The Voice of the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community
Issue No. 428
AWARD-WINNING PUBLICATION EST. 1977
Meet Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania p6
Lehigh Valley marches against hate p7
FROM THE DESK OF JERI ZIMMERMAN p2 WOMEN’S PHILANTHROPY p4 LVJF TRIBUTES p8 JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE p12-13 JEWISH DAY SCHOOL p19 JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER p20-21 COMMUNITY CALENDAR p30-31
Muslim and Jewish communities gather for unity vigil By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Outreach & Community Relations With candles in their hands, they stood together as sisters. Muslim and Jewish women, joining in prayer, to say no more hate. On Jan. 15, the local chapter of the Sisterhood of Salaam Shalom, a grassroots organization in the U.S. and Canada dedicated to fighting hate against Jews and Muslims, held a Unity Vigil at the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley. Dozens of members of each community gathered to hear from community leaders and support each other. “Through these relationships, we commit to work together to limit acts of anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiment,” said Najma Khanani, co-leader of the Sisterhood. “To stand up to hate against one another and to engage in social work together.” The Sisterhood has gotten together many times over the last few years for happy occasions: sharing Passover seders, iftar, cooking for the local rescue mission and performing other mitzvah projects. “But there have also been too many gatherings that our agenda is put aside as we need to vent about the latest hate that has been directed toward one or both of our groups and left us shaken to the core,”
co-leader Alicia Zahn said. “It is always a comfort to know our sisters have our backs.” The idea for the vigil was borne out of a meeting in her living room just the week prior. “Will it change the minds of those who commit hate crimes? I’m not that naive,” Zahn said. “But will it change the people that are here today? That is my hope.” Imam Basheer Bilaal of the Muslim Association of the Lehigh Valley told the crowd it was an honor to host such a beautiful gathering. “God tells us that we should find the commonalities in our faiths and we should unite in that which is good, standing for justice and peace,” he said. Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr, interim associate director of religious and spiritual life and Jewish chaplain at Lafayette College, spoke about Isaac and Ishmael, the two sons of Abraham. “We the descendents of these two brothers, we are kin, we are cousins,” Schorr said. “Reaching back through our ancient and sacred texts, we see that our stories are intertwined from the very beginning.” “Tonight we too come together, the children of Ishmael and the children of Isaac, to acknowledge the intolerance and violence against us, not due to anything we have done, but for the sole reason
Learn all about what’s new with local camps & other Jewish education opportunities in our
“Kids at Camp & Beyond”
special section on pages 15-18
that we are different,” Schorr said. “We come together to articulate our fears, our concerns, our pain. We come together to strengthen one another in the face of abject hate that threatens the wellbeing and security of our communities.” Lehigh County Sheriff Joe Hanna then spoke about the laws surrounding bias and hate crimes in Pennsylvania and what to do if you feel you or someone you know
JCC unveils plans for new on-site summer camp By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor
Non-Profit Organization 702 North 22nd Street Allentown, PA 18104
U.S. POSTAGE PAID Lehigh Valley, PA Permit No. 64
is a victim of a hate crime. “We live in an angry world, and it just seems to get angrier every day. And that equates to us living in a dangerous world,” Hanna said. So we have to look out for ourselves and one another, he said. “I’m speaking to the choir here because there is a unification, there is a unity here, and there’s strength in numbers,” he said.
Camp JCC is making a major move this summer—to the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley. But not before the site undergoes some major new facility upgrades. While many specialty camps will still be going on inside the JCC building, the format of the traditional Camp JCC program will be primarily outdoors, in direct response to parents’ feedback. And that outdoors will be greatly enhanced over the next few months with plans underway to build an outdoor pool specifically designed for Camp JCC and to transform the 23rd Street
parking lot into a recreation area with a hockey rink, gaga pit and four-square and tetherball courts and a bike and scooter track ringing its perimeter. The Trexler playground which was installed at the former Center Valley camp just a few years ago will also be transported to the Allentown location. Along with the move to a new location come new, lower tuition rates for Camp JCC. Parents can expect registration to cost about a third less than last year. “We want camp to be fun, flexible and affordable,” said JCC Executive Director Eric Lightman. “By being here at this facility, it allows us to offer the program at a substan-
tially reduced fee, making it more accessible to families while having even more staff support.” In addition to the exciting new opportunities for things like field trips once or twice a week (depending on camper age) to places like Hershey Park, swimming even when it’s raining and more interaction between the JCC’s specialty camps and its traditional day camp, there are many camp traditions which will be carried over from years past. Four teen counselors from the Lehigh Valley’s Partnership2Gether community in Yoav will arrive once again this JCC Camp Continues on page 15
Summer camp is in our roots It is February, and although the weather outside is cold and it is hard to imagine, it is already time to start thinking about summer camp! Jewish summer camp, particularly overnight camp, has long been a mainstay of American Jewish life and culture. It has been featured in media culture, ranging from numerous features and op-eds in the New York Times to a full episode of the radio show “This American Life,” and even the cult classic movie and spin-off Netflix series “Wet Hot American Summer” (though not explicitly a Jewish camp, a role call in the mess hall features campers by the names of “Amanda Klein,
Jessica Azaria, Ira…Stevenberg, Sol…Zimmer..stein, and David…Ben-Gurion...”). Jewish camp’s roots took hold in the late 19th and early 20th centuries when camps were being developed to help immigrants acculturate to their new lives in America and expose urban Jewish children to the outdoors. Eventually, different denominations, youth groups and social identities within Judaism developed camps to promote their own ideologies, cultures and ideals, yet they all shared a common mission: promoting Jewish life and values. Today, studies show that attending a Jewish summer overnight camp, such as
Harlam, Pinemere and Ramah among many others, is one of the strongest predictors of developing a strong Jewish identity in adulthood. Jewish summer camp options continue to reflect the diversity of lifestyles and identities within the broad American Jewish community, aiming to meet the evolving needs of Jewish children. There are overnight camps, day camps and specialty camp options, some of which are reflected in our own community. More broadly, summer camp is an opportunity for growth and development for both children and counselors alike. The camp experience af-
fords participants the chance to build new relationships, foster independence and resilience, develop new skills or practice favorite ones and, most importantly, contribute to the camp’s own community and culture. By attending one of our local Jewish community camps, both campers and counselors begin to learn and experience the things that we, as the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, value such as developing and enhancing specialty skills alongside friends and celebrating Shabbat together. Our local camp options are a chance for us to introduce the youngest in our community to the richness and vibrancy
LVJF to launch Professional Advisory Council Outstanding service is the top priority of any business, and it is also that of the Lehigh Valley Jewish Foundation. Recognizing that the advice and assistance of lawyers, accountants, financial and insurance planners, money managers and other estate planners is critical to the future of Jewish philanthropy in the Lehigh Valley, the LVJF is creating a Professional Advisory Council in order to help donors and clients achieve their charitable and estate planning goals. Any of the above professionals are invited to consider joining. As a professional advisor, they will know their clients and their needs. By integrating philanthropy with financial and estate planning, LVJF can help ensure that clients receive the maximum benefits for their contributions while also creating the charitable gift programs that best match their short-term and long-term goals in supporting Jewish and secular causes. Fast facts about the LVJF: • The LVJF manages assets in excess of $26.6 million. These funds are comprised of Donor Advised Funds, Designated/Restricted Funds, Charitable Gift Annuities, Supporting Foundations and funds held and invested for local Jewish community organizations.
• The LVJF has dedicated Endowment and Investment Committees which partner with and oversee its investment advisor Goldman Sachs Institutional Client Solutions. • The LVJF is a public charity and, as such, offers the maximum federal and state tax benefits to clients. Professional Advisory Council members will benefit from: • Opportunities to speak at LVJF programs and outreach seminars • Opportunities for continuing education credits and to submit technical articles for LVJF publications • Professional listing in LVJF publications LVJF is proud of its longstanding relationships with professional advisors and greatly value that partnership. Together, LVJF and its Professional Advisory Council can ensure that clients are able to make the most meaningful charitable impact in the manner that makes the most sense given each unique situation. For more information, please contact Jim Mueth, Jewish Federation director of planned giving & endowments, at 610-821-5500 or email@example.com.
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 HONOR HARRY EPSTEIN In honor of becoming a Bar Mitzvah The Forgosh Family RABBI YAAKOV AND DEVORAH HALPERIN In honor of the marriage of your daughter Chaya Aaron Gorodzinsky AEJAAZ ISSA Thank you for all you do for our family, community and me! Margee Forgosh IN MEMORY SARA Allentown AZA
MALCOLM LEVY (Father of Carol Wilson) Gwen Hartnett TED MARKSON (Father of Bill Markson) Lisa and Barnet Fraenkel Aaron Gorodzinsky STANLEY STEIN (Husband of Manya Stein, father of Heidi Knafo, brother of Richard Stein) Nancy Bernstein Mindy and Eric Holender Andie and Jim Jesberger ZIPORA (Mother of Dani Dayan) Aaron Gorodzinsky
TO ORDER TREES, call the JFLV at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org. 2 FEBRUARY 2020 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
that our Jewish community has to offer them, allowing them to experience those things and see for themselves how loved, welcomed and valued they are as the future of our community. Limited needs-based camp scholarships and teen experience grants are available through the Federation. Visit our website www.jewishlehighvalley.org/ scholarships to apply before March 25, 2020. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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 Phone: (610) 821-5500 Fax: (610) 821-8946 E-mail: email@example.com
ALLISON MEYERS Graphic Designer DIANE MCKEE Account Representative TEL: 610-515-1391 firstname.lastname@example.org BAYLEY CARL Marketing & Engagement Associate
JFLV EXECUTIVE STAFF JERI ZIMMERMAN Executive Director STEPHANIE SMARTSCHAN Director of Community Development & Operations TEMPLE COLDREN Director of Finance & Administration AARON GORODZINSKY Director of Campaign & Security Planning JIM MUETH Director of Planned Giving & Endowments WENDY EDWARDS Office Manager GARY FROMER JFLV President
Member American Jewish Press Association
All advertising is subject to review and approval by The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley (JFLV). JFLV reserves the right to decline, withdraw and/or edit any ad. The appearance of any advertising in HAKOL does not represent an endorsement or kashrut certification. Paid political advertisements that appear in HAKOL do not represent an endorsement of any candidate by the JFLV.
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
Secret family recipe woos voters at 3rd Annual Latke-Vodka Hanukkah Cook-Off
Team HP Spuds, Brenna Schlossberg, Jennifer Lader, Wendy Edwards, Feather Frazier and Naomi Schachter, toasting with their Ginger Pear Martini which they served with a Reconstructed Indian Latke.
Three generations of Cohens – from left, Zac, Brendan, Rob, Jane and Sam – accepting the prize as this year’s winning team, Bubby 4G. Their latke was a send-up to Jane’s mother, the fourth generation. By Bayley Carl JFLV Marketing & Engagement Associate
In a large mixing bowl, combine
Then, after Rob attended a wedding in Florida in the early 2000s, caviar became a new staple at Cohen family functions. Years later, it became their winning ingredient. Their secret, however, was frying their latkes twice: once the day before the competition, and a second time on competition day. “We decided that we didn’t want to leave much to chance the day of the event, if possible,” explained Zac. However, one chance that was taken on the day of was changing a fuel tank mid-fry. “We had some unplanned pyrotechnics that were caused solely by me,” Zac recalled. “I was trying to change the fuel tank, and when I put the new cartridge in, it didn’t light correctly. Long story short, the burner that was already lit caught the burner that I was working on, and it turned into a flame thrower. Thankfully the JCC and Federation staff were close by to extinguish it, and everyone was okay. I think the burner’s permanently damaged, but that’s the price of doing business.”
