HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY 40th ANNIVERSARY
The Voice of the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community
APRIL 2017 | NISAN/IYYAR 5777
Lehigh Valley delegation joins thousands to rally against hate in Philadelphia
Learn about the upcoming Yom HaShoah program on page 6.
Take a look at Purim photos from around the community on pages 28-29.
By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Marketing More than 40 representatives from the Lehigh Valley, including a large contingent of middle school students from the Jewish Day School, joined with thousands of others on Inde-
No. 397 com.UNITY with Mark Goldstein 2 Women’s Division
Jewish Day School
15 18-19 20
Rally against hate Continues on page 16
Israel ended its Cinderella run at the World Baseball Classic after losing to Japan’s national team at home in Tokyo. More than 40,000 fans packed the Tokyo Dome on March 15 to cheer the home team to an 8-3 victory over Israel. Non-Profit Organization
702 North 22nd Street Allentown, PA 18104
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The game remained scoreless until the sixth inning, when Japan scored five runs. Israel won its first game in the second round of the quadrennial tournament against Cuba by a score of 4-1, and then dropped a rematch with the Netherlands, 12-2. Israel was the lowestranked team to qualify for the showcase tournament, coming in at 41st in the world. But last week in the first round, the Israelis squeaked past third-ranked South Korea, 2-1, in extra innings, outscored fourthranked Taiwan, 15-7, and defeated ninth-ranked the Netherlands, 4-2, to finish first in Pool A with a 3-0 record. This is the first year that Israel has qualified for the
MATT ROBERTS/GETTY IMAGES
Jewish Community Center
Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney. “This kind of hatred, this kind of
Israel ends run at World Baseball Classic after losing to Japan
Don’t miss our special Passover section with crafts, recipes and more.
Jewish Family Service
pendence Mall on March 2 to stand up against hate. The rally was held in response to the recent vandalism at a Jewish cemetery outside Philadelphia and the bomb threats that have terrorized Jewish community centers and other Jewish institutions. Speakers at the rally included
Team Israel players seen in the dugout prior to a World Baseball Classic game against Japan in Tokyo, March 15, 2017. tournament. In 2012, its inaugural WBC squad narrowly missed advancing past the qualifiers. Most of the players are American Jews, among them several former major leaguers. WBC rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on its team. Jews and
their grandchildren, and the grandchildren’s spouses, have the right to become Israeli citizens. The team appeared on the field at each game for the national anthem of Israel, Hatikvah, with matching blue kippot. The team mascot was a life-sized stuffed Mensch on a Bench.
FROM THE DESK OF MARK L. GOLDSTEIN
Executive Director | Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley email@example.com
Free can really be free. Really! When I was young, my father took us on a “free” vacation. That is, until he had to sit through a three-hour seminar on purchasing property at the resort and then the family climbed into the salesman’s station wagon (remember those?) to tour the development and available lots. Or what about that free software you downloaded whose screen is cluttered by streaming advertisements that you cannot stop? The menswear store I frequent is known for their BOGO (buyone-get-one) offers. But the second one is not really free; I never purchase from them at full price to begin with, it’s simply just a 50-percent-off discount for each. We all know that free is not always free culturally (e.g. “you get what you pay for…”) and we are conditioned to believe that free is bad, or that free is something less desirable or less valuable. Well, that’s not always true. And here’s the proof text: You can make a contribution for educational scholarships and it will cost you nothing, or in some cases just pennies on the dollar. The PA Educational Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) allows you to convert your state tax liability to a charitable dona-
tion for less than a nickel on the dollar and in most cases for nothing. Free! The only catch: you must apply for the tax credit. Pennsylvania has created a simple online application process for these tax credits. It will take no more than a few minutes and the benefit is available to Pennsylvania tax-paying businesses, including C-Corporations, S-Corporations, Single and Multi-Member LLCs, and LLPs. That’s it. In 2001 the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, by overwhelming bi-partisan support, established the EITC program that enables businesses, including individuals with pass-through business tax liability, to claim tax credits against their tax liability for scholarship contributions made to state-certified scholarship organizations. The scholarships benefit lower income families, providing them with more choices of educational providers. In the Lehigh Valley, the Jewish Federation is a stateapproved scholarship organization and we directly benefit qualified students at the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Day School. The program is so simple it makes people think it is not
real. Businesses, including S-Corp shareholders or partners in a general or limited partnership, simply submit a short online application to the PA Department of Community and Economic Development. The business (or individual for pass-through entities) makes the contribution to the Federation within 60 days of receiving the approval from the state. Then, they claim the tax credit for the tax year in which the contribution was made. The state tax credits can be as high as 100 percent, but typically it is 90 percent. And when factoring in the federal tax deduction for charitable contributions, the net cost might be nothing (free) or perhaps up to a mere 4.5 cents on the dollar, or only $450 for a $10,000 contribution. The Federation awards the scholarships to low-income families who meet the state’s household income criteria. More information, sample calculations and application information can be found at www.jewishlehighvalley.org/ eitc. Let’s get back to the catch. Each year, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania budgets a certain amount of funds for the EITC program. Applications for the tax credits are accepted beginning on
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Readers, Passover has always been my favorite Jewish holiday. Yes, there’s the need to clean the house, the long hours spent in preparation for the seders and the appalling lack of all my favorite foods. But in exchange for these inconveniences, I always received so much more. Every Passover, starting with my first, I went over to my Nana’s house and we made charoset together, her hands over mine as I chopped the nuts and mixed the wine. We sat down together with old Maxwell House haggadahs and spent the night laughing over interesting translations (Rabbi José the Galilean almost brings us to tears) while reciting the age-old story. Seders mean the four of us – Mom, Dad, Nana and I – singing, laughing, remember-
ing. Seders mean every quirky tradition we’ve ever come up with, from maror bitterness competitions to the somehow increasingly long time it takes me to find the afikomen. It was no surprise, when I had to write a poem about a family tradition in college, that I wrote about Passover. That year was the first time I was not at home for the seder, but I ensured I would still be able to participate. A computer replaced me at Nana’s table, and I Skyped in from my dorm room with a makeshift seder plate made with supplies I sneaked out from Colgate’s dining hall. This was the first of many Skype seders I participated in – happily, but with regrets. On other holidays, I was content to be away from home, but Passover, to me, was always so much more than a holiday. It was a time to come together as a
pennies on the dollar. With the EITC program you can convert your state tax liability, something you are already paying, to a charitable contribution to the Jewish Federation for the direct benefit of lower income families at the JCC and the JDS. You will feel great having accomplished something for (virtually) nothing and can join me in the happy walk!
HAKOL STAFF Stephanie Smartschan
JFLV Director of Marketing
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 Diane McKee
Advertising Representative TEL: 610-515-1391 firstname.lastname@example.org
JFLV EXECUTIVE STAFF Mark L. Goldstein Executive Director
Assistant Executive Director
Director of Finance & Administration
Director of Planned Giving & Endowments
Director of Outreach & Community Relations
Mark H. Scoblionko JFLV President
Monica Friess, Acting Chair Barbara Reisner Judith Rodwin Sara Vigneri
Member American Jewish Press Association
family, even with all the inconveniences (now including faulty microphones and bad Internet connections). But even with all of that, Passover is home. This year, as I sojourn to Georgia for my first Passover seder at home in five years, I wish all of you a meaningful Passover filled with all your beautiful traditions. Shalom, Michelle Cohen
JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY We gratefully acknowledge those individuals who have offered expressions of friendship by requesting that trees be planted in the Yoav--Lehigh Valley Partnership Park. IN HONOR AMY BORN AND ALEX PASCAL Birth of their daughter, Abigail Born Pascal Roberto and Eileen Fischmann ROSS AND WENDY BORN Birth of their granddaughter, Abigail Born Pascal Roberto and Eileen Fischamann
TO ORDER TREES, call the JFLV at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org. 2 APRIL 2017 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
July 1 – early applications are not accepted and applications are processed on first-come, first-served basis until the budgeted credits are reserved. Because of the popularity of the program, the credits usually go fast and are exhausted within a few days of the July 1 opening day. If you are interested, or know someone (or a business) that might be interested, please call me as soon as possible. More information is on our website. Your accountant can also substantiate how you can provide educational scholarships at the JDS and the JCC to low income families for virtually nothing. For me there is a spring in my step – my happy walk! – when I get a really good deal, including something that is actually free or only costs me
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
Eva Levitt nominated as next president of Jewish Federation By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Marketing After decades of involvement with the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley, Eva Levitt has been nominated to take on the role of president of the Jewish Federation. “It’s going to give me an opportunity to carry forth my ideas of what we can do to further help Jews in this community and around the world,” said Levitt, who has previously served as campaign chair and currently serves as Women’s Division president for the Federation. Namely, she would like to see the engagement of younger people in the community grow significantly, she said. “I always knew and believed in what Federation does for Jews in need and what Federation stands for, and I want to pass that on to the younger generation,” she said. Levitt has seen it both as a recipient and a supporter first-hand. She was born in Czechoslovakia and survived the Holocaust due to the kindness of Christians who hid Levitt and her mother while her father was interned at Auschwitz. At the age of 7, she emigrated to the United States and settled in New York with the help of HIAS. From then on, her family was always concerned with giving back, she said. A chance meeting in a hospital room brought Eva and her husband Larry to Allentown. At the time, Larry was a resident at Memorial Hospital in New York. He came home one day and told Eva about a patient whose husband spent every night sleeping in his wife’s room in a recliner and probably couldn’t afford a hotel. Invite him for dinner, Levitt said. It turned out that the man was Leonard Pool, the founder of Air Products and a principal benefactor who went on to spearhead the formation of Lehigh Valley Hospital. “My husband credits the building of Lehigh Valley Hospital to my chicken,” joked Levitt. “I wasn’t even a good cook then.” A friendship developed and Pool ultimately convinced Larry Levitt to start his neurology practice in Allentown in 1972. Eva Levitt started working part-time in her hus-
band’s practice, increasing her hours as the youngest of her three children increased her school day. Eventually she became the practice manager and did that for about 20 years. She then went on to consult in doctors’ offices, specializing in office management. “When I retired from that, I really put a lot more time into volunteering,” she said. She frequently accompanies her son Marc, a pediatric surgeon in Columbus, Ohio, on overseas trips to provide specialized surgeries in struggling communities. In advance of these trips, she collects items including medical supplies and stuffed animals to bring with her. Levitt rarely attends a meeting without bringing her knitting needles. She sells her pieces to raise money for food banks in Israel, the Neve Michael Youth Village and the local Jewish community. She has visited Israel upwards of 20 times, with many of these visits taking place on Federation missions where she has seen firsthand the impact of the dollars raised. On one such trip, the group was visiting a school when a rocket attack took place. As a result of that experience, Levitt helped to bring six of the students to Allentown for the summer. On a trip to Ukraine a couple of years ago, Levitt and her husband visited a 90-year-old woman who lived in a tenement that still had the bombing effects from World War II. The apartment had no running water and no window. Federation funds provided the woman with food boxes and a health care worker. “She said without the work of Federation, she would not be alive,” Levitt said. With these experiences in mind, Levitt has worked tirelessly over the years to raise money for the Federation’s Campaign for Jewish Needs. She is a past recipient of the Pomerantz Award for Campaign Excellence and the Jewish Federations of North America’s KipnisWilson/Friedland Award, given to Lions of Judah who have demonstrated the highest ideals of leadership and involvement. “Eva has a deep love for this organization and what it stands for and what it does,” said Iris Epstein, current campaign chair. “She has the experience and I know that she will be forward-thinking in taking this organization to the next level.” Levitt is also a past recipient of the Mortimer S. Schiff Award for Prejudice Reduction. She has lectured often
as a Holocaust survivor and participates annually in the Institute for Jewish-Christian Understanding’s prejudice reduction workshop at Muhlenberg College. As a longtime member of Congregation Sons of Israel, Levitt helped to create the Kinderlights program, a senior visitation initiative on pre-Shabbat afternoons. She currently serves on the board of the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley, where her children and grandchildren attended. She co-founded Tikvah House for special needs Jewish adults and volunteers in a local public school. “In addition to her philanthropy, Eva is always finding ways to help people,” said Mark L. Goldstein, executive director of the Federation. “She loves this community and will bring her unique vision to the position.” Mark H. Scoblionko, current Federation president, said he takes great pleasure in passing the baton to Levitt, his friend of more than 40 years. “We have chosen a new president who has been not only involved, but deeply committed, in every facet of Jewish life in our community and internationally,” Scoblionko said. “She has transcended her roots as a Holocaust survivor to doing good for everyone and everything she touches. Our Federation is blessed to have her as its next president.”
