Learning To Swim Offers Benefits Beyond Safety

by on March 3, 2016

swim lessons special needs pjcc

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, swimming is the fourth most popular sports activity in the United States. However, this is countered with the sobering statistic provided by the National Autism Association which  states that drowning is the leading cause of death among children in the autism spectrum. No question, learning how
to swim can indeed be a lifesaving skill set. However, for children with special needs, swimming offers the additional benefit of providing what can be an especially empowering and exhilarating experience in a positive setting. From developing gross motor and cognitive skills to
building strength and endurance, swimming fosters courage, confidence and trust. It’s also a social skill that helps cultivate friendships. Then, of course, there’s the physical benefit that all
swimmers enjoy: a low-impact, cardiovascular workout that tones muscles, increases endurance, and helps reduce risk of obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
This makes swimming not just a safety skill, but a life skill to enjoy through the ages.

Thriving, In The Water  And Out 

A Student Discovers Swimming Skills That Extend  Beyond The Pool

The young man glides seamlessly through the water with PJCC swim instructor Laurie Gardner at his side, telling him to, “kick, stroke, kick, and breathe!” Now 16, Connor Kitayama has been taking private swim lessons with Laurie since 2007. His mother, La Donna Ford, initially enrolled her son, who has autism, for swim lessons, but she soon discovered that the lessons also served a valuable role as occupational therapy.

“Connor is an excellent athlete in general, but swimming exposed several unsuspected weaknesses,” says La Donna. “Since using certain body movements is so challenging, he must focus intently to master strokes. I see swimming as a lifelong leisure skill with the bonus benefits of built-in therapy.”

When Connor first started taking lessons as an eight-year old, he wouldn’t get his face wet and could only manage a weak dog paddle despite previous swim lessons at other venues. But over
the years, his proud mother has observed her son blossoming both in the pool and out. Today the young man sports exceptional balance and hand-eye coordination and adores water sports like swimming, jet skiing, kayaking, and wake surfing.

“I’ve watched Connor gain confidence as his swimming progresses,” she says. “His frustration tolerance is much better. For Connor, a lot of life is hard to understand, but he’s learned that through a lot of work, he can improve, and this attitude has extended beyond the pool. Going to a place he likes makes the rest of the week easier,” she adds. “He has something fun to look forward to. He’s also learned to take instruction from different teachers with different vocabulary, which has been an invaluable lesson.”

La Donna credits Laurie Gardner’s teaching skills for her son’s transformation. Laurie, who has been with the PJCC since 2004, has Bachelor of Science degrees in pre-med biology and pychology. She started out as a general swim instructor but began teaching private lessons when she encountered people with special needs who wanted to learn how to swim. Today, her students range from children with Down syndrome and autism to adults who are quadriplegic or have cerebral palsy.

“We feel blessed to have found Laurie, whose patience and belief in Connor has taken him from a poor dog paddler who didn’t pay attention, to a focused teen whose swimming skills continue to impress,” La Donna says. “Swimming at the PJCC has been great for Connor to learn how to act more appropriately socially. It’s also been good for others to understand that there are pople who are wired differently, but we all inhabit the same world.”

To learn about group and private swim lessons for children and adults, please call 650.378.2782, email aquatics@pjcc.org, or visit pjcc.org/aquatics.

 

 

 

Dog Heals Family… And Vice Versa

by on February 23, 2016

pets rescue spca
By Debbie Goren

2013 was a tough year for the Goren family. We had lost my beloved father to brain cancer after six grueling months of slowly watching this wonderful father and grandfather slip away. His passing left a hole in our hearts and our healing would be slow.

2013 was also a tough year for a stray dog who was dumped in Half Moon Bay without a collar, microchip, or any signs of his owner. The unkempt black-and white mutt was taken to the Peninsula Humane Society in Burlingame, where it was found that his right eye was so severely infected and swollen it no longer served any purpose but pain, and had to be removed. In addition, the little guy was sick with a stomach bug he had picked up from drinking gutter water.

Our lives aligned the day my family decided that in order to continue our healing, we needed love and needed to give love. We went to the SPCA where we sighted the one-eyed dog and were intrigued. Could we get to know him better? In the greeting room, he was scampering round, giving kisses, and rolling over for belly scratches, ecstatic over the affection and attention our boys were heaping on him. As I watched and fell in love, I realized it was no accident that we had found each other. We both needed healing.

We kept his shelter name, Thomas, and made it official by engraving it on a shiny, new bone-shaped doggie tag. To say this former stray helped our family emerge from a dark time would be an understatement. Our boys, 12-year old Jonathan and 9-year-old Zach, love Thomas so much that we have a written schedule for who gets to sleep with him each night. After a long day at work, he welcomes my husband at the door, and I see the stress melt away as David bends down to return the enthusiastic canine greeting. When my mother visits, she cuddles her furry grandpuppy in her arms and serenades him with Yiddish lullabies, while the other doggie grandparents are always volunteering as “Thomas-sitters.” Our boy has also become the unofficial class mascot for Jonathan’s 7th grade class.

When I can steal Thomas from other family members, I take him with me everywhere. At night, Thomas nestles next to one of us in bed and we listen to him snore. We feel comforted by the sound, even if others might be bothered by the wheezing, snorts, and snuffles. Instead, we hear something else: contentment, love, and healing.

 

Fitness Tip: Lunge, Curl & Press

by on February 16, 2016

Work these fitness tip reps into your workout and reap the benefits.  This whole body workout increases  lower body flexibility, balance, and overall strength.

This tip comes from our PJCC Personal Trainer, Herman Chan.

Why Is It so Hard To Ask For Help?

by on February 9, 2016

asking for help

By Koko Kaasaki, PJCC Adult Program Coordinator

Being independent and self-sufficient are positive attributes, however, we all need help from time to time. But, do you ever struggle to ask for help? M. Nora Klaver, a life coach and author of Mayday! Asking for Help in Times of Need, states that 70 percent of people confessed to having needed help in the previous week but did not ask for it. There are many reasons why we do not ask for help including not knowing how to ask; not thinking to ask; wanting to be self-reliant; and believing it’s easier to do it ourselves. Often underlying the myriad reasons are the fear of being vulnerable and the shame of being burdensome.

Motivational speaker Mike Robins assures us that it’s not uncommon to feel discomfort in asking for help. We may think that we should be able to do everything on our own, or that asking for help can set us up for rejection and disappointment. When we can get beyond the initial discomfort, however, Robbins states that asking others for assistance may strengthen the networks of friendship and community. Furthermore, asking for and receiving help validates that we are worthy of others’ support. Asking for help, therefore, is an act of self-compassion.

Some people have no difficulties in asking for help. Others can develop this skill through taking small steps every week. M. Nora Klaver suggests that regularly making small requests, such as borrowing a cup of sugar from a neighbor, develops our “muscles” so we don’t feel desperate and overwhelmed when bigger situation arise where needing help is unavoidable.

Additionally, psychologist Dr. Deborah Serani provides the useful acronym HELP when seeking others’ assistance:

  • Have realistic expectations for the kind of help you are seeking
  • Express your needs simply and clearly
  • Let others know you are there to help them as well
  • Praise your pals for their assistance and pat yourself for asking for help

And, here is some food for thought: Klaver suggests that the independent, self-sufficient American is a cultural myth. She asserts that all great endeavors are founded upon the spirit of team work and helping each other in times of need. Our endeavors may be great or not so great (or somewhere in-between). Nonetheless, this practical viewpoint provides a positive argument for why we needn’t shy away from asking for help.

 

Koko Kaasaki is the PJCC Adult Program Coordinator and has a Masters in Gerontology.

See upcoming programs at the PJCC.

 

 

What if Rapunzel Lost Her Hair?

by on February 3, 2016

hair loss

The other day I was reading the story of Rapunzel to my granddaughter, and I started to wonder what would have happened if Rapunzel had a hair loss disorder. The plot of the story hinges on the prince being able to climb up Rapunzel’s hair to meet her since she was locked in a castle tower with only one window and no door. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair so that I may climb the golden stair.”

We often take the amount of hair on our heads for granted, that is until we start losing it. One of the most common complaints I hear from patients of any age, almost as an afterthought, is “Doctor, I seem to be losing my hair.” Normal hair loss is anywhere from 50-100 hairs per day. Hair grows in cycles, and typically lasts 2-6 years. At any given time, 90% of hair is in a growth phase, growing at one-half inch a month, and 10% of the time it’s in resting phase. After 3-4 months the hair in the resting phase falls out, and new hair grows to replace it. The glitch can be when more hair falls out than grows back in. As I was reading the story, I wondered how exceptional was Rapunzel’s hair? Let’s presume that she lived in castle five stories high (50 feet), and her hair grew at the normal rate of one-half inch a month, (or one-half foot a year), and that her hair was always in a growth phase. A quick calculation indicates that in order for Rapunzel’s hair to reach the prince on the ground, she would have to be 100 years old! She clearly lived in a fairy tale.