Returning champions Latkey Balboa, featuring Robyn Finberg, Ashley Hebron, Julia Urich, Holly Hebron and Lindsey Lee, go for the repeat with their Southpaw Latke and Spicy Mango Vodka-tini.
The Chef Executive Officers, Jeri Zimmerman, Debbie Zoller, Margo Lightman, Eric Lightman, Amy Golding and Leon Zoller, bring it with their Maryland-Style Latke Cake and Hanukkah Hangover Bloody Mary.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF HARRY FISHER
The 3rd Annual Latke-Vodka Hanukkah Cook-Off on Dec. 19, 2019, left attendees full, happy and maybe a bit tipsy. In the height of the winter holiday season, the Cook-Off, presented by the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Federation, gave everyone a chance to eat and enjoy each other’s company. The rules of the LatkeVodka Hanukkah Cook-Off are simple: teams must come up with their own unique latke recipe and a vodkabased drink to pair with their dish. They must also make 150 servings of each. The teams were judged by an unbiased panel – Selena Robinson from 100.7 WLEV, Lyell Scherline from Jay’s Local, Ed Galgon from Country Meadows Retirement Communities and Nicole Fuller from Whole Foods Market. The winners were chosen based on a combination of the judges’ scores and anonymous voting from the event’s attendees. Flavors from all over the
world were showcased in the competition. But in the end, there could only be one winner—and that was one that stayed close to home. Bubby 4G won the judges over with their Bubby’s Caviar Latke and their Miracle Mango Martini (it keeps you lit for 8 days). For Bubby 4G, it was a family affair. Zac Cohen, team caption, shared, “It was really awesome. It’s not frequent that we go out in public and do an activity as a family like this, it was a good time.” And in terms of the competition, he continued, “I felt it gave us an advantage over the other teams, that we knew each other so well and for so long.” Zac, Rob, Jane, Brendan and Sam Cohen have been enjoying this latke recipe over four generations. The team was named for Jane’s mother, Freda Greenberg, who was the first in the family to make a large quantity of this latke recipe. Jane recalled, “My mom and dad had a latke party open house. They invited 100 people, and my mom had tons of energy, and she made 999 latkes.”
Team Vodkaloo: Couldn’t Beat Out Latkes If You Wanted To, featuring Amy Faivre, Eric Fleisch, Jim Bagley, Sarah Kuklis and Erica Bagley, perform with “The Dynamo” latke and the “Sophie” drink.
THANK YOU TO OUR SPONSORS
12 cups shredded potatoes 1 large onion, shredded 1/2 cup flour 1 teaspoon baking powder Fry in oil, serve with sour cream and caviar.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 3
WOMEN’S PHILANTHROPY OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY
Women’s Retreat to bring Jewish women together Jewish women from across the Lehigh Valley and beyond will have the opportunity this spring to learn, create and connect. Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley will host a oneday retreat on Sunday, March 22, at Temple Beth El, for anyone interested in personal growth with a Jewish flavor. The retreat will feature keynote speaker Ruchi Koval, the co-founder and associate director of the Jewish Family Experience. Koval frequently runs women's character-development groups and is a certified parenting coach, motivational speaker and blogger at outoftheorthobox.blogspot.com. Her book, "Conversations With G-d: Prayers for Jewish Women," was published in 2016. Koval comes from Cleveland, but is a familiar face to many women in the Lehigh Valley – she served as trip leader for the Lehigh Valley’s last two Momentum cohorts. “I can’t speak highly enough about Ruchi and the impact her words had on me and my entire group,” said Stephanie Smartschan, director of community development and operations for the Jewish Federation, who led last year’s trip. “She is so engaging and inspiring. The women of the Lehigh Valley are in for a real treat.” The retreat will also include breakfast, lunch, break-out sessions, mitzvah projects and more. There will be many opportunities for women to interact with and learn from each other. “This is such an amazing opportunity for all Jewish women in our community to come together and have a shared, meaningful experience,” Women’s Retreat CoChairs Beth Kushnick and Lauren Rabin said. “We are so looking forward to the connections that will come out of this.” “Engaging in conversation and cultivating connections among women helps to promote the future of our Jewish community,” said Carol Bub Fromer, Women’s Philanthropy president. “That’s what Women’s Philanthropy is all about.”
Women’s Philanthropy welcomes ‘new-ish’ Jewish women Women who are new to the area or looking to get more involved were welcomed into the Jewish community on Jan. 12 at a bake and brunch. The event was presented by Women’s Philanthropy of the Jewish Federation and chaired by Emily Ford and Alli Lipson. The newcomers came together with some more seasoned community members to bake mini apple crisps for older adults, in partnership with Jewish Family Service. They then spent some time getting to know each other and learning about all of the upcoming opportunities for women in the Jewish community. Each newcomer will be paired with a mentor to help her continue to experience what the Jewish community has to offer. If you are “new-ish” and interested in being paired with a mentor, or are interested in serving as a mentor for new women, please contact Stephanie Smartschan at 610-8215500 or email@example.com.
Registration is now open for the Women’s Retreat on Sunday, March 22, beginning at 9:30 a.m. at Temple Beth El. $54 per person. To register, call 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org/womensretreat.
SPONSORED BY THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY’S WOMEN’S DIVISION
WELCOMING NEW BABIES to the Lehigh Valley
daughter of Ally and Emmanuel Avraham 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 FEBRUARY 2020 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Yesod is in session
Calling all ATTORNEYS, CPAS & FINANCIAL ADVISORS Consider joining the Lehigh Valley Jewish Foundation’s new
PROFESSIONAL ADVISORY COUNCIL
The first Yesod cohort at their fourth session. Clockwise from left, Emily Ford, Brian Ford, facilitator Rabbi Allen Juda, Rachel Levin, Susan Kolpon, Kyle Newfeld, Andy Ellis and Chelsea Busch.
By Aaron Gorodzinsky JFLV Director of Campaign & Security Planning Informative discussions about Jewish texts and their relation to leadership are happening every other Sunday morning at the JCC. On a recent Sunday, the Lehigh Valley’s first Yesod cohort gathered to talk about mentorship and how to get committed and well-aligned people “on the bus.”
Contact Jim Mueth at 610-821-5500 or email@example.com to learn more.
The group was assessing how our Jewish agencies and synagogues can recruit, select and mentor the best volunteers that fit well with the missions of the organizations. The discussion followed the reading of the book “Good to Great and the Social Sectors” by Jim Collins. The group also discussed the difference between mentoring and coaching. The cohort will continue to meet until early April.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 5
COURTESY OF JEWISH AGENCY FOR ISRAEL
Hundreds gather in Jerusalem for solidarity rally with New York’s march against anti-Semitism
Israelis gather in Jerusalem to support the "No Hate. No Fear" march taking place on Jan. 5, 2020 in New York City. By Marcy Oster Jewish Telegraphic Agency Hundreds gathered in Jerusalem for a solidarity rally with a march against anti-Semitism in New York. The rally on Sunday, Jan. 5, was organized by The Jewish Agency for Israel, the World Zionist Organization and the Anti-Defamation League. “The Israeli solidarity event was initiated to send a clear message of support to U.S. Jews, particularly following the most recent attacks in Monsey and Jersey City,” the Jewish Agency said in a statement. The rally was held outside the Jewish Agency’s offices in Jerusalem. Attendees held signs reading “No hate, No fear,” and “Love Your Neighbor as You Love Yourself.” “Thousands are marching in New York, Jews and non-Jews alike, from a deep sense of both outrage and
responsibility in the face of the horrific venom that has recently reared its head – hatred of Jews in the United States. Jews are no longer as safe on the streets of the U.S. as they were over the past hundreds of years. We are here in Jerusalem standing together with them in solidarity declaring: No fear! No hate!” Isaac Herzog, chairman of the executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel, told rally participants. Yaakov Hagoel, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, added: “In times of crisis, we were used to in the State of Israel lovingly receiving unrestricted support from Diaspora Jewry. Today, from the capital of the Jewish people, we stand here in solidarity with Diaspora Jewry as one people.” Hundreds of Jewish Agency emissaries serving in U.S. communities joined the march in New York, which drew at least 25,000 participants.
6 FEBRUARY 2020 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Local woman makes a positive impact as Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor Karli Miller is the current reigning Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania. She’s also Jewish. “I am one of very few, if not the only, current Jewish contestants in the Ms. Wheelchair America circuit,” said Miller. “That’s a strong part of my identity, and I really want to share that and educate people about how Jewish folks with disability might view it differently than Christian or other folks with disability. It’s part of what makes me unique, if you will.” Miller will be joining another local speaker, Jennifer Einstein, at the PJ Library Celebrates Differences event on Jan. 26 as part of Federation’s Super Sunday. That program, put on in partnership with Jewish Family Service as part of their observance of Jewish Disability Awareness & Inclusion Month, will give Miller the chance to talk with local families about what makes all of us unique, including her. A 25-year-old graduating from West Chester University with a master’s degree in communications, the Pennsylvania champion says it’s a funny story about how she got involved with the Ms. Wheelchair program in the first place. “I messaged the coordinator after meeting her at an abilities expo in New Jersey where they have things like the latest wheelchair technology and other devices, and she said, ‘I’m sending you an application, we’re already signing you up!’” recalled Miller. The next step was to choose her platform. Miller decided on something she was already pas-
sionate about—"inclusive body positivity for individuals with and without disabilities." “I always grew up struggling with different aspects of my identity, particularly my weight, which is variable due to PCOS,” explained Miller. “I was always self-conscious of my weight, and when I started using a mobility aid on top of that, I would do everything I could to keep it out of photos. I’d have friends help me stand, try to hide crutches out of the photo, things like that. I would do anything to try to look like the image I thought I was supposed to have.” But, then, she made a lifechanging discovery online. “I found the body positivity movement on Instagram,” said Miller. “A whole community of people of every size, with or without mobility aids and disabilities. They were just loving themselves, and I latched onto that because I was craving that.” She made that part of her platform because, as she explained, “Often people with disabilities are left out of that. I want to share how body positivity changed my life and how it can become more inclusive. Let’s show people with ventilation tubes and trachs and hearing aids and how they live authentically and happily.” Next came the actual competition, which included submitting an application highlighting all of her academic accolades, extracurriculars and hobbies as well as explaining her disability status. Once selected to compete, she traveled to Johnstown, Pennsylvania, for a full day of conference seminars on topics such as adaptive styling with a fashion designer, creating an adaptive workout, knowing your rights and how to market yourself. Four judges judged individual sessions, and the next day, contestants gave their platform speeches at a forum open to the public, while also being judged on that and asked two questions in front of the audience. After winning the Pennsyl-
vania title, Miller now has the opportunity to raise awareness about her platform while preparing for the national competition for Ms. Wheelchair America this Aug. 17-23 in Little Rock, Arkansas. She is keeping herself busy not only fundraising for her journey to nationals, but also speaking at events like Super Sunday. In January, she also visited the Lehigh Valley Pet Expo with her service dog in training. “We had a kissing booth set up where you got to meet the dogs to raise money for nationals,” said Miller. The Lehigh Valley Jewish community will have more opportunities to meet Miller throughout the year, as she is working with JFS to create more disability awareness programming. The partnership with JFS is a natural one, as Miller grew up in Congregation Keneseth Israel and was a JFS intern at age 19. “I wasn’t using a wheelchair then. Things are a little bit different now,” remarked Miller. Although she has developed a neuromuscular condition leading her to using mobility aids since then—“my brain and my limbs don’t always communicate well”—Miller is still making an impact on the Jewish community and the world at large. Ms. Wheelchair America is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization founded in 1972 by a Columbus, Ohio, physician, Dr. Philip K. Wood, as a forum for the promotion of the achievements, as well as the needs of, people with mobility impairments. Miller works together with Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania State Coordinator Barb Zablotney and four Ms. Wheelchair PA Ambassadors, Kate Chasar, Jessica Gardner, Amanda Urgolites and Megan Patrick. To learn more about Karli Miller and her work as Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania, follow her on her Facebook page at “Ms. Wheelchair Pennsylvania 2020 - Karli Miller” (@mwpa2020).
