Cultivating Jewish Connections in the ECLC

On Wednesday, October 25, 2023, the ECLC was honored to host early childhood directors, mentors, and educators from the organization SOS International, who have traveled all the way from Eastern Europe to tour select Jewish and Reggio Emilia inspired schools in the United States.

SOS International’s Morim program seeks to strengthen European Jewish early childhood centers by encouraging the development of high quality, value based Jewish education that supports young children in constructing meaningful connections to Jewish culture, traditions, and identity. 

After listening to a presentation sharing the history, philosophy, and Jewish identity of the ECLC, visitors toured our school and spent time in classrooms observing how Jewish values, culture, and tradition are incorporated in daily learning. This includes classroom names that are thoughtfully chosen from Jewish values, reading PJ Library books that share aspects of Jewish identity, participating in Jewish blessings and rituals, utilizing food as a point of connection (baking challah for Shabbat, eating apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah, etc.), providing the children with constructivist-based provocations to connect with Jewish holidays in meaningful ways, and more! Visitors also viewed documentation sharing the many ways that the ECLC honors, celebrates, and fosters Jewish connection and community that is grounded in Jewish values.

It was such a special experience having the opportunity to share our school with fellow early childhood professionals coming from a very different context, worlds away, and to build a relationship with SOS International that we hope is the start of a lasting partnership in this work. 

If you’d like to learn more about SOS International and the work that they are doing to enrich Jewish identity and actively nurture Jewish community renewal, please check out their website   

This Moment in Time

Dear family, friends, community here in Northern Virginia, around the US, and throughout the world. I’ve been reposting and sharing messages of desperation, anger, solidarity, and hope on social media from friends and organizations because I wasn’t ready to put into the ether, my own thoughts about this moment in time. Perhaps I’m still not ready, but can’t stay silent any more.

In the early months of the pandemic, I recall feeling that the word “unprecedented” had evolved into white noise as it was written and spoken in every communication referring to what was taking place around the world. Yet, in the beginning, that was the perfect word to describe the impact of Covid on people, hospitals, communities, and economies the world over.

Like many of you, the lens from which I view the world forever changed on Saturday, October 7, 2023. And now, I’m asking myself, will the words “horrific,” “terrifying,” and  “unimaginable horrors” also become white noise? As the images coming out of Israel are viewed on digital screens, whether handheld or larger, will the world become desensitized to the atrocities on display? Will it seem like it is just another Arab-Israeli conflict that’s “over there” and “not my problem”? Is human decency not our problem?

This moment is not about Pro-Israel or Pro-Palestine, there will be time for that. This is about Pro-Humanity. Anti-Terror. This moment is about supporting those who are willing to risk their lives to fight in the name of peace, security and acceptance.

My father, Al Fuchsman (z”l) passed away two weeks ago. In our community, he was well respected and is being remembered for his lifelong commitments to three pillars: Family, Tikkun Olam (Repairing the World), and Justice for All. What would he say now when all three are so deeply impacted in this moment? I find myself wondering if his untimely passing was actually timely so he can lend a helping hand from above. Perhaps he was meant for greater work than he could accomplish here on Earth. I’d like to believe that.

Many Jews and Israelis are being asked if they are okay. Likely, they are not. I am not. But, as a people, we are resilient and are individually, and as groups, finding ways to feel that we are doing something, anything, to help change the trajectory that we are on. The Pozez JCC is a place for belonging – where people of all backgrounds, identities, religious beliefs, and political affiliations can gather in harmony. On Thursday, October 12, more than 1,600 community members came together in solidarity for Israel and for each other. It was a moving evening and the feeling of connection and Peoplehood was palpable. The J will continue to provide and to share opportunities for healing and action over the coming days, months, and years as we lean deeply into our role as a community connector. (I invite you to see this page for what can be done now to Stand with Israel and click here to view the vigil).