When patients ask about unusual hair loss, I inspect the scalp. Men sustain hair loss in two places – a pattern of receding hair line, and balding at the top of the head or crown. When women lose hair, typically the frontal hairline is preserved, and there is diffuse hair thinning of the top of the head. (If a woman sustains male pattern baldness, this leads me to suspect a medical condition where there is an excess of male hormones such as in polycystic ovary syndrome.) Around two-thirds of men develop some balding during their lifetime, but women’s hair loss is common too. Over 50% of women over the age of 80 have hair loss. Hair loss in women can be particularly devastating since it can result in low self-esteem. Perhaps the one thing that helped Rapunzel’s confidence despite her lonely imprisonment was her bountiful head of hair.

The other thing I do to evaluate hair loss is the “hair pull test.” (Unlike many medical tests which are named after obscure medical scientists, this test has an easy name to remember!) I learned this test from a dermatologist colleague, and it’s performed by grasping a lock of hair and pulling gently. As mentioned earlier, normally no more than 10% of hairs are in a resting phase at a given time, so if I pull on 20 hairs on the scalp, I should not expect more than 2 hairs to be removed. For this test to be done accurately, it’s important that the patient be instructed to not wash his/her hair for at least 24 hours before the visit, and the test should be performed over various places of the scalp.

What Are Some Of The Causes Of Hair Loss?
Other than hereditary hair loss triggered by the interplay of genes and hormones, sudden hair loss has many causes. Stress from a major illness, surgery, or fever can result in hair loss 3-4 months later, but fortunately this is temporary. Overactive or underactive thyroid disease can result in hair loss, and improves with proper treatment. “Traction alopecia” can result in hair being pulled too tightly from wearing braids or ponytails. Hair can be damaged with other manipulations such as from bad brushes, blow dryers, and brushing aggressively when the hair is wet. In most of these cases, hair grows back after the offending behavior is stopped.

It is common for women to lose significant hair three months after childbirth due to changes in hormones – one would hope that Rapunzel’s obstetrician would warn her of this possibility. Imagine Rapunzel’s surprise if she awakens from sleep three months after a pregnancy and discovers a huge pile of hair on her pillow!

Lack of iron, inadequate protein in the diet, or eating disorders such as anorexia or bulimia may result in hair loss. Fad diets or ingesting large doses of Vitamin A may also cause a problem.
Most people are aware that radiation and chemotherapy can result in hair loss, but many common medications can cause hair loss as well. The long list of medicines that can result in hair loss include anti-clotting drugs, antidepressants, birth control pills, anticonvulsants, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, cholesterol lowering drugs, and blood pressure medications. (If you don’t do so already, read the prescription information enclosure when you get medication to see about potential side effects.) The most common medication hair loss culprit that I have seen has been due to a beta-blocker called atenolol. When hair loss does occur from a medicine, it usually starts within a few weeks of taking the medicine, and hair typically grows back on its own after the medicine is stopped.

One serious cause of hair loss is alopecia areata meaning “area baldness.” Hair is lost in patches, but may proceed to complete baldness. It can be diagnosed by inspection and positive “pull test.” This is thought to be an autoimmune disorder and affects around five million people in the United States. Anyone who has this should see a dermatologist, but fortunately the condition resolves by itself in many cases.

In children, tinea capitis, or ringworm presents with a round patch of hair loss due to a fungal infection. Careful examination reveals scaling and redness around the rim of the patch, and localized enlarged lymph nodes. If the diagnosis is obscure, a skin scraping from the border of the patch can be looked at under the microscope.

Trichotillomania is a compulsive disorder involving repetitive plucking and pulling of hair in children, but may progress into adulthood. This condition results in patchy hair loss which may become permanent due to scarring.

Medical Treatment For Hair Loss
It’s virtually impossible to prevent hereditary baldness. However, there are two medicines that have been approved by the FDA to treat hair loss. Topical minoxidil (brand name Rogaine) can be purchased over the counter for use in women and men; it should be massaged into the scalp twice a day, and has to be applied indefinitely to maintain its benefits. Minoxidil helps only the crown of the head, and the new hair is like baby hair, thin and light. In one study, 20% of women reported moderate hair growth after using it for 32 weeks. Side effects may include unwanted hair growth on the adjacent skin of the face and rapid heart rate.

The other treatment is finasteride (Propecia), a prescription medicine for men only. It is a pill taken once a day, works best on men who are starting to lose hair, acts better for the crown of the head than receding hairline, and may take at least six months to see results. Side effects may include loss of sex drive and sexual function. It needs to be taken indefinitely to maintain its benefits, and there is concern how it affects the risk of developing prostate cancer.
A novel treatment for preventing hair loss in patients undergoing chemotherapy is using scalp hypothermia, or “cold caps.” The theory behind this is by cooling the scalp, blood vessels become constricted, hair follicles receive less chemo, and hair loss is prevented. The downside may be that stray cancer cells lurking in the scalp could survive so the long term safety of this technique is unknown.

A laser device called HairMax Laser Comb has been approved by the FDA for use in men, but published research on the effectiveness is lacking. Don’t waste your money since it’s too early to tell if it actually helps.

Common Sense Things To Do For Your Hair
Choose a gentle shampoo. “Revitalizing” shampoos which promise to restore hair do not regrow hair. If you use a hair dryer, use the low setting. Use a comb rather than a brush, particularly if your hair is thinning. If you do use a brush, do so when hair is dry. Avoid any brush or comb that pulls your hair, and preferably find one that has rounded edges or natural bristles. Avoid bleaching, straightening, excessive sun exposure, or anything else that can damage your hair. Consult with a hair stylist to camouflage or hide thinning hair. Perms and hair coloring are thought to be safe as long as no bleach is used. Hair transplantation surgery is an option for both men and women after thorough pre-operative assessment and discussion of realistic expectations.

Summary
It is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever have hair like Rapunzel. However, with better understanding of some of the conditions which can result in hair loss, and knowledge of how to care for our hair properly, it’s possible to enjoy the way we look for many years.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider.

 

 

 

Exploring Questions of the Heart, Mind, & Spirit

by on January 26, 2016

When it comes to nurturing our Jewish lives, much attention and energy is focused on the communal, public business of the Jewish people. This ranges from working on behalf of Israel and fighting anti-Semitism to engaging in Jewish politics, both internal and external. While these tasks are essential for the Jewish community, at the same time it seems important, as well as prudent, not to shirk from paying attention to the spiritual and ethical sensibilities that nourish our inner Jewish lives.

Our hearts and souls have serious questions: When we are faced with the pain and anguish of life’s tragedies, how do we cope? How can we attain that elusive feeling of being “whole?” What does it really mean to “repair the world” and how do we best take up the call of our tradition to fill the earth with righteousness? What does it mean to create a sacred community? We might wonder where is God when we need God, or how can we pursue a meaningful relationship with God? What Jewish wisdom can help heal our befuddled souls?

So many questions.

The answers may lie in taking that first step toward a Jewish spiritual journey that is not easy but can be richly rewarding. Focusing on this journey means attending to three central and overlapping areas of life.

Establishing a Relationship with the Divine
I prefer to speak of the divine rather than use the word “God,” since that word is loaded with immense baggage, ranging from the image of a man with a long white beard to the image of an angry and aggressive deity such as we find in Torah stories. We may have long ago stopped believing in those gods, but might perhaps find resonance with a different form of divinity, such as the idea of God as the Oneness of all Being, or the energy of life.

Emphasizing and Activating a Concern for Social Justice
Jewish tradition encourages Tikkun Olam (repairing the world) and Gemilut Chesed (acts of loving-kindness) as pathways to achieve the well-being of others.

Finding Meaning in Life
This requires us to face the suffering that life brings and find solace when faced with life’s challenges. Diving into Jewish teachings and seeking those pearls of wisdom that make life meaningful is a path best navigated by a guide; one who is familiar with the yearning of the human heart.

Rabbi Wayne Dosick, the 2016 North Peninsula Scholar-in-Residence, is such a guide.
In his book, Dancing with God, he notes that “there has been a dramatic awakening to the knowledge that the universe is so much more than we can see, feel, hear, or experience at this moment in time…. The once comfortable world of Rabbinic Judaism is no longer enough for most of us…. Its insistence on the primacy of the law no longer speaks to our spiritually questing hearts and souls.”

Rabbi Dosick has been described as “a rational intellect with the soul of a mystic,” and Rabbi David Ellenson (former president of Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion) recently called him “a spiritual master for our time.” During the two weeks that Rabbi Dosick joins our community, he will take us on an exploration of the spiritual journey. He’ll address our need for solace and the Godly in our lives, as well as the Jewish ethical teachings that can help make our world one of goodness and righteousness, providing a rare opportunity to learn from a great teacher. Embrace this time to reflect upon and discuss the ethical and spiritual understandings that make our lives meaningful.

North Peninsula Jewish Community welcomes 2016 Scholar-in-Residence
Rabbi Wayne Dosick • January 28 – February 10, 2016
Don’t miss this mystical educator, writer, and spiritual guide!
To learn about Rabbi Dosick’s additional speaking engagements throughout the North Peninsula Jewish Community, please visit pjcc.org/scholar.

 

 

Singing For Your Health

by on January 5, 2016

singing for health

Many people sing in the shower, others sing in choirs or at their place of worship, and some do karaoke. Other than the joy singing brings us, does singing provide any health benefits? I consulted with Billie Bandermann, the choir director of Hashirim, a Jewish community choir, to get some answers.

