HAKOL - September 2021

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The Voice of the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community

www.jewishlehighvalley.org

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Issue No. 446

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September 2021

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Elul/Tishrei 5782

AWARD-WINNING PUBLICATION EST. 1977

Meet our new Director of Community Development p4-5

Find ways to celebrate the New Year in our special section

FROM THE DESK OF JERI ZIMMERMAN p3 WOMEN’S PHILANTHROPY p4 LVJF TRIBUTES p8 JEWISH FAMILY SERVICE p14-15 JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER p16-17 JEWISH DAY SCHOOL p19 COMMUNITY CALENDAR p23

Dr. Mickey Ufberg z”l to be memorialized with ambucycle on bike mission By Stephanie Goodling HAKOL Editor Dr. Michael “Mickey” Ufberg, z”l, left behind a lasting legacy in the Lehigh Valley and beyond. After his passing in June, the Maimonides Society knew they wanted to do something special to honor the memory of Ufberg, who was one of the Society’s founders. Entering its 35th year, membership in the Society connects healthcare professionals who share a commitment to helping the Jewish people and demonstrate their commitment to the broader community. Other co-founders include Drs. Douglas Blake, Gene Ginsburg, Larry Levitt and Stuart Schwartz. Levitt remembers being there with Ufberg from the beginning, with meetings alternating between the Ufbergs’ and the Levitts’ basements 35 years ago. As created by its founders, the Maimonides Society holds academic and social programs during the course of the year, and most of topical interest are open to the entire community. “Mickey was an exceptional human

being and did so many things that most people didn’t know about, but he did it in a humble and quiet way,” said Levitt. “He was an exemplary human being, as a physician, as a husband, as a father, as a grandfather, and as a friend.” “Mickey was one of the most incredible people I’ve ever known. His intelligence, generosity, leadership, family, friendship, morality and humility made him admired and respected by everyone. We were all so blessed to have him in our lives,” agreed long-time friend and Federation supporter Vicki Wax. It is because of the impact of Ufberg’s kind and humble character that the leaders of Maimonides today have decided to donate an ambucycle in Israel in his memory on their upcoming mission to Israel. Ambucycles are ambulances on two wheels, which enable responders to save lives despite traffic congestion in Israel. Federation donated its first ambucycle a few years ago when celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Maimonides Society, and now more lives will be saved due to the generosity of donors who want to

honor Ufberg. “It recognizes his contribution, and this ambucycle will provide a legacy in saving lives daily, which is what the first one did, for a generation,” said Levitt. Ufberg’s widow, Eileen, has expressed her gratitude to the outpouring of love that has come in to support the ambucycle effort. “My husband’s unwavering support, love and dedication to Judaism and Israel was always central in his life. What a touching and amazing tribute! I am so privileged to live in such a supportive and incredible community and to be surrounded by family and friends as I am,” she said. The current president of Maimonides, Dr. Bill Markson, encourages anyone who wishes to honor Ufberg’s memory to make a gift to the Jewish Federation in support of the ambucycle. Federation will dedicate this ambucycle, memorializing Ufberg, during a bike mission to Israel, scheduled for March 23 to April 1, 2022. Anyone who is interested in the mission to Israel is welcome to join the group. “The proposed trip is something that’s

going to emphasize an active outdoor view of Israel,” said Markson. Explaining that the donation of the ambucycle will be a highlight of the trip, along with a visit to doctors at the Western Galilee Medical Center (to which Ufberg himself was a donor) and in the Lehigh Valley’s Partnership2Gether region in Yoav, he also added, “We’ll be visiting beautiful places, and those who are interested will have the chance to bike in the morning, and there will be interesting activities each afternoon.” To donate to the ambucycle in memory of Dr. Mickey Ufberg, z”l, or to learn more about the mission, contact Aaron Gorodzinsky at aaron@ jflv.org.

Federation launches incident reporting system to fight antisemitism

Non-Profit Organization 702 North 22nd Street Allentown, PA 18104

U.S. POSTAGE PAID Lehigh Valley, PA Permit No. 64

By Aaron Gorodzinsky JFLV Director of Campaign and Security Planning

We will look at the report and make the determination.

Over the past year, and especially during the last conflict in Gaza, our country experienced an unprecedented rise of antisemitic incidents, both in social media and in person. The reason why we know of the sharp increase is because of every single incident that was reported and recorded, and organizations like the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Secure Community Network (SCN) have aggregated the data and shared it with us. The majority of this data comes from communities like ours who share the information with our local ADL office or SCN. That information is then compared to ensure no similar incidents occurred anywhere else and quantified. As the number of incidents continues to increase in our community, we are launching a self-reporting tool on our website to help us keep better track of the number of antisemitic incidents occurring in our community and to report more accurate data to our law enforcement and national partners. You can play an important role in fighting antisemitism by utilizing this new system on our website.

Who can file a report? • Any member of our community can go on our website to report incidents. • These reports will be kept anonymous, and details will only be shared with our partners or law enforcement if needed.

What should be reported? • Any incidents occurring in our community should be reported. From direct messages on social media to incidents or confrontations. No incident should go unreported. • If you are unsure that what just occurred was an antisemitic incident, it is always better to report it.

Why is this important? There are many reasons why it is important to report these incidents: • It empowers every member of our community to feel like what they are experiencing is not going to go unnoticed. • It allows us to have a better understanding of what the current situation is in our community. • It gives us more tools to talk to our law enforcement partners, elected officials and other faith partners. • It gives us a better chance to apply for security grants. Security grants require a chronology of incidents. Having better data gives us a better chance to obtain those grants. • It is the right thing to do. We cannot stress it enough: when in doubt, it is better to report. To submit a report, go to our website, jewishlehighvalley. org, and click on “Report an Incident” or email Aaron Gorodzinsky at aaron@jflv.org.


