com.UNITY The bridges we cross There are not too many things I miss not holding onto from my youth. One of those was my Anatoly Sharansky bracelet from high school. The bracelet was part of the Free Soviet Jewry solidarity movement. I had a bracelet for Sharansky and Ida Nudel. They were Prisoners of Zion, prisoners of conscience. I wore a bracelet to express my hope that they would be allowed to leave the U.S.S.R. and live freely as Jews. I wrote letters to elected officials, wrote my first letter to the editor, signed petitions and adopted special prayers at the Passover seder yearning for the freedom of Soviet Jews. In 1973, Sharansky applied for an exit visa to Israel, but was refused on “security” grounds. Following this denial, Sharansky became more involved with the Jewish refusnik movement and became an activist for Soviet Jews. On March 15, 1977, he was arrested by the KGB, accused of treason and espionage and languished in Soviet prisons. Sharansky was released 30 years ago on Feb. 11, 1986, as part of a larger exchange of detainees. He was the first political prisoner released by Mikhail Gorbachev due to intense political pressure from Ronald Reagan. But the exchange took on suspense
thriller proportions. After the deal was struck, the KGB gathered on one side of the Glienicke Bridge, and West German and U.S. officials assembled on the other side. This was not the first time opposing secret agents and secret agencies gathered on opposing sides of the bridge. Many east-west prisoner exchanges, including Francis Gary Powers, occurred on this famous “Bridge of Spies.” Sharansky was driven part of the way onto the bridge. A car approached from the other side and stopped in roughly the equivalent spot. Sharansky was not told of the prisoner exchange, just that he should walk across the bridge and not turn back. Fighting back fear and hoping he would not be shot in the back during an alleged escape, Sharansky exited the vehicle and proceeded across the bridge. He was met on the other side by West German and US diplomats and quickly escorted to a waiting Israeli plane for his flight to Israel. Once in Israel, he adopted the Israeli name Natan and began building a distinguished career in Israeli public service. He became politically active, created the first political party of Russian olim, served in the Knesset and served on the Israeli
FROM THE DESK OF MARK L. GOLDSTEIN
Executive Director | Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley email@example.com
Cabinet as deputy prime minister (among other ministerial portfolios). He left the government and soon became the chairman of the executive (equivalent to CEO) of the Jewish Agency for Israel, the largest beneficiary of our Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign for Jewish Needs. From wearing Sharansky’s bracelet, to rallying to Free Soviet Jews, my”connection” to Natan Sharansky continues with my recent election to the Jewish Agency for Israel Board of Governors. One of only five Jewish Federation executives elected to serve on the JAFI Board of Governors, I will be honored to participate in decision making on key JAFI programs ranging from the growing number of Jews making Aliyah to Israel (a near 100 percent increase this past year), to the growing engagement programs such as MASA, Onward Israel and Birthright Israel. Years ago at a conference in Jerusalem I heard Sharansky speak about his release from Soviet prison and his bridge crossing in Germany. It was not a large meeting so I had the opportunity to speak with him in the hallway after his talk. I told him that I had worn his name on a Prisoners of Zion bracelet in the 1970s. With a slight grin, he noted that it was nice to finally meet
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me because when he crossed that bridge, he was coming to thank me! The great Hassidic Rebbe Nahman of Bratzlav once said, “The whole world is a narrow bridge, and the essential thing is not to fear at all.” Commenting on these words, which have become a moving song in Israel and throughout the Jewish world, noted rabbi David Wolpe writes, “The world is a bridge on which we pass from one thing to another. There is no stability. Each new place, new change, creates fear. Rabbi Nahman did not compare the world to a field on which we might rest, but to a bridge, the symbol of passage, of journeying. And the secret is not to find a
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY 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.
safe place, but to navigate the narrow crossing and remain unafraid.” Natan Sharansky’s heroic life underscores the challenge of crossing bridges. I am honored to be working with him for the betterment of the Jewish people and to achieve the goals of the Jewish Agency for Israel.
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JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY MISSION STATEMENT
We gratefully acknowledge those individuals who have offered expressions of friendship by requesting that trees be planted in the Yoav--Lehigh Valley Partnership Park.
In 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:
IN HONOR MARK AND ALICE NOTIS Engagement of Ayelet to Barry Berger Ryan and Claudia Mattison Mike and Cooky Notis
• 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.
MICHAEL AND COOKY NOTIS Engagement of Ayelet to Barry Berger Ryan and Claudia Mattison IN MEMORY JOANIE (Daughter of Joan Criscione) Lainie Schonberger REGINA BRENNER (Mother of Scott Brenner) Roberto and Eileen Fischmann
ILSE POPPER (Mother of Derek Moore) Lainie Schonberger MARY RONIS (Mother of Nan Ronis) Roberto and Eileen Fischmann STANLEY WAX (Husband of Vicki Wax) Marni and Greg Blake Michael and Jacqueline Demko and Family Jennifer Farber Roberto and Eileen Fischmann Sandra and Allan Futernick Mike and Cooky Notis Robert and Joanne Palumbo and Family
BLAKE GOLDING (Husband of Amy Eichenwald Golding) Roberto and Eileen Fischmann
TO ORDER TREES, call the JFLV at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org. 2 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
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
Holocaust exhibit to expand into middle schools
The Holocaust Resource Center’s Legacy Exhibit visits 10 to 12 high schools each year. A new exhibit and program for middle schoolers is in the works. By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Marketing For years, the Jewish Federation’s Holocaust Resource Center has been bringing Holocaust education into local high schools through its Legacy Exhibit. Now, thanks to the generosity of donors at last year’s Mortimer S. Schiff Memorial Golf Tournament, that program will be broadening its reach. “The exhibit that we have for the high schools is so mature and frank in terms of what we present, and
it’s also passive,” said Shari Spark, Holocaust Resource Center coordinator. “We were looking for something to take into middle schools that is more interactive and better fits their curriculum.” To accomplish this, Spark plans to create a series of dioramas in suitcases that would each represent some aspect of the Holocaust, whether a person’s life or a time period or event. “A classroom project could then be built around the materials in the suitcases,” she said. At last year’s tournament, players and dinner guests had the opportu-
nity to “bid” on packages that would bring prejudice reduction programs into schools. In addition to funding the middle school exhibit, that money is also being used on upcoming high school programs. The Holocaust Resource Center ran a workshop for 40 teachers at Bangor High School in February before bringing in a program for the students, Spark said. On March 3, the exhibit will travel to a community center at Lehigh University for an afterschool program with underprivileged students. The students will also hear from a local Holocaust survivor.
Each spring, programs are brought into 10 to 12 schools, Spark said. “It is clear that when students see this exhibit and meet a survivor and broaden these stories to present day situations, they are better equipped to stand up to prejudice in their own lives,” Spark said. The Mortimer S. Schiff Memorial Golf Tournament brings together people of all faiths in support of tolerance and prejudice reduction. The fifth annual tournament will be held Monday, June 20, 2016, at Lehigh Country Club. For more information, visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org/golf.
