The Voice of the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community
Issue No. 425
AWARD-WINNING PUBLICATION EST. 1977
See how the Lehigh Valley celebrated Sukkot p10
One year after the tragedy in Pittsburgh, we remember p16-18
FROM THE DESK OF JERI ZIMMERMAN p2 LVJF TRIBUTES p8 JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE p15 JEWISH DAY SCHOOL p19 JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER p20-21 COMMUNITY CALENDAR p30-31
As a gunman loomed outside their synagogue, Jews in Halle kept praying Left, A man and woman hug in front of the entrance to the Halle synagogue the day after the shooting attack, Oct. 10, 2019.
By Rebecca Spies and Toby Axelrod Jewish Telegraphic Agency
JENS SCHLUETER/GETTY IMAGES
HALLE – Just two days after a deadly anti-Semitic attack here, this city in eastern Germany slowly stirs to life. On this morning, a woman walks a small dog along the sidewalk, crossing the street to avoid the police tape and masses of candles melting down. A mother passes by pushing a baby in a stroller. Memorials now flank the doorway where a gunman tried to force his way inside a synagogue using explosives
and homemade weaponry. Media crews and cameras still linger across the narrow street. A police van with two officers idles. For a city with an aging populace often described as calm, where services like Uber are still largely unavailable, the attack comes as a shock. “Everyone is quiet, turned into themselves. You can tell everyone is in deep mourning,” Nicole Wiedemann, a Halle resident, said while paying her respects before work. “We were shocked. We didn’t understand at first. That only came later, when we weren’t allowed to leave our buildings.”
Jews in Halle Continues on page 24
Jewish Family Service celebrates Community Food Pantry grand re-opening By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor On Sunday, Sept. 22, Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley hosted a grand re-opening of their newly expanded and renovated Community Food Pantry. The project started in June with the tearing down of a wall to double the size of the pantry, and construction was completed in August.
The crowd of over 50 JFS board members, LIFE & LEGACY supporters and other community members were greeted with refreshments from Around the Table Catering, the first kosher food truck in the Lehigh Valley. They were able to tour the newly refurbished pantry, where there were posters highlighting interesting facts about the work of JFS on display. When everyone was gathered, JFS Community Non-Profit Organization
702 North 22nd Street Allentown, PA 18104
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Impact Coordinator Rebecca Axelrod-Cooper started things off by introducing JFS executive director Debbie Zoller. “I am really so thrilled to have all of you here,” said Zoller, “and this would not happen without all of you being supportive of Jewish Family Service, so we thank you every day and for everything you do.” State Rep. Mike Schlossberg was in attendance to present a proclamation.“It’s very important that this food location is here to help not just the Jewish community, but the community at large,” said Schlossberg. He emphasized the importance of the JFS food pantry, sharing how 30 percent of the residents of Allentown live in poverty, and 90 percent of the children in the Allentown School District live with some sort of poverty or food insecurity issues. Schlossberg then cut the giant blue ribbon adorning a wall of fully stocked shelves along with Zoller, JFS Food Pantry Coordinator Sharon Gayner and U.S.
Rep. Susan Wild. At this, the onlookers packed into the pantry broke into singing “Siman Tov u’Mazal tov.” Then, the crowd moved into the JFS board room, where it was standing room only to hear Wild, introduced by Axelrod-Cooper and JFS President Rabbi Allen Juda, speak on the issue of food insecurity in the Lehigh Valley and answer questions about the broader concern nationally. “I feel like I should really be applauding all of you, and particularly the staff here at Jewish Family Service. Food matters have always been really important to me,” said Wild. “The idea of any family, any parent struggling to put food on the table, any children going to school and
not being properly nourished, is something that literally can keep me awake at night, and I have a feeling there are a lot of people in this room who feel the same way.” She congratulated JFS for expanding the pantry at a challenging time when government resources for social services have been dwindling. “I believe that our Jewish values are the universal values that can guide us out of the darkness and into the light, and this place exemplifies that,” added Wild. With the pantry’s renovation, it has now increased its dry and cold storage, which will enable JFS to expand its service area and hours to more people in need in the Lehigh Valley.
An attitude of gratitude When I think back on my early years at Hebrew school, I recall that the first song/ prayer we learned was “Modeh Ani.” My teacher explained that this was the first prayer we should recite upon waking, while still in bed. I always thought it was funny to be lying in bed singing this song. Our teacher also went on to explain that by beginning our day with a prayer that says “I thank You”, we were actually preparing ourselves to welcome and be grateful for a new day. It surprises me (in a good way) that those lessons learned as an 8-year-old child stayed with me, and I think of them
as warm, fond memories. I am thankful for my teachers. When raising our own children, we had a family ritual of going around the dinner table on Shabbat and each person got to talk about the worst things about their week and, of course, the best things that occurred each week. In a way, when each one of us shared the best of the week, we were also acknowledging our thanks for the things in which we were most grateful. I am certain that just the opportunity for each person to have a say and to be heard (listened to) was a special moment each week to appreciate each other.
With Thanksgiving quickly approaching, I was again reminded of an expression that I had heard years ago to begin each day with “an attitude of gratitude.” It is also the title of a book by New York Times bestselling author Lewis Howes. An attitude of gratitude is typically defined as “making it a habit to express thankfulness and appreciation in all parts of your life, on a regular basis. For both the big things and small things alike.” Howes writes about cultivating a grateful mindset and acknowledges that this takes work. It seems to me that the benefits for practicing
At inauguration of 22nd Knesset, celebration was dampened by political deadlock
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and party leaders pose for a group picture during the opening of the 22nd Knesset in Jerusalem on Oct. 3, 2019.
By Dov Lipman Jewish News Syndicate A red carpet was laid in the plaza leading up to the entrance to the Knesset, Israel’s parliament building in Jerusalem, and a large sign welcoming members and guests to the inauguration of the 22nd Knesset hung over the building. Trumpet-blowers could be heard practicing for the grand entrance of the president into the Knesset chamber. The building was filled with flowers, and a massive pre-inauguration spread awaited the crowd.
But despite all the festive trappings in what usually is a day of great celebration, the focus was on one thing: the formation of a unity government. The 120 members of the Knesset are historically sworn in two weeks after an election, establishing Israel’s legislative branch, despite the lack of a new executive branch and newly elected prime minister. That process usually happens soon after the Knesset inauguration, enabling members to get to work passing legislation, as well as overseeing the activities of the premier and his
government. But this time, the cloud of no prime minister being able to form a majority coalition of 61 Knesset members could be felt throughout the building. Rather, talk was centered on the need to form a government led by the two largest parties—Likud, and Blue and White—that together equal 65 seats. Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin addressed the new Knesset, declaring: “We are facing a time of crisis for the House of Jacob, an emergency for Israel’s security and for Israeli society, an emergency for Israeli democracy. Forming a government is not just the wish of the people. More than ever, in a time like this, it is an economic and security need like we have not known for many years.” Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu focused on this building state of emergency in his address to new Knesset members and their families. “This is not a spin. This is not ‘Netanyahu is trying to scare us,’” he said. “Iran is getting stronger. Their courage and audacity is getting stronger. … They announce daily that the state of Israel will disappear … Israel is going to have to find budgets to confront these new Deadlock dampens celebration Continues on page 8
The Lehigh Valley-Yoav Partnership Park in Blessed Memory of Mark L. Goldstein We gratefully acknowledge those individuals who have offered expressions of friendship by requesting that trees be planted in the Mark L. Goldstein Friendship Park, a Yoav-Lehigh Valley Partnership Forest. IN MEMORY LOUIS FRUMANSKY (Huband of Shirley Furmansky, father of Stewart Furmansky and Helen Kirshbaum) Rebecca Zwilling
TO ORDER TREES, call the JFLV at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org. 2 NOVEMBER 2019 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
this habit results in increased happiness and joy in our lives and in the lives of those we touch. Whether giving thanks to God or just feeling grateful in our own reflections, this expression resonates with me on so many levels. First, I am thankful for family and friends who provide support and encouragement through good times and, sometimes, tough times and for the many things that make day-to-day life so wonderful. I am also most appreciative of a community that embraced me since I arrived in the Lehigh Valley and especially as I transitioned into my new
role. How amazing it is to be surrounded by you, as together, we address important and meaningful work each day! As we head into the Thanksgiving season, perhaps we can try to hold onto those feelings of gratitude. In the meantime, thanks to each of you for inspiring me. Warm wishes to you and your family for a beautiful Thanksgiving holiday.
HAKOL STAFF STEPHANIE BOLMER Editor
HAKOL is published 11 times per year for the Jewish communities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and vicinity by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.
COMMUNITY SUBMISSIONS Submissions to HAKOL must be of interest to the entire Jewish community. HAKOL reserves all editorial rights including, but not limited to, the decision to print any submitted materials, the editing of submissions to conform to style and length requirements, and the placement of any printed material. Articles should be submitted by e-mail or presented as typed copy; “Community Calendar” listings must be submitted by e-mail to email@example.com or online at www.jewishlehighvalley.org. Please include your name and a daytime telephone number where you can be contacted in the event questions arise. We cannot guarantee publication or placement of submissions. MAIL, FAX, OR E-MAIL TO: JFLV ATTN: HAKOL 702 N. 22nd St. Allentown, PA 18104
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JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY MISSION STATEMENT
In order to unite, sustain, and enhance the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, and support Jewish communities in Israel and around the world, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is dedicated to the following core values: • Supporting Jews in need wherever they may be. • Supporting Israel as a Jewish homeland. • Supporting and encouraging Jewish education in the Lehigh Valley as a means of strengthening Jewish life for individuals and families. • Supporting programs and services of organizations whose values and mission meet local Jewish needs. To accomplish this mission the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is committed to the following operating guidelines: • Raising and distributing funds to support the core values. • Developing Jewish leaders. • Building endowments to support implementation of core values. • Committing to ongoing Jewish community strategic planning. • Fostering cooperation among organizations and community building. • Evaluating all decisions with respect to fiscal responsibility. • Identifying unmet needs and investing in community initiatives to help get them started. • Coordinating and convening a community response as an issue or need arises. • Setting priorities for allocation and distribution of funds. • Acting as a central address for communication about events, programs and services of the Jewish community as a whole. Approved by the JFLV Board of Directors on November 15, 2000
‘A community worth living in is a community worth giving in’ Federation welcomes campus activist Rudy Rochman for major donor reception By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Community Development & Operations
HEATHER GOGAL PHOTOGRAPHY
HEATHER GOGAL PHOTOGRAPHY HEATHER GOGAL PHOTOGRAPHY
At 7 years old, Rudy Rochman witnessed his mother thrown off of a bus, just for being Jewish. The disturbing incident set him on a path to find his own Jewish identity. Never again doesn’t mean it’s never going to happen again, Rochman told a group of 70 major donors to the Federation at a reception hosted at the home of Jean Weiner on Oct. 3. It means that it’s each new generation’s responsibility to ensure this. “The future is the next generation,” Rochman said. “Without that next generation leading the conversation, we already know where the world is going to go.” After sharing his own story of living all around the world and serving in the Israeli Defense Forces, Rochman talked about how to effectively communicate Israel’s story. It’s something he’s working on, particularly on college campuses through his grassroots movement Students Supporting Israel. In 2018, Rochman was named one of the 36 Under 36 most influential Jews in the world. “What you’re doing is so important,” one of the attendees told Rochman. After Rochman’s presentation, many of the donors in the room – led by Annual Campaign Co-Chairs Robby Wax and Vicki Wax – spoke about why they give to Federation and how important it is to support the Jewish community, here in the Lehigh Valley, in Israel and all over the world.