Lehigh Valley contingent joins NYC March Against Hate By Ron Ticho Special to HAKOL Despite relatively short notice, Congregation Brith Sholom was able to secure a bus and organize a trip to New York City for Lehigh Valley residents to take part in New York City’s March Against Hate on Sunday, Jan. 5. With the support of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, over 30 locals from several congregations joined with the thousands of people who marched across the Brooklyn Bridge to demonstrate their support for the Jewish community. The “No Hate, No Fear Solidarity March” was organized in response to a spate of anti-Semitic attacks that had taken place in the New York metropolitan region in the past month. The March kicked off in Foley Square and ended in Brooklyn’s Cadman plaza with a rally. Brith Sholom’s Rabbi Michael Singer led the contingent from the Lehigh Valley and was interviewed by NBC 4 New York. “This is so important, because we all stand together against hate and fear, and no one should be afraid to worship the way they want,” he told the reporter. “We’re marching and letting our feet do the praying for us.”
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 7
Individuals step up to support JDS through EITC program
By Jim Mueth JFLV Director of Planned Giving & Endowments The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley was offered a rare opportunity to support education in our community. The opportunity allowed Pennsylvania taxpayers to turn their tax liability into educational scholarships for students in the Lehigh Valley and to assist them in attending the schools of their choice. In return for a two-year commitment to the program, donors receive a 90% credit on their PA taxes for each dollar they donated. Twenty-six individuals and families were able to seize this opportunity by donating
over $169,000 to fund scholarships for students at the Jewish Day School. For our community to have raised this much in a first-year program is truly a noteworthy accomplishment. For more information about the EITC program, please contact Jim Mueth at the Jewish Federation at 610-821-5500 or at jim@ jflv.org. or visit www. eitc.org. Thank you to our donors! Anonymous (4) Leonard Abrams David and Nicole Cooper Peter and Karen Cooper David Dahan and Naomi Schachter Dr. Eric and Amy Fels Lewis and Roberta Gaines
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Dr. Harold and Sandra Goldfarb Robert and Bonnie Hammel Michael and Fay Kun Markson Family Dr. Evan and Dr. Aviva Marlin Mike and Linda Miller Dr. Mark and Alice Notis Rabbi Seth Phillips Dr. Jarrod and Dr. Nicole Rosenthal In Memory of Murray Schechter Dr. Mark and Lynne Shampain Dr. Frank and Tama Tamarkin Robby and Laurie Wax Vicki Wax Barbara and Arthur Weinrach Dr. Israel and Valeska Zighelboim
IN HONOR LAURA AND BOB BLACK In honor of your daughter Stefanie’s engagement to Alex Alchek Pam and Greg Silverberg LAURA AND BOB BLACK In honor of your 50th anniversary Pam and Greg Silverberg LINDSEY AND JOSEPH BORGESE Happy holidays and blessings for the new year Selma Roth SANDRA AND HAROLD GOLDFARB In honor of your grandson’s marriage Roberta and Jeff Epstein SANDRA AND HAROLD GOLDFARB In honor of your grandson’s bar mitzvah Roberta and Jeff Epstein PAULA AND STEVE KAUNITZ Happy holidays and blessings for the new year Selma Roth BETH AND WESLEY KOZINN In honor of your new home Suzanne Lapiduss ALICE AND MARK NOTIS In honor of your son Noah’s engagement to Atara Vicki Wax
LINDA SILOWKA In honor of the birth of your grandson, James Walter Silowka Wendy and Ross Born Suzanne Lapiduss DAVID WIENER Happy golidays and blessings for the new year Selma Roth IN MEMORY LEONARD ALBERT Father of Joan Davis Selma Roth HOWARD FALK (Husband of Shirley Falk) Lenny Abrams MALCOLM LEVY (Father of Carol Wilson) Fay and Michael Kun TED MARKSON (Father of Bill Markson) Lenny Abrams Lori and Houman Ahdieh Carol and Stewart Furmansky Suzanne and Marty Katz Diane and Paul Lemberg Edward and Barbara Nissenbaum Marc Nissenbaum Lauren and Doron Rabin Randi and Donald Senderowitz Marla and Brian Strahl Stefanie and Darren Traub Vicki Wax Valeska and Israel Zighelboim
MALCOLM SAMPLINER (Father of Margie Hertz) Pam and Greg Silverberg BARRY SIEGEL (Father of Ariella Siegel and Shira Siegel) Wendy and Ross Born STANLEY STEIN (Husband of Manya, father of Laurie Lesavoy and Heidi Knafo, brother of Richard) Lenny Abrams Sybil and Barry Baiman Wendy and Ross Born Carol and Stewart Furmansky Suzanne Lapiduss Edward Nissenbaum Lillian Nissenbaum Marc Nissenbaum Lauren and Doron Rabin Penny and Adam Roth Selma Roth Randi and Donald Senderowitz Barbara and Fred Sussman HELEN AND SOL KRAWITZ HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FUND IN MEMORY TED MARKSON (Father of Bill Markson) Lynda and Stewart 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.
THE IMPACT ONE MAKES:
The Hammels By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor Editor's Note: We continue our series on individuals who have laid the foundations for the future of the Lehigh Valley Jewish community through their generosity this month by featuring Bonnie and Bobby Hammel. When it comes to making an impact, the simplest way to do it is through consistency. That’s what one couple, Bobby and Bonnie Hammel, have shown throughout decades of dedication to the Lehigh Valley Jewish community. Tirelessly active in leadership with the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center and Temple Beth El, as well as being members of Congregation Keneseth Israel and Congregation Sons of Israel and supporters of the Jewish Day School and Jewish Family Service, the Hammels are known just as much for their humility as they are for their generosity with their time and resources. “Kindness, generosity, commitment and vision are values we prize in communal leadership. Bobby and Bonnie Hammel embody all of those traits and more,” said Rabbi Moshe Re’em of Temple Beth El. “They exemplify the advice of Shammai in Pirkei Avot to ‘say little and do much, and receive all people cheerfully.’ Regarding a Women of Valor, the Book of Proverbs states that ‘many of women have done well, but you surpass them all.’ Similarly, many leaders in our community have done very well, but Bobby and Bonnie surpass those that have done well by doing all the good that they do with ‘sever panim yafot,’ with a smile on their face, good spirit and cheer. We have all learned from them to approach life and its challenges in good spirit and humor, and their examples will serve as an inspiration for others for years to come.” It would be difficult to list all of the many ways the Hammels have given back to the community over the years, from Bobby’s many years as president at various organizations
to Bonnie’s long-standing service to the TBE Sisterhood, but their most recent public contribution on a large scale to the community is definitely one of note. The JCC announced in December that a $1 million gift from the Hammels would allow the center to not only pay off its mortgage but also make significant facility upgrades for the new on-site Camp JCC (see page 1) and more. "The impact that Bobby and Bonnie have made is not just about the present, but about the future of the JCC and our community,” said Eric Lightman, executive director of the JCC. “Through their vision and generosity, they have given us the ability to plan for a bright, thriving and sustainable future." This future is what the Hammels are most passionate about. Having raised four sons in the Lehigh Valley, they emphasize that they are less concerned about their own accolades, and more interested in seeing collaboration among the different institutions in the Lehigh Valley to allow generations to come to be welcomed into the same kind of thriving community they were when they started their family. “Bonnie and I really believe in the Lehigh Valley Jewish community,” said Bobby. “It has nothing to do with our legacy. It has to do with our collective future. We believe in a great future, and we hope that all of us as a community have a vision to see how we can go forward together. We came to a very vibrant community, and it can be more vibrant than it ever has been, if we work together. We are one community ... Nobody is our competitor; everybody is our cooperator.” With leadership and vision like that of the Hammels’, that’s a future that seems in reach. “The Hammels’ leadership and philanthropic endeavors have made a significant impact on every part of our Jewish community. Their most recent donation inspires hope, confidence and a positive energy for the future of our Jewish community,” said Federation Executive Director Jeri Zimmerman. According to Bobby, however, the
Hammels have received more than they have given. “We are the recipients of many of the benefits of being part of a vital Jewish community,” said Bobby. “We do what we can to help support this community and to make sure the same community that we moved into decades ago will still be thriving
years later. That’s the whole idea, that old adage of someone planted a tree for me, so we’re planting a tree again. I do believe in God, and I am grateful for the life we’ve been given. We are fulfilling our obligation to give as a means of trying to pay back everything we have received. And it’s a real pleasure.”
Happy Happy2019! 2019! Happy 2019! Allentown & Lebanon Allentown & Wilkes-Barre Allentown & Lebanon Allentown & Wilkes-Barre Allentown & Lebanon Allentown & Wilkes-Barre
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 9
American Jews to vote for 38th World Zionist Congress in 2020
OVERIJSSEL VIERT VRIJHEID
Dutch artist’s Holocaust display shines light on stones to commemorate murdered Jews
Stones glowing in the "Light of Life" Holocaust memorial display of Daan Roosegaarde in the Netherlands. By Cnaan Liphshiz Jewish Telegraphic Agency
THE BETTMAN ARCHIVE
A Dutch artist installed a light display commemorating the Holocaust in 150 municipalities ahead of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Daan Roosegaarde’s “Light of Life” project features dark spaces with stones that light up briefly. Roosegaarde chose the theme of stones because Jewish custom is to place them on the headstones of their loved ones, the GIC news site reported. In 2005, the United Nations designated January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day because that was the day the Red Army liberated Auschwitz. This year’s anniversary was the 75th since liberation. The display lights the stones up for a few seconds
at a time, “symbolizing, like breaths in the dark, the lives taken away from the community,” Roosegaarde is quoted as saying. The display will be installed in various museums and public spaces, including the synagogue in Groningen in the country’s north. Once home to several vibrant provincial communities, the north of the Netherlands saw some of the most methodical roundups of Jews, which obliterated those congregations to this day. Of Groningen’s nearly 3,000 Jewish residents before the Holocaust, only 150, or five percent, survived the genocide, according to the Volkskrant newspaper. The Groningen Synagogue operates nowadays as a museum with a gift shop and functions only rarely as a place of worship.
