Tag Archives: Jewish

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.

Since the start of the project more than 200 communities have participate in countries including Israeli, Mexico, Canada, Austria, Cuba Tanzania, Morocco and Poland.

This type of community-based art goes hand-in-hand with the emotional work by Mi Polin, on display April 1 – June 25, 2015 in the PJCC Art Gallery.

Judaica Finds Life By Remembering The Past

by on April 14, 2015


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 activity: we design, produce and distribute top quality contemporary Judaica, using only the finest bronze, crystal, ceramics, or wood. We also provide promotional graphic design for Jewish
institutions; for example, we designed a logo and commemorative art project for the anniversary of Warsaw Getto uprising. Last, we run Jewish design workshops for all ages and faiths.

We’re struck by your Mezuzah from this Home project, where you visit Pre-war Polish Jewish homes to recreate a mezuzah (a prayer casing found on doorposts of Jewish homes) from the original doorframe a mezuzah once inhabited.

“This is a series of new mezuzot—bronze casts of mezuzah traces. When you affix the mezuzah to your doorframe, you fill the emptiness and give it a second life. Sitting untouched for many years, these mezuzot can now fulfill their holy function. This realization is about the past. It brings memory about pre-war Jewish Poland and is also about life because remembrance is
a proof of life.”

Mi Polin offers to custom-make a mezuzah from a relative’s ancestor’s home town. Has this genealogy project uncovered any memorable stories or connections?

“We were commissioned to do a mezuzah for a Polish-Jewish press journalist. We arrived to Sokołów and noticed the front part of the building was under reconstruction. When we came closer we saw that old door was replaced by a new, plastic one. We were shocked because we thought that we lost this mezuzah trace. Then we met a resident who told us that the door had been replaced on Friday and on Monday it would be taken to a dump. We found the original
doorframe with the mezuzah trace in the back yard! Imagine how lucky we were to find a doorpost of an 80 year-old building on the last possible day. Immediately we decided to take it with us. We transported it by bus, by bicycle and on our backs to Helena’s home 25 miles away. Now this doorpost is in our studio.

“Another story—we did a bronze cast of mezuzah trace that was found at doorpost of Szeroka 38 in Kazimierz. We found that the most notable resident of Szeroka 38 was a very famous rabbi Joel Sirkes (1561-1640), called BaCH from the title of his book Bait Chadash. He was a Chief Rabbi of Krakow and the head of yeshiva in 1618-1640. He was buried in Remuh Cemetery behind this building. Our documents show, and we are almost 100% sure, that this mezuzah was mounted by Rabbi Sirkes by himself! We already done casts from 15 cities in southeast Poland.”

Your exhibition at the PJCC will include a brand new series documenting a multi-faith holiday art installation. Can you explain the site-specific setting, project, and response to the piece?

“This year Hannukah and Christmas are near the same time and we wanted to create a holiday atmosphere common for all Jews and Christians of Poland. The place of the event was carefully selected. It was organized at Brzozowa Square placed in Kazimierz, the former Jewish district in Kraków. Before the war, this area was a place where Jews and Christians lived together. Jews lived in buildings at left side, Christians at right. In the middle was a square where these people used to meet every day.

“We prepared 500 Christmas and Hannukah ornaments cut from mirror plexiglass and hung them on trees in the middle of Brzozowa Square, resulting in bright, ecumenical Trees of Light (pictured above). To create a magical atmosphere we added fog. The final work looked beautiful and dreamlike. Mirror ornaments were bouncing light in every direction. We planned Trees of Light as a viral event. Photos of Trees of Light were shared via social media and have been seen by more than 40,000 people.”

Visit the Mi Polin (From Poland) Exhibit at the PJCC April 1 – June 25, 2015.


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.