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For Federation supporters, it all starts with a photo shoot Make your pledge to the Jewish Federation by Nov. 1 and have your photo taken too!
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HEATHER GOGAL PHOTOGRAPHY
The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is challenging supporters to make their pledges by Nov. 1 this year. What is a pledge? A pledge is a promise to support the 2020 Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs and does not need to be paid until December of 2020. Those who make a combined household pledge of $365 or more can sign up for a free family photo shoot on Nov. 6 or 7 with professional photographer Heather Gogal. All supporters who make their pledges by the deadline will receive a free gift. To make a pledge and sign up for the photo shoot, visit www.jewishlehighvalley. org/campaign.
Momentum toasts the New Year
SPONSORED BY THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY’S WOMEN’S DIVISION
WELCOMING NEW BABIES
to the Lehigh Valley
At their September Year of Growth Session, the 2019 Momentum group enjoyed a Rosh Hashanah toast with Israeli shlicha Rotem Bar. They also had the opportunity to discuss faithfulness and trust with guest facilitator Hannah Andrews and participate in a creative writing exercise to set goals for the new year.
ZOE ROSE VOLCHKO
daughter of Jessica and Nick Volchko
If you’re expecting, know someone who is, or have a new baby, PLEASE LET US KNOW! Contact Abby Trachtman, 610-821-5500 | firstname.lastname@example.org SPONSORED BY
Handmade Afghans BY EVA LEVITT
All proceeds benefit projects in Israel:
Food Banks in Israel Neve Michael Youth Village
For prices or to place an order, call Eva 610-398-1376.
All payments are made payable to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley 4 NOVEMBER 2019 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Maimonides Society kicks off a new year in style The Maimonides Society of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley kicked off the year with a reception at The Shelby on Sept. 24. The reception brought together health care professionals for an opportunity to get to know each other better and learn more about the benefits of joining Maimonides. Maimonides members enjoy a sense of common purpose and commitment to work toward the betterment of Jews wherever they may be; they come together regularly for lively discussions and social outings; they have the opportunity to direct 5 percent of the total health care funds raised annually to a project of their choice; and they receive a listing in the Federationâ€™s annual Maimonides Directory, which is mailed directly into the homes of the entire Jewish community. To learn more about joining this society, contact President Bill Markson or Aaron Gorodzinsky at 610-821-5500 or aaron@jflv. org or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org/ maimonides.
Dr. Marc Berson and Jacqueline Schwartz.
Bree Marks, Margo Lightman and Dr. Andrea Goldsmith.
Maimonides brunch focuses on service Above left, Dr. Robert Kricun, Dr. Jeff Blinder and Dr. Michael Busch. Above right, Dr. John Jaffe and Dr. Mark Shampain. Below left, Amy Morrison and Dr. Rob Morrison. Below right, Dr. Marc Vengrove, Dr. Marty Katz, Dr. Andrew Schwartz and Dr. Bill Markson.
At a brunch hosted by the Maimonides Society of the Jewish Federation on Oct. 6, Dr. Grant Greenberg from Lehigh Valley Health Network and Dr. Rajika E. Reed from St. Lukeâ€™s University Health Network spoke about initiatives to bring health services to the community.
HAKOL JANUARY 2020 RESERVE SPACE TO ADVERTISE BY DECEMBER 1 CONTACT DIANE McKEE 610.821.5500 ext. 323 email@example.com
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Mega community concert close to selling out By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Community Development & Operations The Jewish Federation’s CommUNITY Concert featuring Israeli band Hatikva 6 is coming up quickly on Nov. 21 and tickets are going fast. “We can only fit so many people in the Musikfest Café, but we don’t want anyone who is interested in attending to miss out!” concert co-chair Lauren Rabin said. “If you’re one of those people, we hope you will go ahead and get those tickets.” All guests will be treated to valet parking when they arrive at the ArtsQuest Center. From there, volunteers will direct the guests to the Musikfest Café on the third floor, where they will find registration tables that will open at 6:30 p.m. No physical tickets will be needed: all guests’ names will be on the list at registration. “We want to make this an enjoyable and seamless experience for everyone,” co-chair Carol Steinberg said. “That’s why we are filling the room with volunteers and anticipating as many needs as we can.” Once the doors open, guests will have the opportunity to find their seats, which will be arranged at tables. Hatikva 6 will take the stage at approximately 7:30 p.m., playing their countless hits that are on the top of the
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Israeli charts in their global and roots style with Hebrew, English and French lyrics. After the concert, sponsors will be escorted downstairs for a special meet and greet and photo opportunity with the band. More than 70 sponsors have signed up, and the committee is hard at work to make this a fabulous evening for all. “With great enthusiasm and excitement, we can’t wait to hear your singing voices in unity with the community,” said co-chair Aliette Abo. “Please don’t forget to bring those dancing shoes. This celebration starts with you. Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Get your tickets before they’re gone! Call 610821-5500 or visitjewishlehighvalley.org/hatikva6 for more.
JCC launches new monthly Jewish Film Night By Dan Poresky Jewish Film Nights at the J Chair The Jewish Community Center began showing films of Jewish interest 25 years ago and has done so every year since. We thank the many sponsors, staff, volunteers and patrons who gave their time and money to support and attend hundreds of film showings over all these years. We are adopting a new format this year called Jewish Film Nights at the J (JFN). A different film will be shown on a Tuesday evening each month at the JCC starting Oct. 29. Thanks to our generous sponsors, all are free and open to the public. The films cost us hundreds of dollars each. Previously, the films were clustered into a few weeks at different locations and had an admission charge. Each film will be briefly introduced to provide just enough information to prepare the viewer. Viewers are invited to stay after the film when a discussion facilitator, knowledgeable on the subject of the film, will elicit audience reactions and questions. Light refreshments will be available before and after the film. I love the films we show. I learn something about myself and the world from each film. For me, the films broaden and reinforce my sense of Jewish identity. All the more when experiencing them with others. Very rewarding. I rarely see commercial movies, and most are quickly forgotten. On the other hand, since joining the film committee, I’ve seen dozens of Jewishinterest films and remember nearly all of them. There are comedies, docudramas, love stories and suspense thrillers, contemporary and historical. I’ll never forget the intimate interviews with the baseball players in the documentary “Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel” that told the story of Israel’s baseball team as it competed successfully in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. Or “An Act of Defiance,” a riveting reenactment of the 1964 Rivonia trial in South Africa, in which Nelson Mandela and a number of Jewish collaborators were convicted for anti-apartheid acts of sabotage. Unlike most Hollywood films that
are profit-driven formulas that use celebrity, hype and contrived plots to draw audiences, these films reflect the artistic passion of the filmmaker and actors. They ring true. The films are chosen by the JCC film committee, on which not all members are Jewish. We meet monthly to screen and evaluate films for JFN public showings. Many dozens of Jewish-interest films from many countries are released yearly. Our research finds the most compelling films that entertain, educate, inspire and challenge—films that appeal to Jews and non-Jews, young and old. Major Jewish Film Festivals, held in dozens of cities, draw thousands of people who enjoy the community experience of seeing and talking about Jewish films. We’re not there yet, but we could be in a couple of years with your support. On Tues., Oct 29, at 7 p.m., we are showing “93Queen,” an upbeat, entertaining and revealing documentary film about a group of Hassidic women in Brooklyn who broke through the resistance to create an all-woman EMS ambulance service. “The Last Suit,” a comedic, poignant, late-in-life road movie of a man fulfilling a promise made 70 years earlier in the 1940s will be shown Nov. 26. This very popular film has already been shown at 65 Jewish film festivals, winning numerous awards. Please go to lvjcc.org/ film for more information about these and other upcoming films. While there, be sure to sign up for our monthly email announcements and reminders. You won’t want to miss any. Looking forward to seeing you at the movies. Bring your friends. They will thank you for it. So will we. For more information, contact Dan Poresky at dporesky@ yahoo.com.
JLounge offers easy access to after school fun By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor Students from the Jewish Day School and other local elementary schools have the opportunity to experience a variety of enriching after-school programs at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley—all by just stepping off the school bus. The program, called JLounge, is for pre-K through fifth grade students. “It’s a great program for any child to come to after school. There are so many things to do here at the JCC that it would be worthwhile for any child to come here. The JCC is just a great place, and the kids all have a good time,” said Brenda Finberg, children and family services director for the JCC. Children enrolled in the program are bussed to the JCC after school. Current participating schools are the Jewish Day School, Cetronia Elementary, Parkway Manor and Kratzer Elementary. This year, the Jewish Federation is subsidizing the cost of transportation from the Jewish Day School through a Community Impact Grant. “Our students love extending their school day by hopping on the JCC ‘taxi’ and heading over to the JCC,” said Amy Golding, JDS head of school. “They have the opportunity to interact with peers from other schools, which enhances their peer network. We, as a school community, are grateful to partner with the JCC to offer extended care to our families at an affordable rate thanks to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley's support.” In addition to getting to hang out with their friends, there are many structured activities offered for the children to participate in, all led with an average ratio of eight students to one professional staff person. From
science experiments to the arts, there are options for all interests. Currently, Thursdays are filled with sports of all kinds, led by JCC Sports and Wellness Director Terrence Baker, and Fridays feature swimming lessons with American Red Cross-certified instructors. New activities are in the works, as well, with plans to offer a dance club and a cooking club this winter. Chess club, a popular choice at the JCC in the past, is also slated to return. While all of the enrichment activities are happening, if students need to just focus on their studies, that’s an option, too. “The homework help is a really big thing,” said Finberg, explaining that children can be in a different room with a few teachers on hand to offer help with homework. Utilizing just the transportation aspect of JLounge is also an option for students who are signed up for other JCC offerings such as private music lessons or Soccer Shots. Children will be safely transported to any activity in the JCC building that they need to get to for their chosen programs. Finberg has found, however, that the appeal of JLounge is strong. “Even if they just do music lessons, they really now want to go the JLounge,” she said. “When the kids are here, they want to stay. It’s very homey.” With so many students from JDS already taking advantage of the opportunity to head down the road to the JCC after school, the program continues to grow. “The JCC is grateful for the Federation's support in ensuring that JDS students continue to have access to the JCC's after-school program at a price that is affordable for working parents,” said Eric Lightman, JCC executive director. “This not only provides a valuable service to these families, but having JDS students in the JCC building creates community, connections and friendships.”