Theodor Herzl, considered the father of modern-day Zionism, leans over the balcony of the Hotel Les Trois Rois (Three King's Hotel/Hotel drei Könige) in Basel, Switzerland, possibly during the sixth Zionist conference there. By Shiryn Ghermezian Jewish News Syndicate Thirteen slates representing the diversity of the American Jewish community will compete in an election to join the 38th World Zionist Congress (WZC), set to convene in October 2020 in Jerusalem, announced the American Zionist Movement. The slates, comprised of more than 1,800 candidates, will fight for 152 American seats for the 38th World Zion-
ist Congress in an election organized and facilitated by the American Zionist Movement. Jewish American residents who are 18 or older are be eligible to vote from Jan. 21 through March 11. Voting will take place primarily online, with an option for mail-in ballots. Those elected from the United States will join delegates from Israel and around the world at the 38th World Zionist Congress to help determine the allocation of nearly $1 billion in funding for and the priorities of the World Zionist Organization, Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency for Israel. Theodor Herzl, considered the father of modern-day Zionism, convened the first Zionist Congress in 1897. To date, WZC is the sole democratically elected global Jewish forum. The 13 slates running in the 2020 World Zionist Congress elections are: • Americans4Israel: Unity, Peace & Security • American Forum for Israel • Dorshei Torah V’Tziyon: Torah and Israel for All • Eretz Hakodesh: Protecting the Kedusha and Mesorah of Eretz Yisrael • Hatikvah: Progressive Israel Slate • Herut Zionists: The Jabotinsky Movement • Israel Shelanu (“Our Israel”) • Mercaz: The Voice of Conservative/Masorti Judaism • Ohavei Zion: World Sephardic Zionist Organization • Orthodox Israel CoalitionMizrachi: Vote Torah • Vision: Empowering the Next Generation • Vote Reform: ARZA Rep-
10 FEBRUARY 2020 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
resenting the Reform Movement and Reconstructing Judaism • ZOA Coalition: Zionist Organization of America (ZOA), Torah from Sinai, MIG (Make Israel Great) & National ProIsrael Partners–Courageously Defending Israel, Sovereignty & the Jewish People. With more slates than ever before, Herbert Block, executive director of the American Zionist Movement, told JNS that he is expecting a large turnout of voters as well. “The 2015 election had nearly 60,000 voters. We are on track to achieve an even higher turnout this time around, partially because American Jews are in a voting mindset with a likely third election coming up in Israel and the 2020 U.S. election cycle well underway,” he told JNS. “We’re excited for so many people representing the diversity of the American Jewish community to affirm their connection to Israel and Zionism by voting in this election,” continued Block. “The World Zionist Congress is the ‘parliament of the people,’ and this is the best way for American Jews to vote for their voice in Israel.” He added, “American Jews are increasingly engaged with Israel and want to be involved in the political process. With so much attention focused on Israeli elections, this is an opportunity for American Jews to declare their Zionism and participate in an election that will impact not only Israel, but all world Jewry.” Information on how to vote/ eligibility is available at: AZM. org/elections.
Albert Einstein and Tu B'Shevat
RABBI YAACOV HALPERIN Chabad of the Lehigh Valley Albert Einstein did not speak until he was 3 years old and did not read until he was 7. His parents thought he was "subnormal," and one of his teachers described him as "mentally slow, unsociable and adrift forever in foolish dreams." He was expelled from school and was refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. He did eventually learn to speak and read. Even to do a little math. Tu B'Shevat, the 15th of
Shevat, is a holiday—even if not the most famous one—and it is notably a strange one. All other Jewish holidays celebrate concrete events in Jewish life. For example, the three central holidays are associated in Torah with three agricultural seasons: Passover, Shavuos and Sukkos. Chanukah and Purim, of course, celebrate major victories in our history. But the New Year for Trees is an exception. If we were to celebrate the date when the trees become embellished with fruits, it would be understandable. Yet the date we celebrate for the trees is the time when the trees are barren, without leaves or produce. Living in the Lehigh Valley, when I walk outside on this 15th of Shevat, the trees may not even be visible. They may be covered in a heavy snow. If not, they look latent and empty. What is more, we celebrate it by eating fruits, which the tree at this point is incapable of producing.
It would be like celebrating a bar mitzvah at the age of 9! In some Jewish communities, they even instituted an entire “seder” for Tu B’Shevat, like the Passover seder, where the focus is on eating various fruits. But the fruits are not available yet; why not celebrate this in July when you obtain your fresh green figs and grapes from the trees? So how did this day become the Rosh Hashanah for trees, and why do we celebrate it? The Lubavitcher Rebbe provided a beautiful explanation. The Sap The Talmud explains why this date of 15th of Shevat was chosen: in the Land of Israel, at this point, most of the winter’s rain has saturated the earth, and the new sap starts rising in the trees, allowing the first flowers and fruits to bud shortly after. By this day of 15th of Shevat, we can be sure that a new vitality, a new sap ascends into the tree, allowing for its future rejuvenation.
Potential At the surface, the tree still appears lifeless. It will still take some time to develop buds, and it will take even more time— many more months—to produce the actual fruits. There is nothing going on now. But that is only on the surface. Tu B’Shevat is the celebration of potential, invisible yet real. All of the future growth of the tree is possible only due to the sap rising in the tree at the time of the 15th of Shevat. The potential has been created—it is unseen but existent—and that is what we celebrate today. This is the holiday that provides us with this invaluable lesson in life. Even as we can't see the fruit yet, we must celebrate the process of growth itself. Most of this process we can't see because it's beneath the surface of the ground. It takes a lot of labor to get it to the next stage. We need to monitor the tree, weed out harmful substances. In life, the most
important thing is to identify and celebrate the potential and not get frustrated by the process. If we could go back in time and take a peek into the young Einstein household, you would see a toddler who appeared slow, a young boy who lagged behind his peers to the point of appearing hopeless. Yet, within him was insurmountable potential, enough to change all of society. How often in our struggles do we want to quit, and we remain stuck. If any of this is true in your life, this is your holiday. Celebrate. And remember, this is the New Year. This is when it is really happening. This is when you have to hold on strong and be inspired. It is the time when you can celebrate potential. What’s beautiful about Tu B’Shevat is that it teaches us that even in the dark and barren moments, underneath there is a spark that will soon bring new moments with new potential.
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HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 13
Chanukah across the Valley
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JCC welcomes new youth and camp director
By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor When Kristen Johnson moved to the Lehigh Valley two summers ago, she and her daughter jumped headfirst into getting involved in the Lehigh Valley Jewish community. Now in first grade at the Jewish Day School, Johnson’s daughter is still a “very, very active JCC participant.” “We just keep adding more JCC activities to her schedule. She just started piano lessons here,” said Johnson. In her new position as the JCC youth and camp director, Johnson will be nearby as her child embarks on all of the many enrichment opportunities the JCC has to offer her, both throughout the school year and this summer at the new Camp JCC. As not only the leader of the programming but also a Camp JCC parent herself, Johnson said, “Obviously, I have a vested interest in all of these things.” Johnson comes to the JCC with significant experience in leadership and education, both in camp and in the classroom. Having spent 11 and a half years in the U.S. Army as an officer, she went on a year-long combat tour to Iraq. The last three years of her army career were spent teaching English at the United
States Military Academy at West Point, utilizing her master’s in English from George Mason University. Her love for camp was forged long before that, however, when she spent summers working at one of the largest YMCA camps in North Carolina while earning her bachelor's degree in sociology from Wake Forest University. Starting as a cabin counselor, by the end of her time there she was the chief of their outdoor education program. Now, she’s bringing all of that experience into blazing a trail at the JCC to continue its excellence in youth programming and lead the transition into the exciting new developments for Camp JCC this summer (see page 1.) “I’ve always been really impressed with the quality of what is offered [here at the JCC] and really grateful for the staff, so I knew I was joining something strong with a staff who are great people,” Johnson reflected on her new position. Aware of the unique challenges facing Camp JCC this year, Johnson is undeterred. “I really think people are going to be surprised at how great camp is going to be. It would be really easy to underestimate what’s going to be possible by having a camp on-site, but I think people are going to be really impressed and excited,” she remarked. She also emphasized that, “Safety and security is being built into the plan, with perimeter fencing and security guards. We’re implementing all these features, and want people to know that we’re not naive in any way to [safety concerns].” Overall, however, Johnson knows that camp is all about fun. “I’m a very versatile leader,” said Johnson. “As serious as some of my background is, I love camp traditions and songs and dancing. We’re trying to continually inject fun opportunities every place we can.” She added, “What I’m hopefully really bringing to the table here is a value of really strong, clear communication with parents, campers and staff.”
What’s new at local Jewish overnight camps? By Bayley Carl JFLV Marketing & Engagement Associate 2020 is here, and summer is only a few short months away! Camps across the northeast are preparing for campers and staff members by revamping old programs and adding new ones. Camp Ramah in the Poconos is no exception. Rabbi Joel Seltzer, executive director of Camp Ramah, outlined some of the changes that are already set to take place this summer. In an effort to truly change the breakfast game, they’re adding a smoothie bar to their list of breakfast options. “The smoothie bar is more than just a little highlight in the minds of our campers and staff members,” he said. They’ll also be providing campers with the options to really shape their days in a more freeform fashion. But, what they’re truly excited to unroll this coming summer is a new full summer length program for campers with significant special needs. In addition, Camp Ramah will also be starting a new program for graduates of this program. Starting this summer, four previous, now adult, campers will be given the opportunity to live on the property during camp, and work and be a part of the camp community in new ways. This camp program can help prepare these former campers for college, and other settings that they’ll encounter in the future. “Of course everybody loves smoothies, but this new program is really going to expand our mission,” said Seltzer. “We really want the Ramah experience to impact as
JCC Camp Continues from page 1
year to bring a bit of Israel to Allentown. And campers will also still have the opportunity to get in the pool twice a day, with instructional swimming in the mornings and free swim in the afternoon. Most importantly, the camp spirit remains the same. “Our core values and general program structure are not going to change,” said Lightman. “We are still about friendship
many lives as possible.” Pinemere Camp is also revamping their existing programs, by really making efforts to include campers in every aspect of camp, even ones that may not seem so exciting. This summer they’ll be significantly upgrading a preexisting cooking program, one which not only teaches kids how to cook, but allows them the chance to help cook their own meals. In addition, Pinemere Camp is also adding new positions to their camper care team, in an effort to truly be available to help their campers in as many ways as possible. Camp Harlam URJ is rolling out a brand new unit at camp this summer. First- through fourthgraders who are first-time campers can try an “intro experience” called Rishonim this year for the first time in a special shortened 12-day stay. Through a grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camp, Harlam will also bring new focus to supporting the mental, emotional and social health of campers and staff. “We’re also building a new adventure element (a ninja warrior course) and have some new program options through a daily free choice period,” said Camp Harlam Director Lisa David. And for parents wondering what is new at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake this year, you can register to attend an open house held at the Allentown home of local Sprout Lake alumni and parents Josh and Danielle Kroo on Feb. 2 at https://forms.gle/upjefjYGGjDSnN697. Summer is closer than you think, and these camps are ready!
and community character building.” While this will be a year of transition, JCC’s newly hired Youth and Camp Director Kristen Johnson emphasized that new opportunities exist thanks to the move. “I think all of us had an attachment to the property [in Center Valley], but this is an exciting new year, and the kids will have a chance to be part of the first year of camp here. It’s a lot of change, but it’s still the same terrific programming, and we’ll have amazing staff. Anyone who wants to meet with me, I’m super excited to talk with them,” she said. (See above for more on Johnson.)