In addition to conducting, Billie has been teaching voice for more than four decades, including instructing octogenarian singers. According to Billie, proper breathing is a requirement for good singing. Specifically, “Inhale deep and wide to fill the lungs from the bottom upwards while Continue reading

Five Must-Haves When Investing in a Gym

by on December 20, 2015

gym membership pjcc

By Paul Walker, PJCC Assistant Athletic Director

What’s the first question you ask when you research a gym? Likely it is, “How much does it cost to join?” If so, you are like most other fitness seekers looking to join a gym. Most people who call a gym or fitness center don’t know how to evaluate a facility so they stick to the one question they are most comfortable with, “How much?”

Here we give you five must-haves when considering a gym.

1.  Define Your Goal

What are your fitness goals? If you don’t know what your goals are, how will you achieve them? Define the results you want before researching and joining a gym. Continue reading

Eight Wise Hanukkah Insights

by on December 6, 2015

Hanukkah insights

The clock is ticking and it’s time again for those eight crazy nights of Hanukkah. So this would be an apt time for eight wise Hanukkah insights. Well, maybe not so wise but maybe interesting. Perhaps…

  1. I never really understood the fascination with latkes. Sure, because of the miracle of the oil we are supposed to eat foods fried in oil – who thought that was a good idea? – but why latkes? They always seemed like glorified hash browns to me. Well, as with everything Jewish, there’s a story behind this: Seems that the Babylonian king Nevuchadnezzer sent his general Holofernes to destroy Jerusalem, and Holofernes decided he wanted to have Judith, daughter of the High Priest, as his bed mate. She agreed and as a gift, brought him latkes for dinner. He got very thirsty and she gave him strong wine. He got good and drunk, fell asleep, and Judith cut his head off, saving her people. Take note this story has nothing to do with Hanukkah, but oh well, it’s a good story so pass the latkes! As for me, I’d prefer fried chicken. (By the way, the latkes Judith made were made of cheese, so I guess we could think of Cheez Doodles as a new Hanukkah food.)
  2. How come, Jewish composers and songwriters wrote those beautiful Christmas songs that are impossible to escape, yet we, their people, have to sing “I Have a Little Dreidel?” Couldn’t someone write a classy Hanukkah song? Adam Sandler doesn’t count, though his song, now in version 4, has done more for kids’ Jewish identity than Hebrew School.
  3. Most people know that gift-giving is not an old-time Hanukkah tradition. From the Middle Ages on parents gave their children “gelt” (not to be confused with “guilt”) – money – with which to gamble with the dreidel. But what can we do? Capitalism reigns and God forbid our kids be left out of the gift -receiving frenzy. Just remember, we have more to give than toys and as we give let’s remember the most needy among us.
  4. The story of Hanukkah centers of the Syrian Greeks who defiled the Temple sanctuary in Jerusalem by putting idols in it and sacrificing pigs on the altar. When Judah and his small militia drove the enemy out of Jerusalem the first thing they did was to purify the Temple sanctuary. In that time, the Temple was thought of as the home of the Divine, so it was comparable to cleaning out the House so that God could return to dwell among the People of Israel. It’s very hard to survive as a spiritual person without having a sanctuary. What are we to do in our era? Perhaps we should take a page from our deepest mystical teaching that says that God’s sanctuary is within us; It’s in our hearts. As the gospel song goes, “O Lord prepare me, to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true…” So we need to work on purifying our hearts, polishing our souls, and lighting up the world.
  5. Here a conundrum for you: When Judah came to the Temple all he could find was a little cruse of oil with which to light the menorah, just enough oil for one day. So in an act of faith he lit the menorah and the oil lasted for eight days. That means that the miracle of the oil was only for seven days (you do the math)! So why is Hanukkah eight days? (There’s a fried latke for you if you know the answer.)
  6. Here’s one thing we can learn from the Maccabees: A small group of people can accomplish great miracles. So when we are overwhelmed with doubt and despondency, we can adopt the attitude that we can make miracles.
  7. Don’t forget to include family, friends and community in your Hanukkah celebration. The more people we include the more love and light we create. And isn’t that the idea? To make as much light as we can at the time when the days are shortest and the world is darkest?
  8. Each night when you light the Hanukkah candles, why not dedicate that evening’s candle to a hope you have for yourself, your family, for Israel or for the world? It will make the candle lighting more meaningful and will help us remember that we can make a difference in our world, even if it’s a small difference.

Continue reading

Is Gluten Making You Ill?

by on December 3, 2015

gluten

During the German occupation of the Netherlands in WWII, massive starvation took place in 1944 and 1945, resulting in an estimated 22,000 deaths. One group of patients with intestinal problems paradoxically improved because of the shortage of bread. The Dutch physician, Dr. Willem Dicke, theorized that the culprit was the gluten in the wheat. Since there was a bread shortage, these patients got better. As a result of of this dreadful famine, celiac disease became understood.

What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is primarily a digestive disorder caused by an immune reaction to gluten which in turn results in damage to the lining of the small intestine. This leads to malabsorption or difficulty absorbing nutrients. Gluten can be found in wheat, barley and rye, and also can be Continue reading

Tumeric Latkes with Cinnamon Applesauce

by on November 22, 2015

latke tumeric applesauce pjcc

TUMERIC LATKES WITH CINNAMON APPLESAUCE

Turmeric and cumin are wonderful Indian spices that aid digestion, rev up the metabolism and help break down body fat. Couple that with the addition of cinnamon to the applesauce which helps regulate blood sugar and reduce cholesterol, and you have an delicious potato latke brimming with super nutrition.

Preparation time: 25 minutes | Cook time: 35 minutes | Serves: 15 latkes Continue reading

Video: Ambassador Dennis Ross

by on November 18, 2015

Ambassador Dennis Ross visited the Bay Area to promote his book, Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama. As part of the Peninsula Jewish Community Center’s Jewish Life programming, Ross spoke at the Peninsula Sinai Congregation to a crowd of 400 to share his experience working with U.S. presidents spanning three decades. In the video Ross covers topics that include U.S.-Israel history and relationships, Middle East politics, and even the Paris bombings of November 2015.

 

Visit our website for more PJCC Programming

 

 

 

Ask The Rabbi: Are There Universal Beliefs in Judaism?

by on November 12, 2015

QUESTION: Are There Universal Beliefs in Judaism?

Submitted by Frank Jonas.

Rabbi Lavey Derby answers your questions about life, religion, Judaism, and more.

Do you have a question for the Rabbi? Send it to website@pjcc.org

Pumpkin Pie Greek Yogurt Parfait

by on November 5, 2015

pumpkin parfait recipe pjcc

Pumpkin, the quintessential fall holiday symbol is also a wonderful food full of fiber, protein, and vitamins K and A. By alternating layers of pumpkin puree with protein-packed Greek yogurt, these beautiful parfaits are easy to prepare, slimming for your waistline, and full of nutrition.

Prep time:  20 minutes | Serves: 4 Continue reading

Looking At The End Of Life

by on November 3, 2015

assisted suicide death with dignity

According to the Talmud, a famous rabbi named Judah lay dying. His was so revered by other rabbis that a fast was declared, and prayers were chanted continuously for heavenly mercy. Rabbi Judah’s handmaid ascended to the roof of the home and prayed, “The immortals desire Rabbi to join them, and the mortals desire Rabbi to remain with them; may it be the will of God that the mortals may overpower the immortals.” Later, when she observed him to be suffering, she prayed, “May it be the will of the Almighty that the immortals may overpower the mortals.” Continue reading

High Protein Sweet Potato Muffins

by on October 30, 2015

sweet potato muffins recipe

HIGH PROTEIN SWEET POTATO MUFFINS 

Sweet potatoes are inexpensive, delicious, and packed with calcium, potassium, and vitamins A and C. Members of the Morning Glory family, sweet potatoes are really just edible roots. The red-orange sweet potatoes are slightly moister and sweeter than the tan variety, making them the best choice for this recipe.

Prep: 1 hour, 10 min. | Cook: 30 min. | Serves: 24 mini muffins Continue reading

Dennis Ross: Doomed To Succeed

by on October 27, 2015

Amb Dennis Ross

If you can think of a more difficult problem to solve than the Middle East conflict I’d be open to hear it. The greatest minds in the world have tried to create an atmosphere of peace throughout the Middle East and have failed. San Francisco native Dennis Ross has had a front row seat to 3 decades worth of negotiations between the U.S. and Israel with every president from Reagan to Obama. His newest book outlines the relationship that the U.S. has had with Israel since the Truman administration.

This excerpt from his new book, Doomed to Succeed: The U.S.-Israel Relationship from Truman to Obama, outlines each president’s unique relationship with Israel. Continue reading

Apple Pie Spiced Pumpkin Seed Recipe

by on October 17, 2015

pumpkin seed recipe fall

Nothing says fall like pumpkins and apples and all of the great foods you can make with them! Here is a simple recipe to make and enjoy.

Apple Pie Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves (optional) Continue reading

Ask The Rabbi: What Is The Hardest Part Of Being A Rabbi?

by on October 13, 2015

QUESTION: What Is The Hardest Part Of Being A Rabbi?