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Here for Good The holidays of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are our individual and communal opportunities to mark the transition from the past year to a new year. As I think about beginning a new Jewish year, it is an opportunity to reflect on the past year(s) and a beautiful time to renew our commitment to ensuring the vibrancy of our Jewish community. Individually and communally, we transition from the past to the future. Judaism teaches us that people must play an active role in the world. In Jewish life, the concept of tikun olam (repairing the world) is an expression of the value of making the world a better place. The world may not be perfect, but we have the opportunity, and really the obligation, to help make it better. Because of the noble work we each do, the Jewish Federation is excited to partner with you to strengthen our

community. It enables us all to take an active role in nourishing and enriching our community. This is also a wonderful time to reflect on the kind of Jewish community we want here in the Lehigh Valley. Are we creating the inclusive, caring and committed environment that we would all like to see for ourselves, our neighbors and our entire Jewish family? The Jewish Federation’s 2022 campaign slogan, Here for Good, is more than just a slogan. What does it mean to be “here for good?” For our community and for people in need, it means Jewish Federation is here to provide resources, strength and support to help build and sustain flourishing Jewish life at home, in Israel, and around the world. It means we are, and always will be, the engine for Jewish communal life in our community. We are here for good, we have

been and we will be for generations to come. While we have challenges and opportunities ahead of us, you are a valuable and significant part of leading us into the future. The Jewish Federation really depends on your active participation not only in your own lives, but in our community’s destiny, too. There is room for everyone to make a positive impact for the good of our community. Despite the challenges that we weathered over the past year and a half, we are again gearing up for the many activities that will take place both here at Federation and in the community. Federation’s Major Gifts, Women’s Philanthropy events, Maimonides Society events are all driven by your goodness to create successful and meaningful Jewish engagement. All a reminder that we are Here for Good! This time of year also marks transitions for our

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 LENNY ABRAMS In honor of your Special Birthday Vicki Wax JEAN WEINER In honor of your Special Birthday Vicki Wax

IN MEMORY URI ZAHAVI (Father-in-Law of Amit Zahavi) LV Partnership2Gether Committee

TO ORDER TREES, call the JFLV at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org.

community. Our synagogues and agencies are also kicking-off the New Year with programs that engage community members and enhance our Jewish community’s vibrancy. The fall calendar is beyond full! The schools at the Jewish Day School and Jewish Community Center, as well as at synagogues with religious schools, are days or weeks away from the start of a new school year. A new fiscal and program year has all organizations preparing to implement their plans to improve Jewish life in the Lehigh Valley. And, at the Jewish Federation, we are prepar-

ing to roll out the 2022 Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. Our goals and wishes are for strength, health and happiness. Let us all join together in our hopes and efforts to enhance our Jewish community as we mark the distinctions between the past and the future because we believe that tomorrow will be better than today. Together, we are all Here for Good! Wishing each of you and those you love a sweet and joyous New Year! Shana Tova U’metuka! HAKOL STAFF STEPHANIE GOODLING Editor/Marketing Associate

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

ALLISON MEYERS Marketing Project Manager & Senior Graphic Designer DIANE MCKEE Account Representative TEL: 610-515-1391 hakolads@jflv.org

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.

BAYLEY CARL Marketing & Engagement Associate

MAIL, FAX, OR E-MAIL TO: JFLV ATTN: HAKOL 702 N. 22nd St. Allentown, PA 18104

GARY FROMER JFLV President

Phone: (610) 821-5500 Fax: (610) 821-8946 E-mail: hakol@jflv.org

JFLV EXECUTIVE STAFF JERI ZIMMERMAN Executive Director TEMPLE COLDREN Director of Finance & Administration AARON GORODZINSKY Director of Campaign & Security Planning AMY ZYLBERMAN Director of Community Development WENDY EDWARDS Office Manager

Member American Jewish Press Association

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

JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY MISSION STATEMENT

In order to unite, sustain, and enhance the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, and support Jewish communities in Israel and around the world, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is dedicated to the following core values: • Supporting Jews in need wherever they may be. • Supporting Israel as a Jewish homeland. • Supporting and encouraging Jewish education in the Lehigh Valley as a means of strengthening Jewish life for individuals and families. • Supporting programs and services of organizations whose values and mission meet local Jewish needs. To accomplish this mission the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is committed to the following operating guidelines: • Raising and distributing funds to support the core values. • Developing Jewish leaders. • Building endowments to support implementation of core values. • Committing to ongoing Jewish community strategic planning. • Fostering cooperation among organizations and community building. • Evaluating all decisions with respect to fiscal responsibility. • Identifying unmet needs and investing in community initiatives to help get them started. • Coordinating and convening a community response as an issue or need arises. • Setting priorities for allocation and distribution of funds. • Acting as a central address for communication about events, programs and services of the Jewish community as a whole. Approved by the JFLV Board of Directors on November 15, 2000

HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | SEPTEMBER 2021 3


WOMEN’S PHILANTHROPY OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY

Beginning anew, in a New Year By Amy Zylberman JFLV Director of Community Development Starting anew always presents an abundance of opportunities. Starting anew during the month of Elul expands and increases those opportunities tenfold, and it is not lost on me that I get to begin my journey as the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley’s new director of community development during Elul. I look at Elul as a sort of crescendo we are immersed in until we as a community stand before the piercing blast of the shofar during the High Holidays. How best to experience this crescendo? I believe an answer lies in looking inward, reaching outward. Reaching into my own heart, I know I could not have made a better decision than to have joined everyone here in the Lehigh Valley in this role. From the second my announcement

was made and friends and acquaintances reached out to build bridges for me in Allentown and beyond to reading the Annual Reports from previous years and seeing what a broad difference a tight-knit, generous group can make, I know that my work will add great meaning to my life. That awareness as I set out in this role is enough to make a new year sweet. I am delighted that this work of reaching out is so significant in the work I am taking on here. After my first few meetings with Beth Kushnick, president of Women’s Philanthropy, and other dedicated women taking charge in the Lehigh Valley, I felt a renewed energy and deep sense of purpose - engagement and outreach are pillars that have meant so much to me as a resident of small but strong Jewish communities all my life. When I was an undergraduate in college, I founded my school’s first Hillel. I know deeply the value of having a

space to gather to confidently express myself as a Jew. When that space exists and is set up to warmly welcome others, incredible things are possible. My career trajectory was certainly mapped out after I realized what wonderful things happened for me because of Jewish organizations - now, taking ownership of this work, I cannot wait to find out what destinations lie within the personal maps of our community members. Women’s Philanthropy affinity groups like Lion of Judah, Pomegranates, Newish and Jewish, and the newer Women Empowering Women initiative and Chai club were born out of passion, out of shared values, and a desire to belong to something bigger than one’s self. I will be overcome with joy to see firsthand what brought our community leaders to the table and to recognize how imperative the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley table is itself.

