April 1, 2015. By Marilyn Hassid--
In a couple of weeks the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC is proudly hosting a remarkable play on our Kaplan Theatre Stage. Bad Jews, by Joshua Harmon, is a coproduction of Stages Repertory Theatre and Black Lab Theatre in cooperation with the J.
The play’s director, Jordan Jaffe, is the Artistic Director of Black Lab Theatre. Jaffe spent many years roaming the halls of the J as a child and was a JCC Maccabi Sports participant. He later discovered a love for theater while attending Rice University, and in 2013 was named to the Houston Press' Top 100 Creatives list of "movers and shakers" in the Houston arts community.
Bad Jews tells the story of three cousins: Daphna who has just returned from Israel, empowered by her journey; Liam who has fallen for an “American Girl” who is anything but Jewish; and Jonah (note the name!) who just doesn’t want to get involved. Their grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, has died, leaving behind his precious Chai necklace. Battle lines are drawn as these self-absorbed cousins clash over possession of this beloved family heirloom.
I had the privilege of sitting through the first read-through of the play and I promise you, it’s riveting, thought-provoking, and yes, disturbing and, at times funny. I just wanted to throttle these age 20-ish cousins! Don't get me wrong, they could very well be older and still be as self-absorbed. The play is so relatable that you feel a unique emotional connection to the characters.
In a few days, many of us will be sitting around Passover tables and looking to the youngest to ask the Four Questions. This year, I’m suggesting four more questions to be posed by the adults at the table as a lead up to the play:
- What does it mean to be a "Good Jew"?
- Do I consider myself a Jewish American or American Jew?
- Can interfaith marriages work?
- What is the most important Jewish value that you hope to pass on to your children?
Take these four additional questions to your seders and start a conversation. Let us know how the conversation goes by leaving some thoughts in the comments below.
Purchase tickets to Bad Jews online at erjcchouston.org/theatre.
See you at the theatre,
Check out this recent interview with Bad Jews Director, Jordan Jaffe:
A poorly kept secret is that we have a first class ceramics program and a very high quality, well equipped studio at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC. This is not a paint-by-number program, but it is one where students of any level can learn to create their works of art from raw clay and bring them to completion. We have wonderful, up-to -date equipment, and we use first class materials. Instruction is led by professional ceramic artists. Our newest additions are new cabinets, new sink, new lighting, a double wedging table, a slab roller and a wall mounted clay extruder. Dozens of glazes and underglazes are available and are constantly replenished. An additional kiln is on the way as well.
Our dwindling program was kept alive for many years mostly by the untiring efforts of Judy Mellon and Marge Mayer. Now because of enthusiastic students, quality instructors and support and investment from the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC, the program is growing in popularity. The classes run two hours long, and unlike some other ceramic studios there is ample "studio time" for work to be perfected and completed to each student's full satisfaction. At this time we have a class for wheel instruction as well as a class for hand building. Class sizes are optimal now, but if future registration continues to increase, additional classes are possible.
You're welcome to visit and watch the artists at work. The classes are on Monday and Wednesday from 1:00 PM-3:00 PM. In addition to the class instruction the studio is available to students Monday-Friday. To learn more about the ceramic program and other art classes visit erjcchouston.org/art.
Hope to see you soon.
Member and Ceramics Student
Bobby Lapin, Evelyn Rubenstein JCC member and volunteer, recently recounted his experience with Houston Astro’s great, Craig Biggio. Bobby shared his story of how Biggio took the time to have a huge impact on his child’s life at a time that he needed most. Read the full story, “Biggio belongs in everybody’s hall of fame” here on chron.com.
My grandparents are the perfect couple --- and not in a cliché “still in love after all these years” Hallmark card sort of way, but in a really solid, loving and tender sort of way. Anyone who spends a little bit of time with them can see how much they admire each other. It’s in the way they look at each other and even more in the way they speak to and about each other. Together they have survived war, hunger, anti-Semitism, a Communist regime, persecution, immigration and illnesses, and still through it all there is no bickering. If they harbor any irritations towards each other, they are overshadowed by their deep love and mutual respect. I once asked my grandmother what their secret is. She told me that when they got married, they made a decision that there would be peace in their home and they have kept that promise to each other.