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Deadlock dampens celebration Continues from page 2
dangers … a unity government is what we need at this time.” Rivlin explained that a wideranging government coalition would enable Israel to “put the disagreements between us to one side and work on finding areas of agreement … to give all of us the chance to breathe a little, to heal.” In a remarkable moment—and in the spirit of the High Holiday season—the president put a kipah on his head, asked the people of Israel to forgive him if he did anything to hurt them, and prayed for unity and peace. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein also called for a unity government, looking at Netanyahu, and Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, while offering: “My office is a few meters away. Sit. Talk. Turn over every stone until you find a solution. We can bridge the gaps. We can repair that which has been torn. We can certainly reach unity.” Aside from the unusual tone from the country’s top leaders for a Knesset inauguration, even the mood among the incoming Knesset members was anything but celebratory. “This is a less festive day than usual,” former Economic and Education Minister Naftali Bennett from the New Right Party, told JNS. “The nation of Israel is hoping for the establishment of a wide unity government with compromises from both sides,” continued Bennett, who is being sworn in to his third Knesset. “The population fears another election.” MK Boaz Toporovsky of the
Blue and White Party, who is also being sworn into his third Knesset, shared Bennett’s sentiments. He told JNS that “it is definitely a weird day. I feel that an entire state wants us—the Knesset members—to come to an understanding and [exhibit] unity together. But I also feel that the same citizens don’t believe that we are doing everything possible to fulfill their will.” Shas MK Yaakov Margi, chairman of the outgoing Knesset’s education committee, quoted an old Jewish saying that “the bitter eye cries while the heart is happy” when JNS asked him how he feels at the inauguration. “The feelings are mixed,” he said, “because there is no rejoicing after this past unnecessary election, and we don’t know if we are headed to another election or not.” Nevertheless, veteran MK Motti Yogev from the Jewish Home Party told JNS that the swearing-in ceremony was still an emotional moment. “The honor to be sworn into a Jewish parliament in a Jewish state doesn’t get old, and it touched me every time,” he stated. He added that he is hopeful that the country is heading toward a wide-ranging unity government. Numerous Knesset members told JNS that they and their parties will do whatever is necessary to form a unity government. In a sign that there will be a breakthrough of some kind, the most veteran member of Knesset, chairman of the Labor Party Amir Peretz, told JNS that “everyone should be patient. There is a process underway, and something will happen to solve the stalemate.” Despite this hopefulness, as of time of press, Gantz had refused an invitation from Netanyahu to join him in a compromise plan.
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IN HONOR SYBIL BAIMAN In honor of your Special Birthday Eydie and Neil Glickman PEGGY AND BILL BERGER In honor of granddaughters Julia and Amanda’s B'not Mitzvah Roberta and Jeff Epstein WENDY AND ROSS BORN In honor of receiving AFP’s Lifetime Achievement Award Sheryl and Rance Block Lynn and Michael Rothman JEANETTE AND EDUARDO EICHENWALD In recognition for Jewish and civic volunteerism Eydie and Neil Glickstein ANDREA AND OLLIE FOUCEK In honor of daughter Arielle’s marriage to Alex Ann and David Packman BETH AND WES KOZINN In honor of your new home Sandra and Harold Goldfarb EVELYN AND JAY LIPSCHUTZ In honor of your new home Beth and Wes Kozinn LINDA AND MIKE MILLER In recognition for commitment to tikkun olam throughout the Jewish community Eydie and Neil Glickstein ILENE AND MIKE RINGOLD In honor of your son Matthew’s Bar Mitzvah Deborah and David Wiener NAOMI SCHACHTER AND DAVID DAHAN In honor of your son Isaac’s Bar Mitzvah
Stephanie and Stephen Szilagyi Deborah and David Wiener KAYLA AND HOWIE SEIDMAN In honor of the birth of your grandson, Hayes Sybil and Barry Baiman EILEEN AND MICKEY UFBERG In honor of your grandson’s Bar Mitzvah Beth and Wes Kozinn MICKEY UFBERG In honor of a complete and speedy recovery Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald Beth and Wes Kozinn Carole and Michael Langsam Suzanne Lapiduss Lota and Robert Post VICKI WAX AND ROBBY WAX In honor of the great work you will do as Campaign Chairs Susan and Jeff Nullman IN MEMORY LOUIS FURMANSKY (Husband of Shirley Furmansky, father of Stewart Furmansky and Helen Kirschbaum) Rita and Michael Bloom Diane Deno Nanci Goldman and Steven Bergstein Sandra Jacoby Randi and Donald Senderowitz Susan and Stuart Shmookler Elaine Snyder Shirley’s Mahjong Group
MARK GOLDSTEIN (Husband of Shari Spark) Suzanne Lapiduss SHELDON HOFFMAN (Brother of Carol Hoffman) Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald Suzanne Lapiduss Barbara and Fred Sussman JULIAN RAPPAPORT (Husband Toby Brandt-Rappaport, friend of Elaine Rappaport-Bass) Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald Penny and Adam Roth Randi and Donald Senderowitz Barbara and Fred Sussman HELEN AND SOL KRAWITZ HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FUND IN HONOR WENDY AND ROSS BORN In honor of receiving AFP’s Lifetime Achievement Award Lynda and Stuart Krawitz IN MEMORY LOUIS FURMANSKY (Husband of Shirley Furmansky, father of Stewart Furmansky) Lynda and Stuart Krawitz We gratefully acknowledge those individuals who have offered expressions of friendship through recent gifts to the Lehigh Valley Jewish Foundation. The minimum contribution for an Endowment Card is $10. Call 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org to place your card requests. Thank you for your continued support.
Local woman 'never forgets' her family history — thanks to genealogy By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor For Melinda Aimee Roth, research and education run in the family. Her father, Monro Roth, z”l, was a community college professor who continued working until age 91. After earning degrees in both biology and English, Roth followed in his footsteps by teaching in Philadelphia schools for 30 years. Now retired, she gifted herself an Ancestry. com account to explore her family’s genealogy. After only a week on the site, she made her first big discovery. “It has been absolutely fascinating for me,” said Roth. “I’ve really hit the grand slam of genealogy. The very first week, I was contacted by a woman in Humenne, Slovakia, who has 25 percent marked Jewish DNA.” That woman is Zuzana Jedinakova Kuncova, now 89 years old, and she had a Jewish grandfather. Kuncova wants to know for certain about her family history, and they discovered that they had a shared relative, which Roth deduced was definitely through the Heimowitz family, one of the three Jewish surnames in Humenne in 1896, when Kuncova’s grandfather was alive. After Yom Kippur this year, Roth traveled to Slovakia to meet Kuncova for the first time. “We are working very hard on this,” said Roth, of trying to prove without a shadow of a doubt that
Kuncova’s grandfather was Yecheil Heimowitz, who left Slovakia to settle in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and is the ancestor of other Jewish families in the Lehigh Valley. The partners in Roth’s work are other relatives of hers who reside in the West End of Allentown — Joan Roth Lichtenstein, Adele Roth Wolensky, Lucille Roth Lehrich and Jean Roth Mandel. Kuncova’s story is just the beginning of what Roth has uncovered in her research. Her diligence has unearthed many family secrets, such as two illegitmate second cousins on another side of the family. “The DNA doesn’t lie,” declared Roth. But, she’s also made other, more joyful discoveries, such as learning about branches of her family who survived the Holocaust. And that is a big motivation for why she keeps going with her genealogical research. “We all speak out against these repeated genocides, and I think that having this miracle of someone survive is otherworldly, and that beautiful kind of miracle is just something that’s so special,” said Roth. “I’ve never taken away my belief in God, and I know there were a lot of people who were religious within the camps, and it’s been otherworldly to talk to them.” Roth has also been impacted by journeying to meet with other European relatives she’s connected with
through her new pastime. In 2018, she visited Prague, where she met Sona Buriankova, granddaughter of Roth’s great-uncle, who Roth was surprised to learn had survived the Holocaust. Through their talks, Sona’s husband, Vladimir Buriank, has shared with Roth about what it was like living under a Communist regime. “It’s made me very appreciative of this lucky life,” said Roth.
Zuzana Jedinakova Kuncova and her daughter Jana.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 9
Fun under the sukkah throughout the Lehigh Valley
10 NOVEMBER 2019 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Looking up to count the stars
RABBI MICHAEL SINGER Congregation Brith Sholom We live in a world where people (especially our children) spend more waking hours staring at a screen than looking up at the heavens. I believe that this reality will someday prove to have both physical and psychological impacts that we are yet to fully understand. In my mind, however, it is the spiritual implications that give me most pause. Will there be silent moments to breathe in the grandeur and beauty of God’s creation without digital interruptions? A time to escape this world into the meditations of the heart where heaven and earth kiss in moments of
transcendence? And where God’s dreams and our dreams meet under the canopy of twinkling stars? I remember as a child, lying on the grass and watching the clouds pass with their whimsical and lofty shapes, transported to places in my imagination of great battles with the wind as they quickly passed by. Or riding in the car, without a TV screen or iPad to play games or watch movies on, just staring out the window as a silent witness to the trees whose leaves were aflame in oranges, reds and yellows. It is not (thank God) that the clouds and trees have disappeared but that the pace of time unfettered from work, consumption or structure is fading in our society. For me, these moments of freedom are sacred. It is the beauty of Shabbat and Jewish holidays that often allow me to daydream, feel and experience awe and let my imagination run wild. I do not need Netflix with its mountain of programming content to replace the actual mountains, nor do I desire my iPhone with its constant texts, calls or the latest headlines to fill the days of my life. Instead, as the Psalmist sang, “One thing I ask of the Lord, for this do I seek: to dwell in the House of God all the days of my life, to
behold God’s beauty and visit in God’s sanctuary” (Psalm 27). We are commanded to “teach our children diligently.” This not only refers to how to read, write, add, subtract and ultimately find a job, but also, just as important, how to make time to acknowledge the sacred, how to appreciate the wondrous and how to be grateful for and share the blessings they have been given. We must teach that silence can be a window into ourselves, imagination a gift, prayer a force for growth and change and love the connection that binds all of God’s creation together with God. These lessons of our Jewish tradition do not require an advanced degree, but they do require spiritual discipline through observance. Why? you may ask. Because in the cultural competition for the days of our lives the screens want the market share—to be front and center every day and in every way. It is no mistake that on Sukkot we are commanded to leave the comforts and trappings of our homes for the fresh air and simplicity of the sukkah. I believe it is not only a physical pilgrimage we undertake when we dwell in the sukkah but also a necessary spiritual journey away from
the habits, objects and routines that separate us from God and each other. In this way, we may “behold God’s beauty and visit God’s sanctuary.” For seven days, we have the opportunity to once again remember how thankful we are for the basic yet profound blessings of friends, family, food, clothing and shelter. We look up through the schach (natural canopy) and can see the heavens. We can feel the breeze of the changing season and how we have changed
as well. We can sing out loud our hymns of praise and hear the birds answer, Amen! We can breathe freely, stop, slow down and celebrate the gift of what it means to be alive. We can welcome old friends and complete strangers, united in the aspirations and dreams of a “sukkat shlomeicha” - a sanctuary of peace. We can at least temporarily answer YES! to the questions above, and remember how it feels to look up filled with awe and marvel at the countless stars.