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 15
JSeals swim team makes a splash with local kids
By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor At the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley, there is a dedicated group of young athletes splashing in and out of the
pool all winter long. The JSeals swim team is an opportunity for children ages 6 through 16 (divided into a junior and a senior team based on skill) to not only improve their competitive swimming skills but also to enjoy the camaraderie that only being part of a team can provide. “Our unique swim clinics offer just the right blend of stroke training and endurance training. Our goal is for each participant to become more confident in his or her ability and really to make people better swimmers and better human beings,” said Jodi Lovenwirth, JCC aquatics director. “We teach sportsmanship and teamwork.” Most of all, though, swim team is fun. “My daughter finds the camaraderie amongst her teammates the most fun part of it, but she has definitely made huge progress already. Last year, she’d have to stop and rest along the wall, and now she’s got some strength and can swim 50 meters and is working on her strokes. I’ve seen such a huge difference and improvement in just one year,”
said Samantha Ammer, parent of a young swimmer. The Lehigh Valley is part of the MidAtlantic JCC Swim League, competing with teams from Delaware, Harrisburg and Cherry Hill throughout the season, which culminates in championships. But JSeals is about so much more than just competition. “The team is such a jewel in the JCC’s cap because of the friendships and the lasting love for swimming that are found by our kids,” said Jodi Lovenwirth, JCC aquatics director. Reflecting on one pair of girls who live 45 minutes apart but now beg their parents to bring them to swim team because they had become such good friends, Lovenwirth remarked that such stories of friendship among her team “really, really warm her heart.” There are four practice times a week, though swimmers, especially on the junior team, are not expected to make each one. In addition to practices and meets, three fun events are put on throughout the season: an annual Chanukah party, an annual Dip &
Disco fundraiser and an end of the season sports award celebration. Lovenwirth has been on staff at the JCC for over 14 years in various roles, from teaching preschool and working at Camp JCC to now coaching the swim team and heading up aquatics. All three of her children learned to swim at the JCC and participated on the swim team. She is an American Red Cross Certified Lifeguard, Lifeguard Instructor, Water Safety Instructor and CPR/First Aid Instructor. She is joined on the pool deck by JSeals’ new assistant coach, Olivia Lopez, who is a graduate student at Cedar Crest College and has been a swimmer her whole life. Overall, “the team is geared toward developing a healthy attitude toward competition and sportsmanship by avoiding a self-centered approach in favor of a team effort,” said Lovenwirth. To learn more about the JSeals swim team, contact Jodi Lovenwirth at 610-435-3571 or visit www. lvjcc.org.
Why Choose CGI? By Sara Bressler Chabad of the Lehigh Valley At camp, children gain valuable life skills that they may not be obtaining in their social and academic lives which are built around digital devices and being online. In fact, an organization called the Partnership for 21st Century Skills found there is a large gap between the knowledge students learn in school and the skills they need to be successful in the 21st century. The organization determined that some of the skills necessary to become successful adults are communication, collaboration, creativity, leadership, socialization and problem solving. All of these areas are nourished in the camp environment at Chabad of the Lehigh Valley’s Camp Gan Israel (CGI). At CGI, children in our camp are constantly engaged, we are a “no phone zone” that nurtures a child’s social abilities by heightening their interaction, participation and collaboration. Another main focus of CGI is the often underrated free time. While we focus on teamwork, engaging activities and stimulating a child’s talents, we also know the importance of unstructured time where children can relax and socially explore their environment. Plus, our handpicked, experienced counselors are known for their personal warmth and ability to care for each child as an individual. We offer structured indoor
swimming, international-themed weeks, sports, crafts, STEM activities, cooking projects, camp Olympics, playground time, water balloon wars, a Dutch Springs field trip, a Sky Zone trip, and so much more. To top it all off, at CGI, we instill a sense of Jewish pride and a love for Israel in each individual child, which is becoming more important in today’s climate. With Shabbat parties, Judaic crafts and daily davening, we weave Judaic learning into our daily activities in the most engaging way possible— hands-on. As a camp, we are constantly evolving to meet the needs of every camper. We have many new activities and incredible trips planned for this summer. We are thrilled to begin Camp Gan “Izzy” 2020, seeing our old friends and making some new ones!
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JDS students answer: What are you most looking forward to at camp this summer?
DAYMOND LEOPARDI Swimming at the JCC pool. Camp JCC
SOPHIA PILDIS Theater camp! Camp JCC
MICHAELA BUB Doing zipline and rope courses with my friends. And Pinemere food is the best! Pinemere Camp
SHIRA BACH Staying in the bunk with my friends. Camp Moshava
LEAH BOONSWANG The Canteen with my friends. The Zone
EMMA WIENER Seeing my friends that live far away. Camp Dina
My Israeli ‘camp’ experience By Rotem Bar Community shlicha Chocolate drink (shoko) with a bun, lemon popsicles, the smell of sunscreen with sweat and a dislocated arm would be my childhood memories of summer camp in Israel. The bus would come to take us in the morning, and I remember that the smell of sunscreen would hit me as soon as I entered the bus. The shoko would always upset my stomach, and if I remember correctly, I came back from camp with a dislocated arm for three summers in a row. You can see why I was not a fan. At the end of third grade, my family went on Shlicut to Europe, and that meant the end of Israeli summer camp for me—I was thrilled! A few years passed, and we returned to Israel. I was already in my teens, so my parents didn’t have to worry about how I spent my summer days, which meant good news for me: no shoko with a bun! I did join the local youth movement and camped with them. Our field trips were probably the closest thing I had had at the time to a summer camp experience. No, we wouldn’t spend a few weeks in the summer at a nice green location by the lake, we didn’t sleep in bunks or make s’mores, and for sure we had less staff per camper. We would go to camp out for a few days at a time throughout the year and for longer periods in the summer. As part of those field trips, we would do long hikes around the country, someone would be in charge of carrying a shared Jerry can (which everyone drinks out of), build huge fire constructions, tell scary folk tales or, as we call them, cheesbatim, play guitar, have pep rallys and sleep in sleeping bags under the stars or—if we were lucky—in a Bedouin tent. When we reach the age that we can become counselors, we go on a 10-day training camp, and that would be our longest camp. The entire camp site is built by us. Imagine, the heat and humidity of the Israeli summer—no air conditioning, no kitchen, your 15-year-old arrives with their friends at a clearing in the woods and is asked to start tying ropes, chopping
wood and putting up signs, then spending the days and nights outside. I am sure this doesn’t sound very appealing to the American ear, but honestly these were the best summers! It was simple and lowbudget, but was all we really needed (besides air conditioning, of course). It was a time to make meaningful connections and friendships, sing until you lose your voice, talk about Zionism and build leadership skills. Some of my greatest memories! The only thing I never got used to is everyone drinking from the same Jerry can. My friends used to say that living in Europe had made me soft and I should just get used to it! I still haven’t. That is very different from the camp experiences here in America and yet, the “American camp experience” is showing its buds in Israel as well. It is, in fact, not just that, but the whole field of summer camps in Israel has undergone a significant development process in the last two decades. It is no longer only multidisciplinary camps that focus mainly on how to keep kids occupied in the summer, those days are long gone. Today, the camps are full of activities and pay more attention to the educational values. Alongside the multidisciplinary camps, there are themed camps so that every kid can find the one that suits them best. In the past, the overnight summer camps were reserved mainly to the youth movements or camps abroad. Today, more American-style camps have been popping around Israel and provide camps with an international character. There are camps that are spoken only in English where kids enjoy chef courses, technology teachings, boating, surfing and preforming arts. There are camps where kids sleep in air-conditioned rooms, dine in dining rooms and are away for a few weeks at a time, similar to the American camp experience. Like here in America, and even more so, those camps are priced accordingly and do not match the average Israeli pocket and, therefore, are available mainly for kids that come from high-income families. Maybe in the future, as Israelis get more acquainted with the international summer camp experience, it will not only be the price that would be adjusted but the growth in enrollments and demand.
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Enrollment open now for 2020-21 school year at JDS Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley “Our focus is your child’s future”—explore your child’s potential by discovering what the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley has to offer. Enrollment is now open for students age 3 to 8th grade for the 2020–21 school year. JDS offers differentiated learning, with small classes providing individualized instruction to maximize learning and teach students to think critically and creatively. Our students also experience language immersion, as beginning
with our 3-year-old students, Hebrew and Spanish immersion both enhance our school curriculum. The special subjects we offer, ranging from STEAM, library, computers, music, band, art, physical education, gardening and video production, all foster a love of learning. Contact us to find out about our flexible tuition which provides affordable academic excellence.
Enrollment is up at the enriching JCC Early Learning Center
Call or e-mail Sara Schonbach, director of admissions, to schedule a tour at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-437-0721. By Lisa Yoskowitz JCC Early Learning Center Director
PJ Library and JDS embark on a jungle adventure this Purim By Sara Schonbach JDS Director of Admissions Kick off the Purim season with a jungle adventure with PJ Library and the Jewish Day School! Dress for the wild with your jungle-themed costumes,
enjoy a twist on our favorite hamantaschen, create jungle crafts, vote for your favorite decorated classroom door, walk on the wild side while posing for a picture in our photo booth and enjoy story time with
your favorite PJ Library books. Swing on in, we’ll have lots of Purim fun! Join PJ Library at JDS on Sunday, Feb. 23 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. RSVP to Sara Schonbach at sschonbach@ jdslv.org or 610-437-0721.
It’s been said that “the first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 will turn out.” The Early Learning Center here at the JCC is alive with the sounds of children! As very typical at this time of year, we have seen a spike in enrollment over the last few months. This has resulted in our infant, young toddler and older toddler classrooms being full with a wait list in place. We also have families that have shown interest in us reopening our kindergarten room for the upcoming school year, so the possibilities in terms of growth are now “probabilities!”
Our formal registration for the upcoming school year and JCamp Junior will begin in February. The upcoming months of the school year will be filled with celebrations centered around many of the Jewish holidays—Tu B’Shevat, Purim and Passover (to name just a few). And each month, we invite the community to attend our Interactive Family Shabbat Service, filled with songs, stories, guitar playing and very loud, joyful and exuberant voices. At the Early Learning Center, we proudly welcome people of all faiths and all walks of life. It is our goal to bring families together, for at the end of the day, we are more alike than different.
Fun to Make
Chocolate Muffins BY SANDI TEPLITZ These muffins are easy and delicious! Kids love making and eating them... INGREDIENTS: 1 c. flour 2/3 c. sugar 1/4 c. Hershey's cocoa 2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 tsp. salt 1 c. almond milk 2 eggs ¼ c. corn oil 1 c. bittersweet chocolate chips Flaky sea salt, optional
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TECHNIQUE: Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners. Mix all ingredients except chips in a food processor for 20-30 seconds, just until blended. Remove to a large bowl. Add chips by hand, folding in well. Divide batter among the 12 cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 12-13 minutes, until no crumbs stick to an inserted toothpick. Split in half and serve warm with unsalted whipped butter; sprinkle with sea salt.
