AJCC Stories and Interviews

Monday, January 30, 2017

Staff Spotlight: Erika Hillinger, Director of Marketing and Communications

Erika Hillinger has been a part of the Long Beach Jewish Community since she moved here in 1991. She grew up in Bakersfield, CA and knew only one other Jewish family. Her uncle sent her to Israel when she was 16, and the rest is history. When she went to UCLA for her undergraduate degree (World Literature, including Hebrew lit), she became an active member of UCLA Hillel, the Jewish Union, Israel Action Committee, and lived in the Westwood Bayit, a kosher and shomer Shabbat Jewish Co-op. When she graduated, she decided that she would like to continue her Jewish studies and entered a dual Ph.D. program in Social Ethics and Religion at USC/Hebrew Union College. While at USC, to pay her tuition, she taught English 101 in USC’s Freshman Writing Program. She received her MA in 1990 with an emphasis in Jewish Ethics and Feminist Ethics...

Posted by: Unknown on Monday, January 30, 2017 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Sunday, January 1, 2017

AJCC Member Spotlight: Marisa Kantor, ECE mom

Marisa Kantor is one of the enthusiastic and involved AJCC members who help make the J a wonderful community. Marisa and her husband, Madhava (Madhi), came here from Tucson in March of 2012 when he was accepted into the Kaiser Permanente School of Anesthesia.  The first thing they wanted to do was find a great preschool for children, Ari and Rona. They had come from a strong Jewish preschool in Tucson and were looking for something equivalent. What they found was even better! They knew when they toured the ECE here that is was above and beyond the best preschool in the area.” In addition to an excellent preschool, Marisa explains,...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Staff Spotlight: Nicole Malina, Director of Development

Nicole Malina is one of the newer additions to our AJCC family. She grew up in New York in a very strongly Jewish identified family, and Jewish values were a very important part of her upbringing: Tzedakah, Tikkun Olam, and the value of welcoming the stranger were all very important to her family. These values have clearly remained important to her throughout her life. She had her Bat Mitzvah in Israel on Mount Scopus, and her B.A. is from NYU in Ethnic Studies with a focus on Judaic Studies.

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Sunday, January 1, 2017 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Shlomit Jackson

Shlomit Jackson has been a part of the JCC since she was in high school and worked as a camp counselor. Beginning in high school, she also taught Hebrew and Judaic studies at various temples in the area. “I have always kept my close relationship with my faith and with Israel and my family. I can’t see myself doing anything else. When I had my daughter, Danielle, I became a member here again because I wanted her to be in the preschool (ECE). When my son, Noah, started here, it was the perfect time to start working again, and where better than the ECE? ...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Evva Vale Reception

On November 3, 2016, the Alpert Jewish Community Center was buzzing with excitement from the artist reception for the Evva Vale Community Art Show. Throughout the months of October and November, the art show has been going on in the Zena and Pauline Gatov Gallery at the JCC.

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Thursday, December 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Susan Mathieu

When Susan Mathieu was a teenager, her family came to the JCC pool every day. She loved growing up here at the J, and she participated in the teen programs, including camp and Summer Stock (she was in Bye Bye Birdie where she had one line!). In those days, the teens had a senate which trained them for leadership roles in the community. “The senate program was my foundation for leadership. I was also a camp counselor for five summers when we had the resident camp, Camp Kadimah. There was a program called CLEW, (Center Leadership Educational Workshop) where they taught the teens to be leaders. We traveled to different Jewish centers throughout the southwest and stayed in people’s homes, and they would come here and stay with us. It was a great exchange program...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

AJCC Member Spotlight: Nancy McLain

Nancy McClean first came to the AJCC three years ago and has become invaluable to just about every department. Her hard work and dedication earned her this year’s Stanley V. Goldin Senior of the Year award at the AJCC Annual meeting. Nancy grew up in Long Beach, went to CSULB for a degree in Physical Therapy, “and then I lived and worked in the San Fernando Valley for a good while. I lived and worked in the Central California Mountains for 20 years before moving to Northern Virginia in 1998. I came home to Long Beach to retire in November 2013. I discovered the JCC in March of 2014 while I was looking for a Tai Chi class and found not only the perfect class, but the place I wanted to spend my time. I don’t go anywhere else. The Alpert JCC is ‘my center for life.’ ...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Tuesday, November 1, 2016 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Saturday, October 1, 2016

AJCC Member Spotlight: Jax Cole

When Jax Cole was looking for a pool to train in for her swim across the Catalina Channel, she decided that the Alpert Jewish Community Center would be perfect for her needs.  She went to Pre-K and Kindergarten at the AJCC circa 1983-84, so she was already connected to the Center.