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HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 11
Meet the Presidents: Brian Ford By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor Editor’s note: Follow our ongoing series as we introduce our readers to a different local synagogue or agency president each month. This month kicks off with Jewish Community Center President Brian Ford. Brian Ford says that after he and his wife Emily had kids and decided it was time to settle down, returning to her roots in the Lehigh Valley became the “obvious choice.” “Not being from here, I was a little apprehensive, but it has been nothing but wonderful,” said Ford. Growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, Ford attended Franklin & Marshall College as an undergrad and went on to graduate from Penn State Dickinson Law. He has practiced law at a number of different firms, specializing in special education law, and now works as a special education due process hearing officer. After meeting Emily on JDate, they bounced around a bit before making their home permanently here in Allentown. Emily’s family, the Papirs and the Roths, have long been involved in the local Jewish community, so it was a natural transition for the Fords to be, as well. “Al, my older kid, was at the JCC before I was,” Ford said, recalling how his son attended the JCC’s early childhood education program before the Fords had even completed their move. After they were unpacked, they embarked on a thorough Lehigh Valley Jewish life—becoming members of the JCC and Temple Beth El and making friends with other families along the way. Sending Al and their other son, Sam, to Camp JCC led Ford to serving on the camp committee of the JCC Board. From there, he was asked to join the Board proper, becoming a vice president and, now, president. Both Fords are experienced board members now, with Emily having served on TBE’s board and now JFS’s, which Brian just stepped off as she stepped on. When it comes to volunteering, Ford said,
“The bottom line is that I’ve found with volunteering both at the JCC and with JFS that the more I put into it, the more I got out of it. So that sort of compelled me to do more. I found it very fulfilling, and in a way, it’s almost selfish. I really tried to get as much out of it as I can, and that required some effort on my part.” With a mind motivated by deliverables and project-based work, Ford is a natural fit for helping to keep the organizations he cares about running well. When not found at the JCC participating in board meetings or picking up his kids from Stagemakers practices, Ford enjoys the simple pleasures of life, like spending time with his kids and watching football. He’s eagerly anticipating the upcoming poker league at the JCC, which he wants to encourage everyone to sign up for. His love for the organization he helps lead is summed up in his final statement: “The JCC runs incredible, meaningful programs that build community, and if you care about the Jewish community, one of the best ways to show that caring is to come out and participate in JCC programs and events.”
PJ Library and JFS teaming up for Coats and Cocoa drive
PJ Library is proud to sponsor a coats and cocoa drive again this year to benefit the Community Food Pantry at Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley. This year's drive is being spearheaded by PJ parent Kristen Johnson. From now until Dec. 1, drop off new or gently used coats and other winter gear, along with hot cocoa mixes, at either the JFS office or the JCC. Your contributions will help keep JFS clients 12 NOVEMBER 2019 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
and their families warm this winter. PJ Library families are invited to bring their coats and cocoa to a PJ event at JFS on Sunday, Nov. 17, at 1 p.m. Hear the story of "Maddie the Mitzvah Clown," learn about the services that JFS provides to the community and participate in a craft project. For more information or to RSVP, contact Abby Trachtman at 610-821-5500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PJ grants offer families the opportunity to ‘do Jewish’
By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Community Development & Operations Are you looking to host a Shabbat dinner? Make latkes for Chanukah with your kids? Invite two or more other Jewish families to join you, and PJ Library will sponsor it. Through PJ’s new “Get Together” grants, families can receive up to $100 in reimbursement for hosting Jewish celebrations with their friends. All creative ideas are welcome. For Rosh Hashanah, Chelsea Busch invited two families to her home and led the children in making their own round challahs complete with M&Ms and sprinkles. “I always plan to celebrate the holidays with friends or in the community, but often times when the events actually come around, nap time or family obligations get in the way,” Busch said. “The PJ Library grant was great because it enabled me to plan an event that worked with my sched-
ule and it also helped me to be more intentional in creating a meaningful experience for my kids and celebrating Rosh Hashanah with friends.” Jessica Volchko used her grant for a Rosh Hashanah celebration at the farm. After the families enjoyed apple picking together at Grim’s, the children gathered on the grass for a PJ Library story and dipped their apples in honey together. “I wanted to celebrate Rosh Hashanah in a fun, meaningful way for my children,” Volchko said. “What could be more fun than apple picking and enjoying our yummy treats with friends? The perfect way to experience the holiday together!” Applicants must be current PJ Library or PJ Our Way subscribers. You can host multiple times and receive up to four reimbursements between now and April 30, 2020.
Makes A Great Hanukkah Gift!
To learn more and apply, visit www.pjlibrary. org/gettogether2019.
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Summer service series in Easton draws record numbers
Bnai Abraham-Covenant of Peace This summer, the sanctuary of Bnai Abraham-Covenant of Peace was alive with the sound of music. A remarkable series of summer services led by Rabbi Melody Davis and Annelise Davis encouraged all attendees to share the joy, beauty and holiness of each Shabbat. Most services drew more than 50 people, which for summertime is amazing! Whether we treasure the familiar melodies or yearn for an alternate approach to liturgy, all of us in attendance were awed by the preparation, the interpretation and the attention to detail of each service. Whether we sang our well-loved prayers to a Gospel tune or sang to camp songs from our Jewish camp days or chanted meditatively, we were uplifted and rejuvenated.
The pièce de résistance was the Broadway Shabbat held on Aug. 30. The palpable excitement and joyous spirit were truly unique. Imagine singing our traditional prayers to show tune melodies. Imagine a congregation eager to applaud the beauty and reverence of each prayer! Imagine, too, a congregation in formal dress! Our siddur was a beautifully crafted PowerPoint. The Hebrew words were expertly written, adjacent to the English transliteration with a full page illustration depicting a beautiful work of inspirational art. The creativity and hard work of the ensemble were inspiring. Kudos to Rabbi Melody Davis, Annelise Davis, Jonathon Davis, Spencer Davis, Michelle Rifkin and Broadway pianist extraordinaire Mark Toback for an astonishingly lovely service. The enthusiastic participation from
Caring FOR YOUR future. Garrett, age 4, future construction worker
the congregation comprised of members from the Easton, Bethlehem and Allentown Jewish communities as well as many, many guests was very special. The sanctuary was filled with over 100 worshipers from all parts of the Lehigh Valley who lingered long past the music’s end. Clearly, life is sweeter and meant to be enjoyed in good company. The magnificent Oneg Shabbat was literally the icing on the cake. French pastries and champagne along with warm conversation and friends well met added a special touch to the uplifting, soulful evening. We look forward to an encore next summer! Watch for reprises of some of these unique services on Shabbat mornings to come. The first one will be Chanting and Chocolate on Saturday, Nov. 23, at Bnai Abraham Synagogue at 10 a.m.
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HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 15
‘Pause for Pittsburgh’ to mark one year since synagogue attack that killed 11 By Marcy Oster Jewish Telegraphic Agency
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People across the United States and around the world will join together virtually on the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Tree of Life synagogue building in suburban Pittsburgh. The virtual commemoration, called “Pause with Pittsburgh,” is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Oct. 27. The moment of solidarity and remembrance for the 11 people who were killed during the attack will include, for those in North America, a text including a video with the mourning prayer and a link to
#ShowUpForShabbat to recall Pittsburgh shooting victims, one year later
Pittsburgh’s local community public memorial service via livestream, and an opportunity to post on a community message board. Overseas participation is through email. The program is a project of the Jewish Federations of North America. “Rather than become desensitized to the terror of a never-ending cycle of senseless deaths, we must focus on doing what we do best: building and sustaining community that brings people together,” Mark Wilf, chair of the Board of Trustees of The Jewish Federations of North America, said in a statement.
Pittsburgh Jewish community reflects on turbulent year, discusses future plans
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People pay their respects at a memorial in front of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh to the 11 Jewish victims of a mass shooting one week earlier, Nov. 4, 2018.
The Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where a mass shooting took place during Shabbat services on Oct. 27, 2018. Jewish News Syndicate An initiative by the American Jewish Committee invites people of all faiths to join Jews in synagogues for Shabbat services on Oct. 25-26 as a show of solidarity timed to the first anniversary of the deadly massacre at the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh. The AJC launched #ShowUpForShabbat following the murder of 11 Jewish worshippers on Oct. 27, 2018, when a lone gunman entered the building during Shabbat-morning services. Exactly six months later, on April 27, 2019, a similar shooting took place at Chabad of Poway, Calif.; as a result of that shooting, a 60-year-old Jewish woman was killed in the synagogue lobby. “The sanctity of Jewish houses of worship—the sense of American Jewish security—changed dramatically after these fatal terror attacks,” said AJC 16 NOVEMBER 2019 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
CEO David Harris. “But the outpouring of support from political and religious leaders was energizing, demonstrating Americans’ determination to come together to fight hate, in this case hatred of Jews. One year later, we wish to remember the victims of maniacal hatred and unite with people of good will in the struggle against rising antiSemitism.” AJC’s first #ShowUpForShabbat initiative took place right after the shooting, on the weekend of Nov. 2, 2018. It was the largest show of solidarity with the Jewish community in American history. More than 250 million people used the hashtag on Facebook and Twitter, and millions attended services at synagogues in the United States and abroad on Friday evening and Saturday morning. A list of synagogues participating in the upcoming #ShowUpForShabbat initiative is on the AJC’s website at www. ajc.org/findasynagogue.
Jewish News Syndicate Members of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community convened a press conference in late September to talk about the Oct. 27 synagogue massacre a year ago and their plans moving forward. At the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, a panel of leaders from the three congregations housed in the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue building discussed how their members have been coping in the aftermath of the attack, and the struggle of taking care of their congregants and themselves. Rabbi Jeffrey Myers from Tree of Life said, “I live with Oct. 27 every minute of every hour of every day, and I will for the rest of my life. Each of us finds the strength and the courage to integrate what happened into our beings, to move forward. I refuse to let the perpetrator make me another full-time victim. I won’t
let it happen. I refuse.” Stephen Cohen, co-president of the New Light synagogue, said his congregation is “committed to moving back to the Tree of Life building,” but he expects that process to “take many years.” He also called for a discussion with state and city officials on how to memorialize the deadly shooting. Details were also revealed regarding the “Remember. Repair. Together” program, complete with planned volunteer opportunities and Torah study. The Jewish Family and Community Services said therapists would be on site during High Holiday services for congregants affiliated with Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, Dor Hadash and New Light, with additional clinicians being provided to other congregations upon request. The Center for Victims also continued to offer support through the High Holidays, and at all public and private commemoration events.
How Pittsburgh changed the way American Jews think about security consensus on the importance of security,” he said.
Here’s the sad paradox of the shooting nearly one year ago at Pittsburgh’s Tree of Life synagogue: The killing of 11 worshippers, the worst attack on Jews in U.S. history, hit a community that was one of the best prepared to handle such an assault. In the year or so prior to the attack, Jewish community security officials had run dozens of training sessions that reached as many as 5,000 Pittsburgh Jewish residents. Many of the Tree of Life congregants knew not to stay in place during an attack, where to find the exits and to have a cellphone on hand to call 911 — despite the compromise to traditional Shabbat observance that requires avoiding the use of electronic devices. “It was an incredible model that needs to be replicated,” Michael Masters, the CEO of the Secure Community Network, the security agency for the national Jewish community, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “The loss of life would have been much more significant.” The horror that was the Pittsburgh attack, and the fact that it might have been much worse, has served as a wakeup call for Jewish Americans. Here’s what’s changed in the last year as the attack’s Oct. 27 anniversary approaches.
