HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY 40th ANNIVERSARY
The Voice of the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community
DECEMBER 2016 | KISLEV/TEVET 5777
Allentown woman reflects on past Federation missions in preparation for spring trip
Federation offers exciting new opportunity for Jews ages 27-35
Eva Levitt, center, during a stop in Budapest on a 2011 Jewish Federation mission. Levitt has traveled to Israel on eight missions and is getting ready for her ninth.
Lewis and Roberta Gaines, pictured with their family in Israel, are generously sponsoring a new program that will include a trip to Israel for young Jewish professionals.
By Michelle Cohen HAKOL Editor
By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Marketing
Eva Levitt, a longtime resident of Allentown who has been involved with the Jewish community in many different ways, has enjoyed deepening her connections to Israel over the course of eight Jewish Federation missions. Now she’s getting ready for mission number nine this April. “First of all, I love going to Israel,” Levitt said when asked why she keeps going back. “Second of all, each mission has its own uniqueness,” she added, recalling
The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is pleased to announce a new leadership program for young adults that will include a heavily subsidized nine-day trip to Israel. The program is made possible by the generous underwriting of donors committed to engaging the next generation in Jewish life and leadership. It is an expansion of current Young Adult Division leadership programs and will be known as Israel Next Dor. “Cultivating the next generation of Jewish leaders is nothing short of essential for the future of the Lehigh Valley
Past missions Continues on page 4
Israel Next Dor Continues on page 13
Find out how 2016 election results will affect the Jewish community on page 3.
Learn about the impact your November donations are creating on page 6.
Take a look at our special Chanukah section for stories, recipes and much more.
No. 393 com.UNITY with Mark Goldstein 2 Women’s Division
Jewish Family Service Jewish Community Center Jewish Day School
15 18-19 20
Pennsylvania governor signs anti-BDS legislation into law By Aaron Gorodzinsky JFLV Director of Outreach and Community Relations On Nov. 6, surrounded by other Jewish community professionals from across the state and the vice consul general in New York, I had the privilege of witnessNon-Profit Organization
702 North 22nd Street Allentown, PA 18104
U.S. POSTAGE PAID Lehigh Valley, PA Permit No. 64
ing Gov. Tom Wolf sign House Bill 2107, the anti-BDS bill, into law. With Gov. Wolf’s signature, Pennsylvania became the 14th state to enact anti-BDS legislation. HB 2107, introduced by Rep. Matthew Baker (R-Tioga), prohibits the state of Pennsylvania from signing into a procurement contract with any company that performs a boycott, divestment, or sanction (BDS) against Israel and recognizes the importance of the relationship between the United States and Israel. Before signing the bill, both Wolf and Baker spoke about the deep-rooted friendship that exists between our commonwealth and the state of Israel and how important it is to seek solutions that build bridges for peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict instead of looking for economic sanctions that unfairly target Israel. Baker also made mention of the business opportunities
taking place between our state and Israel, “where in 2015, over $212 million in exports activity to Israel transpired, which is a 21 percent increase from the previous year, and since 1996 total exports to Israel from Pennsylvania totaled $3.1 billion,” Baker said. The bipartisan bill passed in the state House of Representatives by a vote of 181-9 and 47-1 in the Senate. The bill follows last year’s passage of House Resolution 370 Condemning Economic, Social, Cultural and Other Boycotts of Israel and Growing Incidents of AntiSemitism. The resolution, passed unanimously in the house, was co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Schlossberg (D-Lehigh).
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Pat Browne (R-Lehigh) helped to move the bill quickly out of committee and onto the floor, making it possible for the governor to sign the bill before the end of the year. “Israel is an important ally of the United States and it is imperative that Pennsylvania does its part in supporting this great nation,” Browne said. “This legislation prohibits the commonwealth from entering into contracts with businesses that support boycotts and other disruptive activities against Israel. I was pleased to help move this important bill quickly through the legislative process.”
FROM THE DESK OF MARK L. GOLDSTEIN
Executive Director | Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley email@example.com
The ‘December Dilemma’ For a friend of mine, the “December Dilemma” is whether to ski or snorkel. But for many more in the Jewish community, the “December Dilemma” is how to respond to the onslaught of someone else’s culture permeating every nook and cranny of one’s life. And this year Christmas and Chanukah overlap, which may accelerate the proclivity to compare. We step outside and Christmas trees surround us; except on the Kol Ha-Emek radio show – Cantor Wartell’s Friday morning gift to our community on WMUH/91.7 FM, radios blares Christmas tunes in country, rock, classical and rap modes. The Creches commemorate the Christian story. Stores are hyper stocked with Christmas decorations. And Santa greets us at every shopping center. Many Jews begin to feel like visitors out of step with the “host” culture. How should we respond to this annual reminder of our minority status, to these powerful signals that – by our history, our heritage, our peoplehood, and our religion – we are different? One reaction is to assimilate
– when in Rome, do like the Romans and when in America, do like the majority of Americans, at least in December. Others like to compete – to fight fire with fire, or more precisely, Christmas with Chanukah. Adam Sandler helped a few years ago with his “Eight Crazy Nights” movie and his “Chanukah Song.” I even saw a Christmas-Chanukah chess set in a store. Imagine the sense of satisfaction when one of the rabbinic-looking pieces knocks off a few of the three wise men pieces. We all fall prey to the power of eight nights over “their” single night. Frankly, both of these approaches are, in my view, misguided, and not (simply) because Chanukah can never hold a candle to Christmas. It is not hard to admit that Jews are a minority living in the U.S. amongst a Christian minority. But it’s not a competition, either. Maybe it’s good that we feel a bit uncomfortable. Maybe our discomfort will make us appreciate more the fact that we have a rich Jewish heritage. And while we can appreciate our Christian neighbors’ holidays, we don’t
have to feel bad about not celebrating them. The best approach to the “December Dilemma” is to address it year-round. We are who we are. We are a minority, and that’s okay. We have a beautiful and meaningful heritage that should be allowed to permeate our lives each month and each day, not just for eight certain days in the winter. Chanukah has its charm; but it is, after all, a relatively minor Jewish holiday. Prominent Jewish educator Ron Wolfson, who has spoken several times in the Lehigh Valley, notes that a “We’re Jewish – we have Chanukah” response should only be the beginning of the response. The full answer should be “We’re Jewish, and we have Chanukah … Sukkot, Passover, Shavuot, Purim, Simchat Torah, Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Lag B’Omer, Yom Ha’atzmaut, Tu B’shvat – and, most importantly, Shabbat every week.” The child who has experienced the building of a sukkah will not feel deprived of trimming a tree. The child who has participated in a meaningful Passover seder will not feel
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR Dear Readers, As the leaves begin to carpet the earth and the morning dew foreshadows snow, I am brought back to a photo from my Birthright trip in 2015. It shows an older adult sitting beside me as we work together on an electronics project at a small center that gives part-time jobs to retired people and people with disabilities. Everyone in our group was assigned to work on different tasks. I was told to sit by this man, Moshe, because I spoke Hebrew. And as he worked, he wanted to tell me his life story. Moshe had fought in every war in Israel’s history. He was one of the settlers in Israel before the country even existed. I listened with rapt attention as
he showed me new angles of this country I’d heard so much about and spent the past week and a half visiting. It is these moments of connecting with people that I believe make Israel trips special. I have great memories from exploring the country, seeing historical places and eating delicious food. But the memory that sticks with me was my morning with Moshe and the way his words brought me closer to the Israel he has fought for and loved. As our group prepared to leave, Moshe asked me when I planned to come back. He told me that, as a Jew, I have a connection to this land. That I belong there, regardless of where I grew up, how I live, what I believe. He was relentless, pas-
sionate about bringing new life into his beloved country. Federation offers many opportunities to visit Israel. If you are looking for a way to make emotional connections to a land half a world away, please reach out for more details. Shalom, Michelle Cohen
IN MEMORY MOTHER (of Mark Lester) Roberto and Eileen Fischmann JOYCE GLASER (Mother of Larry Glaser) Jan, Glenn, Noah, Naomi and Dani Ehrich ANNAMAE GROSSMAN (Mother of Ben Grossman) Roberto and Eileen Fischmann LEONARD TEITELBAUM (Husband of Marilyn Teitelbaum) Howard and Susan Sherer
TO ORDER TREES, call the JFLV at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org.
In the article on Kati Marton’s IJCU speech in the November issue, there is an erroneous reference to Raoul Wallenberg rescuing “his fellow Jews.” Wallenberg was not Jewish, but rather a righteous Gentile. We apologize for the error. 2 DECEMBER 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
another reminder that Jewish continuity ultimately depends now, as it has before, on the purity of our faith, our ability to resist assimilation, and our capacity to allow Judaism to enrich our lives 12 months of the year. When that occurs, the “December Dilemma” might well only be whether you spell it Chanukah, Chanukkah, Hanukkah, Hanuka or Channuka.
HAKOL STAFF Stephanie Smartschan
JFLV Director of Marketing
HAKOL is published 11 times per year for the Jewish communities of Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton and vicinity by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley.
Submissions to HAKOL must be of interest to the entire Jewish community. HAKOL reserves all editorial rights including, but not limited to, the decision to print any submitted materials, the editing of submissions to conform to style and length requirements, and the placement of any printed material. Articles should be submitted by e-mail or presented as typed copy; “Community Calendar” listings must be submitted by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or online at www. jewishlehighvalley.org. Please include your name and a daytime telephone number where you can be contacted in the event questions arise. We cannot guarantee publication or placement of submissions.
We gratefully acknowledge those individuals who have offered expressions of friendship by requesting that trees be planted in the Yoav--Lehigh Valley Partnership Park.