Rabbi Lavey Derby answers your questions about life, religion, Judaism, and more.

Do you have a question for the Rabbi? Send it to website@pjcc.org

Prayer Rx

by on October 8, 2015

prayer rx

I had recently returned from a medical conference, and the first patient I faced at 8:30 AM on a Monday morning was a woman who the physician in chief of the medical center wanted me to see because she was a problematic patient. She had been visiting the Emergency Department monthly for vague neurological complaints for more than half a year. Despite many negative brain scans and other tests, she was convinced she had multiple sclerosis, and she insisted on treatment with high dose intravenous steroids. When steroid treatment was denied her, she Continue reading

My First Day

by on September 30, 2015

paul geduldig pjcc ceo

September 29, 2015

Today marks my first day serving as the new Chief Executive Officer of the PJCC and it was a day filled with inspiring moments and experiences. As I walked through our beautiful Center I was thrilled by the vibrancy and diversity of the programs offered and of the people participating. In a single day, I encountered Preschool children buzzing about classrooms, adults attending fitness classes, kids learning to swim, youth engaged in dynamic afterschool programs, a lively Continue reading

Member Profile: Gene Hetzer

by on September 29, 2015

gene hetzer pjcc

It’s a common refrain that people will often embrace any excuse to avoid exercise, ranging from a “painful paper cut” to a “can’t miss” episode of television’s Shark Tank. However, Gene Hetzer, Jr., doesn’t let anything stop him from his workouts at the PJCC, including the fact that he’s vision impaired.

The 63-year-old is on the treadmill at least twice a week with his guide dog, a Golden Retriever named Lynmar, waiting patiently at his side. Blind since birth, Gene lost his vision due to oxygen Continue reading

eScapegoat: Offload Your Sins Online

by on September 22, 2015

yom kippur

Ever Wanted to Take Your Sins & Throw Them Off A Cliff? 

With Yom Kippur comes a time of atonement. It involves asking forgiveness from people you’ve wronged and repenting for the sins that you may have committed during the year.

In preparation for Yom Kippur you can use G-dcast’s eScapegoat app as a way to cast off your sins. Come on over to PJCCs dedicated eScapegoat page, let the program guide you on a brief walk through the desert, then offload your sins to a virtual goat. Everyone’s anonymous “I’m sorry’s” will show up on page.

Learn more about Yom Kippur at www.pjcc.org and through our blog post Let It Go: The Benefit of Forgiveness.

At-One-Ment: Returning To Ourselves

by on September 21, 2015

Yom Kippur (Hebrew for the “Day of Atonement”) is said to be the most solemn and introspective day of the Jewish calendar. It is the culmination of a ten-day period of reflection, beginning with Rosh Hashanah. During these ten days we are invited to engage in a fearless moral inventory to assess the state of our souls and to reset our moral compasses.

These ten days are traditionally the time to approach people we have hurt, if we have not done Continue reading

Visual Midrash: Artistic Commentary on the Torah

by on September 20, 2015

torah midrash art exhibit

Mid • rash | mid räSH |
noun (pl. Midrashim) an ancient commentary on part of the Hebrew scriptures, attached to the biblical text.

We’re unscrolling the Torah, all 54 portions; not literally, but figuratively. Artist Scott Switzer has painted each one in The Torah Series, oil paintings based on portions of the Hebrew Bible that are read each week in synagogues. The paintings capture one complete year of readings on 24” x 24” canvases that are embedded in six grids, each made up of nine panes. The exhibition is  currently on display in the PJCC Art Gallery.

The approach of finding deep and spiritual understanding of the Torah through artistic expression is referred to as visual midrash (Rabbinic commentaries on the Torah’s
teachings). Switzer, who is not Jewish, found that engaging in these stories through Judaism’s perspective, “gave them new life and changed my consciousness.” He considers the paintings in this series “ … a conversation or even a prayer.” His figurative style and color palate are reminiscent of Marc Chagall’s well-known Biblical artwork.

Visual midrash is not new to the PJCC. In 2009 our gallery hosted Seeing Sinai, a collaboration between modern artist Jill Nathanson and Judaic scholar Arnold Eisen. And certainly our vibrant Grow Justice Mural utilized this process in a community-based setting. This summer, you can partake in a workshop to create your own visual commentary. Rabbi Lavey Derby and Scott
Switzer will partner to lead a text study/studio session where each participant will have the opportunity to express their own personal artistic interpretation of the week’s Torah portion.

Our endeavor follows the footsteps of Reboot’s Unscrolled, a book featuring the works of 54 different writers and artists who were invited to select a portion of the Torah and provide their fresh interpretation. As described by Reboot, it’s now our turn to “approach the Torah with a spirit of creative adventure, wrestle with it,” and then find our own meaning. Throughout the PJCC’s 2015-2016 season, you’ll enjoy the opportunity to engage in Jewish learning and examine
multiple forms of creative midrash through poetry, musical composition, movement,  and storytelling.

The close of The Torah Series coincides with Simchat Torah on October 6, the celebratory Jewish holiday that marks the annual completion of the year’s Torah reading.  As congregants in  synagogues around the world re-roll the Torah to start anew,  we too will “roll” up Switzer’s  enchanting enterprise to share with another  community in the New Year.

PJCC Art Gallery presents
The Torah Series
On display in the PJCC Art Gallery
through October 6, 2015

 Prints are for sale through the artist. Great to commemorate bar/bat mitzvahs, life events, or other special occasions. www. scottswitzer.com.
TO ORDER:
Telephone: 208.935.5978
Email: switz_thepainter@msn.com
Specify image # (1-54); and cite PJCC for commission credit.
Allow 2 – 3 weeks for delivery

 

 

 

CPR: Are You Prepared to Help?

by on September 17, 2015

cpr

May 16, 2003, 7:50 AM. 
My wife and I enter the quad at a Midwestern university.  There are orderly rows of white chairs on the lawn, and on each one is a bottle of water labeled with the university logo, and a program for the commencement ceremony.  Scores of people are hurrying to the seats, streaming in from all sides of the quad with the graduates penned off to the side.  I am looking forward to witnessing the first of my three daughters graduate from college, and to hearing the commencement speaker, Madeleine Albright.  Suddenly my wife notices people gathered around a woman on the ground.  My wife encourages me to see if I can be of assistance. I identify myself as an internist to the woman and she responds with halting, labored breathing that she is having chest pain.  I grab her wrist and realize her skin is cold and clammy, and find her pulse weak and fairly rapid.  It was immediately apparent that she is having a heart attack, and her condition is critical.  I ask the bystanders and the security guard if paramedics had been summoned, and they assure me this was the case. Another physician is at the scene too, a pediatric endocrinologist, and she informs me that she too had requested paramedics.

7:55 AM. 
The woman’s pulse becomes weaker, her breathing shallow, and she loses consciousness. Her acute heart attack has led to cardiac arrest.  I start CPR.

According to a recent New England of Journal Medicine study of June, 2015, there are 420,000 cases of out of hospital cardiac arrests each year in the U.S, which corresponds to 38 people experiencing one every hour. Odds are that you know a friend or family member who has had one.  Survival chances decrease about 10% for every minute following a cardiac arrest, but less than half of persons with a cardiac arrest receive bystander CPR. When CPR is performed before paramedic arrival the thirty day survival improves from 4% to 10.5%.

Many people assume that cardiac arrests take place outside the home where there will be a willing bystander to initiate CPR.  Surprisingly, 88% of cardiac arrests occur in the home, so if you are called upon to initiate CPR at home, the life you save could be a spouse, parent, child or friend.  Since 2008, the American Heart Association has offered hands-only CPR for adult cardiac arrest as an alternative to chest compressions plus breaths because the outcomes are similar.  Although, a CPR course is advised, the instructions are simple: call 9-1-1, and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the tune of “Stayin Alive.”  Here is the link: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/HandsOnlyCPR/Hands-Only-CPR_UCM_440559_SubHomePage.jsp

The San Francisco Unified School District has a reason to be proud. Starting this school year, SF is the largest school district in the country to add hands-only CPR to its ninth grade health curriculum.  Improvement in rates of bystander initiated CPR is a critical public health issue and it is encouraging to see this initiative.

8:00 AM. 
Paramedics have not arrived yet.  I continue chest compressions, and the pediatric endocrinologist administers mouth to mouth breaths.  Oxygen and an AED, or automated external defibrillator, are unavailable.

8:15 AM.
Paramedics finally arrive!  They had trouble navigating through narrow crowded roads into a congested space.  Initial evaluation by them reveals the woman has a heart rate but absent blood pressure.

When I returned home, I wrote the chancellor of the university expressing my dismay over the lack of emergency medical support for this large gathering of people.   Four years later, when we returned for my youngest daughter’s graduation from the same university, it was gratifying to see a paramedic vehicle right on site.

Sadly, as I learned later, the woman who we tried to resuscitate died at a nearby hospital.  She was the grandmother of a graduating classmate of my daughter.  If resuscitation had been successful, the grandmother could have been expected to continue to live a normal life. Although bystander CPR improves the odds of survival by more than 2.5 times, probably too much time elapsed before advanced paramedic resuscitation was begun.  One never knows when you may need to perform CPR so I “heartily” encourage you to take a CPR course near you: http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/FindaCourse/Find-a-Course_UCM_303220_SubHomePage.jsp

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo.  He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years.  While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education.  He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff. 