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2017 3
WOMEN’S DIVISION OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY
Learn to combat cancer and manage illness-related stress in an interactive workshop
By Michelle Cohen HAKOL Editor
SPONSORED BY THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY’S WOMEN’S DIVISION
welcoming new babies to the Lehigh Valley If you’re expecting, know someone who is, or have a new baby, PLEASE LET US KNOW! Contact Abby Trachtman, 610-821-5500 | email@example.com
A cancer diagnosis is no walk in the park – but many people think they can handle the diagnosis, treatment and aftermath on their own. But research says otherwise – it has been proven that to have the most success in combating cancer, we need to be strong physically, mentally and emotionally. To learn more about what helps make people strong so they can face cancer with confidence, join the Women's Division of the Jewish Federation and the Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley for an interactive Lunch & Learn on April 27 at 12 p.m. at the JCC of the Lehigh Valley. The lunch and learn, entitled “Facing Cancer with Confidence,” will feature Jen Sinclair, program director of the Cancer Support Community of the Greater Lehigh Valley. The organization, designed to “provide support, education and hope to anyone affected by cancer,” offers many free services to the community, including “a variety of programs, support groups, education programs and stress reduction,” Sinclair said. Unlike previous lunch and learns, this event will include several activities that participants will be able to choose from. From gentle exercises and healthy eating tips to different modes of creative expression, the mini workshops will enable participants to make positive changes in their lives, whether or not they have cancer. At the first station, which will be focused on nutrition, a dietitian will share information and prepare a simple recipe from “The Cancer Fighting Kitchen” by Rebecca Katz that focuses on utilizing foods with natural immuneboosting capabilities. For those affected by cancer, these foods can have a variety of posi-
tive effects: “[these foods] help with fatigue and side effects, and helps to arm them with what they need to fight against the disease and boost their immune system,” Sinclair said. The second station will review the benefits of yoga, meditation and light stretching, focusing on “empowering” exercises like learning how to “use the warrior pose, hold good posture, open your heart and face the day,” Sinclair said. “[The instructor] is going to tie in not only the fighting side, but also the be-kinder-to-yourself side. Sometimes we have a tough exterior because we have to, because we’re facing challenges, but having a tough exterior while also being gentle, kind and compassionate to yourself aids healing.” Finally, participants at the third station will do a brief yoga session followed by meditation and coloring a mandala with the help of an art therapist. Coloring the mandala with “an artistic representation of colors, themes and thoughts that came up for them in the meditation” can help people process their thoughts and feel “peaceful and inspired,” Sinclair said. This exercise can be beneficial for people with chronic pain, among other illnesses. Through these three stations, one theme runs clear: “Our goal for the day is to help revitalize and refresh and have fun as people are doing something good for their immune system, body and mind,” Sinclair said. Lisa Fraenkel, Lunch & Learn chair, added, “It seems that everyone has been touched by cancer in some way. Some have been affected themselves or have seen friends or family affected. Please join us for this important, informative program to learn strategies in coping with this disease.” Program is $12, including lunch, and is open to men and women. To register, call 610-821-5500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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
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WOMEN’S DIVISION OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY
Appraiser to value local heirlooms at spring event
Left, Stacey Winnick at a tag sale at the First Congregational Church, the largest tag sale in Westchester County. Right, items that Winnick helped appraise for the sale. By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Marketing You remember that blouse that Julia Roberts was wearing in the poster for “Mona Lisa Smile?” Stacey Winnick does. She bought it at a tag sale for $2.50. “I can’t really watch a movie anymore because every time I watch a movie, I’m looking at what people are wearing,” said Winnick, an appraiser, vintage fashion stylist, blogger and the featured speaker at this year’s Jewish Federation Women’s Division Spring Event on May 4. Specializing in vintage clothing and jewelry, Winnick’s pieces have also appeared in the movies “Titanic,” “Riding in Cars with Boys” and “Cider House Rules.” At a vintage sale once, Winnick met Patricia Fields, a
designer for the hit HBO TV show “Sex and the City.” “She came to my booth and ransacked my booth and just bought everything,” Winnick said Winnick’s passion for antiques and vintage began as a 10-year-old girl traveling around to tag sales with her mother, who owned a store in White Plains, New York, called “Auntie Mame.” She started her own career in fashion PR, but then sold her business to work with vintage clothing, jewelry and handbags and sell to TV and movies. She pursued her appraisal certificate and started one of the most popular Facebook sales groups for luxury items, Chappaqua Moms Sales. The group has nearly 7,000 members and nearly 2,000 on the waiting list. These days, after 25 years in
the business, Winnick can be more selective about the work she pursues. She helps set prices for church and synagogue tag sales, including at her own synagogue, Congregation Kol Ami in White Plains. She blogs on her Facebook page, helps sell some luxury items and is called in for appraisals frequently. “I love when I go into someone’s house and I can help them find their treasures,” she said. “There’s such joy in that and putting a smile on someone’s face that they’re going to be able to sell something and make money.” It’s that talent that Winnick will bring to the Lehigh Valley. At the spring event, she will give an oral appraisal of some special antiques from local families and help the items’ owners
tell their stories. The Women’s Division Spring Event, “Heirlooms from the Heart,” will be held on Thursday, May 4, at 6:30 p.m. at the St.
Luke’s Center in Allentown. A minimum gift of $365 to the 2017 Campaign for Jewish Needs is required to attend. To learn more or register, visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org/women.
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Stories from Cologne, Germany to be shared on Yom HaShoah
Rudolf Romberg’s passport By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Marketing Rudolf Romberg, a long-time Allentown area resident, was born in Cologne, Germany, in 1923. As a teenage boy, he learned woodcraft – furniture making – which he studied at a Jewish trade school until the Nazis closed the Jewish schools. He witnessed the rise of the Nazis, during which he was prohibited from continuing his education or from holding a job. He and his family lived through Kristallnacht. Fortunately, he and his mother and uncle were able to immigrate to the United States and they arrived in September 1939. His father and many other relatives did not survive or their status was unknown. Rudy’s life in the U.S. included serving in the army during WWII and designing and building furniture through businesses he created throughout his career. In 1953, he married his wife of 56 years, Ellen Katz Romberg, and they raised three sons. Rudy and Ellen lived in Allentown from 1963 through 1987 and were active members of Congregation Keneseth Israel and the Jewish community.
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Rudy’s son, Len Romberg, will share his father’s story with the Lehigh Valley Jewish community on April 23 as part of the community’s annual Yom HaShoah Holocaust Commemoration. The story will pair with another out of the same small German town. Agnes Steffens, 90, a resident of the Terrace at Phoebe Allentown, was raised in a Catholic family in Cologne, Germany. Her father was part of an underground movement to help Jews escape the town. “My father was a man of honor, integrity and kindness,” Steffens said, according to a story in the Phoebe Messenger in 2015. “He helped a lot of Jewish people leave the country.” At the time, at around age 16, Steffens didn’t know the particulars of her father’s endeavors, said Shari Spark, coordinator of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley’s Holocaust Resource Center, who recently interviewed Steffens. “She always knew there were meetings in the house that would go late into the night,” Spark said. “She knew that something was afoot when her mother would go into the bedroom and lock the door and light a candle and pray.” It was years later when she found out that her father helped so many and even drove a family to safety, hidden under a tarp in the back of his truck. “At that time, I really didn’t know what a Jew was,” recalled Steffens in the Phoebe interview. “To me they were the same as an Episcopalian or Catholic; they were our neighbors and our friends.” The Yom HaShoah Commemoration will be held on Sunday, April 23, at the JCC. A reading of names will take place at 6 p.m. and the program begins at 7 p.m. To learn more, visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org.
Community to celebrate Yom HaZikaron with songs honoring the fallen By Michelle Cohen HAKOL Editor Erez Shtark was born on December 24, 1975, in Kiryat Atta, Israel. Erez played volleyball and basketball, and due to his great talent, he even made it to the national Israeli volleyball team, and represented Israel in competitions abroad. In October 1994, Erez was drafted to the IDF. He went through training in the signal corps, and was placed in one of the corps’ bases in the north of Israel. During his service, he was sent to missions in Lebanon. On the eve of Feb. 4, 1997, two helicopters crashed into each other above the moshav “Sha’ar Yishov.” All 73 soldiers on board, on their way to an operative mission in Lebanon, were killed. Among them was Erez, who was 21 years old. On April 30, the Lehigh Valley Jewish community is invited to join together for a ceremony honoring Israel’s fallen soldiers for Yom HaZikaron using songs written by Erez and several other fallen soldiers. Yom HaZikaron is Israel’s Memorial Day, a solemn occasion focusing on remembering the IDF’s fallen soldiers as well as civilians who have died in terror attacks. This year, the program
will include selections of songs created as part of the “Soon We Will Become a Song” project that will be broadcasted in Israel on the same day. The “Soon We Will Become a Song” project began with a newspaper interview with a soldier during the First Lebanon War. He spoke of his fear of dying in combat, saying, “Soon we will become a song, soon we may not be here.” This launched the radio project that the Lehigh Valley’s observance will focus on. Each year, the project “pays tribute to fallen soldiers and victims of terror by turning their poems and letters into songs,” according to www.idfblog. com. Texts written by the fallen are shown to Israeli musicians, who choose which one they would like to turn into a song. They then interact with the families, learning more about the people who wrote the original texts before setting them to music. Each song is published alongside the person’s story, and the songs are aired on Galei Tzahal, the IDF’s radio station, on Yom HaZikaron. A selection of these songs will be brought to the Lehigh Valley, including the stories about the
fallen soldiers and recordings of the music that will be played for attendees. The program will also feature a short presentation from Liron Daniel, the Israel fellow at Muhlenberg College, who will discuss her memories from working in the Israeli prime minister’s office during Operation Protective Edge. As part of her speech, she will recall the story of a fallen family friend, and she ends with the powerful statement: “I realized how many people I know in this cemetery. Too many people.” The event will take place in the auxiliary auditorium of the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley on April 30. Services will begin at 7:15 p.m. followed by the program at 7:30 p.m. The program is free and open to the community. For more information, contact Aaron Gorodzinsky at 610-821-5500 x337 or email@example.com.