HAKOL COMMUNITY SUBMISSIONS
JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY IN HONOR HARTLEY LACHTER Marriage of his brother Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald SANDRA LACHTER Marriage of her son Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald JOE AND RITA SCHELLER Happy 60th Wedding Anniversary Roberto and Eileen Fischmann
deprived of Christmas dinner. The child who has paraded with the Torah on Simchat Torah, planted trees at Tu B’shvat, graggered gregariously at Purim, and welcomed Shabbat weekly with candles and wine (grape juice) and challah by the time s/he is three years old will understand that to be Jewish is to be enriched by a calendar brimming with joyous celebration. While Chanukah is a minor holiday, it carries with it a message we should take to heart. The Maccabees’ struggle began as a struggle between Jews who took their religion seriously and Jews who were anxious to assimilate to the Hellenistic tendencies of the host culture. Rather than regard Chanukah as a celebration of religious liberty (the Maccabees certainly were not religious pluralists), we might better regard it as yet
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JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY MISSION STATEMENT In order to unite, sustain, and enhance the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, and support Jewish communities in Israel and around the world, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is dedicated to the following core values:
• Supporting Jews in need wherever they may be. • Supporting Israel as a Jewish homeland. • Supporting and encouraging Jewish education in the Lehigh Valley as a means of strengthening Jewish life for individuals and families. • Supporting programs and services of organizations whose values and mission meet local Jewish needs. To accomplish this mission the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is committed to the following operating guidelines: • Raising and distributing funds to support the core values. • Developing Jewish leaders. • Building endowments to support implementation of core values. • Committing to ongoing Jewish community strategic planning. • Fostering cooperation among organizations and community building. • Evaluating all decisions with respect to fiscal responsibility. • Identifying unmet needs and investing in community initiatives to help get them started. • Coordinating and convening a community response as an issue or need arises. • Setting priorities for allocation and distribution of funds. • Acting as a central address for communication about events, programs and services of the Jewish community as a whole. Approved by the JFLV Board of Directors on November 15, 2000
Jewish organizations look ahead to Trump presidency By Michelle Cohen HAKOL Editor
CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES
On the afternoon following Election Day, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs and the Jewish Federations of North America hosted a conference call to discuss who Jewish voters supported, what the Jewish community can learn from this data and what can be expected from America’s 45th president. The conference call began with brief remarks from Richard Sandler, the chair of JFNA, who stressed the election’s intensity over time, beginning with the primaries and leading all the way up to Election Day. He then passed the microphone to Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, to discuss specifics. Silow-Carroll began by describing the “major storylines” of the night, culminating in the fact that “the Democrats and the pollsters ignored the concerns of the white working class, and [Donald] Trump tapped into their concerns” by speaking what they were thinking. This includes Trump’s plan to be tough on immigration and break the established political patterns. He noted that in exit polls, the majority of voters who put economy as top priority voted for Hillary Clinton, while Trump voters put immigration at the top of their list. “This wasn’t an election about the economy, but about culture and values,” SilowCarroll said.
As for why many of the pre-election polls predicted the result of the election incorrectly, Silow-Carroll speculated that they neglected to include the impact of white working class citizens. “The white working class voted as an ethnic group in traditional Democratic strongholds,” he said. “They saw common cause and a threat to their way of life, and Trump spoke in the way no Democrat would. The country is getting increasingly diverse and Democrats are getting behind that, but … even though they’ve gotten in touch with blacks, Hispanics, etc., the Democrats have lost touch with the white working class.” And where was the Jewish vote among these other groups? According to exit polls, Hillary Clinton received 70 percent of the Jewish vote, 25 percent went to Trump, and the remaining votes went to thirdparty candidates Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Previous Democratic candidates like Al Gore and John Kerry received more of the Jewish vote: 79 percent and 74 percent, respectively. The call’s second speaker, Lynn Sweet, Washington, D.C., bureau chief at the Chicago Sun-Times, looked ahead to see what Jews and the country at large can expect in terms of bringing people together after a particularly polarizing election. “There is a path for him to do it,” she said of the president-elect. “Every important political figure … did the right thing and talked about how he won fair and square and we have a
President-elect Donald Trump delivering his acceptance speech at the New York Hilton Midtown in New York City, Nov. 9, 2016. democratic constitutional orderly transition of power.” If he works on this transition, she said, he can work on bringing the country together. Toward the end of the call, SilowCarroll and Sweet took questions from callers, most of which were focused on what the Trump presidency will look like going forward. Silow-Carroll mentioned that an ideal step for Trump to take would be to “listen to some of the Jewish groups and anti-hate groups who need help [de-escalating] situations that have escalated over the last 18 months.” Sweet added, “There’s a lot to un-
fold in the coming days, especially in the leadership that Trump might preside in trying to steer the conversation away from the incendiary topics that embolden the alt-right movement. The enormity of being president may influence the temper, tone and topics that Trump talks about, and we have a whole new set of voices to speak out about specific things not in a partisan context. A lot depends on Trump, and that means we just don’t know. We have a president-elect who’s one of the most unpredictable and improbable figures to win the presidency, so we will see, we just don’t know.”
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | DECEMBER 2016 3
WOMEN’S DIVISION OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY
Karen Dacey becomes first female president of Maimonides Society By Stephanie Bolmer Special to HAKOL Dr. Karen Dacey has only been in the Lehigh Valley five years, but she has already made local history as the Jewish Federation’s Maimonides Society’s first female president. Dacey took over from Dr. Bob Wilson to lead the organization, which was formed 30 years ago to foster a sense of common purpose and commitment among healthcare professionals to work toward the betterment of Jews wherever they may be. Dacey has a lot of experience serving a variety of people in many different places, as her current private practice, McDonald Ophthalmology & Associates in Bethlehem, is actu-
Past missions Continues from page 1
several experiences across a variety of missions that helped her delve deep into the history and the vibrant community of modern Israel. The trips include tourist destinations in addition to the theme of each trip, which dictates its main attractions. “Going to the different markets, like the Carmel market, is very exciting and all these people selling foods … it makes our farmers’ markets here look like nothing. That’s always nice to do, and going to the Great Synagogue in Jerusalem is an awesome thing to see and of course Yad Vashem is beyond description,” Levitt said. The trips take on more meaningful aspects as well. “I have the Catholic people
ally her first civilian job in the medical field. For 11 years, she was training and serving in the U.S. Air Force. Dacey received all of her medical training as an active duty officer, and in addition to caring for both retired and active servicepeople and their families at bases in the United States, she was also deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, where she treated not only U.S. soldiers but also those from any coalition force, including France, New Zealand and Afghanistan itself. She also has done humanitarian work in both Afghanistan and Panama. With experiences such as these, Dacey is a natural fit to continue the international scope of the Maimonides mission. When it came time to transition
who saved my mother and me during World War II memorialized in the Garden of the Righteous Gentiles. It was, for me, very special to go and see their names under a tree.” Levitt said. “If you keep in the back of your mind that there was nothing and the Jews built all this, it’s just a very unbelievable thing to see. It’s unbelievable what the Jews have done in Israel.” On one particularly meaningful mission, Levitt and her group visited lone soldiers, who volunteered to join the IDF from around the world and often do not have family in Israel. When engaging in conversation with one lone soldier, she recalled, he asked where she was from, and after conversing with his grandfather, the soldier discovered that his grandfather knew Levitt’s family from Czecho-
into civilian life, Dacey said she and her family lucked out on winding up in the Lehigh Valley. “We didn’t realize it was such a vibrant Jewish community,” she said of the area, remembering how she felt warmly welcomed into the Maimonides Society in an “overwhelmingly positive way.” As to her decision to get more involved and accept the position of president, she explained simply, “The community thrives because people are involved.” Dacey says she is thrilled that all of her family is experiencing that involvement here firsthand. “Judaism permeates our lives as it never has before,” she said, highlighting her two children’s attendance to Jewish summer camps and involvement in pro-
slovakia from before World War II. In addition to going to Israel, some Federation missions include traveling to other destinations where the Jewish Federation supports programs to create community and enrich lives for Jews around the world. Levitt has traveled to Budapest, where she observed a “hopping” JCC filled with people of all ages engaging in programs. Levitt has made several lifestyle changes thanks to her mission experiences, as well. After spending time in Neve Michael, a village where young people can stay during the week if home life is too big of a challenge, she was inspired by how the caring house parents in the village “really made a difference in these children’s lives. I was so inspired by this that I started my knitting project and half of it goes to Neve Michael and half of it goes to a soup kitchen in Jerusalem,” she said. On another trip, when she went to the Technion and got inspired to wear a new type of shoes invented by Israeli orthopedists, she ended up being able to cancel a knee replacement surgery. “Every time I go, there’s something unbelievable, something
grams like BBYO and the junior choir at Temple Beth El. She said that she and her husband feel very fortunate to be here. “All the things we need [to live a Jewish life] are supported by Federation,” said Dacey. That includes the work of the Maimonides Society, which she now brings into a new chapter with her leadership.
Eva Levitt (second from left) with her husband Larry, Vicki Wax and Stan Wax, z”l, accepting gifts on behalf of the group at Western Galilee Hospital on a 2002 mission. inspiring, and it just gives me a high, and I hope the people who go in April will feel the same way,” she said. Levitt encourages other members of the Lehigh Valley Jewish community to join Federation missions. “I always found that each mission does something new that I see or learn, and the mission in general is very inspiring and gives me and most of the people who go a real boost about how
they feel about Israel and how fantastic it is to see what this country has accomplished,” she said. The 2017 Federation mission will run from April 24 – May 3 with an optional extension May 2 – 5. Interested in an Israel experience with endless possibilities? Call 610-821-5500 or email Mark Goldstein at email@example.com or visit www.jewishlehighvalley. org/missions.
SPONSORED BY THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY’S WOMEN’S DIVISION
WELCOMING NEW BABIES
to the Lehigh Valley MICAH CHARLES BILLIG
son of Tracey and Jason Billig If you’re expecting, know someone who is, or have a new baby, PLEASE LET US KNOW! Contact Abby Trachtman, 610-821-5500 | firstname.lastname@example.org
4 DECEMBER 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
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
Election takes focus at two local events
Above, Congregation Brith Sholom hosted Chris Borick, political science professor and director of the Muhlenberg College Institute of Public Opinion, and Gordon Goldberg, professor emeritus of Kutztown University at “Election Forum: Certainty Vs. Uncertainty” on Nov. 2. At the event, Goldberg discussed some of his own polling work and Borick discussed national and local polls as well as the congressional race. Left, Borick spoke at Congregation Keneseth Israel on Nov. 3 at “History in the Offing: The 2016 Election by the Numbers.” Each talk featured unique material and a variety of predictions and analysis based on national polls and public opinion surveys.