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider.

 

 

VIDEO: Rabbis’ Roundtable | What Is The Meaning Of Repentance?

by on September 16, 2015

Listen to four Peninsula Rabbis talk about the meaning of repentance. That was the topic of our annual Rabbis’ Roundtable on September 2, 2015. Participating Peninsula rabbis included Rabbi Nat Ezray of Congregation Beth Jacob, Rabbi Corey Helfand of Peninsula Sinai Congregation, Rabbi Dennis Eisner of Peninsula Temple Beth El, Rabbi Daniel Feder of Peninsula Temple Sholom, and, moderating, was Rabbi Lavey Derby of the Peninsula Jewish Community Center.

Flourless Honey-Almond Cake

by on September 10, 2015

honey almond cake recipe

Flourless Honey-Almond Cake is the perfect dessert for Rosh Hashanah or any time of the year!

CAKE

  • 1-1/2 cups almond meal – I get mine at Trader Joes
  • 4 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

TOPPING

  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS

  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • Coat a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray.
  • Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
  • Beat 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup honey, vanilla, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl until combined. Add the almond meal and mix.
  • Beat 4 egg whites in another large bowl with an hand mixer or whisk until white and bubbly but not stiff enough to hold peaks, about. 1 to 2 minutes. Gently fold the egg whites into the nut mixture until just combined. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake the cake until golden brown and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes.
  • Run a knife around the edge of the pan and gently remove the side ring. Let cool completely.
  • Drizzle the top of the cake with honey and sprinkle with sliced almonds.

 

 

Let It Go! The Benefit of Forgiveness

by on September 8, 2015

shofar rosh hashanah yom kippur

Central to the understanding of the Jewish High Holidays of Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the simple yet fundamental belief that people can change. We need not be stuck in habitual conditioned behaviors. We need not repeat the same behaviors that are hurtful to ourselves or to others over and over again. We are capable of change and growth. The great mystic and sage Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev taught that it is incumbent upon each individual to believe that with the next breath we can become new beings. The possibility of personal renewal is the great mystery of being human.

The blowing of the shofar – the ram’s horn – is the climax of the High Holiday ritual. The sound of the shofar is meant to cut through our web of routine, rationalization and conditioning, to wake us up to our true nature, which is goodness, love and compassion, and to urge us to leave behind behaviors and actions that cause suffering to ourselves or to others.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur offer us the personal and communal spiritual task of teshuvah – repentance. Repentance is the self-aware practice of assessing our deeds and our spiritual condition. To participate in the practice of repentance requires a willingness to engage in a courageous moral inventory, to ask for and give forgiveness and to make amends where possible. Repentance is achieved when we recognize and regret our hurtful behavior; we discontinue the behavior and determine not to repeat that behavior in the future. Repentance also requires asking forgiveness from those we have hurt. While we ask others for forgiveness, it is also important that we find a way to forgive ourselves. We are, after all, merely human.

While asking for forgiveness can be hard, offering forgiveness to others can be much more difficult. Sometimes we feel so hurt by others that the possibility of our forgiveness seems impossible. We simply can’t let go of the hurt and the anger. We hold on to our hurt as if it were a prize, a badge of honor. We have no desire to be in relationship with the person who has hurt us. Or, we feel that to forgive that person would be to condone what they did to us.

What we fail to understand is that as we hold on to our hurts and wounds for dear life, all we accomplish is to prolong the hurt. It has been said that holding on to our anger at the person who hurt us, is akin to holding on to a burning coal: the only person who gets burned is us.

Forgiveness does not require us to trust the person who hurt us or to re-establish a close relationship with her, nor does it mean we condone what was done to us. It simply means that we put down our anger and let go of it. As my teacher and friend Sylvia Boorstein likes to say, “Forgiveness is giving up all hope of a better yesterday.” We cannot change what happened, but we can change our attitude about what happened. We don’t need to bear the painful burden of it forever.

Receiving forgiveness from others is a relief; asking forgiveness of others is an act of grace. Either way, forgiveness is a miraculous experience. Without the possibility of forgiveness we would live with constant despair. The promise of the High Holidays is that we can live instead with profound hope.

May this New Year bring us all health, happiness and abundant hope.

 

 

Edible Schoolyard: Inspiration For A Lifetime

by on August 25, 2015

edible-schoolyard-625

Bring something beautiful to the classroom. Bring a bouquet, set things up differently with a beautiful table cloth and a lovely basket of fruit. Prepare the classroom, the kitchen and the garden, so kids fall in love. –  Alice Waters /Founder, Edible Schoolyard Academy

I was filled with excitement as I made my way across the Bay Bridge to Berkeley, about to fulfill lifetime dream: attending the Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Academy (ESY). As a wellness/
nutrition coach for the PJCC, I was one of three given the incredible honor of representing the PJCC to help develop a nutrition and food awareness curriculum for local elementary schools. Our motivation came from California State Senator Jerry Hill D-San Mateo when he visited the PJCC’s Justice Garden. Impressed with our endeavor to promote food justice and education, the Senator expressed his support in helping the PJCC share our curriculum with local elementary schools. Garnering the tools for creating this curriculum was our goal at ESY.

Helping Healthy Habits Take Root
The Edible Schoolyard (ESY) program teaches youngsters how their choices about food affect their health, the environment, and their communities. Now in its 17th year, ESY is the brainchild of Alice Waters, the chef/proprietor of the Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley. Waters is a passionate voice and pioneer in the culinary movement that supports cooking with only the finest and freshest seasonal ingredients that are produced sustainably and locally. Housed at Berkeley’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle School, the abandoned teachers’ parking lot was once a neighborhood eyesore, but today is home to a lush and meandering one-acre garden and kitchen/classroom. Students are actively involved in every aspect of food’s life cycle, from planting a seed in the garden and preparing simple meals in the kitchen to using the food waste to produce rich compost to nourish the plants. These essential life skills are priceless and have made the ESY the model program for farm-to-table education. “Farm to school” is a term that defines school efforts to incorporate local and regionally produced foods into school cafeterias. In 2011-2012, a USCA survey of 13,000 public school districts showed that 44 percent across the country have such a program in place. This is exciting news, but in a country where child obesity is on the rise, we still have a long way to go.

Go Slow and Go Deep
ESY educates the educators: the more ambassadors on the front lines, the better to reach the children. At the academy alone, there were over 90 enthusiastic attendees from around the world. However, we were cautioned to “Go slow and go deep.” Rome wasn’t built in a day, nor was the ESY. We should start small, in a corner of the playground or in a few gardening
pots outside a classroom. Let the kids get their hands dirty. Appeal to all their senses, with the taste, smell, sound and sight of fresh produce grown with care and prepared simply.

From ESY to the PJCC
I’m excited to bring my ESY education to the PJCC. When I spoke with Alice Waters, I asked if she had any additional advice as we begin introducing ESY concepts to our students. “I always say we need to work with kids in kindergarten through grade 12,” she replied. “But what I really mean is, get to them at age two. Start at this age and you have them for life.”

The PJCC is always on the lookout for ways to incorporate healthy habits into everyday life. We adopted the Discover CATCH program into our childrens’ programming. CATCH, an acronym for Coordinated Approach to Childhood Health, is an educational program created by University of Texas School of Public Health in response to the rising obesity epidemic in our country. CATCH uses a combination of kid’s nutrition and fitness activities as tools to teach children how to lead healthy and active lives. Recently, the Jewish Community Center Association adopted Discover CATCH, an expansion of CATCH that allows children to explore physical activity and nutrition through Jewish values, instilling healthy habits in children and their families for wellness their way.

Special Needs Tips – Come As You Are!

by on August 20, 2015

epstein-pirates-625

Every month features an awareness day for different special needs. World Down Syndrome Day in March, National Spina Bifida Awareness in October, and Autism Awareness in April. These are just a few of the many special needs that families are dealing with each day. It’s hard to know what a special needs family goes through unless you are one. So, we’ve asked one family to tell us how it really is and what can make families with special needs feel supported and included in the general community.

By Diana Blank Epstein and David Epstein

It is on ongoing struggle for families with special needs children to find acceptance, understanding and inclusion in the wider community and, as a result, families can experience isolation and alienation, which only adds to their sense of despair and grief about having a child with challenges.

Yet, there is much that people can do to support and include special needs families. We believe that many do want to reach out and include individuals with disabilities but just don’t know what to say or how to interact.

Based on our own personal experience, our “special” friends, and what we hear in the local autism community, here are some helpful guidelines to enrich all of our interactions.

 ACKNOWLEDGE

Just making an effort to acknowledge the special needs child (rather than avoiding the child/family) and some interactive attempts at engaging the child, go a long way in making the family feel like a part of the community. It can be as simple as smiling at the child, greeting the child, giving a high five and making a positive comment about the child.Special needs families are particularly sensitive about negative comments which can easily put a parent in defense mode. Best to keep in mind that these are children and parents who are under very different stressors than the typical family and are generally working double time to help their child overcome multiple challenges.