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 | abbyt@jflv.org

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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 SEPTEMBER 2021 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY


Preparations being planned for next year’s Freestyle Mission

By Stephanie Goodling HAKOL Editor The Freestyle Mission to Israel designed for older adults is still in the planning phases, with an anticipated Spring 2022 travel date. Gavriel Siman-Tov, Federation’s community shaliach, is working with Carol Wilson, program manager and community liaison for older adults at Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley, to prepare participants for an eventful trip. Zoom sessions are currently in process to help interested individuals in creating the trip’s itinerary and choosing their own tracks. The trip is being designed to support travelers of various capabilities and interests. The goal is to build new and strengthen existing relationships within the older adult community, learn about partnerships in Israel as well as opportunities to experience

social service programs firsthand, and develop new relationships with Israelis in the Lehigh Valley’s partner community of Yoav. In the coming months, Siman-Tov hopes to meet with participants twice a month for Hebrew lessons and insider tips to get them ready for the trip. “I’ll be teaching them some basic Hebrew to get around with, and we will also have time for them to talk with each other to practice basic conversation. I’ll also be going over things like how they get around on Israel’s public transportation, cultural differences they can expect, places they can go if they have a free day. The idea is to give them more of the perspective of a local in the know, not just the tourist things,” explained Siman-Tov. To join in on the Freestyle Mission, contact Carol Wilson at 610-821-8722 or cwilson@jfslv.org.

Federation welcomes new director of community development Last month, Amy Zylberman joined the Federation staff team as the new director of community development. She will be responsible for assisting with the Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs, Women's Philanthropy and other affinity groups. Zylberman served most recently as the acting director of the Klehr Center for Jewish Life at Franklin and Marshall College. Prior to that, she was the assistant director of the Klehr Center for Jewish Life, and she had also served as the program director of the Hillel at Trinity College. In addition to creating and running exciting programs, she has experience in fundraising and grant writing and has secured major endowment gifts while at Franklin and Marshall. While at Trinity College Hillel, Zylberman strengthened her ability to create dynamic, engaging opportunities for Jewish students. She supervised a Challah for Hunger Chapter and David Project fellows, recruited students for an Israel Uncovered trip, and helped students create diverse, successful Israel programming. She is looking forward to sharing her experience and creating program content with the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. “I’m excited to connect with a true intergenerational community,” said Zylberman. She earned a B.A. in English from Endicott College in Beverly, Mass., and an M.A. in American Studies and Museums from Trinity College in Hartford, Conn. While an under-

graduate student, she founded her college’s Hillel chapter. “I’ve always been drawn to smaller communities, which is why I ended up in a 2,000-student liberal arts college. I don’t think you should have to sacrifice your whole being just because you're choosing a location that feels right to you. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice your religion, your spiritual well being. It felt important to do that and chart a course for Jewish leadership on my own,” Zylberman said of her experience as Endicott’s Hillel founder.

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JFS to offer up laughs at annual fundraiser Jewish Family Service of the Lehigh Valley is holding its annual fundraiser on Sunday, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m. via Zoom. As well as celebrating the work of JFS, this special event is meant to provide comedy and highlight the importance of laughter on our mental health. The virtual comedy hour will feature professional comedians from Kosher Komedy. Sponsorships of all levels are available to benefit JFS, which provides services to improve health and well-being such as counseling, assistance through the Community Food Pantry and programs which mitigate loneliness and social isolation. “This year’s fundraiser will benefit services and programs that enrich the lives of our clients who are experiencing challenges. Fundraising dollars will support individuals who are struggling with emotional, physical and financial issues,” said event co-chair Marcia Berkow. Attendees to the fundraiser will also receive an exclusive coffee table book entitled “The Great JFS Happy Hour: Supporting Families, Brightening Lives.” JFS is seeking to learn what helped you find the light and brighten your days during this past year. Community members are invited to submit artwork, jokes and funny stories or anecdotes, poems, photos of pets, nature and more! Visit jfslv.org/happyhour or go to events@ jfslv.org to make your submissions for this special book. Sponsors of $72 or above will have their name or ad printed in the coffee table book. “Jewish Family Service is proud to have provided continual services and programs throughout this past year, with virtually no interruption

of service. Through innovation and creativity, the staff supports clients in maintaining mental, physical and emotional health during challenging times,” said event co-chair Susan Sosnow. “This year, we are celebrating both the promise of brighter days ahead and acknowledging the role that humor and the arts play in keeping community connected while restoring smiles to our faces. After all, laughter really is the best medicine.” To sponsor The Great JFS Happy Hour and/or to submit to the coffee table book, please visit jfslv.org/ happyhour or contact JFS at events@jfslv.org or 610821-8722.

The Jewish Agency for Israel responds with aid to wildfires After three days in mid-August, wildfires burning right outside Jerusalem, in the Judean Hills, were contained. The fires consumed around 5,000 acres of

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land, and thousands of residents were forced to evacuate their homes in the area. Thankfully, firefighters and residents remained safe, and no one lost their lives. A primary concern of The Jewish Agency for Israel during the blaze was for our programs operating in this region. The first was our youth village Kiryat Ye’arim, which is located in one of the areas that were evacuated. Luckily, school had not yet begun, and there were no children currently living in the village. Our staff was evacuated safely. The second program was our Kibbutz Ulpan program located in Tzuba, whose participants were evacuated to Ulpan Etzion in Jerusalem. Ulpans are intensive Hebrew language programs for new immigrants, typically housed within Absorption Centers. Kibbutz Ulpan students were able to resume their studies under the instruction of our wonderful staff at Ulpan Etzion. The area that was on fire sits in the municipality of Matte Yehuda, a community partnered with the South African Jewish community and Beit Shemesh through The Jewish Agency Partnership2Gether (P2G) program. P2G connects Israeli cities with Jewish communities worldwide, creating an evergrowing network of support and friendship. The Matte Yehuda and South African communities were in constant contact as, recently, Cape Town suffered from terrible fires in April of this year. “We worked closely with the local authorities to understand the immediate needs and how The Jewish Agency could be

ISRAEL NATIONAL FIRE AND RESCUE AUTHORITY SPOKESPERSON

The Jewish Agency for Israel

most helpful in assisting with this emergency,” said Amira Ahronoviz, director general and CEO of The Jewish Agency. “We have offered emergency grants to those whose property has been damaged or whose businesses have been destroyed as well as to families who have been displaced because of the fires,” Amira stated. “With these grants, our intention is to allow affected Israelis to get through this difficult period knowing that Jews around the world are thinking of them as they recover and rebuild.” As part of our emergency response in Israel, The Jewish Agency is working with the municipality and the Matte Yehuda P2G partnership to create a course to train volunteer firefighters. Those volunteers will both support professional firefighters during times of emergency and train residents in how to respond/react as fires are something we will increasingly need to contend with in the future. Editor’s Note: The Jewish Agency for Israel is an overseas partner of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.


VOICES FROM THE CRC:

The Security Grant Committee is here to aid community security proposals By Rance Block and Barry Halper Community Relations Council Over the past several years, the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community has gained a heightened awareness of the need for greater security and safety of our synagogues, Jewish Day School, Jewish Community Center and other institutions. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the federal government have recognized the need for greater security of religious and non-profit institutions and have made funding available on a competitive basis. The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD) and the National Security Grant Program (NSGP) provide grants for enhancing the physical security of a facility as well as security training for lay and professional leadership and for congregants. These grants are highly competitive and require significant understanding of the grant requirements to craft a

winning proposal. PCCD provides up to $150,000 per grant and requires financial participation from the institution. The NSGP provides up to $150,000 per grant with no cost participation. To help guide the community in the process of obtaining the grants, Federation has formed the Security Grant Committee, chaired by Rance Block and Barry Halper. The committee is supported by Aaron Gorodzinsky, Federation director of campaign and security planning. To aid this effort, the Federation has contracted with Ilene Cohen, a grant writer who works very closely with Jewish nonprofits to secure security funds. The majority of her work has been with Jewish organizations in Pittsburgh, including the Federation. Each Lehigh Valley institution can utilize Ilene as they work through the process of developing and writing the proposal to PCCD and NSGP. The following is an overall approach to the grant:

1. Define the security items and training that will constitute the proposal 2. Gain as much understanding of the solicitation prior to its release 3. Conduct an in-depth review of the solicitation when released to thoroughly understand all requirements of the solicitation 4. Ensure a dedicated effort in writing and reviewing the proposal Each institution should already have or must create a committee whose purpose is to identify and define the desired elements in the facility that require security upgrading (aka “target hardening”). It is very important that this committee include the institution’s office manager, head maintenance person and the executive director/Rabbi. To ensure an optimal procedure, Aaron has obtained a commitment from the PA State Police’s Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Team (RVAT)

to provide a specially trained RVAT State Trooper member to come to each facility and meet with the institution’s committee to discuss policies and conduct a tour of the interior and exterior of the facility. Later, the RVAT State Trooper will provide a written report that includes options to improve/enhance current security measures and mitigate identified vulnerabilities. These options often come in two general categories: facility security upgrading solutions and improvements to policies, practices and procedures. Both can help “harden” and prepare a facility for adverse incidents. With the defined list of items in hand, the institution needs to obtain information and quotes from vendors and contractors for security and safety items and estimated costs for defined

training sessions Release dates for PCCD and NSGP solicitations are advertised well in advance. The Security Community Network (SCN), an organization emanating from Jewish Federations of North America, provides significant amount of very useful information through webinars and one-to-four-page writeups with details on how to approach the process, what to look for in the solicitation, and an understanding of what the reviewers are seeking in the proposal. Throughout the process, Aaron, Ilene and the Federation Security Committee will be available to provide direction, review and critique of an institution’s proposal. The objective is to ensure safe and secure facilities for the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community.

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IN HONOR EVA DERBY In honor of receiving the Mortimer S. Schiff Award for Prejudice Reduction Roberta and Robert Kritzer BRETT FELTINGOFF In honor of your 50th Birthday Sybil and Barry Baiman PHYLISS FINE In honor of your Birthday Sybil and Barry Baiman

BRIAN FORD In honor of receiving the George Feldman Achievement Award for Young Leadership Jane and Arthur Kaplan Roberta and Robert Kritzer ANDREA AND OLLIE FOUCEK In honor of the birth of your grandson, Franklin Miles Sherman Marilyn Claire

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RHODA AND LEN GLAZIER In honor of the birth of your great-granddaughter, Clara Gold Glazier Serita Silberg MELANIE MAY Thanks for all the help for Emily’s Bat Mitzvah Beth and Howard Kushnick RUTH AND DOUG NATHANSON In honor of your son Josh’s marriage to Teagan Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald RABBI SETH PHILLIPS AND MARGE KRAMER In honor of the birth of your new grandchild Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald LYNN AND MICHAEL ROTHMAN In honor of your daughter Sarah’s marriage to Quentin Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald LOLLY AND SHELDON SIEGEL In honor of your 64th wedding anniversary Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald RABBI DAVID AND RACHEL WILENSKY In honor of the birth of your daughter Ruth and Humi Vishniavsky GAIL WOLSON In honor of your granddaughter’s Bat Mitzvah Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald IN MEMORY LUCILLE BINDERMAN (Mother of Beth Kozinn) Fay and Michael Kun

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ALAN BLACK (Husband of Donna Black) Deanne and Arnold Kaplan HELDA CHARNEY (Mother of Joanne Palumbo) Amy and Rich Morse GERALDINE COOPER (Mother of Miriam Pitkoff) Sylvia and Sam Bub Fay and Michael Kun MARJORIE JASPER (Wife of Baron Jasper) Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald JACKIE KUPTSOW (Grandmother of Amy Fels) Kira and Richard Bub Sylvia and Sam Bub Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald Fay and Michael Kun The Rabin Family Ilene and Michael Ringold Vicki Wax JAY MELAMUT (Brother of Gerald Melamut) Roberta and Robert Kritzer ENID MEYERS (Mother of Jason Hoffman and Stephanie Hoffman-Sacks) Sandi Teplitz Vicki Wax RONNIE SHEFTEL (Mother of Bruce Sheftel) Deanne and Arnold Kaplan MICHAEL (MICKEY) UFBERG (Husband of Eileen, father of David, Jacob, Larry, Bonnie and Matthew) Sandy and Alan Abeshaus Dr. and Mrs. Gilbert Belsky Kira and Richard Bub Chelsea and Elliot Busch and Family Charlie and Pamela Dent

Monica and Henry Friess Jane and Arthur Kaplan Marjorie Klein Judy and Marty Krasnov Fay and Michael Kun Beth and Howard Kushnick Carole and Michael Langsam Sue and Henry Lehrich The Rosenthal Family Lynn and Michael Rothman Jill and Ivan Schonfeld Ilene Shapiro and Arnie Helfand Christine Toback Ellen Ufberg and Judah Labovitz BERNIE WIENER (Husband of Shirlee Wiener) Wendy and Ross Born HELEN AND SOL KRAWITZ HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FUND MEMORY MARJORIE JASPER (Wife of Baron Jasper) Joan Lesavoy MICHAEL (MICKEY) UFBERG (Husband of Eileen Ufberg) Joan Lesavoy 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.