Hillel students to be honored on April 9
By Stephanie Bolmer Special to HAKOL The 25th annual celebration of the recipients of the Levy Hillel Leadership Award will take place on April 9, 2017. The Levy Hillel Leadership Award recognizes young leaders in the Hillel chapters of Lehigh Valley colleges. The award was founded by Mort and Myra Levy, z”l, through the Lehigh Valley Jewish Foundation, the community’s endowment fund of the Jewish Federation. The program will begin at 10:30 a.m. in the JCC auxiliary auditorium, and attendance is free and open to the community. This year, HAKOL is proud to recognize Roger Blumin, Aaron Brandt, Brigid Darrah and Ilana Goldstein. ROGER BLUMIN Roger Blumin is a senior at Lehigh University pursuing degrees in both integrated business and engineering in finance and industrial and systems engineering. He has been an active leader in Hillel,
Brigid Darrah including serving as president, and was an integral part of the official recognition process for Alpha Epsilon Pi, for which he earned an international award for his service as Scribe and has also served as both Lt. Master and on the Civic Leadership Committee. He’s also involved with the TAMID Group at Lehigh, an organization which seeks to connect American college students to the Israeli economy. AARON BRANDT Aaron Brandt is a senior at Muhlenberg College majoring in media and communications with minors in business and photography. He has served as president, secretary and head student worker of Hillel. He has also worked with USY on Wheels and volunteered during a gap year in Israel with both Magen David Adom, completing a 60-hour first responder training and certification, and with M’uchad School, where he tutored middle schoolers in English in the development town of Yeruham.
Ilana Goldstein BRIGID DARRAH Brigid Darrah is a junior nursing student at Moravian College. She is also the treasurer of Moravian’s Hillel, where she is a key part of the core leadership team. She is the first recipient of the Levy Hillel award from Moravian who is not of Jewish origin by birth, having attended her first Shabbat service in 2010 and now continuing with her conversion process under the guidance of Rabbi Melody Davis at Temple Covenant of Peace in Easton. ILANA GOLDSTEIN Ilana Goldstein is a sophomore at Lafayette College majoring in English and religious studies. She served as the Hillel’s vice president of religious and cultural affairs, where she completely revamped the packets for the Friday night services, which she led, in order to make them more inclusive to the whole community. She is now serving as the vice president of communications, as well as Hillel’s representative on Lafayette’s Interfaith Council.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2017 7
Dr. Jodi EichlerLevine to speak at biennial Hadassah Sabbath By Sandy Wruble Congregation Brith Sholom The Bethlehem/Easton group of Hadassah will sponsor a Hadassah Sabbath at Congregation Brith Sholom on Saturday, May 6. This group is part of the larger Philadelphia chapter and traditionally holds a special Hadassah Sabbath every other year. The guest speaker will be Dr. Jodi Eichler-Levine, the Philip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Civilization and associate professor of religion studies at Lehigh University. She holds a Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University and a bachelor of arts in Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University. Eichler-Levine has authored several books; her most recent book is “Suffer the Little Children: Uses of the Past in Jewish and African American Children’s Literature.” Dr. Eichler-Levine’s topic for the May 6 service is titled “Crafting Judaism: Jewish Women and Creativity.” She will use a mix of sociology, history and literary analysis to explore Jewish women’s experiences and how they contribute to the texture of American Jewish life. Services begin at 9 a.m., and there will be a kiddush lunch following. The community is invited to attend this special Shabbat.
8 APRIL 2017 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
IN MEMORY FATHER (of Lorrie Scherline) Suzanne Lapiduss and Family MOTHER (of Debbie Gault) The Delin Family MOTHER (of Norman Marcus) Carol and Stewart Furmansky MEL BECKER (Husband of Romaine Becker) Selma Roth HERMAN FERSHTMAN (Father of Terrie Goren) Jeff Allyn Rozan and Brian Anderson Ed and Tsipi Goldenberg Estelle and Mona Gubow Toby and Herb Gubow Adele Lieberman and Family Jay and Margery Strauss DAVID FINE (Father of Harris Fine) Suzanne Lapiduss and Family JERRY FRIEDENHEIM (Husband of Bette Friedenheim) Lenny Abrams Sam and Sylvia Bub Carol and Stewart Furmansky Beth and Wesley Kozinn Selma Roth Arthur and Audrey Sosis Fred and Barbara Sussman (Father of Ann Friedenheim) Robin Amouyal Fred and Barbara Sussman EVELYN “OSSIE” HOLTZ (Mother of Janet Hayashi) Donald and Randi Senderowitz MARTIN KREITHEN (Brother of Harold Kreithen) Lisa and Barnet Fraenkel JEROME “JERRY” MORSE
(Father of Richard Morse) Sam and Sylvia Bub and Family Adam and Penny Roth Frank and Tama Tamarkin Robby and Laurie Wax Vicki Wax (Brother of Ruth Sheftel) Vicki Wax JENNIE ROSANSKY (Mother of Lota Post) Carol and Stewart Furmansky Roberta and Richard London Arthur and Audrey Sosis Vicki Wax MARTIN “MARTY” SPIRO Ross and Wendy Born Vicki Wax Arthur and Barbara Weinrach MIRIAM “MIMI” STEWART (Mother of Jill Stewart Narrow) Donald and Randi Senderowitz IN HONOR ALIETTE AND MARC ABO Engagement of Jessica Birth of granddaughter Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald LORI AHDIEH Speedy Recovery Vicki Wax BILL BERGER Speedy Recovery Roberta and Jeff Epstein The Ginsburg Family Vicki Wax ROSS AND WENDY BORN Birth of their granddaughter, Abigail Born Pascal Lisa and Ellis Block Joan Brody Iris, Jonathan, Harry, and Charlie Epstein Lisa and Barnet Fraenkel Beth and Wesley Kozinn
FRED AND GAIL EISENBERG Engagement of their daughter, Miriam Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald BIRTH OF OUR GREAT-GRANDDAUGHTER, BAILEY HARPER TALLON Bill and Ruth Gross ELLEN AND PHIL HOF Marriage of their daughter, Jessica Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald EVA LEVITT Thank You Marilyn Claire EVA LEVITT Becoming JFLV President Ross and Wendy Born TAFFI NEY Speedy Recovery Donald and Randi Senderowitz MARK AND ALICE NOTIS Birth of their grandson, Yakir Lisa and Barnet Fraenkel MIKE AND COOKY NOTIS Birth of their great-grandson, Yakir Lisa and Barnet Fraenkel ELAINE AND LEON PAPIR Bar Mitzvah of their grandson, Bryce Rita and Mike Bloom CAROLE ROSE Speedy Recovery Selma Roth DAVID ROSS Best wishes on new office Roberta and Jeff Epstein JILL AND IVAN SCHONFELD Birth of their granddaughter, Ella Ross and Wendy Born HOWARD SHERER Happy Retirement Evelyn and Jay Lipschutz CARAH AND RYAN TENZER Bar Mitzvah of their son, Jonas Vicki Wax 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.
Jewish community in India remains small but mighty
By Iris Epstein JFLV Campaign Chair My recent study mission with the Jewish Federations of North America's National Young Leadership Cabinet to India was an opportunity to explore the strength and perseverance of a special group of people who fought hard to maintain their Judaism despite terrible odds. It was also an opportunity to explore the importance of tzedakah, not only toward our own, but also to the stranger, as a constituent part of belonging to the Jewish people. When I told people that I would be going on a mission to India, the most common question asked was, “Are there even Jews in India?” After spending a very meaningful 10 days in the country filled with 1.34 billion people, I can answer yes, there are definitely Jews in India. A minuscule slice of the population at about 4,500 strong, they take nothing about their Judaism for granted and fight every day for Judaism to not only survive, but thrive. The largest group is the Bene Israel Jews, a group believed to be descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israel. I had the privilege to board a catamaran and go on a pilgrimage from the Gateway to India in Mumbai, through the Arabian Sea and to the port of Mandawa where I took a tuk-tuk ride through the city to stand on Navagaon Beach, the site where this group shipwrecked over 2,000 years ago (between 175-165
BCE) while fleeing Roman rule in Judea. Only 14 people were believed to have survived. They lost their books in the shipwreck and over time, Hebrew. However, they continued to recite the Shema, performed circumcisions and observed Shabbat and Kashrut. In the 18th century, David Rahabi (some believe it might have been Maimonides’ brother David, which would date this phenomenon to the 12th century) came from Cochin to visit and after concluding that they were Jews, he taught them about normative Judaism. And in 1964, the Israeli Chief Rabbinate accepted the Bene Israel community as Jews and DNA testing in 2002 confirmed that they are indeed descendants of the Kohanim. What is so amazing about this group is that despite being such a small minority and cut off from the rest of the Jewish world for nearly 2,000 years, the Bene Israel Jews were able to sustain their Jewish way of life simply through the ritual of reciting the Shema and their ongoing commitment to Jewish values. I was overwhelmed with such emotion while participating in a Bene Israel-led Shabbat service at Judah Hyam Hall, a synagogue in Delhi, when I saw the pure joy on the prayer leader’s face in knowing that there are Jews out there who care about him and his fellow Indian Jews, and that as we sang Hebrew songs both in familiar and unfamiliar melodies, we stood together as Jews, bound by our common heritage and
strengthened by our disparate backgrounds. In addition to spending time with the extraordinary Bene Israel Jews, I got to visit the Dharavi slums, one of the largest and most densely populated slums in the world and home to about one million people where in many cases families three generations deep live together and run their business in a space less than 1,000 square feet. Then, I got to see the impact that the dollars raised from Federation’s Annual Campaign have on helping to feed, educate and empower the children and women living in this and other slums in Mumbai and surrounding rural villages. We do this through our overseas partner, the Joint Distribution Committee in India, who allocate funds to programs that take care of the most vulnerable. One such program is the Gabriel Project Mumbai. At a briefing, founding director Jacob Sztokman discussed with us the challenges of extreme urban poverty and the viscous cycles that occur when children are forced out of school to earn a living for their families. The Gabriel Project tries to break these cycles by providing intensive school programs coupled with hot meals. These hot meals are prepared by women they employ and train thereby adding another way to help the disadvantaged. The Gabriel Project also partners with Sundara, an organization that helps reduce hygiene-related death and disease by repurposing used soap from
hotels into new bars that are distributed during hygiene lessons in the slums. In addition, the Gabriel Project partners with Naya, a program that employs women from the slums to turn recycled waste paper into beautiful paper goods that are bought by businesses and local residents. Sundara and Naya provide low-tech employment to often illiterate women in the slums, which allows their children to remain in school. These simple and low-cost programs are incredibly effective and the interconnectedness of these programs, supporting and feeding off of one another, is inspiring. In fact, NYLC members were so inspired that on the last day of the mission, we pledged to donate money to support the Gabriel Project Mumbai and various other JDC-supported youth initiatives including one that brings young adults or pioneers to India to work with slum children in schools as well as run Jewish programming and education at the local JCC. It is heartwarming knowing that our commitment in time, talent and treasure is able to provide for and help both Jews and, as the Torah instructs us, the stranger, halfway around the world. In between meeting the Jews of India and doing my part in repairing the world, I got to experience the extraordinary landmarks that make India so culturally unique and a must-visit destination. Traveling on nine different modes
of transportation (plane, bus, catamaran, tuk-tuk, elephant, jeep, rickshaw, train and electric van), I saw sights such as the surreal Taj Mahal, the magnificent Ambar Fort, the expansive Kanheri Caves, a colorful Bollywood set, the serene Gandhi Memorial and even dined at the City Palace as the Raj’s personal guest. These memorable experiences only highlighted all the important work that we do at Federation. I am honored that I was able to represent the Lehigh Valley on this year’s NYLC study mission. I return with many meaningful memories and stories to share and with renewed energy and dedication to close a successful campaign. Please answer the call and donate to JFLV’s annual campaign so that we can continue to build community and care for the most vulnerable locally, overseas and in Israel.
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JDS seventh and eighth graders experiment with stocks
By Michelle Cohen HAKOL Editor Every Tuesday since Feb. 21, JDS seventh and eighth graders have met under the guidance of David Dahan to learn the basic principles of the stock market and practice creating their own stock portfolios that react in real-time according to the real stock market. Dahan, a financial planner who has worked with investors for 25 years, teaches the class based on a program from Bloomsberg University where each student gets $100,000 of fake money to invest on howthemarketworks. com. Over 10 weeks, the students are able to observe fluctuations in their chosen companies and figure out how to best invest their own money in the future if they choose. The seminar, which takes
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place during civics class and is mandatory for all seventh and eighth graders, was implemented after a board member mentioned the Bloomsberg program to Head of School Amy Golding, who then reached out to Dahan. Golding explains, “We brought this program to the JDS to help students make valuable connections while learning. Integrating curriculum from math, social studies, to even Judaics provides our students with meaningful life-long skills. I hear our students talking about their stock market picks and the excitement in their voice as they begin to make a profit is contagious.” As for why Dahan got involved, “it’s important at an early age to start developing good habits, knowledge and financial literacy” and consider stocks as a way of making money in the long term by starting young, he said. He added that stocks are a “tool to get a higher rate of return over time; bonds do too, but stocks are more approachable” for beginners. In addition to the benefits of learning about stocks, Dahan hopes the class will help students make wise financial choices in the future, saying that “the opposite of investing is credit card debt.” Each week, Dahan follows a prescribed program of lessons based on introductory principles of investing. On Feb. 28, for example, the students reviewed lessons one and two – have realistic expectations and why to invest your money – before moving on to lessons three
and four, patience over panic and diversification and risk. The students received handouts with a graph of the stock market over the past 70 years to explain that it is unwise to sell when the market crashes, and charts of diversified stocks in sunglasses and umbrellas as well as a sample retirement result with and without diversification of stocks to prove that the risk of choosing more than one stock is worth it. The students were then given time to examine their own portfolios. In the session on Feb. 28, they looked over the stocks they had chosen in the first class (each student chose five companies that they are interested in or know about to distribute their imaginary money to), noting whether the stock had gone up or down in the week, and then explored graphs of the stock’s 52-week high and low, and more details about the company such as revenues and analyst commentary. Each student who participates is thus getting an individualized result, leading to varied knowledge that can then be shared among their peers. Although the covered topics may seem advanced, the students are interested in furthering their knowledge about the stock market. JDS student Maya Sunshine said, "I am hoping to learn how the stock market works because I want to use it when I get older. This is such an amazing opportunity." A classmate, Danny Wax, added, "I learned the very valuable motto – buy low, sell high."
Bringing Passover's freedom home
RABBI DANIELLE STILLMAN Lehigh University The meeting of our ancient Jewish story with the urgent events of our time is what Passover is all about. We retell the story of our people who moved from oppression to freedom when they crossed the Red Sea. We also tell—sometimes for the first time—the stories of other people who are in the process of making, or have yet to make, that same move to freedom. I’m not sure there has been a time in my recent memory when this ritual telling and retelling has felt so relevant and so urgent. All of us have had our hearts torn these past years by the news
of the exodus of refugees from dangerous and war torn parts of the world; Syria and Afghanistan, El Salvador and Mexico—to name a few. The Lehigh Valley has done its part in welcoming people who are seeking freedom—we can probably only imagine how many stories of leaving oppression are behind the many doorfronts of our neighbors. And yet it is never enough. The U.S. has been decidedly less welcoming with this new administration. Jews have stepped forward to remind all of us of our own refugee stories, much more recent than the Exodus from Egypt. Some of those stories are about being embraced by an America of opportunity, and some of them are tragic stories about similar families being turned away and sent back to the death camps of Europe. Judging by the quickness of Jews to turn out to protest the initial immigrant ban in airports around the country, our identification with refugees and immigrants is deeply resonant today. I believe that our yearly celebration of Passover is one reason we are able to
make the link between our own experience and the experience of others today. This Passover we will again have the chance to tell our ancient story of our Exodus from slavery to freedom. Because we were strangers in Egypt, we are commanded to love the stranger at all times as it says in Deuteronomy 10:19: “Love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” Therefore we must tell the modern day stories of oppression and freedom—the story that happened yesterday and the story that is about to happen as we sit around our seder table. These stories are as important to tell as our own. They remind us that when some are not free, we are all enslaved. Telling both our story and the stories of others happening today helps us to act as if we ourselves went out of Egypt, a central element of the seder. The same imaginative empathy that is needed to act “as if” helps put us in the shoes of today’s refugees. How will you tell these stories at your seder this year? Perhaps you will invite your seder guests to share the stories of their own families who came to
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America. What did they take with them? What did they leave behind? What were their hopes and their fears? Perhaps you will use the resources of HIAS (Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society), an old Jewish organization which is at the forefront of refugee resettlement in the U.S. today. Their excellent guide to incorporate the stories of today’s refugees through ritual and text is found on their website, hias.org. You can choose to weave in any part of it that feels right for your seder. Perhaps you will ask your guests to commit to one doable action this year that will contribute to helping move someone from oppression to freedom. May our gratitude for the sweetness and joy of freedom motivate us to also taste the tears of the salt water, and may we truly act as if we too had gone out of Egypt. A sweet and happy Passover. For more information about the HIAS haggadah, see page 3 of the Passover special section. Rabbi Danielle Stillman is the director of Jewish student life and associate chaplain at Lehigh University in Bethlehem.
JCC seeking ketubahs for autumn exhibit By Michelle Cohen HAKOL Editor From Sept. 13 through Oct. 13, rather than displaying the work of a particular artist, the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley’s Gallery at the J will be displaying symbols of the local community. The exhibit will focus on ketubahs, visual displays of the commitment between a future husband and wife that are signed before the wedding. In ancient times, the ketubah was a way to enforce the concept of bride-price, but it now holds symbolic value as a tradition of the Jewish people. In a traditional wedding ceremony, the ketubah is signed by two witnesses and read aloud under the chuppah before it is given to the bride to hang in her new home. As part of this effort, the JCC is seeking artistic, unique ketubahs for the exhibit from community members. They are also looking for stories to go with the ketubahs to bring life and understanding to the pieces. When these stories come together, the exhibit will be a deep and vivid representation of what unites us as Jews. For more information, please email Monica Friess at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2017 11
Assi Azar introduces LGBT documentary film By Rabbi Melissa Simon Muhlenberg Hillel
Assi Azar meets members of the Muhlenberg College Hillel Board.
Muhlenberg College Hillel hosted Israeli television personality and LGBT advocate Assi Azar on March 22 for a screening of his documentary film "He's My God, Too." Hillel presented the film as part of the JCC's Jewish & Israel Film Festival. As part of the event on March 22, Azar offered a pre-film presentation and participated in a post-film Q&A. An encore screening was held on March 23. Muhlenberg College senior Felice Oltuski said of the program: "Azar's talk was
inspiring! He is the perfect example of staying true to two important identities – his Jewish identity and his gay identity. He serves as inspiration to all of us about not compromising about who we truly are and working to find a way where all that we are can exist in one world." The program successfully highlighted Israeli diversity to the campus and Lehigh Valley communities. Assi Azar spoke so openly and beautifully about his life experiences," said junior Gili Fleekop. "I felt so inspired by his motivation and energy to speak about LGBT rights not only in context to sexuality,
but also situated in a religious framework. He radiated a strong sense of passion and positivity in what he was doing despite so many obstacles. I am so appreciative of Muhlenberg College Hillel for hosting such a beautiful event." Azar and the film screenings were made possible by the support of grants from ZOA, Israel Coalition on Campus, Hasbarah Fellowship, Stand with Us and Minienu (Hillel International). The event was organized by Liron Daniel, the Jewish Agency for Israel and Hillel International Israel fellow at Muhlenberg College Hillel.
TCP co-sponsors interfaith dinner Azar speaks to an overflow crowd at Muhlenberg College Hillel.
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Temple Covenant of Peace and the Respect Graduate School co-sponsored an interfaith dinner entitled "Heaven, Hell and the Hereafter" on March 4. The 96 attendees heard from Reverend Beth Goudy of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Lehigh Valley, Laura Lawrence of the Lehigh Valley Baha'i community, Dr. Suleyman Eris, president of the Respect Graduate School of Islamic Studies and Rabbi Seth Phillips of Congregation Keneseth Israel. Rabbi Melody Davis was the panel’s moderator and one of the organizers.
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Exhibit on the history of Anti-Semitism comes to Lehigh University
Prayer. Psalm 122:6. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: may those who love you be at peace.
By Elsa G. Collins Lehigh University
“Podwal’s art is deceivingly abstract and playfully colorful, yet it’s just as powerful in depicting the history of injustice. Podwal’s symbolically subtle, though accessible, visual language of oppression — the hints of subjugation and explanatory narrative, like his use of Psalm 35:16, 'With malicious mocking they gnash their teeth at me' — land a one-two punch that cannot be experienced without feeling profoundly moved.” - STEVEN HELLER, The Atlantic
Lehigh University is proud to bring to the Lehigh Valley community the free exhibit of "All This Has Come Upon Us" by artist Mark Podwal. The exhibit of 42 drawings and paintings of historical incidents of anti-Semitism will premiere with five prints in Williams Hall on Thursday, April 27, and will be on display with rotating artwork until the 42 prints have been exhibited. The public is invited to attend an opening presentation on April 27 by Podwal and Professor Marc Michael Epstein, chair of religion and visual culture at Vassar College. The images of anti-Semitism, combined with verses from the Book of Psalms, recall a tragedy or injustice in Jewish history, from slavery in Egypt through the Holocaust. Podwal notes that “the paintings and drawings in this series are a disturbing reminder of how Europe’s extensive history of ‘Jew-hatred’ laid the groundwork for Terezin and Auschwitz.” To describe Podwal only as an artist would be imprecise. The native New Yorker is a physician, a filmmaker, a professor at New York University School of Medicine and an author of more than 13 books. But foremost, Podwal is a Jewish historian, a storyteller, and a custodian of the past. Podwal, who always loved to draw yet never pursued formal art training, eventually became a physician following his parents’ encouragement. Motivated by the boisterous 1960s, he created a series of political drawings while he attended New York University School of Medicine. These images came to the attention of The New York Times Op-Ed page art director who commissioned drawings from Podwal for the newspaper. Through this work, Podwal rose to greater public recognition, and soon, his images appeared in books, largerscale art works and animated films and documentaries. Most of his pieces focus on Jewish legend, history and tradition. His art is represented in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Israel Museum, the Jewish Museums in Prague and New York, the Vatican, the British Library and Yad Vashem, among many others. His book "King Solomon and His Magic Ring," in collaboration with Elie Wiesel, won a Silver Medal from the Society of Illustrators in 1999. His latest book is titled, "Reimagined: 45 Years of Jewish Art by Mark Podwal." Copies of the book will be available for Podwal to sign. Co-presenter Marc Michael Epstein is the Mattie M. Paschall (1899) & Norman Davis chair in religion and visual culture at Vassar College and was the university’s first director of Jewish studies. He is a graduate of Oberlin College, earned a Ph.D. from Yale University and conducted much of his graduate research at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Widely published, Epstein has written on various topics in visual and material culture produced by, for, and about Jews. His 2015 book, "Skies of Parchment, Seas of Ink: Jewish Manuscript Illumination," is a National Jewish Book Award winner. During the 1980s, Epstein was director of the Hebrew Books and Manuscripts division of Sotheby’s Judaica department and continues to serve as consultant to various libraries, auction houses, museums and private collectors throughout the world. Lehigh University will host the exhibit in Williams Hall, showcasing five prints at a time with a rotation each academic semester. The lecture will be held on Thursday, April 27, at 4:10 p.m., in Williams Hall. The lecture and exhibition are free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Elsa Collins at 610-758-6764 or email@example.com, or visit: mylehigh.lehigh.edu/MarkPodwal. To learn more about Mark Podwal, please visit www.markpodwal.com.
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ALL THIS HAS COME UPON US... An exhibit and lecture on the history of anti-Semitism featuring
Mark Podwal artist
Professor of Religion on the Mattie M. Paschall Davis and Norman H. Davis Chair, Vassar College
Thursday, April 27, 2017, 4:10 p.m. Lecture and Exhibit Presentation | Williams Hall, Lehigh University Admission is free and open to the public. For more information and to register, please visit mylehigh.lehigh.edu/MarkPodwal or contact Elsa Collins at 610-758-6764.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2017 13
Relive your childhood summers with Trybal Gatherings By Michelle Cohen HAKOL Editor The Jewish summer camp experience, while providing memories that adults will be able to return to throughout their lives, has been unavailable for people over the age of 18 – until now. Trybal Gatherings, a new program, is bringing together Jewish people over the age of 21 for pluralistic Jewish camping experiences around the country. The camping weekends, designed to be “innovative getaways for young adults to connect, explore, play and celebrate in a socially Jewish context,” last for four days and three nights. In each weekend, participants are able to choose between experiencing a variety of traditional camping activities such as archery, color war, swimming and tie-dyeing clothes along with Jewish activities such as a pluralistic Shabbat dinner, Havdalah services at different levels of observance and Jewish-themed yoga. Trybal Gatherings began with an organization called Israel Outdoors, founded by Israel-born, Philadelphia-raised Avi Green. The people in charge of the camping project chose to implement their vision of togetherness in a camp because of the power of community. “For thousands of years, our ancestors have gathered for festivals, harvests, holidays, celebrations, and causes. As a people, we are intrinsically passionate about community,” the website says, and Jewish camping has been proven in studies to positively influence a child toward making more Jewish choices later in life and participat-
ing more in the Jewish community. Interested in taking advantage of the opportunity to relive childhood fun at a Jewish summer camp? There are several opportunities nearby. On May 26-29, a session will occur at Camp Nai Nai Nai in the Catoctin Mountains, followed by another one at Perlman Camp in the Poconos on Aug. 11-14. Contact the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley at 610-821-5500 or firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about available subsidies. For more information, or to sign up for a Jewish adult camping experience, visit www. trybalgatherings.com.
Jewish Agency Chairman Natan Sharansky to remain as organization’s leader for additional year Chairman of the Executive of The Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky
14 APRIL 2017 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
has acceded to The Jewish Agency Board of Governors’ request that he remain as the organization’s leader for an additional year after his second four-year term concludes in June. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had also expressed his support for Sharansky’s continued service as the organization’s chairman. The announcement was made at the closing plenary of the Board of Governors’ winter meetings on Feb. 28 in Tel Aviv. Sharansky said: “Our work is very important and very inspiring and it is the best guarantee of the future of the Jewish people. Although I was skeptical of the value of remaining for an additional year, what has taken place in recent months has convinced me that it is important that I remain. Our ongoing discussions with the government on the Western Wall and related matters have reached a sensitive point, and I will do everything necessary to ensure that the successful negotiations of recent years bear tangible fruit. The Prime Minister has signaled his intention to move toward a conclusion of the matter of the Western Wall by appointing Minister Tzachi Hanegbi as the coordina-
Chairman Natan Sharansky at the Jewish Agency's Board of Governors' winter meetings in Tel Aviv. tor of this important effort. Additionally, the events of recent months have resulted in a deep polarization between some Jews in America and some in Israel, and it is imperative that we do whatever we can to unite our people. That will be our task in the year to come.” The Board of Governors also elected former Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America Michael D. Siegal as chairman of the Board of Governors and former Vice Chairman of the World Zionist Organization David Breakstone as deputy chairman of the executive.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2017 15
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W denomin o c a f a f , to np s tio oints ower coali g toward or the No ich help n h and p vantage p f i w k g t wor ndin rogram, us and feren of fu P ate igio sion ty Grant n rel ted by h i s i r p e u rg rou Sec ies ta ofit g onpr ommunit n Soviet Jewry and that has made an impact “It was inspiring to see cc ethni . s to on my life,” said Amy Golding, head of everyone together.” es ution d t i t crim s n l an school at the Jewish Day School. “When “I thought it was very ng i Continues from page 1 helpi , powerfu tification e r a e I saw the Jewish Federation was organiztouching and I really agreed W cy no a new derment t emergen th the lea nd ing this trip, I knew how important it was with everything that was e l p im wi en sa intimidation, will not be tolerated in this effici ink them stitution te to take our students to have their voices said,” said Yuval Shimoni, an a costl n i o ish medi mt commonwealth,” Wolf said. heard.” eighth grader. syste f local Jew enable im . s o “When you target someone because of With the help of the National Museum In between verses of “This ship zations to situation i s i n what they look like or who they love or s of American Jewish History, speakers were Land is Your Land,” Cantor orga se to cri pc n k-ste a who they pray to, no matter who is being c also able to tell the stories of some of those Ellen Sussman of Temple Shirat o l respo efam ing in targeted, we are all less safe,” Shapiro buried at the vandalized Mount Carmel Shalom reflected on her experiwork e Anti-D ions e r a said. We Cemetery, including Blanche Reisman, ence at the rally. “I think it’s wonith th nizat ion w ther orga d lever t a r o The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh who passed away at age 9 from illness in derful that the Jewish community an lab do daily ue an vast Valley worked with the Jewish Day 1917, and Kate Fisher-Glass, who emigratis coming together to stand up Leag unicating rces and u School and synagogues across the comed to America and lived in Philadelphia against hatred and violence,” she comm ared reso h s onve r munity to organize the trip. until she died in 1944 at age 83. said. “We have to work together.” ou l be c tion l i w “It was important for our community, This was especially moving for Zoe As a representative of both the ions ocia derat JCC Ass Inter e F and especially our students, to stand up Lachter, a sixth grader at the Jewish Day Easton Jewish community and the e el ith th h , Hill and be present for this historic moment,” School. “I liked hearing the stories beleader of the Lehigh Valley Jewish ing w America for Jewis r h t e i to said Aaron Gorodzinsky, director of outNor ah: Cent cause it gave examples of real people,” Clergy Group, Rabbi Melody Davis of unda o F e m e co reach and community relations at the Jew- she said. Priz s and th Temple Covenant of Peace felt it was nsur i l e o o o t ish Federation. “Not just for the Jewish Sch The rally was “inspiring because all the important for her to attend. ract amp ish C nd best p l or w e J community, but for all of the communities people who gathered there – we were all a “It’s important for each of us to realize orts tiona of eff ritical na idest faced with hate and intolerance.” different, but so close at the same time,” no one else can stand up for us,” Davis w c these serve the ies af “When I was a child, I marched for said Chloe Levi, another sixth grader. said. c h whic unal agen ks. c comm and atta s t threa
Rally against hate
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Support for the Jewish community has been widespread in the wake of the recent threats.
Gov. Wolf condemns acts and threats against Jewish institutions By Matt Hess Pennsylvania Legislative Services
Gov. Tom Wolf held a conference call on Feb. 27 to condemn the bomb threats called into Jewish Community Centers and the recent vandalism at a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia. col“Any anti-Semitic act or act of intimidation aimed at Jewish n atio institutions and people in Pennsylvania is truly reprehensible s, and we must find those responsible and hold them accountable. g This is not who we are as Americans or Pennsylvanians,” Gov. ragin h. c a e Wolf stated. “We will not take these threats and acts lightly r t and I have directed the Pennsylvania State Police and Office of Homeland Security to offer their full resources towards en protecting these institutions and finding those responsible.” f o n , l Gov. Wolf commended the JCCs and local law enforcea on rnati ment officials for their quick response to the acts. “JCCs y h Da are strongly rooted in communities across the country r o f and they serve people of all religions and all backon n inatio grounds. I have seen firsthand the good work these oord ong m a centers do in communities right here in Pennsylvania. s e , c s i ion t a Among them is providing care for children of working z i rgan um of parents, many whom are understandably living in fear r t c t spe by these today,” he stated. “When any one group is targeted in d ffecte our community, everyone is harmed.”
MUSLIM ASSOCIATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY “An attack on a synagogue is the same as an attack on a mosque or a church. Our places of worship and our religious communities in America deserve the highest level of protection against hate crimes that very often put our lives in danger. We will always support our Jewish neighbors against bigotry and hate. One of the core teachings of Islam is that the Muslim should stand for justice and speak the truth at all times. The Jewish community can count on all of the Muslim institutions in the Lehigh Valley to be at their side and in any capacity necessary to stop injustice and speak out against those that aim to divide us.”
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP IN SPEECH TO JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS ON FEB. 28 “Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains,” Trump said. “Recent threats targeting Jewish community centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms.”
Statements following JCC bomb threats in York, Harrisburg SEN. PAT TOOMEY, R-PA "Anti-Semitic acts and crimes based upon religion are heinous and intolerable. The threats levied today against Jewish community centers and schools across Pennsylvania are unacceptable and I fully support law enforcement conducting a swift and thorough investigation." SEN. BOB CASEY, D-PA "Today, I stand in solidarity with the Jewish community in Pennsylvania and throughout the nation following acts of hate and intimidation in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and other
states. These cowardly anti-Semitic acts will not be tolerated and must be investigated fully." REP. CHARLIE DENT, R-PA “The news out of Philadelphia this weekend regarding the acts of vandalism and desecration at the Mount Carmel Jewish cemetery is both troubling and disgraceful. Make no mistake, such actions are vile, cowardly, and hateful at their core. Such ugly attacks and threats against individuals or communities have no place in our society, and the solemn grounds of all faiths should be respected and honored.”