YAD hosts post-election potluck
Members of the Young Adult Division enjoyed “The Election Is Over: Let’s Eat,” a potluck dinner hosted by Jacob Michaels. Participants bonded over the experience of moving to the Lehigh Valley, work stories and of course, home-cooked food.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | DECEMBER 2016 5
Being the Impact
During the month of impact in November, the Federation asked donors what inspires them to make an impact and give to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. Here are some of their responses:
CHELSEA BUSCH ROBERTA KRITZER
MICHAEL & LINDA MILLER
CHELSEA BUSCH I grew up in a family where philanthropy and donating money to Israel and overseas and Jewish causes was a very important value of ours. I also grew up traveling back and forth to Israel with my family and on organized trips and the culmination of my Israel experiences was the summer I lived in Israel where I met my husband Elliot who happened to be from the Lehigh Valley. So now we’re living in the Lehigh Valley, we still have
a strong connection to Israel and we’re sending our son to the Lehigh Valley Jewish Community Center so that he can start his education with strong Jewish values and a strong connection to Israel. And that’s my story that inspires me. ERIC FELS My daughter came home one day and told us that she wanted to go to Jewish day school, this was in the 9th grade. And we said OK and we sent her. And
the experience for her has been life-changing. She has embraced Jewish values, she has become more knowledgeable about the world, and for all the incredible growth and development she has experienced, the impact on our family has been immeasurable. We’ve all become more knowledgeable and my wife and I decided to make a trip to Israel as a result of my daughter getting excited for her own trip there. And I realized that I want these things to happen and it’s my
THANK YOU for being the impact!
6 DECEMBER 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
responsibility to make them happen for both my family and for others as well and that’s why I choose to make an impact by supporting Federation’s annual campaign. JEANETTE EICHENWALD I am inspired to make an impact on the Jewish community both locally, nationally and globally. For me the inspiration comes out of being a part of community because by making one gift, I can make an impact on the lives of those people who live here in my own beloved Lehigh Valley, nationally and, for me, especially around the world and in Israel. Because Israel to me is not only the scene of centuries of Jewish life and thought, of achievement, of history, of majesty and magnificence, but there’s an Israel that lies in the heart and soul of every Jew. And by making a gift to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, I can be a part of a community in Israel, around the world and locally. ROBERTA KRITZER I’ve been living in Allentown for 43 years. Being a part of this community has been tremendously important and I think about what has inspired me the most or from the beginning and I remember a little tzedakah box in my grandmother’s kitchen from early on. We have made several missions to Israel and what always gets me are the children singing when you get off the plane. And the statement that solidified my confirmation and need to give more and to ask is the statement that said one Jew is asking a second Jew to help a third Jew. And that is truly what tzedakah and Federation is all about.
MICHAEL MILLER (WITH WIFE LINDA MILLER AND DAUGHTER AMY SAMS) Linda, Amy and I have seen and heard firsthand what a significant impact Federation has made in our local Jewish community and overseas. Linda taught at the Jewish Day School for 18 years and was later on their board. She has seen many of her former students develop and make a difference with their lives. I have the privilege of being on the Federation board, Endowment Committee and Investment Committee. I have seen how the Federation distributions have been allocated to our local Jewish community and overseas organizations. Amy is proud to work for the JCC because of all the wonderful programs it provides for adults, families, children and the Lehigh Valley community. So, yes, our family sees how our contributions to Federation have made a significant Impact! VALESKA ZIGHELBOIM I was born and raised in Caracas, Venezuela, and I grew up surrounded by a very strong Jewish community and very strong Jewish values. What inspires me is that I saw what my family and all the people around me did for a community and that’s why do what I do in this community. I think it’s very important to give back, I think it’s very important to be involved, especially at this time where things are not exactly very pretty around the world. So I think that’s my main inspiration – my community, my family, my strong values that I got from home. It’s never too late to #BeTheImpact! Make your gift to the Federation’s campaign today. Visit www.jewishlehighvalley. org/campaign to learn more.
Mexico City mayor lays foundation stone for Jewish center
Mayors from around the world visit Israel, focus on innovation Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Jewish Telegraphic Agency Mexico City Mayor Miguel Angel Mancera laid the foundation stone for the Jewish Documentation and Research Center of Mexico. Several Mexican Jewish and non-Jewish officials attended the ceremony on Nov. 13 to launch the new headquarters of the center. The building, located next to the historic Rodfe Sedek synagogue, is expected to open in one year. “I was very attentive to the architectural project and saw how I could project from outside this double meaning: the history of a synagogue and the modern historical projection of a memory that will continue to call for all the Jewish people,” Mancera said, Televisa TV news channel reported. The center will host an array of
Jewish material, including general documents, photos and an audiovisual archive. In addition, it will have a library with over 20,000 books in several languages, a newspaper library, an auditorium for congresses and seminars, and classrooms, according to the Excelsior newspaper. “According to the Jewish tradition, stone is an element that does not age, does not wither, so it is the symbol of conservation and survival. Curiously, the purpose of the institution that we are going to erect in this place is precisely that, a center of conservation, a center in which the history of our people survives without waning,” said Ruben Goldberg, the synagogue board’s president. The president of the
Central Committee of the Jewish Community in Mexico, Solomon Achar, and other Jewish officials stressed the importance of building the center side by side with the synagogue dating from 1931 in order to boost the concept of a Jewish meeting point that will also help preserve the history of the Jewish community in Mexico. Mancera tweeted after the ceremony that it was an “honor” to join the Jewish community for the rite.
Two American Jewish groups hosted mayors from around the world in Israel as part of a conference highlighting Israeli innovation. Twenty-six mayors from North and South America, Europe and Africa visited the Jewish state through Nov. 18 as part of a forum organized by the American Jewish Congress and the American Council for World Jewry. The mayors met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, local municipalities and Israeli technology entrepreneurs in the fields of health, security, water and the environment. They also visited the telecommunications group Bezeq Telecom and a Tel Aviv start-up. “We expect that as a result of this visit, we will create a better understanding of the political environment and greater longer term cooperation between Israel and the mayors’ home countries,” Jack Rosen, the AJC’s president and ACWJ’s chairman, said in a statement. On Nov. 17, 20 of the mayors signed a statement criticizing the recent adoption by two UNESCO committees of resolutions that deny Jewish connections to Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and other holy sites in Israel. The statement was presented to Netanyahu at their meeting that afternoon. The mayors resolved “to work to end politically inspired falsehood and distortions, and to speak the truth about all relevant history.” The statement also called on UNESCO to “cease repeatedly exacerbating tensions, as evidenced by the most recent news of disputing Israeli heritage of the Dead Sea Scrolls, one of the major archaeological discoveries of the 20th century that sheds light on the biblical era.”
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | DECEMBER 2016 7
Chevra Kadisha comforts Jewish mourners in the Lehigh Valley IN MEMORY SHEILA GARBERMAN (Aunt of Pauline Trachtenberg) Sam and Sylvia Bub and Family Vicki Wax JOYCE GLASER (Mother of Larry Glaser) Carol and Stewart Furmansky Beth and Wes Kozinn ANNA MAE GROSSMAN (Mother of Ben Grossman) Ross and Wendy Born Iris, Jonathan, Harry and Charlie Epstein Carol and Stewart Furmansky Taffi Ney Roberta and Alan Penn Vicki Wax (Mother of Becky Fox) Taffi Ney RUTH BUSCH HELLER (Mother of Michael Busch) Ellen Field Rubbo JOEL KATZMAN (Brother of Seth Katzman) Roberta and Robert Kritzer WILLIAM LESTER (Father of Mark Lester) Ross and Wendy Born JULIA MILES (Wife of Donald Miles) Ross and Wendy Born HONEY SUSSMAN (Mother of Cantor Ellen Sussman) Ross and Wendy Born RUTH WALLACE (Aunt of Mike Bloom)
Elaine and Leon Papir IN HONOR ELAINE DEUTCH AND LARRY LANG Engagement of their daughter Marnie to Noah Jan, Glenn, Noah, Naomi and Dani Ehrich JUDY AND MARC DIAMONDSTEIN Engagement of their son Noah to Marnie Jan, Glenn, Noah, Naomi and Dani Ehrich Roberta and Robert Kritzer ARI AND MARGEE FORGOSH Bar Mitzvah of their son, Alex Ross and Wendy Born Iris, Jonathan, Harry and Charlie Epstein RABBI ALLEN AND TOBY JUDA Birth of their granddaughter, Juliette Ella Roberta and Robert Kritzer MAXINE KLEIN Engagement of their granddaughter Abby to Mike Sam and Sylvia Bub WESLEY KOZINN Happy Birthday Elaine and Leon Papir EVA LEVITT Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award Roberta and Robert Kritzer BERYL LORRY Happy Birthday Barry and Sybil Baiman JANET AND EIRAN MANDELKER Bat Mitzvah of their daughter, Eliana
Iris, Jonathan, Harry and Charlie Epstein RABBI SETH PHILLIPS AND MARGE KRAMER Birth of their grandson Ross and Wendy Born RON AND MELISSA STEIN Engagement of their daughter Julie to Wesley Sherman AIMEE AND OZZIE STEWART Birth of their granddaughter, Shiloh Iris, Jonathan, Harry and Charlie Epstein Evelyn and Jay Lipschutz ARLENE SUBIN Speedy Recovery Barry and Sybil Baiman ALAN WEINSTEIN Speedy Recovery Morton and Pearl Litwak MARGO WIENER Speedy Recovery Roberta and Robert Kritzer JERI AND LEN ZIMMERMAN Birth of their granddaughter, Norah Bea Iris, Jonathan, Harry and Charlie Epstein 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.
By Mark Notis Special to HAKOL The call can come morning, afternoon or evening. A typical scenario is mid-afternoon – busy time in my office – I will see a message on my cell phone from John Kulik. I’ll call John back and he will give me the sad news that “so and so passed away and we need a tahara and shomrim; by the way the funeral is tomorrow at
11 a.m.” According to Jewish custom, we try to bury the deceased within 24 hours of their passing. What is a tahara, what are shomrim and what is the Chevra Kadisha – these are questions sometimes asked by the family of the deceased. The call from the funeral director initiates a chain of events that can only be described as selfless volunteerism on the highest level. Often, with very little notice, perhaps only a few hours, the people who volunteer to carry out the duties of the Chevra Kadisha will stop what they are doing, sacrificing what precious time they have with their families or other activities to tend to the immediate needs of the deceased. Chevra Kadisha means “holy society.” It has been a functioning part of Jewish communities for hundreds of years. The volunteers provide a necessary service of caring for the ritual requirements of the deceased until burial. Those who volunteer their time are truly fulfilling a “chesed shel emet” or selfless act of altruism. This is the highest form of a mitzvah that one can do, as the deceased can never reciprocate. In order to prepare the body for burial, a tahara is performed. This is a ritual purification whereby the body is washed in a respectful and holy manner and finally clothed in a shroud and placed in the casket. After the tahara, it is customary for a shomer, or guard, to stay with the body until the funeral begins. This is a time of reflection for the person who often sits and reads from the book of psalms. Historically this was required to prevent desecration of the body, and to prevent the soul of the deceased from being alone. While there are many life cycle events – birth, bar and bat mitzvah, marriage, etc., the way we care for our loved ones at the end of life is a reflection of our “inner soul.” I am proud to represent the Chevra Kadisha of our community and I stand in awe of the selfless volunteers who lovingly provide their time and efforts. The Chevra Kadisha is part of the Hebrew Family League. To learn more or get involved, contact Mark Notis at email@example.com.