  • Try asking neutral questions which show genuine interest in the child and are seen as supportive (ie: Where is your child going to school?, What activities does he like? What do you need to feel comfortable and accommodated here?).

NORMALIZE

Normalizing a special needs child’s behaviors is comforting for parents and really facilitates the inclusion process. For example, last summer at Camp Keff it was reassuring for me to hear camp counselors say “all the kids get loud at camp….Joshua fits right in.” Sometimes community members will remark on what they do to meet their own sensory needs, validating that we all have habits we engage in to calm ourselves (ie: Joshua uses an attachable chewy for oral sensory needs, while others chew gum to meet their oral needs or to calm themselves).

  • Just normalizing that we all have good days and bad days and that we all struggle, at some level, in expressing our needs and wants. The simple act of not reacting when a child with special needs acts differently or may be having a meltdown is very helpful (ie: our son Joshua has a sensory need involving tapping on objects. We feel supported when people understand this need and let it be “no big deal”, while we make efforts to redirect him, take him somewhere else if it gets too loud, or just let him engage in this behavior if it not disruptive in that particular setting).

DON’T EVALUATE

Although perhaps well meaning, we appreciate when people steer clear of questions that make the families feel that they are being evaluated. We already are evaluated so much by school districts and insurance companies. We just want to “be” when we are in the community. For example, asking “how bad is your child’s condition” or “where is your child on the spectrum?”, puts us in a position where the focus is on the child’s impairments and disability, rather than the child as a human being first.

  • Instead, try asking about the child’s likes and dislikes and what we enjoy doing as a family unit. If anything, comment on the special needs child’s positive qualities and acheivements.

AVOID PITY

And, while we know people are trying to be compassionate, most of us find pity comments unsupportive. Comments such as “I can’t imagine what your life is like,” “We thought we had issues with our kids” and “I’m so sorry that this happened to your family” are taken as derogatory towards the child, hurtful to the family, and create a situation where a family experiences a greater sense of exclusion.

  • What can be helpful is to ask if a family needs personal space or needs extra assistance, when their child with special needs is having a tough time behaviorally in the community. Everyone has different needs and communicating with the family about what particular needs and accommodations are supportive for that specific family, can really help a family feel supported by their community.

As a rule, use the “person first philosophy” for people with any disability. Put the person first, before the disability. Try to see our children as representing neurodiversity (human variance). Like anyone, all we hope for is our children and families feeling accepted and respected for who they are and who they are becoming. Come as you are! Our strength is in our diversity afterall.

 

Diana Blank Epstein is an LCSW who works as a clinical supervisor and is on staff at JFCS, where one of her roles is developing and teaching special-need workshops for parents. David Epstein is a Software Quality Assurance Engineer who has worked for a variety of companies in Silicon Valley. Diana and David have two adorable children, Rachel and Joshua. Rachel has entered the 5th grade in a Montessori program. Joshua has entered the 3rd grade in a special day class. They are both well-adjusted and happy children, who are loved and accepted for who they are.

 

 

 

 

Lentil, Parsley, and Mint Summer Salad

by on August 13, 2015

recipe lentil salad

This is one of my favorite salads to bring to a BBQ or picnic. With only 130 calories per ½ cup serving and 6 gr of protein, this dish will be the hit with friends and family, who will be thanking you for bringing something healthy while they ask you for the recipe.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • ½ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • Juice of one lemon

Directions

  1. Place lentils in a large saucepan.
  2. Cover with water to 2 inches above lentils; bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until tender. Drain well and rinse.
  4. Place lentils in a large bowl.
  5. Stir in onion and next 4 ingredients (through pepper).
  6. Add vinegar, oil and lemon juice; toss well.
  7. Serve at room temperature.

Airplane Emergency

by on August 6, 2015

airplane emergency sick

“Is there a doctor on the plane; is there a doctor on the plane?!” The urgent sounding voice rang over the loudspeakers on the jet about thirty minutes into our flight from Frankfurt, Germany to San Francisco. My wife nudged me just as I was trying to arrange my body for sleep in preparation for the fourteen hour voyage. I pressed the call button unsure what emergency I was volunteering for. The next thing I knew I was face to face with the flight attendant who had recently served me orange juice. She explained to me that she was the one who needed medical attention, and she escorted me toward the tail section of the plane where we ascended into a private sick-bay alcove. She proceeded to tell me her story. A year prior to this, she had been hospitalized for a week with a kidney infection, and she was experiencing similar symptoms once again. She had back pain and urinary symptoms, and was desperate for help. I suspected that for her to have been hospitalized for so long previously, the kidney infection must have been complicated by septicemia (bacteria in the bloodstream). When she came to work this day, she had mild urinary symptoms which she thought she could ignore, but now she had a full blown problem. She handed me the emergency medical briefcase that airlines carry onboard, but all it contained were cardiac medicines and injectable opiate analgesics. No antibiotics. What was I going to do to help her? Soon we would be crossing the ocean and there would be no option for emergency landing.

In a New England Journal of Medicine study published on May 30, 2013, it was estimated that there is one in-flight medical emergency for every 604 commercial airplane flights, and overall, there are approximately 44,000 medical emergencies each year world-wide. Serious illness is infrequent, and death rare (3 per 1000 cases). The most common illness causes in order of frequency are fainting and near fainting, respiratory symptoms, nausea or vomiting, cardiac symptoms, seizures, abdominal pain, and infection (such as in my patient). Other in-flight emergencies include agitation or psychiatric symptoms, allergic reactions (better not bring peanuts onboard), stroke, trauma, diabetic complications, headache, arm or leg injuries, Ob-Gyn symptoms, ear pain, cardiac arrest, and lacerations.

You can never be certain that a physician or other medical professional will be on your flight if a medical situation arises. If you feel moderately sick before you start a long airplane trip, chances are that you will feel even worse during the journey so it would be wise to cancel and request a written note from your doctor. If you take medicines, bring them in your carry-on, not in your packed luggage. If you have a past history of a serious infection which required hospitalization, bring antibiotics with you. My flight attendant patient was totally unprepared.

For cardiac emergencies, the airplane I was on was well equipped. There was an automated external defibrillator (AED), oxygen, epinephrine, and a variety of other cardiac medicines. I was dismayed that there were no medicines for infections. In order to help my patient I needed a strong antibiotic that I hoped a well-organized passenger had brought along. I asked nearby passengers for Cipro 500 mg, and fortunately someone volunteered the medicine. All we needed were two doses. Meanwhile, my patient’s kidney infection was causing her significant pain, so I also asked if there was a nurse on board to administer an injectable narcotic. Luckily a kind Kaiser dialysis nurse offered his expertise.

The pilot of the plane spoke to me. We would be flying over Reykjavik, Iceland soon, and this would be our last opportunity for an emergency landing. The pilot put me in touch with a United Airlines land physician in Chicago. I explained to him that everything was under control now that a passenger had donated Cipro. Normally, when one presents to the ER with a serious kidney infection, IV Cipro is administered because it is a faster way to get the medicine into the body. Whether Cipro is given IV or orally, it should have equal efficacy which I discussed with the airline’s physician. I did not think diverting the plane for emergency landing was indicated, and the airline’s physician concurred. During the reminder of the flight I checked my patient every two hours to make sure her vital signs were stable and that she was comfortable. With the help of the narcotic, she slept most of the way to San Francisco. –at least one of us got some rest. – I always feel elated when airplane wheels touch land, and this time I breathed an extra sigh of relief.

I didn’t ask United Airlines for any compensation for volunteering my medical care, but they sent me a $200 voucher anyway. Two weeks later I received a wonderful thank you letter from my patient. It was reaffirming to know that she had completely recovered.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider

 

 

 

Summer Parfait

by on July 17, 2015

recipe pjcc parfait

This ultimate summer dessert is light, delicious, and bursting with fruit.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups of sliced strawberries or other fruit of choice
  • 1 pint or 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • ¼ cup confectioners’ sugar (more or less to taste)
  • ½ cup blueberries, raspberries or fruit of choice for topping

Directions

To make whipped cream:

  1. Pour the heavy cream into the cooled bowl. Using a hand mixer, whip the cream over medium/high speed until it begins to thickened.
  2. Increase the speed to high and continue to whip until medium peaks form.
  3. Turn off the mixer and add the confectioners’ sugar.
  4. Whip again on low speed until the confectioners’ sugar is mostly combined. Increase the speed to high and whip until completely thickened and the mixture forms stiff peaks. Refrigerator until ready to use.

To assemble parfaits:

  1. Place a small spoonful of whipped cream on the bottom of each ice cream cone then add a small spoonful of chopped strawberries, pushing the berries down into the whipped cream. Continue to layer strawberries and cream until you reach the top of the cone with a cream layer – (two or three layers).
  2. Garnish with a raspberry and blueberries or fruit of choice.
  3. Makes 16 ice cream cones.

Enjoy!

Why Dieting Doesn’t Work: “Secrets From The Eating Lab”

by on July 14, 2015

Traci Mann got her Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University and went on to found the Health and Eating Lab at the University of Minnesota.  She has become uniquely qualified to talk on the subject of diets and eating based on her research. She has written a book titled “Secrets From The Eating Lab” which explains the science and myths about dieting.

