HAKOL - April 2020

Page 1

The Voice of the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community



Issue No. 430


April 2020


Nisan/Iyyar 5780


Coronavirus: Updates and Innovations p11-14

Find tips on how to have holiday fun at home in our Passover special section


Jewish community finds ways to stay connected despite the coronavirus outbreak

Left, Israeli shlicha Rotem Bar introducing the the Federation’s Israeli Flag Competition in a Facebook video. Center, reviewing vocabulary words with Miss Sam and the JDS 3rd grade. Right, JCC virtual Shabbat with Eliana Schuster (L) and Ally Weiner (R).

With the spread of the coronavirus, the world looks a little different this month than expected. In the face of quarantines and working from home, everyone has had to make adjustments to their daily life. That, of course, includes the Jewish community and all of its agencies and organizations. Synagogues are streaming Shabbat services. Jewish organizations around the world are providing engaging content online including webinars, virtual events and even concerts. And our local Jewish agencies are doing everything they can to care for community members in need and keep the community connected -- albeit virtually. “Now, more than ever, we need to be there for each other and ensure that our resilient community will come out stronger than ever on the other side of this,” said Jeri Zimmerman, executive director of the Jewish

Federation of the Lehigh Valley. The Federation is in regular communication with all local agencies and synagogues to assess needs and offer assistance. Staff has continued to work remotely, has set up a resource page on the Federation website (www.jewishlehighvalley.org/ coronavirus) and continues to communicate regularly through email and social media. “We as a Federation, our job is to make sure that we help our agencies ... serve those in need in our community and abroad through exactly these types of crises,” said Federation President Gary Fromer. “That is exactly what Jeri and the team and our volunteers will continue to do, you have my assurance.” Federation is working closely with Jewish Family Service and the Jewish Community Center to provide for older adults and those in need in the community. While JFS has closed its officNon-Profit Organization

702 North 22nd Street Allentown, PA 18104

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es and Community Food Pantry, staff and volunteers continue to work remotely to make sure that emergency needs are met. They are also continuing to conduct counseling over the phone and check in on clients who may be facing increased social isolation. “We are not a crisis center, but thankfully we do have some resources available to help those who need it,” said Debbie Zoller, executive director of Jewish Family Service. “If you or anyone you know is in need of assistance, we urge you to leave a message at 610-821-8722.” The JCC is also working with partner agencies to address needs in the community. Their website, www.lvjcc. org/covid, features “JCC at Home” with many activity ideas for families. The JCC Facebook page has even more, with daily workout videos, children’s games, educational ideas and more. On Friday, March 20, JCC Executive Director Eric Lightman performed Shabbat songs with early childhood education families over Zoom for the school’s first virtual Shabbat. “During this unprecedented time, our staff has created a series of new online programs essentially overnight to keep our community members engaged and connected,” said Lightman. “Maintaining connections with others is core to the JCC’s mission, and it has never been so critical as now while we are all stuck in our homes without our usual social interactions.” The Jewish Day School of the

Lehigh Valley quickly turned over to online learning, with teachers providing daily instruction, and is finding ways to retain community bonds while apart from each other (see story page 8). From Facebook interaction to sharing in a virtual bat mitzvah of one of their students, they are keeping the children’s spirits up during this anxietyinducing time. “Our teachers’ creative juices are flowing and their dedication is evident—what makes them stars in the classrooms has helped them shine online,” said Amy Golding, JDS head of school. Israeli shlicha Rotem Bar is getting in on the action, hosting a contest for families to make their own versions of the Israeli flag and posting daily videos to the Federation Facebook page. The Partnership2Gether committee in Yoav, Israel, the Lehigh Valley’s sister region, is in touch regularly, sharing updates about what residents there are doing to keep busy. Many of our local synagogues are offering virtual Shabbat experiences. Rabbi Moshe Re’em of Temple Beth has been hosting Kabbalat Shabbat and Havdalah live on the temple’s Facebook page. Congregation Brith Sholom and Congregation Am Haskalah both held their Shabbat services via Zoom on March 20 and Congregation Keneseth Israel and Temple Covenant of Peace are working to launch their own virtual services. Congregation

Sons of Israel is providing daily Daf Yomi and morning prayer group online. And it doesn’t stop there. Many of Federation’s national and international partners are providing virtual content from PJ Library’s craft-alongs and virtual storytimes to Momentum’s daily “boost.” The Jewish Council for Public Affairs is providing frequent webinars with experts addressing the questions on everyone’s minds. AIPAC is sponsoring weekly engagement sessions for its club members. On March 22, The Jewish Agency for Israel hosted a concert on Facebook live with Idan Raichel which was watched by thousands and thousands of people from across the world. As Israeli President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement to the global Jewish community, “The whole world is, right now, in a difficult time of fear and confusion because of the corona crisis which has turned all our lives upside down and which has claimed lives. Now is the time when every country is calling out to its citizens to deal with the dangers together. But at this difficult time, we here in Israel think of another ‘together’ that we are a part of, and look to you, our brothers and sisters of the global Jewish community. Your welfare and ours are inextricably linked.” For links and to learn more, visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org/coronavirus or visit our agencies and synagogues on Facebook.

Embrace the opportunities this Passover presents Why is this Passover different from all other Passovers? In the age of coronavirus, social distancing and “flattening the curve,” the celebration of Pesach 5780/Passover 2020 is shaping up to be MUCH different than many of us have ever experienced previously. While families and friends navigate whether and how to host “virtual” seders, now is also a time to reflect on one of the core questions facing modern Judaism: how do we maintain and embody age-old traditions while merging them with modernity and staying relevant in contemporary times? There are several key messages that come from the Passover story. One is questioning.

The four questions ask everything from the general (e.g., why is this night different from all other nights?) to the specifics (e.g., why do we dip our vegetables in salt water?). This year, we seem to be presented with a whole new set of questions. How can we celebrate with our family and friends when we cannot physically be with them? How can we focus on the meaning of Passover when so many things are uncertain, and the daily news is so foreboding? I encourage you to lean into these questions in the spirit of Passover. Host a seder over Zoom. In addition to eliminating chametz, (leavened bread), maybe also take a temporary break from the news cycle? Continue to question,

and be creative in how you adapt your responses in the age of coronavirus. Another message emphasized on Passover is recognizing adversity. During the Passover seder, we dip vegetables in salt water, which symbolizes the tears of the Jewish people. We also eat bitter herbs to symbolize the suffering of the Israelites as slaves in Egypt. From adversity comes growth, and in remembering our peoples’ challenges, we can rejoice in overcoming it. Likewise, we are going through a time of adversity now—at the global level, the national level and personal level. Things may get worse before they get better, but as we know from the Passover story, through challenges come

opportunities: opportunities for growth, learning and, above all, compassion. Finally, through the Passover story, we are encouraged to express gratitude and recognize our freedom. In singing “Dayenu,” we are reminded of all the things that “would have been enough” had they been the only things the Israelites had received. If we had been brought out of Egypt, it would have been enough! If we had been given the Torah, it would have been enough! Yet we were blessed with so much more, and for that, we express our gratitude year after year through the Passover seder. And yet, as we are grateful for all the ways in which we have been granted freedom, we

A message from the Federation president

Dear Friends: The Lehigh Valley, along with the entire world, is in the midst of the continually evolving COVID-19 pandemic. We hope that everyone in our community is safe, secure and healthy. The circumstances we face – as individuals, parents, children, employees, business owners and organizational members and leaders – are uncertain. However, uncertainty and its close relation anxiety do not excuse us from accountability, planning and appropriate action. As

is most often the case, as this crisis evolves over time, it will disproportionately impact the least fortunate among us. This particular crisis also will place a heavy burden on our health care providers and staff, and their families. We all must be prepared and ready to help. Our Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley staff, led by Jeri Zimmerman, continue to operate remotely. Jeri and her team continue to coordinate with our agencies and synagogues in regard to their programming, support and the needs of their members and beneficiaries. We have maintained close and frequent contact with the leadership of the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Day School and the Jewish Family Service to assure that our agencies are able to continue to serve the community in these new circumstances, and that any emergency financial shortfalls can be addressed proactively. Online community events – advertised via email, social media and in this issue of HAKOL – allow us to connect and learn with our rabbis and cantors and our Jewish com-

munity, albeit on the computer screen only. Internally, our volunteers continue to meet virtually to continue our operational and support capabilities, and to address emergency funding requests. And, we are engaged regularly with the Jewish Agency for Israel and the Joint Distribution Committee, which provide support to Jews in need in Israel and abroad. The support you have provided and continue to provide, via volunteering, community participation and philanthropy, will make it possible for our local community to work its way through this crisis. We will support our agencies and our community members in need. We will initiate and execute emergency campaigns, for funding and volunteering, if, as and when appropriate. And we will come out the other side of this better than ever. Please be vigilant and safe, and please reach out to us if we can assist you in any way. Gary Fromer President, Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley

The Lehigh Valley-Yoav Partnership Park in Blessed Memory of Mark L. Goldstein We gratefully acknowledge those individuals who have offered expressions of friendship by requesting that trees be planted in the Mark L. Goldstein Friendship Park, a Yoav-Lehigh Valley Partnership Forest. IN HONOR SHARI SPARK In honor of your special birthday Arlene Gorchov IN MEMORY BROTHER (Brother of Shelley Eisner) Elaine Lerner

JULIE FUCHS (Wife of Spencer, mother of Jessica and Brittany) Arlene and Richard Stein PAUL LANGER (Husband of Elaine Langer) Aaron Gorodzinsky DAVID PHILLIPS (Father of Vanessa Shaw) Valeska and Israel Zighelboim

TO ORDER TREES, call the JFLV at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org. 2 APRIL 2020 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY

continue to recognize that freedom is not shared universally. In this age of coronavirus, we are especially reminded of the ways in which we are unequally affected by this pandemic. This year, although far from the norm, I urge you to focus on the positives—more time with family, time to unwind, a chance to expand your horizons—and let that be enough. Wishing you and your families a zissen Pesach taking good care to be healthy and safe.