I hope that however you are impacted by this historic moment in which we find ourselves, that you have the support and sense of commUNITY needed to move from darkness to light and hope you join me in praying for our friends and family in Israel and for a time of peace, security, and acceptance for all.

B’shalom, Laura 

No title can fit the horrors

We just returned to the U.S. a few days ago from Israel. We missed this community and had a lot to share about our visit there. But the last few days have been a waking nightmare. We have friends who’ve been killed, kidnapped, wounded or unsafe. Everyone does.

A tragedy on a massive scale happened on October 7th. A coordinated attack initiated at 6am by Hamas, sent to butcher as many Jewish people as possible. Attacked by land, sea and air, a joined invasion of more than 3,000 rockets and hundreds of armed terrorists towards the cities of Israel’s south. It began at the army bases, murdering everyone they passed, then to cities. Going from one house to another, butchering entire families, torturing them and dragging them screaming back to Gaza. Men, women, children, elderly and infants. All. The last time so many Jewish people were killed on the same day was during the Holocaust. Israel hasn’t experienced this terror since the Yom Kippur war, exactly 50 years ago.

We are heartbroken and devastated. We are worried sick and have been glued to the screen since it started. Israel is caught off guard, and we are still counting casualties. Hamas is taking pride in that, publishing videos and pictures of the victims as trophies. Families had to find out their loved ones have been killed or kidnapped from videos on social media. This war crime being committed against citizens has one target alone – to eliminate the Jewish people and to destroy the state of Israel. Jews and Arabs alike were killed that day, every soul that was in their way. And that goes both for the citizens of Israel and the Palestinians who are the residents of Gaza who refuse to obey Hamas. No one is safe.

And the only thing I could think of, is whether to stay and continue my role as Shaliach here or go back to the reserves and fight. This is a decision I am not yet ready to make, and doing something, anything, helps me to cope. But there are some heroic moments to take pride in. There have been people fighting bravely to save their friends, families, neighbors… and some have paid the ultimate price. Not just soldiers, people. Children. The IDF is at 150% capacity, every single person who can fight has volunteered. And we will win, whatever it takes.

I’m sure I am not the only one. We gathered yesterday to mourn together. Pray, light candles, and talk about what we can do to help. And there is a lot. Israel is still figuring out what is needed, and we are doing our best to understand them and share them with you. Together, as a community, supporting each other, and our families in Israel, we will win. Am Yisrael Chai.

Stay safe.

Pickleball at the Pozez JCC : Serving up Fun, Fitness, and Safety

Pickleball has been making waves across the world as one of the fastest-growing sports. It’s easy to see why – it’s a game that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and ping pong, making it accessible to people of all ages and fitness levels. The JCC is your one-stop destination for all things pickleball. We offer a range of opportunities for players to enjoy the sport:

  1. Open Play: Come and enjoy casual games of Pickleball with your fellow members. It’s a great way to meet new people, improve your skills, and have fun.
  2. Teen Open Play: All teens welcome! For anyone 13-19 years old and of any skill level. All equipment is provided by the JCC (nets, paddles, and balls). The Pickleball session will be supervised by a coach to provide assistance and feedback to all participants, to help develop their skills and overall experience.
  3. Teen Open Play: All teens welcome! For anyone 13-19 years old and of any skill level. All equipment is provided by the JCC (nets, paddles, and balls). The Pickleball session will be supervised by a coach to provide assistance and feedback to all participants, to help develop their skills and overall experience.
  4. Clinics: Whether you’re a beginner looking to learn the basics or an advanced player aiming to refine your technique, our clinics cater to all skill levels. Our experienced instructors provide personalized guidance to help you reach your goals.
  5. Tournaments: For those seeking a competitive edge, we organize Pickleball tournaments that allow you to test your skills against some of the best players in the area.

As with any sport, safety and fitness are paramount.  Pickleball is a physically demanding sport, and like any other sport, it comes with a risk of injury.  Our Private and Semi-Private training services include injury prevention and sports performance.  These programs are designed to keep you in peak condition and minimize the chances of getting hurt.