December is literally the darkest month of the year, with sunset starting just after 5:00PM each day. The celebration of Hanukkah, the festival of lights, which begins on December 16, 2014 stands in sharp contrast to the darkness of our winter months.
Hanukkah itself is not mentioned anywhere in the Torah so the earliest accounts of its celebration comes from the Talmud. The Talmud even asks Mai Hanukkah, or what is Hanukkah? The answer is “…Eight days of celebration on which mourning and fasting are prohibited. Because when the Hellenists entered the sanctuary, they defiled all the oil that was found there. When the Maccabees triumphed, they looked for oil to light the Eternal Flame, and only found one container with the seal of the high priest intact. The vial contained enough oil for only one day, but a miracle occurred, and they were able to keep it lit for eight days from that container...” (Shabbat 21b).
In September of 2012 I got what I thought was the worst news ever. My husband’s job was transferring him to a city I had barely heard of in "The South!" Yes, they were going to pack us up and drag me, and our then toddler, kicking and screaming (me louder than her) down to, of all places, Houston, TX! As a self-proclaimed city snob, I didn't even know there were big cities in the South, much less Jewish people. Everything I knew about Houston was based on stereotypes. I half expected to find cowboys riding horseback down Main Street. In a matter of months we packed up our comfy Chicago life, where we were surrounded by family and friends and headed to the wild, wild, west where we knew no one.
"Today I completed a challenge that I never thought possible. Today is Labor Day, Monday, Sept 1, 2014, and I competed in, and finished, my first triathlon."
-- Rabbi Jill Levy
This may not seem like such a huge accomplishment for those who are "fitness people," but I have never been particularly skilled in the sports and fitness department. However, there was something driving me to train for and to participate in this event. Since I work at the J, where we have an amazing fitness center, trainers and two pools, I knew I had the resources, I just had to use them.
After 12 weeks of training I received my race number and stood at the bank of the lake ready to enter the water at the start of the race. At that point, I asked two of my friends if they would say the shecheyanu blessing (Blessed are You, God, who has kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season) with me, my way of praising and thanking God for the ability to reach this moment in my life. It was not until I was on the bike that I realized I had a choice. I could have said the blessing at the race finish instead of at the beginning.
In that moment, I realized...
It is with mixed emotions that we announce that J Morgan, Fitness and Aquatics Director, will be leaving the J as of September 24, 2014. J has been on staff for eighteen months and has done a great job in supervising the day to day operations of both fitness and aquatics. He has grown programming in both areas and provided a great deal of leadership to the staff. Born and raised in New Orleans, J’s family is all in New Orleans, and the desire to return home became very important to him. He will be assuming a similar position at the JCC in New Orleans. He will be missed very much, and I know that you all wish J nothing but the best. We are currently conducting a national search to fill the Fitness Director position.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Morgan Fox as Aquatics Director. In June Morgan joined our staff as a swim coordinator at Kaleidoscope Camp and the coach for the swim team. Morgan has an extensive aquatics background as well as expertise in nutrition and health management. She is a great addition to our staff, and we are very fortunate to have her join our aquatics team. Congratulations and welcome to Morgan!
Sunday, August 25, 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Join us with the family dog for some fun in the indoor pool. Before we close the indoor pool for maintenance on Mon, Aug 25, we're opening up the pool to you and your dog. Give your dog a chance to go wild in the pool at the J.
Ten years ago, Betsy Levinson thought it would be fun to join an aquatic exercise class at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Center.
Little did she know she later would become the teacher.
Now, the 53-year-old fitness instructor leads several different classes five days a week, working with men and women from a wide variety of age groups.