JDC provides critically needed medical supplies to Haiti following earthquake

Jewish News Syndicate Haitians survey damage to buildings after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Aug. 14, 2021. Credit: Voice of America via Wikimedia Commons. The American Jewish Joint Distri-

bution Committee (JDC) is responding to the Aug. 14 earthquake that struck southwestern Haiti by providing critically needed medical supplies—surgical instruments, fluids, IV starters, sutures, gloves, masks, face shields and clean linens—to local hospitals

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treating the wounded. The 7.2-magnitude event and its aftershocks flattened thousands of homes, businesses and other buildings as the resulting death toll reached an estimated 1,300 as of Aug. 15. JDC is working through its longtime partner, the Afya Foundation, to ship materials to a hospital in the city of Aquin. As the extent of the damage unfolds, JDC, which has worked in Haiti since 2010, continues to assess emerging needs and is raising additional funds to address them. “We are heartbroken over the tragic loss of life in Haiti and send our prayers to a people and nation in mourning yet again,” said JDC CEO Ariel Zwang. “As we have done so many times in the past, we’ll be there to offer care, healing and opportunities to empower Haitians to build back better and safer. It’s all the more fitting, and poignant, that we are doing this work during the Jewish month of Elul, when we engage in introspection and work to mend the broken parts of our personal and collective lives.” The agency’s work in Haiti includes its long-term responses to the 2010 earthquake and Hurricane Matthew in 2016. In addition to providing emergency needs such as food, water and medical care, its programs reach hundreds of thousands of people by addressing health care for women and children; care for people with

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disabilities; rebuilding infrastructure (schools, hospitals); disaster preparedness; employment; and empowering social-service leadership and local nonprofits. JDC also had a historic presence in Haiti dating to the World War II period. Haiti allowed Jews fleeing the Nazis to settle on the island, and JDC provided care to those refugees and to others who found safe haven in the Dominican Republic with JDC’s help. Disaster-relief programs are funded by special appeals of the Jewish Federations of North America and tens of thousands of individual donors. Relief activities are coordinated with the U.S. Department of State, USAID, the Israeli government and the United Nations, as well as local and international partners. JDC and its partners have recently responded to the coronavirus pandemic in Africa and Asia, as well as natural disasters in Mozambique, the Bahamas, Guatemala, Indonesia and Mexico. The group continues its post-disaster development work in the Philippines and Haiti, and leads the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief (JCDR) made up of 49 mostly North American Jewish organizations that address disasters and development challenges worldwide. To donate to Haiti relief, visit www. jewishlehighvalley.org/ways-to-give/ earthquake-haiti.


Cooperating for the sake of community

RABBI EMERITUS ALLEN JUDA Congregation Brith Sholom A friend recently sent me an article from the July 2 edition of The New York Times entitled “These Plants Act Like Bees in a Hive” by Elizabeth Preston. Researcher K.C. Burns was backpacking in the Australian wilderness “when he came across a cluster of staghorn ferns … and realized the plants within the colony were doing different jobs to survive. Ferns growing higher up had waxy fronds that seemed to direct rainwater into the colony’s center. Farther down, ferns grew spongier leaves that were damp to the touch. Some plants weren’t reproducing at all — they seemed to have dedicated their lives to collecting water for their neighbors’ entangled roots. It struck Dr. Burns that the ferns were working together as a kind of superorganism, perhaps like bees in a hive.”

We all know about bees. Honey bee colonies typically consist of three kinds of adult bees: workers, drones and a queen bee. Several thousand worker bees cooperate in nest building and brood rearing. Ants have learned the lesson as well. Ants are insects whose social life is highly organized, comparable only to that of honey bees or termites. Ants are considered social insects because they live in organized colonies and form complex societies. They are generally composed of three castes: the queen, the drones and the workers. Each caste has its own specific morphology and carries out specific tasks within the community. Colony life has many advantages, one of the most important being increased protection for the entire group. Ferns, bees and even ants have learned or are ingrained with some basic lessons: to survive and be protected, the community must work cooperatively. I wonder when or if the Jewish community is going to learn this basic lesson. Like the staghorn ferns, not all parts of the community are going to look alike. Some Jews dress in very traditional, modest clothing. Others look for the latest fashions and designer labels. We all perform different functions in our personal and communal lives. But if we do not learn to cooperate on certain issues of protection and survival, what will the future of the Jewish people look like? We once had a national

slogan, “We Are One.” Today, nothing could be further from the truth. We are divided on religious and political issues and even on Israel. There is nothing inherently wrong with that. But the lack of mutual respect, the growth of animosity in discussions on important topics not only in communal settings, but even within families, is appalling. I wonder if there has been any time in history when being nonjudgmental has been talked about more and practiced less. We have forgotten or ignored the Talmudic lesson that the Temple was destroyed because of sinat hinam, gratuitous hatred among Jews. We all know that antisemitism in the United States and around the world is growing at a rapid and very disturbing pace. Anti-

Israelism is often (but not always) a mask for antisemitism. Our enemies never have a problem deciding who is a Jew. They don’t care if a Jew believes in G-d or not. They don’t care if a Jew prays three times a day or never. They don’t care if a Jew is a Zionist or a supporter of the Palestinians. They don’t care what kind of conversion a Jew underwent. All they care about is demonizing “Jews” and blaming their country’s and world’s problems on the Jews. Can we Jews get past (not abandon) our differences enough to protect each other, to survive this current outbreak of the potentially deadly human virus of antisemitism? The High Holidays are a time for reflection and self-evaluation. What better time is there to contemplate how

we react to each other. In the spirit of repentance, I want to share some meaningful words from a colleague, Rabbi David Wolpe, that I received from another friend: “Disagreements are expected. Even arguments can be salutary. G-d knows the Jewish people have a decided tendency to argue. But the belief that the other person is advancing a position because they are driven by nefarious motives contributes to the deep divisions within communities.… No matter the seriousness of the question, if you believe the person opposing you has the best of intentions, it changes the outcome.” Wouldn’t it be great if this Rosh Hashanah we Jews would learn to be as smart about survival as an ant?