Federation accepted into Community Impact Partnership By Aaron Gorodzinsky JFLV Director of Outreach and Community Relations For some time, Jewish communities across the world have witnessed a rising trend of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic activities that are of great concern to us all. In the United States, we see this trend manifested in anti-Israel resolutions within mainline Christian denominations; we see it on college campuses both among biased faculty and prejudiced student organizations, and we see it in the growing efforts to promote boycotts and delegitimization of Israel that continue to grow each day. In addressing these alarming trends, our Jewish community has responded by organizing anti-BDS seminars for high school students moving into college, engaging in educational sessions for our community and working with other Federations in the State to pass legislation opposing BDS. Now our community is taking an additional step by taking part in a national initiative from the Israel Action Network (IAN) known as the Community Impact Partnership (CIP). Our community is one of the 10 Jewish communities in North America selected to join the initiative this year that includes a $5,000 grant for programming. Under the leadership of Dr. Eric Fels, CIP chair, 28 members of our community have participated in two sessions facilitated by the IAN where they learned how to represent our community in civil society and engage with non-Jewish communal leaders in a proactive manner. Following these sessions, our CIP members have selected three particular groups to focus their attention this year. This coming year, the CIP group will work with leaders from the Mainline Protestant church in the Lehigh Valley, pro-Israel faculty members in our colleges and Universities and leaders in the Latino community to develop a small, impactful community relations project and create positive change. Together, we will build a network of relationships and alliances with members of civil society vulnerable to anti-Israel messaging and increase our community’s capacity to support Israel. As we begin our work, we hope to share some of the programs and initiatives that will make our community stronger. HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 3
WOMEN’S DIVISION OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY
Moran Alem celebrates Alma graduation
Editor’s Note: This year, the Women’s Division committed to sponsor Moran Alem at the Alma Preparatory School, a premilitary academy that helps young women from the perfirary of Israel prepare for greater success in the IDF. To my friends oversees, This is my last letter, as our time here in Mechina is coming to a close. As I sit here writing this, I am sad as I reflect on all that we have been through together and I can’t believe that it is about to end. During these past six months, I underwent an extraordinary and meaningful process. I learned about myself and how to express myself. I learned how to receive both criticism and compliments. I learned to love who I see in the mirror every day and learned to be proud of myself.
I learned about our country and our society, and about those who are different from me. I learned how to say thank you and appreciate all that I have. But most of all, I learned to be me. During these past six months, we loved, we laughed, we fought and we supported each other. We were there for one another, whether it was during the field seminars and trips helping each other climb mountains or sharing our sleeping bags, trying to stay to warm together at night. During the workshops we learned how to listen better and how to ask questions. In our lessons, we discussed and debated history, Judaism, leadership, and over and over again, we discussed the question of what leadership means and, more specifically, what is women’s leadership.
As I sit here, I realized that these 27 women here with me have become my sisters. Today, looking back, I can say that I would do it again in a heartbeat and I don’t regret it in any way. Now, each one of us is about to spread our wings and begin the army. I am excited, but also a little nervous. I am afraid that I will not have a good position in the army and I am afraid of starting something new, but as they say “every ending is the beginning of something new.” I believe that everything will be OK. I want to take this opportunity to say thank you for who you are, and thank you for everything. Love from your friend on the other side of the ocean,
SPONSORED BY THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF THE LEHIGH VALLEY’S WOMEN’S DIVISION
WELCOMING NEW BABIES
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daughter of Renee and Andras Bogi
If you’re expecting, know someone who is, or have a new baby, PLEASE LET US KNOW! Contact Abby Trachtman, 610-821-5500 | email@example.com
4 MARCH 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
Ukrainian refugee to speak at Lunch and Learn It was not the life that Masha Shumatskaya had imagined. In February of 2014, she found herself in a dusty hallway ducking behind her mattress that she dragged into the hallway to protect herself from flying glass as exploding bombs threatened to shatter the windows to her house. After weeks of fighting between the Ukrainian military and the Russian separatist fighters in Ukraine – Shumatskaya had had enough. “I wasn’t used to bombing,” Shumatskaya said. “I wasn’t used to seeing armed people wearing masks in the city center. It was really scary.” At the age of 23, she made one of the most difficult decisions of her life and joined thousands of Jews from her town that decided it was time to leave. She moved 200 miles away to central Ukraine to distance herself from the fighting that had torn her hometown apart. Yet Shumatskaya knew she would not sit around feeling sorry for herself and instead went back to what she knew best – helping her fellow Jew. Shumatskaya worked for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) in Donetsk since she was 17. The JDC had been helping Shumatskaya since she and her boyfriend had arrived in Kharkiv. She had never been on the receiving end of JDC’s work and she knew right away she had to give back. “I’m not in as bad condition as others,” said Shumatskaya in a recent interview. “I can work.”
Eva Levitt wins Kipnis-Wilson Friedland Award By Laura Rigge HAKOL Editor
She went to work at a JDC call center contacting Jews in the rebelheld city of Lugansk to provide food, medicine and heating oil to Jewish families who were affected by the ongoing violence. Shumatskaya later decided she could help even more Ukrainians by bringing her story to the U.S. to illustrate the struggle of the thousands of Jews who are struggling in Ukraine. Some of the 300,000 Jews who remain in Ukraine are the most vulnerable populations of displaced persons – with more than one million displaced since the conflict broke out two years ago. Masha Shumatskaya will be the featured speaker at the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley’s Women’s Division Lunch & Learn on Thursday, March 10. The program begins at 12 p.m. at the JCC and is $12. Men and women welcome. To learn more, visit jewishlehighvalley.org/women or contact Rena Fraade at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Women’s Division president Eva Levitt has been awarded the 2016 KipnisWilson Friedland Award. Since 2004, the KipnisWilson Friedland Award has honored extraordinary women who have set a high standard for philanthropy and volunteerism. Winners are chosen by peers as "women of valor" with a lifetime of commitment to the Jewish world and are recognized at the biennial International Lion of Judah Conference (ILOJC). Levitt was born in Czechoslovakia and survived the Holocaust due to the kindness of Christians who hid Levitt and her mother while her father was interned at Auschwitz. At the age of 7, she emigrated to the United States. She started her professional career as an early childhood teacher in Harlem in New York City. Upon moving to Allentown, Levitt started working part-time in her husband’s neurology practice, increasing her hours as her youngest child increased her school day. Eventually she became the practice manager and did that for about 20 years. She then went on to consulting
in doctors’ offices, specializing in office management. Levitt has been very involved with the Jewish Day School of the Lehigh Valley as well as with Jewish Federation, serving on both of their boards and various committees and has completed two terms as Women’s Division president. Levitt is passionate about Israel and has co-led many missions. She is the recipient of the Pomerantz Award for Campaign Leadership and has served as co-chair of the Annual Campaign. As a longtime member of Congregation Sons of Israel, Levitt created its new Kinderlights program, a senior visitation initiative on pre-Shabbat afternoons. Levitt has lectured often as a Holocaust survivor and participates annually in the Institute for Jewish Christian Understanding’s prejudice reduction workshop at Muhlenberg College. She is also the recipient of the Mortimer S. Schiff Award for Prejudice Reduction. Levitt combined her passion for knitting with her passion for helping the Jewish community and created a knitting fund at the Jewish Federation where proceeds of her afghans and scarves are donated to benefit the local Jewish commu-
nity, a Jerusalem based food bank, and Neve Michael in Pardes Hana which cares for at risk children. She cofounded Tikvah House for special needs Jewish adults and volunteers in a local public school. Despite the amount of time and effort she has put into Jewish causes throughout the years, Levitt insists that she has gotten far more out of volunteering than she has given. “I’ve found it very rewarding, and I’ve had so many amazing experiences. That’s a lot for giving up some time,” Levitt said. She and her husband, Larry, are the parents of three children and six grandchildren. If you are interested in attending the International Lion of Judah Conference Sept. 11 to 13, contact Jeri Zimmerman at email@example.com or call 610-8215500.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 5
WHAT’S UP, DOC?