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MEET THE PRESIDENTS
Harry Fisher and Nicole Rosenthal By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor At Congregation Sons of Israel in Allentown, there are two copresidents. Harry Fisher and Dr. Nicole Rosenthal share the role of leadership on their board of directors, a partnership which is very well-balanced. “I think Nicole and I complement each other in a very profound way, between our experiences, our emotional mindsets and our ability to basically be practical and pragmatic where necessary. So I have said we’re really a great team,” said Fisher. Neither Fisher, who splits his time between Pennsylvania, California and Israel due to family obligations in each, nor Rosenthal, a pediatrician and mother of three schoolage children with an equally demanding schedule, felt they could fulfill all of the duties of president on their own. Each was an active member of the congregation and a prime candidate, however, so when approached about tacking the job together, they agreed to a co-presidency. “We have a lot of shared ideals and goals and vision of what we felt needed to be done with our board and our institution,” explained Fisher. A photographer and photojournalist originally from Los Angeles who worked at The Morning Call for 34 years, Fisher has been in the Lehigh Valley with his wife Amy since 1984. His children Nathan and Elana attended
the Jewish Day School from Pre-K through eighth grade and both made Aliyah. Rosenthal grew up on Long Island where she attended medical school before training at Bristol Myers Squibb Hospital in New Jersey. She relocated here in the mid-2000s with her husband, Dr. Jarrod Rosenthal, and their children, Madeleine, Mitchell and Chloe, when Jarrod accepted a position at St. Luke’s, leading her to begin working for Lehigh Valley Hospital & Health Network a few years later. All three of her childrend attended JDS, and now her two oldest are at Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy. Both Fisher and Rosenthal have been dedicated to creating Jewish lives for their families here in the Valley, which eventually led each of them to Sons of Israel. Having that space available for other families like theirs is something which Rosenthal is passionate about. “My reason for taking this on is because I really wanted to see an uptick in younger families’ involvement in the synagogue and growth in engagement in the shul,” she said. The community aspects of congregational life are one of the big goals for this co-presidency, but there are several other objectives, as well. As Fisher outlined, “We have shared vision for responsible fiduciary conduct by ourselves and by our board, trying to grow fundraising in a way that makes sense for the congregation, trying to update
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Harry Fisher some processes that have been in place for a long time, trying to transition into more modern techniques and dealing with the need to carefully evaluate our security needs.” Together, Fisher and Rosenthal are taking on the challenges of moving SOI forward while still keeping its traditional values and helping the congregation as they transition to having both a new rabbi and a new youth director. “SOI is a very unique congregation,” said Rosenthal. “It’s a very diverse congregation. How do we integrate the really young new families who are joining into the population who have always been there? We want to do that in a way which is very welcoming to all segments of the population, so that if you want this to be your place, then it’s your place. It’s something different to everyone, and I think my personal goal has been how can we make this a place, a home for everybody?”
Jarrod and Nicole Rosenthal But, as Rosenthal added, that means “there’s reconciling a lot of different opinions and comfort zones. I think that this is a very big challenge.” It’s a challenge that the congregants of Sons of Israel should feel confident that their co-presidents can meet, however. Both have plenty of experience grappling with tough issues on committees and boards, as they have been very active in the greater Lehigh Valley Jewish community. They served together recently on the rabbinical search committee which brought Rabbi Nisan Andrews to Sons of Israel. Fisher spent 10 years on the board of the Jewish Day School and over a decade on the board of Congregation Keneseth Israel before spending time serving as a chair of the SOI gala and as the SOI
vice-president of finance for several years. He was also involved with Jewish Federation’s Project Yachad. Rosenthal also spent 10 years on the JDS board, with several serving on their executive committee and as their vice-president of development, running their gala and fundraising. She also has chaired the SOI gala for the past three years and helped with fundraising and development for the congregation, as well. A leader on the Federation board for eight years, Rosenthal has served on their executive committee, allocations committee and other sub-committees such as the strategic planning committee, received the George Feldman Achievement Award for Young Leadership and cochaired the Next Dor initiative with her husband.
PARTNERSHIP2GETHER UPDATE FROM YOAV
Yoav stands in solidarity with American Jews
By Nurit Galon Partnership2Gether How great it is when it is possible to begin an article with happy and enlightening news, which I had hoped to do here. Sadly, too much of the news around the globe, and in particular when it involves our Jewish world, is all too often tinged with sorrow at the senseless destruction of Jewish lives and property. 2020 began as most new years do, with a feeling of hope for a new start. But almost immediately, the news of the anti-Semitic attacks in New York brought back the familiar sinking feeling—nothing has changed, except for the worse. As I write this tonight on Jan. 5, Israeli Jews will gather to demonstrate and show support and identity for our brothers and sisters in the U.S. and all over the world. We no longer have the feeling of helplessness and fear – we know that the Jewish people, with Israel at their center, are capable of standing straight together and, if necessary, fighting back. And to you especially, our partners and family in the Lehigh Valley, be very sure that we are with you! In our Jewish traditions, together with the dark there is always light, and Chanukah came along in December with all its wonderful customs. The glowing Chanukah candles, the music and songs, the stories of the Maccabim, the mir-
acle of the oil that lasted eight days and, of course, the latkes and, in Israel, the sufganiot (doughnuts)—surely the Chanukah festival is as good as any Hollywood epic! This year, Yoav was delighted to welcome Aaron Gorodzinsky direct from the Lehigh Valley and his mother, who arrived just in time to join the Partnership Chanukah party and to light the candles with us as they "came home to Yoav.” All across Yoav, on every water tower, the Chanukiot shone brightly carrying with them their very clear message: "We are here!" And in every community, Chanukah was celebrated with candlelight parades, lit-up slogans, dancing and singing. Taglit (Birthright) is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year, and indeed, there is much to celebrate. Taglit was begun by a group of Canadian philanthropists who believed it was the birthright of every young Jew to visit Israel. There were some arguments as to whether the youngsters should contribute to the costs, but it was decided that this would cancel out those who could not afford it. In the beginning, only those young adults (college age) who had never visited Israel before would be allowed to take part, but over the years, the interviewers turned a blind eye to this condition. Adding young Israeli soldiers to each busload was a stroke of genius, and today many of the Birthright participants live
in Israel, and at the very least, are strong ambassadors for Israel in their home countries. Not for the first time, Yoav welcomed a group of 25 young Jews from Muhlenberg College who visited Kibbutz Revadim, including the senior citizens clubhouse where they received doughnuts and handmade hats—a good combination! Last summer saw the first joint group of Momentum ladies from the Lehigh Valley and Yoav traveling together throughout Israel after two days of hosting in Yoav. This really is the chance of a lifetime, and last year was so successful that as soon as the advertising went out, the ap-
plications started flooding in! The rains have begun here – always an occasion for rejoicing, but, sadly, this weekend the rains caused serious flooding, especially in Tel Aviv, which simply wasn't ready for the deluge. On the other hand, the kibbutzim and moshavim of Yoav were delighted at rainfalls of even 100 mm in Kibbutz Negba, which held the record last week. These last few days were a little tense following the American military action in Iran. Will it affect Israel? Will Iran respond? I'm sure these are questions being asked in both the U.S. and Israel especially. Time will tell. And how can I not men-
tion our elections, as this will be the third in the last year? We Israelis tend to be rather indifferent, though we do know they are very important. One thing is sure, this is a great year for political jokes! As a great poet once wrote, "If winter comes, can spring be far behind?" And though it is very cold right now, the buds are appearing on the trees, and soon the almond trees will blossom and the hills will be filled with a riot of color. We invite you to come and see for yourselves! To all our friends and family in the Lehigh Valley, we wish you a wonderful 2020 with health and humor and happiness.
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Staged reading of ‘Irena’s Vow’ brings Broadway drama to the Lehigh Valley By Beverly Volk Congregation Keneseth Israel On Feb. 22, Congregation Keneseth Israel and Temple Beth El will present a staged reading of the Broadway play, “Irena’s Vow.” The play, written by Dan Gordon, Israeli-American playwright/TV screenwriter/director, recounts the incredible and dramatic true story of Irena Gut, a 19-year-old Polish nursing student who vows to save 12 Jewish lives during the Holocaust. After escaping imprisonment during the Russian Army invasion of Poland, Irena is captured by the German invasion force in a sweep for slave laborers. She is sent to work in a laundry, but later promoted to housekeeper for Wehrmacht army major, Eduard Rugemer, a prominent officer with an explosive temper. When she learns of the German plans to exterminate Polish Jews, she hides 12 of her former co-workers in the basement of Rugemer’s house, despite knowing that the German penalty for hiding Jews is death. She convinces Major Rugemer that she can prepare meals and care for his house on her own, without additional household help. During the day, when he is at work, the hidden Jews help her with all of the household chores, and slip away to the basement when he is due to return. In an amazing act of courage and chutzpah, the Jews help Irena to put on a
dinner party for German Army officers, without being detected. With the German occupation of Poland as the historic backdrop, the story details the humanity, faith and the awesome courage of one young woman in the face of overwhelming evil. How Irena manages the situational problems, and the heartrendingly difficult choices she makes to keep her friends alive and safe, make this production a not-to-be missed event. The staged reading will be directed by Charles Richter, Muhlenberg College theatre director, and the roles will be played by seasoned community actors and Muhlenberg College theatre majors. Following the performance, Jeannie Opdyke Smith, real-life daughter of Irene Gut Opdyke, Righteous Among the Nations, will answer questions about her mother and the play. Smith, who is Irene Gut Opdyke’s only child, comes to us from the state of Washington, where she resides with her husband, Gary. Smith describes herself as a wife, mother, grandmother of five, and together with husband Gary, the foster parent of over 60 children! Smith says she is a “happy, content introvert” who never EVER thought of doing any public speaking. That changed when she was asked to do on-stage question and answer sessions after each Broadway performance of “Irena’s Vow.” She says that, as her mother’s only child, the task of telling
her mother’s story was too important for her to refuse, and she learned to master her stage fright. Jeannie has been telling her mother’s inspiring story for the past 15 years, all over the United States, Canada and Europe, to the heartfelt appreciation and gratitude of her thousands of listeners. Jeannie is a member of the Oregon and Washington Holocaust Speakers Bureau and an International Speaker for the Jewish Federations of North America. We are very honored and privileged to have her with us for this event! Smith will also present a brunch program on Sunday morning, Feb. 23, at Temple Beth El for youth of high school age and above. For additional information, please contact Temple Beth El. Additional sponsors for “Irena’s Vow” are the Institute for JewishChristian Understanding (IJCU) of Muhlenberg College, the Dr. Ray and Bonnie Singer Community Education Fund and Dr. and Mrs. Stephen Volk. Dessert and coffee will be served following the performance. The cost of the program is $20 for adults in advance, and $25 at the door. Student tickets are $5. The performance will take place at Congregation Keneseth Israel, 2227 Chew Street, Allentown, PA, at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 22. Tickets are available via Congregation Keneseth Israel at 610435-9074 or kilv.org or Temple Beth El at 610-435-3521 or bethelallentown.org.
