New Year, New You 2024: A Guide to a Healthy Lifestyle

Happy New Year, J Family! The start of a New Year is always a great opportunity to reflect and set goals for the year ahead. Many of us want to create healthier habits, but often a solid plan is missing to affect change. That is why the J-Fit Health Club is here to help!

We put together a 6-week program, focused on 6 different elements of living a healthy and happy life! Below, you’ll find all the details you need to get started on your best year yet. Perform each week’s challenge and consecutively add each additional weekly challenge to your routine.

Week 1: Movement

Movement is incredibly important as it correlates to a high quality of life. So, if we don’t move, we stagnate. The more we move, the more our bodies will want to keep moving. Our goal is for you to enjoy the amazing benefits movement has for your body, mind, mood, and life; and most importantly, to do it in a way you enjoy!

Challenge: Choose one way you enjoy moving.
Days per Week: 3
Duration: 20+ minutes (over the course of a day)

Week 2: Hydration

Hydration seems easy to do, and yet so easy to forget to do. Hydration is important because it helps our internal organs function properly, it helps our skin look great, and aids indigestion. Our body is composed mostly of water, so if you think about anything from our joints to our blood, water is the key component to make sure everything is working properly.

Challenge: Drink 64 oz+ (8+ cups) of water
Days per Week: 7

Week 3: Balanced Routine

Having balance in your daily routine is more beneficial than one may think. When we spend too much time doing one thing, other areas lack and will catch up with us over time. So, mix it up and keep it simple! It’s not always how hard you push yourself, but the consistency that matters.

Challenge: Choose 1 workout style to add to your routine (Cardiovascular, Strength, Flexibility, etc.).
Days per Week: 2
Duration: 30+ minutes (over the course of a day)

Week 4: Mental Health

Mental health is just as important, if not more important, than your physical health. Without good mental health, it’s hard to enjoy our physical health. There are many ways to prioritize mental health, such as therapy, meditation, journaling, breathe work, getting a few minutes of sunshine or fresh air, and other strategies to help you feel rejuvenated. Try them all and find your favorites! It is important to have a few in your tool kit.

Challenge: Find a mental health strategy(s)
Days per Week: 7
Duration: 5+ minutes (over the course of a day)

Week 5: Healthy Eating

Eating healthy is an incredible way to fuel your body for exercise… and life. When you give your body the nutrients it needs, you have better mental focus, clarity, and productivity, and it also gives you the energy to accomplish a variety of tasks throughout the day. “Eating healthy” does not just mean adding more vegetables to your diet, but having a balanced diet of carbs, fats, and proteins (including fruits and vegetables).

Challenge: Eat vegetables with each main meal.
Servings: 1
Days per Week: 7

Week 6: Goal Setting

Setting goals is something we hear and talk about often, but may not be something we successfully execute quite as much. Well, after 5 weeks of focusing on your health, I hope you are ready to make some permanent changes. When you have a goal, you have direction.

Your J-Fit team wants to support you in your journey for 2024 and beyond! Post your 2024 goals in the comments of this blog or tag us on social media, so we can support each other.

Challenge: Write down at least 1 goal for 2024, tell a friend about it, and start working towards it.

The J-Fit team is here to support you in your health and fitness journey! To get in contact with one of our team members, please stop by the fitness center or contact us by phone 703.537.3008 and email

In Health and Fitness,
The J-Fit Team

My New Year Tree

Hello, Pozez JCC community members and friends!

My name is Zina Segal, and I am Pozez JCC’s Senior Director of Community Impact and Engagement. This Christmas Day, I want to talk about The Tree. My New Year Tree. I know, it’s confusing, but let me explain.

I was born in Leningrad, raised in Saint Petersburg (the same geographic location, very different vibe), lived in Israel, and moved to the States 8 years ago. Unlike lots of other Russian-Speaking Jews born during or after the Soviet reign, I always knew I was Jewish. We celebrated Rosh Ha-Shana, Hanukah, Purim, Pesach, and I never hesitated to stand up against Antisemitic jokes. My Jewish identity was (and still is) strong and flourishing.

