Monthly Archives:April 2015

Event: Screening of Havana Curveball

Posted by April 29, 2015 • Share:

Baseball! Hot dogs! Treats! Door Prizes!

Join us for a screening of the acclaimed film, Havana Curveball, and a Q&A with the filmmaker!

Location: Congregation Etz Chayim / 4161 Alma Street, Palo Alto
Date/Time: Sunday, May 17 at 4:00 pm
Cost: Free with advanced RSVP or $5.00 at the door (Click here to RSVP by midnight, Wednesday, May 13)
Who: Ideal for grades 5 and up, but all are welcome!

About the Film: 

An ordinary American teenager encounters extra-ordinary challenges when he sets his heart on donating equipment to young Cuban baseball players — an act of thanks to the country that sheltered his grandfather during the Holocaust.  Havana Curveball takes viewers on a deeply felt journey that shows just how complicated it is to “do good” in the world.

Additional Event Info:

We encourage you to bring new or gently used baseball equipment that will then be donated to a local under-served team.

This event is co-sponsored by Congregation Etz Chayim, Jewish LearningWorks, JCC Maccabi Sports Camp, and the Oshman Family JCC.

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Character Corner: Winning with Class

Posted by April 28, 2015 • Share:

This article was written by our Program Director, Joel Swedlove, and is part of our “Character Corner” series. 

Every year at this time millions of us settle in to watch the NBA Playoffs. Coming off the heels of the NCAA Tournament, these few months are nirvana to a basketball junkie (like me). However, I’ve been noticing a trend in recent years that began long ago in the NBA but has now trickled down to even the most basic schoolyard levels of the game.

Basketball by its modern nature is a physical game and physicality will often breed heightened emotional reactions like trash-talking or overly enthusiastic celebrations. It has become commonplace now that after a big three-pointer the shooter leaves his hand in the air as he runs back down to court, showing up the person who did a poor job of defending him.

Now it may sound like I’m being a “get off my lawn” basketball purist here, but that is not the case. I cheer and throw up my hands in a “3” whenever the Warriors knock down a long-range shot, but something feels wrong about it. We teach our children that it is not about winning or losing, but how we play; how we handle the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.

There is nothing inherently wrong in celebrating your positive achievements, but what is sometimes forgotten is that for every amazing buzzer beater there is a team that just lost in heartbreaking fashion.

For the better part of two decades the San Antonio Spurs have shown us how to win with class. Do they celebrate big shots? Absolutely, but you never feel that the moment is about an individual, it is always about the team and that they are simply doing their jobs.

Admittedly, I am a biased observer when it comes to the Spurs (having coached Kawhi Leonard when he was in high school in Riverside, CA), but there is something admirable about the way they carry themselves. When they lost the 2013 NBA Finals in heartbreaking fashion there was no blaming the officials or making excuses — they just quietly spent the next year focused on winning the title.

That next year, when they achieved that goal, they didn’t taunt the Heat or proclaim themselves the greatest franchise of this century (a point for which they’d have a strong argument) they just quietly got back to work so they could be ready to defend the title.

We have been told for as long as we can remember that there is no “I” in TEAM, but we should also remember there isn’t one in “CELEBRATE” either.

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Staff Spotlight: Lauren

Posted by April 14, 2015 • Share:

Lauren is a student at American Jewish University completing her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees. She has been involved in programing and student life on campus by being a Resident Assistant, club president, and working to promote Jewish life on campus.

IMG_0103Lauren has been involved in sports from a young age; focusing for many years on figure skating, swimming and tennis. Lauren even served as a team captain throughout her developing years. The passion brought forth from athletics is one of the many reasons that she believes in working with children and young adults who participate in sports. By experiencing the characteristics of sportsmanship, Lauren has found that the tools needed in competition and practice go beyond the game. One of the great lessons she has learned from sports is that you should always work hard and give all you can to receive a positive result.

Beyond her experience in sports Lauren has been a teacher of Judaica, and has discovered that the Jewish identity for youth in the hustle of today’s world is key. She has held programs of understanding Jewish thought and integrated creative activity to boost interest and understanding of Jewish tradition and culture.

Lauren looks forward to seeing the development of sportsmanship and Jewish life intertwine throughout the JCC Maccabi Sports Camp this summer.