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



matzah-grilled-cheese-150Matzo Grille Cheese
If anything can make matzo look tasty, it’s cheese! Here is and easy way to turn an old classic into a trendy lunch item.
(via Popsugar)



matzah-pizza-150Matzo Pizza 
Most likely we’ve all created a version of matzo pizza. But, hey, pizza is delicious on any crust!
(via Macaroni Kid / Gina Benezra)



matzah-lasagna-150Matzah Lasagna
The fresh ingredients, including spinach and tomatoes, makes this lasagna not only tasty but also pleasing to the eye.
(via Matkonation / Danya Weiner)



matzah-choc-chip-150Passover Chocolate Chip Cookies
It is hard to go wrong with chocolate chip cookies no matter what. These are no exception. Buttery and chocolatey, they will satisfy your sweet cravings.
(by Kathy Kersul-Wiener via Tori Avey)


matzah-smore-150Passover S’mores
S’Mores aren’t just for Lag B’omer! Add some chocolate and a marshmallow to your matzo and, BAM!, you have a dessert that will please kids of all ages!
(via Ingredients, Inc.)


For Fun

pepper--frog-150Bell Pepper Frogs
These were just too cute to leave out of the list. What a clever way to add plague decorations to the table.
(via The Foodies)



 Learn more about Passover and other Jewish holidays >>


Breakthroughs In Molecular Imaging

by on March 5, 2015

The de la Zerda Group at the Stanford University School of Medicine is making strides in being able to idenify and characterize tumors in clinical settings. Adam de la Zerda
visited the PJCC to describe the revolutionary molecular imaging technique his team pioneered.

Adam was chosen as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in Science in 2012 and 2014.

Video: How We Think About Israel

by on February 13, 2015

Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman, of the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, spoke at the PJCC recently. He gave us some wonderful insight into the thinking of both Israeli and American Jews. He provided us with a new way for the Jewish Community to think and talk about Israel. Get ready to be inspired!

Out Of The Desert Innovation Blooms

by on January 21, 2015


A desert state in a modern era, Israel has sparked the way as a world leader in resource allocation with pioneering innovations in solar energy and irrigation development. In fact, contemporary Israel is a major player on the world stage of technology, medicine, and engineering, boasting more scientists, technicians, and engineers per capita (140 per 10,000) than any other country in the world.

For a country so young, and so fraught with turmoil, an astonishing amount of life-enhancing Continue reading

Israel: Complex, Compelling, Clarified

by on January 13, 2015


Rabbi Dr. Donniel Hartman tackles complex challenges facing the country

Whatever our personal views about Israel, it is likely we all agree that Israel is among the most complex and complicated nations in the world. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict appears intractable, with both sides refusing even to acknowledge a common narrative of the genesis of the conflict. This has raised significant moral questions (often by Israeli writers and thinkers) about the appropriateness of Israel’s military response.

There are also conflicts within Israeli society. The relationship between Ashkenazi (Jews of Central and Eastern European descent) and Shephardi (Jews of Spanish and Middle Eastern Continue reading

A Healthy Spin on Latkes: The “No-tato” Pancake

by on November 21, 2014

quinoa latkes

Traditional potato latkes are delicious but more and more people are looking for healthier ways to make these wonderful fried patties.  We’ve come up with a recipe that is heavier on protein and veggies and light on the carbs.  And, as a bonus, they taste great! Enjoy!

Quinoa & Veggie Latkes Recipe


3 cup cooked quinoa (use 1 part quinoa to 1 part water)
1/2 cup grated onion (about 1/2 medium onion)
1 cup each finely grated zucchini and carrot
1/4 cup potato starch
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste Continue reading

The Baseball Dilemma

by on October 11, 2014

Hank Greenberg

With the month of October comes the annual race for the pennant. It often coincides with the Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur.  Through the history of baseball Jewish players who find themselves lucky enough to make it to the playoffs have had to make difficult choices between their religious values and their team.  If Yom Kippur happens to fall on the day of a playoff game, it can, and has, ruffled some feathers in the baseball community. Continue reading

Sukkot: Traditions of Wonder, Gratitude, & Justice

by on October 2, 2014


Traditions of Wonder, Gratitude and Justice:
Reflections on Sukkot from the PJCC Garden Manager

‘Among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder.’ –    Rabbi Abraham Yehoshua Heschel

The fall is a season of abundance in the PJCC garden. Thanks to the hard work and heart of many volunteers, our garden is bursting with greens, tomatoes, squash, peppers, figs and strawberries – to name a few. Beginning my new position as Garden Manager during this rich time of year has given me a lot of joy, especially as it coincides with Sukkot. The holiday offers Continue reading