Q&A post performance with Jeannie Smith, Irena’s daughter
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24 FEBRUARY 2020 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
KI makes a promise to help families in need – and delivers
Linda, Libi, Eva, Lu, Shayla & Leeyah Martinez, with Maria Pursel preparing one night’s dinner during Family Promise week at KI.
Brith Sholom celebrates Sam Guncler for 50 Years of service
By Martina Obenski Congregation Keneseth Israel Last summer, I read a passage in a book that said, like it or not as humans we are all connected—“you can no more separate one life from another than you can separate a breeze from the wind.” The book went on to opine that lately it seems that our ideologies are dividing us and unraveling those tenuous bonds that link us together. Yet the author believed that regardless of the barriers we build or the different opinions we hold, we all share one thing—we breathe. B’kol l’vavecha – with all of my heart – I feel how sad it is that as many of us have so much, some are mired in a cycle of situational poverty
often not of their own making. The homeless population of the Lehigh Valley is ever expanding, and at last count approximately 900 children were deemed homeless. So last Rosh Hashanah, I asked our congregants to help me with a special project, one that would assist some of those Lehigh Valley children and their families. To do this, Congregation Keneseth Israel partnered with Family Promise® of the Lehigh Valley. This interfaith national nonprofit organization arranges congregations and social agencies into volunteer coalitions that service at-risk families. The Family Promise affiliate in the Lehigh Valley, located on Hamilton Street, is managed by a full-time program director. During the day, residents use the site for hygiene, laundering and care of pre-school children. Keeping families together is the main point; however, this model allows for case management services necessary for an address, employment, transportation and food. The ultimate goal, though, is to enable these families to transition to sustainable housing and financial security within a short time frame. At night, the families are transported to the host congregation, where volunteers prepare and serve the evening meal and stay overnight for support as well as arranging for the next day’s breakfast and lunch. Our first hosting was in December 2019. As we prepared to welcome three
families to our synagogue, I was overwhelmed with the number of KI members, and non-members, who offered to assist with everything from collecting supplies and making meals to camping out in the Youth Lounge overnight. Breaking down stereotypes was a major takeaway for many of the participants. One congregant noted, “As we sat around having dinner with these individuals, we laughed, we cried and we learned so much from one another.” Another said, “Their desperate need for a safe place to sleep and meals to stave off hunger are the result of them being victims of circumstances beyond their control. KI’s participation in this program may be the most powerful mitzvah we have ever done.” Our guests were equally touched by the warm and welcoming reception they received each and every night. A single mom with her 5-year-old child said she felt like she was part of a big family and was so appreciative for all we did for her during the week. An unknown source once said, “If you want to touch the past, touch a rock. If you want to touch the present, touch a flower. And if you want to touch the future, touch a life.” That is exactly what 39 individuals at Congregation Keneseth Israel did over Christmas week this year— they touched the lives of three homeless families. We are all looking forward to our next hosting March 29 to April 5.
By Ron Ticho Congregation Brith Sholom Strong communities are often bound by a common thread. At Congregation Brith Sholom, that thread has been the manner in which the congregation has been led in prayer. A shaliach tzibur, or “messenger of the community,” refers to the individual who leads services in a synagogue. According to the Shulchan Aruch (our Code of Jewish Law), the shaliach tzibur must be one who is “fit” – that is, free of sin, possessing a good reputation, humble, acceptable to the community, skilled at chanting and who is well versed in sacred texts. Congregation Brith Sholom has been fortunate to have someone who meets all the criteria and has been serving in that role for many years. This past high holiday marked the 50th anniversary for Sam Guncler leading Congregation Brith Sholom’s high holiday services. Guncler became a Bar Mitzvah at Brith Sholom in 1968 and was asked to lead Shacharit services for Rosh Hoshanah in 1969. Since that time, he has led the Congrega-
tion as its hazan for Shabbat and holiday services, and has done so in a manner that has enabled congregants to participate in services in a very meaningful and special way. Congregation Brith Sholom invites the community to join with them in celebrating this milestone with events taking place on Shabbat Zachor, March 6-7, to honor Guncler. Events include a special Friday evening service and Shabbat dinner, Shabbat services and a kiddush on Saturday in honor of Guncler, and a special celebration reception on Saturday evening. For more information, go to www.brithsholom.net/celebratingsam or contact the synagogue office at 610-866-8009. HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 25
BBG keeps busy kicking off the new decade
New leadership and initiatives for AZA
By Marla Stein BBG
By Jake Wiener AZA
Hi there, members of the Jewish community! My name is Marla Stein, and I am a part of Allentown Danielle Goren BBG #1188. I am on the board as mazkirah, the vice president of communications. Allentown Danielle Goren BBG is off to a great start this decade, and I am going to be telling you all about Allentown the events in January! On Jan. 7, we had a Happy New BBG Chapter Dinner at Wegmans. It was great to reconnect with friends after the holiday break and to come up with some great ideas for the coming year! And on Jan. 12, BBG had a chapter kickoff. Every year, chapters around the world host kickoffs for the new year of BBYO. In Allentown, we had so much fun painting at Paint Some Pottery. Girls painted everything from jars to jellyfish to spoons as gifts or to keep. It was a fun way to hang out with friends and to be creative. We followed it up with the Liberty Region’s Kickoff on Jan. 19, and that was also a blast. This event took place at Laserdome from 6 to 8 pm. Allentown Danielle Goren BBG has a lot coming up this new decade, so stay tuned! If you have any questions or concerns, please email me at email@example.com for more information.
Allentown AZA has had the chance to take advantage of several new opportunities this year. From starting a concession stand at the JCC during basketball games on Sundays to gaining new members and advisors, our organization has certainly made some new changes for the better, starting off with our new advisor, Ben Selzer. Ben moved here from Indiana and is currently working at the Hillel at Muhlenberg College. Ben has been a great addition to our organization, and with his experience working in a Jewish organization, he will be able to offer AZA many opportunities to stay connected with the Jewish community in the future. We are all very excited to welcome Ben to our group and cannot wait to see what the future holds. With the help of the JCC staff, Allentown AZA was able to start the concession stand, which will be open during basketball games on Sundays at the JCC. Attendees will be able to purchase snacks, candy, drinks, and more while they watch the basketball games. The stands will be manned by members of Allentown AZA. We believe that this is a great way not only to offer food and drink to the parents and kids watching, but also for our chapter to stay connected with the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley. Stay tuned for upcoming news and events, you do not want to miss out! If you have any questions regarding upcoming events or about signing up for BBYO, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or jakewiener26@ gmail.com.
Jewish astronomer becomes first woman to have US observatory named after her Jewish News Syndicate
Sponsored by 100.7 WLEV and Lehigh Valley Reilly Children ‘s Hospital
453 Northampton St., Easton, PA www.statetheatre.org 610-252-3132 1-800-999-STATE
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AMERICAN MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY
Fri., March 6 - 6:30 PM - $49/$39 VIP Package $125
The National Science Foundation announced earlier this month that the first national U.S. observatory to be named after a female astronomer will honor Jewish scientist Vera Rubin. The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope in Cerro Pachón, Chile, will be renamed the NSF Vera C. Rubin Observatory. Science operations at the facility will begin in 2020. Rubin, who died in 2016 at the age of 88, is most well-known for discovering evidence of dark matter. The observatory renaming recognizes her role in better understanding dark matter and the study of dark energy will be one of the facility’s main research topics, along with taking an inventory of the solar system, exploring the transient optical sky and mapping the Milky Way. Paul Dabbar, Department of Energy undersecretary for science, said Rubin’s life achievements as a scientist
Vera Rubin “remain a model for all those seeking to satisfy humanity’s unceasing curiosity about our universe.” “We are deeply honored to have the observatory named after Vera Rubin,” said Steve Kahn, director of the Rubin Observatory. “Through her discovery of dark matter, Vera made one of the most important contributions to science in the past century— not only for astronomy, but also for fundamental physics. When construction is com-
pleted, the Rubin Observatory will build on her pioneering work to dramatically improve our understanding of the universe on many different scales.” Rubin received numerous honors during her life, such as the National Medal of Science, and was a vocal advocate for women’s rights in the sciences. She is also recognized for paving the way for other women in astronomy after she faced gender bias at the start of her career.
GIVE A MITZVAH, DO A MITZVAH
Special program helps integrate those with special needs into IDF Nearly everyone faces hardships and difficulties at one time or another. But for people with disabilities, the barriers and life challenges can be far more frequent and have far greater impact. Nowhere might this hit home more so than in Israel, where about one of every five Jewish Israelis lives with a disability. This translates to more than 1 million children and adults of working age. This reality is just one reason why Shira Bach, a 6th-grade student at the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh
Valley, has embraced an upand-coming initiative called Special in Uniform – an innovative program that integrates Israeli youth with mental and physical disabilities into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and helps prepare them for careers following Army service. The program – sponsored by the Jewish National Fund – was founded to give everyone a right to fulfill their potential and be accepted into society, regardless of any disability. Special in Uniform goes beyond the walls of IDF bases,
BOOK REVIEW: ‘Under My Hat: How Orthodox Women Are Shaping the Future of Judaism’
By Sean Boyle JDS Librarian Sally Berkovic’s memoir, “Under My Hat: How Orthodox Women Are Shaping the Future of Judaism,” was written for her two young daughters while pregnant with her third daughter. Berkovic lost her mother at age 19, and was unable to ask her many questions about her Jewish faith as an adult woman and did not want to leave her children the same missing pieces. Originally published in 1997 in the UK, this edition contains the original text with a 67-page essay that revisits her topics with updates from the last 22 years. Berkovic is originally from Melbourne, Australia, and is the daughter of Slovakian Holocaust survivors. After graduating from Melbourne University and working as a social worker for over 10 years, she spent numerous years studying and working in NYC and Jerusalem before finally marrying and settling in London. Her writing is peppered with examples of Orthodox practices and issues from all four locations and is
well-researched with footnotes and a bibliography included. Although Berkovic grew up practicing many Orthodox traditions, she spent her early adulthood formally learning Orthodoxy practices as a ba’al teshuvah student and then took formal courses studying the original texts of the Mishnah, Talmud, Midrash and other Halachic literature. Berkovic was not satisfied with just knowing how to perform the Orthodox traditions and rituals. She also wanted to know the rationale behind them. Berkovic covers the topics of saying Kaddish, dating as an adult, the marriage ceremony with the decision on how to cover her hair, the role of being a mother, the issue of agunot, benefits of mikvah, religious education and modesty. When asked why she remains Orthodox in the 21st century, Berkovic states that she “reflects on raising daughters while straddling the tensions between Orthodoxy and modernity as it impacts on women.” Although it would be “easier” to join a denomination that doesn’t struggle with these tensions, she stays because of the belief that there is a way to preserve Orthodoxy while accommodating women’s needs within it. Highly recommended for ages 14-120, with special interest to those wanting to learn about the influences of women in Modern Orthodoxy traditions. A copy of “Under My Hat” is available at the Jewish Day School Library.