DR. PAUL LEMBERG COLUMN EDITOR
Taking care of dry eyes takes more than the blink of an eye BY DR. KAREN DACEY I sometimes find my vision getting blurry throughout the day, but when I blink it clears up. What can I do to prevent this from happening? Do you ever find your eyes tearing “for no reason”? How about feeling like there is a piece of sand in your eye and you haven’t been to the beach? Do you ever get a sharp, stabbing pain that quickly resolves? These symptoms are often found in patients with “dry eyes.” Dry eye syndrome is a very common condition diagnosed in the ophthalmologist’s office. The tear film on the surface of the eyes is a complex mixture of protein, water, lipid and cellular components. While “dry eyes” is a good label for this condition, ocular
surface disease may be more comprehensive. Ocular surface disease is a disruption of one or more layers of the tear film. Many times, ocular surface disease is the primary problem; however, it is important to note that some deficiencies of the tear film may be an indication of other systemic diseases like rosacea, Sjogren’s syndrome, or other inflammatory or autoimmune diseases. The protein layer of the tear film is made by tiny cells called goblet cells. These goblet cells are found in the conjunctiva or “white part” of the eye. The watery layer of the tear film is made by accessory glands which secrete tears continuously. The lipid layer of the tear film is secreted by oil glands that are found within the eyelid margins.
A healthy tear film is made of all three components: protein, water and oil. A disruption of any of these components can lead to “dry eyes.” In response to sensing dryness on the ocular surface, the larger tear secreting gland goes into overdrive, producing excess tears to compensate. This overproduction of tears is what patients often notice. When a patient presents to the ophthalmologist complaining of intermittent blurred vision or excessive tearing, the doctor will often pay very close attention to the ocular surface. The first things to evaluate are the eyelids and eyelashes. Many times, we can see evidence of bacteria taking up residence on a patient’s eyelashes. While the bacteria are not typically causing an infection of the eye, they can cause inflammation on the surface of the eyes. Inflammation disrupts the tear film and can cause “dry eyes.” In this situation, we recommend placing a few drops of baby shampoo in a basin of warm water and gently washing the eyelashes with a wet washcloth. The next step in evaluation would be to put a drop of dye on the surface
of the eyes and see how quickly tears evaporate. If tears evaporate quickly, then the oil layer of the tear film is insufficient. Think of an oil slick on the ocean. The ocean waters will not evaporate if there is a slick of oil on top. We don’t want tears to evaporate quickly so a robust oil layers is also important for a healthy tear film. In this scenario, we will recommend a warm compress on closed eyelids for 10-15 minutes a day to soften up the oil in the oil glands and let it secrete more easily on the tear film. The final component of the tear film that can be measured in the office is the water layer. After numbing the eyes, we will put little strips of paper under the lower eyelid. After five minutes, we can measure how many tears are produced during that time. An insufficient quantity of tears would indicate that the watery layer of the tear film is insufficient. Our recommendation for this is to use supplemental artificial tears throughout the day. Artificial tears come in many varieties. There are those in a bottle and those in individual use vials. First, it is important to avoid tears that are labeled with “get the red out.” These drops are fine to
use once in a while but should not be used more than two days in a row. Artificial tears in a bottle will often have a preservative in them. These are fine to use four times per day or less. If you find that you use tears more often, I recommend using preservative free artificial tears found in individual use vials. Tears also come in different viscosities. The thicker the drop, the longer it lasts and the blurrier the vision is immediately after use. Thick drops are great to use at bedtime. Thinner drops may be more appropriate for daytime. Other environmental factors to help with dry eyes are to limit the use of ceiling fans while sleeping as well as limit heat or air conditioning blowing toward your face while in the car. Maintaining proper oral hydration will help keep eyes moist as well. If these interventions help to control ocular surface disease to a certain degree but not completely, there are additional treatment options available with the help of an ophthalmologist.
conversations about identity that stem from these composers, who happen to be Jewish,” Cohen said, “and ask ourselves the question, can we talk about Jewish identity through the notes?” The Sunshine orchestra will include two vocalists, a five-
piece horn section and original arrangements by trumpeter Brian Pareschi, who (like the entire band) has played on Broadway. After the intermission, the Sunshine orchestra will play a set for dancing. "This event will be different from any other Berman Center program that we've ever done,” said Dr. Hartley Lachter, chair of the Berman Center at Lehigh University, which is co-sponsoring the event. “It interweaves a presentation by an internationally renowned scholar with a full scale performance by a gifted musician and I’m grateful for the partnership with other institutions in the Lehigh Valley that made this kind of public event possible."
Continues from page 1
why Jewish composers of the 1930s had such an impact on jazz in the 1950-60s. “We will explore larger
Dr. Karen Dacey is a board certified ophthalmologist at McDonald Ophthalmology and Associates.
Tickets for Let's Face the Music and Dance: A Showcase of Jewish Jazz from the 1930s on Sunday, April 3, 2016, at 7 p.m. at the JCC of the Lehigh Valley, are $18 in advance, $25 at the door, and can be purchased at the JCC Welcome Desk, by calling 610-435-3571, or online at www.lvjcc.org. Guests will enjoy passed hors d’oeuvres and an open bar (LVKC supervised). Sponsored by the Lehigh University Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies, the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley, the Jewish Community Center of the Lehigh Valley and the Lehigh University Swing Dance Club. 6 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Western Wall Continues from page 1
Talks on a plan to expand the non-Orthodox section of the wall, located in an archaeological park known as Robinson’s Arch, began in April 2013. Sharansky and outgoing Israeli Cabinet secretary Avichai Mandelblit led the negotiations, which included representatives of the Reform and Conservative movements, the Heritage Foundation and Women of the Wall. Nearly three years later, the deal enacted Jan. 31 calls for the creation of an “official and respected” 9,700-square foot prayer space in the non-Orthodox section of the Western Wall, running along a 31-foot segment of the wall, that Sharansky said will fit approximately 1,200 people. It will have a governmentfunded staff, Torah scrolls and other ritual objects, and be open to all forms of Jewish prayer. Sharansky estimated its construction could take up to two years. Even after it is completed, the non-Orthodox section will remain smaller than its Orthodox counterpart. The Orthodox section measures some 21,500 square feet, adjacent to a nearly 200-foot segment of the wall, and has some 27,000 visitors on an average day. The area is divided into two sections: a larger one for men and a smaller one for women. The rules prohibit women from reading from Torah scrolls in the Orthodox section. A committee composed of two Reform leaders, two Conservative leaders, two non-Orthodox women representatives, the Jewish Agency chairman and six government officials will run the non-Orthodox section. The Orthodox and non-Orthodox sections of the Western Wall will share an entrance near the Old City of Jerusalem’s Dung Gate, one story above the Western Wall plaza’s current entrance. Currently, the path to the non-Orthodox section is long, narrow and accessible only through a gateway tucked in a back corner of the plaza. The deal will create a wide and visible walkway to the section. The deal does not specify, however, whether there will be signs at the entrance informing visitors of the non-Orthodox section or anything else notifying visitors of its existence. "The vision of the new section of the Kotel is a physical and conceptual space open to all forms
of Jewish prayer," a statement from Women of the Wall read. "Instead of splitting up the existing pie into ever more divided, smaller pieces, we are making the pie much larger and sharing the new space." The Western Wall’s haredi management, headed by Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, has long pushed for Women of the Wall to leave the site. Under the deal, the women's group has agreed to move to the non-Orthodox section only once the deal is implemented. And a faction of Women of the Wall has vowed not to budge from the Orthodox section – regardless of what the deal says. The Western Wall’s religious status has been under contention for decades. Women of the Wall was founded in 1988 to advance women’s prayer at the site, which is prohibited under haredi Orthodox Jewish law. Until 2013, much of the group’s activity contravened the Heritage Foundation’s regulations and thus was illegal. Police regularly detained members of the group. Non-Orthodox groups also suffered persecution at the site. In 1997, an egalitarian Conservative Shavuot celebration behind the prayer section was attacked by protesters throwing bottles, diapers and refuse at the worshippers. The incident led to the establishment of the non-Orthodox prayer section at Robinson’s Arch in 2000. Following an international backlash to Hoffman’s 2012 arrest, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tasked Sharansky with forging a compromise solution to the dispute. An outline Sharansky proposed in April 2013 called for the non-Orthodox section to be equal in size and elevation to the Orthodox section, but it proved unworkable due to objections from the Israel Antiquities Authority and the Waqf, the Islamic body that governs the Temple Mount. In August 2013, Diaspora Affairs Minister Naftali Bennett tried for an interim solution by building a 4,800 square-foot platform that created more space in the non-Orthodox section. Women of the Wall rejected the platform, calling it a "sundeck." Now the architects of the compromise hope that all sides of the debate will be able to put their differences behind them for the sake of the Western Wall’s symbolism. “This contains the hope that the Western Wall will no longer be an arena for disputes, and will regain the uniting character that befits its special place for the entire Jewish people,” the agreement reads. “May this also bring peace among us.”
