Posted by Lauren Schleicher
I remember the hill. To me, it seemed like a mountain that my friends and I raced down to see who could roll or run down it the fastest. I remember how cold and wet the ground felt on my feet as I walked to the snack stand to get a frozen Charleston Chew and how my mother would warn me to let it soften so it wouldn’t break my teeth. I remember the disappointment I would feel when the lifeguard blew the whistle and yelled “adult swim!” and we would have to get out of the pool and sit on the edge while the adults swam their laps. While we swam, our parents would stand in the shallow end, talking to each other. The JCC pool was a staple as a kid growing up in Marblehead. Before I went to overnight camp, I swam there every day. The people I met became my family, and I will never forget those summers.
A few weeks ago my husband and I took our two-year-old daughter to the same pool. It was then that all of the memories of those summers came back to me. The hill was still there but no longer looked like a mountain to me. The ground was still cold and wet and, surprisingly enough, they still sold frozen Charleston Chews! I smiled as I watched my daughter and her friend race up and down the hill. As I was looking around, I spotted one of the people I used to play with at the pool as a kid. As we stood together, in the shallow end of the pool while our kids swam around us, I kept saying to her, “This is so surreal.” The roles had reversed. I probably should have felt old but I didn’t. I felt like I was giving my daughter the exact gift my parents gave me; a sense of community, a summer of fun, and lifelong memories.
I am lucky to have grown up in a wonderful Jewish community with amazing teachers: not just the excellent teachers I had at Cohen Hillel Academy or Marblehead High School, but the “teachers” at the pool who taught me the importance and meaning of community. Those teachers were the people I saw volunteering at Super Sunday, leading a committee, planning events, making donations, and attending meetings to ensure our community was thriving and vibrant. The North Shore community instilled in me a strong Jewish identity and a desire to work for Jewish organizations like JF&CS. I am lucky to work with these amazing people through JF&CS committees to raise awareness about JF&CS programs on the North Shore with them.
Standing in that pool reminded me that our community always needs new teachers. It is now our responsibility to make sure that our children thrive in the type of exciting Jewish community we did, so that when they are at the JCC with their children one day, they will be thanking us for the memories as well.
Lauren Schleicher is the Special Events Associate at JF&CS. She grew up in Marblehead, MA where she currently resides with her husband, Jeff, and 2-year-old daughter, Olivia.