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 hakol@jflv.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: hakol@jflv.org

ALLISON MEYERS Graphic Designer DIANE MCKEE Account Representative TEL: 610-515-1391 hakolads@jflv.org BAYLEY CARL Marketing & Engagement Associate

JFLV EXECUTIVE STAFF JERI ZIMMERMAN Executive Director STEPHANIE SMARTSCHAN Director of Community Development & Operations TEMPLE COLDREN Director of Finance & Administration AARON GORODZINSKY Director of Campaign & Security Planning JIM MUETH Director of Planned Giving & Endowments WENDY EDWARDS Office Manager GARY FROMER JFLV President

Member American Jewish Press Association

All advertising is subject to review and approval by The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley (JFLV). JFLV reserves the right to decline, withdraw and/or edit any ad. The appearance of any advertising in HAKOL does not represent an endorsement or kashrut certification. Paid political advertisements that appear in HAKOL do not represent an endorsement of any candidate by the JFLV.


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

Community Planning Committee lays groundwork for the future


By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Community Development & Operations The Lehigh Valley’s many Jewish organizations are looking to the future -- together. Over the past year, a small committee of community leaders has begun taking a look at the opportunities and challenges our community faces, and thinking about how to facilitate information exchange, idea sharing and active collaboration among different organizations to address them. The response was enthusiastic in February as that

committee convened a brunch attended by the leadership of all local Jewish agencies, synagogues, Hillels and outreach organizations to begin to assess needs and share best practices. “I really strongly feel that we have an opportunity that few other towns and cities have,” said Dr. Peter Fisher, who is co-chairing the Community Planning Committee with Dr. Israel Zighelboim. “We’re all involved with each other, and I think what we have the opportunity to do here is really look at ways that we can pool resources, talents, expertise, facilities and whatever else we

can do together to eliminate redundancy, become incredibly efficient at what we do and leverage all of the skill sets that we have across the board in the community.” The leaders discussed ways that community organizations are already collaborating from programming like the JCCJDS vacation camp and shared Shabbatons, to resources for things like security and marketing. “I felt a lot of energy in the room,” Zighelboim said. “People seemed really engaged in the discussion we had and that we’re embarking on a path

that is not owned by an individual agency, but is meant to be a collaborative effort.” After the brunch, each organization was asked to fill out an extensive survey to assess their own needs and challenges. The committee will then review the data and set up individual meetings with each organization before the whole group convenes again. “Once you start scratching the surface, there are obviously many places where people can collaborate,” Fisher said. “The CPC committee will facilitate those conversations, bring knowledge and data and

opportunities to the table, but each agency is going to figure it out for themselves what it is that makes sense for them at this point in time.” As our community faces some of the same challenges experienced by other Jewish communities, including a decrease in membership and dollars along with changing demographics, “people see this as a time of true need,” Zighelboim said. “The models in which different agencies work and become successful are very different from what they used to be in the past,” he said.

A LOT OF EVENTS ARE IN THE WORKS AND ENTHUSIASM IS IN THE AIR Check our website and Facebook for information about upcoming events WWW.JEWISHLEHIGHVALLEY.ORG



Women’s Philanthropy brings ‘New-ish & Jewish’ ladies together for hamentaschen baking

Momentum participants gather for Tu B'Shevat


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 | abbyt@jflv.org SPONSORED BY

The 2019 class of Momentum women enjoy a Tu B'Shevat seder led by community shlicha Rotem Bar.

Handmade Afghans BY EVA LEVITT

All proceeds benefit projects in Israel:

Food Banks in Israel Neve Michael Youth Village

For prices or to place an order, call Eva 610-398-1376.

All payments are made payable to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley 4 APRIL 2020 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY


Lenny Abrams

By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor Editor’s Note: We continue our series on individuals who have laid the foundations for the future of the Lehigh Valley Jewish community through their generosity this month by featuring Lenny Abrams. “Everybody loves Lenny. There is not a person that doesnt love Lenny,” said Vicki Wax, a longtime friend of Leonard “Lenny” Abrams, who considers him to be one of the first mentors she and her husband, Stan z”l, had in the Lehigh Valley. “We spent years together on the [Jewish Federation] board, learning from him.” Abrams arrived in the Lehigh Valley from New York in 1955, and he has been an integral part of the Jewish community for decades. “In Brooklyn, where I was born and raised, it was very, very difficult to feel a part of a community because there were so many people and it felt so distant and sort of at arm’s length constantly,” recalled Abrams. “Probably five or six years after I arrived in Allentown, when I began to become more settled, I sort of gradually became involved. And of course, I knew several of the mature, developed leaders of the community, such as Bernie Kobrovsky, Mort Levy and Bobby Klein. I, in short order, began to respect what these gentlemen had accomplished, and at the urging of Bernie and Morty, I became more and more involved.” That initial spark of involvement led Abrams to the Federation board, and then to campaign chair, and eventually to the Federation presidency. He also served on the board of the Jewish Community Center. Looking back, Abrams credits the leaders who came before him and worked with him for making the Lehigh Valley

Jewish community such a great place that he wanted to belong to. “I always felt that the leadership was a big, big factor,” said Abrams. “And as I look back, I think the leaders who preceded me really did a fine job of organizing the community and keeping it involved. The community leadership caused us to excel, and when we excelled we gained recognition as a relatively small community at that time that was raising money per capita as well as any Federation in the country.” Contributing to the Federation’s fundraising abilities is a source of pride for Abrams. In addition to helping with the Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs year after year, Abrams was also a pivotal part of creating the Lehigh Valley Jewish Foundation’s Heritage Society, which is comprised of individuals pledging to make a bequest of $100,000 or more to the Federation. Taffi Ney, former head of that endowment, describes Abrams thusly: “Always a jokester, but Lenny has a serious side (don’t tell anyone). He has a great mind for business and is a thoughtful leader and role model. A trustworthy confidante, loyal friend and real mensch, our community is fortunate to have an elder statesman like Lenny still involved and young at heart and mind.” Abrams has much hope for the future of the Lehigh Valley Jewish community and believes it is in the hands of good leaders now as it was when he first came here. “I admire the young leaders that have come forward, and I think they have a good feel for what has to happen next,” he explained. Jeri Zimmerman, executive director of the Federation, is grateful for his example. “I am so fortunate, as a

‘newcomer’, to know Lenny. In addition to the wonderful sense of humor he is so wellknown for, Lenny is warm and genuinely caring, and he makes a difference to the work we do,” said Zimmerman. “Lenny is a pleasure to work with, and he gets it!” As for Abrams, when he was doing the work to build up the Jewish community to where it is today, he wasn’t concerned with his own renown. “Actually, I never thought of it in terms of ‘impact’ while I was doing it,” said Abrams. “It’s only as the years have passed and I’ve grown older that looking back I realize that, you know, it was not just myself, there were so many other people that followed me. And when I was finished with my ‘prime time’ and I watched and saw these successors take the baton, it sort of made me feel better about what I had done and accomplished.” Wax summed up Abrams as a man of both intellect and humor. “He’s respected for his intelligence and loved for his life attitude and funny stories,” she said. “He is so smart, and he always knew how to guide Federation through difficult times. But, I cannot think of him without smiling. He’s like a stand-up comedian. Being with Lenny makes everyone happy.”