30 YEARS OF THE MAIMONIDES SOCIETY:
Dr. Mickey Ufberg By Laura Rigge HAKOL Editor Editor’s Note: This is part of a series commemorating the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Maimonides Society. Each month, we will profile one of the founding members. Long before he was the chief of gastroenterology at Lehigh Valley Hospital, Dr. Mickey Ufberg was just a scared little boy watching his grandmother succumb to illness. She was deathly ill, and the entire family was on edge until they heard the doctor arrived. “I remember when the doctor came into the house how relieved we all felt that he was there,” Ufberg said. His grandmother recovered, and Ufberg decided he wanted to be a doctor. “I thought it was a terrific calling,” he said. After completing his undergraduate degree at Bucknell University, Ufberg attended the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University and he completed his studies in gastroenterology at Drexel University. After decades at his practice in Allentown, Ufberg has recently retired. Along with Dr. Stuart Schwarz and Dr. Larry Levitt, Ufberg was one of the three founders of the society, which they hoped would change the way Jewish physicians interacted with the community. “We were looking for a way to make healthcare professionals connect more with the Federation and with Israel beyond just the Annual Campaign,” Ufberg said. “We wanted there to be specifically medically directed projects both locally and in Israel that would give them things to rather than just contribute financially to.” Ufberg is proud that the Maimonides Society is not only functioning and serv-
ing its original purpose, but also that it has been adopted as a model across the country. He hopes that the society will continue to grow, especially in Israel. “I would like to expand the service to our sister hospital in Galilee and create more connections in Yoav,” Ufberg said. “But mostly, I want the Maimonides Society to continue its mission.” Ufberg is a member of Congregation Sons of Israel. He is a past president of both the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Day School, and he continues to serve on the board of the Jewish Day School’s Endowment Fund and on the Federation board. In addition, he has served on the Lehigh Valley Hospital Medical Board. Ufberg and his wife Eileen have five children 14 grandchildren, all of whom are Jewishly active. In his spare time, he enjoys exercising, reading and studying more about Judaism, and attending his grandchildren’s soccer and basketball games.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 7
Jewish billionaire David Rubinstein donates $18.5M to repair Lincoln Memorial
Jewish Telegraphic Agency Billionaire businessman and philanthropist David Rubenstein has donated $18.5 million to repair and restore the Lincoln Memorial. The donation from Rubenstein, the co-CEO of The Carlyle Group, to the National Park Foundation's Centennial Campaign for America's National Parks was announced on Feb. 15, President's Day. In the past few years, he has given tens of millions of dollars to fix national parks and historical institutions. His most recent gift will allow the National Park Service to repair damaged brick and marble masonry and clean the memorial; conserve the Jules Guerin murals
located above the memorial's inscriptions; create approximately 15,000 square feet of functional space including exhibit, education and research areas; and add an elevator to improve accessibility, the park service said in a statement. "These improvements will hopefully enable more people to better understand and appreciate Abraham Lincoln's remarkable leadership during one of the most trying periods in American history," Rubenstein said in the statement. "I am humbled to be a part of honoring this great man and preserving this iconic memorial for future generations." His donations over the past several years for parks and institutions total over $35 million. They went to the Washington Monument, George Washington's home in Mount Vernon, the Robert E. Lee Memorial and the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial. Rubenstein, 66, of Bethesda, Maryland, is worth $2.3 billion, according to Forbes magazine. The Carlyle Group is a global alternative asset manager based in Washington, D.C.
IN MEMORY REGINA BRENNER (Mother of Scott Brenner) Aliette and Marc Abo Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald Larry and Vicki Glaser Beth and Howard Kushnick Diane McKee HERMAN BRUCH (Brother of Israel Bruch) Faye Bloch and Family PETER CHARON (Husband of Muriel Charon) Kristen, Mike, and Henry Zohn JEAN DEUTCH (Mother of Elaine Deutch) Larry and Vicki Glaser HOWARD FELDMAN (Father of Judy Belmont) Evelyn and Jay Lipschutz LILLIAN “LOLLY” GLICKMAN (Mother of Sharon Collins) Ross and Wendy Born Cathy Sacher Fred and Barbara Sussman BLAKE GOLDING (Husband of Amy Eichenwald Golding) Aliette and Marc Abo Bill and Peggy Berger Faye Bloch and Family Michael and Rita Bloom Karl, Sara, Matt, and Josh Glassman Eydie and Neil Glickstein and Family Alan Hochhauser Susan and Arthur Hochhauser Carol Hoffman Merry Landis Beth and Edward Posner RUTH GREENBLAT (Sister of Louise Weinstein) Elizabeth and Jeff Greenberg Donald and Randi Senderowitz Ruth Sheftel D. BERNARD LEVIN (Father of Ilene Levin-Dando) Beth and Edward Posner IZZY NULLMAN (Father of Judy Olesh)
Vicki Wax MARY RONIS (Mother of Nan Ronis) Marc and Aliette Abo Ross and Wendy Born Donald and Randi Senderowitz Vicki Wax Arthur and Barbara Weinrach STANLEY WAX (Husband of Vicki Wax, father of Robby Wax and Nancy Wax Goldman) The Allentown Staff of Flamm, Walton, Heimbach, and Lamm, PC Sandy and Alan Abeshaus Aliette and Marc Abo Elaine Atlas Maryann Barone Bill and Peggy Berger Susan and Larry Berman Marni and Greg Blake Sheryl and Rance Block and Family Michael and Rita Bloom Stephen Burwick and Carolyn Phillips Ellen and Stephen Blumberg Kira and Richard Bub Muriel Charon Marilyn Claire and Family Jeanette and Eduardo Eichenwald Michael and Elissa Eichenwald and Family Roberta and Jeff Epstein Eleanor Extract and Lynda Extract Jennifer Farber Kathleen Flannery Randi, Keith, Brendan and Aaron Fraley Sandra and Allan Futernick Susan and Bob Gadomski Larry and Vicki Glaser Karl, Sara, Matt and Josh Glassman Eydie and Neil Glickstein and Family Francine and Anthony Godfrey Roz and Larry Goodman Elizabeth and Jeff Greenberg Robert Gutman
Alan Hochhauser Susan and Arthur Hochhauser Ellen and Phil Hof Amy and Mark Holtz and Family Jane and Arthur Kaplan Jennifer Kaplan Deborah and Andrew Kimmel Carole and Sy Klionsky Marty and Judy Krasnov Linda and Harold Kreithen Karen Kuhn Beth, Howard, Ethan and Emily Kushnick Alan and Carole Kushnir Merry Landis Carol and Charles Liebman Evelyn and Jay Lipschutz Don and Lois Lipson Harris and Phyllis Malkovsky Michael and Linda Miller Taffi Ney Arlene and Rick Noodleman Mark and Alice Notis The Ofeck Family Robert and Joanne Palumbo and Family Elaine and Leon Papir Beth and Edward Posner Gwen and Eric Raphan Barbara and Richard Reisner Carole and Harry Rose Cathy Sacher Lisa Scheller and Wayne Woodman Bernie and Sara Schonbach Ivan and Jill Schonfeld Susan and Len Segal Donald and Randi Senderowitz Lori and Marc Shapiro Ruth Sheftel Diane and Howard Silverman Marty Spiro Arlene and Richard Stein Peter and Jamie Thomas Bill and Pauline Trachtenberg Gail Wolf and Family Gail, Josh, and Laura Wolson Jim and Linda Wimmer Jerry and Flossie Zales Richard and Cherie Zettlemoyer The Zighelboim Family
IN HONOR JOAN BRODY Birth of her twin granddaughters, Ilyse Maya and Ariella Sloane Ross and Wendy Born Mark Goldstein and Shari Spark Barry and Carol Halper Vicki Wax ELLEN AND PHIL HOF Birth of their granddaughter, Nadia Ross and Wendy Born MARK AND ALICE NOTIS Engagement of Ayelet Elizabeth and Jeff Greenberg Vicki Wax MICHAEL AND COOKY NOTIS Engagement of Ayelet Vicki Wax RABBI SETH PHILLIPS AND MARGE KRAMER Marriage of their son Barry and Carol Halper LYNNE RIGBERG Happy ‘Special’ Birthday Vicki Wax LORI AND JOEL WIENER Engagement of their daughter Jessica Francie Eiskowitz HELEN AND SOL KRAWITZ HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL FUND MEMORY SONDRA KLINE (Mother of Wendy Chercass and Amy Sachs) Joan Lesavoy and Sid Greenberg and Family 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.