… but are not quick enough on the draw. Federations may be hiring more security directors, Masters said, but some are slow in getting around to providing them with the support necessary to run training sessions and threat assessments. “We still have a lot to do to make people understand this is a collective responsibility,” he said. “Every organization should be training on key elements [of responding to attacks]: situational awareness, threat assessments, stopping the bleeding.” Standardization is key, Masters said. It doesn’t help a community if the Jewish day school has a better security system in place than the summer camp the same children attend.
Protectors are playing nicer The ADL was the lead Jewish group on security issues prior to the establishment of SCN and never fully relinquished that role. Occasionally there were turf battles. No longer: SCN and ADL now work closely together. “We cannot go it alone anymore,” Masters said. The ADL and the Jewish Federations of North America, SCN’s parent group, have convened a joint security task force co-chaired by two former Homeland Security secretaries, Jeh Johnson and Michael Chertoff. The task force will release its findings at about the time of the Pittsburgh anniversary, Greenblatt told JTA. Recognizing white supremacists as the danger Since 2017, when a group of white supremacists marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, the ADL has emphasized that the majority of terrorist violence in the United States since 9/11
Broader interfaith cooperation It’s not only the Jewish community that is recognizing the threat from white nationalists. With the attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 2019, and the shooting at an AfricanAmerican church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015, other faith communities have become alert to the dangers. This summer, the FBI convened the first ideas exchange forum with security officials from Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities. Masters emphasized the benefits of information sharing with police, while Salam Al-Marayati, the
A security camera hangs across the street from the Park East Synagogue in New York City, March 3, 2017. president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council, said Muslims tended to still be wary of law enforcement because of perceptions that police profiled Muslims after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001. Social media The ADL is working closely with social media giants to mitigate the organizational and recruiting capacity that they lend to extremists. Facebook placed restrictions on its Facebook Live video app after the Christchurch gunman used it during the massacre. YouTube reportedly is altering
algorithms that have directed viewers to radical right-wing content. Greenblatt praised Facebook and YouTube for setting up mechanisms over the last year to quickly take down videos that glorify or promulgate violence, but said more needed to be done. He called on businesses ancillary to the social media giants to take action, saying that some companies now decline to provide extremist sites with security support. “The ancillary businesses can take affirmative decisions about whether to be part of these ecosystems,” he said.
Communities are paying more attention … Masters told a Jewish Council for Public Affairs webcast that requests to SCN for assistance had quadrupled from 500 in the year before the attack to 2,000 since. Thirty-five Federations had security directors a year ago; now 44 do. “We’re working much more closely with Federations on their security programs,” Masters said. SCN, a program launched in 2004 by the Jewish Federations of North America and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, expanded in the months before Pittsburgh by hiring regional directors to target areas of the country where communities have less well-developed security operations. There are now five such directors, and more are in the works. Attitudes have changed, too. Masters said he no longer encounters communities that believe attacks on Jewish institutions only happen overseas, or that enhanced security attracts unwanted attention, as he occasionally did before Pittsburgh. “There’s now a general
The normalization of violent anti-Semitism Anti-Semitism appears more prevalent and knows no political home, said Jonathan Greenblatt, the Anti-Defamation League CEO. He cited the recent proliferation of attacks on Orthodox Jews in the New York area, especially in Brooklyn. “You can’t just plug this into a political lens,” Greenblatt said. “There are no white supremacists and [far-left] activists in Williamsburg.” The attacks are also happening everywhere. Masters noted the geographical breadth of a number of foiled mass attacks since Pittsburgh: Washington state, California, Ohio, Georgia. “We see the diversity of these plots and where they’re taking root,” he said.
have come from the far right. The Trump administration for a time seemed reluctant to accept this assertion, with the president in March dismissing white nationalist violence as a major threat and calling white supremacists “a small group of people.” But that may have changed when the Department of Homeland Security released a new strategy document for confronting terrorism that acknowledged the threat. “There has been a concerning rise in attacks by individuals motivated by a variety of domestic terrorist ideologies, such as racially- and ethnicallymotivated violent extremism, including white supremacist violent extremism, anti-government and anti-authority violent extremism, and other ideological strains that drive terrorist violence,” the document said. Masters welcomed the shift, saying in a statement that the document “rightly recognizes the growing threat of domestic terrorism, and specifically notes recent attacks on the Jewish community.” Recently, the ADL released a report warning of the internationalization of white supremacy, with groups in the U.S., Europe and beyond forging ties and learning from one another. “We drew the links of what was happening in our country and around the world and cowrote the report with European institutions,” Greenblatt said. Meanwhile, federal and state lawmakers are hastening to fund security for nonprofits. The federal program that disburses funds to protect nonprofits, most of them Jewish, now budgets $60 million — more than double what it did in the years since its 2005 launch, when the average was $15 million to $25 million a year. Florida, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Maryland and Pennsylvania have also budgeted for nonprofit security grants.
DREW ANGERER/GETTY IMAGES
By Ron Kampeas Jewish Telegraphic Agency
A memorial outside the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh following the mass shooting on Oct. 27, 2018 that left 11 Jewish worshippers dead.
‘Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’ donates Pulitzer Prize money to Tree of Life synagogue Jewish News Syndicate The “Pittsburgh PostGazette” has donated the money it received from winning the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for breaking-news reporting to the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh, where 11 Jewish worshippers were shot and killed by a gunman
during Shabbat-morning services on Oct. 27, 2018. It was the deadliest attack in American Jewish history. The publication won the $15,000 prize in April. The Pulitzer is one of journalism’s highest honors. In a Facebook post, the synagogue said, “Pittsburgh is truly home to some amazing neighbors!”
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 17
Almost one year since deadly shooting, Pittsburgh Jewish community ‘still shaken’ By Shiryn Ghermezian Jewish News Syndicate
18 NOVEMBER 2019 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Lone gunmen entered the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh and Chabad of Poway, Calif., exactly six months apart to the day. And it has changed the way Jewish Americans view their safety, especially as the High Holidays approached and synagogues across the country reached maximum capacity. “The former normal no longer exists,” Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of Tree of Life told JNS. “We are learning what the new normal is and how to work with it.” The shooting on Oct. 27, 2018, during Shabbat morning services in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburgh caused the deaths of 11 Jewish worshippers and injured six. The perpetrator, 46-year-old Robert Gregory Bowers, was arrested and charged with 63 federal crimes and 36 state charges. Myers said the Pittsburgh Jewish community as a whole is still coping with the aftermath of the attack, saying, “We continue to promote healing and have come to learn that healing will be a lifelong process. No two people are at the same place at the same time.” He added that many community and synagogue members are “still shaken,” and regrettably, there are people who are unable to return to any synagogue to pray. Barb Feige, executive director of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha congregation, told JNS that the coping process needs time, saying that it “varies from person to person. No one grieves on the same schedule.” “We are all helping each other heal. Healing is a process, not a ‘one and done.’ We continue to support and uplift each other in any way we can,” she continued. “The greater Jewish community and the greater Pittsburgh community have been so wonderfully supportive. Love and prayers have come from all over the country, and indeed, all over the world. It means so much to know that so many people care. And yet, there is a before and after—we are still working to adjust to the after and what it means for us as Jews, as Pittsburghers and as a community.” Alex Hertzman of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh was a former member of the Or L’Simcha congregation and knew some of the victims of the attack from the neighborhood and the local Jewish Community Center, including
Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue.
brothers Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54. He told JNS that the community has “very much come together and banded together” to support those in need of help, and that some five or six months after the attack, a number of people have come forward with mental-health problems, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. He said a lot more attention is being paid now to security in the Pittsburgh Jewish community, and even though the city had already made many improvements to security before the attack, they have taken even more measures following the massacre. Congregants of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha have not yet returned to the building where the shooting took place (it remains closed), but the temple continues to hold daily prayer services, programs and events. Feige said, “A congregation—a community—is not defined by geography or real estate or physical plant, but by people coming together. We look forward to returning to our own space eventually; for now, we are here, and there is much to do.” Pittsburgh was followed by the shooting at Chabad of Poway outside San Diego on April 27, the last day of Passover. John Earnest, 19, a nursing student who had no prior criminal record, entered the synagogue lobby during Shabbat-morning services and proceeded to riddle it with bullets from an automatic weapon, killing 60-year-old Lori Gilbert-Kaye and injuring three people, including senior Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who lost one finger and injured another in the attack. Goldstein has since been received at the White House and addressed the United Nations, urging both citizens and leaders to take note of growing antiSemitism, as well as to encourage Jews to stand strong and remain proud of their identity. In a “Newsweek” op-ed this summer, Kaye’s husband, Dr. Howard Kaye, opened up about the shooting and said,
“In trying to understand the root cause of the atrocity that took Lori’s life and, even more urgently, in seeking to prevent the next Poway from occurring, it became clear to me that Lori’s killer was motivated by anti-Semitic hatred. His was a convoluted and reprehensible mindset that perverted his morality and convinced him that some people were worthy of life—and others were not.” He added that to stop the next shooter, the world needs to be educated about “its inherent moral compass.” As Kaye explained, “each time a murderous, twisted individual commits a crime of hate, the urgency to educate society about the basic laws of human civilization grows. It holds the potential to stop the next atrocity. Every human being innately possesses the moral compass to rise above the reprehensible behavior that ended her life. It is our obligation to nurture and educate toward that morality, and to fill this world with goodness and kindness.” Hertzman said the lesson to take away from these attacks is the need to do more to educate people about Judaism and to combat anti-Semitism in America through education. He told JNS that “there are lots of avenues to reach out to people who might be fearful of things they don’t know or unfamiliar with Judaism and the Jewish faith, and there are opportunities for more education.” “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” he said. “I sincerely believe education, outreach and efforts to expose and educate against anti-Semitism are all effective methods to preventing attacks in the future.” Myers talked about another takeaway from the Pittsburgh attack, saying, “We have learned that despite as welcome and safe the Jewish community has felt in the United States, there are a group of Americans who continue to treat the Jewish community as ‘other’ and unwelcome. We continue to work to find commonalities with our fellow citizens to promote an America that is welcoming to all.”