My first AIPAC experience By Rotem Bar Community Shlicha This March, I was one of 18,000 participants at the 2020 AIPAC Policy Conference. This was my first time attending or having any involvement with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and I have been wanting to go for years! I am so grateful to the Jewish Federation for giving me the opportunity to go. It was a powerful feeling to be part of the thousands of people that were there, all from different backgrounds and points of views. If I had to describe my experience there in one word, I would choose “WOW!” Wow, because this conference was so much bigger and more powerful than I could have ever imagined and half of the time I was walking around with my jaw dropped. As a (proud!) Israeli, I am humbled and grateful to know that there are tens of thousands of people from all over the country who gather each year with the purpose of supporting Israel, my home. Seeing so many people who stand united for Israel and who deeply care about the U.S.-Israel relationship was truly amazing! I must admit, at times I felt that it was almost like a “love fest” for Israel, and that made me move a little in my chair when certain speakers spoke, but 99% of the time I felt proud—proud of my country and proud of all the people who take action in the proIsrael movement, people who work together to make this world better! It made me feel that this is a love affair that is deserved and needs to be expressed and celebrated. Being around people who are doers, who take action and are involved in politics, in pro-Israel initiatives and innovation gave me

Freestyle Mission aims to bring a new kind of Israel experience to older adults

By Stephanie Goodling HAKOL Editor

a wave of inspiration while meeting, seeing and hearing about individuals who continue to act and have fire in their eyes to create positive change in this world. I learned my fair share of American politics (it’s about time!), and I have met many inspiring people, old and new! The hashtag for the 2020 AIPAC conference was #aipacproud. I left the conference truly feeling “AIPAC proud” to be one of those people who take action in creating a strong and deep connection to Israel and the Jewish people. Thanks to AIPAC and all the people that were there I feel like the future is bright, that America has our back and that we are all family.

When Phil Michel and his wife, Ruth, came out of a film about Israel a few years ago, they were enthralled with the idea of visiting the country. They overheard other couples around them saying the same thing. They decided that they’d finally give in to his cousins who live there and go on a visit, despite the distance and perceived risks. When at last they arrived, they were blown away. “We had a wonderful time, and all the misconceptions we had growing up about Israel were wrong,” said Michel reflecting on his first trip. Now, he is leading a brand-new kind of mission next year, geared at other older adults like him. The concept is called “Freestyle Mission”--because everyone has different needs and desires, Michel is working with the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley as well as Jewish Family Service to begin planning over a year in advance to accommodate everyone who signs up for the trip. The travelers will have the opportunity to pick their own path for portions of the trip.

The idea has struck a chord with the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, as they have already had 16 people attend the first information session and even more stating their interest. “It looks like it’s really going to take off. I’ve had some people say, ‘Just tell me when to get on the bus,’” he joked. The goal is over the next year to meet several times and find out what people are interested in and what their abilities are. Each participant will be interviewed by Carol Wilson, MSW, LSW, program manager and community liaison for older adults at JFS. Participants will also be taking a few lessons to brush up on their Hebrew and working together to choose a charity to visit and contribute to while on the mission. One of the hopes is to forge community before, during and after the excursion. “Instead of one of these situations where you sign up for a tour and meet everyone for the first time when you get to the plane, we’ll have the opportunity to meet people a year and half in advance. This will help us bond, which is nice for retired people because a lot of people don't really know a lot of people other than their immediate circle of friends,” explained Michel. And, Michel also thinks it will be nice for everyone in the group be understanding of each other’s possible limitations. “We’re all over 65. My wife and I, we’re very active, and while we think we’re in good shape, things happen. We have to recognize the fact that the group is pretty much all in the same situation, so we’re planning to provide support so that if something happens, we’ll be in a position to react,” said Michel. An exciting itinerary with options that fit all participants’ needs is in the works for Spring 2021. The Freestyle Mission for Older Adults will cap its capacity at 20 participants, so if you are interested, please contact the Jewish Federation at 610-821-5500 or mailbox@jflv.org.



The beauty of spring and fun of Purim in Yoav By Nurit Galon Partnership2Gether What a month this has been! Beginning with an ongoing bombardment of missiles disguised as balloons from Gaza to the settlements and cities in the surrounding areas, followed by a switchback Election Day, sometimes we wish to change the Chinese proverb that “We live in interesting times” to “We should only live in boring times occasionally!” Add to this the increasing spread of the coronavirus, and the media have plenty to report! And though, of course, this affects us in Yoav as it does the whole

of the country, meanwhile we are still waiting to see if we have a government! In happier news, prior to our social distancing, the Yoav Steering Committee hiked together through the beautiful Canada Park in Yoav. The wildflowers are breathtaking (see photo) and the connection between nature and archeology and Biblical history make the area of Yoav very special. Perhaps you’ll join us next year? (Or any time!) In March, four neighboring municipalities and their tourist departments get together to present the Green Festival, with a truly amazing number of

activities, including hiking and biking, shows for every age, every kind of ethnic food prepared by the variety of ethnic groups in the area and open houses of the artisans in every kibbutz, moshav and country village. It is a riot of color and music, wonderful smells of delicious foods and much more. (See photo) Very soon after I write this, it will be hard to walk through the streets of Israel without being hit with plastic hammers or a stream of colored spray— Purim is here! We hope all of you had a happy and enjoyable Purim with lots of Hamantashcen, or as we say here, oznei haman (the ears of Haman).

Yoav P2G steering committee hiking through Canada park

Left, wild flowers in Canada park where the Yoav steering committee hiked together. Right, picnic time for Yoav P2G steering committee on the hike in Canada park.

A letter from the Yoav Partnership2Gether Committee From Dr. Matti Sarfatti Harcavi, mayor, Regional Council of Yoav, and Hana Bachar, Partnership2Gether Co-Chair To our dear friends and partners in Lehigh Valley, How amazing that in such a short time since the coronavirus appeared, it has affected every aspect of our lives! All of a sudden, words like “quarantine,” “home teaching,” “vacation with pay,” and “Sorry, closed till further notice” have become an everyday part of our vocabulary. Every day, our news broadcasts begin with statistics—how many people have contracted corona, how many are considered to be housebound in case they are sick and what is happening in the rest of the world. There is no end to the experts who tell us what to expect, how to behave and the importance of the much disliked isolation for the groups in danger in order to protect them. Here in Yoav, we at least have the consolation of knowing that we have a strong and well-organized municipality, with a local leadership that, perhaps sadly, has had too many emergency military situations over the years, and accordingly all the Yoav communities have emergency teams that receive daily updates about what is happening in the country and in Yoav in particular. Basically, like all local governments, Yoav is bound by the ongoing guidelines decided upon by the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Education and the government. And though these guidelines are often irksome and limiting of group and personal freedoms (and we complain quite a lot!), nevertheless, we do realize that this time we

are fighting an unknown and dangerous enemy and are determined to do everything required to ensure the safety of our citizens. Daily bulletins are dispatched to each community to ensure that everyone is well informed of what is happening. We issue all the instructions for avoiding handshakes and frequent handwashing and have installed disinfection facilities in our buildings and buses. Our children learn at home, and many of our municipal staff also either work at home or have had to take vacations. All our seniors, adult and children’s activities both in the community center and in our kibbutzim, moshavim and villages have been suspended, and we are doing our very best to provide answers especially for our

senior citizens in their home quarantines. We know that the Lehigh Valley Jewish community is facing the same or similar situations and are sure that if there are ways in which we can help and learn from each other, it

will give us all a deepening sense of the bond between us. While our plans for visits to each other must be on hold for the time being, we can encourage and support each other by being in touch and sharing our experiences.

We hope and pray that we will continue to be strong, and soon be through this difficult time. We wish you health, health, and more health! On behalf of the entire Yoav community, we send good health to everyone.


Creating an online school and virtual community in the time of COVID-19

By Amy Golding JDS Head of School As the world changed around us, the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley shifted from a community school in a building to a community virtual school overnight. As we launched our distant learning program, JDS@Home, we also launched a sacred space without walls. During times such as this, we need inner strength, positivity and community connection; and it is times such as this that we are grateful for JDS. Our JDS@Home education team moved swiftly the week before all schools in Pennsylvania were officially ordered to close. As the Purim Megillah was chanted in our multipurpose room and a Purim carnival was taking place in our middle school wing, the team planned for the launch of a new format for our virtual school. We knew we had to build a high-caliber distant learning pro-


gram that matches what we do daily in the school. During an after school faculty meeting, we familiarized ourselves with Google Meet to use for online classes. We planned for students’ technological needs at home— providing all third- and fourth-graders with chromebooks, WiFi hotspots for those who did not have internet at home, chrome books for students with multiple children at home and signed out faculty computers and ordered headsets. We prepared our students with the language they needed to gently understand the crisis around them and to prepare them for distant learning by practicing to use the new online programs. By Monday morning, the first day of school closure, we were testing all technology with our students from home, and our lower school students were deeply immersed in a teacher-led packet with support from Class DoJo, an online platform that allows us to share pictures and videos with the children. Our teachers were using a WhatsApp group to support one another. Our guidance counselor was ready to reach out to students and faculty on a rotating basis. We ensured that our education specialist could continue offering resource support and enrichment from afar. We added a physical education and an art program, Student Council helped us create a Logo Contest for JDS@Home, our guidance counselor started virtual lunch bunch meetings with four students at a time, we hosted a Zoom Shabbat party for our youngest students, daily storytime with our teachers, a school-wide yoga class taught by a parent and much, much more. As our faculty was heading out the door before we closed our building, parent Brenna Schlossberg wrote, “I’m so thankful JDS online school Continues on page 21

IN HONOR LAURA AND BOB BLACK In honor of your daughter Stefanie’s engagement to Alex Alchek Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald SANDRA AND HAROLD GOLDFARB In honor of the birth of your great grandson, Luca David Weinstein Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald SUZANNE LAPIDUSS In honor of the birth of your grandson, Mathias Matan Billig Wendy and Ross Born BROOKE PLOTKIN AND BEN LEFFEL In honor of the birth of your daughter "Charlie" Sybil and Barry Baiman MARGO AND ERIC LIGHTMAN In honor of the birth of your son, Asher Levi Lightman Vicki Wax AMY AND ROB MORRISON In honor of the engagement of your daughter Rachel to Jeff Mermelstein Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald AUDREY AND NICK NOLTE In honor of the birth of your grandson, Luke Michael Nolte Wendy and Ross Born Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald SHARI SPARK Happy birthday Arlene and Richard Stein MARTIN WEINBERG Wishing you a speedy recovery Barbra and Arthur Weinrach BARBARA AND ARTHUR WEINRACH In honor of your daughter Julie’s marriage Wendy and Ross Born IN MEMORY TED MARKSON (Father of Bill Markson) Carol and Barry Halper FAYE MOZES (Yahrzeit)

Nahum and Ruth Vishniavsky DAVID PHILLIPS (Father of Vanessa Shaw) Lauren and Doron Rabin HELEN AND SOL KRAWITZ HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FUND IN HONOR LYNDA KRAWITZ In honor of your special birthday Lynda and Richard Somach Arlene and Richard Stein JANE AND BILL MARKSON In honor of the marriage of your son Jon to Julia Lynda and Richard Somach IN MEMORY EDNA BRILL (Wife of Harry Brill) Lynda and Richard Somach LINDA CHMIELEWSKI (Mother of Danielle Silverman) Lynda and Richard Somach LOUIS FURMANSKY (Father of Stewart Furmansky) Lynda and Richard Somach MALCOLM LEVY (Father of Carol Wilson) Lynda and Richard Somach TED MARKSON (Father of Bill Markson) Lynda and Richard Somach STANLEY STEIN (Brother of Richard Stein) Lynda and Richard Somach 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.

Don’t believe in God? Lie

RABBI MELODY DAVIS Temple Covenant of Peace One of my students recently came to my office in tears. His beloved dog had just died. A well-meaning family member informed him that dogs do not have souls and do not go to heaven. Really? (I just love the fact that some folks know things with absolute certainty…. I wonder from whence they derive their scientific data.) I believe that animals do have souls. Psalm 36 states: “Your loving kindness, O Lord, is in the heavens; and your faithfulness reaches to the clouds. Your righteousness is like the great mountains; your judgments

are a great deep; O Lord, you preserve man and beast.” Jews who keep kosher don’t eat the blood of birds and mammals because that’s where their souls are said to be. Judaism clearly says that animals are created by God, are capable of suffering and need to be cared for. I hereby declare (as a Jew and a rabbi) that my dog will meet me in heaven. I believe this wholeheartedly. Can I prove it? No. It may sound odd for a rabbi to say this but there is a time and place to lie. Lying in order to preserve the peace or not hurting someone’s feelings is appropriate and necessary. I think it is much better to say “I’m simply too busy right now, perhaps another time …” What is the alternative? Blatantly declaring “I just don’t want to be bothered with you?” Most of us have little difficulty with the polite, social lie. It is an understood part of the civil contract. It can be more difficult talking to our children about God. As adults, many of us have questions about God’s existence, God’s role in our world, miracles, etc. If you don’t believe in God, that is your choice. When dealing

with your child, lie. Harvard researchers did a study in 2018 examining how being raised in a family with religious beliefs affects mental health. The bottom line: Children and teens who reported attending a religious service at least once a week scored higher on psychological well-being and had lower risks of mental illness. According to therapist Erica Komisar,* the belief in a protective God who is there when times are difficult is one of the best resources for kids in a negative, pessimistic world. I’m not advocating a

“My Little Pony” attitude for everything. If Grandma dies, you tell the child that she died—not that she went to sleep. “Did she go to heaven?” You and I don’t really know the answer to that question but again: I suggest you subdue your niggling doubts and say “Yes.” (If you believe in God and heaven, then you don’t have the problem of many who are atheists, agnostics, nihilists, etc.) This is not a question of being true to yourself or not. It’s a matter of what is best for your child. In our fast-paced, mecentered society, religion provides our children with

the opportunity of being part of an extended family— which many of us no longer have nearby. My children have had the incredible benefit of having several bubbies and zaydes in shul. These folks have been—and continue to be—a blessing in our lives. Do yourself and your kids a favor: if you don’t believe in a Higher Being, keep it to yourself. Give them the safety net and the gift of a relationship with God. If you don’t believe: Lie. *Komisar, Erica. “Don’t Believe in God? Lie to Your Children.” Wall Street Journal, December 5, 2019

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JCPA webinar provides Jewish community with COVID-19 overview

By Bayley Carl JFLV Marketing & Engagement Associate On March 20, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs hosted an informational webinar concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. David Bernstein, president and CEO of JCPA, interviewed Dr. Asaf Britton, MD, MPH, about his take on the coronavirus, as many members of the Jewish community joined in via Zoom. These webinars are meant to keep the Jewish community as connected and informed as possible during this time of confusion and isolation, according to JCPA, which is continuing to host webinars on different topics. Alongside the questions Bernstein asked, the floor was also opened to questions from the audience. One of Britton’s biggest talking points was about social distancing: what it really is, and what to do when you can’t avoid going outside. Social distancing is not just staying out of crowded restaurants. True social distancing, in Britton’s opinion, means that your kids shouldn’t be playing outside with their friends right now. Even a small group gathering could be dangerous— especially because so many young people are asymptomatic.

While social distancing, the safest practice is to stay at home with the people that you live with. But, some trips outside are inevitable—such as trips to the grocery store. Britton’s tips for making these trips include going by yourself and planning ahead exactly what you’re going to get once you’re there. Britton stressed not to touch any unnecessary surfaces, and when you get home, wash your hands rigorously. As of March 20, the day of this webinar, the social distancing guidelines were rather loose. But, cities like Los Angeles are ordering that residents shelter in place for the foreseeable future. According to Britton, enacting shelter in place orders is a good thing. He also encouraged his audience to contact their state and local leadership to inquire about the effectiveness of a shelter in place order. The more people stay home, the sooner social distancing will become less necessary. But if we do not take extreme measures to isolate ourselves, soon, the virus will continue to spread, and eventually hospitals will become overwhelmed. What we need to do is flatten the curve. Imperial College of London published a pessimistic graph of what the next few months will look like in the United States if we do not begin social distancing immediately.

Another, even more sobering piece of information from Italy: on Feb. 9, the obituary page in an Italian newspaper was one page (the usual length). One month later, on March 13, it was over 10 pages. Another aspect of the coronavirus covered in the presentation was who is at high risk to get it and to whom it can be fatal. While the coronavirus is exceptionally dangerous for elderly people, as far as medical conditions go, aging is not a medical risk. While people under the age of 19 are far less likely to be harmed by the virus, they could still carry it. Cardiovascular disease, current active cancer under treatment, immunosuppressant medications and more than 10 or 15 other mild conditions are all things that would put a seemingly “healthy” person at risk. But, as Britton pointed out, “risk is not destiny.” You can practice social distancing and hand washing to stay out of the way of transmission. He also tells his patients, “don’t worry alone,” which is relevant for our current situation. The final note that Britton touched on was how to keep the Jewish community active and close during this time of social distancing. He suggested that we begin to share Shabbat virtually. He spoke to a recent occasion where he sat Shiva virtually, and it was a whole different kind of experience that he truly felt brought everyone together. Britton continued to stress the importance of Judaism no matter the medium or form it’s communicated through. He encouraged everyone to think of this as leaning into Passover, and reminded the audience that every crisis breeds opportunity.