In summary, Pickleball is more than just a game; it’s a community, a source of fun and fitness, and a way to challenge yourself both mentally and physically. At the JCC, we are committed to providing you with the best Pickleball experience possible, including opportunities for open play, clinics, and tournaments. Additionally, our focus on injury prevention and sports conditioning ensures that you can enjoy the game you love while staying safe and performing at your best. So, come join us at the JCC and experience the thrill of Pickleball in a supportive and vibrant community.

Let’s Give it a Shake: Sukkot is Here!

Let’s Get Ready to Shake: Sukkot Is Here!

As we bid farewell to the summer sun and usher in the cozy vibes of fall, it’s time to get festive and prepare for a delightful celebration – Sukkot! This “Festival of Booths/Tabernacles” began at sundown on Friday, September 29th (Tishrei 15) and will wrap up at sundown on Friday, October 6th (Tishrei 21).

Why Sukkot, You Ask?

Sukkot is one of Judaism’s star-studded events, one of the 3 pilgrimage holidays, with Passover and Shavuot. This holiday is a celebration of the harvest season and honors the journey of the Israelites through the desert. And guess what? There’s a whole lot of fun and fascinating facts about Sukkot to dive into!

  1. Building a Sukkah: The Ultimate DIY Project

Picture this: you’re out in your backyard, armed with wooden or metal frames, and you’re about to embark on a construction adventure. What are you building? A sukkah, of course! These are temporary huts that remind of the dwellings used by the Israelites during their desert sojourn. Sukkahs have three walls and a roof made from natural materials, designed in a way that lets you gaze at the twinkling stars at night. (Stick around, we’ll fill you in on some Sukkah building options!)

  1. Shake It Like You Mean It: The Four Species

Don’t be surprised if you see folks waving around branches and fruit during Sukkot – that’s just them getting into the spirit of things! The lulav (branches) and etrog (citron fruit) are mentioned in the Torah, and we shake them for Sukkot. So, every day during Sukkot (except Shabbat), people tie these branches and fruit together and wave them in a special ceremony. Some creative souls even make their own local Four Species! What do you think a Northern Virginia four species would look like? I vote for a pawpaw.

  1. Sukkah Living: An Adventure in Itself

It’s a tradition to eat in the sukkah, and it’s all kinds of fun. If you’re nearby, feel free to pop by the J’s Sukkah in the West Lot during Sukkot – it’s already up and waiting for you!

  1. Ushpizin: The Uninvited Guests We Love

Ever heard of symbolic guests? Well, on Sukkot, we have them! They’re called Ushpizin, and they’re the A-list celebrities of the Jewish tradition. Traditionally, you’d be rolling out the welcome mat for Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron, and David, but you’re free to follow your own tradition or even make up your own guest list – it’s your Sukkah, after all!

In a Nutshell

Sukkot is a time of reflection, gratitude, and connecting with Jewish heritage. It’s about celebrating the bountiful harvest season and embracing the traditions that have been passed down through generations. So, whether you’re constructing your own sukkah, shaking those Four Species like a pro, or simply enjoying a meal in the sukkah with friends and family, remember to relish every moment of this joyous festival.

Wishing you all a Chag Sukkot Sameach – a truly Happy Sukkot! 🌿🌟

Want your own Sukkah?


  1. PJ Library: How to Build a Sukkah:
  2. PVC Pipe Sukkah:
  3. Galvanized Pipe Sukkah:
  4. Wood Sukkah:
  5. PVC Pipe and Curtains:
  6. Simple Sukkah:
  7. Lattice Sukkah:
  8. Bamboo Sukkah:

Purchase (the J makes no quality claims on any of these):

  1. The Sukkah Project:
  2. The Sukkah Spot:
  3. Sukkah Depot:
  4. Mitzvahland:
  5. Sieger Sukkah: