Next month, Apex mom Jill Lokitz will celebrate her first anniversary as the young families and community events coordinator for the Raleigh-Cary Jewish Community Center.
I checked in with Lokitz to learn more about the community center, the programs she organizes and Hanukkah, which runs through the evening of Jan. 1.
Here's our Q&A:
Go Ask Mom: Share a little history about the Raleigh-Cary Jewish Community Center.
Jill Lokitz: In 1994, a group of 27 families purchased 15 acres on Norwood Road that would become the home of the Raleigh-Cary Jewish Community Center. The beautiful wooded campus included the Steven N. Guld Social Hall, a lake and covered court. In the summer of 1995, Camp JCC opened its doors to provide an eight week traditional summer camp for children in kindergarten through 10th grade. An in-ground six-lane, 25-yard pool was added to the campus in 1996. In 2004, an additional 15 acres of land that is adjacent to the campus was purchased and cleared for multi-purpose fields.
In January 2016, we began the first phase of our campus expansion. The Steven N. Guld Social Hall was fully renovated and renamed the Steven N. Guld Family Center. This renovation created more interior programming space, a full technology upgrade and office space for our growing staff. In the second quarter of 2017, the next phase of our campus expansion will begin.
GAM: You're the young families and community events coordinator. Tell us about your work and the kinds of programs that you plan throughout the year. Can anybody attend?
JL: My role as the young families coordinator is to plan events for Jewish families with young children (ages 5 and under) in the Raleigh-Cary area. The goal of these programs is for families to come together and build friendships and have a sense of community amongst each other. These programs include Friday morning Tot Shabbat; Saturday evening Havdalah dinner or a Sunday morning breakfast; or a craft based around an upcoming holiday.
I am also the community events coordinator, which entails programming events for the entire community and occasionally partnering with other organizations such as local synagogues, other JCCs or the Town of Cary.
All of our events are open to anyone who would like to attend and we typically offer special pricing to JCC members.
GAM: You have some fun ones coming up, including a Hanukkah sing-a-long and a community-wide Passover Celebration planned in March. What's coming up?
JL: From 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Dec. 26, at the Brier Creek Community Center, we are hosting a Triangle Wide Sing-a-long & Candle Lighting with The Levin JCC. There will be live music by Mishpacha and a candle lighting as a community.
Tot Shabbat from 10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Jan. 6, at the North Regional Library. Tot Shabbat offers families with kids ages 5 and under a fun morning of arts and crafts, music, story time and ending with a Shabbat celebration.
Family Havdalah is 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Jan. 14, at the JCC. Families will celebrate the end of Shabbat with music, singing and crafts.
Purim Celebration from 3 p.m. to 6pm., March 19. We're collaborating with the Town of Cary, Beth Shalom and the Chabbad of Cary for a Purim family festival. There will be live music by Joanie Leeds, food from Knish-a-licious and Captain Cookie & the Milkman, plus an interactive show by the Matzah Factory.
GAM: In addition to fun activities, you also organize educational programs for parents. What kind of topics will you be covering?
JL: We will be covering College Savings from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., Jan. 22. Parents will learn about various savings strategies and different plans available from Certified Financial Planner Brian Orol
From 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., Feb. 5, we'll have Meet The Experts: Valentine's I Love Sleep Solution 2017 with local "Baby Whisperer" Pam Diamond & doula Kara Curtis. This will be a Q&A session where the experts can answer parents questions and shed light on steps they can take to improve sleep and establish healthy routines with their little ones.
And from 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., April 2, we will have healthy cooking teacher Rachael Weisman join us for an informational session and cooking demo on how to reduce/eliminate gluten from your diet.
GAM: Hanukkah kind of gets caught up in the Christmas craze that takes over so many of us this time of year. What do you want people who might not be familiar with Hanukkah to know about your celebration?
JL: Chanukah, the Jewish festival of rededication, also known as the festival of lights, is an eight-day festival beginning on the 25th day of the Jewish month of Kislev. Chanukah commemorates the rededication of the Holy Temple (the Second Temple) in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt against the Seleucid Empire. The story goes that when the Jews returned to the Temple to cleanse it, they found one flask of oil for the holy menorah. This flask was only enough to burn for one day, yet it burned for eight days, the time needed to prepare a fresh supply of kosher oil for the menorah. This is the miracle of Chanukah.
The only religious observance related to this holiday is the lighting of candles. The candles are arranged in a candelabrum called a chanukkiah, that holds nine candles: one for each night, plus a shammus (servant) at a different height. The addition of a candle each night reminds of the miracle of the oil.
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