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Finally, a book for Jews with Alzheimer’s By Lisa Keys Jewish Telegraphic Agency The book is large and fits comfortably on a lap. The color photographs nearly fill each page. Each image depicts real people doing everyday Jewish things — a young girl eating matzah ball soup; a bubbe and her grandchildren lying in the grass; a man wearing tefillin, praying. The sentences are in large print; they are simple (“Mother says the blessing over the candles”) and easy to read. But the book is not for young children learning how to read, nor is it for parents to introduce Judaism to their preschoolers. Rather it is designed for those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive type of dementia that causes a slow decline in thinking, memory and reasoning. The book — a series of independent pictures and captions — requires no memory to read and follow along, allowing those with memory-loss issues to enjoy and engage with each image on its own terms. “L’Chaim: Pictures to Evoke Memories of a Jewish Life,” by Eliezer Sobel, is probably the first book of its kind — a Jewishthemed book created explicitly for adults with Alzheimer’s or dementia. “There’s such a richness to Jewish content and imagery and history and culture,” Sobel, 64, told JTA. “There are so many Jewish people in Jewish nursing homes, and Jewish families with loved ones who have dementia.” Sobel’s family is among them.
The author took inspiration from his mother, Manya, 93, a refugee who fled Nazi Germany and has suffered from Alzheimer’s for 17 years. As her memory deteriorated, her language slowly disappeared with it, Sobel said. Eventually, a few years ago, it seemed gone for good. However, “One day I walk into the living room, and she was thumbing through a magazine, reading the big print headlines aloud, correctly,” he recalled. “I said, ‘Omigod! Mom can still read!'” Sobel, who lives in Red Bank, New Jersey, said he headed to the local Barnes & Noble to get her a picture book for dementia patients. “It seemed like the most obvious thing in the world,” he said. Instead, he learned that such a thing didn’t really exist. After unsuccessful trips to bookstores and searches online, Sobel called the National Alzheimer’s Association. He said the librarian he spoke with on the phone was stumped at first — she said that while there were more than 20,000 books for caregivers, she didn’t know of anything for the patients themselves. Eventually the librarian turned up a few books for Alzheimer’s patients: Lydia Burdick has a series of three books for adults with the disease, including “The Sunshine On My Face.” In subsequent years a few more have appeared, such as those by Emma Rose Sparrow. Still, the market for such products is very small, even though some 5.8 million Americans have Alzheimers,
according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Inspired, Sobel — a writer (previous books include the novel “Minyan: Ten Jewish Men in a World That is Heartbroken”) and leader of meditation and creativity retreats — published his first book for adults with dementia, “Blue Sky, White Clouds: A Book for Memory-Challenged Adults” in 2012. Like “L’Chaim,” the book is a series of large color photographs of things like birds, trees and babies with captions such as “The baby is fast asleep” and “Snow covers the trees.” “If patients see the pictures, say the names of the pictures, make some comments or are in any way affected by the books, that’s a good thing, period,” David Teplow, a professor of neurology at UCLA, told JTA. (Teplow provided a blurb for “Blue Sky”: “It certainly appears to be necessary to fill a void in this area of publishing, namely the realistic representation of images and ideas for people with memory and cognitive impairment.”) Plus, Teplow added, “There are lot of Jewish people who have Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. Certainly it’s an important project for the Jewish community.” For Sobel, having a Jewishthemed follow-up to “Blue Sky” was a bit of a no-brainer. “It seemed natural to me,” he said. “It’s who I am; who we are. Especially my mother, the history of her Holocaust experience — it was a big part of my growing up, how she and her family got out,
An inside page of “L’Chaim! Pictures to Evoke Memories of Jewish Life,” a book for adults with dementia. (Rainbow Ridge Books) what they experienced.” Sobel’s mother arrived in the U.S. at age 14, shortly after Kristallnacht in 1938. Though she escaped Germany with her immediate family — her grandmother was left behind and died in a labor camp — she remained scarred by her experiences and raised her kids to be wary of outsiders. “Fair Lawn, New Jersey, was kind of like ‘Leave It To Beaver’ — perfectly safe and lots of Jewish families,” Sobel said of his hometown in the New York City suburbs. “But my mom kept an axe under the bed when my dad wasn’t home.” The family kept kosher; they had Friday night Shabbat dinners and Sobel attended synagogue on Saturdays with his father. “My mother’s idea of keeping Shabbat was she didn’t clean the house; she’d do something she enjoyed,” he recalled. “We’d drive — but not past the rabbi’s house.” Sobel said that while he and
April 28-29, 2017 | Bethlehem, PA
Experience visual arts, comedy, dance and musical performances while exploring Bethlehem’s SouthSide Arts District. Visual Arts Activities: Free Programs & Activities • Calder Mobile Creations • Mural Design Workshop with Dripped on the Road • Steampunk Inspired Jewelry Making • Lehigh Valley Art Wars • Game of S.K.A.T.E Tricks Tournament
Fee-based Workshops • Hot Glass Experience: Millefiori Paperweight • Painted Rock Cactus • Graffiti Tape Art Workshop with Jay Walker • Frida Kahlo Flower Crowns • Urban Photo Walk • Screen-printing Demo and Make Your Own • Face Painting by Peanutbutter
his mother “were at loggerheads for a lot of my adult life,” when her Alzheimer’s set in, she was released from her terrible memories. “It was almost a blessing to be around her; someone who radiated love and welcoming to everyone,” he said. “I was freed up to feel and express my love for her, which had been bottled up since my teenage years.” The books, he said, seemed to provide her some comfort and — just as important — entertainment. Sobel’s father, Max, took care of his mother until he fell and suffered a traumatic brain injury himself three years ago, on their 67th wedding anniversary. (He died in November.) “I watched my father, tearing his hair out, looking for things to do with her,” Sobel said. “There are so few resources for that. “If she enjoyed being with the book in the moment, we could do it again the next day, or the next hour. We could read it 100 times — it never got old.”
April 26 | 7:30 pm
Performances by: Everyone Orchestra The Ballroom Thieves Caleb Hawley Pablo Batista Hector Rosado Alexis P. Suter Band Ceramic Animal Coco Montoya Rusted Root Blair Crimmins and the Hookers The Mighty Manatees And More! wxpn welcomes
Jukebox the Ghost April 6 | 7:30 pm
bananafactory.org | 610-332-1300
Kevin Nealon May 7 | 7:30 pm
Musikfest Café™ at SteelStacks™ Tune in to Service Electric TV2 Sundays at 8 pm for Musikfest Café Live.
steelstacks.org | 610-332-3378 HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2017 21
A view of the Kashrut industry from the back seat of the rabbi's car
By Chana Yagod Special to HAKOL My father is an industrial kosher mashgiach. Now I’m sure to many reading this article, that statement might be as comprehensible as speaking Greek. So what really is an industrial kosher mashgiach? Well, a mashgiach is a kosher supervisor. The kashrut world is divided between two types: food service (such as kosher restaurants; take out; and catering, e.g. for weddings, parties, life cycle events
and the like); and industrial kosher. Industrial kosher is an entire division that supervises all types of factories and food plants both in the U.S. and internationally. Did you know an industrial mashgiach needs to be an expert in many things? Not only in kosher laws of course, but also in a variety of subjects: science (food science, computer science and technology, physics, chemistry); food safety; legal matters such as contract law and local ordinances regarding food production;
psychology; budgeting, planning, and he needs to be an expert detective, as well. In addition there's a lot of skills he needs to have: to maintain high energy while working exceedingly long hours – including all-nighters at times, if the situation demands it – without missing a detail. He must be able to travel efficiently and be comfortable with it, yet punctual and understand how to arrive on time when he has exact expectations and pressures; and to understand local sensitivities while remaining thoroughly aware of local events. He must be a bit of a travel agent, having a thorough, functional knowledge of how to get from A to B. He must understand and be well versed in ingredient sourcing: where foods sometimes, always and never come from, and all kinds of relevant details. The agency has to have people who collectively understand every language in the world; so that they can supervise a factory where people might be speaking
#ItHappensAtSwain SUMMER AT
Peer Relationships in the Age of Social Media Wednesday, April 19 • 7 p.m. Rachel will share her insight regarding relationship aggression, gossip and rumors, cyberbullying, and incorporating the use of humor. Free and open to the public.
Registration is open for our popular camps
for kids entering Prekindergarten - 9th grade We're offering a variety of fun week-long programs between July 10 - August 4, including McHoops' "Summer Blast" camp.
Activities at Swain: Engineering
Session 1: Grades 4-6 April 8 • 9 a.m - Noon Session 2: Grades 1-3 April 22 • 9 a.m - Noon Bring an adult to design and build a project to take home, in Swain's Makerspace. Free to those who pre-register.
For more information and to register visit swain.org PS-8th grade • Allentown
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Sanskrit or Urdu. Some mashgichim (plural for mashgiach) must also understand military matters. There are mashgichim who work in the army (both U.S. and the IDF) and mashgichim who work in the prisons (for Jewish prisoners). And there are even mashgichim who work behind the Israeli lines in Arab countries and in the Palestinian Territories. A mashgiach must understand how to do his work and yet not call any attention to himself in such a situation. The mashgiach needs goodwill to do his job, but at the same time he needs the grit to be able to investigate what might be going on behind the scenes; remembering that he might be able to potentially shut down the entire production line of this factory if he should find that it isn't kosher, despite claims, even though here he was getting along with the factory people whose livelihood might be impacted by something he will do. That’s the very serious side of kashrut. In the kashrut industry, you see and experience a lot, most of it engaging and all of it informative. Some experiences are quite funny. For example, one time, my father had an offer to go to Madagascar to supervise vanilla. But there were pressing obligations on this side of the coast that my father was responsible for and couldn’t leave, so he told his boss he’d pass it up this time. So the agency gave it over to another mashgiach, one of my father’s colleagues. When he got back, this colleague told him about his experience, which I’ll tell you in brief here: The mashgiach would be supervising three different locales in the country and therefore needed a room in three different hotels. When he was making a reservation, the receptionist said “I know you are coming from America so don’t worry we are very modern, we will make sure you have a telephone, a bathroom, and a TV; that’s how modern we are.” When he went to the various locales, he discovered that each of the three rooms had only one of the three amenities! He also discovered when he got there that the country was in the middle of a civil war… quite the adventure he had. A common myth I've heard about kashrut production is that people think foods become kosher when a rabbi comes in to bless the food. That is sadly quite a common misperception, but it's very far from how things actually work. In reality, kosher certification is not much different than, say, certifying for organic or vegan. In these certifications, an inspector, representing the agency, visits the production site, watches production, consults a list of what to look for that should and shouldn't be there and he makes sure the factory is conforming to standards required to be considered the status awarded to it. One ingredient to be especially careful of is lard, because it is impossible for it to be kosher. Reason being, it is pure pig fat. Though most consumers know what lard is, they don’t always know where it goes. Lard is commonly used for frying in snacks like potato chips. You might
think it wouldn't be around much anymore, given the calorieconscious America. This used to be the case, but in the last decade or so, it's becoming common again, due to the rise of the allnatural movement, so the kosher consumer will have to watch out for it a bit more now. In the olden days, lard was the fat of choice. That's why "old-fashioned" potato chips are actually chips made with lard. There's also baked chips (usually it will say on the label) and kettle cooked, which I used to think meant being boiled in real kettles, but it actually just means deep-fried in a vat. We got to see this process in action for one brand of Passover potato chips. The production is a process that takes 48 hours. The chips are sliced, jetted into the vat of oil, where they're deep fried before moved out to dry. Then they’re passed through salters and get a nice showering. Then they're all bagged and left open to cool off for a few hours before sealing, because potatoes retain heat tremendously. Passover requirements means that there can't be an ounce of leaven, or any grain for that matter, in the production facility, so as to prevent the chips from becoming chametz (Hebrew for leavened). You also can't have the workers coming in with bread crumbs from their sandwich lunches, so everyone has to wash up after the break room and wear rubber gloves and other sanitary gear. Additionally, the machines are specially washed for a few days before the Passover run begins. Once the Passover run is over, they can go back to year-round kosher without cleaning in between, but not vice versa, since there's no need to certify the absence of leaven for year round products. Passover chips are made with certified-kosher-for-Passover oil, usually cottonseed, safflower, or sunflower. Normally the health factor is quite a concern with potato chips, surprisingly least of all because of the fat and calorie content. The main concern is the fact that factories often use oil that’s reused, because oil is expensive to change, so it could even be up to six months old. So you're basically downing very old oil. Bon appétit. But for Passover, you can never use reused oil because of the possibility of chametz, so you always have to use fresh oil and this makes the chips taste way better than year round chips – like, out-of-this-world and hit-the-moon amazingly good. So that's one Passover food that is actually healthier than the year round alternative, and even tastes better too! Quite a lot goes into kosher certification. The principles of Kashrut – such as thorough inspection, company compliance, production supervision, ingredient sourcing and more – are very organized and easy to understand. The application of these principles is where the fun starts and the great experiences are created that can leave you with lasting memories and fascinating stories to tell. Life is like that: if you do your job well, and make the best of things, it makes for a very interesting time to take with you and share with others.