Jax says she loves being a member here...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Staff Spotlight: Gayle Ehrenberg

Gayle Ehrenberg has been a part of the Alpert Jewish Community Center since she came here with friends when she was in middle school. She always thought it was a great place to hang out, and she enjoyed being a part of the community. When she had her first son, Asher, she enrolled him in the Early Childhood Education program, and that’s when the fun began! In 1999, Gayle was offered an administrative position with Lynne Rosenstein in the adult department. She has a degree in instrumental music (she plays the sax!) from Cal State Long Beach with an emphasis in Special Education, so it was natural that she eventually became a part of the ECE staff...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight:: Susan Paletz

Susan Paletz grew up at the Long Beach JCC. She was involved with teen programs, summer stock (she made her debut as a bird) and she was extremely active in BBYO (BBG). She went to Chapman University Semester at Sea, a phenomenal experience traveling around the world for seven months. This experience, Susan explains, is “what really shaped me and motivated me to get involved with a non-profit. Seeing different cultures and different challenges that people around the world were facing really made an impression on me and I wanted to give back.” ...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Thursday, September 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Monday, August 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Fred Johnson

Fred Johnson came to the AJCC this past January with a background in fitness and personal training consultation. Originally from Los Angeles, Fred has had a varied and fascinating career! Fred went to high school in Atlanta and got his Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management from North Carolina State. From there he moved to San Diego and then played professional baseball in Japan for three years. After some injuries, he finally hung up the sneakers and cleats. Because of his own experiences with sports rehab, he developed a passion for personal training by learning about Occupational Therapy and Functional Sports Therapy. “That’s when I fell in love with the fitness industry,” Fred says. “And I got my certification in personal training from National Association of Sports Medicine.” ...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Monday, August 1, 2016 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Friday, July 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Natalie Chernik

Natalie Chernik truly grew up at the Alpert JCC. She starting coming here in preschool at age 2 and participated in Camp Kadima until age 10. Her mom worked here as Joe Parmet’s (Executive Director from 1973 – 1998) assistant, and because Natalie would hang out after school here, Joe decided that it would be good to have an afterschool program for older kids (what is now Kids’ University). As a young teen, Natalie frequently volunteered at different events at the JCC, and she would help out serving water and coffee. When she was about 15, Susan Paletz asked if she wanted to work at summer camp. She said, “Sure!” and has been here ever since!...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Friday, July 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Irene Velasquez

Irene started working at the JCC in April 2012 and has been going full force ever since. She started in babysitting and then decided she would like to move into member services. In her second year here, Jeffrey Rips identified her potential and her wonderful ability to shine around people, and she became the customer service lead. Irene was trained on schedule and payroll, and then she became Customer Relations’ Supervisor. In 2013, she became a part of the membership department and she began to do tours and rentals.

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Wednesday, June 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Friday, April 1, 2016

Member Spotlight: Mike Henderson

After 17 years as one of the J’s most popular fitness trainers, Mike Henderson said a bittersweet goodbye last month as he and his wife, Marge, headed to Northern California and new adventures. More than 80 people gathered on Tuesday afternoon, March 15, to wish Mike a heartfelt Goodbye and Good Luck!  Many people expressed their gratitude for how much he helped them over the years, but along with the gratitude were stories about how they met Mike, how much Mike taught them, how Mike inspired them to keep going when it was the last thing they wanted to do. Some people had tears in their eyes as they expressed how much Mike means to them and how much they will miss his warmth and sense of humor. And more than one remarked on his great laugh.

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Friday, April 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Alayna Cosores

We are proud to announce that, after an extensive search from all over the country,  Alayna Cosores has been named the Alpert JCC’s new ECE Director! Alayna grew up at the JCC, where she began attending the preschool when she was three. Alayna enjoyed her summers attending our summer camp programs and summer stock. In 1996, she joined the ECE staff with her first JCC job working as a Teachers’ Assistant in the afternoon preschool. She then became a Teacher when we moved to the new building in 1999.  She received her BA in Child Development from CSULB in 2003. Alayna also has her AA in Culinary Arts and loves to cook...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Tuesday, March 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Monday, February 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Maureen Lawrence

Maureen Lawrence, or Ms. Maureen as she is known here at the J, has lived in Long Beach for 24 years and has been working at the JCC for almost 17 years. Ms. Maureen began here at the J as a Side by Side (now Yad B’Yad) teacher, and eventually became the Moving On teacher, a position she held for 10 years. About 3 years ago, Maureen was asked if she would be interested in doing the Movement program, and she was delighted. She brought to that her love for theater and music, adding “Music” to become the “Movement & Music” specialist...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Monday, February 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Staff Spotlight: Ignacio Berumen

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Ignacio began his Aquatics career working for the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and the American Red Cross 22 years ago. He joined the team at the Alpert JCC in October of 2014.

Although he enjoyed his time working for the City of LA, he jumped at the opportunity to work for the AJCC, where he says the position has “met and exceeded all my expectations.

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Friday, January 1, 2016 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Friday, August 28, 2015

What to Expect Your First Week at Camp!

