Tag Archives: PJCC

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 discussion in the Jewish Book Club meeting, and ample socializing. The PJCC is filled with opportunities for learning, growth, health, personal transformation, and community-building.

The best things happen here.

In meeting and talking with people I was struck by how many referred to the PJCC as “my second home.” Many of you also mentioned how the Center serves as a destination and gateway to engage with Jewish life and heritage and as a place that promotes cross-cultural understanding. You come here for social, educational, and spiritual benefits, as well as the experience of vibrant wellness.

As a member of the JCC community, you want to feel valued and welcomed — to belong. You expect and deserve programs and services that are interesting, engaging, and relevant. I will sustain and expand this vision through collaboration with the Center’s dedicated and talented staff, board members, volunteers, and donors. My commitment to you is that the PJCC will listen intently to what the community needs and we will deliver in the best ways possible.

JCCs have always played an important part in my life. As a child I attended a JCC preschool and spent nearly every Sunday “at the J” playing sports, and taking classes. In my teenage years I worked at JCC summer camps and participated in youth leadership programs where I made life-long friends and learned important life and work skills. Years later, I even met my wife, Laura, while working at a JCC. So I can say with deep conviction and sincerity that I understand the positive and formative impact that JCCs can have on a person’s life. I wish for you and your family a similarly fulfilling, life-affirming PJCC experience.

It is with excitement, enthusiasm, and gratitude that my family and I join this wonderful community. I look forward to meeting each and every one of you.

Warm regards,

Paul Geduldig
Chief Executive Officer

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 toxicity, a condition resulting from the harmful effects of elevated molecular oxygen that
burned his retinas. “In those days, if doctors thought there might be a problem right after delivery, such as illness or being premature, they placed the baby in an incubator,” Gene
explains. “I was born healthy, but the exposure to excess oxygen left me blind.” As a result, Gene can distinguish bright lights from total darkness but cannot see shapes or forms.

The Foster City resident, who joined the Center last year, has found the PJCC to be a pleasant surprise. “I’ve been very impressed,” he says. “One of the trainers, Herman Chan, helped show me how to use the equipment and arranged it so the pieces I’d use the most would be close to each other. Thanks to him, I can go through my routines without asking for help.” Gene’s favorite exercise is an aerobic workout on the treadmill, which is helping him reach his goal of completing a 10k run in under 75 minutes.

Seven-year-old Lynmar also helps Gene navigate his way through the fitness facility. “Often people try to help by pointing out that I’m going the wrong way or taking a longer route, but they don’t realize that Lynmar has noticed obstacles on the floor that they might not see, like mats or weights. My dog is trained to recognize all hazards even when people might not see them as such.”
When he isn’t working out, the retired IT consultant plays the piano and has made several CDs for friends. He also enjoys classical music and reading religious fiction, historical novels, and classic “whodunit” mysteries like Perry Mason and Sherlock Holmes. Online, he navigates the
Internet with the aid of a screen reader, a software program that allows visually impaired users to read the text that is displayed on the screen with the use of a speech synthesizer.
Gene’s positive attitude is one worth emulating.

“When something lousy happens, you can turn to your neighborhood pub to ease the pain, but that’s a temporary solution,” he says. “Or you can take a look at the cards you’ve been dealt and figure out the best way to make something of them. That’s what I do.”

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 so previously, ask for their forgiveness, and make amends where possible. It is a fundamental teaching that Yom Kippur does not provide forgiveness for hurts that we caused other people; forgiveness can only come from those we have offended. This process of self reflection and asking for forgiveness is known as “repentance” and “atonement.” The act of atonement makes the claim that as human beings we are able to change and improve ourselves. On Yom Kippur we strive to improve our relationships both with other human beings and with God.

If we were to think of the Day of Atonement as the Day of At-One-Ment, which is the true derivation of the word, we might encounter a deeper truth. Rather than thinking of sin as an affront to the divine being “out there,” we might understand that sin is in fact a sickness of the soul, “in here.” It is the experience of our own brokenness, a separation from our deepest selves and our deepest truth, and from the “still, small voice” that whispers to us that our essence is pure and good and whole, and invites us to return to our truest selves. This is teshuvah in the truest sense: the longing to change, the effort to heal ourselves, a reuniting with our self and returning to wholeness (a word related to “holiness”).