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8 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Thriving indie Jewish communities join forces to create rabbinic fellowship
A Hanukkah celebration at the Kitchen in San Francisco on Dec. 9, 2015.
By Ben Harris Jewish Telegraphic Agency In the summer of 2011, Lizzi Heydemann returned to her native Chicago to establish a Jewish community loosely modeled on Ikar, the Los Angeles congregation where she had spent two years as a rabbinic intern. She set about harvesting email addresses and putting out the word on social media. Heydemann called her community Mishkan – the Hebrew word for the mobile sanctuary built by the ancient Israelites from communal donations. Heydemann's first Shabbat service, held in someone's living room, drew 65 people. The numbers snowballed from there – 90, 120, 150 for the monthly service. Mishkan's first High Holiday service, in 2012, drew 600 people. The following year, it was 900 – among them Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his daughters. Last year, the service had 1,400 worshippers, comparable to what many large and established synagogues draw on the High Holidays. At a time of communal hand-wringing over declining rates of Jewish identification and synagogue membership — evident most recently in the 2013 Pew survey of American Jews — a handful of independent rabbis like Heydemann have demonstrated a consistent knack for drawing large numbers of mostly younger and mostly unaffiliated Jews to religious services. Now seven of those rabbis are joining together in an effort to share their methods of connecting with this elusive cohort,
which the institutional Jewish community has spent millions trying to reach. The Jewish Emergent Network — a new partnership of communities widely hailed for their innovative spirit and proven success in attracting the young and unaffiliated — announced last month that it was establishing a fellowship for early-career rabbis. Modeled on the fellowship Heydemann did at Ikar, the program will place the seven rabbis in each of the participating communities for two years, during which they will receive mentorship and other training. They are led by rabbis routinely named to various annual lists of the most influential Jews and top American rabbis. They
use buzzwords like “highcontent Judaism” and “DIY Judaism.” Their services tend to be lively and musically oriented, and they are explicitly committed to welcoming all comers, regardless of level of religious practice or sexual orientation — or even whether the participants are Jewish. And even though none of these communities are affiliated with the major denominations and most don't have a regular space, let alone their own building, they are consistently able to draw hundreds to weekly Shabbat services and thousands on the High Holidays. The vast majority of attendees are under 40 and unaffiliated with traditional synagogues. Though the individual communities differ somewhat in their particulars, they share a conviction that declining synagogue affiliation rates are not evidence that Jews have lost interest in Judaism. Rather, members suggest that traditional synagogues are largely unable to speak to the Jewish masses — either because they are too rigid and dogmatic, or because they have watered things down to the point where Judaism fails to inspire. Participants hope the fellowship will help spread their methods and thinking to other communities and, more broadly, that the network will help strengthen communities doing similar work.
Relationships, reflections and refreshments By Michele Salomon Congregation Keneseth Israel Relationships are the foundation of our communities, particularly our Jewish communities. They are the ground upon which our synagogues, community centers and other institutions of Jewish and community life are built upon. With generous support from the Sylvia Perkin Charitable Trust and the Dr. Ray and Bonnie Singer Education Fund, Congregation Keneseth Israel, Temple Beth El and Muhlenberg College Hillel are delighted to welcome Dr. Ron Wolfson to the Lehigh Valley on April 1 and 2. Dr. Wolfson is an author, educator, and humorist and will be speaking at various events to highlight the importance of relationships – to each other, to our Judaism, to our spirituality – as the means to strengthen our Jewish institutions. The weekend includes worship, food, fun and reflection, take your pick. The weekend kicks off on Friday evening at Congregation Keneseth Israel with “The Spirituality of Welcoming: First Step in Building Relationships,” which includes a kosher Shabbat dinner followed by Shabbat services. Saturday morning Shabbat services find Dr. Wolfson across town at Temple Beth El for the continuation of the program, “Using the Power
of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community.” The weekend culminates on Saturday evening at Temple Beth El for an evening of music and reflections. Muhlenberg’s premier cross cultural A Cappella group, The Chaimonics will kick things off. Dr. Wolfson will conclude his program with, “The Power of Stories to Shape Jewish Identity,” based on his memoir, “The Best Boy in the United States of America: A Memoir of Blessing and Kisses.” The complete schedule of events is as follows. The entire community is invited to attend. FRIDAY, APRIL 1: Congregation Keneseth Israel • 6 p.m. – Kosher Shabbat dinner ($20 per adult/$10 per child age 13 and under; 4 and under are free; RSVP by March 25 to KI or TBE) • 7:30 p.m. – Shabbat services SATURDAY, APRIL 2: Temple Beth El • 9 a.m. – Shabbat services and kiddush • 7:30 p.m. – Refreshments, Havdalah, Chaimonics and humor To buy Dr. Wolfson’s books (available at KI or TBE at discounted rates) or for more information, contact KI at 610-4359074 or TBE at 610-435-3521.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 9
A Phan-tastic evening with Adults at the J On Feb. 10, Adults at the J enjoyed an evening of food, drinks, hockey and fun at the PPL Center in Allentown as they watched the Lehigh Valley Phantoms take on the Binghamton Senators. The evening saw Phantom Taylor Leier score a hat trick as the home teams defeated the Senators in a 7-2 blowout.