First Week of Camp Komaroff

Now that you've registered for Camp Komaroff, what next?


Posted by: AJCC Camp Komaroff Staff on Friday, August 28, 2015 at 10:00:00 am Comments (0)

Monday, June 1, 2015

Creative Spirit

Creative Spirit is one of our most popular programs at Camp Komaroff. In short, Creative Spirit gets campers engaged in empathetic, non-competitive games while keeping them physically active. 

Posted by: Natalie Chernik on Monday, June 1, 2015 at 10:00:00 am Comments (0)

Friday, May 22, 2015

PJ Library Goes to Camp Komaroff!

Summer Camp, Day Camp, Pj Library

Camp Komaroff is receiving 25 books from PJ Library, a program within the Harold Grinspoon Foundation for the summer of 2015. More than 50 camps are receiving these books this summer for use by campers ages 4 through 8 to enhance Jewish literacy in JCC day camps.  

Posted by: Natalie Chernik on Friday, May 22, 2015 at 12:00:00 pm Comments (0)

Friday, May 15, 2015

Shabbat and Jewish Customs

Shabbat and Jewish Customs

Part of our mission at Camp Komaroff is to provide Jewish experiences to all of our campers. Our staff will lead campers in exploring Jewish holidays, values, and customs in a manner that is inclusive to all. Campers will also participate fully in weekly Oneg Shabbat celebrations, with a different group working with counselors to host the Oneg each week. Shabbat begins at sundown each Friday night, marking the end of the week. We welcome families to come join us in our Shabbat celebration each Friday at 3:30pm.

Posted by: Natalie Chernik on Friday, May 15, 2015 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Friday, May 8, 2015

Join the Fun of Stuhlbarg Summer Stock

Stuhlbarg Summer Stock is going to be a little different this year! Instead of rehearsing during the day, we will be rehearsing in the evenings from 5:30-8:00pm! That gives you a chance to participate in Camp Komaroff or other day activies and still do Summer Stock at night! This year's Summer Stock production provides opportunities for teens to participate in singing, dancing, acting, prop and costume prep, set design, and more. Five weeks of preparation lead up to performances on Wed, July 29; Thurs, July 30; Sat, August 1; and Sun, August 2. Auditions will take place during the first week.

Posted by: Camp Staff on Friday, May 8, 2015 at 8:00:00 am Comments (0)

Friday, May 1, 2015

What's New for 2015

During the fall and winter, we were hard at work to enhance the programming at AJCC Camp Komaroff in order to offer better specialization and choice for your camper. We are so excited to show you and your child what we have in store for Summer 2015! Here are some of the wonderful changes that your child has to look forward to.


Posted by: Natalie Chernik on Friday, May 1, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (1)

Friday, April 10, 2015

A Taste of Camp

Camp Komaroff
Taste of Camp

Be sure to join us for a Taste of Camp on Tuesday, April 21, 5-7pm to learn all about this summer's wonderful new features!

Posted by: Natalie Chernik on Friday, April 10, 2015 at 10:00:00 am Comments (0)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Member Spotlight: Connie Bambadji

Connie Bambadji found out about the Alpert JCC from a family friend in the Valley. Connie and her husband, Sacha, were looking for a place to get involved, and when their friend raved about the AJCC, they decided to check it out. Here they are four and a half years later, and wow is she involved! Their first son, Zachary, started in the ECE program when he turned 2, and the middle one, Ayva, is currently enrolled here. Connie says she is very excited that her youngest, Hattie, will go through the program as well. They are already in “From the Beginning, ” the free family participation class for newborns through walking.

Connie said that although it took her a while to become an actively involved parent, she really jumped in when ECE Director Linda Keiles came on board to head the ECE program...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Sunday, February 1, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Member Spotlight: Mina Roades

Mina Roades knew that the Alpert JCC Early Childhood Education program was perfect for her son the moment she saw the nurturing environment and wonderful playground. “When we were searching for a preschool, we saw tons, narrowed it down to three, and as soon as we took the ECE tour, we knew that nothing compares to the JCC.”

Although neither Mina or her husband are Jewish, she had friends who were at the Merage JCC, and so she Googled JCC in Long Beach. “When this is the first time you’re putting your kids in school, safety is huge, and the JCC facility is a standout...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Thursday, January 1, 2015 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Member Spotlight: Barbra Snegg

When Barbra Snegg was named Senior of the Year at the Alpert JCC’s 2014 annual meeting, she was completely floored. She had no idea that all her hard work for the Senior programs would be acknowledged in such a wonderful way. Her friends knew, though, and they couldn’t have been more thrilled that this charming, gracious woman was being so publicly honored.

When Barbra first came to the Alpert JCC in the fall of 2012, it was at the invitation from a good friend of hers...

Posted by: Erika Silver Hillinger on Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 12:00:00 am Comments (0)