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 19
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HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 21
PARTNERSHIP2GETHER UPDATE FROM YOAV
Starting off the school year and more in Yoav By Nurit Galon Partnership2Gether Although the days are still warm and sunny, without a doubt they are getting shorter, and every morning the yellow school buses deliver their precious occupants to school and discharge them again at the end of the day. In Yoav, the fields are no longer gold but brown, a sure sign of autumn, and winter sowing is under way. For anyone travelling regularly to and from our communities, one of the delights of living in the countryside is to watch the changing of the colours, now brown, in spring green, gold in summer. In Israel and in Yoav, we are back to work and study mode, though looking a little wistfully at the delights of the summer holidays. One of the big events in Yoav was “Nights of Love,” held in the Roman amphitheater in Kibbutz Beit Guvrin with the best of Israel’s performers and over 12,000 participants! And in greater Israel–still no government. The Knes-
set has reconvened with new members being sworn in, but the negotiations for which party or parties will actually run the country are still going on, with, as I write, no clear indication of the outcome. The first day of the school year is always special in our high school, Tzafit, and in our two elementary schools, Eyla and Sedot Yoav, and devoted to welcoming the new students and learning and participating in the plans for the coming year. The students of the new school being built in Kibbutz Negba are being hosted by Sedot Yoav until their school is ready. We extend our warmest wishes to all the students of the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley for an enjoyable and inspiring school year! One of the most revered joint projects of our Yoav-Lehigh Valley Partnership is the Scholarship Fund in memory of Tzippora Hurwitz. This fund assists the Grade 11 and 12 students from Tzafit High to participate in a mission to the concentration camps in Poland every year. Tzippora, who died in 2012, was
married to Dr. Ariel Hurwitz (whom many of you may remember as a scholar in residence to the Lehigh Valley), and the mother of their three children. Tzippora was born in Poland just before the beginning of the Second World War and spent many of the early days hidden in a
cupboard. Like her parents, though not with them, Tzippora was sent by the Nazis from concentration camp to concentration camp, ending up in Maidanek. In the last days of the war, the Nazis decided to take all the remaining inmates of Maidanek on a death march. Tzippora, the only surviving child of 400 children, was on the march, and when she fell at the side of the road, before the guards could shoot her, a Polish peasant managed to take her to his farm. A few days later, with the announcement of the end of the war, he placed her on the road with a loaf of bread under her arm and told her to walk until she found someone to help her. Eventually, Tzippora arrived in Israel with the Youth Aliyah. On her grave in Kibbutz Galon in Yoav are engraved the following words:
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“Hitler wanted to kill me when I was 11. I came to Israel and we have built a wonderful family, I WON!” In her book, “Forbidden Strawberries,” she tells that an important part of her survival was her determination that the Holocaust should not be forgotten. It is written that those who do not learn from history – their destiny is to repeat it. Yoav and the Lehigh Valley are determined that we shall not forget. In other news, Yo Biz – the name of a group of small and new businesses in Yoav who have decided to work together to share their ideas, methods and marketing experiences, initiated a short time ago an “open house” day in Kibbutz Beit Nir for the public to learn more (and buy more) of the homegrown initiatives in Yoav. Established by the Yoav Municipal Council, Yo Biz is providing a creative and supportive method for small startups! Very soon the roads and byways of Yoav will be filled with Yoav citizens of all ages taking part in the “Yoav Marathon”– walking around the Yoav Region and getting to know it first-hand. This has become an annual event for everyone and is a great way of getting to know each other and our community. The Yoav Community Centre activities are in full swing with a wide variety available, such as health groups, art classes of all kinds (I always wonder if maybe I have hidden talents as an artist but if so, they are well hidden somewhere!), amateur dramatics, Yiddish, hiking, cooking – literally something for everyone. We read about the interesting and varied events and groups in the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley, which often provide inspiration for us.
The ‘Sigd’ holiday By Rotem Bar Community Shlicha Have you ever heard of the “Sigd” holiday? Soon it will be time for Jews to wish each other "Happy Holiday" yet again. That’s right—another Jewish holiday is coming up on Nov. 26! The Sigd holiday is celebrated by “Beta Israel,” also known as the Ethiopian Jewish community. The journey of the Jewish Ethiopian community to Israel has been a long and hard journey, starting in the 1970s. They walked in the middle of the night through many dangers, all the way to Sudan in what has been called “the modern Exodus.” With the help of the State of Israel and many international efforts, including assistance from the United States, over 145,000 Olim (Jewish immigrants) have been able to relocate to Israel. By 2017, the population of Ethiopian Jews in Israel was approximately 1.69 percent of the population of Israel. So what is the Sigd holiday? I am sure you are curious to know. Sigd is a holiday of worship, prayers and fasting, celebrated each year approximately 50 days after Yom Kippur. On this day, Ethiopian Jews go to Jerusalem and fast the whole day. They kiss the land and pray, as they're thankful for the opportunity of living in Israel and visiting Jerusalem. The word “Sigd” comes from
the word “Sgida” which means worship. The Sigd holiday is a 2,500 year-old holiday that originated from the Ezra and Nehemiah period. Following the return of Babylonian exile to Jerusalem, the people decided to renew the covenant between God and the people of Israel. Because of this, the holiday was an opportunity to show absolute loyalty to God. Back in Ethiopia, the Sigd was also a day full of longing and hope to return to Zion and Jerusalem. The people of Ethiopia's remote villages would go on long journeys, sometimes for days, to stay with their families in the larger villages in order to celebrate in central places with lots of crowds. Prior to the ceremony, the clergyman would choose a high mountain to hold the holy ceremony at. The choice of a high mountain peak is for two reasons. One is the resemblance to the teaching of the Torah on Mount Sinai, and the other is that a high place is considered more pure and holy. Early in the morning, they would gather to dip in a river while wearing white holiday clothes. The clergymen would hold colorful umbrellas and head a colorful parade towards the top of the mountain. During the journey up the mountain, the masses would sing songs of prayer and encouragement. These are songs of praise to God and Jerusalem. Arriving at the top, the clergymen
open in prayers. First, they pray for Jerusalem and the desire and hope to reach and pray for it, and later they address the crowd and emphasize the importance of observance of Torah laws. They then read the story of Mount Sinai, the renewal of the covenant between the people and the Lord in the book of Nehemiah, as well as in the book of Leviticus. After immigrating to Israel, the Ethiopian religious leadership was asked to reconsider the holiday's location in the Holy Land. The decision was made that the Sigd also has meaning in Israel. Nowadays, the majority of the Ethiopian Jewish community resides in Israel and celebrates the holiday there. Every year on the Sigd holiday, the community celebrates in Jerusalem at a location overlooking Temple Mount, while a ceremony is also held at the Western Wall. The Sigd holiday has become a special day in Israel as well. Beyond traditional prayers and rituals, there are many varied activities, and the whole day creates a sense of reconciliation, breaking walls and partitions that separate people. In 2008, the Knesset approved Sigd as an official holiday in Israel, which means holding an annual state ceremony to mark the holiday, learning about it in schools and giving a vacation day of choice to those who celebrate it. In the United States, this
month is no stranger to people giving thanks. In the American tradition, Thanksgiving is celebrated during the month of November, and though it doesn’t involve fasting, it does encourage those who celebrate
to practice gratitude for all they have. So let’s leave aside for a moment the big turkey and your mother-in-law’s brisket. Here’s a simple question: what are you thankful for?
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 23
LETTERS FROM A LONE SOLDIER
Reflecting on aliyah through a visit home
While in many respects, I am just like any other soldier in the Israeli army, in some I am different. I am different because most people go to the army right after high school, making them 18 or 19, while I am a college graduate and am 24 years old. I am different than a combat soldier because I am a "jobnik,” working in an administrative position and only handling my gun when I am on guard duty. I am also different because I have "lone soldier" status. This status affords certain privileges to offset not having your parents in the country. When lone soldiers are off for Shabbat, they can leave earlier from base since they often have to shop and prepare dinner themselves. Lone soldiers also get a full month to return to their home country to visit, but this month must be taken within the first year. I asked to
24 NOVEMBER 2019 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Editor’s note: Helaina Zahn is an Allentown native who attended Hebrew school at Temple Beth El and graduated from Parkland High School. She graduated from Temple University before making aliyah and joining the IDF.
By Helaina Zahn Special to HAKOL
take my month in November so I could be home for Thanksgiving, but my request was denied. Instead, I was given October, which I took and was able to spend the holidays in Allentown. While a lot of my "vacation" month involved dentist and doctor appointments, I also traveled to see friends and spent some fun times with my family, hiking and axe-throwing. I even got to present for high school students at a recent Shalshelet session. I am a graduate of Shalshelet, so I am familiar with the program and know that it involves teens from all over the Lehigh Valley from all different synagogues and some from no synagogue. They come because they want to get together and explore different topics from many Jewish perspectives. I came to discuss my aliyah journey with them. Those who had visited Israel shared what surprised them about the country and those who had not yet been there shared what they were looking forward to. The teens asked questions about my decision-making process, my specific gap-year course and how often I carried a gun around. This was not a talk to encourage aliyah, but rather one about how to explore choices and how to make decisions. One decision is not right for everyone, and it takes confidence to choose a different path. I fell in love with Israel, but there are many ways to love Israel that do not involve serving in the army. These students were very open to the many options they have going forward. It was an evening full of nostalgia for me, as it seems another lifetime that I was in their shoes. Who knows where they will go in the future?
Candles memorialize the victims of the shooting outside the synagogue in Halle.