By Deborah Fineblum JNS.org When it comes to acts of lovingkindness, plenty of rabbis talk a good game. But Rabbi Ari Sytner has put his entire self into the endeavor. To the rabbi, the person in the adjoining surgical suite on Dec. 19, 2011, was still a virtual stranger. He knew she was a 45-year-old single Israeli mom with three kids and Polycystic Kidney Disease (PKD), which had sapped her strength and kept her increasingly tied to the dialysis machine. Ronit Havivi had been a teenager when her own mother died of the disease at age 34. Her own prognosis? Not good, unless a donor could be found quickly. Fast forward five years. Against all odds, in a wedding hall outside Netanya in central Israel on Feb. 20, Rabbi Sytner’s voice sang out the blessing under the chuppah as Havivi’s daughter, Dana, married her childhood sweetheart Moshe Nawe — an occasion Havivi might easily not have lived to see without the rabbi’s kidney. That evening, Ronit Havivi took the rabbi around and introduced him to the guests at her daughter’s nuptials. “Come and sit with the family,” Havivi told Sytner. Accordingly, in all the group photos from the night, the rabbi—a slight young man with a huge smile—can be seen as very much a part of the family. The journey to the operating room had not been a simple one for the native of Monsey, New York., who was 34 at the time. His life, as the father of four children with a demanding job as a pulpit rabbi in Charleston, South Carolina, was already a full one. But when he read that 100,000 Americans are waiting for kidneys and will likely die within the next 10 years unless they receive one, he asked himself if he’d be willing to do it. His answer: “Maybe I would.” Sytner heard, through a Jewish organization working on making matches for kidney transplants, about a single mom in Israel whose kidneys were rapidly failing. “I wanted to save a Jewish life if I could,” he said. “In the ever-widening circle of tzedakah (charity), responsibility goes from our family to our community, to the Jewish people, to the world at large.” Initially, the family’s oldest son Reuven, who was 11 at the time, was strongly opposed to his father’s transplant. But when he heard the recipient was a single mom in Israel, he changed his mind. “If you die, Abba (father in Hebrew), we would be so sad, but we would still have Ema (mother). But if that single mom dies, her children would have no parents. They would be orphans. So I think you should do it,” Reuven had said. “I took his answer to be a divine message giving me the go-ahead,” said the rabbi. “It’s emunah—faith—which empowers you to do what ordinarily you could not do.” “We know it wasn’t easy for him,” said the kidney recipient’s aunt, Simcha Alone. “He has a family and he’s young, but still he gave of himself. When he sang the blessings under the chuppah we all cried. We know that because of him, Ronit is here
to celebrate this day.” After waiting in the Philippines for eight months for a cadaver kidney that never materialized, Havivi felt the clock ticking. “I knew my only hope was to find a transplant but, having waited so long, I didn’t know how good my chances were,” she said. Yet on Purim in 2011, her phone rang with good news: “There’s an American rabbi who might be willing to give you a kidney. Come in for blood tests.” After nine months of crosstesting and processing, Havivi flew from her home in Petah Tikva to New York. “When I met Ari I was speechless,” she recalled. “I just cried and I told him that ‘thank you’ sounded so weak for someone giving you back your life.” “With the transplant, I was able to have what my mom could not,” added Havivi, who celebrated her “fifth birthday’’ since the transplant last December. “Suddenly I was off dialysis and feeling well for the first time in years.” She was feeling so well, in fact, that at age 45 and with renewed strength, Havivi fulfilled her lifelong dream of completing law school. She is now an attorney specializing in labor and family law. “I’m 50 now and off dialysis, so I can work, be with my kids, have the joy of helping plan my daughter’s wedding and not worry if I’ll survive,” she told JNS.org before the wedding.
COURTESY OF RABBI ARI SYTNER
The ultimate Jewish wedding gift: a kidney and a life
Kidney donor Rabbi Ari Sytner with his recipient, Ronit Havivi, at the recent wedding of Havivi's daughter. The rabbi said his family has suddenly expanded. “I told her, ‘I’m a man and you’re a woman. I’m American and you’re Israeli. I identify as Orthodox and you don’t. I’m Ashkenazi and you’re Sephardic. But none of that matters. We’re family.’” Sytner has also written a book on his experience, “The Kidney Donor's Journey: 100 Questions I Asked Before Donating My Kidney.” He also blogs about the subject at akidneydonor.com. “I wish [such a book] was around when I was making this decision; it shows how you don’t lose something, you gain something,” Sytner said. “And since I can’t give any more kidneys, encouraging others is one way I can still help save lives.” Five years after that fateful meeting in adjoining operating rooms, Sytner has a new “sister,” Havivi, who insisted on meeting him at Ben Gurion Airport before his flight home from the wedding. “I told her that I wouldn’t have missed this wedding for anything.,” Sytner said. “Just think what it would be like if every kidney donor could have this kind of experience.”
Scholarship program assists Jewish students with college costs By Lorrie Sherline Special to HAKOL Congregations Sons of Israel is currently accepting applications for college scholarships. The Frank and Ada Segel Family Student Scholarship Program was established through a philanthropic bequest by Frank and Ada Segel's daughter, Helen Segel. Miss Segel recognized the importance of higher education and the need for financial assistance to students in the Jewish community. Frank and Ada Segel were members and friends of Congregation Sons of Israel, and Miss Segel wanted to honor her parents with this wonderful act of tzedakah. Jewish students of the Lehigh Valley who have been accepted or are currently attending college are encouraged to apply for the scholarship, which is meant for those who can demonstrate financial need. The Frank and Ada Segel family student scholarship program committee will decide who will receive the scholarship, which can be awarded on an annual basis for up to $5,000. Applications should be submitted by May 19, 2017. Please call Congregation Sons of Israel at 610-433-6089 for more information and to obtain an application.
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PJ kids were on a roll for Purim Photos courtesy of Seli Levi Allen
More than 40 families gathered at the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley on March 5 to make hamentashen and sushi for Purim. Dressed in their finest costumes, the kids had a chance to fill their own creations and enjoy the fruits of their labor. The event was sponsored by PJ Library, a program of the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Day School that connects young families with Jewish-themed books and each other. To learn more about PJ Library, visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org/pj.
Kitchens, baths and more d e s i g n e d w i t h l ove by o u r f a m i l y f o r yo u r s .
24 APRIL 2017 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
GIVE A MITZVAH, DO A MITZVAH
Building a suitcase for the Holocaust Resource Center Abby Shurman will become a Bat Mitzvah at Temple Beth El in Allentown on April 29, 2017. The Springhouse Middle School student loves basketball, soccer and also dance. When planning her mitzvah project, Abby was intrigued by the Holocaust Resource Center’s Legacy Exhibit and decided to construct a suitcase to add to the exhibit. The Legacy Exhibit is a moving display of museumquality artifacts, reproductions and original photographs available to schools through the Holocaust Resource Center of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. The exhibit is free to schools and libraries and is designed to supplement World War ll studies. You can learn more about the Legacy Exhibit at www.jewishlehighvalley.org/legacy. Abby’s suitcase focuses on Irena Sendler, a Polish non-Jew and member of the Żegota Warsaw resistance, who saved over 2,500 children from certain death in the Warsaw Ghetto. Irena Sendler served in the Polish Underground in German-occupied Warsaw during World War II, and was head of the chil-
dren’s section of Żegota, the Polish Council to Aid Jews which was active from 1942 to 1945. Assisted by some two dozen other Żegota members, Sendler smuggled approximately 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw Ghetto and then provided them with false identity documents and shelter outside the Ghetto, saving those children from the Holocaust. With the exception of diplomats who issued visas to help Jews flee Nazi-occupied Europe, Sendler saved more Jews than any other individual during the Holocaust. “The reason I chose to do this project is that it is very important to learn about the unpleasant past because it gives us motivation to work harder for peace,” Abby said when asked about why she wanted to produce the suitcase. “Andy and I are so proud of the work that Abby did for this project,” said Rachel Shurman, Abby’s mom. “It required a lot of background research and reading. We feel that in doing this work, she has learned so much about the history of our people, and the impact that one person can make on the world. Also, we
are happy to help with Holocaust education for young people in this area.” If you would like to make a donation to the Holocaust Resource Center in honor of Abby’s bat mitzvah, you may send a check to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley and note that your donation is for the HRC or donate by visiting http://bit. ly/2lmxnAE. In addition to her mitzvah project, Abby has made her first adult gift of tzedakah to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. For help developing your mitzvah project, contact Abby Trachtman, program coordinator, at email@example.com or call her at the Federation office at 610821-5500.
PJ LIBRARY Family of the Month: THE DANNAS
The PJ Library books we receive imbue everything our sons do with love and understanding: whether going to bed, celebrating the Jewish holidays, or giving kisses on the keppie. We are so grateful that PJ Library is part of our family’s Jewish way of life. SARAH AND KEVIN DANNA
To learn more about PJ Library and register to receive free Jewish-themed books for children from 6 months through 8 years, visit www.pjlibrary.org.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2017 25
Allentown BBYO hosts Liberty Region’s IT Convention 2017
Allentown BBYO takes IC
By Steven Lipson Allentown AZA
Allentown BBG has had a busy month, as many of our members have attended two regional conventions; International Convention (IC), which was Feb. 16-20, in Dallas, Texas, and In Training (IT), which was March 3-5, in Allentown. In March, BBG hosted a booth at the JCC Purim carnival and also planned many chapter meetings, in which we discussed many upcoming events. A few members of Allentown BBG and AZA attended IC in Dallas over Presidents Weekend. IC hosted thousands of teens, which many BBYO members claimed to be overwhelming at first due to sheer size. However, everyone adjusted very easily and made new friends with teens from across the world. Sam Ringold, a senior member of Allentown AZA, said that IC was one of the most meaningful experiences of his life. He got to hear from profound and inspiring speakers, like Aidy Bryant from Saturday Night Live and Oke Onaodowan from the original cast of Hamilton.