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Earliest reference to Jerusalem found in rare ancient papyrus By Sam Sokol JNS.org Archaeologists unveiled a 2,700-year-old papyrus fragment, described as “the earliest extrabiblical source to mention Jerusalem in Hebrew writing” the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) said on Wednesday, Oct. 26. The find, which dates to the 7th century B.C.E., was written at the end of the First Temple period. It was recovered by the IAA after being plundered by antiquities thieves from a cave in the Judean Desert. The fragment is a rare and original shipping invoice from the time of the Kingdom of Judah. It describes “the status of the sender of the shipment (the king’s maidservant), the name of the settlement from which the shipment was dispatched (Na’arat), the contents of the vessels (wine), their number or amount (jars) and their destination (Jerusalem),” the IAA said in a statement. N’aratah on the parchment references the biblical city of Na’arot, described in the Book of Joshua as on the border between the tribal territories of Ephraim and Benjamin. “The document represents extremely rare evidence of the existence of an organized administration in the Kingdom of Judah,” said Dr. Eitan Klein, deputy director of the IAA’s Unit for the Prevention of Antiquities Robbery. While the fragment’s discovery serves to “underscores the centrality of Jerusalem as the economic capital
of the kingdom” at the time, it’s impossible to tell which specific king – Menashe, Amon and Josiah all ruled Jerusalem at that time – was the recipient of the wine, he said. The find is one of only two original documents from that period referencing Jerusalem as the capital city of the kingdom. Also it highlights the “unusual status of a woman in the administration of the Kingdom of Judah.” said biblical scholar professor Shmuel Ahituv. Officials explained the extreme dryness of the Judean Desert is uniquely suited for the preservation of ancient papyrus, adding that such finds are incredibly useful in understanding life and religion in antiquity. Archaeologists aren’t the only ones aware of the importance of such finds. IAA officials denounced the daily plundering of important historical finds and called for increased government resources for a systematic excavation of “all of the Judean Desert caves.” The announcement came as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) passed its second resolution in less than two weeks erasing the Jewish connection to the Temple Mount and Western Wall. Both resolutions refer to the Temple Mount and Western Wall by Arabic names rather than Hebrew ones and condemned Israeli actions on the Temple Mount, “including [those of] the so-called ‘Israeli Antiquities’ officials.” Israeli archaeologists have
spent years sifting through tons of debris removed from the site following excavations by the Waqf, the Islamic endowment that controls the site. Other finds at the site include Herodian tiles believed to have been part of the Second Temple complex and a 3,000-year-old seal from the time of King David. Israeli officials linked the papyrus fragment discovery with current events. Israel’s Minister of Culture and Sport Miri Regev calling it “further tangible evidence that Jerusalem was and will remain the eternal capital of the Jewish people.” “It is our duty to take care of the plundering of antiquities that occurs in the Judean Desert, and no less important than this is exposing the deceit of false propaganda as is once again happening today in UNESCO,” she said. “The Temple Mount, the very heart of Jerusalem and Israel, will remain the holiest place for the Jewish people, even if UNESCO ratifies the false and unfortunate decision another 10 times.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Arabic language spokesman Ofir Gendelman was even harsher in his comments, calling on UNESCO to pay attention to the find, adding that the U.N. body’s World Heritage Committee “deserves to be condemned, not Israel.” The fragment, he tweeted in Arabic, was written “1,300 years before the advent of Islam and the occupation of the Middle East by Arab invaders.”
Playing at Brith Sholom: ‘Tevye’
Yiddish Film Festival starts Dec. 4 The original, non-musical film version of “Tevye, the Dairyman” will be shown at Congregation Brith Sholom on Sunday, Dec. 4, at 2 p.m. This is the first in a Yiddish Film Festival series. The famous Russian Yiddishist, Sholom Aleichem, published his stories of Tevye in 1894. The 1939 film version features Maurice Schwartz in the title role. This is the first non-English language film that the United States Library of Congress deemed “culturally significant” and worthy of preservation in the National Film Registry. The film, which is in Yiddish with English subtitles, follows Tevye in the Russian Ukraine of the early 20th century. He lives with his wife Goldie; his widowed daughter, Tseyti, and her two children; and his younger daughter, the unmarried Khave. Khave is being courted by Fedya, a Christian and the son of a local government official. Tevya warns Khave against this relationship. The film revolves around what Khave will decide, how Tevye reacts and, when the tsar initiates a pogrom, whether Tevye’s friends will come to his defense. “With all due respect to Zero Mostel and Topol in ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’” writes Judy Stone of the San Francisco Chronicle, “it was Maurice Schwartz, the great Yiddish actor/director, who first showed Tevye the Dairyman in his full light as a mensch for all seasons.” Tickets are $5 at the door. Dates of future films in the series to be announced on the Community Calendar and at brithsholom.net. For more information, contact the synagogue office at 610-866-8009.
Hadassah concert called ‘best ever’ Violinist Ted Falcon, guitarist Eduardo Souza (center) and musician guests from the audience wow the crowd with Brazilian and gypsy jazz tunes at the Nov. 13 Bethlehem-Easton Hadassah concert. The event raised funds to support Hadassah Medical Center in Israel in its ground-breaking, life-saving research that helps the whole world.
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Mega Challah Bake brings women together
Approximately 150 Jewish women from across the Valley baked challahs together at Lehigh Country Club on Nov. 10 to share a night of unity and inspiration. The yearly event, which was open to women of all ages as well as girls aged 8-12, was sold out. In addition to the baking, there were refreshments, a raffle and a program. Participants also learned recipes to take home to their own Shabbat tables.
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Chabad at Lehigh University celebrates dedication of newly renovated mansion
By Yoni Alpert Special to HAKOL On Oct. 30, Rohr Chabad at Lehigh University celebrated the dedication ceremony of the Joachim Schaufeld Center for Jewish Life, and co-directors Rabbi Zalman and Yehudit Greenberg took time to reflect on their journey since their humble beginnings in 2008. They’ve come a long way from their days struggling to accommodate the overflow of students outside of the front and back entrances of their first Chabad House on Evans Street, because, on many occasions, there was no available standing room inside. Acquiring and renovating the historic, 10,000-square-foot mansion, originally built in 1863, has been a much-anticipated joyful solution. “Let’s just say we had modest expectations to start,” said Rabbi Greenberg on establishing the Chabad House at Lehigh. “The first Shabbat we had two students, and on the second, 10. Rosh Hashanah rolled around, we accommodated around 35 students.” By the third year, they were bursting at the seams. Zalman and Yehudit started renting tents for additional space to host events in their backyard. At some of the bigger events, such as the welcoming barbeques and Rosh Hashanah meals, they needed to expand outwards into the neighbors’ yards. Year seven saw their largest Shabbat event yet, Shabbat 300, where the Chabad House hosted over 300 students for a Shabbat meal at the nearby Comfort Suites University. Now, almost halfway through year eight, they are taking full advantage of their new space, fully equipped with a library, multiple classrooms and even four guest room suites, sponsored by alumni and others, to accommodate them when visiting for Shabbat or to host the parents of current students. While some of their big events have packed the mansion since its opening, there is still much room to grow, says Rabbi Greenberg. Running the Chabad House is a team effort, as both Rabbi Greenberg and his wife Yehudit run a wide range of programs for students, alumni and even parents. Some of the events run by Zalman and Yehudit include a Sinai Scholars Society curriculum, a lunch and learn program, and one-on-one learning, among others. Other events provided by the Chabad House include Jewish Life Barbeques, Sushi in the Sukkah, Shabbat and High Holidays services and meals and Birthright trips to Israel. “Zalman and Yehudit are both very special people that have dedicated their lives to the development of Jewish life on Lehigh’s campus,” said Jordan Levy, a recent Lehigh graduate and former member of the student board at Lehigh’s Chabad House. “Opening the center marks the beginning of a new chapter at Lehigh where any student from anywhere in the world can enjoy a home cooked meal, focus on family togetherness and learn more about Jewish traditions.” The lead donors, Fredrick and Karen Schaufeld, both Lehigh alumni, and their two sons have a strong connection to the Rohr Chabad House. Jacob, 24 is a former student, and Matt is there currently. The Center for Jewish Life was named for Fredrick’s late father, Joachim. George and Pamela Rohr, who have funded the establishment of over 100 Chabad Houses across college campuses throughout the United States, have led the effort to establish Chabad at Lehigh by funding the capital campaign. Chabad on Campus began through an initiative by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson, of blessed memory, to send Jewish emissaries, or Shluchim, around the world. It is a rapidly expanding network of over 235 centers serving colleges and universities globally, and represents the largest network of full-time professionally staffed Jewish campus centers in the world. Over 300 people attended the event, and the wide range of speakers included the director of the Chabad House at Stanford University, Rabbi Dov Greenberg, donors Richard Miller and Dr. Dovid Chaim Maiman, students and alumni, and of course, Zalman and Yehudit. “The new center is a testament to the amazing work that has been done on campus, and a promise to future generations that Jewish life at Lehigh is thriving and will continue to do so for years to come,” said Alex Lass, another proud Lehigh alumnus.
Having pride in Judaism in December and all year long
RABBI RACHEL REMBRANDT Temple Israel of Lehighton
I work as the rabbi of the pluralistic Temple Israel of Lehighton, the Jewish chaplain of Country Meadows and the spiritual care coordinator of Kindred Hospice housed in Lehighton. As such, I am often asked about my religious identity. Questions about religious identity are all around each of us, especially this time of year, when religion has moved beyond the usual sacred spaces into the stores we frequent, schools our children attend and the offices in which we work.
Of course, the answer for me may seem easy. As a rabbi and the daughter of a rabbi, I am a Jew. Yes, I was born into Judaism. Yet, I believe, with my heart and soul, that I choose Judaism every day. I think about the rituals, the holidays, the laws and customs. I engage in the study, the worship and the celebrations. I reflect and pass down the values, the ethics and the traditions. When I do these things I choose to be a Jew and I choose to do so proudly. Today, living in the world in which we do, we all choose to be Jews. Whether we are born to Jewish parents, or raised in a Jewish home, we all choose if and how we remain to be Jewish. So, while I suspect that Judaism is important to all of you (or else you would not be reading this column), you have to ask yourself the questions: why and how can you stand proud in that Jewishness? Having pride in our Judaism is important
during all times in the year. However, this is especially true during this time of the year. “A Portrait of Jewish Americans: Findings from a Pew Research Center Survey of U.S. Jews” was published in 2013. It found that Jewish pride is at a high level for those who practice Judaism as a religion as well as those who see themselves as Jewish in a cultural and ethical way. Most have a strong sense of belonging to the American Jewish community and feel that being Jewish is at least somewhat important in their lives. Pride in being Jewish is not difficult here in the Lehigh Valley. We are lucky to have many wonderful congregations – shuls that speak to the wide variety of religious denominations within Judaism. Our Jewish Community Center presents Jewish programs for our youngest children all the way through to our oldest members of our community. Our Federation reaches out to all of us to
connect us to Israel and the rest of the Jewish world. Our Jewish Family Service offers our community help and guidance when we are in the neediest times of our lives. Our Jewish Day School helps us raise our children to lead welleducated, Jewish lives. We have much to be proud of here in our Jewish community. It is true that it can seem easier to be just a citizen of the world. And there are many arguments to lead us in that direction. The answer as to why and how to feel that Jewish pride may be a personal one. To clarify it, we each need to celebrate the holiday of Chanukah by going back to the holiday of Rosh Hashanah, to engage in cheshbon hanefesh, an examination of our own Jewish souls. Now we have eight days to understand ourselves and share our Jewish pride with our family, our friends and the rest of the world. In this way, there will be no such thing as a December dilemma.
Netflix buys rights to popular Israeli TV series ‘Fauda’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency Netflix will air the popular Israeli television series “Fauda.” The drama focuses on a commando unit of the Israeli Defense Forces whose members embed themselves in the Palestinian community, gathering intelligence and preventing terror attacks. Its first season aired on the Israeli satellite television service YES in 2015 and went on to win for best drama series and five other awards at Israel’s Ophir Awards. It was the most watched series in the satellite network’s history. The second season is in production; Netflix has purchased its rights. Fauda is an Arabic word meaning “chaos.” The show incorporates both Arabic and Hebrew dialogue. It will air on Netflix with English subtitles. The series was created by the English-language Times of Israel news website Arab affairs reporter, Avi Issacharoff, and actor Lior Raz, who stars in the show. Both men served in the IDF unit depicted in the series, according to Variety.
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HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | DECEMBER 2016 11
Israeli hip hop artist Shaanan Streett speaks at Muhlenberg College By Liron Daniel Muhlenberg College Hillel Israel Fellow I’ve always believed the role of art is universal. It touches people in the deepest way possible. It has a say, a meaning, and people can express their feelings through it. That is a universal human need, and art is being used as a means to do it. The people and their feelings are different, and art can be different in different places and times, but its role is always the same role. As the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at Muhlenberg College Hillel, I am in charge of Israel engagement, Israel education and Israel experience. One of the most rewarding elements of my job is that I get to bring speak-
ers to talk about Israel and Israeli culture. My intention as a fellow this year is to show our students the Israel I love and care about. As someone who was born and raised in Jerusalem and who sees Jerusalem as a big part of my life, I decided to bring an artist from my hometown to talk about Israeli culture, music, night scene and, most importantly, life in Jerusalem. On Thursday, Nov. 3, over 65 students, faculty and community members came to hear Shaanan Streett speak about Israel, Israeli culture, music and, most importantly, hope. Streett, the lead singer from Hadag Nahash, one of Israel’s most popular bands, opened his talk by challenging the audience to believe in
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what we do. He said that as an artist, he can’t do something if he doesn’t really believe in it. Whether it is a singer, a sculptor, a songwriter, a painter, a musician or a dancer – an artist has to follow his heart, go with his own truth and to be loyal to himself. An artist needs to trust his gut and follow his instincts. Streett spoke about Jerusalem, the city that I love, with so much pride and hope. In fact, in the last clip that he showed, “Friday” (Yom Shishi), I found myself tearing up a little bit. The clip shows a lot of pictures of Jerusalem as people prepare to welcome the Shabbat. While watching the clip, I couldn’t help but think of how special Shabbat in Jerusalem is and
how much I want to share this special feeling with my students. His music touched me when I least expected it, even though I’ve heard this song a million times before, hearing it with my students, far away from home, was very special. That is the power of art. Following the clip, Streett spoke about his Jerusalem – “I live in a place that is the heart of the problem, but also the key to the solution.” This sentence describes exactly how complex Jerusalem is – and I still love it with all my heart, in spite of all the difficulties. And you know what? I still have hope. I still believe in people and in the power of art to cross cultural lines. This is the Jerusalem I see, filled
with possibilities despite all the conflict. At the end of this inspirational talk, the crowd had the opportunity to ask questions about Israeli politics, music and Hadag Nahash. Students posed for pictures with the speaker and shared favorite Hadag Nahash memories. The event was made possible thanks to the support from Muhlenberg College Hillel, Hinenu, the ZBT fraternity and Jewish Studies Program. Muhlenberg College Hillel is very thankful to Hillel International for their support and helping us bring Shaanan Streett to campus. We received two grants which enabled the event to be free for all attendees.
Hosting Yoav teens creates family connections By Dana Cohen Special to HAKOL Three and a half years ago, my family and I made a decision that has added to our lives in the best possible way. We applied, and were accepted to be a host family for two young women from Yoav who would be working at the JCC for the summer. Many say it’s a challenge to open your home to strangers, but as we have come to realize, hosting these teens is like hosting family. Forever relationships are formed with these teens. Whether it is via social media, What’s App, or a phone call, we have continued to stay in touch. Just a few weeks ago, we had an amazing time in Israel being able to reconnect with some of the teens we have hosted over the years. One family, the Bamanis, invited us to come for Shabbat and stay that night. It was like meeting extended family. We enjoyed exploring the kibbutz, meeting the cows and eating sabras! We enjoyed our visit with them so much that we returned for dinner in their sukkah prior to our return to the U.S. I encourage any family who wants to experience a snapshot of Israeli culture, to educate teens from our sister city about our great Lehigh Valley and to feel a connection to Israel to either host the teen boys or girls this summer. I know we will offer to host again!
Israel Next Dor Continues from page 1
Jewish community,” said Mark L. Goldstein, executive director of the Federation. “By connecting this group of young professionals with Israel, with our community and with each other, we are helping to ensure we will have committed, invested individuals moving forward.” The objectives of the program are to build connections among a group of young Jewish adults who are interested in social action and/or community involvement; to create connections to the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, the Lehigh Valley Jewish community and the state of Israel; to expose the participants to Israeli history, politics, culture and social service needs; and to strengthen the Jewish identity of all participants. Applications are currently being accepted for the first cohort and are due by Jan. 30. Applicant interviews are expected
to take place in February. The first cohort will be made up of 12 people, ages 27 to 35, who will travel to Israel together for a nine-day trip late this spring. The cost of the trip is $365 and includes round-trip airfare, hotels, tours, activities and most meals. The program is being generously funded by Lewis and Roberta Gaines, members of Congregation Keneseth Israel, who liked the idea of bringing a model similar to Birthright – but for young professionals – to the Lehigh Valley. “We are delighted that the Gaines family supported our vision of investing in our community’s future leaders,” Goldstein said. “I think in terms of Jewish continuity, I really believe everybody needs to go to Israel because it’s not what people imagine and it had a rather profound impact when I went,” said Lewis Gaines, who traveled to Israel with his wife on two Jewish Federation missions in the 1990s and again with his
family two years ago. “I think it’s an experience everybody needs to really fully understand what the issues are over there.” Preference will be given to applicants who have not been to Israel before. If they have, it should not have been on an organized trip within the last five years. The hope is that the program will not only have lasting impacts on the participants, but the Lehigh Valley Jewish community. The Federation will offer pre-and-post-trip programs focusing on issues in the Jewish community and envisioning our Jewish continuity in the Lehigh Valley.
PAID POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENT
Applicants are required to participate in pre-and-post-trip Israel Next Dor workshops and should plan to reside in the Lehigh Valley for at least two years following the trip. Full criteria and the application can be found at www.jewishlehighvalley.org/israelnextdor. For more information, contact Aaron Gorodzinsky at 610-821-5500 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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JFSLV celebrates 8ish Over 80 Nearly 300 people gathered at Temple Beth El on Nov. 13 to celebrate Jewish Family Service’s 8ish Over 80 honorees. Guests enjoyed an elegant brunch and learned about the programs that JFSLV supports. Proceeds from the event will help JFSLV to expand services for older adults. The honorees were featured in a video screened at the event, and each was then asked to stand and be recognized. Guests also had the opportunity to write notes of congratulations to the honorees and place them in “mazel tov jars.” Mazel tov to all 16 of the honorees! Photos by Edwin A. Davis Photography.
Judy Murman pins a boutonniere on honoree Herman Ytkin. His wife Jessica was also honored.
The honorees. Top row, from left: Herman Ytkin, Martin Weinberg, Nate Braunstein, Harold Goldfarb, Helen Besen, Tama Lee Barsky, Maur Levan. Bottom row, from left: Henriette Engelson, Jessica Ytkin, Ferne Kushner, Elaine Atlas, Eleanor Bobrow, Judy Sennett, Doe Levan and Anita Goldman. Not pictured: Len Glazier, who was dancing at his grandson’s wedding.
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Honorees Ferne Kushner and Eleanor Bobrow.
Honorees Maur and Doe Levan at their table, which included JFSLV President Wendy Born.
Event Co-Chairs Carah Tenzer and Audrey Nolte.
Co-Chair Audrey Nolte created mazel tov jars for each of the honorees.
Rabbi Allen Juda does the HaMotzi.
Honoree Martin Weinberg celebrates the occassion.
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Federation missions offer unique The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley is preparing for its upcoming mission to Israel in April 2017. Mission-goers will stay in 5-star hotels, experience Rosh Hanikra grottos, a Safed artist colony and wine tastings at a premium winery. They will visit Masada, the Old City and hear expert briefings on security, the Middle East and Israeli society. They will visit an IDF air force base on Yom Ha’atzmaut and enjoy BBQs with Israeli families. There will be special programming for first-timers.
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The group will also have the chance to dedicate the ambucycle – an emergency vehicle that will save lives on Israel’s crowded streets – donated by the Lehigh Valley through sponsorships of the Maimonides Society’s 30th anniversary gala. To learn more about the upcoming mission, visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org/missions. An information night will be held Dec. 1 at the JCC. With the mission approaching, HAKOL decided to take a look back at some of its past missions. These photos are from trips from 2002-11.