To experience Yom Kippur as the Day of At-One-Ment, we require spacious silence in which to contemplate the truth of our own souls and navigate the journey of return. As philosopher and spiritual mentor Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz writes, At-One-Ment “ … is an endeavor to break away from the past and reach a higher level. However, notwithstanding the complexity and the deeply felt difficulties involved, there is a clear simplicity in the elemental point that is the point of the turning.” It is, finally, a joyous experience, the experience of discovering again one’s true self and knowing wholeness.

Contributor Rabbi Lavey Derby is the PJCC’s Director of Jewish Life.



CPR: Are You Prepared to Help?

by on September 17, 2015


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!


  • 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


  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds


  • 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


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


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.


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?).


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).


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.


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.


  • 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


  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.


  • 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


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.


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 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.

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.

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


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


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


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

Beware Of Ants In Your Toilet!

by on May 5, 2015


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.

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.

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.

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!



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

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 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.


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

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.

Functional Training: Taking Your Workouts To The Next Level

by on February 24, 2015


By Chris Nash, PJCC Personal Trainer

As a fitness professional for more than 15 years, I’ve witnessed many changes in the fitness industry. It used to be that gyms were limited to traditional equipment, such as bench and leg presses, that worked just one or two muscles at a time.

But in recent years, a growing trend is functional training. This is a classification of exercise that Continue reading

The Case for Camp — Why Kids Need It Now More Than Ever

by on February 19, 2015

pjcc summer camp

By Peg L. Smith

Change is a part of life. It is often directly related to survival and can enrich one’s life in ways unexpected. Childhood is in essence a time of profound change and development. It is exciting and disquieting at the same time. When it comes to our children, we need to be sure that change is made for the better.

We’ve been so concentrated on the brain, we forget about the rest of our bodies. This change in focus has lead to an obesity rate that is unacceptable. Our kids are not as healthy as the Continue reading

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!

Optimism & Your Health

by on February 5, 2015


During medical training at UCLA, I had the good fortune to learn from Norman Cousins, a Jewish writer, editor, and adjunct professor of medical humanities. Despite being misdiagnosed with tuberculosis at age 11, he set out as a boy to “discover exuberance.” He believed that positive emotions were the key to fighting illness, which he exemplified in the telling of his own battle with a severe form of arthritis. In the book Anatomy of An Illness, he describes his victory over a potentially life-threatening condition by taking mega doses of vitamin C, and watching Marx Brothers movies and TV sitcoms. He relates, “Laughter is a form of internal jogging. It moves your internal organs around. It enhances respiration. It is an ignitor of great expectations.” His Continue reading

Half My Size: A Weight Loss Journey

by on January 28, 2015


By Randi  Reed, PJCC Assistant Camp Director

Everyone asks me what happened. How did I do it?

As a teenager at age 16 I weighed 350 lbs. If that sounds like it would be hard to overcome, it was.

I had PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome) and I knew if I kept going and growing the way I was, I would have died. With help from my doctor to get the PCOS and hormones under control I Continue reading

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

Norovirus – The Winter Bug

by on January 16, 2015


Thanksgiving weekend 2014 was a time to forget for our family. My wife and I planned for the arrival of our children, their spouses, and four grandchildren for months. One of my granddaughters would Facetime daily to see what toys she would play with when she would eventually visit. The night before Thanksgiving, one son-in-law became acutely ill with a GI bug, and he wasn’t able to go to Thanksgiving dinner. The day after Thanksgiving, two of my daughters became acutely ill. By Thanksgiving weekend, the illness had ravaged through our entire family except for my wife and one granddaughter who was protected through the magic 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

Wellness Coaching. What’s In It For Me?

by on January 6, 2015


As a wellness coach, I am asked this question on a regular basis. I like to respond by relating the coaching I do to that of any other coach: A coach is someone who can help you make specific improvements to your technique which will add value to your overall game.  A good coach does this by shining a new perspective on an activity or simply holding their pupil accountable to their goals. You use a running coach to improve your running skills and timing. And if you want Continue reading

Strategies For Reinventing Your Resolutions

by on December 31, 2014

new year resolutions

Making, and then breaking, the same promises every year can be exhausting. Jeannie   Solomon, PJCC Wellness Coach, uses helpful strategies to help clients stay on track. Here, she shares her “tools of the trade” to help you reinvent your resolutions and—ultimately—yourself.