On March 3, the Allentown community welcomed over 200 teens from Liberty Region for its new member convention. Lincoln Weinstock, our regional moreh, coordinated the convention with Lacey Berk, our regional morah. Allentown AZA had over 30 boys attend during this weekend. Along with the entire region, the international grand aleph godol, Aaron Cooper, showed his leadership skills. Friday night was a whirlwind of new faces, programs and community. Allentown AZA led the way with our rules video, created and edited by Ben Palumbo. Services showcased our sense of family and people skills. All teens were put into small groups and given a questions sheet. They were able to learn more about where their peers came from and what is important in their lives. The schedule was rigorous, but resulted in an extremely fun weekend. “I was so tired by Sunday night because of all the activities we had accomplished. I always sleep in on the weekends, but I would take making new friends and learning about the Jewish world over sleeping in any day. It was also very comforting to have my brother to guide me,” said freshman Andrew Ringold. Saturday night was jam-packed with events. We had a meaningful service for Havdalah with prayers, songs and touching speeches. Our very own Josh Lemberg
Two Liberty region alephs (members) showcase the Allentown-AZA-designed shirts at IT Convention. and Robbie Shaff played guitar in front of the entire region. After the service had concluded, the party started. There was a DJ for dancing, basketball and Menchie’s frozen yogurt. On Sunday, the new members were able to experience their first regional meeting. Also, Allentown AZA designed salmon-colored T-shirts to sell during the Shuk. We ended up selling out of our shirts and more will be available during WOW weekend. As for now, the region is gearing up for WOW weekend in April in Newark, Delaware. We would also like to extend a huge thank you to Jeff Koch, our regional coordinator, and the entire Allentown community for hosting a great convention.
By Sophia McWilliams Allentown BBG
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Allentown BBG’s Carly Zager volunteering on a farm at IC with two girls from Long Island and San Jose. Another member of Allentown BBYO, senior Carly Zager, also attended IC. Carly and Sam both remarked on how they got to meet Jewish teens from over 30 countries. Carly, in particular, rekindled friendships with teens from Bulgaria and Turkey that she had met at IC last year. Both Sam and Carly found it incredible to connect with so many Jewish teens from around the globe and create such lasting friendships in just one weekend. Carly and Sam also shared their experiences
of volunteering at various places in Dallas, electing the 93rd Grand AZA International Board and the 73rd International BBG board and ending the convention with a concert featuring Nelly, Fifth Harmony and Auiden. Overall, Carly and Sam both found IC to be life changing, as it was filled with many new friends and experiences. They both wish they could attend IC in Orlando next year, but they know that IC in Dallas was a perfect way to cap off their senior year.
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BBYO convention brings companionship and learning opportunities for teens to the Lehigh Valley By Michelle Cohen HAKOL Editor
Grand Aleph Godol Aaron Cooper international presidents of other teen groups USY, NFTY, NCSY and Young Judaea “as an expression of solidarity and to say the next generation won’t stand for intolerance.” The second movement priority, Speak Up, is based on BBYO as an organization being “unapologetically in support of Israel as the Jewish state,” Cooper said. The teens develop an understanding of Israel and learn how to advocate, which leads into the third priority: “act locally, impact globally.” With groups in over 40 countries working toward the same goal, the organization hopes to inspire each member to understand that his or her actions can change the world. Cooper has taken an active role in international change, as he travels to different regions with his counterpart, the BBG international president, to encounter a variety of programming strategies. As part of the fourth movement priority, programming excellence, Cooper and his BBG counterpart, Ellie Bodker, attended programs in eight countries. Part of the goal of being a youth-led organization is teaching the teens how to run programs at the same caliber of programs at JCCs or other agencies, and to implement this standard internationally. Cooper was particularly excited to share his experience at a program in Bulgaria that felt as familiar and welcoming as a counterpart program in the United States. The fifth and final priority is growing the movement, imparting a call to action to new members. The ultimate goal of this is weekends like March 3-5 in Allentown, where so many new people took up the call together. In addition to creating a community for these teens during their 8th-12th grade years, BBYO partners with other organizations like Hillel, Moishe House, AEPi and other Jewish fraternities and sororities to stay involved with the Jewish community during and after college. Weekends like IT are just the beginning of a connected and fruitful Jewish adult life. As Cooper said, “BBYO helped provide me with the support system and welcoming community that allowed me to shape myself in high school. That’s the experience it provides for many members who are soulsearching – what my role can be in the Jewish community in the world beyond.”
By Jacob Kamaras JNS.org In an ever-polarizing age in America, nonprofits often need to decide how to make their organization’s voice or constituency’s voice heard on policy issues without making overtly political statements. Such was the delicate balancing act navigated by the BBYO Jewish pluralistic teen movement and the thousands of attendees at its recent International Convention. President Trump’s temporary ban on the entry of noncitizens from seven Muslimmajority nations continues to dominate the national discourse, and BBYO’s Feb. 16-20 convention in Dallas was no exception, with the travel ban as well as the issues of refugees and immigration finding their way into plenary sessions and breakout discussions. With teens, educators, professionals and philanthropists from 48 states and 30 countries making up a 5,000-person crowd, what is arguably the hottest-button issue of the moment was too large to ignore. “These teens have different opinions from each other,” Matt Grossman, BBYO’s CEO, tells JNS.org. “They should talk and explore and listen and challenge, and their own opinions as a result of that may strengthen or may move.” Among convention speakers and attendees, the common solution to avoiding overly polarizing discourse on refugees was to frame the issue from a human perspective, rather than as a political issue. “We’re very sensitive to this concept of everyone being at odds about how they feel we should be handling the global refugee situation,” said Grand Aleph Godol Aaron Cooper, the top youth leader in AZA. “With that in consideration, we found success in not framing it as a conversation on whether we are we letting refugees into one country or another. Rather, it’s about, ‘What are we going to do so that we are helping them in some capacity?’ For
JASON DIXSON PHOTOGRAPHY
On the weekend of March 3-5, teenagers from around the region came together at the JCC of the Lehigh Valley to get inducted into BBYO in a weekend filled with companionship and learning. The convention, called In Training (IT), is one of five weekend conventions run by BBYO each year. This one is particularly unique because older members don’t come to the weekend, which means all programming was directed toward new members. Jeff Koch, the regional director for Liberty Region, which encompasses eastern Pennsylvania, Delaware and part of Western New York, described the weekend as a time to “build relationships, educate [about] BBYO and show how it’s youth-led and incorporates fun into Judaism while building a Jewish Identity.” The weekend culminated in the induction of approximately 170 new teens into the Allentown AZA and BBG, the boys’ and girls’ groups, respectively. The weekend’s programming included four different pluralistic Shabbat services for different levels of observance, the induction ceremony, a dance and the new members’ first regional meeting with parliamentary procedure, run by regional board members. Joining these local leaders was Aaron Cooper, the grand aleph godol, or international president, of AZA. His responsibilities include corresponding with regional and national leaders in over 40 countries to implement international initiatives and campaigns at the grassroots level. Cooper addressed the new members at the convention, including in his talk his own memories of finding his place with the help of AZA. The son of a white Jewish mother from Long Island and a black father from South Carolina who was brought up in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Cooper was brought up Jewish, but questioned his identity. Growing up, “I wanted a box to fit in with one [group] or the other,” Cooper said, but “BBYO was able to help me develop an identity that reconciles the two,” he said. He shared his own story in the hopes to “use my identity as a platform” and “have my identity be a tool to tell a story to inspire people and accept diversity and cross-cultural interactions.” In addition to retelling his own story, Cooper also introduced the teens to BBYO’s “movement priorities,” which summarize the organization’s goals. The first is Stand Up, which is designed to encourage teens to become leaders in advocating for change. Each chapter is encouraged to come up with a cause to raise awareness and partner with a local organization to educate about the issue and offer marketing and fundraising support. Cooper implemented a version of this by making a joint statement about the recent anti-Semitic attacks with the
A Jewish youth convention’s delicate balancing act on the refugee debate
Delegates hold signs stating “We Remember” in five languages at the BBYO International Convention’s Friday morning plenary session Feb. 17.
those who wish to advocate for some sort of national entry, fine, but we’re also here trying to include the voices of the people who aren’t comfortable with that and still care about human beings. We have to really grapple with and exercise this whole principle of inclusivity.” Cooper’s BBYO leadership counterpart—International N’siah Ellie Bodker of the BBG women’s order— said that at a pre-convention summit in February, teens submitted two motions relating to refugees. One was a statement acknowledging the issue, connecting it to Jewish history and giving tangible next steps for communal dialogue. The other motion launched a programming resource on refugees for BBYO chapters, so that teens can “have a quality program that’s informative and appropriate and relevant to the topic,” Bodker told JNS.org. Most convention speakers focused on the general importance of activism and personal convictions. “In reality you are already leaders, you have already stepped up to the plate, and no matter how much fun you have at this convention, you already know that even though it’s a game-change, this is not a game,” said Alan Gross, the former USAID subcontractor who was imprisoned in Cuba for five years over his efforts to help that country’s Jewish community access the internet. Alina Gerlovin Spaulding, a motivational speaker and development consultant who
was a refugee herself before her family immigrated to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union in the 1970s, urged the youths to never be afraid of hearing “no.” Instead, she said, they should actively seek out those who disagree with them, in order to understand their perspectives. Social entrepreneur Adam Braun, founder of the Pencils of Promise educational nonprofit, advised the teens to “make sure that you’re a teacher and a student in every single room that you enter.” During a convention breakout session titled “Stand Up: Immigration & Refugee Crisis,” Imam Abdullah Antepli, the chief representative of Muslim affairs at Duke University, was asked for practical steps that can be taken to address the issue. First, he responded that social media usage should be cut back because if “you keep staying in these small echo chambers…there is a cost to your health. I urge you, use social media wisely and develop some filters.” Antepli recommended that before next year’s BBYO convention, the youths each host a Muslim family at a Shabbat dinner to deepen interfaith bonds and understanding. He also said they should try convincing their synagogues or other local organizations to sponsor a refugee family, with $3,500 covering three months of rent and other basic expenses. “How many of you think you can’t raise $3,500?” he challenged the teens.
For more information about getting involved with Allentown AZA or BBG, contact Jeff Koch at 610-3512444 or firstname.lastname@example.org. HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2017 27
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Costumed children at the Megillah reading at Temple Beth El.
The JCC kindergarten class shows off their costumes during the ECE Purim program.
‘70s Saturday Night Fever Purim celebration at Congregation Brith Sholom.
Purim Under the Sea and Megillah reading at Chabad of the Lehigh Valley.
The first annual Talent Show at JDS.
28 APRIL 2017 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Listening to the Megillah reading at Congregation Sons of Israel.
Grease: The Spiel at Congregation Keneseth Israel.
Annelise Davis as the Sweet Singer and Spencer Davis as Haman at Temple Covevant of Peace.
Purim Under the Sea and Megillah reading at Chabad of the Lehigh Valley.
Temple Covenant of Peace Moana spiel cast picture.
Sandy Newman, JCC assistant executive director, and Alexa Karakos, JCC director of Early Childhood Education, dress up for Purim.
More fun at the celebration at Congregation Brith Sholom.
Megillah reading at Temple Beth El.
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JDS Head of School Amy Golding at the Congregation Sons of Israel Megillah reading.
Rena Fraade and Rabbi Melissa Simon at Congregation Keneseth Israel.
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