We had many traditions at home (most of them Jewish, some Soviet, some just family ones), but the favorite one was this: on December 29 or 30, my dad would bring home THE TREE! It seemed that both himself and the tree were equally cold; crispy snow from dad’s coat and tree’s branches created small puddles on the floor. After the rope untangled the bushy tree, it was put into the tree holder, and in a few hours, our apartment was full of the fresh scent of a fir forest. Dusty boxes of New Year tree decorations from the far corners of the mezzanine kept not only sparkly treasures but also the mood of the holiday and the smell of last year’s joy.

Decorating the tree was a duty for myself and my dad, while my mom and grandmother were creating culinary magic from boiled potatoes, carrots, canned peas, pickled cucumbers, and boiled chicken (the masterpiece called salad Olivier). All these smells, objects, and actions were preparation for the main night of every Russian-Speaking family in the world – New Year night! The night when all family members gathered for a very late dinner starting around 11:00 pm to say “Goodbye” to the sunsetting year. Closer to midnight, the bottle of champagne was ready to be opened with the 12th chime of the chiming clock at the Kremlin tower broadcasted by TV. After champagne, hugs, kisses, and joyful cheers, everybody received presents from under the tree. The next part of the festivities was an outside walk with fireworks and games (yes, around 1-2 am, with kids who hadn’t collapsed to sleep yet). Those were New Year Night traditions. The New Year Tree itself stayed at the house until at least Old New Year.

Why am I telling you all this? To make sure you don’t confuse Christmas Trees of your Christian neighbors with New Year Trees in the houses of your Russian-Speaking Jewish neighbors. The tree in their houses has nothing to do with Christmas (well, not totally nothing historically, but absolutely nothing religiously. To explore in depth the history of THE TREE in Tzar Russia and the Soviet Union, check out this article).

Now, you know what a Russian-Speaking Jewish professional will be doing on December 26 – searching for the tree at the closed tree markets =). I’m sure this blog posed more questions than answers for you. I’m happy to (at least try to) answer all of them! Do not hesitate to reach out – email me at or just stop by my office (right behind the guest services desk) next time you are at the J!

Happy New Year!

In Conversation with Melinda Hofstetter, daughter of photographer, Seymour Hofstetter

In the summer of 1976, Seymour Hofstetter, along with 20 other teachers from Ohio participated in a 6-week program of African studies sponsored by the American Forum for International Study under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Education.

Between now and January 9, 2024, the J’s Bodzin Art Gallery is proud to display about 40 photographs that Mr. Hofstetter took as the official photographer of this group and which appeared in a traveling show, “Portraits of West Africa” from 1977-1979. The J is the first stop of the 2024 revival tour of these photographs. We thank long-time J member, Melinda Hofstetter, for the opportunity to share her father Seymour’s photography in the gallery and for answering four questions from our gallery curator, Sarah Berry.

1. Tell us more about your father’s journey in West Africa, and why he was selected to be the group’s documentarian.

For 25 years, my father was a teacher in predominantly Black and Hispanic schools in Cleveland, Ohio. In the summer of 1976 he, along with twenty other teachers from Cleveland and northern Ohio, participated in a six-week program of African Studies sponsored by the American Forum for International Study (AFIS). These Ohio educators were chosen from over 100 applicants and studied at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, travelling under the supervision of faculty from the University of Ibadan and University of Ghana to various sites throughout West Africa. The program was funded by the Division of International Education of the U.S. Office of Education (now the Department of Education) under a grant from the Hays-Fulbright Program. My father received one of the grants. The director of the AFIS, Dr. Melvin Drimmer, recognized my father as having been a professional photographer in previous days and whose avocation was remained photography. Dad always had a camera around his neck, so it seemed like a good idea and great advertising to select some of those photos my dad was taking anyway for a show!

