May 25, 2024
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Does Working Out With Other Jews Keep You Jewish?

For Daphna Krupp, her daily workout (excluding Shabbat) at the Jewish Community Center (JCC or “J”) of Greater Baltimore has become somewhat of a ritual. She not only attends fitness classes but also engages with the instructors and plugs the J’s social programs on her personal Facebook page.

“It’s the gym and the environment,” says Krupp. “It’s a great social network.”

Krupp, who lives in Pikesville, Md., is one of an estimated 1 million American Jewish members of more than 300 Js around the country. Each J—in line with the bylaws of their umbrella organization, the JCC Association of North America (JCCA)—has a fitness center that serves as one of its core businesses. Often, the fitness center can be perceived as a for-profit enterprise of the J, with thousands of dollars invested annually in facility maintenance and gym advertising. But Steve Becker, vice president of health and wellness at the JCCA, says that is a myth.

“JCCs are not fitness centers, we are engagement centers,” he tells JNS.org. “All fitness-related programs are structured to be relationship-building activities.”

By Maayan Jaffe/JNS.org

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