Jews in Halle Continues from page 1
The attack by a 27-year-old perpetrator, now in custody, left two dead and two injured — and a community in fear. While the synagogue’s hefty doors protected those inside, the pious Yom Kippur atmosphere for this synagogue in a city of some 240,000 residents, including 555 Jews, was shattered. Halle has now been put on the international map. The voices of those who were behind the doors of the synagogue on Humboldtstrasse during the attack resonated loudest in the days following. Karen Engel, who attended the Orthodox service with a visiting group from the Base Hillel center in Berlin, described an emotional gathering with singing and prayer that included Jews of many denominations. A rabbinical candidate at the Conservative movement’s Zacharias Frankel College in Potsdam, Engel found herself thinking about “how wonderful it was that this was able to take place.” “We know how difficult it is to have meaningful services in Germany in small communities,” said Engel, an American who has lived in Europe for 30 years. “And then in the middle of this singing we heard an explosion and then the shots.” The perpetrator began his attack at approximately noon on Yom Kippur, the holiest day on the Jewish calendar. According to various media reports, there were 50 to 80 worshippers inside at the time, including about 10 Americans living in Germany and participating in the Base Hillel program sent to Halle to add to the small community’s Yom Kippur service. The gunman, reportedly wearing combat gear and a headmounted camera, was unable to shoot his way into the synagogue after trying multiple doors and hurling explosives. He then shot a non-Jewish female passer-by, as well as a non-Jewish customer at a nearby Turkish kebab shop while making his escape. He was taken into police custody about an hour and a half later, according to Der Spiegel. The assailant was later identified as Stephen Balliet, 27, who lives in a town less than an hour from Halle. Ezra Waxman, a 31-year-old postdoctoral student living in Berlin, was among the group of Americans who came to Halle and recalled the confusion as the group heard a series of loud sounds. Security personnel inside barricaded the doors from the inside. Eventually the worshippers gathered in a backroom and upstairs. Despite the uncertainty, panic did not ensue, Waxman said. “I have no logical explanation as to why I kept as calm as I did,” he said. “Maybe just my nature in some sense. I was impressed slash taken aback, there was no one that seemed to be immediately traumatized or freaking out or collapsing, none of that. People were just kind of waiting for instructions.” For hours, the group remained
inside the synagogue, even continuing with prayers. The police arrived and told them they would soon be evacuated. As the group waited it came time for mincha, the afternoon service. Many decided to go ahead with it. “There was an added sense of spirituality or religious fervor amongst all of us,” Waxman recalled. Eventually the congregation was evacuated to the local hospital for evaluation. They asked permission to continue their Yom Kippur service in the cafeteria. “We had four or five machzorim [prayerbooks], and we were singing and chanting,” said Christina Feist, 29, who is studying at the Sorbonne in Paris and the University of Potsdam near Berlin. “It was intense and emotional.” She added that one worshipper “had his shofar and took it with him when we were evacuated.” Some hospital staff stopped to watch the service; some even filmed it. “It was not a weird kind of ‘watching those crazy people,’” Feist said. “It was, ‘They are celebrating!’ … They were baffled, amazed and just interested.” Hospital staff provided food for infants and the elderly, and the chief physician treated them all to beer after the service, Feist said. Rabbi Elisha Portnoy, who practices in Dessau as well as Halle, said he was proud of his community’s bravery in reacting to the tragedy. He said the biggest surprise wasn’t the attack itself but the location: Such violence may have been expected in larger cities like Berlin or Munich, but not Halle. Portnoy said he has felt an increase in hostility toward Jews in Germany, which is supported by data gathered by organizations like the Center for Research and Information on Anti-Semitism, or RIAS Berlin. “It’s not in Halle, not in Dessau, it’s basically Germany in general,” Portnoy said of the rise in anti-Semitism. “But not in such small communities. So it was really a surprise. Nobody could imagine such a thing could happen to us.” “I hope people will come to synagogue to pray … slowly but surely it will be better,” he added. In the wake of the tragedy, politicians and Jewish leaders offered words both of condolence and warning. “We need to do more to guarantee these types of attacks do not happen again, by combating radicalization, creating tougher law enforcement measures and putting more resources into educating towards tolerance,” Moshe Kantor, head of the European Jewish Congress, said in a statement from Brussels. Ronald Lauder, head of the World Jewish Congress, said in a statement the same day that it had become unfortunately obvious that “all Jewish places of worship and Jewish communal sites need to have enhanced round-the-clock
Jews in Halle Continues on page 25
Jews in Halle Continues from page 24
By Marcy Oster Jewish Telegraphic Agency The German man suspected of killing two people near a synagogue on Yom Kippur has confessed to the attack and said that he had antiSemitic and far-right motives, the German federal prosecutor’s officer said. Stephan Balliet, 27, made a “very comprehensive” confession during an hours-long interrogation, according to a spokesman for the federal prosecutor’s office in Karlsruhe. “He confirmed far-right and antiSemitic motives” for the attack, the spokesman also said, the AFP news agency reported. Despite the guilty plea, Balliet still will stand trial for the attack on a synagogue in the city of Halle, in central Germany. He tried to enter the synagogue with explosives but was stymied by its locked doors. He then turned his gunfire on a woman outside and a man in a nearby kebab shop, killing both. It is not clear how his confession will affect sentencing in his case, which is being treated as a terrorist attack. Germany’s chief federal prosecutor said the gunman was planning to carry out a “massacre” there. Peter Frank told reporters that Balliet had nearly nine pounds of explosives in his car at the time of his capture, The Associated Press reported. It is not known how he obtained the explosives or the material to build the homemade weapons he
JENS SCHLUETER/GETTY IMAGES
security provided by state security services.” A solidarity rally held Oct. 10 in nearby Leipzig was organized by the local German-Israel Society. And the European Union of Jewish Students held a rally the next morning in front of the German mission to the European Union. Katharina von Schnurbein, the European Commission coordinator for combating anti-Semitism, told the crowd at the Jewish Students’ rally, “We often say anti-Semitism has no place in our society. Yet two days ago we saw once again that anti-Semitism murders in Europe. “Today we will send out letters to all 28 member states reminding them to scale up security and better collaborate with Jewish communities.” Others have shared frustrations about a lack of action. Elio Adler, the founder of a Jewish nonpartisan group dubbed the Values Initiative, echoed von Shnurbein as well as other leaders in asking why there was no police protection for the synagogue on Yom Kippur. “It is high time for Germany to decide how to deal with anti-Semitism and other forms of hatred,” he wrote in a news release. “The steps previously taken are obviously not enough.” The suspect Balliet comes from a small community of 2,000 near Eisleben, an eastern German town whose population has fallen nearly 50 percent since the mid-1960s. The decline mirrors the same demographic collapse that much of East Germany suffered following unification in 1990. Some observers suggest that economic stress coupled with the influx of more than a million refugees in Germany — many of them Muslims from war-torn countries since 2015 — have contributed to support for right-wing parties. In this society on edge, there has been a recent rise in anti-Semitic incidents. The areas suffering population loss and economic stress have also proven to be strongholds for Germany’s anti-immigrant AfD party, some of whose representatives have belittled the Holocaust. Critics have warned that the AfD is close to neo-Nazi ideology. Following the party’s election successes in September, Josef Schuster, president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, said in an interview that the AfD is closely interwoven with right-wing extremism, inciting fears and promoting an anti-minority atmosphere. Despite concerns about anti-Semitism among the many Muslims in Germany, the far right remains the greatest threat to Jews, he said at the time. “We cannot simply go back to normal,” von Schnurbein said Friday morning. “The attack in Halle must be the wake-up call.”
Germany’s chief prosecutor says Halle shooting suspect planned a ‘massacre’
Flowers and candles in front the synagogue where a shooting took place in Halle, Germany, Oct. 10, 2019. used. Frank said that he believed the attacker livestreamed his attack, from a helmet camera, to encourage others to imitate him. The assailant said that Jews are “the root of all problems.” He is suspected of two counts of murder, nine of attempted murder and other offenses, Frank said. The victims have been identified as Jana Lange, 40, and Kevin S., 20. A manifesto believed to be written by Balliet was posted online before the shooting and distributed by sympathizers on the messaging app Telegram. The manifesto, which was written on Oct. 1, said his objective was to “kill as many anti-whites as possible, Jews preferred.” Baillet reportedly told German investigators that he received approximately $800 from an anonymous online donor prior to the attack. The German publication Der Spiegel reported that he had re-
ceived the money in the form of the cryptocurrency Bitcoin from an unknown person with whom he communicated on the internet, according to his defense attorney Hans-Dieter Weber. Weber also told the publication that Balliet denied being a neo-Nazi in his interrogation by German authorities. Balliet claimed to have acted alone and made the weapons used in the attack himself from cheap materials. Balliet is a resident of SaxonyAnhalt, the German state that includes Halle, according to Der Spiegel, where he lives alone with his mother. His father told the German Bild newspaper that his son “wasn’t at peace with himself or the world,” the French news service AFP reported. He also said that “The boy was only ever online.” The father, who is unnamed, was divorced from Balliet’s mother when the alleged shooter was 14.
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By Ben Sales Jewish Telegraphic Agency In the past seven years, the American Jewish population has grown 10 percent. It remains a population that is mostly liberal, college educated and overwhelmingly white. And it’s not getting any younger. This is all according to a new American Jewish population estimate of the 48 contiguous U.S. states put out by Brandeis University’s Steinhardt Social Research Institute. “The cynicism about American Judaism, and this belief that we are a shrinking population, is incorrect,” said Leonard Saxe, director of the Steinhardt Center. “The prophecy of the vanishing Jew has not come to fruition.” The study is based on data collected from approximately 150 independent surveys that sampled about 234,000 adults, including 5,300 Jews. Here are five key things to know about the Jews of the United States in 2019. There are 7.5 million Jews in the United States. The study found that as of 2018, there are approximately 7.5 million Jews in the contiguous United States. That’s only about 2 percent of the U.S. population, but it’s enough to make the United States
home to the largest Jewish community in the world. According to recent government statistics, Israel has 6.7 million Jews. People who say their religion is Jewish account for some 1.8 percent of all U.S. adults, or 4.4 million people, according to the study. There are an additional 1.5 million or so adults who “consider themselves Jewish by background and other criteria.” And there are 1.6 million children being raised Jewish in the U.S. Those numbers are up from their 2012 survey, which found 6.8 million total Jews in the United States. And the number of Jews who do not define themselves by religion soared — to about 1.5 million from approximately 1 million. Saxe said part of that major increase was the overall growth of all Americans of no religion. “It’s more acceptable now to say, if you’re not a religious Jew, that you’re a Jew of no religion,” Saxe said. “More people, especially young people who don’t engage in the religious practice their parents have, are of no religion, but that doesn’t mean they’re not involved or that they don’t become more involved as adults.” More than one in 10 Jews is not white. While the United States is growing more diverse, the Jewish
community does not appear to be following suit. In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau found that 63 percent of the country was non-Hispanic white. By 2019, that number was hovering around 60 percent. And by 2045, whites are projected to be a minority in the country. Meanwhile, the numbers in the Jewish community have remained level. In 2019 and the previous two surveys, the percentage of Jewish Americans who are white has remained at approximately 89 percent, though the percentage is higher among younger Jews. Among Jews aged 18 to 24, the study found that 14 percent identified as nonwhite or Hispanic. Among the 11 percent of American Jews who are not white, 2 percent are black, 5 percent are Hispanic and 4 percent are another ethnicity. Jewish Americans are disproportionately elderly. Younger Jews may be more diverse, but they still make up a smaller percentage of the overall Jewish population. In the United States, 20.6 percent of the population is 65 or older. Among Jews, the number is 26 percent. And while 45.8 percent of all Americans are aged 18 to 44, among Jews the figure is 41 percent. Within that group, 10.5 percent of Jews are 18 to 24.
JEFFREY GREENBERG/GETTY IMAGES
America’s 7.5 million Jews are older, whiter and more liberal than the country as a whole Those aged 65 and older make up more than a quarter of the U.S. Jewish population. Among the states with large Jewish populations, Florida had the largest share of seniors — one-third of its Jews are 65 and older. Conversely, the state with the highest share of 18- to 24-year-olds is Utah, where 15 percent of Jews fell into that age cohort. Notably, the study found that even as the Jewish population has grown overall, the number of children being raised Jewish has held steady since 2012 at 1.6 million. Saxe said that determining the precise number of Jewish children is difficult because it’s hard to say what exactly counts as being raised Jewish. Jews across the country are liberal and vote for Democrats. Ahead of 2020, politicians may do well to keep in mind that across America’s tapestry of red and blue states, Jews are reliably liberal and mostly support the Democratic Party. Fifty-one percent of Jews nationwide identify as Democrats, compared to 34 percent of
all Americans. And 17 percent of Jews are Republicans, compared to a quarter of Americans overall. There are more than twice as many Jewish liberals (42 percent) as Jewish conservatives (20 percent). Moderates comprise 37 percent of Jews. As a whole, 38 percent of Americans identify as conservative and 24 percent as liberal. New York remains America’s Jewish capital. The state with the largest Jewish population, by far, remains New York, with 1.5 million — or one in five Jewish Americans. Wyoming has the fewest Jews among the states with 2,200. New York City also dominates Jewish population figures as a metropolitan area. Including the New Jersey suburbs, there are 1.8 million Jews in and around the Big Apple. Within New York City, Jews are concentrated in Brooklyn and Manhattan, which together have 678,000 Jews among a total population of 4.2
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GIVE A MITZVAH, DO A MITZVAH
Finding meaning in volunteering
Sada Fleischaker became a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, Oct. 12, at Congregation Keneseth Israel in Allentown. The eighth-grade student at Springhouse Middle School enjoys swimming and playing violin. When planning her mitzvah project, Sada let her previous experience as a member of Pals Club at her school guide her forward. “In Pals Club, we hang out with special needs students,” Sada said. “We just play games and generally do anything friends would do. I liked doing it, so I wanted to volunteer my time with another organization when school was over.” Sada and her mom, Ophira Silbert, did some internet searching for a place that Sada could volunteer her time. “It’s not easy finding an organization that lets a 12-year-old volunteer.” Silbert said, “We sent an email to Camelot for Children. Their website says the minimum age to volunteer is 14, but they were happy to have Sada.” Camelot for Children is a nonprofit agency that provides a social gathering place for seriously, chronically and terminally ill children, as well as handicapped or disabled children. Camelot provides
emotional support to children and their families and helps the children develop their physical and mental abilities. All of their activities are free and open to the entire family. Camelot holds a seven-week day camp each summer and needs the support of volunteers. Sada spent three days volunteering at the day camp. “At the camp, we partnered up with another child and spent the day together in a day camp setting. I couldn’t even pick my favorite thing— I liked it all, it made me feel good to do it,” Sada said. “She came home really happy about it,” Ophira added. “She really enjoyed herself, and she’ll go back again next summer.” Silbert and Sada’s father, Jeff Fleischaker, are proud of the effort Sada has put into becoming a Bat Mitzvah and the compassion, loyalty and enthusiasm she shows every day. In addition to her mitzvah project, Sada has made her first adult gift of tzedakah to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs.