Although this exhibit was my dad’s first major “One Man Show,” he had been a serious student of the camera since his student days in Cleveland. He was the school photographer in high school using a folding Kodak camera. During World War II, he spent five years in the U.S. Coast Guard as a combat photographer, serving one tour of duty in the dangerous North Atlantic run, and two tours in the South Pacific. He took thousands of pictures and left the service as Chief Photographic Mate, with three letter of commendation and a Navy Commendation Medal. Many of his pictures won awards. Some can be seen today in the permanent collection of The Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut; in Coast Guard Headquarters in Washington D.C.; and the National Archives in Washington D.C. I have donated many of Dad’s photos to the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredrickburg, Texas, the birth place of Admiral Nimitz, the great WWII leader who led our naval forces to victory over the Japanese as Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet and Commander in Chief, Pacific Ocean Areas.

2. These photos have already been shown extensively. Which institutions have exhibited them and when? Where are they off to next?

The photos of the exhibit “Portraits of West Africa” started in our hometown of Cleveland at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. In 1977 these pictures were shown at: U.S. Department of State, Washington D.C.; Overseas Press Club of New York; Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum, Philadelphia; Cleveland State University. In 1978 these pictures were shown at Ohio State University, Columbus; Cleveland State University; Cleveland Board of Education Supplemental Education Center. He had a full show full show in Washington D.C. at the U.S. Office of Education (now the Department of Education), as part of the celebration of the International Year of the Child through the spring and summer of that year.
I am happy to say that the exhibit will be showing from 1-29 February 2024 at the Jewish Educational Alliance (JEA) in Savannah, Georgia, where my daughter and grandchildren live. My oldest grandson there is named for his great-grandfather so having my dad’s photos in Savannah will mean a lot to our family. I hope to reach out to the Cleveland JCC for a showing there as well as my dad is a real “son of Cleveland.”

3. Did your father bring his love for photography into his family and community life?

As soon as I was born I was in front of the camera. I don’t remember a time when on our many family trips, family events or other occasions that he didn’t have a camera around his neck. At weddings, b’nai mitzvot and other family events, he’d be called on to take the pictures. Of course, he wasn’t always on point. One of his first cousins never ceased to remind me (no matter it was 25 years after the fact) that Seymour was supposed to have taken her wedding pictures but he met Betty, her friend at the wedding, with whom he was taken. His cousin, the bride, was constantly calling “where’s Seymour?!” to take the pictures of her he had promised. Betty, it seems, was a bit distracting at that event. However, in general my dad was more focused!

4. We look forward to hearing more about the revival of this exhibition on December. What do you hope people will come to learn?

I hope that people will come to understand in a small way how a Jewish boy from Cleveland, whose parents, one of whom was born in the Austro-Hungarian Republic and the other born in New York City and who ran a second-hand furniture store, came to learn a love of travel, photography and patriotism, and who somehow developed an innate sensitivity that won the confidence of his African hosts “by smiling, by meaning well, and using forbearance and kindness.” As can be seen, young and old alike responded more than favorably to him and his camera.

Holiday Sale (Fundraiser) 2023… That’s a Wrap!

If you walked into the Pozez JCC this past week, you probably saw tables with merchandise for sale that took up most of the lobby. This year’s Chanukah/Holiday sale included work by several artists with disabilities as well as select members and staff. The purpose of the sale was to highlight the talent of these artists in addition to fundraising for Inclusion and Disability Services programming (and of course to give members, staff, and others an opportunity to buy some lovely items). The sale was a success, exceeding sales from 2022! Thank you to everyone who stopped by and made purchases.

If you are thinking, darn I missed it; you actually have another chance to accomplish these goals. Throughout the month of December, you can buy from some of the artists online, including one artist that was not able to be at the J in person. Below are the artists who have shared their websites.

Let the artists know that you are buying through the JCC sale.

Emily Kim’s journey as an artist started at the age of 3, when she was diagnosed with leukemia. Even after several years of treatments, her cancer returned when she was 7.  She underwent a successful life-saving cord blood stem cell transplant but suffered complications resulting in permanent and progressive neurological damage. Despite many setbacks and obstacles over the years, her love for drawing and creating cheerful prints has continued to grow.  According to Emily, “The themes of my art are positivity, hope, whimsy, and imagination. I like to create drawings with bright colors that bring joyful and happy thoughts.”

