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zackpittel's blog

Interview with Susan Leff

Mon, 05/13/2019 - 6:46pm -- zackpittel

This past week I sat down and discussed with the executive director of the Jewish Communities of Vermont, Susan Leff, about her experiences leading the organization and insights into the state of Jewish communities throughout Vermont today.

What originally inspired you to start JCVT? What prompted you to create this organization and how has the situation of Vermont’s Jewish communities changed since its inception?

Counting the Omer

Mon, 04/29/2019 - 2:38pm -- zackpittel

A Jewish tradition which is making a resurgence recently among American Jews is the counting of the Omer. The tradition came out of counting the days between the first offerings of barley (measured in the biblical measurement of an omer) of the season to the Temple in Jerusalem until the first offering of wheat 49 days later. This period lasts from the second night of Passover as the first count until Shavuot as the final count, the 50th day.

Passover and Community

Mon, 04/22/2019 - 3:14pm -- zackpittel

As our eight days of Passover reach the climax, I thought this would be a good time to reflect on one of our major Jewish holidays and the impact it has had for both Jews in America and all Americans. We all know the story of Passover, a story of freedom, justice, and cultural identity, as we retell it each spring during the Seder. However, the significance of the Passover story extends far beyond the reaches of our Seder plates and dinning rooms, as it has become a living ritual and symbol for the struggle for freedom of people everywhere.

Jewish Journeying

Wed, 04/03/2019 - 9:43pm -- zackpittel

I’m writing this travel blog post after having done some traveling of my own this past weekend; having gone on a jaunt around Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. The tour of the Kingdom spoke to something within me that had been longing to see that face of New England. The experience showed me the side of Vermont a UVM student trapped in the Burlington bubble isn’t exposed to. Not only did the Kingdom have much to say about defining Vermont to me, but it also spoke viscerally to me with exciting and exalted ways of living.

Blog Post 3: Jewdo

Tue, 03/19/2019 - 12:56pm -- zackpittel

Recently I’ve been spending time thinking about one of my favorite subjects – Judo – and how it can relate to Judaism, Jewish communities, and what we can learn from the sport to apply to our own lives. For those less familiar, Judo is a Japanese martial art and sport developed originally in 1882 by the founder, Jigoro Kano. Judo literally translates to the “gentle way” and it’s three main principals are “perfection of the human character”, “maximum efficiency, minimum effort” and “mutual welfare and benefit”.

Participation and Action

Wed, 02/13/2019 - 4:46pm -- zackpittel

My previous article discussed the importance of discovering your values and why knowing them is essential for being an effective community member. After you know your values, it is your actions which bridge you to a community. There is a space to act which ties who we are to a bigger picture. We all know that Jews love thinking and talking, but at the end of the day isn’t it our actions which really matter? How we show up every day to the communities we call home reflects our values.


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PJ OurWay

PJ OurWay

What is PJ Our Way?



PJ Our Way offers the gift of exceptional books with Jewish themes to kids ages 8½-11 – books that they choose themselves!
Monthly Choice

Every month, from the 1st – 10th, kids visit this website to choose a book from a selection of four high-quality titles that have been reviewed by a panel of PJ educators, parents, and kids. That's 12 free books a year! To make the choice easier, every title offered comes with a synopsis and author bios, ratings and reviews, and video trailers. Kids can also take polls and quizzes, participate in monthly interviews and challenges, and comment on blog posts.
Parent Input

On the Parent Blog, parents are invited to read about each book and find suggestions for family conversations. These blog posts give parents tools to help children make book choices that are appropriate for them.
A Safe Website

The PJ Our Way website is a safe place where kids can choose books, write reviews, and share ideas with others from around the country. All content on the website is moderated by PJ educators.
Design Team

Every fall, members of PJ Our Way may apply to be part of our national Design Team. Design Team members have early access to PJ Our Way books and create videos and reviews for the website. To become more involved with writing reviews and blogs, connect with us at [email protected]
Book Selection
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