Define Your Wellness
Relationships, sleep, exercise, work, and spirituality (to name a few) are all forces that can cause great joy as well as great stress, feeding our energy and vitality. To achieve long-term wellness, Continue reading

Olive Tapenade: Easy to Make & Delicious

by on December 17, 2014



1/2 pound pitted mixed olives
1 small clove garlic, minced
2 Tbl. capers
2-3 fresh basil leaves
1 Tbl. freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbl. extra-virgin olive oil


  • Thoroughly rinse the olives in cool water.
  • Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
  • Process to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl, until mixture becomes a coarse paste, approximately 1-2 minutes total.
  • Transfer to a bowl and serve!

Bon Appetit


For more on Olive Oil, listen to our Podcast with the California Olive Oil Council.

Baby Talk Before Baby Talks

by on December 16, 2014


How Baby Sign Language Can Help Ease Frustration

Every parent’s been there, those fraught moments when their cuddly, cooing, oh-so-cute baby suddenly turns into a cranky, frustrated infant or toddler, spitting food, constantly crying, or even throwing tantrums. When it’s a toss-up over who’s more frantic and confused, baby or mommy, and it’s definitely not colic, a bump or a burp, there’s an ingenious way to ask baby “What’s up?” The little tyke may not yet have any words but definitely demands to be heard.

To bridge this super charged communication gap, Touch Blue Sky’s Baby Sign Language dedicated instructors teach new parents how “to talk” with their young offspring via American Continue reading

Podcast: A World of Olive Oil – Presented by the California Olive Oil Council

by on December 9, 2014


Click image above to listen to Podcast (50 min)

Kimberly Gordon, PJCC Cultural Arts Director, introduces  Lisa Pollack, Marketing Coordinator, California Olive Oil Council and Sandy Sonnenfelt who is a trained olive oil taster and is a member of California Olive Oil Council and UC Davis taste panels. For many years she was a judge at the LA International Olive Oil Competition and she also judges in many of the local olive oil competitions. She is a frequent presenter at olive oil educational seminars. Since Continue reading

Depression — The Lowdown

by on December 2, 2014


News of Robin Williams’ suicide was a shock. How could a man devoted to making others laugh take his own life? His death brought the disorder of clinical depression to the forefront.

Depression is a common mental illness that is manifested by prolonged sense of sadness, and other symptoms such as loss of desire to do pleasurable activities, irritability, insomnia or oversleeping, change in appetite, loss of energy, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and sometimes thoughts of death or suicide. Depression affects 1 in 11 adults, and nearly twice as many women as men. Sadness and depression are different. Many people feel sad after losing a loved one, or losing a job, or ending a relationship. People who are depressed, however, can usually differentiate normal grief from the disabling continued weight of clinical depression. Although there is excellent treatment for depression, many people do not seek help because they mistakenly construe it as a personal weakness rather than a legitimate illness. Many celebrities have publically acknowledged their own battles with depression in hopes that others 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

PJCC Personal Trainer Trade Secrets

by on November 18, 2014


By Herman Chan, PJCC Personal Trainer

A fitness professional since 1989, PJCC Personal Trainer Herman Chan works with all ages, shapes, and types, motivating clients that range from stroke survivors to athletes in training. How does Herman help inspire all levels to maintain their enthusiasm for exercise?

Fitness Novice

  1. Evaluate your goals. Are they realistic? Create goals you can actually achieve.
  2. Celebrate small victories. Each one brings you closer to your big goal.
  3. Find a workout partner and hold each other accountable.
  4. Establish a routine and stick to it. Even professional athletes have a set routine.
  5. Change your attitude! Approach workouts as fun, not a chore.

Continue reading

Olive Oil 411

by on November 13, 2014

Did you know that different oils have different heat thresholds? Are you unclear on the benefits of olive oil and other cooking oils?  This video will give you a brief info session on oils!

Interested in more information on Olive Oil? Join us November 20, 2014 for A World of Olive Oil: From the Middle East to Your Backyard at the PJCC with California Olive Oil Council educator, Nancy Ash to learn about olive oil and enjoy a tasting.