helping its graduates integrate meaningfully into the workforce and Israeli society. Shira explained that young Israelis with disabilities face significant barriers to fully integrate into Israeli life. “Serving in the Army is such an integral part of Israeli life,” Shira said. “It’s a duty, but it’s also a privilege. And if you have a disability or live with a significant limitation in functioning, it’s easy to become disconnected and excluded from the mainstream.” The program provides those who serve with valuable professional and social life skills. After an initial assessment, participants attend a 3-month life skills and occupational training program to help them integrate into their bases and function independently. They also complete a military training course before being assigned to bases across Israel. “I chose this project because it really touched me. I have family members who have served and are serving in the Army. And I also have family and friends who live with disabilities. So, in a sense, this project marries two ‘worlds’ that are both important to me,” Shira said. Roughly 15% of the world’s population lives with a significant disability, and it’s well-documented that those impacted often feel excluded from society. Shira pointed out that Special in Uniform aims to facilitate a
broad change in this regard by enabling those with disabilities to live as contributing citizens of the world with the same rights and dignities we all have, rather than as objects of charity. “Those who are considered physically or mentally challenged deserve, need and want the chance to fully participate in their community and to contribute in their own way, like everyone else,” said Shira. Lt. Col. Tiran Attia, director of the Special in Uniform program, is excited by the program’s growth, noting that 22 Israeli bases currently have Special in Uniform units. Attia said, “Special in Uniform is having a ripple effect. These soldiers’ families are positively influenced, their neighbors see the abilities and capabilities of these soldiers, and eventually, that ripple widens out and touches everyone in Israeli society.” Shira’s parents, Carmit and David Bach, are very proud of their daughter. “Shira found Special in Uniform completely on her own, and when she approached us with the idea, she had already developed a 20-page proposal to sell us on it. I think it speaks volumes to her commitment and to how much this program touches her,” David said. “We’re really proud of Shira in supporting such an effort. It’s a phenomenal initiative, and it really highlights another
amazing example of the exceptional spirit of acceptance and compassion in Israel.” Carmit added, “We know the Israeli Army is the ‘people’s Army’ for the land of Israel. And thanks to this program, when we say ‘people,’ we are including all sectors of Israeli society – including those with disabilities. It’s a beautiful idea.” Shira will be celebrating her bat mitzvah, B”H, on Sunday, March 22. If you would like to join Shira in supporting Special in Uniform, please visit support.jnf.org/goto/ shira. In addition to her mitzvah project, Shira has made her first adult gift of tzedakah to the JFLV’s Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. For help developing your mitzvah project, contact Abby Trachtman, project coordinator, at email@example.com, or call her at the Federation office at 610-821-5500.
Under My Hat: How Orthodox Women are Shaping the Future of Judaism (Berkovic, Sally, New York, Ktav Publishing House, 2019, 327p.) HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 27
BECK ARCHIVES, SPECIAL COLLECTIONS, UNIVERSITY OF DENVER LIBRARIES
The almost forgotten Jews who helped make the American West
Robert Lazar Miller on horseback with his grandson at the Denver Stockyards, 1932.
By Adi Eshman Jewish Telegraphic Agency A new documentary about the Wild West covers everything you would expect – gunslingers, cattle barons, lawmen and wide-open spaces. And one thing you wouldn’t: Jews. “Jews of the Wild West,” from director Amanda Kinsey, shows how Jews were as much a part of the American Western expansion as covered wagons and riveted blue jeans — the latter, of course, invented by a Jew. Kinsey said their stories resonate because America’s true history is diverse, and immigrants have always played an important role. These particular stories of Jewish pioneers who helped settle the West show how integral immigrants were in building the America that we know today, she says. “Their stories were sidelined for social, political and economic reasons,” Kinsey said on Dec. 16 at a panel discussion at the Center for Jewish History in New York. “But they were visionaries who saw opportunity, who were rooted in family and tradition.” So how did Jews from the shtetls of Europe end up becoming pioneers on the frontier? If there’s one man to thank for that, it was Jacob Schiff. After the Civil War, a huge influx of Jews arrived at Ellis Island. They settled on the Lower East Side, started businesses and formed families. But Schiff was worried. If Jews spoke Yiddish all day and never encountered Americans, how could they integrate? So Schiff started an organization, the Jewish Industrial Removal Office. If you were a Jewish immigrant, and you were sick
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of living in crowded, filthy tenements, the office would resettle you with a Jewish family out west. Over 75,000 Jews would eventually take up the offer. Not being satisfied with relocating Jews from the East Coast, Schiff also established a port of entry into the United States through Galveston, Texas. Schiff believed Jewish immigrants could take on the challenge of assimilating. “Being American is what you feel on the inside,” he said. Jews spread throughout the United States, taking risks to seek opportunity as the nation pushed westward. In many ways, their stories are interwoven into the fabric of how the West is understood and romanticized. Take Josephine Marcus. The daughter of Polish immigrants, Marcus was born in San Francisco and ran away from home at 18 to become an actress. She then met the legendary Arizona lawman Wyatt Earp and was captivated by his broad shoulders, blonde hair and blue eyes. It was love at first sight. Marcus became his common-law wife for over 40 years. After Earp died, she buried him alongside her parents in a Jewish cemetery outside Colma, California. “We don’t know if Wyatt Earp went to temple,” Ann Kirschner, the author of “The Lady at the OK Corral,” said at the panel discussion. “But we know he went at least once.” Or take the Miller brothers, whose entrepreneurial spirit was emblematic of the ethos many Jews brought with them to the Old West. After migrating from modern-day Lithuania, the brothers started a butcher shop in Denver. After being robbed, they sought work in the stockyards, which were similar to the Wall Street stock exchange except traders speculated on heads of cattle rather than corporate shares. “Also,” Kinsey said, “they conducted their business on horseback.” The Millers would come to accumulate over 100,000 heads of cattle. After a handshake agreement, cowboys would accompany their herds to the vast tracks of land the brothers had purchased in Wyoming and Colorado, keeping the cattle safe from coyotes, rustlers and bandits along the way. But the most prominent story of Jewish success in the West was that of Levi
Strauss. The Bavaria native became a leader of San Francisco’s Jewish community in the 1800s. Tailor Jacob Davis approached Strauss with the innovative idea of putting rivets in pants, resulting in less wear-and-tear. And so Levi’s, one of the most iconic American brands, was born. Less well-known is the story of Ray Frank, a Hebrew teacher and journalist born in San Francisco in 1860. During Rosh Hashanah one year, Frank was invited to speak in Spokane, Washington. When she arrived, she discovered that a rift between the city’s Orthodox and Reform Jews meant that there weren’t enough Jews to form a prayer quorum, or minyan. Frank wound up brokering an agreement and then gave a fiery sermon to the community, admonishing them for ignoring their tradition. Frank became a traveling speaker who was covered widely by the press. “They called her the Deborah of the American West,” said Annie Polland, executive director of the American Jewish Historical Society. “My favorite headline was one that called her ‘The Heart Throb of Israel.’” Frank was the first woman to speak on the pulpit in America — and perhaps the first in the world. The myths and legends of the Wild West remain in wide circulation in America. Just last year, the Coen Brothers released “The Ballad of Buster Scruggs,” an anthology of short films set on the Western frontier. Around the same time, Rockstar Games released “Red Dead Redemption 2,” which lets players experience the world through the eyes of a grizzled outlaw. The video game had the largest opening weekend in entertainment history, grossing over $725 million in just three days. But as Kinsey notes, the stories of Jews in the Wild West have often been marginalized or erased. She believes it’s important to publicize these narratives because they shape how we see our past. “These are also positive immigration stories,” she said. “They put a face to immigration. They help humanize it and show what happened through dedication, hard work and survival.” “Jews of the Wild West” is slated for release in 2020.
The ultimate babka for Tu B’Shevat
The Nosher A one-of-a-kind dessert featuring all seven species. INGREDIENTS For the dough: 1 Tbsp. dry active yeast 1/2 tsp. sugar 1/2 cup lukewarm water 3 1/2 – 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1/2 cup barley flour 1/3 cup sugar 1 tsp. vanilla 1 tsp. cinnamon 1/2 cup milk or almond milk 3/4 cup olive oil 2 eggs For the filling: 1 cup dried figs, cut in half 1 cup pitted dates 1 cup water 1/2 cup wine or grape juice 1 Tbsp. pomegranate molasses 1/4 tsp. salt 1 tsp. cinnamon
For the topping (optional): date honey (silan) slivered almonds DIRECTIONS Place yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Add lukewarm water and set aside until foamy, around 5-10 minutes. In a stand mixer fitted with dough hook or a large bowl, mix together flours, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. Start with 3 1/2 cups of flour, and add more later if dough seems too sticky. Add milk and olive oil. Add the eggs one at a time. When the dough begins to come together, after about 3-5 minutes, turn out onto a floured surface and knead vigorously for 5-10 minutes. Or if using a stand mixer, switch to high and mix another 4-5 minutes. Dough should be shiny, elastic and very soft when it is done. If dough is sticking too much,
add more flour 1/4 cup at a time until dough is no longer sticking. Place dough in a greased bowl with a damp towel on top. Allow to 1-2 hours. While dough is rising, make filling. Combine all filling ingredient in a saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, then reduce for 10 minutes, until liquid has reduced to slightly more than half. Allow to cool slightly. Place in food processor and pulse. (Note: you can also replace filling with store-bought fig jam.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut dough into two parts. Roll out each section of dough until it is a rectangular-like shape. Spread with filling. Working from the shorter side, roll up dough using quick fingers, like you would in order to make cinnamon rolls. Once the dough is a long log, cut it straight down the middle so the filling is exposed. Secure the ends on one side, and twist both the pieces. Pinch and secure at the other end. Place in a greased loaf pan. Allow to rise another 10-20 minutes. Sprinkle top with slivered almonds if desired (this step is optional). Bake for 30-35 minutes. Top with date honey if desired.
NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
Trailblazing book by Jewish author Ezra Jack Keats is most checked-out book ever at New York Public Library
"The Snowy Day" is credited with breaking the diversity barrier in children's publishing. By Penny Schwartz Jewish Telegraphic Agency A trailblazing children’s book by a Jewish author is the most checked-out book of all time at the New York Public Library. “The Snowy Day” by writer and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats has been checked out of the library 485,583 times, according to a list of the 10 most checked-out books released by the library on Jan. 13 in honor of its 125th anniversary. Published in 1962, “The
Snowy Day” tells the story of a young boy named Peter who experiences the magic of freshly fallen snow in the streets of his urban neighborhood. It was among the first mainstream illustrated children’s books to feature an African-American child and is credited with breaking the diversity barrier in children’s publishing. The book won the 1963 Randolph Caldecott Medal, an annual prize recognizing the year’s best illustrated book for children.
FREEDOM of movement
Its success is due in part to its universal appeal, according to Andrew Medlar, a member of the library team that compiled the list. “At the end of the day, though, it’s all about the story and it is absolutely brilliantly told,” Medlar said in a news release. Born Jacob Ezra Katz in Brooklyn to Polish Jewish immigrants, Keats was a largely self-taught artist. His work was featured in a 2011 exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York. In 2017, some of the iconic illustrations from “The Snowy Day” were featured on stamps issued by the U.S. Postal Service. The other Jewish author on the list is Maurice Sendak, whose “Where the Wild Things Are” was No. 4. The others in the top 5 are “The Cat in the Hat,” by Dr. Seuss; “1984,” by George Orwell; and “To Kill a Mockingbird,” by Harper Lee. The library is offering a special limited-edition “The Snowy Day” library card and the New York City transit system is also issuing a special edition of its Metro card. HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | FEBRUARY 2020 29
The Jewish newspaper of the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.