10 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Muslims, Christians and Jews unite over dinner in Easton By Rudy Miller Lehighvalleylive.com With the Islamic State Group, Syria and terrorism in Paris making headlines, now is the time to build bridges between cultures -- not walls, according to a local rabbi. Rabbi Melody Davis at Temple Covenant of Peace in Easton organized a multicultural dinner and discussion at her synagogue to show that Jews, Christians and Muslims have more in common than they think. She said no one should allow the Nov. 13 Paris attacks to reflect negatively on all Muslims. "With what's going on in Paris, Muslims are having a very, very tough time," Davis said. "As a Jew, I understand people having a tough time." She said she was embarrassed at how little she knew about Islam when she conversed with Muslim women last May at a National Day of Prayer Event at St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Plainfield Township. So she followed up the event by dining repeatedly
with Mehriban Ulas, a Muslim. Ulas attended the interfaith dinner. "Such social gatherings are ways that communities of different backgrounds and beliefs can get together and form connections," Ulas said. "This is an open way that people can welcome different faiths and respect others without prejudice." The Jan. 30 event started with an exchange of ethnic recipes. Davis' husband discussed how to make challah, the traditional bread for the Jewish Sabbath. There will also be a recipe for tabbouleh discussed. The potluck dinner of dairy and vegetarian foods was followed by a discussion that included topics like head coverings. “It’s something that can be found in all of our faiths,” Davis said. “Finding points of similarity helps us find common ground and understand each other better.” "Gatherings such as this interfaith dinner provide a lowkey opportunity to share our ideas, likes and concerns and begin to build relationships," said Deborah Lonergan, a member of Christ Church UCC in Bethlehem. "Formal dialogue sessions are useful in giving us intellectual understanding of another point of view, but breaking bread allows us to get to know individuals, not concepts," Lonergan said. A dinnertime discussion can in some ways go further than a lecture to bring cultures and religions together. "I really think peace begins in small increments," Davis said. "If we can do this together as people rather than relying on politicians, it will be a better world."
Diversity in Israel
RABBI MOSHE RE’EM Temple Beth El
Last January I visited Israel. I spent one week of the trip attending a very special conference, the first of its kind in Israel, called Hope and Resilience: Innovative and Interdisciplinary Spiritual Care. The conference focused on spiritual care and was attended by a wide range of professionals; rabbis, nurses, doctors, and hospital chaplains. The conference was attended by Jews and Christians, secular and religious individuals, North Americans, Europeans, and Israelis. The great degree of diversity at the conference
led to stimulating and, at times, difficult discussions. You can imagine how topics such as G-d and palliative care might spark diverse views. One of the unforeseen challenges posed by the conference was the degree of diversity among the attendees. If you didn’t speak Hebrew and a session was conducted in Hebrew, even with an English translation, what cultural norms were assumed and did they exclude non-Israeli or nonJewish participants? Do Jews and Christians approach spirituality differently? How does spirituality differ from religion? While the challenges of diversity have always interested me, this past trip to Israel the issue of pluralism somehow seemed to be omnipresent. Let me share with you a few anecdotes from my trip that illustrate this point. I arrived in Israel just in time for my niece’s Bat Mitzvah. The ceremony took place at a popular Israeli resort. Although the field school in which we stayed was “secular” and not religious, a rabbinic cleric was appointed by the Israeli government to “oversee” any
religious matters conducted on the grounds. The rabbi’s job was to insure that Kashrut was observed in the kitchen and to make sure that any religious ceremonies conducted on the premises using a Torah scroll fell within the scope of Jewish religious law. A young woman reading from the Torah, from his perspective, would not be allowed and so the ceremony had to be conducted somewhat surreptitiously. Well, not exactly secretively, but we did have to be mindful of the fact that the rabbinic cleric might enter our service at any moment to check to make sure that all was “kosher.” Now, none of the attendees of that Bat Mitzvah would have considered themselves Reform, Reconstructionist or Conservative. All would probably have self-identified as Zionist Orthodox. The point is, that even within Orthodoxy itself in Israel there exists great diversity, and challenges come along with it. On another occasion, the blessing of diversity emerged as a pleasant surprise. While I was in Israel, a family member had fallen and broken a hip. I
went to do bikkur cholim, to visit them in the hospital. At Shaarei Tzedek, on the orthopedic floor, there were three patients to a room. As you can imagine, with three patients to a room there is not a great deal of privacy. There is, however, a great deal of diversity. There are Jewish patients that are ultra-religious. There are
amazing. It highlighted the fact that day in and day out there are plenty of Jews and Arabs that interact in very positive ways. Diversity has has the potential for great benefits, not only conflict. Diversity is everywhere in Israel. What are the various “tribes” that make up Israeli society? How do they interact? Why is it important?
Diversity has the potential for great benefits, not only conflict. patients that are Jewish and entirely secular. There are Muslim Arab patients. In this particular family member’s room there was a Jewish patient from an institution that specializes in mental health issues. No family members came to visit her. One day, though, an ArabIsraeli employee from the institution that the woman came from visited her. The degree of empathy, care, and understanding that the Arab Israeli care provider showed toward this Jewish woman who had broken her leg was
What relevance does that have for us here? Most communities contain a greater or lesser degree of diversity. The degree to which people make an effort to understand worldviews that diverge from their own, and are willing to make accommodations, will ultimately determine the strength of that community. Whether in Israel or in Allentown, Jews stand to benefit by understanding what Donniel Hartman has called the various “Tribes of Israel.”
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Divas on the Bima to perform at BAS Gala
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By Rabbi Daniel Stein Bnai Abraham Synagogue Bnai Abraham Synagogue is proud to present four acclaimed cantors in a gala concert on June 6 at 6:30 p.m. Divas on the Bima will feature cantors Magda Fishman, Alisa Pomerantz-Boro, Elizabeth Shammash and Jen Cohen. Magda Fishman is the cantor at Temple Beth El in Stamford, Connecticut. As a cantor and singer-musician, Fishman, a mezzo-soprano, brings a vibrant and unique experience to Jewish music and synagogue life through a unique blend of traditional and contemporary styles. Over the years, she has built a large and loving following among a wide spectrum of audiences. Her repertoire includes liturgical masterpieces, Israeli songs, jazz, musical theater and her own
compositions. Alisa Pomerantz-Boro serves as the cantor of the magnificent Congregation Beth El in Voorhees, New Jersey. In May 1991, Pomerantz-Boro was among the first 14 women to be inducted into the Cantors Assembly, the professional organization of Conservative cantors and currently serves as vice president. Her folkinfluenced style has been praised for its earthiness and intensity. Cantor Elizabeth Shammash is the cantor at Tiferet Bet Israel in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. Her work in opera has taken her to major roles with companies including New York City Opera, Boston Lyric Opera, Wolf Trap Opera, Berkshire Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Israel Vocal Arts Institute in Tel Aviv, and the Beijing Music Festival. Shammash feels fortunate to have
found her calling in the vast and beautiful world of Jewish music and loves to share this passion with congregants of all ages, in music of diverse genres, connecting them to our rich liturgical and cultural tradition. Easton native Cantor Jen Cohen will also perform. Now serving as cantor at Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, Cohen’s music explores the intersection of her pop music background and the traditional melodies of the synagogue. Cohen was proud to receive the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism Kol Isha Award. We hope you will join us for an evening of music from four incredible women! Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $54. To get your tickets or to learn more about this event, call 610-258-5343.