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Emory professor briefs on Middle East
Allentown AZA excels at Tournies Convention
Allentown AZA Alephs Jacob Sussman and Ethan Kushnick hang out with their regional friends at Tournies Convention. By Steven Lipson Special to HAKOL Allentown BBYO has established itself as a prominent chapter in Liberty Region #13. For the past seven years, we had been able to secure a victory at Tournies Convention. This year proved to be our toughest battle yet. This convention was held in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In previous years, it has been at the Allentown JCC. Harrisburg chapter was gracious enough to open up their homes to young Jewish teens for the past two years. Over 300 teens competed in a battle of the chapters from Nov. 4-6. There are three divisions based on size in order to provide each chapter an equal opportunity at success. A few examples of the many events offered at Tournies are water polo, photography, basketball and backgammon. Allentown BBYO’s rich history has led us to victories for the past seven years. However, this year, we came up short. Although we left with a secondplace trophy, we won most spirited chapter in the form of the Spirit Stick. Therefore, Allentown left its mark in many ways. To begin, we brought 29 Alephs to Harrisburg this year. The entire chapter worked tirelessly to ensure all events were taken care of. The board also played an integral role in providing opportunities for all participants. There are many events worth mentioning in which teens from Allentown exceled. Our song and dance tied for first place. We created a rendition of Rihanna's song “Diamonds.” It was a big hit in the region. Another example is Samuel Ringold placed in AZA singing, dodgeball and backgammon among other events. He was extremely passionate and encouraged spirit throughout the weekend. Sam Iorio, Brayden Koch, Seth Fine and Sam Zahn led our volleyball and basketball teams. We placed first place in both events. Andrew Ringold, Ethan Kushnik, Jacob Sussman, Alex Valuntas, Brendan Fraley, Matt Hartnett and Theo Sherman helped our team secure victories. Ori Cohen and Brian Neff coached our two teams with immense passion. Aaron Fraley won most spirited participant as he wore his pickle costume most of the convention. In addition, Steven Lipson placed third in oratory with his speech on a potential Jewish President. Along with this theme, Sam Zahn, Jonah Grob and Michael Toland led our panel discussion team to an outstanding finish. Ben Palumbo handled the arts categories. He submitted intricate art projects and
a beautiful banner for our chapter. Finally, Robert Shaff capped off a great weekend with his “Juju on that Beat” dance. The crowd thoroughly enjoyed Robert’s performance. All in all, Allentown has a lot to be proud of from Tournies Convention. We took second place graciously and had fun with the friendly competition. We look forward to a possible first place victory next year.
On Nov. 12 Dr. Ken Stein met with members of the Jewish community and provided a briefing on the history of the Middle East, from 1916 until today. The briefing concentrated on consequences emanating from the British and French intervention in the region in the early parts of the century, the divisions that exist because of tribalism and sectarianism, the consequences of the fall of autocrats, and the potential ramifications of a handling of foreign policy from the new administration. The briefing, hosted and Dr. Mark and Alice Notis, was sponsored by Muhlenberg Hillel and the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | DECEMBER 2016 21
Joe Biden honored by World Jewish Congress Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Vice President Joe Biden was honored by the World Jewish Congress with an award named for the founder of political Zionism. On Oct. 9, Biden received the organization’s annual Theodor Herzl Award, “which recognizes outstanding individuals who work to promote Herzl’s ideals for a safer, more tolerant world for the Jewish people,” WJC said in a statement. The award was presented at New York’s Pierre Hotel by former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and WJC President Ronald Lauder. Kissinger introduced Biden. At the same event, actor Kirk Douglas will be recognized with the inaugural Teddy Kollek Award for the Advancement of Jewish Culture. Actor-director Michael Douglas accepted the award on behalf of his father. Lauder praised Biden in a statement. “Over the course of his more than four decades in
Vice President Joe Biden addressing a memorial for Shimon Peres in Washington, D.C., Oct. 6, 2016.
service to this country, Vice President Biden has proven that he is a true friend of Israel and the Jewish people, a leader in the fight against anti-Semitism, and a champion of human and civil rights for all,” Lauder said. “He has stood out over the last eight years in his devotion to ensuring that America and Israel remain close allies. When he leaves the White House in just
a few months, I am confident that his commitment to both Israel and the Jewish community will remain as strong as ever.” Kissinger is among previous recipients of the award. Others include the late Israeli President Shimon Peres; Elie and Marion Wiesel; another former secretary of state, George Shultz, and, posthumously, Ronald Reagan.
Jewish contingent in House grows from 19 to 22 Jewish Telegraphic Agency
22 DECEMBER 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
SCREENSHOT FROM TWITTER
The Jewish contingent to the U.S. House of Representatives grew from 19 to 22 in this year’s elections, doubling its Republican representation from one to two. Five Jews overall were newly elected to the House, while one Jewish congressman each in Florida and in New York is retiring. The Senate Jewish contingent dropped from nine to eight. Three Democrats picked up seats from Republicans in an otherwise dismal night for their party, which saw the GOP sweep the White House and both chambers of Congress. Picking up seats for the Democrats were: • Josh Gottheimer, a former speech writer for President Bill Clinton and a Microsoft executive, who won a hard fought battle in New Jersey’s 5th District against Scott Garrett, a longtime congressman who was exceptionally conservative for this northeastern district. The election was marred in its final days with the appearance of an unsigned anti-Semitic leaflet targeting Gottheimer. • Brad Schneider, who regained the seat he lost in 2014 from Bob Dold in Illinois’s 10th district, encompassing Chicago’s northern suburbs. Dold first won the seat in 2010, then lost it to Schneider in 2012. • Jacky Rosen, a software developer and synagogue president, who won in Nevada’s 3rd District, covering the Las Vegas suburbs. Joe Heck, the district’s incumbent Republican, lost in his bid to replace Democrat Harry Reid in the Senate. • Jamie Raskin, a Maryland state senator, who won the battle to replace Chris Van Hollen in Maryland’s 8th District. The district includes the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. Van Hollen, a Democrat, was elected to the Senate.
Democrat Josh Gottheimer unseated Rep. Scott Garrett, a longtime congressman, in New Jersey’s 5th District. David Kustoff, a former U.S. attorney, handily kept Tennessee’s 8th district Republican, replacing the retiring Stephen Fincher. Kustoff brings to two the Memphis Jewish delegation, joining Steve Cohen, a Democrat representing the 9th District, and the Republican Jewish delegation to Congress, joining Lee Zeldin, who was reelected in New York’s 9th District encompassing Long Island’s eastern reaches. Another Jewish Republican scoring a victory was Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL who became the first Jewish governor of Missouri. Leaving Congress is Steve Israel, representing a Long Island district, who is retiring, and Alan Grayson, who retired as a representative in Florida’s 9th District, in the south of the state, to run for the Democratic nomination to the Senate – he lost. The Democratic contingent in the Senate will drop by one with the retirement of Barbara Boxer of California. Two Jewish Democrats in Missouri and Wisconsin failed in their bids to replace Republican incumbents.
Muhlenberg names Hillel House: The Leffell Center for Jewish Student Life Neighbors, faith and community leaders and Muhlenberg alumni, students, faculty and staff, gathered for a Nov. 13 naming ceremony that recognized a gift to Muhlenberg Hillel made by Lisa and Michael Leffell, parents of two alumni. The Leffell family's generous gift was pledged in 2008, just before the former Hillel House underwent major renovations to become the facility that it is today. The family chose to remain anonymous at the time, as Benjamin and Adam Leffell were still studying on campus. Now that Benjamin and Adam have graduated, the Leffells were formally recognized for their transformational gift. While there were many leadership gifts the college received to make the project possible, the Leffells' gift was vital to its success. Benjamin Leffell graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2010 with a bachelor of arts in religion studies, with minors in Jewish studies and history. Adam Leffell graduated from Muhlenberg College in 2013 with a bachelor of arts in English, with a minor in Jewish studies. "While we have a deep love of Judaism, that was not the driving force behind our initial connection to Hillel. It was the community… that drew us in and kept us involved,” said Benjamin and Adam Leffell in remarks at the naming. “Hillel was a place we went to grow as people and as Jews." During their remarks,
Benjamin and Adam added that the Hillel House has been their parents' favorite destination on campus since the time of their first visit and that their parents are energized and inspired by thriving Jewish communities, involving themselves in Jewish life wherever they go. "We are honored to have the new Muhlenberg Hillel building named for our family. Hillel is a welcoming community that inspires students to explore and strengthen their Jewish identity," said Michael and Lisa Leffell. "Hillel was central to Adam and Ben’s Muhlenberg experience, and we hope that future students can find their home in this beautiful space." The Leffell Center for Jewish Student Life, formerly Hillel House, was transformed into the facility it is today in 2010. The center was designed to serve the needs of an active Jewish student body that represents over 28 percent of all students and a vibrant Hillel community. "Muhlenberg College is proud of our decades-long legacy of having strong Jewish life on our campus. Nearly one-third of Muhlenberg’s student population is Jewish. Over two-thirds of those students are actively involved in Muhlenberg College Hillel, making it the largest student organization on campus," said Muhlenberg College President John I. Williams, Jr. in remarks at the naming. "Hillel at The Leffell Center will enhance
this legacy by developing Jewish leadership for the Jewish community locally, regionally and nationally by providing our students with outstanding staff mentors and the resources to become empowered, innovative and engaged Jewish creators, thinkers and leaders." The building includes a Shabbat dining room with seating for over 300, a dedicated sanctuary, an institutional kosher kitchen, student and staff office spaces and a student lounge. The space is available to all Muhlenberg students, regardless of faith tradition. Rabbi Melissa B. Simon, Hillel director and Jewish chaplain also spoke at the naming, saying, "In an age where we are more and more
siloed, Muhlenberg College Hillel is a rare space where people come together despite their differences. Hillel welcomes everyone in the Muhlenberg College community, regardless of their denomination, faith tradition or background." Muhlenberg College is committed to a welcoming experience for students and open doors to those engaged in Jewish life on campus. The college's affiliation with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America underscores a strong support for a variety of religious and non-religious traditions. Muhlenberg's current Jewish student body consists of over 600 young people from across the U.S. as well as Israel and
Panama. Muhlenberg College Hillel envisions a world where every student is inspired to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel.
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HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | DECEMBER 2016 23
Who is Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s Jewish son-in-law?