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Startup Israel tackles coronavirus with ingenuity and chutzpah By Abigail Klein Leichman Israel21c A handwashing machine and facemasks that claim to kill coronavirus. Contact-free monitoring of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. Proactive policies to prevent the spread of the virus. A possible vaccine on the horizon. These are among the many ways Israel is responding with characteristic swift ingenuity to the raging coronavirus pandemic. Even before anyone knew coronavirus would reach the Middle East, Israeli humanitarians sprang into action. Several organizations shipped protective gear to China and IsraAID offered remote stress-management courses for Chinese healthcare workers. About 100 Israeli physicians volunteered to lead video Q&A sessions with quarantined COVID-19 patients in China through Israeli nonprofit Innonation. TECH FOR CORONA On the technology front, Israelis startups immediately began brainstorming how their inventions, some intended for different purposes entirely, could help in the current crisis. Soapy introduced an antiviral soap for its automatic handwashing microstations already used in many countries. Testing done before the coronavirus outbreak proved that a special plant-based ingredient, also made in Israel, combined with the machine’s capabilities, kills a virus more resistant than corona. CoughSync, developed at Jerusalem’s Alyn pediatric and adolescent rehabilitation hospital to help children unable to cough for themselves, sought approval from China as a tool for treating COVID-19 patients with pneumonia and for reducing risks to healthcare providers. Antimicrobial fabrics developed at Sonovia and Argaman — potentially for hospital linens or chemotherapy patients — may be made into facemasks that potentially kill, not only block, coronavirus. One country has already bought treated fabric from Argaman to make 1 million Bio-Block masks. Labs in China and Singapore have started testing Sonovia’s fabric. And the MIGAL Galilee Research Institute quickly began reformulating a vaccine it’s been developing against poultry coronavirus over the past four years. Though it was widely reported that MIGAL’s human vaccine could be ready within 90 days, an institute spokesperson tells ISRAEL21c that it’s the prototype of such a vaccine that may be ready quickly. The prototype would have to be licensed to another company for human trials. If such trials satisfy regulatory requirements, then manufacturing would begin in a regulation-compliant facility. The whole process could take at least a year or two. Whether MIGAL’s vaccine candidate ultimately succeeds or fails, the effort is emblematic of Israel’s can-do attitude to crisis management. It’s just one of many solutions for coronavirus care being piloted here.


ISRAELI STARTUPS HELP COVID-19 PATIENTS One place where Israeli COVID-19 patients are hospitalized in isolation is at Chaim Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer, Ramat Gan. Sheba, the largest medical center in the Middle East, houses the ARC Innovation Center directed by Dr. Eyal Zimlichman, chief medical and innovation officer at the medical center. “When we knew we were getting exposed people from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan [in February], we reached out to the telemedicine startups we work with in ARC to see if they wanted to test their technologies,” Zimlichman told ISRAEL21c. The first ones were TytoCare, Datos, Uniper Care and EarlySense. TytoCare’s remote examination device enabled Sheba doctors to assess Israelis on the cruise ship suspected of having the virus before they even disembarked. The Datos automated remote care platform enabled Sheba’s first-of-its-kind coronavirus telemedicine program. Medical staff can monitor and supervise quarantined or mildly ill patients, avoiding unnecessary hospital trips and exposure. Uniper lets quarantined patients participate in classes and social activities via an interactive video-communication platform designed for homebound elderly people. EarlySense is an under-the-mattress, no-contact sensor system that monitors and analyzes patients’ breathing patterns for subtle changes and potential signs of respiratory infection. Sheba is also using BioBeat’s wireless, noninvasive stickers, FDA approved for monitoring blood pressure, blood oxygen saturation and pulse rate. Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa has integrated BioBeat in its new coronavirus ward as well, to limit physical contact with patients. “This is critically important,” says Zimlichman. “We know that about 30 percent of healthcare workers in Wuhan, China, contracted the disease from patient contact.” Hospitals in Southeast Asian countries including China, Japan, South Korea and Hong Kong are using another Israeli invention, the Temi personal robot, to minimize patient contact. The parent company is headquartered in New York and China with R&D in Tel Aviv. Originally built to help busy people maintain contact with elders and children at home, Temi was named one of TIME Magazine’s 100 Best Inventions of 2019 and won a Best of CES Asia award. Recently added features empower Temi to do tasks such as taking temperatures and carrying food to patients under quarantine. A handwashing sink can be attached too. CORONA HACKATHON During the last week in February, ARC organized a coronavirus hackathon for which 25 participants registered in 24 hours. “It shows how people felt they wanted to contribute,” said Zimlichman. The solutions proposed ranged from vaccines to therapeutics to remote moni-

The home telemedicine device includes an integrated stethoscope, otoscope and computer-vision camera. toring technologies. ARC experts chose five that will develop their products with access to data and samples from Sheba’s COVID-19 patients. Sheba also held a webinar to share its coronavirus care experience with hospitals in the United States, and possibly one in Singapore. Zimlichman said he hopes that the huge amount of patient data being generated on Sheba’s isolation unit eventually will allow for predicting which coronavirus-exposed patients will develop the COVID-19 disease and which will be more severe. “One of the ideas we’re considering now is to ask our ARC partners around the world to use similar monitoring technologies and collect data that we can all share. For now, only Israel is doing this,” said Zimlichman. TWO DECADES OF PREPARATION In contrast to the unexpected application of Israeli technologies to the coronavirus crisis, the Israeli government had long ago laid the foundation of its uniquely aggressive policy to prevent widespread infection. “Israel has been preparing for this kind of event for at least two decades with the establishment of an epidemiological response and intervention team,” said Prof. Nadav Davidovitch, director of the School of Public Health at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. “We have a very strong system for lab testing, a strong surveillance system for influenza outbreaks and a strong public health system well trained to do epidemiological investigations. Since we have national health insurance, we have excellent electronic records and integration between clinic and community,” Davidovitch told ISRAEL21c. Israeli coronavirus policies demonstrate a type of chutzpah – a daring to mandate precautions other countries have hesitated to implement. On March 9, the government ordered all arrivals into Israel to undergo a 14-day quarantine, and ordered all international tourists to leave the country over the following few days. “Israel may be the only country in the Western world that hasn’t had unaccounted-for infections,” said Prof. Tomer Hertz of the Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics at Ben-Gurion University. “That’s because of strict policies implemented from the get-go and also because there aren’t many entry points into Israel, so we can control who comes in.” Israel’s Magen David Adom national emergency response network has part-

nered with the Health Ministry in setting up a hotline that allows callers to have video conversations with doctors, nurses and medics. MDA sends healthcare personnel to test people for the virus at home. Israel has initiated international cooperation on coronavirus policy with the U.S. government and leaders of countries in Europe and the Middle East. Massive disinfection of public places is planned, as well as a program to expand the number of people who can be tested for coronavirus quickly and without leaving home. “We are looking for cheaper and quicker testing kits,” says Dr. Ashir Shalmon, director of international relations at the Health Ministry. Possible solutions include a diagnostics kit from BATM said to detect coronavirus from saliva samples in less than half an hour; and a proven rapid-diagnosis technology developed at Bar-Ilan University that U.S.-Israeli company MagBiosense is using to develop a device for rapid pointof-care diagnosis. ADDRESSING NONMEDICAL NEEDS Joe van Zwaren, president of JLM-BioCity — a group of professionals from the life-sciences and biomed fields working to position Jerusalem as the capital of Israel’s biomed and life-sciences industry – has compiled a list of nearly 20 Israeli biotech companies relevant to the coronavirus pandemic. Other Israeli companies also have technologies to assist in areas beyond health that are affected by the outbreak. With many schools and businesses around the world closed due to coronavirus cases, for example, Israeli firms Kaltura and Class.me are helping to assure that business operations and education don’t have to stop even if schools are closed and conferences canceled. Israel’s Ministry of Education has set up remote learning platforms as well as an emotional health hotline for the thousands of students and hundreds of teachers currently quarantined at home. The Israeli Finance Ministry is establishing an emergency fund for affected businesses, and the air force has been recruited to help ensure the continuity of the essential supply chain for the Israeli economy. Jerusalem-based investment platform OurCrowd held a webinar on March 18 about the impact of coronavirus on startups and some of the steps that can be taken to mitigate damage. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to “enlist the best minds in Israel in order to efficiently separate the healthy and the sick.”