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Jewish youth experience Shalshelet gets a new name this fall

Jewish tenth-, eleventh- and twelfth-graders from around the Lehigh Valley have been gathering together with Temple Beth El’s Shalshelet youth group for years for fun and fellowship. Now, the concept is getting a makeover, as TBE and the Jewish Federation team up to offer teens a new, engaging experience. A contest is being held to name this new group. Teens are encouraged to submit one creative name option. On Sept. 30, a poll will be posted on the Federa-

tion Facebook page. The winner will receive a mystery box. Gavriel Siman-Tov, the Federation’s community shaliach from Israel, will work with Alicia Zahn to bring together teens from across the Lehigh Valley to explore Israel, Jewish life, leadership and much more. “It is not Hebrew School, and it is not a youth group. Instead, it is a space for Jewish teens to explore topics of their choice in a safe and welcoming atmosphere,” said Zahn. All Jewish tenth- through

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12 SEPTEMBER 2021 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY

twelfth-graders in the Valley are welcome to participate in the experience, which will meet on Monday evenings, about twice a month. “We are looking for a diversity in backgrounds to encourage diverse viewpoints. You do not need to be a member of a synagogue or have any previous Judaic knowledge. Or you may have attended a Jewish school your entire life and be heavily involved in your synagogue and youth group. Whatever your background, you are welcome!” said Zahn. The first meeting will be held at the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley, but locations will rotate to be as inclusive as possible. At each session, a different presenter will introduce a topic, usually one that students have requested, and facilitate a discussion or activity lasting for a little over an hour. The guest presenters are brought in specifically as they are connected to the particular topic. “Students in the past have usually focused on three things - social justice, Israel, and what we will call ‘teen issues.’ In recent years, we have explored free speech, sexuality in Torah, criminal justice, Zionism, suicide, gun control, body im-

age, antisemitism, Israeli food, refugees, and many, many more topics, some heavy and some lighter,” explained Zahn. There will also be hearty individual snacks or light dinner provided. Due to COVID, at this time masks are required at all times during the dialogue portion of the session, regardless of vaccination status. Eating will only be permitted during a specific snack time when students are to remain in designated seats distanced from one another, but still able to socialize. Snack time is the only time unmasking is permitted. Students are encouraged to attend even if they cannot make it to every meeting. “We know how busy teen schedules can be, and we are set up so that students can miss a session when needed but still come to the next one and be completely connected and engaged. This is because each session is self-contained with a different topic,” said Zahn. This year is set to offer a new and exciting experience with the new name and format with Siman-Tov’s involvement. “We are so excited that Gavriel Siman-Tov will be coordinating this year. He will be at each session and help the

group to bond so all students feel safe to share their views. He will also find out what topics students are most interested in exploring and coordinate engaging presenters on those topics,” said Zahn. To enter the renaming contest, visit https://tinyurl.com/cptrxcye. Tuition is $300 per student for the year, which includes all dinners and sessions. There is also an optional day trip at the end of the year, for which most of the trip costs are covered. Scholarships are available. To learn more, to sponsor a snack, or to sign up, contact Gavriel Siman-Tov at gavriel@ jflv.org or Alicia Zahn at school@ bethelallentown.org.


Muhlenberg student wins StandWithUs Movement Builder Award for Creativity and Impact

By Paula Joffe StandWithUs Mid-Atlantic Executive Director StandWithUs (SWU) Mid-Atlantic congratulates Paige Weisburg, a junior at Muhlenberg College and the StandWithUs Emerson Fellow, for winning second place in the prestigious Movement Builder Award for Creativity and Impact. It is presented each year to one exceptional StandWithUs Emerson Fellow who approached and successfully implemented Israel programming with a specific and dynamic strategy. Paige, who is the Hillel Israel co-chair and founded her college's “Mules for Israel,” was recognized among 150 of her peers within the StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship throughout the U.S., Canada, the UK, and Brazil. Paige developed a clear strategy of how she planned to deliver her messages about Israel, laying out tangible goals and then expertly carried them out. She accomplished this by creating IDP (Israel Depth Project) programs, which provided her peers with a baseline foundation of Israel's history and current affairs. Paige executed 11 diverse cultural and political programs at Muhlenberg College. These included hosting an Art and Politics IDP program, an Israeli chocolate ball-making program, and a 'Recipe with a Memory' program during Yom HaZikaron, among several others. Recognizing the importance of collaborating with other groups, she listed organiza-

tions she has relationships with and others she wanted to build one with. Paige assigned students to be 'point people' between Hillel and other organizations, such as the Multicultural Center, which had never been done before. This person ensured that there was a constant stream of communication between Hillel and the partner organization. She diversified her audience by constantly inviting members of other school clubs to her events. “I really loved being a StandWithUs Emerson Fellow," said Weisburg. "It is so rewarding to be able to expand upon the Israel programming I was doing at Muhlenberg and to venture outside of my comfort zone to create programs that so many people both on and off-campus partook in. I really enjoy creating both in-person and virtual programming, and I look forward to helping create more with the knowledge I have acquired in the StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship.” Founded in 2007, the StandWithUs Emerson Fellowship selects, trains and empowers student leaders to educate about Israel and combat antisemitism on their campuses and in their communities. SWU Mid-Atlantic is proud to announce the 2021-22 StandWithUs Emerson Fellows: Maya Rabinowitz, also from Muhlenberg College, and Nathan Szydlow from Penn State University. Paula Joffe, StandWithUs mid-Atlantic executive director stated, "I want to give a big-shout out to Matthew Garces, senior midAtlantic campus coordinator, who worked with Paige throughout the year and recognized that her accomplishments and talents merited being nominated for this award. I welcome the new Emerson Fellows and look forward to all they will accomplish in the coming school year." “I applied to become an Emerson Fellow to make a meaningful impact in my college community and to help educate all about the dangers of present day antisemitism," said Szydlow. "I hope to host many events that will spread awareness and help educate Jewish and non-Jewish students on the prevalence of antisemitism in our community. I also hope to engage in meaningful conversations with groups holding various political views regarding the difference between honest criticism of Israel and antiZionism.” Maya Rabinowitz explained that she "applied to be an Emerson fellow to connect with other Jewish college students who love Israel! This year I hope to run meaningful programming that will inspire other students to explore Israel.”

Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year! From Ari Forgosh, D.M.D., Sharon, Ashley, Shannon, & Melissa

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Are you a PJ Family? If you have enjoyed PJ Library books or activities over the past decade, we'd love to hear your story! To celebrate PJ Library's 10th birthday in the Lehigh Valley, we are throwing a party on Oct. 24! We are collecting testimonials of families who have been part of our PJ Library experience. Send in your short video or text/photo story to abbyt@jflv.org and let us know what PJ Library has meant to you and your family! Go to www.jewishlehighvalley.org/pjlibraryevents to learn more about the upcoming PJ Library events.

Deliveries add to kosher food options in the Valley

BRING JEWISH STORIES HOME By Stephanie Goodling HAKOL Editor 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.

Residents of the Lehigh Valley Jewish community who follow a kosher diet have gotten a few more options this summer. While

the Valley already enjoys its first kosher food truck from Around the Table Catering stationed at the Jewish Community Center, along with other great options like Menchie’s, Rita’s and Manhattan Bagel, efforts to

expand kosher selections have been underway for a few months. Arrangements have been made with various kosher restaurants in the New York and New Jersey area to come to Allentown. Lehigh Valley residents have been able to pick up menus and order meals once or twice a month over the summer, with dropoffs near the JCC. “This is a project of Hebrew Family League, and the response has been very, very good. People really appreciated it. We have a lot of New Jersey and New York ex-pats in these parts, and they like their food,” Rabbi Nisan Andrews of Congregation Sons of Israel joked. Kyle Newfeld, head of the Hebrew Family League (HFL), has been “working tirelessly to try to make ritually rigorous Jewish life here better, richer and more varied, and it’s a credit to him and HFL,” Andrews added. Newfeld gives credit to Rabbi Jonathan Powers of the Lehigh Valley Kashrut Commission, as well, who has also been involved and given his assistance in transporting food to the Valley. The other development this year was that of kosher groceries from stores such as Riverdale Kosher Markets in New York. While there are kosher sections in local grocery stores such as Giant and Weis, the expanded selection of kosher items ordered online and delivered monthly was welcomed. With options like sandwiches, sushi, Chinese food and pizza, Lehigh Valley residents are getting to have a taste of a wider kosher palette. All of the restaurants participating in the drop-off are approved by the LVKC. There are hopes that a special grocery order can be put in for the high holidays, and more options are being explored for the fall. Andrews and Newfeld both encourage locals to take advantage of the food truck and other local spots on a regular basis in between special deliveries. “They’re invaluable kosher resources and really good quality kosher food,” said Andrews. If you’re interested in learning more about kosher food options and being added to the delivery/ drop-off list, contact Kyle Newfeld at kgndeltau@gmail.com.

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SAVE THE DATE FOR

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AN EVENING OF TRIBUTE Saturday December 4, 2021 7:30 PM on Zoom AS WE CELEBRATE 68 YEARS OF JEWISH DAY SCHOOL OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY

HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | SEPTEMBER 2021 19


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

By Michele Salomon, Alyssa Emswiler and Vikki Dunn Congregation Keneseth Israel The Keneseth Israel Annual Gala is an occasion for celebration, an important time to recognize those within our community that embody the Jewish values we hold dear – compassion, community, charity and acts of lovingkindness. The couple that embodies all these values are Eric “Chef Eric” Rappaport and Patricia “Choty” San Andres. They will be honored on Saturday, Oct. 2, with “Roaring 20s” as the theme. This is

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 humbleness,

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 was confirmed last 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 number of ways. Of course, there is the food so lovingly prepared by Chef Eric on so many occasions, big and small. 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 $25,000 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 – beer. For two years or so, Choty has organized an ever-growing group of KI congregants for “Brews Crews,” a few hours of community and conversation, all while drinking beer at many local craft breweries. This is a great 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. Eric has recently been nominated to the President-Elect/Executive Vice President position at KI. He has already begun preparing for this very important leadership role. His efforts also led to the creation of “Lox and Learn,” the latest in Torah study at KI, a Sunday morning alternative to Rabbi Seth’s regular Thurs-

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day morning class. In the past, Choty has used her technological skills to support the KI website, including sending out weekly email blasts. Take a step into the “The Roaring 20s” on Saturday, Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. The evening is sure to be memorable. During the cocktail hour, we will enjoy the soft, yet sophisticated, tunes of the IC Collective, a local jazz band which includes KI congregant Alan Salinger. For entertainment, we welcome back to KI, Noah Aronson, musician and performer. Noah first performed at KI in November 2018. Noah’s song “Am I Awake” is a favorite at Shabbat services. His music reaches your mind, body and soul. It will be a spiritual concert filled with love and peace. 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. While all in-person events will require vaccination, streaming option will be available for Noah’s concert and presentations to Eric and Choty. Please call the office with any questions.