Jared Kushner — Donald Trump’s Orthodox son-in-law — has many claims to fame. He’s married to Ivanka Trump, daughter of the president-elect. He’s the scion of a philanthropy-minded Jewish family from New Jersey that is one of the biggest names in New York real
Jared Kushner Continues on page 29
COURTESY OF NEFESH B’NEFESH
By Uriel Heilman Jewish Telegraphic Agency
estate. He’s the owner and publisher of a storied publication, the New York Observer. But Kushner’s celebrity is taking a quantum leap now that he could be involved in his fatherin-law’s White House team. After reportedly being approached by Trump’s Chief of Staff Reince Preibus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon, he is deciding on whether or not to accept a position as presidential adviser or special counsel. The federal anti-nepotism law could complicate that scenario, but as NBC News explains, there a few ways around it — including putting Kushner on the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board, which is made up of non-government civilians. Trump is generally enamored with Kushner. He often refers to his “fantastic” son-in-law when touting his pro-Israel bona fides. “I am a great friend of Israel,” Trump said at a February town hall meeting in Las Vegas. “I was
Israel observes first Aliyah Day
New immigrants to Israel stepping off the plane at Ben Gurion Airport.
Jewish Telegraphic Agency Israel marked its first official Aliyah Day, celebrating immigration to the country and the contributions of immigrants to its society. The holiday on Tuesday, Nov. 8, was established by the Knesset in June. “I will not give up on a single Jew or a single immigrant,” Natan Sharansky, the head of the Jewish Agency for Israel, said at a special session of the Knesset Committee on Aliyah, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs in honor of Aliyah Day. “I say to all Jews, without distinction, that I want them and their prayers and their rabbis here in Israel. There is
room for all of us here, and we must tell all Jews who support us abroad and all who wish to immigrate to Israel that they are wanted and accepted among us.” Sharansky was referring to the current unrest over the agreement to establish an egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall Plaza. The minister of aliyah and immigrant absorption, Sofa Landver, also participated in the special session. Among other observances of the day were celebrations in the Knesset and a program at the president’s residence, as well as in schools, the army and the police force, as required by law, The Times of Israel reported.
The Red Elvises’ New Year’s Eve Spectacular December 31 | 8 pm
February 10, 11, 14, 17 & 18 | 7 pm Comedian
Musikfest Café™ at SteelStacks™ Tune in to Service Electric TV2 Sundays at 8 pm for Musikfest Café Live.
steelstacks.org | 610-332-3378 24 DECEMBER 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Myq Kaplan January 28 | 8 pm
in the Fowler Blast Furnace Room
JFNA honors past, looks to future at annual General Assembly Each November, the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America convenes the most inspiring Jewish leaders, professionals and volunteers from around the world to discuss themes in modern Judaism. This year, JFNA took a journey to explore how Federations help shape purposeful Jewish communities and how the movement has forged a course that continues to touch millions of lives on every continent. JFNA encouraged everyone to explore their Jewish journey at the 2016 General Assembly and beyond.
Campaign Chair Iris Epstein represents the Lehigh Valley at this year’s General Assembly.
Four young leaders share their Jewish journeys at the Opening Plenary.
Above left, Watch What Happens Live's Andy Cohen talks about his Jewish journey with the Joshua Society, an exclusive group of emerging Federation leaders. Above right, David and Cynthia Shapira, co-chairs of the 2016 JFNA General Assembly.
Jewish leaders from around the country begin a weekend of exploring their Jewish journeys.
Above left, Ambassador Ron Dermer, Israel's Ambassador to the United States, speaks at the 2016 JFNA General Assembly. Above right, Ronna Schneider, co-chair of Federation’s National Young Leadership, and Judy Altenberg, chair of Federation’s National Women’s Philanthropy. Right, Meet the Press host Chuck Todd discusses the aftermath of the presidental election with Kenneth Weinstein of the Hudson Institute and The New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman at the Opening Plenary. HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | DECEMBER 2016 25
Leonard Cohen, whose Jewish-infused poetry and songs inspired generations, is dead at 82 By Ron Kampeas Jewish Telegraphic Agency
BRIAN RASIC/GETTY IMAGES
Leonard Cohen, the Canadian singer-songwriter whose Jewish-infused work became a soundtrack for melancholy, has died. He was 82. “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist Leonard Cohen has passed away,” his Facebook page read. “We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.” Cohen, a Montreal native born in 1934, was playing folk guitar by the time he was 15, when he learned the resistance song “The Partisan” while working at a camp from an older friend. “We sang together every morning, going through ‘The People’s Song Book’ from cover to cover,” he recalled in his first “Best Of” compilation in 1975. “I developed the curious notion that the Nazis were overthrown by music.” As a student at McGill University, he became part of Montreal’s burgeoning alternative art scene, one bursting with nervous energy at a time that tensions between Quebec’s French and English speakers were coming to the fore. His influences included Irving Layton, the seminal Canadian Jewish poet who taught at McGill and, like Cohen, grappled with the
tensions between the secular world and the temptations of faith. Cohen began to publish poetry and then novels, and was noticed by the national Canadian press. Moving to New York in the late 1960s — his song “Chelsea Hotel” is about his stay and that notorious refuge for the inspired, the insane and the indigent — he began to put his words to music. “Suzanne,” about the devastating platonic affair with a friend’s wife that was a factor in his leaving Montreal, was recorded by Judy Collins and became a hit, launching his career. Cohen sang in his limited bass and wrote his songs so he could sing them. They would have been dirges but for their surprising lyrical turns and reckoning with joy in unexpected places. In “Bird on the Wire,” one of his most covered songs, he recovers from a crippling guilt when he finds inspiration in a beggar, and then in a prostitute: “And a pretty woman, leaning in her darkened door/ She cried to me, ‘Hey why not ask for more?’” Cohen embraced Buddhism but never stopped saying he was Jewish. His music more often than not dealt directly not just with his faith but with his Jewish people’s story.
Leonard Cohen in concert at London’s O2 Arena, Sept. 15, 2013.
His most famous song, covered hundreds of times, is “Hallelujah” – he has said its unpublished verses are endless, but in its recorded version is about the sacred anguish felt by King David as he contemplates the beauty of the forbidden Bathsheba. Cohen’s version, released in 1984, did well in Europe (in a video on German TV he is backed by a children’s choir hiding behind a faux Greek set). John Cale recorded a piano-driven version for a Cohen tribute
album in 1991. Jeff Buckley heard that version and used it as the basis for his own six-minute cover, reinterpreting on his guitar the arpeggios Cale had used to accompany the song. Running longer than six minutes, Buckley’s version became the go-to song in the late 1990s for extended TV show montages depicting trauma and melancholy. Cale’s version was used in “Shrek” in 2001, and that did it: The song became inevitable. “First We Take Manhattan,” recorded in the late 1980s when Cohen was living much of his time in Europe, plumbs the anger of a modern Jew traveling through a postwar consumerist Europe that has become adept at ignoring its Jewish ghosts: “I love your body and your spirit and your clothes/ But you see that line there moving through the station? /I told you, I told you, told you, I was one of those.” Cohen was droll, but also reverent: Each of his explanations of his songs on 1975’s “Best Of” is sardonic except for one, for “Who by Fire.” “This is based on a prayer recited on the Day of Atonement,” was all he wrote. Cohen, in his 70s in the late 2000s, again began to tour and record; a manager
had bilked him of much of his fortune. He released his final album, “You Want It Darker,” in October. He often toured Israel, and he expressed his love for the country — Cohen toured for troops in the 1973 Yom Kippur War — but he also expressed sadness at the militarism he encountered there. Under pressure from the boycott Israel movement to cancel a 2009 concert, he instead donated its proceeds — much needed by him — to a group that advances dialogue between Palestinians and Jews. Tickets to the stadium at Ramat Gan sold out in minutes. His Israeli fans embraced him that September night, and he returned the love, sprinkling the concert with Hebrew and readings from scripture and ending it with the priestly blessing. In August he wrote an emotional letter to his former girlfriend and muse Marianne Ihlen, who died in late July, suggesting he, too, was ready to embrace his death. In October, in a profile of Cohen in The New Yorker, Bob Dylan compared his fellow singer-songwriter to Irving Berlin — linking three iconic Jewish musicians in one poignant assessment. Cohen is survived by a son and a daughter.
Are you interested in reporting Jewish news in the Lehigh Valley? Contact editor Michelle Cohen at firstname.lastname@example.org or 610-821-5500 for more information. 26 DECEMBER 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Under The Same Moon starts new year in Lehigh Valley and Yoav A new group of students in Yoav comes together to read “The Same Moon.” The book is the jumping off point for a program that will build relationships with students in the Lehigh Valley at Congragation Keneseth Israel, Temple Beth El and the joint Brith Sholom / Bnai Abraham religious school. Throughout the interactive experience, students have the opportunity to exchange letters, photos and other artifacts with pen pals. Students are also able to interact with each other over video conferencing during several school events. After the program ends, students are encouraged to stay in touch. Although this group is just beginning their journey, they are already excited to start new friendships!
Teachers’ Learning Center offers resources to community educators By Stephanie Bolmer Special to HAKOL There is a treasure trove hidden in the depths of the JCC – of educational materials, that is. The Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley proudly offers a library of over 300 books, lesson plans, curriculum guides, activity books, posters, maps and audio/visual aids to help educators in the Lehigh Valley Jewish community, known as the Teachers’ Learning Center (TLC). “It’s an amazing resource for
classes,” said Rena Fraade, director of youth and family learning at Congregation Keneseth Israel, who has recently been hard at work “refreshing” the TLC by cleaning it out and reorganizing the available teaching aids. Another exciting development at the TLC is the replacement of the old Ellison Die Cut Machine with a brand new one, which can cut Hebrew and English letters, numbers and Jewish holiday symbols, up to five sets at a time. “It’s our pride and joy,” said Fraade. This revamping of the TLC is
PJ LIBRARY Family of the Month: THE SMARTSCHANS
all part of furthering the goal of the center, which is to make information and resources available for religious school, day school and preschool teachers, and to help provide them with the best possible educational experiences for their students. Teachers may check out the resources available to help in their classrooms for a three-week period. For more information about TLC or to inquire about using resources, please contact Federation at 610821-8722.
Do you have event-related pictures or stories for our January Special Events issue? We’d like to feature any weddings or other special events in 2016 for the Jan 2017 issue to remember and celebrate your special event! Contact Editor Michelle Cohen at email@example.com for information.