‘I’m mentally preparing for a few months’: Meet an Israeli doctor on the coronavirus front lines By Uriel Heilman Jewish Telegraphic Agency

JTA: Were you prepared for this? Rosenberg: We imagined this day might come, but we never really translated that into operational contingencies. Setting up an isolation unit for patients with this disease has definitely been a challenge. The last two weeks have been a learning process and a training process for something that might get much worse very quickly. What did you do on Day 1? When the first patient was admitted to our unit, I remember suiting up and getting into all the layers of protective gear and entering an airlock that separates the clear zone from the infected zone. It was an astronaut-like experience. As I held the door of the airlock, I felt, wow, I’m stepping into the unknown and taking part in something that’s a worldwide challenge. It was a mixture of fear and excitement and a reminder of why I chose to do what I do. How do you provide care given the risk of contagion? Our unit is divided into two sections: the confirmed corona section, where everyone who has the same disease can interact, and another unit for patients with high suspicion of corona where each patient is isolated in his or her room until they receive test results. What we’re trying to do is maximize patient care with minimal staff exposure. Technology helps. What is the course of treatment? There is no evidence-based treatment yet. There’s a lot of research being carried out right now around the world on various forms of medication.... We’re basing what we do on developing supportive care, usually with oxygen, and waiting for the patient’s own immune response to kick in and eliminate the virus. How long does it typically take for patients to get through coronavirus? Between several days and a few weeks. That’s the challenge with this disease. If there’s an influx of patients that require hospi-

How are the patients managing the emotional burden of isolation with coronavirus? It’s very difficult. The uncertainty is very intense. Every cough, every fever, every change in their oxygen saturation level is usually a cause of a lot of stress. The cough and shortness of breath are nasty. The isolation from family is very difficult. It’s a very unsettling experience. Using telemedicine, they speak daily with a social worker to try to vent their feelings, their concerns, their fears. We understand the emotional impact of being there with them is crucial, and that’s why we see every patient every day face to face even if there’s not a medical necessity for it. I think they feel much more secure when we’re in there with them. The human contact, putting a comforting hand on their shoulder, has a psychological impact. Are you well-staffed for coronavirus? Staff is a weak point. We started this epidemic when the Israeli health care system is generally understaffed. Right now our unit is based on volunteers — people that expressed a willingness to take part in this. We’re not forcing anybody. There is a lot of concern among all lines of work in the hospital — ranging from doctors and nurses to radiology technicians and orderlies and maintenance staff. In the beginning, there were no maintenance workers willing to enter the unit to mop the floors, clean the bathrooms, empty the garbage cans. Only after I lectured them and promised to go in with them and help them out did two workers agree to go into the unit. They were petrified in the beginning, but once they were inside and met the patients and saw that it’s not as bad as they imagined, they did their job very well and agreed to volunteer to join our team.

extensive repercussions, so we’re hoping we all stay healthy. I have extensively limited my exposure to other wards in the hospital. I canceled all my outpatient clinics. Our unit has to be specially cared for so as not to expose to potential infection. I’m also limiting my exposure to places where I might contract the virus. I haven’t been in stores, I haven’t gone to shul. What does your family say about your work? I think they understand the importance of what I’m involved in. My 12-year-old daughter specifically pointed out that she’s proud of me, which moved me greatly. What do you tell your family about how to stay safe? Wash hands very frequently. Don’t touch your face. Try not to come into physical contact with other people. Try to limit your distance to anybody outside of the family to 2 meters (about 6 feet). I have been limiting myself to very little physical contact with my wife or my children. They’ve decreased their social contacts extensively. What’s your take on Israel’s handling of the pandemic? I’ve gone through a swing of the pendulum. In the beginning, I thought this was handled way too aggressively and that the measures the government decided on were extreme. As time progressed, especially with


When it became clear that the COVID-19 pandemic would reach Israel, Elli Rosenberg was one of a small number of medical professionals at the Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva to answer a call for volunteers to treat the sick. Rosenberg, a clinical immunologist who works as an internist at Soroka, now runs the coronavirus unit there. As of Thursday, March 19, his hospital — the largest in southern Israel — had 14 confirmed coronavirus patients. Rosenberg spoke with the Jewish Telegraphic Agency about the unique elements and challenges of caring for coronavirus patients, Israel’s handling of the pandemic and the changes that ordinary people should make in their lives to reduce the risk of infection.

talization for long stays, that might overwhelm the health care system’s capacity. There won’t be enough beds, there won’t be enough staff, there won’t be enough respirators. That’s the real concern. We’re trying our best to prepare for an uncontrollable wave of patients.

Dr. Elli Rosenberg, a clinical immunologist at Soroka Medical Center in Beersheva, Israel, is managing his hospital’s medical response to the coronavirus. examples coming in from different countries around the world of how governments responded and what the consequences were — for better and for worse — I slowly shifted to the point right now where I hope we’re not too late with the actions we’re taking. If we want to beat this, social distancing and personal hygiene and increased testing have to be implemented and enforced at the highest level, and I feel we’re not there yet. How long do you think this will last, and how bad will it get? Nobody really knows. I’m

mentally preparing for a few months. I’m also preparing for a situation where it gets worse before it gets better. We’re trying to make the most out of the resources we have, to maximize our ability to provide care in the event that this turns out to be very significant. Will we be overwhelmed, will we find ourselves in a similar position to what’s happening unfortunately in Italy, where doctors are making horrible choices of who to treat and who to turn away? I dread that possibility. We’re trying to do the best with what we have to avoid that situation.

What are the greatest risks to you and your staff? The true front lines are the people working in emergency rooms. Any patient that walks in potentially has corona, and the staff there doesn’t have the ability to protect themselves from every single patient. That uncertainty increases the risk of accidental exposure. In our unit, there’s no uncertainty. Do you check yourself or your staff for the virus? No. The protocol is that as long as we feel well we’re not tested on a routine basis. If any of us develops fever or respiratory symptoms suggestive of the disease, we’ll obviously test. The consequence of positive results among any of our staff would be quarantine for everybody. And that has HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | APRIL 2020 13


Jewish summer camps are already preparing for the coronavirus By Ben Sales Jewish Telegraphic Agency



As swine flu swept through the United States in the late spring of 2009, Jewish summer camps took some drastic measures. One set up a quarantined area where some 45 infected kids and counselors lived apart from the rest of the camp. Another took every camper’s temperature twice a day and sent children home if the result topped 100. The measures were onerous, but campers got used to them. That experience is weighing on the minds of Jewish camp directors as they look ahead to a summer season that may well be held in the shadow of another public health crisis. Directors say they are not yet worried that summer camp, still three months away, will be substantially curtailed by the coronavirus — even as synagogues are shuttered, Jewish day schools are closed and international travel is curtailed. But they are beginning to make preparations to ensure camp operates this summer as normally as possible. “We’re going to do everything we can, if it’s legally permissible, to operate our summer camps,” said Rabbi Mitch Cohen, the national director of Camp Ramah, the Conservative movement’s network of summer camps. Cohen suggested that Ramah may implement a policy whereby if a kid has been overseas within two weeks of camp starting, they must wait before coming. He also is considering hiring additional medical professionals across the camps, or setting up separate infirmaries for kids who are showing symptoms of COVID-19. At Camp Sprout Lake in upstate New York, one of five overnight camps affiliated with the Young Judaea Zionist youth movement, director Helene Drobenare has already ordered 26 cases of hand sanitizer and had cleaning staff disinfect the entire facility. She is uploading games and Hebrew exercises to the camp website for kids to occupy themselves while their schools are closed. “While we know this remains a dynamic situation, as of today camps are determined and fully plan to go ahead with operations this summer,” Jeremy Fingerman, CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp, said in a statement. The foundation, a nonprofit that supports Jewish summer camps, has canceled its biennial conference slated for next week in Baltimore and moved everything online. The schedule will now include

Kids at Camp Young Judaea Sprout Lake in New York. two sessions on coronavirus: one about strategies for supporting staff and families and the other on crisis communications. “Summer camps may, in fact, be one of the safest places for any child to be this summer, since they are generally protected, remote and closed environments,” Fingerman said. If camp is meaningfully curtailed this summer — and that’s a big if — it would be a shock to American Jewish life. Jewish overnight camp is a rite of passage for more than 80,000 Jewish children each summer. For many it is the physical and emotional space where their Jewish identity is formed. At most Jewish camps, the campers observe Shabbat, learn a little Hebrew, celebrate Israel, and eat, breathe and sleep among Jewish peers. In the more religious camps, the kids eat strictly kosher food and pray daily. The most dedicated Jewish campers come back summer after summer, then become counselors and sometimes send their own kids to the same camp they attended. “I did a shiva visit Saturday night, and a group of parents came to me and were like, ‘You better not cancel camp, you better not cancel camp. We gotta get our kids out to camp,’” Cohen said. “They’re canceling school. Camp is the only thing they’re looking forward to.” For now, camps say they expect programming to take place as expected. The Union for Reform Judaism, which operates a network of 15 overnight camps with a total of about 10,000 campers, said in a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that it is in close communication with parents and staff about the coronavirus. “Summer programming is expected to take place as planned,” the URJ said. If parents do end up pulling their kids out due to the coronavirus, Cohen said he

was committed to giving them a full refund — even if that means cutting back on expenses. Ramah has 10 overnight camps across North America. “I don’t think this is an existential threat to Ramah,” he said, regarding the possibility of mass refunds. “It will be devastating. It will create a tremendous burden for us in philanthropy. “Our stronger camps have reserves that they can get through this. Our weaker camps, or smaller, or camps with less reserves could be destroyed, but that’s when the movement will have to step in and will have to help out.” Many Jewish camps also hire a contingent of staff from Israel and elsewhere overseas. Across the Ramah network, 20 percent of the staff is from abroad. Drobenare employs 40 Israeli counselors at the three camps she directs — one overnight camp and two day camps. With travel restrictions growing in recent days, both Cohen and Drobenare said there is a possibility that Israeli and other foreign staff won’t be able to come to the U.S. Ramah and Young Judaea also run summer trips to Israel that could be threatened by the travel bans, though they are hopeful that the restrictions will ease by the summer. Ramah also runs a high-school semester program in Israel that, as of Wednesday, was ongoing. For now, concerns about summer camp remain speculative. Parents are mostly worried about whether their kids will attend school next week, not camp this summer. And in any case, Drobenare said, camp directors are used to uncertainty. “This is what camp directors do,” she said. “We’re not used to COVID-19 but we’re used to crisis management. Camp directors right now are staying calm and being like, get your communication, get your parents, get your teams together and we’re gonna ride this out.”