The Avery Oerth Company was started so Avery could share his talents and spread kindness. He makes buttons (pins) and magnets. In addition to his art, Avery has an extensive knowledge of rocks, minerals, and gemstones, and is an expert Lego builder. Avery offers over 200 different words or phrases on his buttons and magnets. All of them are positive affirmations. Avery enjoys his work and takes great pride in the quality of his buttons. Like most people, Avery wants to have meaningful work at a job he likes. Avery just happens to have autism.

Instagram @hellolove_cards 

Michael loves drawing animals and characters.  He finds drawing animals to be calming, and that the sensory overload and anxiety that can accompany being autistic seem to go away when he is focused on a picture. Hello Love Cards was born of Michael’s dream to make a difference. In 2020 he began sending notes of encouragement to healthcare workers and elders in facilities. Now with every purchase, a card with Michael’s artwork is sent anonymously to someone who may need that hello. Michael hopes that his art will make people feel uplifted when they see it.

Sophiola by Sophia Pineda sells prints and notecards bearing art created by Sophia, a young artist who happens to have Down Syndrome. As a baby, Sophia faced life-threatening medical conditions, then later, many learning challenges. Sophia enjoys many activities, including ballet, horseback riding, modeling, and swimming. But it is really art that has Sophia’s imagination and her heart. Today she is vibrant, healthy, and loves to paint, sketch, and help run her business. 

*Please use code “JCCHF” when you check out to indicate participation in the JCC Holiday Fundraiser. 

Ian Gwinn is a fine art and commercial photographer, specializing in still life, landscapes, and portraits. He loves animals… so you will see lots of animal photos, including images of his favorite subject, Milo, his aging beagle, as well as wildlife and other animals around the farm including frogs, chickens, ducks, geese, and a chameleon.  Ian graduated magna cum laude in May 2016 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Photography from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. 

Jessica Tischler was the originator of this Holiday Sale seven years ago, and the long-time Director of the Inclusion and Disability Services department at the JCC. She has Tourette’s Syndrome and OCD.  Jessica wrote two childrens’ books in the hopes that she can educate children on learning important life lessons at a young age so that they grow up as healthy, open-minded individuals…with great senses of humor! Jessica, along with her husband Shy Ashkenazi, are the creators of delicious homemade chocolate clusters. Jessica loves to experiment with different ingredients and fun names for the clusters. Mother Clusters are customizable to your favorite flavors and mix-ins.

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. 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.

  4. 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.

The ECLC Explores Chanukah

Chanukah is a fun holiday that has underlying concepts of joy, miracles and light that lead to expanding learning opportunities for our young children at the ECLC. One of our educator’s favorite parts is being able to join in on the JCC’s door decorating contest. It is always exciting to see the creativity of the children and educators as they have fun decorating for Chanukah and bringing the holiday’s spirit into the building.

From the beginning of the school year, our ECLC educators have been taking part in a variety of professional development evenings that offer opportunities to learn about Jewish holidays through multi-sensorial play experiences.  Beyond providing the histories and traditions of these holidays, our intentions are to offer new ways for our educators to think about deeper meanings and consider new connections that can be translated to our young students. During our recent Chanukah professional development evening the educators spent some time in our revamped light atelier – a studio space inspired by the Festival of Lights. In this space, the educators had an opportunity to explore small manipulative lights, including some that spin or project onto the wall, a shadow stage with Hanukkah shadow puppets, and light tables to use with colorful toys and Hanukkah items such as menorahs and dreidels. It is important to provide this time for our educators to explore the beauty and possibilities of light before introducing these concepts in their classrooms. Over the past week and for the upcoming month, small groups of children along with their educators will continue to visit the light atelier to engage in curiosity-piquing, playful explorations, as they engage their senses, and celebrate the miracle of light. 

We look forward to lighting the Hanukkyiah, dressing up for our ECLC Spirit Week, and cooking and eating fried latkes and donuts.

We want to wish everyone a joyful Chanukah as we try to bring in even more light this year.