Category Archives: Engage

Yearning For Peace

by on July 31, 2014

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Marla (left) and Stephanie.

I can’t read the news about Israel and Gaza. It is too violent. Too heartbreaking. Too familiar. And I also can’t stop reading the news about Israel and Gaza.

It is too important. Too urgent. Too familiar.

The situation is complex. There are no easy answers. There is no clear right or wrong anymore, except for this: too many people are dead. Too many people are being left to grieve and mourn those they love. Too many fathers are without their children, too many wives are without their spouses, and too many young people have lost their parents, friends, and siblings. Enough is enough. There has to be a better way.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002
The world woke up to news of a bombing at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. It was the first time a place of learning – a University with Israeli, Palestinian, and international students –was targeted by a terrorist attack. I heard the news on the radio on my way to work that morning. I was the Camp Director at the PJCC, at our Belmont campus. It was a regular camp day. Kids went swimming and we played games. We ate lunch and sang songs. At 2:30 pm, as I stood outside singing Boom Chicka Boom, urgent messages on my walkie-talkie instructed me to immediately return to the office for a phone call. On the other end of the line was a college friend who said, “No one can find Marla. We think she was in the cafeteria when the bomb went off.”

And just like that, everything changed. A day that had been quite normal suddenly became surreal.

It was the day before my 24th birthday. The day before Marla was supposed to fly home to California for a visit. I spent the evening on the phone with friends across the country and with Marla’s family. Eventually a body was found. A friend who worked for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) in San Diego helped in transmitting Marla’s dental records to authorities in Israel. And late that night, the thing we had all hoped was not, could not, possibly be true became true.

Marla Ann Bennett, age 24, was killed in the Hebrew University bombing, along with eight other people. 100 people were wounded – both Arabs and Israelis.

Today it has been twelve years since Marla’s death. Twelve years that feel like an eternity, yet passed in the blink of an eye. Twelve years ago, I buried my best friend. When her body arrived from Israel, my friends, who flew in from all over the country, joined me to sit with Marla in the mortuary until her funeral began. We tried to comfort her parents, her sister, each other, on this loss that seemed like it could not possibly, actually be happening. There were no words. We were barely adults. We didn’t know what to say or do, but we knew we had to be together to survive this horrific event. We held each other close and collectively mourned the loss of an amazing young woman. We had to bear witness and honor the memory and spirit of the extraordinary life this remarkable woman lived in 24 short years. Over 1,000 people attended Marla’s funeral. People had to stand outside the synagogue for lack of space inside.

I grow anxious during this time of year. As the calendar marches towards July 31st I think of all the things that Marla has missed over these last 12 years. Would she be married? Have children? Would she and I have opened our own overnight camp, like we dreamed about doing in college? Would she still be living in Israel?

Today, there are memorial funds, memorial gardens, and even memorial concerts honoring Marla’s life. I wonder, how the death of this one young woman, who was cherished and loved by so many, could not have been enough to stop the ongoing violence? How can the deaths of the nine people who died from that bombing not have been enough? How can the thousands of other people who have died from acts of terrorism and retribution not be enough? How many lives will have to be destroyed before both sides finally “beat their swords in plowshares” (Isaiah 2:4), and find peace?

Each person that has died – who has been murdered – is a part of their own larger network of family and friends. For the thousands lost, there are tens of thousands left behind to live in a world without the person they loved. When is it going to be enough to end this bloodshed?

Whatever your beliefs, you’re entitled to them. The current situation in Israel and Gaza is complex and there are no easy answers. But enough is enough. No more children should have to bury their friends, their siblings, their parents. No more parents should have to bury their children.

There has to be a better way. There has to be a path toward peace.

Looking for a Low-Impact Workout? Try Battle Rope Training

by on July 28, 2014

by Christopher Nash, PJCC Personal Trainer

Kevin, a fit software engineer, wanted to pursue cardio training. However, the 50-year old was concerned that running would be hard on his already-bad knees, the collateral damage of a 30-year love for soccer. He had also had a hip replaced the previous year. When Kevin asked me about cardio alternatives to running, I shared several workout options, including a little-known fitness routine called Battle Ropes.

Originally developed for specific sports such as football and martial arts, Battle Rope training is a highly effective, back-to-basics type of conditioning that is “roping in” fans with its new twist to standard workouts. The rope is used as a tool that manipulates the user’s body weight while providing a safe and very intense low-impact workout. Using a thick, sturdy rope approximately 50 feet in length, the constant whipping motion helps tone muscles while increasing endurance and upper-body strength. Done correctly, a Battle Rope workout:

    • Burns calories and tones muscle
    • Simultaneous combines core, cardio and strength training
    • Cultivates flexibility, posture correction, and stamina

As I coached Kevin through typical battle rope movements, he noticed that within ten short minutes he was sweating. A lot. His feet weren’t even moving and yet his entire body was fully engaged, every muscle feeling as if he’d just ran five miles on the treadmill. After a 30-minute workout, he said, “I’ve never felt my body work this way, like every muscle was hit.” He was delighted to find an effective solution to his fitness limitations.

Battle Rope Training, along with other types of new body weight manipulation workout tools, revolves around scientific facts that are changing the way the fitness industry perceive fitness training. Physical limitations need not exclude exercise. Talk to a fitness instructor and share any concerns you may have. With the right tools, coaching, and guidance, you can meet and even exceed your fitness needs.

Don’t Let Go Of Hope

by on July 24, 2014

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As the violence in Israel and Gaza continues to escalate and claims more victims, the pain I feel is palpable.