In Search Of Sleep

by on November 4, 2014


But I have promises to keep, and miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep.”  Robert Frost

A relative of mine, Stewart, (not his real name) was driving home from LA, and fell asleep at the wheel. Stewart was 18 years old at the time, and on winter break from college. He drove to LA in the morning, and then, after spending the day there, drove home that night. Although he knew he was drowsy, he made the decision to drive home. The last thing he remembered was listening to a 49er Monday night football game before he dozed off without warning. His new 1996 Toyota Corolla was totaled when the car crashed into a barrier on the side of the highway Continue reading

Pink & Powerful

by on October 21, 2014

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. Everyone is wearing pink to bring attention to a disease that will touch over 280,000 women per year in the US alone.  Odds are high that everyone knows at least one person effected by breast cancer. While fighting and beating cancer is  the main goal when one is diagnosed, there is a long road of rehabilitatation following surgery that is so important to regaining strength and mobility.

In the following video, we hear a few inspirational stories from women who have taken on breast cancer and come out the other side with more strength, courage, and lust for life than before.

The PJCC is doing its part on October 19-25, 2015 for Pink Week.
We invite the whole community to come and support a great cause.


Pink Ribbon Program @ PJCC  - Postoperative workout designed to enhance recovery



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

Cultivating Good Health

by on October 10, 2014


Any time is a good time to cultivate good health by developing a wellness plan that will help you flourish. Don’t know where to begin? Draw inspiration from your garden and apply the same concepts to your health.

Planning your garden is the first step to its success and the same holds true for your health. Buy a notebook and name it your health journal. Begin by writing down two goals that are attainable and aren’t overwhelming. For example, start preparing your afternoon snacks to bring to work instead of buying from the vending machine. This action alone can save you 200 Continue reading

Dear New Kindergarten Mom

by on September 3, 2014

KSimon-PhotobyTraciBianchi-625Dear New Kindergarten Mom,

This morning, I bundled my boys into the stroller and went out for one last impromptu morning walk. Max will be starting kindergarten next week, and the days spent hanging out in our jammies and meandering to the nearest park or Starbucks are almost over. My best friend texted me a picture of her own 5-year-old a few minutes later, standing in front of his new elementary school. “How did we get here?!” I texted back. It was yesterday that we were pregnant together. Visiting the fire station with toddlers together. Welcoming second babies together. “How did we get here?!”

Well, Mama, I want you to take a break from packing lunches and tucking pencils into binders. Continue reading

What Do Employers Want? Hint—It’s Not What You Think!

by on August 26, 2014


At a recent employer panel on the peninsula, I had the opportunity to ask four high level executives (VP and Director levels) from four large organizations what type of technical training we should be providing our job seekers.

Strangely there was an awkward silence following the question. Finally, the HR person from the large, well established tech firm spoke up. His answer, paraphrased here, was that by the time he saw a candidate that person had already established that he had the technical skills needed. What he needed was someone who had empathy. WHAT?!?!  EMPATHY? What the heck does empathy have to do with tech? Continue reading

Container Gardening

by on August 19, 2014


There’s nothing quite like fresh produce harvested at its peak. Even if you live in a space with only a small patio or balcony, containers provide a wonderful way to enjoy your favorite foods year round.

Make The Most Of The Space You Have
Most plants require between 5 –7 hours of sunlight a day to thrive. Choose a location that receives adequate sunlight, is protected from too much wind and temperature extremes, and is in a convenient location for care and harvesting. One of the benefits of container gardening is Continue reading

High Blood Pressure – The Hidden Killer

by on August 5, 2014


On April 12, 1945, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was sitting in his living room having his portrait painted by artist Elizabeth Shoumatoff, who later became most renowned for “Unfinished Portrait” of FDR. Also present was Lucy Mercer, Eleanor’s social secretary, but most notorious because of her affair with the president. His dog, Fala, and two cousins were in the room as well according to biographer Doris Kearns Goodwin. At 1:00 pm, FDR complained of “traffic pain at the back of my head,” and collapsed, unconscious. His cardiologist quickly arrived and recognized the signs of a cerebral hemorrhage, a type of stroke. One could argue that one of FDR’s visitors that day triggered his stroke, but it is much more likely that years of untreated high blood pressure led to FDR’s demise at the age of 63.

High blood pressure or hypertension still remains a hidden killer at large. It is estimated that high blood pressure kills approximately 1000 Americans each day due to its effects on Continue reading