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AZA looks ahead to next year

games, outdoor games and more. If you have any questions regarding BBYO, please contact allentownaza@gmail.com to find out more!

By Jake Wiener AZA As we are heading into the second half of our AZA year, our chapter is beginning to prepare for the next fiscal year for BBYO. Our chapter election will begin in April, and from there, the new board will start to plan events for the end of the year and schedule meetings and events for the upcoming year. We are very excited to see what the future for BBYO entails. Our chapter also held a game night this past March. We held a loose structure to the event, and most members brough all sorts of board

BBG has a busy February By Marla Stein BBG Allentown BBG, Liberty Region and BBYO as a whole were extremely busy with events in February! Over Presidents’ Day Weekend, participating members of BBYO had the opportunity to come together in Dallas, Texas. The BBYO event was International Convention (IC) and included teens from 53 countries. Jewish teens from

all around the world came together to celebrate sharing something in common: their Judaism. There were events and speakers throughout the weekend and performances as well! Many celebrities went to Texas to be a part of IC 2020, including famous YouTuber David Dobrik, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz and actress, activist, director and producer Sophia Bush. Holocaust Survivors attended as well and spoke and told their stories. Musical performers including Bryce Vine, Matoma, Quinn XCII and many more went to perform as well. Next year, IC will take place in Philadelphia, so it will be a great opportunity for more teens in Liberty Region to attend. For more information on BBG or BBYO, go to bbyo. org. If you have any questions, comments, or concerns, please contact us at allentownmazkirah@gmail.com.


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BOOK REVIEW: ‘Return to the Reich’ By Sean Boyle JDS Librarian Eric Lichtblau’s history book, “Return to the Reich: A Holocaust Refugee’s Secret Mission to Defeat the Nazis,” reads like a James Bond spy novel. Lichtblau writes about the life of German-born Jew Fred Mayer and of his many amazing exploits as an OSS operative working in Nazi-controlled Austria. Frederick Mayer was born in Freiburg im Breisgau, a city in southwest Germany’s Black Forest. His father, Heinrich, had served in the Imperial German Army as an Officer during World War I and was decorated with the Iron Cross medal for his valor. Lichtblau tells of the Mayer family’s history in Freiburg, and about Fred’s uneventful youth, until the Nazis took power. Even then Fred’s father believed that the family was protected since he was a decorated combat veteran. In 1938, when Fred was 16, the family was unable to continue their business, and Nazi hatred was growing stronger. The entire family moved to New York City. Mayer, a German-trained diesel mechanic, was able to get employment immediately at an auto repair shop and helped his family as they adjusted to life as new immigrants. Until the United States entered WWII, Fred and his family worked hard trying to become the perfect Americans and slowly rebuilt everything they had lost in Germany. Once the U.S. entered WWII, Fred immediately attempted to enlist and was turned away because of his recent immigration from Germany. Eventually, Fred was able to take his older brother, Julius’, spot in the draft. Julius was close to finishing college, and Mayer was drafted into the Army in his place. Mayer’s desire to fight against the Nazis inspired him to quickly master the martial skills required. In fact, Fred was so impressive in his innovation at military tactics that he was recommended to be assigned to the OSS and was accepted.

Lichtblau details Mayer’s time during training in the OSS and finally being sent to Italy while waiting for a mission behind the Nazi’s front lines. The mission Mayer finally undertakes reads like a spy thriller, with each exploit feeling like it would be unbelievable in a fictional setting. More impressive is knowing that the missions had all really occurred and that Lichtblau is reporting from OSS-archived documents and dispatches. The book is not merely based on the 70-year-old memories of an amazing man. Eric Lichtblau was able to meet and interview Fred Mayer before his death, and then used previous interviews Mayer had made to complete the book. Lichtblau also references from the OSS archives and provides a complete picture of Mayer’s operations from Mayer’s perspective, his OSS superiors and interviews with others who were impacted by Mayer's actions. The book includes an index and 37 pages of author comments and notes. Highly recommended for ages 14-120, with special interest for those interested in the roles Jewish refugees played in OSS operations during WWII. A copy of “Return to the Reich” is available at the Jewish Day School Library. Return to the Reich: A Holocaust Refugee’s Secret Mission to Defeat the Nazis (Lichtblau, Eric, New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019, 288p.)


Mitzvah Mentorship Program Aron Rabin, son of Lauren and Doron Rabin, will become a Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Sons of Israel on Nov. 21, 2020. Currently a sixth-grade student at Springhouse Middle School, Aron began to discuss his mitzvah project with his parents a few months ago. “I wanted to do something different, something educational,” Aron mentioned. “I did some brainstorming with my mom and dad, and I decided to do a mentorship program for bar mitzvah kids like me.” The goal of The Mitzvah Mentorship Program is to educate Jewish kids who are of bar or bat mitzvah age of the opportunities that will arise for them once they transition into high school. The Mitzvah Mentorship Program will be led by local Jewish teens who have had Jewish educational and cultural experiences. “I felt a responsibility to contribute to the wonderful Jewish community I am growing up in,” Aron added. “I like the idea of younger kids having informal

JDS online school Continues from page 8

that you and the JDS staff are in charge of my kids while they are at school. My kids are well-informed but not disproportionately frightened, as well as prepared for learning from home during this uncertain time. The JDS community is so blessed!” In the midst of curriculum and content building, we paused to celebrate Shira Bach’s bat mitzvah with a Zoom session in which more than 50 computers logged on from home to participate. Shira delivered an inspiring D’var Torah and received loving messages from her classmates. Student Council President, eighth-grader Mikaela Garber, describes her new reality as follows, “JDS@Home is like being in college. We have a few classes a day, and the rest is independent work. We are all learning to use our time wisely and not to procrastinate. Though we are all apart distance wise, we are always in contact with each other. At any given time, I am either talking to a friend, in class or waiting for a teacher’s response to an email. My friends and I go over what we have to do, keep each other company and help each other even though we are miles away.” In order to help us make this new reality possible, Mr. Sean Boyle took on the new role as distant learning coordinator. Mr. Boyle has a master of arts in teaching and learning with technology, specializing in online education curriculum and lesson design and the uses of online instruction as a supplemental tool to traditional classroom instruction. In addition, Mr. Boyle served in the U.S. Navy for 27 years, where he worked as a joint exercise director for Commander Seventh Fleet. In this capacity, he was the lead planner and instructional designer for six major training exercises incorporating standards based face-to-face, hybrid and online instruction with over 27,000 US/AUS forces working in a

discussions about continuing our Judaism after we become adults.” “Aron feels a strong connection to the Jewish community in the Lehigh Valley. Doron and I are so proud that he took the initiative to create a Jewish program for his peers where they can learn together and strengthen their friendships,” Aron’s mother, Lauren Rabin, said. “Aron worked on most of this program by himself. He chose the topics and speakers, arranged the room at the JCC and worked with Eric Lightman, executive director, and Karla Lyle, administrative director, to flesh out the programs and pick the dates.” Sessions for fifth-, sixth- and seventh-graders will be held at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley on select Sundays from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. in the boardroom. There will be time for socializing, and kosher snacks will be provided. Students can attend all sessions for free. The first session was held on Sunday, March 1. Teen presidents of BBYO Lehigh Valley chapter, Alex Valuntas and

live, virtual and constructive environment spread over three countries and nine time-zones. He is an excellent guide through this process. As I write, we are only in Day 5 of distant learning, and the feedback has been so positive. Parent Lana Kaye sent this message to us: “Glenn and I would like to thank everyone for such a quick and well-organized response to this extraordinary situation. Today’s classes were fun and informative. Gabriel enjoyed them very much. Thank you JDS team for all you do for our children.” I encourage you to follow our Facebook page. Our ideas and new initiatives are constantly being created as we navigate this new world. Join us to learn from our teachers, listen to their words of Torah, watch them read a story, participate in their experiments, study poetry and feel the power of JDS@Home.