My heart aches for the IDF soldiers killed in action, and for the Israeli civilians who suffer an endless torrent of rockets fired at their homes and their children. My heart aches as well for the innocent civilians of Gaza who are killed or wounded, caught as they are in a deepening web of warfare. My guess is that many of you feel this same way. My guess is, too, that the majority of Israelis and Palestinians share the common wish that their children grow up to thrive in the sunshine, without fear of rocket and mortar fire. At the very least, I need to believe that.

And yet, I and so many others are falling into a malaise of hopelessness. In the words of Israeli author David Grossman, it is a malaise that submits that “anyone who still hopes, who still believes in the possibility of peace, is at best naïve or a deluded dreamer…”

Still, hope is not just a powerful necessity; it is our best – perhaps only – weapon. We who watch the unfolding of violence from a distance, no matter our politics, need to hang on to hope with every ounce of our strength. We need to nurture the hope that peace will come – that sooner or later politicians and military leaders will realize that peace is the only way. We must believe that peace will break forth seeded by vision, courage, and the will to create a new, affirmative reality in the Middle East.

If we are to hold-onto-for-dear-life this dream of peace, as I believe we must, we might begin with ourselves. Let us not just hope for peace, but become peace. We can learn to speak to each other authentically and kindly; we can act toward others, especially those difficult people in our lives, with kindness and concord. We can, as Jewish tradition instructs us, “seek peace and pursue it.”

And in the meantime, we can hope and pray for peace in Israel and Gaza, and all the places across the globe where mistrust, hate, and violence have taken root.

Let peace fill the earth as waters fill the sea.

Monkey See, Monkey Do — How Behavioral Modeling Influences Health

by on July 1, 2014

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My 2-year-old granddaughter seemed to welcome her newborn baby sister with bland indifference. I observed her as she played with her blocks and other toys and did not appear to be perturbed by the presence of a new member in her family. After she had dinner, I was surprised when she set out deliberately for the couch, wrapped her mother’s pillow around her lap, lifted her shirt, and clutched her bear to her chest. It was dinner time for her bear! While it was fun to watch her precise imitation of breast feeding, it made me stop and wonder how we as adults subconsciously follow patterns of behavior that may not reach our cognitive awareness. Continue reading

Welcoming The Shadow: Dealing With Negative Self Talk

by on June 25, 2014

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“When we were one or two years old we had what we might visualize as a 360-degree personality. Energy radiated out from all parts of our psyche… But one day we noticed that our parents didn’t like certain parts of that ball of energy that we were. They said things like, “Can’t you be still?” or “It isn’t nice to try and kill your brother.” Behind us we have an invisible bag, and the part of us that our parents don’t appreciate we, to keep our parents love, put in the bag. By the time we go to school the bag is quite large. Then our teachers have their say: “Good children don’t get angry over such little things.” So we take our anger and put it in the bag. By high school it is our peers whose opinion we value sufficiently to stuff more parts Continue reading

Discover the Bay the Artsy Way

by on June 16, 2014

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It’s fun to play tourist in your own backyard. I mean if you are going to staycation, the Bay Area, a major vacation destination is a pretty great place to do it. But this summer, get to better know the sites through site-specific performances.

Now if I suggested you walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and take in the view, you’d rightly say, “Kimberly, thanks, but EVERYONE knows that.” But how much time have you spent under Continue reading

HIV Awareness: HIV Testing Day is June 27

by on June 3, 2014

HIV-625My twin daughters were born in August of 1981, just two months after a publication from the CDC reported the first cases of a rare lung infection that eventually led to what became known as the AIDS epidemic. Because they were very premature, my newborn daughters required numerous blood transfusions from Irwin Memorial Blood Bank in San Francisco. One daughter received over 40 different transfusions. In 1985, the FDA approved the first blood test to detect HIV antibodies in the blood, and blood banks began their first screening of their blood supply. It was shortly thereafter that my wife and I received a letter from the Continue reading

Summer Fun Safety Tips

by on May 27, 2014

smiley-pool-girl-625by Seth Hazen, PJCC Aquatics Manager

Here are my top 5 tips for both keeping safe in the sun and at the pool.

With summer fast approaching this is a great time to start preparing for fun in the sun!

SUN SAFETY
1. The sun’s UV rays are strongest from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm during the day. Make sure if you are out in the sun during this time period you take frequent breaks to relax in the shade and allow your skin a break from direct sunlight. If you don’t have access to shade, don’t be caught without a shirt! Even blocking the rays with a shirt will give you a much needed Continue reading

For Children, Learning Is Just A Day At The Beach

by on May 20, 2014

child-beach-625by Lisa Elliott, ECE Program Coordinator

A Foundation of Preschool Learning: Water, Sand, Clay, Paint, and Blocks

In a society of over-scheduled kids, the expectation of building your scholastic resume early, and so on, childrens’ play time can seem like a waste of time. What are they accomplishing? How will this add to their academic success? What are they learning? Turns out, they are learning a lot! Continue reading

Moby Dick: A Legendary Tale Of Poor Workplace Safety

by on May 6, 2014

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Captain Ahab is on a mission to avenge the loss of his leg.  Over the course of a year, his crew hunts sperm whales and harvests the oil in huge barrels in the hold of his ship Pequod.  The ship travels all over the world and finally ends up in the equator in the Pacific Ocean, Moby Dick’s home area.  Despite many bad omens, including breaking of navigation instruments and a typhoon, Ahab is determined to pursue the great white whale.  Moby Dick eventually attacks the Pequod, and even while the ship is sinking, Ahab tries to throw his harpoon at the whale.  Instead, the harpoon rope strangles Ahab and leads to his drowning.  All of the crew die except the Ishmael, the narrator.   In short, Ahab and his crew suffered workplace injuries.

Let’s see what we can learn from this story in terms of workplace safety.  These are the elements of worker safety to explore:
1.  The environment
2.  The worker
3.  Extenuating circumstances Continue reading