We are delighted to bring you this video of Dr. Mann’s lecture at the PJCC.

 

 

 

Back Pain – the Bane of Being Human

by on July 7, 2015

back pain pjcc

Back pain can be devastating. Just ask my wife. Prior to our upcoming wedding my wife decided she wanted to get in shape. She joined a gym and, in her zeal, she repeated the weight routine three days in a row. The next day she suffered severe lower back pain which subsequently has besieged her for the past 38 years. (I know this because we just celebrated our 38th anniversary.) Guess who has been destined to be the luggage shlepper and primary grocery shopper in our marriage?

My wife has not been alone in experiencing low back pain. 80% of adults suffer low back pain sometime during their lifetime. In younger people, pain is mostly due to mechanical factors – the interplay of spine, muscles, ligaments, discs, and nerves in the way of they fit together. Low back pain can be triggered by repeated straining such as at a gym, or by a fall or accident, or by a sudden action involving lifting a heavy weight or twisting abruptly. Oddly, a herniated disc can happen spontaneously without a specific injury. In older adults, the most common cause of low back pain is spinal stenosis which means narrowing of the spaces of the spine. With aging, some people develop spurs in their vertebrae, and ligaments around the spine may thicken which together may cause narrowing (stenosis) where the nerves exit the spine. This typically results in pain while standing and walking, and relief by sitting.

Red Flags
While most causes of back pain are not life threatening, there are some warning symptoms that indicate immediate attention is required. These “red flags” include history of trauma, fever, incontinence, history of cancer, unexplained weight loss, long term steroid use, and intense localized pain with inability to find a comfortable position. Coincidently, the reason there why there was a position available when I was hired at Kaiser was because my predecessor had died of back pain due to an epidural abscess, an infection near the spinal cord. While I don’t know the details of his illness, he likely had fever with his back pain, and unfortunately did not appreciate the implication. Life threatening cases of back pain with fever I have treated include pyelonephritis (kidney infection) and endocarditis (heart infection.) Back pain with fever can be a lethal combination.

The inability to find a position of comfort typifies a patient who present with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. For this reason alone, I routinely examine any older patient with back pain for the presence of a pulsating mass in the abdomen. During the course of my career, I have detected two patients with aortic aneurysms. They both were ex-smokers and were overtly grateful since delayed diagnosis is almost always fatal.

A patient with a history of cancer always raises a red flag to me even if the cancer occurred decades prior. The most common types of cancer that spread to bone are breast, prostate, lung, kidney and thyroid. While most doctors have been well educated about not doing unnecessary imaging studies, a patient who has a past history of cancer especially with any history of recent weight loss deserves x-ray evaluation.

When back pain is not spine pain
During the fifteen years I spent working part time in spine clinic at Kaiser, I was amazed the number of times a patient was referred for back pain actually had something other than a spine condition. Two of the most common conditions that can be confused with a spinal disorder especially in older adults include osteoarthritis of the hip and peripheral artery disease (PAD). Hip osteoarthritis can usually be distinguished by performing a hip examination during the visit and by getting hip x-rays. A person with good range of motion of hips does not likely have significant hip arthritis. PAD can usually be determined by checking all the pulses in the legs and feet. The other feature differentiating PAD from spinal stenosis is that patients with PAD do not have pain while standing, while spinal stenosis patients generally do. Sometimes, though, a patient might have more than one condition causing back and/or leg pain in which case more sensitive testing is indicated to evaluate circulation competency and neurological function.

Other causes of low back pain outside the spine include kidney stones, acute pancreatitis, herpes zoster (shingles), endometriosis, and fibromyalgia.

What is the scoop about MRI’s?
A common question from many people with back pain is whether they should get an MRI to pinpoint the cause of their problem. The problem is that most people even without back pain will have an abnormality on an MRI exam. Falsely alarming MRI results in patients who have back pain explain why back surgery in the U.S. is more than twice as high as in other countries. Yes, surgery corrects the problem seen on the MRI but this may be unrelated to the cause of the pain.

Treatment
Treatment of low back pain can vary depending if it is acute or chronic (more than 3 months). There are no hard and fast rules, but generally ice packs are advised for pain within 2-3 days of injury. Heat can help ease subacute or chronic pain. Bed rest after acute injury tends to delay recovery, and it is important to resume normal activity as soon as possible. Physical therapy can help strengthen core muscles that support the spine, but an interesting study from UCLA a few years ago showed that walking three hours a week was more effective than three hours of physical therapy a week. Epidural steroid injections can be given for low back pain associated with sciatica, but a recent NIH study showed that in patients with spinal stenosis who received epidural injections had worse long term outcomes than those who did not receive them. Surgery may be considered in serious injury situations or if there is progressive neurological deterioration. While there appears to be short term benefit in patients who have undergone surgery, long term benefits going out four years and ten years appear to show no clear advantage compared to those who have not had surgery. Although I am not fond of many of the medications advertised for low back pain, sometimes they serve a purpose in helping someone to become more active and exercise once again.

Prevention
Regular exercise is the best way to keep one’s back healthy. My wife has found walking at least 60 minutes a day helps to lessen recurrences of low back pain. She also stretches regularly, and does not wear high heeled shoes. When she is sitting in the car or a chair, she uses a lumbar support called a Sacro-Ease or an inflatable travel pillow. She avoids any significant lifting, but if she does lift something she lifts with bent knees, carries the object close to her, and does not twist. For me, running, biking, and doing yoga at the PJCC keeps my back in shape, but everyone has to find a regimen that works best for them.

Conclusion
While back pain can be disabling, it can also be managed with regular activity and awareness to prevent further damage. Three months ago my wife injured her back again when she missed a step getting out of an elevator while holding one of our granddaughters who impeded her vision. To avoid trauma to our granddaughter, she sacrificed herself by intentionally twisting her spine as she fell. I am happy to say that granddaughter and “Nana” are back in each other’s arms once again.

For further information about low back pain, visit the NIH site.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider

 

 

Is Pilates The Secret To Youth?

by on June 29, 2015

Audrey / Pilates

PJCC MEMBER PROFILE: AUDREY GUERIN 

I usually don’t ask people their age, especially if it is a woman. When I met Audrey Guerin I was surprised when her age came up; she is 81. She has such a youthful appearance. I told her I needed to know her secret–and we’re sharing it here with you!

Q:  Audrey, I was surprised to learn your age after seeing your picture and then meeting you in person. What is the secret for how you stay so young?

A:  Age just seems like a number and that number does not define me. I listen to my body to Continue reading

Music As Therapy

by on June 9, 2015

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My Patient
Irene (not her real name) was my patient for many years, and during a routine visit she showed me a lump on her abdomen which turned out to be metastatic pancreatic cancer. I went to visit her one afternoon in hopes of offering her some comfort. The day I visited her was sunny and cloudless, but when I entered the mobile home, I was ushered in by her daughter into a low-lit room with all the shades drawn. Irene was lying in bed surrounded by Continue reading

Shape Your Body In Just Minutes A Day

by on May 21, 2015

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Get In Shape Now!

Busy schedules and obligations sometimes make it a challenge to squeeze in a full-body workout. But devoting even 10 minutes a day to just one move can help shape and tone your body. PJCC Personal Trainers Chris Nash and Molly Stenhouse share their favorite Continue reading

Warning: Nature Hikes Can Lead to Radical Amazement

by on May 14, 2015

By Deborah Newbrun

Nature Hikes Jewish twist
I have been leading a series of Jewish-themed nature hikes for the PJCC as part of their Jewish Wellness programming for several years. Often the first question on the hike is: What makes a hike Jewish?

Jews have a blessing for what Abraham Joshua Heschel calls radical amazement, when you stop to notice something in nature that is not created by humans and you want to mark the moment with a blessing of thanks.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Elohienu Melech Ha Olam, oseh ma’asay bereshit
Bountiful are you, the one we call ruler, creator of the universe who makes the wonders of creation.

A Harvard Medical School health publication confirms what we already know. Those people who cultivate a practice of gratitude, like writing thank you notes or saying prayers of thanks, are the happiest. “With gratitude, people acknowledge the goodness in their lives. In the process, people usually recognize that the source of that goodness lies at least partially outside themselves. As a result, gratitude also helps people connect to something larger than themselves as individuals – whether to other people, nature, or a higher power. In positive psychology research, gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

On the PJCC Jewish-themed nature hikes, we enter the woods or fields or ocean-side trails prepared to give gratitude for the world’s bounty. Gently, I create opportunities to stop, take notice and give thanks for the beauty we see around us. These hikes, which are on the shorter side (1.5-3 miles), are a wonderful way to connect to the outdoors, to Jewish teachings, to new and old friends, and to yourself! Sometimes we learn about trees in Jewish texts, and other times we learn about the blessings of the senses. But with each hike, if we are lucky, we connect to what Abraham Joshua Heschel calls radical amazement.

“Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement . . . get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.”

Join us on one or all three free nature hikes led by Deborah Newbrun in 2015. Earn 100 JCC Rewards points per hike for pre-registering and attending. Pre-registration required.