Stefania Zimmerman, talked about their roles and shared program information. Other sessions will deal with various topics, including ideas for an impactful mitzvah project, gearing up for the BIG DAY, lessons from a semester in Israel, Hebrew high school programs and more. Please register at www.lvjcc.org/mentorship. Questions about the Mitzvah Mentorship Program may be emailed to Aron at aronsmitzvah2020@gmail. com. In addition to his mitzvah project, Aron has made his first adult gift of tzedakah to the JFLV’s Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. For help developing your mitzvah project, contact Abby Trachtman, project coordinator, at abbyt@jflv.org, or call her at the Federation office at 610-821-5500.

We love PJ Library because it exposes our young children to all of the Jewish customs and history! The fact that even the non-high holy holidays and traditions are highlighted is really great and helps inform them of things beyond the mainstream highlights. - JANA AND JEFF GOLDENBERG 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.


Meet the President: Ron Ticho By Stephanie Bolmer HAKOL Editor When Congregation Brith Sholom’s President Ron Ticho enrolled at Lehigh University, it set the course for the rest of his life. “When you went to Lehigh in the 1980s, one of the first things that greeted you at the entrance to the campus was Congregation Brith Sholom,” explained Ticho. Built in the early 1920s, the former synagogue building is now a science lab on Lehigh’s campus, but the congregation which Ticho now leads lives on. “Obviously, it was a cornerstone there in South Bethlehem, so that was my first exposure to Brith Sholom. I was involved in Hillel at Lehigh, where I majored in finance and journalism and later went back to get my MBA, and for holiday services, I’d go down to synagogue.” Originally from Bergen County, New Jersey, Ticho is a first-generation American, the son of a Holocaust survivor and the great-nephew of Anna Ticho, one of Israel’s most renowned artists whose home in Jerusalem is now part of The Israel Museum there. While a student in Pennsylvania, he did some

work for the Bethlehem Globe-Times (now part of The Express-Times), and it was there that he met photographer Pam Lott, who would become his wife five years later. They officially joined Brith Sholom together, and they settled down into life in Bethlehem after Ticho’s graduation. They both went on to work in higher education for nearly two decades. “While we have always maintained our affiliation with Brith Sholom,” Ticho said, “our Lehigh Valley Jewish community is so intertwined. I think we’ve also been members at just about every synagogue in the community at one point.” It was important that their three children, Nathan, Hannah and Connie, enroll at the Jewish Day School, and when they did, they moved to Allentown to be closer to the school. The kids went to URJ Camp Harlam, so the family became members of Congregation Keneseth Israel. Residing in Allentown on 27th Street, they were associate members at Congregation Sons of Israel at one point and have held memberships at Temple Beth El as well. They are also members of the Jewish Community Center.

“We really have taken to this community,” said Ticho. “Everyone is so supportive and gets along so incredibly well. There is such a high level of care and admiration for what we’re all trying to do collectively. That’s what makes our Lehigh Valley Jewish community so very special. Whether Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist or Orthodox, there is a respect for traditions across the board. We all recognize that together, as a whole, we “We recognize that our are greater than the sum of Jewish community resides our parts.” in a much larger and diverse As for his role as president community. We can only at Brith Sholom, Ticho took continue to thrive by engagthat on gladly after his young- ing and collaborating with est child went off to college surrounding religious comand he had more time to offer munities. That’s an important the congregation. initiative creating greater ap“I was previously on the preciation and understanding board back in the early 2000s. of Judaism within the greater And now that I have the time Lehigh Valley community,” to be able to commit, I think Ticho reflected. if given the opportunity and A good word to sum up you’re asked, it’s a wonderful the goals for the congregation honor and privilege. Being on during his presidential tenure our board is one of the most is “growth” but not solely in enjoyable experiences that the traditional sense. I’ve had in lay leadership. We “Of course, we’re conhave a really dedicated but stantly looking at opportunialso fun and diverse group of ties to grow our congregation, folks, each with the utmost not just in size, and diversity, respect and warmth, care and but also spiritually,” said love for each other. It’s really Ticho. He mentioned that he amazing,” said Ticho. is proud of Brith Sholom’s Among the many goals of successful participation in the the congregation, there is its LIFE & LEGACY program involvement with the wider which helps to grow Jewcommunity, such as through ish agencies’ endowments. the Bethlehem Interfaith Another source of pride is the hofreid_20_007_Hakol Newspaper_ad vFinal.pdf 1 3/6/20 11:59 AM Group (BIG). use of Brith Sholom’s facil-

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ity as a community resource — not only for other Jewish purposes, such as providing space for Congregation Am Haskalah, but also for the community at large, such as the Lehigh Valley Chorale. “It really in essence speaks to our desire and willingness to partner and collaborate with other agencies and organizations in the community,” explained Ticho. Overall, Ticho and Lott live their lives in dedication to the community which they became a part of decades ago. In addition to his work at Brith Sholom, Ticho is on the Miller Keystone Blood Center board and also serves as president of the Parkland School District Education Foundation. Lott is on the board of Jewish Family Service, is a past president of JDS and the former director of Lehigh University’s Hillel. She also served on the endowment committee and several other committees at Brith Sholom.

Celebrating Eric & Choty Rappaport: The heart and soul of KI

By Michele Salomon Congregation Keneseth Israel The Keneseth Israel Annual Gala is an occasion for celebration, an important occasion to recognize those within our community that embody the Jewish values we hold dear—compassion, community, charity and acts of loving-kindness. The couple that embody all these values are Eric (Chef Eric) Rappaport and Patricia (Choty) San Andres. They will be honored on Saturday, June 13, with the theme, “The Roaring ‘20s,” a way to acknowledge what they have contributed to KI and be inspired by the vision they have of what KI can be. All members of the community are invited to attend, in true Eric and Choty style. Why Eric And Choty? Though there are many deserving members at KI, a fact Eric and Choty themselves recognize, for the rest of us, the answer is so simple. They live their values, day in and day out. KI is front and center in their lives, and they do their utmost to encourage the rest of us to do the same. In their trademark humility, they note that the example they work to set is their attempt to emulate the many role models they found at KI, including prior gala honorees. KI is their home away from home. It’s the center of how they organize their lives and their family’s life. Their son Joshua has grown up at KI, became a bar mitzvah at KI and will be confirmed this year at KI. Joshua is also a regular at Rosh Hashanah services, taking up the mantle for his generation by blowing the Shofar. And though they would have found ways to engage in activities that serve the community, they are grateful to fulfill the commandment of tikkun olam through the work they do at KI. Their life is encircled and enriched by KI. And their presence has enlarged and enriched KI. Their impact is felt in any num-

ber of ways. Of course, there is the food so lovingly prepared by Chef Eric on so many occasions, big and small, that we have all become spoiled and wonder how we’ll get through this event without him at the helm. There is the Harvest 5K, a race started by Eric and Choty that has raised about $20,000 over the past six years benefitting Central Elementary School and other local charities. There is their regular presence at weekly Friday night services. And their efforts to nurture bonds among religious school families, whether at their home or through their sponsorship of a youth-focused oneg. Their latest successful venture, like others, grew out of something they love, or at least Choty loves. In this case, beer. For two years or so, Choty has organized an evergrowing group of KI congregants for ‘Brews Crews,’ a few hours of community and conversation, all while drinking beer at all the local craft breweries. This is a mere example of Choty’s skills of inspiration, motivation and invitation. Whatever she is doing—a run, walk, swim or bike ride—she asks others to join her, and she is quite persuasive. Eric has served as Brotherhood president and is currently serving a second stint on the KI Board of Trustees, offering wise and thoughtful counsel. His most recent efforts led to the creation of “Sunday Studies,” the latest in Torah study at KI, a Sunday morning alternative to Rabbi Seth’s regular Thursday morning class. And for several years, Choty has used her technological skills to support the KI website, including singlehandedly sending out the weekly email blasts. Take a step into “The Roaring ‘20s” on Saturday, June 13, at 6 p.m. The evening is sure to be memorable. During the cocktail hour and dinner, we will enjoy the soft yet sophisticated tunes of the IC Collective, a local jazz band which includes KI Congregant Alan Salinger. For entertainment, be prepared to be amazed, mystified, surprised and have fun with Steve Wallach, nationally renowned magician and mind reader. From private events to headlining his own dinner theatre in Houston to being the house magician and mind reader for Resorts Casino in Atlantic City, Wallach has entertained thousands of people, young and old. The entire community is invited to help KI celebrate Eric and Choty. Look for your invitation in the mail—or call the KI office (610-435-9074) to request one—to RSVP for the gala and take out an ad in the Membership Directory and Ad Book. If you wish to just take out an ad, you may do that online at kilv.org. Please call the office with any questions.

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