KI’s Harvest 5K races to support Allentown’s Central Elementary School

by Ellyn Schindler Congregation Keneseth Israel During a time when area schools are more challenged than ever, Congregation Keneseth Israel’s (KI) Harvest 5K—now celebrating its seventh year—is a real-life example of tikkun olam at the community level. The event is scheduled to take place at 1696 Park Drive (Lehigh Parkway), Allentown, on Oct. 10 at 11 a.m., and will benefit Central Elementary School. All community members are encouraged to participate. The congregation and school both share Allentown as their home. Central Elementary School is one of 15 elementary schools located in the

city of Allentown, with 89.1 percent of the school’s families denoted as low income, and 100 percent receiving free or reduced-price lunch. This is the fourth year that Central Elementary School is the recipient of the funds raised from the Harvest 5K. Most recently, in 2020 the (virtual) 5K helped provide much-needed upgrades to the school playground, which is heavily used by the school’s 800 students and surrounding neighborhoods. This year’s funding will be earmarked for art supplies. According to Central Elementary School Principal Rebecca Bodnar, the building now has designated space for their art classes, thereby creating unprecedented op-

portunities for arts programming. “The arts are a vital form of expression for our students, and we greatly appreciate the anticipated support from the Harvest 5K to see our dream art room become a reality,” said Bodnar. Since its inception in 2015, the Harvest 5K has also benefited several other critical non-profit organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Literacy Center, Victory House of the Lehigh Valley, and The Fund to Benefit Children & Youth. Leading the charge is the architect of the event, KI’s Patricia “Choty” San Andres. “This event is unique in that it combines my passion for physical

wellness, along with my focus on spirituality and helping others,” said San Andres. “Yet, supporting those less fortunate is truly a team sport, and over the years the event and its beneficiaries have gained quite a following, thereby maximizing the impact of our efforts.” In addition to the Harvest 5K, members of KI have supported Central Elementary by becoming active volunteers in classrooms and at special events such as the Book Blast. To sign up as a participant or corporate sponsor, or learn more, please visit https:// runsignup.com/Race/PA/Allentown/Harvest5Ki. For additional information about KI please visit kilv.org.

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10 Jewish facts about ‘Jeopardy!’ host Mayim Bialik you should know

FOX/GETTY IMAGES

By Maddy Albert Kveller In case you missed it, Jewish actress and neuroscientist Mayim Bialik is officially a new host of “Jeopardy!” She will be hosting primetime and spinoff versions of the beloved game show — including ABC’s recently announced college championship. Bialik may be best known for the memorable characters she’s played, including Amy Farrah Fowler in the “Big Bang Theory” and Blossom in the beloved ’90s sitcom by the same name. But when she’s not on screen, Mayim is in touch with her Jewish identity in so many ways, from her excitement about Jewish holidays to the ways she incorporates Jewish practice into raising her two children. In honor of the news, here are 10 Jewish facts about this incredible Jewish mom. 1. She is a second-generation Jewish immigrant. Like many Ashkenazi Jews in the U.S., Mayim’s grandparents immigrated from Poland, Hungary and then-Czechoslovakia. Mayim describes herself as “a second-generation American whose grandparents on one side never really mastered the English language.” Given her accomplishments as a scholar — she has a Ph.D. in neuroscience from UCLA — and a public figure, we can only imagine the immense pride and joy her grandparents would feel over her accomplishments today.

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2. Her name has many layers of Jewish meaning. Mayim’s full name — Mayim Chaya Bialik — carries serious Jewish meaning. Her first name, Mayim, means “water” in Hebrew. (She’s named after her grandmother, Maryam, who was known as “Bubbe Mayim.”) Her middle name, Chaya, means “alive” in Hebrew; it shares the same root as “chai” or “life.” As for Bialik, Mayim’s a distant relative of the pioneering modern Hebrew poet Hayim Nahman Bialik. 3. Mayim identifies as Modern Orthodox. Although she was raised in a Reform Jewish family, Mayim has become more religiously observant as an adult and now identifies as Modern Orthodox. The Orthodox value of modesty is one that she holds dear, and she brings her preference for modest dress into her very spiffy “Jeopardy!” outfits. She told Jeopardy.com that her professional dress during her guest-hosting stint was meant to maintain the elements of formality and decorum that she so respected in late host Alex Trebek, and “to look like the academic I was trained to be.” 4. She was the first woman in her family to become a bat mitzvah. When Mayim spoke at the National Museum of American Jewish History’s celebration marking the 90th anniversary of the first bat mitzvah ceremony in the United States, we learned that Mayim was the first woman in her family to have a bat mitzvah. Speaking about the way that the bat mitzvah has become a key marker of women’s equity in Jewish communities, Mayim told the Philadelphia Inquirer: “The bat mitzvah is the beginning. It’s not the end.”

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5. Education is one of her core values. One of the reasons Mayim is so perfect for the “Jeopardy!” job is that, in her own words, she has dedicated her life to “knowing things and to being able to communicate things.” Education is deeply valued in Jewish culture, and it is even stressed in Jewish text, as the Talmud dictates that the study of Torah is the greatest commandment. What’s more, as an undergrad at UCLA, Mayim minored in Hebrew and Jewish Studies — so Jewish education has always been part of her many ambitions. 6. She was active in Jewish life during college. Mayim was also active in Jewish life outside the classroom during her years at UCLA. She was a student leader of Hillel, she founded a women’s Rosh Chodesh group and she blew the shofar during High Holiday services. In addition, she conducted and wrote music for UCLA’s Jewish a cappella group. 7. Jewish holidays are very important to her. Speaking of Jewish education, Mayim makes a point to teach her fans all about Jewish holidays. She recently made a series of six videos for Kveller called “You Know How I Know: Jewish Basics With Mayim Bialik,” covering Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Hanukkah, Purim and Passover. These short, fun videos are meant to teach viewers about the key elements of each Jewish holiday (with her special Mayim flair, of course). 8. Mayim was one of the first editors of Kveller. It’s true: The Jewish parenting site through which you are reading this article would not be the same without Mayim’s brains and initiative. Mayim was one of the original contributing editors of Kveller (more than 10 years ago). 9. She has a very Jewish bedtime ritual for her kids. Mayim’s sons — Miles, 15, and Frederick, 12 — are being raised with many Jewish rituals, including Mayim singing the bedtime “Shema” prayer to them before bed. Even as her kids grow older, “I still try to sing the Shema to them,” she said in 2019. “And I remember that I used to watch their eyes shift from blinking, to heavy lids, to closing and fluttering, to closing completely for the night, when I used to pray for their souls to be watched over as they slept.” So sweet. 10. She is passionate about mental health. Mayim has been a longtime advocate for mental healthcare. During her “Jeopardy!” guest-host stint, Mayim raised funds for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), where she has referred friends for many years. Mental health advocacy is tied to many Jewish values, including the Talmud passage “Kol yisrael arevim zeh bazeh”— which means “all Jews are responsible for one another” — as well “pikuach nefesh,” the Jewish value of saving a life. What’s more, Mayim’s podcast, “Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown,” aims to break down “the myths and misunderstandings about mental health and emotional well-being” according to Spotify, while “removing the stigma surrounding mental health.”



L’Shana Tova!

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