Celebrates Chanukah SUNDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2016
3:30 to 5 p.m., Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley Join PJ & Stagemakers at the J as they present “Mrs. Greenberg ‘s Messy Chanukah Latkes” based on the PJ Library book. Snacks and crafts. Take a family Chanukah photo with our Chanukah props. Please bring a new unwrapped toy as the price of admission. RSVP to Abby Trachtman, firstname.lastname@example.org. PJ Library is brought to you by the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley and the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley, in partnership with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation.
We love our growing PJ Library collection! Our kids are so excited every time those blue and white envelopes come in the mail. When we read them, we are able to reinforce what they are learning at the JCC. And we’ve learned quite a few things too! - STEPHANIE AND ADAM SMARTSCHAN
To learn more about PJ Library and register to receive free Jewish-themed books for children from 6 months through 8 years, visit www.pjlibrary.org.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | DECEMBER 2016 27
This Orthodox weightlifting girl broke records — and is now the star of a new film
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Have you seen “Supergirl” yet? No, we’re not talking about the popular TV series about Superman’s fair-haired cousin, currently in its second season on The CW. Rather, we’re talking about the new documentary “Supergirl” about Naomi (pronounced “Na-AH-mee”) Kutin, a real-life Orthodox Jewish girl who broke world weightlifting records when she was just 9 years old. She has accomplished some incredible feats, but Naomi says powerlifting is only about 30 percent physical — the rest is mental. That might help explain how the now 15-year-old made her name in the world of powerlifting in 2012. Back then, she squatted a whopping 214.9 pounds — more than twice her body weight (which, at the time, was a slight 97 pounds). That’s also the theory held by filmmaker Jessie Auritt, who directed “Supergirl.” The documentary follows Naomi on her improbable and sometimes gut-wrenching journey, from her precocious weightlifting prowess to her bat mitzvah. “She has this incredible willpower and motivation and drive,” Auritt told JTA. “I think if she didn’t have that inner strength, she wouldn’t be able to lift the weights.” “Supergirl,” which made its New York City debut on Nov. 13 at the DOC NYC festival, documents what is, at its core, a pretty absurd story. Powerlifting consists of three lifts: the squat, which involves bending one’s legs into a seated position while holding weight; the bench press, in which one pushes a bar of weight up and down while lying on a bench, and the deadlift, which involves picking up weight from the ground and straightening one’s back while holding it. It is not a sport for the faint of heart — it’s meant for building serious muscle. Should this slight girl from Fair Lawn, New Jersey, be lifting twice her body weight on a regular basis? The obvious answer is probably not. It’s compelling theater, but Naomi often pushes herself too far: At one point, she tries to lose a pound in a day to stay in her weight class for a competition. Another time she continues to train through a serious health issue that causes her to miss months of school. At times, the film is almost hard to watch — albeit in a car-accident-on-the-highway, can’t-look-away kind of way. Yet
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By Gabe Friedman Jewish Telegraphic Agency
Naomi Kutin is used to being the smallest competitor in the room. by the end of the film, it’s nearly impossible not to root for Naomi, who comes off as a sweet, lovable underdog caught up in possibly the world’s most macho sport. Auritt trains her lens tightly on the Kutin family: She follows Naomi through intense workouts in her basement — we see her eyes bulge and face turn red as she strains to hoist a bar sagging with weights — and stress-inducing competitions, where she is often dwarfed by enormous men and much more muscular women. For Naomi, her powerlifting career was inspired by her father, Ed, who’s been competing in the sport for decades and holds national records in the deadlift. When his daughter was 8, the elder Kutin asked her if she wanted to try lifting with him. “I was like whoa, that could be really cool,” Naomi told JTA. “I could spend time with my dad, and it’s like a really different sport, none of my peers at the time were doing it.” But the fledgling lifter quickly showed that she possessed otherworldly strength. Naomi began training with serious intentions and quickly broke the world female record for the squat in her weight class. She has since broken the mark three more times (in 2012 and 2013) and holds seven other national records. She was dubbed the “strongest girl in the world” and her feats spread across the web in 2012. Auritt, who defines herself as culturally Jewish, came across Naomi Kutin’s story in 2013 when she was looking for ideas for a feature film. “The initial draw to the story for me was the intersection of the sport that she was doing — which is very male dominated
and testosterone driven — and then this religion, which has very traditional gender roles,” she said. “I was interested to see what that actually looked like beyond the headlines, how this young girl was living her life.” “Supergirl” devotes nearly equal time to Naomi’s everyday life, such as her preparations for her bat mitzvah — from practicing her Torah portion to picking the perfect dress for her afterparty. The result is a nuanced portrait of a deceptively typical teenager. While at school, around the house or with her autistic brother, Naomi is essentially a normal young Orthodox girl — albeit one who is practiced at acting affable on camera, as Auritt points out. While lifting, however, Naomi is determined, rabid, almost ominously fierce. Through it all, her dedication to powerlifting never seems to clash with her religious identity at home or school (she attends the Maayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in Teaneck). Shabbat and other holidays do not impede Naomi’s training, and her family has no qualms with her participation in the sport. While the film doesn’t show us what their fellow synagoguegoers think of the Kutins’ hobby, the heartfelt scenes showing Naomi’s bat mitzvah convey that they are fairly beloved members of their congregation. Asked if her athletic training has ever been motivated by or linked to her religious prayer, Naomi sounds surprised. “I’m not sure I’ve ever thought about it like that,” she said. “I think they’re definitely two separate parts of my life.”
Other don’t-miss documentaries of Jewish interest ‘BIG SONIA’
A colorful Holocaust survivor deals with closing her late husband’s tailoring business.
When the Beitar Jerusalem soccer club — known for its rabidly nationalist fans — signs two Muslim players, chaos ensues for the team and its fan base.
28 DECEMBER 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
‘MOTHER WITH A GUN’
This film charts the path of Shelley Rubin, the current head of the Jewish Defense League — a violent group still called “radical” and “anti-Arab” by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
‘ON THE MAP’
A thrilling retelling of a basketball legend, when Maccabi Tel Aviv scores a miracle upset victory over the Soviet Red Army team in 1977.
‘THE WONDERFUL KINGDOM OF PAPA ALAEV’ The patriarch of a multigenerational family folk rock group faces a challenge from his strong-willed daughter.
‘THY FATHER’S CHAIR’
Two 60-something Orthodox twins have trouble coping with their father’s death — and let trash pile up and stray cats take over their childhood home.
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Jared Kushner Continues from page 24
the grand marshal of the Israeli Day Parade. … My son-in-law is Jewish, and he’s fantastic — a very successful guy in the New York real estate.” Kushner’s name may carry as much renown in Jewish circles as it does in the world of real estate, where he has helped grow his family’s extensive fortune. The family foundation named for his parents, the Seryl and Charles Kushner Family Foundation, gives away more than $2 million a year, with a significant chunk going to Jewish causes. An Orthodox Jewish elementary school and high school in New Jersey carry the Kushner family name, the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy and the Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School. Both are in Livingston and are named for Jared’s Holocaust survivor grandparents. The family foundation distributed about $2.4 million in 2011, $3.9 million in 2012 and $2.4 million in 2013, the latest year for which data is publicly available. Kushner, who is involved in the foundation, also briefly served as a board member for JTA, a non-profit. Kushner himself attended high school at the Frisch School, a modern Orthodox yeshiva in Paramus, New Jersey. He later went to Harvard and earned his law degree at New York University. One of four siblings, Kushner now lives in a stylish apartment on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, belongs to the Orthodox Kehilath Jeshurun synagogue and is Sabbath observant. His wife underwent an Orthodox conversion to Judaism before the couple wed in October 2009, studying Judaism with Rabbi Haskel Lookstein of Kehilath Jeshurun and the Ramaz School. Ivanka Trump told Vogue magazine last year that the family keeps
kosher and Shabbat —“We’re pretty observant,” she said — and Kushner noted that his wife often whips up Shabbat dinner. “She said, ‘If we’re going to do Shabbos, I’m going to cook.’ She never cooked before in her life and became a great cook,” Kushner told Vogue. “So for Friday, she’ll make dinner for just the two of us, and we turn our phones off for 25 hours.” Ivanka Trump said of her conversion to Judaism, “It’s been such a great life decision for me. I am very modern, but I’m also a very traditional person, and I think that’s an interesting juxtaposition in how I was raised as well. I really find that with Judaism, it creates an amazing blueprint for family connectivity.” The couple has three children: daughter Arabella Rose, 5, and sons Joseph Frederick, 3 and Theodore James, who was born in March this year. Kushner’s family weathered a public scandal in 2004 when his father, Charles, was arrested on charges of tax evasion, illegal campaign donations and witness tampering. The setup, part of a long-running family feud, sent Charles Kushner to jail for 16 months. Jared Kushner, who is said to be fiercely devoted to his father, did not shy away from the spotlight. A student at the time in NYU’s MBA-law program, Kushner accelerated his involvement in his father’s real estate empire, Kushner Companies. In 2006, when he was just 25, Kushner bought the New York Observer for about $10 million. The paper made news on Nov. 11 when it announced it is shutting down its print edition after nearly 30 years and dropping the “New York” from its name. The Observer claimed its web site received 5.6 million unique visitors in September, or nearly twice the number
from the same time last year. By all accounts, Kushner is a savvy real estate man. In 2007, the year after his father got out of prison, Kushner bought a 41-story office building on Fifth Avenue for $1.8 billion – the most expensive office building sale in U.S. history up to that point. In 2008, Kushner became CEO of his father’s company. In 2014, Kushner Companies completed more than $2 billion in transactions — including buying 2,000 multifamily apartments on the East Coast — according to Fortune magazine. In 2015, Kushner scored spot No. 25 on Fortune’s 40 under 40 list ranking the most influential young people in business. “Real estate’s today where I spend most of my time, but I also am very active outside our real estate business in other holdings,” Kushner said in a Fortune video. “The most important thing is working with the right people, people who you trust, people who are talented.” Now that Kushner’s fatherin-law has become president as a Republican, Kushner has had to switch his political allegiances. Until very recently, he mostly supported Democrats. Kushner’s Observer endorsed Barack Obama for president in 2008. He has made more than $100,000 in donations to Democratic committees and candidates, according to widely cited Federal Election Commission records, including a total of $6,000 in donations to Hillary Clinton in 2000 and 2003. Kushner sent $10,000 to the New Jersey Democratic State Committee and $10,000 to the New York State Democratic Committee in 2014, and $20,800 to Cory Booker’s 2013 U.S. Senate campaign in New Jersey. He also made contributions to two other Democratic senators, Charles Schumer of New York and Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
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