‘In the Neighborhood of True’ By Sean Boyle JDS Librarian Susan Kaplan Carlton’s young adult book, “In the Neighborhood of True,” is set in Atlanta, Georgia, in the year 1959. We meet Ruth as she reflects on the past six months, since she, her sister Nattie and recently widowed mother moved to her grandparents’ guest house in Atlanta from their old lives in New York City. Ruth and Nattie were raised Jewish in New York, but since her mother is a convert, they move in with Ruth’s Christian grandparents. Ruth’s grandmother and mother were past winners of the coveted ‘Magnolia,’ and Ruth is eligible to compete in this year’s Debutante Balls circuit, culminating with the Magnolia Ball. Ruth readily attends the debutante training sessions, and is excited to join the "pastel posse" as they attend the local private Christian high school and compete for the attentions of the most popular boy, Davis Jefferson. Ruth’s mother allows her to participate in the debutante competition, as long as she attends synagogue services on Saturday morning with Nattie and her. At the synagogue, Ruth meets young radical Max and the outspoken Civil Rights supporter Rabbi Selwick. Ruth bounces between the two worlds, wondering if she can ever tell Davis and the pastel posse about her Jewishness at the cost of losing the Magnolia, and wanting to join Max and her Rabbi as they fight segregation. Finally, an incident occurs that forces her to choose between the two worlds and decide which one she will live in completely. Carlton lived with her family for several years in Atlanta, Georgia, and learned about the 1958 bombing of the Hebrew Benevolent Congregation by the KKK because of Rabbi Jacob Rothschild’s sermons against segregation. Her daughter attended Sunday School in the same room blown up by the bomb, and the account leading up to the bomb-
ing was the inspiration for “In the Neighborhood of True.” Although the story is a fictionalized version of the incident, Carlton was very meticulous in her research for the book, and returned to Atlanta to see firsthand the segregated theater entrances and staircases portrayed in the book. Highly recommended for ages 15-120, especially for those interested in learning about debutante balls and segregated life in the South as well as Jewish involvement during the early stages of the Civil Rights movement. A copy of “In the Neighborhood of True” is available at the Jewish Day School Library. "In the Neighborhood of True" (Carlton, Susan Kaplan, Chapel Hill, N.C., Algonquin, 2019, 314p.)
For help developing your mitzvah project, contact Abby Trachtman, program coordinator, at email@example.com or 610821-5500.
FREEDOM of movement
m a 9 · 4 1 m r a e b 9 · m e 4 v 1 o r N e Novemb
Preschool-8th Grade · swain.org/open-house Preschool-8th Grade · swain.org/open-house
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 27
ONLY THE TRIMMINGS! By Sandi Teplitz You got the turkey thing taken care of…. Now what? Here are some things that go well with the bird.
Ingredients: 2 Tbsp. pareve margarine 1 cup chopped onion 2 1/2 cups chopped carrots 1 qt. chicken stock 2 tsp. tomato paste 1 Tbsp. white rice 1/2 cup pareve milk substitute 1 Tbsp. pareve margarine Technique: Melt margarine; add onions until soft, then the next four ingredi-
POPOVERS Ingredients: 3 eggs 1 cup pareve milk substitute 3 Tbsp. corn oil 1 cup sifted flour 1/2 tsp. salt Technique: Set oven to 400 degrees. Grease 6 custard cups. With a fork, mix well: eggs, milk substitute and oil. Over the egg mixture, sift flour with salt. Beat lightly; pour into cups, filling them halfway. Bake
on cookie sheet for about 45 minutes, until browned. Serve hot.
BAKED PUMPKIN Ingredients: 1 small pumpkin, washed 2 Tbsp. honey 2 Tbsp. apple cider 2 Tbsp. melted margarine Technique: Place pumpkin in pie tin; bake at 350 degrees for 90 minutes. Cut a 4" hole on top of the pumpkin. Scoop out pulp and seeds. Mix together remaining ingredients and stuff inside pumpkin. Put top back on and bake for another 1/2 hour, basting occasionally. Cut into wedges, and serve with interior sauce.
ISRAEL ASSOCIATION OF BASEBALL FACEBOOK PAGE
ents. Simmer for 1/2 hour, then cool. Purée in blender; add milk substitute, salt and pepper to taste. Stir in margarine and serve hot, reheating if necessary.
Israeli Baseball Team makes history with Olympics 2020 spot
Israel's national baseball team at the European Championships in Germany. Jewish Agency for Israel Jake Rosenberg, a Philadelphia native who made aliyah last year, had no idea when he moved to Israel that he’d get to play on the national baseball team—and that they’d be headed to the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. The crack of a bat and smell of leather are engrained in Rosenberg’s memories, having played baseball since the age of three. An outfielder, Rosenberg started in little league and played throughout college, continuing even after graduating, and venturing into coaching as well. When he decided to make aliyah, he knew he wanted to keep playing baseball in Israel, but didn’t know he’d be selected to play on the national team. And in order to play on the national team, he had to become a citizen, which Rosenberg was able to do thanks to assistance from the Jewish Agency for Israel. “I was excited to move to Israel because it’s such a beautiful place and it was the start of a new adventure, but also a little nervous at the same time. Moving to another country where I did not speak the lan-
guage at all was very difficult, but luckily everyone spoke English,” recalled Rosenberg. “But after all the paperwork was done and I obtained my citizenship, it’s been great. And living here has definitely made me prouder of being Jewish.” And now, Rosenberg’s move to Israel has gotten even better as Israel’s baseball team nabbed a highly selective spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. “It’s honestly impossible to put the feeling into words, knowing we are headed to the Olympics. It will be an experience of a lifetime, and I’m very excited about the next step in this journey,” shared Rosenberg. “Just being able to say we are headed to the Olympics is one of the best feelings ever.” Only six countries qualify, and Israel has never qualified to play baseball before. But after starting the baseball tournament in the second-tier pool, based on the team’s past performance, they had to win at that level to move on to the first-tier pool. After that, the team had to secure a spot in the top five to move on to the Europe/Africa Olympic qualifiers. They played five other teams in a round-robin tournament, with the team with the best record making the Olympics. After winning their first three games against Spain, the Netherlands and Italy, they lost the fourth game to the Czech Republic. Then it all came down to the game against South Africa, which Israel soundly won, nabbing a place in the Olympics. “None of this could be possible without the work of the president of the Israel Association of Baseball, Peter Kurz, for putting together a great group of guys to get the job done,” Rosenberg said. “We had a great coaching staff and an even better group of guys that all came together for one common goal, to reach the Olympics representing Israel baseball. And that is just what we did.” Editor’s Note: The Jewish Agency for Israel is an overseas partner of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.
28 NOVEMBER 2019 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
YOTAM FROM, ©SIGALIT LANDAU, 2019
SHAXAF HABER, ©SIGALIT LANDAU, 2019
YOTAM FROM, ©SIGALIT LANDAU, 2019
What happens if you soak a tutu in the Dead Sea?
Top, “Strand, 2017” — Barbed-wire lampshades and coils coated in salt crystals, studio installation views. Above left, Preparations to lower a black tutu into the Dead Sea, 2016. Above right, “Tutu, 2018” — Tutu dress suspended in the water of the Dead Sea. By Abigail Klein Leichman Israel21C An 11-minute video of renowned Israeli artist Sigalit Landau floating naked on the Dead Sea within a slowly uncoiling spiral of 500 watermelons made a big splash in the art world in 2005. The Dead Sea has beckoned Landau to return again and again from her Tel Aviv studio since 2003. Called the “Salt Sea” in Hebrew, and actually a lake, the Dead Sea is the lowest continental surface on Earth. It is hailed for its healing powers and mined for cosmetics and industrial products. Landau and her team submerged objects ranging from a tutu to a cello in the mineral-rich lake and documented their crystallizing transformation. “Magical moments happen under the water, so my co-creator Yotam From followed the process through underwater photography,” Landau explained. “Salt Years” is a newly published pictorial and prose salute to Landau’s unique artistic genre. “Her art pieces are cultivated with salt crystals, like an oyster farm, using an organic process to transform mundane, everyday, usually
useless artifacts into objects of mesmerizing, haunting beauty,” wrote editor David Goss in his introduction. Landau told ISRAEL21c that her jaunts to the Dead Sea began from a place of memory and vision. As a child in 1970s Jerusalem, she and her family often took an hour’s drive down to the salty shores. As an artist, she saw amazing potential for expression. “I was fascinated by the combination of the crystals’ formal beauty and the fact that I can come up with something like a postcard. My grandfather had a big shop where he used to sell postcards,” she explained. A wire postcard display stand is among the objects she and her team “baptized” in the lake. “We put in about 10 objects, chosen from over 100 through trial and error,” she said. “I had some grand failures – some things were too big or too small.” A black tutu was a big success. Fishing nets salvaged from fishermen in Jaffa came out of the salty bath looking like “classical sculptures in marble,” said Landau. Landau has also handmade crocheted baby booties and a tapestry challah cover to dip into the Dead Sea. Pulled up from the water
after a few weeks, the objects are encrusted in a way that simultaneously destroys their original purpose and preserves them as works of art. In the summer of 2014, they submerged a thick black dress reminiscent of the wedding gown worn by Israeli actress Hanna Rovina portraying the young demon-possessed Russian bride in the 1922 Yiddish play “The Dybbuk.” “Salt Years” has 400 pages filled with images as well as essays by curators, scientists, philosophers and artists including Landau herself. In her essay, she lamented the rapid depletion of the Dead Sea, mostly due to human interventions. Her dream project is “a salt-crystal bridge that would take the form of a pier or a float and serve as both a passageway and a meeting point within the Dead Sea’s extraterritorial waters” connecting Israel and Jordan. “Using methods that I have been developing for over 15 years, massive, beautiful salt crystals will gradually grow upon a core structure. Starting from the center of the lake, it will gradually expand both eastward and westward, until it reaches both shores.”
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HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | NOVEMBER 2019 29
The Jewish newspaper of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.