Deborah Newbrun is a Jewish environmental educator and author of Spirit In Nature: Teaching Judaism and Ecology on the Trail.

Beware Of Ants In Your Toilet!

by on May 5, 2015

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A patient left a message for me which caught my attention. He wanted a blood sugar test for diabetes because there were ants in his toilet. When I spoke to him, he denied having some of the more typical signs of diabetes. His only concern was that there were ants in his toilet. I decided to order the test.

According to the CDC, 29 million people in the U.S. have diabetes, and at least one-quarter of them don’t know it. An additional 86 million people (1 in 3 adults) have pre-diabetes. Without change in lifestyle, 15-30% of pre-diabetics will develop type 2 diabetes in five years.

Diabetes Basics
There are three main types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when your body does not produce enough insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common type (90-95% of diabetics), and this is when your body does not use insulin properly. Gestational diabetes occurs in 4% of pregnancies, and these women are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes after pregnancy.

Symptoms
The typical symptoms of diabetes include feeling thirsty, frequent urination, fatigue, blurry vision, cuts or bruises that heal slowly, and tingling or numbness in the hands and feet. Many people with diabetes have no symptoms or mild ones that go unnoticed. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) does not list ants in the toilet as a warning sign.

Complications of Diabetes
The biggest risks of having diabetes are strokes and heart attacks, which with proper medication can be prevented. Uncontrolled diabetes leads to damage of many organs in the body, particularly the eyes, nerves, and kidneys. Last year I saw a young man for a check-up because his dentist noticed a severe gum problem which was going to require extraction of most of his teeth. I ordered a blood test which revealed he had diabetes. He had not realized that diabetes was the root cause of his dental woes.

Diabetes is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, specifically cancer of liver, pancreas, endometrium, colon, breast, and bladder. The explanation for this is unclear. It could be due to shared risk factors such as obesity, diet, and inactivity, or because of something intrinsic about diabetes such as elevated insulin or blood sugar levels.

Diabetes and pre-diabetes are risk factors for Alzheimer’s dementia and other types of dementia.

The Numbers
The normal fasting glucose is less than 100 mg/dL. Pre-diabetes is defined by fasting sugar between 100-125 mg/dL. Diabetes is defined by fasting sugars of 126 mg/dL measured on two different days. Another way of diagnosing diabetes is the A1C test which measures the average glucose in your body over the past 2-3 months. A1C of 6.5% or higher indicates diabetes. Normal A1C is usually less than 5.7%, and 5.7 – 6.4 is considered pre-diabetes depending on the lab reference range.

Treatment
The mainstays of most type 2 diabetics are diet and exercise, but because it is so hard to change one’s habits, pharmaceutical companies are reaping enormous profits from a multitude of diabetic drugs. There are medicines which work on the pancreas, liver, gut hormones, and kidneys to lower sugar, and there is even inhaled insulin now. It takes more effort for people to make personal changes, but an Asian diabetic patient of mine was especially determined to rid herself of diabetes. Her blood sugar was so high when she was diagnosed that she needed to take insulin at least twice a day to keep her diabetes controlled. She decided to give up her routine of eating rice at every meal, the main staple of her diet. She went from minimal exercise to exercising three hours a day. When I saw her back in clinic two months later, she had been successfully able to discontinue her insulin entirely. (Warning: don’t attempt to stop your diabetic meds on your own without doctor’s supervision.) Most people cannot make these dramatic life style changes, but she serves as an example of what healthy lifestyle change can achieve.

Screening for Diabetes
The ADA recommends adults get screened for diabetes every three years. You should get tested more often if you are overweight and have other risks such as family history of diabetes, sedentary lifestyle, history of gestational diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome, or a racial background of African-American, Hispanic-American, Native-American, Asian-American, or Pacific Islander ancestry.

Conclusion
My patient who I mentioned in the beginning did not have any particular risk factor for diabetes, but I tested him anyway because normally there should not be any urinary sugar in the toilet to attract ants. The bad news was that his blood test did reveal he had diabetes. The good news was that he did not have to hire an exterminator since once his diabetes was controlled the ants had to find a different location to host their picnic. Hopefully early detection will prevent him from having any future complications or further ant invasions.

For further information about diabetes, visit the American Diabetes Association.

Jerry Saliman, MD is a volunteer internist at Samaritan House Medical Clinic in San Mateo. He retired from Kaiser South San Francisco after working there more than 30 years. While at Kaiser SSF, Dr. Saliman was also Chief of Patient Education. He received the 2012 “Lifetime Achievement Award” given by the Kaiser SSF Medical Staff.

Editing acknowledgement: Ellen Saliman

Neither the PJCC or our guest columnists provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please make your health care decisions in partnership with your health care provider.

S’mores 2.0

by on May 4, 2015

S'moresS’mores are traditionally a part of the Jewish holiday Lag B’Omer. When you have a holiday that includes having a bonfire, you know s’mores have to be a part of it!  But, personally, I could eat these all year long.  Chocolate. Marshmallows. Graham crackers. Why not?

If you are looking for a more modern twist on an old favorite, here are some upgrades to your go-to campfire dessert , the s’more!

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Baked S’more Cups
By Mindi Cherry

 

Continue reading

Book Review – Jerusalem: A Cookbook

by on April 30, 2015

jerusalem cookbook

Food in Israel is unique and full of exciting flavors that have come together into a melting pot of centuries of influence from surrounding lands. Bringing the complexity of Jerusalem life to the dinner table, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem: A Cookbook is as much a social studies lesson as it is a culinary delight.

Though both men were born in Jerusalem in the same year, they come from opposite sides of the city. Tamimi is from the Muslim East Jerusalem and Ottolenghi from Jewish West Jerusalem. Both independently moved to London years ago and that’s where they met, working in the Continue reading

Joshua’s Summer of Growth

by on April 25, 2015

Joshua and his counselor

Joshua and his Camp Keff counselor at PJCC

by Diana Blank Epstein

Approaching the entrance of the PJCC, visitors are greeted with our guiding principles etched upon the pillars. One of these is Hachnasat Or’chim, which means “welcoming all” in Hebrew. I experienced this inclusivity up close when my husband and I registered our young son, who has special needs, for his very first “TYPICAL” camp experience—an experience that ended up exceeding all expectations. Continue reading

Your New Workout: Interval Training

by on April 23, 2015

interval training pjcc

by Torre Pusey, PJCC Personal Trainer

Ready to take your workout to the next level? Want to burn more calories, burn more fat, see faster results, and be constantly challenged? Consider Interval Training.
Often referred to as HIIT, High Intensity Interval Training has become a powerful tool for the everyday gym user. HIIT workouts evolve around a simple concept: alternating bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter training, such as taking a brisk walk injected with quick jogs.
HIIT workouts can be done anywhere and at any time. It isn’t necessarily about the exercise, the equipment, or the location. Just like the name suggests, the intensity must be high to receive Continue reading

The Butterfly Project: Remembering Children of the Holocaust

by on April 19, 2015

butterfly project

Inspired by the book I Never Saw Another Butterfly: Children’s Drawings and Poems from the Terezin Concentration Camp, 1942-1944, the Butterfly Project was initiated by two teachers in the San Diego Jewish Academy in 2006 to remember the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.

The butterflies in our PJCC atrium were created by hands of all ages. Our youngest artists learned that every butterfly is unique, fragile and beautiful for its individuality. Continue reading

Judaica Finds Life By Remembering The Past

by on April 14, 2015

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This spring the PJCC Art Gallery is proud to present an exhibition highlighting the multifaceted projects of Mi Polin, (Hebrew for “From Poland”). Mi Polin, founded by the couple Helena Czernek and Aleksander Prugar, is the first post-war brand that designs and produces Judaica in Poland. Mi Polin’s mission is two-fold: to create a new contemporary look of Jewish ritual objects, and to prove that Jewish life in Poland is vibrant. They embrace the future by giving great reverence to the past.

The PJCC reached out via email with a few questions for Helena and Aleksander, who are based in Poland.

Can you give an overview of the work you create as Mi Polin?

We are a design studio specializing in contemporary Jewish design. We have three fields of Continue reading

A Day in the Life of Matzah: Recipes for Passover

by on March 31, 2015

Having cleansed your pantry of all hametz, you are left with few options to fill your carb quota during Pesach (Passover). The challenge is to find new and exciting ways to use matzo in your meals. So, here are some ideas to add variety to your Passover meals.

Breakfast

matzo-granola-150Matzo Granola
If it is from Martha Stewart, it must be good! A delicious way to start the day.
(via Martha Stewart)

Continue reading

Improving Your Memory

by on March 23, 2015

memory

“Memory is the mother of all wisdom.”
― AESCHYLUS

With advancing age, many adults worry not only about their health, but also about their memory. First, let us examine why we value our memory, and then look at some of the latest research in how to improve memory.

With the externalization of memory by cell phones, computers, digital photographs, books, and pencil and paper, one can wonder why we need our brains to remember anything at all. However, thousands of years ago the major way we passed along information was orally, which required focused attention and memory. Dating back 2500 years, the Iliad and the sequel, the Odyssey, were transmitted orally by the rhythm of the words. It is said that the Torah, or Five Continue reading