CBS to host dinner and a movie By Judith Rodwin Congregation Brith Sholom Please join us on April 3 at 5 p.m. for an 1890s dinner setting the stage for the big screen showing of “Hester Street.” Our resident film maven, Barbara Platt, returns to bring greater light to the relevance of the movie. "Hester Street," tells the story of Jewish immigrants who come to the Lower East side in 1896 from Europe, as did so many of our ancestors. So, it is the familiar story of the evolution of cultures, ambition, sex roles and religious traditions. Familiar, yet special, for as Wikipedia says “The film is noteworthy for its detailed reconstruction of Jewish immigrant life in New York at the turn of the century—much of the dialogue is delivered in Yiddish with English subtitles." In addition, Carol Kane's lead character poses a "still-provocative synthesis as she discovers her own self-assertion on behalf of her right to maintain a traditional identity in an aggressively modern setting.” This is a good movie to share with teens who might be less familiar with this aspect of Jewish history. Please feel free to bring family and friends to enjoy this special evening! Tickets for this event are $20 per person, which includes the dinner, movie and discussion. To learn more, contact Congregation Brith Sholom at 610866-8009. 12 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Israeli entrepreneurs try to make it big in the Big Apple
Left, Arie Abecassis and Eyal Bino are the co-founders of ICONYC Labs, an "accelerator program" that helps launch Israeli startups in New York. Right, Arie Abecassis at co-working space AlleyNYC, which is home to ICONYC Labs.
By Beth Braverman Jewish Telegraphic Agency The hoodie-clad millennials tap furiously at their laptops. They’re perched on colorful couches, or sitting at long, communal tables, munching on Fruit Loops from the built-in dispenser in the open, subway-tiled kitchen. In other words, AlleyNYC is your typical co-working space. There are plenty of international workers here, yet the space is quintessentially New York with its upscale, industrial look and “work hard, play hard” philosophy, complete with biweekly happy hours. Its location in Chelsea, on the West Side of Manhattan, makes it a hub for local entrepreneurs, particularly those in the tech scene. That cachet made it the perfect home for ICONYC Labs, a new accelerator program that helps Israeli startups launch their businesses stateside. Israel has earned a global reputation as “Start-Up Nation” for its lively tech scene — Israel is home to nearly 7,000 high-tech companies, and nearly 80 percent of those are startups, according to a report from the business information firm Dun & Bradstreet. But despite its track record of innovation, Israeli startups often struggle with finding local investors. Additionally, Israeli deals generally require entrepreneurs to cede a greater share of their companies than a typical American deal. So a main goal of ICONYC Labs is to connect Israeli entrepreneurs with New York inves-
tors. Additionally, the program helps Israelis adapt their pitches and products to better appeal to American investors, who typically have a longer decisionmaking process than their Israeli counterparts. “In America, it’s about building relationships over time, but that’s not something that’s in Israeli DNA,” says ICONYC co-founder Eyal Bino. “It’s definitely a mindset we are trying to change with our founders, and it’s not always an easy task.” But this incubator program isn’t just about generating money — through the shared workspace, the program also embeds Israeli startups in the city’s tech scene. “While they’re here, they’re mingling with the other entrepreneurs in the kitchen,” says cofounder Arie Abecassis. “They want to be here and get to know New York, and one of the goals of this program is to help them exponentially expand their social network in tech.” Other goals include providing mentorship, assistance with media relations and branding, as well as operations support on logistics like immigration, banking and accounting. In addition to these services, ICONYC Labs provides the startups with $20,000 and office space in AlleyNYC in exchange for a small equity stake in the firms. ICONYC Labs’ first cohort, which began last April and finished the end of October, consisted of Myndlift, a mobile health solution targeting those who suffer from ADHD; Flux, a smart agricultural product
enabling water-efficient growth of food and plants; DandyLoop, a cross-promotional marketplace for independent online stores to gain traffic; Clickspree, an adtech firm focused on video engagement and return for brands, and Gaonic, a platform for businesses to monitor Internet of Things data. While working with ICONYC Labs, the companies’ founders must spend at least a week each month in New York, although many stay longer. During the weeks they are all here, ICONYC hosts networking events and fireside chats with high-profile startup success stories. It also sets pitch meetings with potential investors and advisers. “At the end of the program, they’ll have the ability to expand their business to New York and raise money here,” Bino said. Going forward, the incubator will shorten the program to four months and accept companies on a rolling basis. ICONYC staffers sift through hundreds of applicants to select businesses to accept into the program — there’s no shortage, after all, of companies hoping to be the next Waze and make it big in the U.S. They put potential applicants through a serious vetting process, which includes outside experts assessing their business prospects and an investigation into their reputation in the Israeli startup community. They’re looking for companies that already have a viable product with the potential to scale in the United States, along with a committed team and a willingness to learn.
New leadership joins Congregation Am Haskalah By Rena Fraade Congregation Am Haskalah Congregation Am Haskalah, the Reconstructionist congregation of the Lehigh Valley, is excited to announce a new co-president. After almost five years of leadership, Scott Berman has been transitioning out of his role as co-president. Risa Dorfman-Thomas has stepped up to join Rachel Zane as our new co-president. Dorfman-Thomas has been a congregant at Am Haskalah for over three years. She has supported the Chesed committee for the last two years. She lives in Allentown, having been active in Jewish life in New Jersey, Massachusetts and Alaska previously. Dorfman-Thomas was raised in New Jersey, her family belonged to a Conservative congregation and she became a Bat Mitzvah at 12 years old. Dorfman-Thomas’s professional background has been
in business management and development, marketing, sales and training. She currently works as a personal chef in our area. She has a deep love for Judaism – both religious and spiritual. If you haven’t met DorfmanThomas yet, reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dorfman-Thomas is dedicated to keeping our congregation involved and happy, growing and learning, always welcoming newcomers, and sharing with our generous hearts and many talents.
the best part of my day.” It’s just a cup of coffee… but it means a lot to both of us.
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$1,629,531 raised as of 2.11.16 Because of your support of the 2016 campaign, we are able to help when help is needed, provide a safety net for those who must rely upon it, and nurture the core institutions that are the fabric of a rich and dynamic Jewish community.
