameach, dear blog readers!  Tonight marks the beginning of the holiday where we retell the story of the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt who were lead to their freedom by Moses. This holiday is led typically at home with families working together to conduct their own service.  It is not the polished… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Walk Like An Egyptian

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

One of the highlights of the school year in the Tucson J’s ECE department is when a team of staff and friends come together to retell the story of the Exodus of the Jewish people from Egypt under the evil Pharaoh’s rule.  The children anxiously watch and sing along to the songs that they have… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Love the One You’re With

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Over the last week, I have had the extraordinary honor of spending good quality time with 5 amazing colleagues.  The Tucson J sent a delegation of its  professionals to the JCCA (Jewish Community Centers Association) Professional Conference in Orlando, FL. What struck me about this time we shared together was that we each went to… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Sculpture Garden As Seen by ECE Children

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

    With the 6th Annual Tucson JCC Sculpture Garden Exhibition this Sunday, I have found myself walking along the windy manicured paths in the last couple of weeks gazing at the stunning new pieces as each one arrived.  As I wandered around appreciating the new works, my focus slightly drifted.  Instead, I found myself… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Shabbat Unplugged

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

We all know how demanding the work week can be, and in the Jewish tradition we have a weekly built-in holiday that encourages us to pause and take a break from our regular routines.  Shabbat is also referred to as the day of rest, and this year the Jewish Community Centers Association have teamed up… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: 8 Ways to Make a Crown For Purim

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Purim is coming, and children all over the world are getting ready to march in parades dressed in costumes.  This is one of the most joyful holidays on the Jewish calendar, and all the bells and whistles add to all the fanfare. Though tradition suggests for children to dress up as the characters in the… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The Tale of the Warm Fuzzies

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

As I was sitting at my desk today and preparing for tomorrow’s Shabbat programming, I remembered a story from my childhood.  Knowing the tale was enthralling, I  planned to share it with the children who I knew would so eagerly await a fun and engaging Shabbat celebration together. When I re-read this story which I… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: A Bake Sale for Nature

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

There is an annual tradition in the Early Childhood Center that is not only beneficial for all the children in the program, but it also helps out our environment, as well.  Each year, every classroom bakes and make goodies for a Tu B’Shevat bake sale.  The proceeds of the sale are used to purchase items… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: The All New Cafe at the J

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

If you’ve stepped into J this past week, you may have noticed that the temporary J Cafe cart that has been donning the front entrance of the building has suddenly been replaced by comfortable lounge chairs and end tables rather than the bistro-style setting that we have become accustomed to during the recent construction. The… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: 5 Lessons for Children About the Environment

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

With Tu B’Shevat right around the corner, we are reminded of the Jewish values, Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Bal Tashchit (do not destroy).  In modern days, Tu B’Shevat is not only a holiday that celebrates trees, but it has also become a Jewish Earth day of sorts.  As we pass the mitzvah of… Read more »

Shabbat Shmoozings: Shabbat and Me

© Tucson Jewish Community Center

Shabbat is a pause that we take from the rest of the week’s daily routines.  It is a time of celebration and a time of relaxation all rolled into one.  As adults, we fulfill our spiritual needs by attending services at synagogue and praying together as a community.  We spend time with our families and… Read more »