THANK YOU. PRIME MINISTERS CIRCLE $100,000+ Ross Born° Wendy Born*° Robert and Bonnie* Hammel° Anonymous (1) KING DAVID SOCIETY $25,000 - $49,999 Leonard Abrams° Fischmann Family Fund° Roberto and Eileen* Fischmann Tama Fogelman* and Family° The Fraenkel Family° Dr. Harold and Sandra* Goldfarb° Robert J. and Susan* Grey Lisa Scheller* and Wayne Woodman TREE OF LIFE SOCIETY $18,000 - $24,999 The Deanne* and Arnold Kaplan Foundation KING SOLOMON CIRCLE $10,000 - $17,999 The Philip and Muriel Berman Foundation Hon. Alan and Donna* Black° Dr. Jeffrey and Jill* Blinder° Charles Cohen and Rebecca Binder* Seidel, Cohen Hof & Reid LLC° Daniel and Nancy Cohen Phillip and Ellen* Hof Chris and Tara Reid Jonathan and Iris* Epstein Gary Fromer and Dr. Carol Bub Fromer* Mark L. Goldstein and Shari Spark*° Robert and Judy* Auritt Klein Family Fund° Kobrovsky Family Fund° Elaine Lerner*° Orgler Family Fund° Dr. Richard and Barbara* Reisner° Mortimer S. and Vera M.* Schiff Foundation° Dr. Stuart A. and Janice* Schwartz BUILDERS OF ISRAEL $5,000 - $9,999 Dr. Marc and Aliette* Abo Sadie Berman Lion of Judah Endowment Fund* Nathan and Marilyn Braunstein° Dr. Sam and Sylvia* Bub° Andrew and Dr. Lisa* Ellis Arnan and Marlene* Finkelstein Susan Gadomski*° Dr. Jeffrey Gevirtz° Allen and Patricia* Gribben° Nat and Erica* Hyman Dr. Arthur and Jane* Kaplan° Bernard and Florence Kobrovsky Special Fund Dr. Wesley and Beth* Kozinn° Dr. Jeffrey and Kim Kramer Dr. Lawrence and Eva* Levitt° Stanley R. Liebman Estate Dr. William and Jane* Markson° Michael and Linda* Miller° Dr. Alan and Judith* Morrison° Sylvia and Herb Rosen Foundation Dr. Alex and Robin* Rosenau° Shaoli Rosenberg* Drs. Jarrod and Nicole* Rosenthal Lorrie Scherline*° Irwin and Ellen* Schneider° Mark and Deena* Scoblionko° Elizabeth Scofield* Edith Simon*° Dr. Frank and Tama* Tamarkin Dr. Michael and Eileen* Ufberg° Dr. Robert and Carol* Wilson Dr. Israel and Valeska* Zighelboim Anonymous (3) SABRA CIRCLE $2,500 - $4,999 Dr. Houman and Lori* Ahdieh Leonard and Beverly* Bloch Foundation° Lisa Block* Dr. David and Sara-Jane* Bub Dr. Ian and Patricia* Carlis° Dr. Mitchell Cooper and Rebecca Axelrod-Cooper*
Scott and Beth* Delin Glenn and Jan* Ehrich Veronica Fischmann* Dr. Jay and Fran* Fisher Dr. Peter Fisher and Kathy Zimmerman* Dr. Gene and Ann* Ginsberg° Dr. Mark and Carmyn Gittleman° Dr. Lawrence and Vicki* Glaser° Dr. Ronald J. and Linda* Glickman° Barry and Carol R.* Halper° Dr. Steve and Audrey* Kanoff Martin and Judy* Krasnov° Stuart and Lynda* Krawitz Dr. Harold and Linda* Kreithen° Robert and Roberta* Kritzer Dr. Richard and Roberta* London° Dr. Moshe and Lisa* Markowitz Ryan and Claudia* Mattison Dr. Jay and Marla* Melman° Dr. Holmes and Jeannie* Miller Dr. Michael and Cary* Moritz Dr. Michael and Ruth* Notis° Drs. Steven and Nancy* Oberlender Dr. Noah Orenstein and Diana Fischmann Orenstein* Dr. Robert and Joanne* Palumbo Dr. Robert and Lota* Post° Rhoda Prager*° Judith Rodwin* Cathy Sacher*° Frances and Abraham Schwab Memorial Fund Ronald and Martha* Segel° Dr. Darryn and Lorey* Shaff Dr. Elliot Shear Jack and Amy* Silverman° Dr. Arthur and Audrey* Sosis° Dr. Jay E. and Margery* Strauss° Dr. David and Barbara* Sussman° Dr. Kenneth and Alla* Toff Arthur and Barbara* Weinrach° James and Linda* Wimmer° Larry and Carolyn Zelson Anonymous (1) GATES OF JAFFA $1,500 - $2,499 Alan and Sandy* Abeshaus Dr. Howard Altman Richard J. Mongilutz and Kelly Banach* Dr. Marc and Lauren* Berson° Dr. John Brown Lawrence Center Marilyn Claire*° Dr. William Combs Helen Cook*° Dr. Karen Dacey* Hon. Maxwell and Barbara Davison° Dr. Hal and Kimberly Folander Dr. Eric J. and Amy* Fels Jerome and Sally Frank Frank Penn Family Fund Dr. Ronald and Emily Freudenberger Dr. Henry and Monica* Friess and Family Shirley Furmansky*° Edyth Glickstein*° Dr. Gordon and Rose Lee* Goldberg° Dr. Marsha Gordon* Morris and Dyna Gorfinkel Memorial Fund Dr. David Greenberg Dr. Robert and Tracy Grob Bennett Grossman Drs. Harvey and Melissa* Hakim Esther Halperin*° Hausman Family Dr. Robert and Janice* Kaplan Drs. Andrew and Deborah* Kimmel Dr. Joshua and Teri* Krassen Dr. Robert and Stephanie* Kricun° Roberta Kritzer* Dr. Michael and Fay* Kun Ferne Rodale Kushner*° Merry Landis*° Dr. Michael and Carole* Langsam Dr. Brian LeFrock Dr. Paul and Diane* Lemberg and Family Mort and Myra Levy Philanthropic Fund Dr. Jay and Evelyn* Lipschutz° Lois Lipson*° Dr. Richard and Roberta* London° Dr. Eiran Mandelker Dr. Gerald and Ethel* Melamut° Robert and Betty* Mendelson Dr. Michael and Cary* Moritz Dr. Richard J. and Amy* Morse Taffi Ney*° Dr. Mark and Alice* Notis° Drs. Andrew and Flora* Pestcoe Rabbi Seth Phillips and Marge Kramer* Dr. Edward Rosenfeld Dr. Abraham and Nancy* Ross and Family Selma Roth* Dr. Michael and Lynn F.* Rothman Dr. Wayne Saunders Milton and Ronnie* Sheftel° Ruth Sheftel* Howard and Susan* Sherer
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Marshall and Nina* Silverstein° Dr. Raymond and Bonnie* Singer Dr. Ronald and Melissa Stein and Family Fred and Barbara* Sussman Fred and Barbara K.* Sussman° Dr. Adam and Elysse* Teichman Dr. Ryan and Carah* Tenzer Dr. Edward Tomkin and Sandra Wadsworth Dr. Darren and Stefanie* Traub Dr. Marc and Susan* Vengrove° Dr. Benjamin and Ellen Weinberger° Steven and Margo* Wiener° Susan Wild* Dr. Eric and Helaine* Young Dr. Michael Zager Dr. Larry and Debra Zohn° Anonymous (2) CHAVERIM $500 - $1,499 Dr. Arthur Altman° Steven Aronsky Dr. Richard and Judith* Aronson° Marietta Banach* Tama Lee Barsky* Dr. Sherri Bassner* Dr. Harry and Donna Berger Steven Bergstein and Nanci Goldman Bergstein° Larry and Susan W.* Berman° Ronald and Linda* Black° Dr. Robert and Linda Bloch Rance and Sheryl* Block° Michael and Rita* Bloom° Rachel Boonswang* Evelyn H. Brown*° Richard and Kira* Bub Gordon Campbell Harvey and Elizabeth* Cartine Richard and Ruth* Derby° Eduardo and Jeanette* Eichenwald° Dr. Mark and Ellyn* Elstein° Henriette Engelson*° Dr. Thomas and Roni* Englert and Family° Joan Epstein*° Dr. Neil and Ellen* Feldman Finkelstein Family Fund Charles Fletcher Memorial Fund Jules and Tama Fogelman Family Fund Dr. Ari and Margee* Forgosh Hon. Robert and Ronnie Freedberg° Brian and Alyssa* Goldberg Dr. Gordon and Rose Lee* Goldberg° Barry Goldin and Cheri Sterman* Dr. Eric Goldman Drs. Zach and Andrea* Goldsmith Irwin and Diane Greenberg° Alan Greenberger° Ralph and Anna Mae* Grossman° Jay Haltzman° Ronald and Joan* Harrison Arthur and Susan* Hochhauser° Les and Ricky* Hochhauser Dr. Arthur and Barbara* Hoffman° Dr. David and Susan Hyman° Dr. Joseph Jacobs Carol Jaspan* Rabbi Allen Juda° Andrew and Nancy Kahn Seth and Kathi* Katzman° Dr. Jay and Phyllis* Kaufman° Dr. Corey and Lisa* Kirshner Drs. William and Susan* Kitei° Maxine S. Klein*° Dr. Elwood and Marilyn* Kolb° Paul and Dore Kottler Judy Krasnov*° Linda Kreithen*° Karen Kuhn*° David and Jordan Kurlansik Beth Kushnick* Dr. Hartley Lachter and Dr. Jessica Cooperman* Lawrence M. Lang and Elaine N. Deutch* Dr. Paul H. and Elaine* Langer° Gerson Lazar Family Fund Martha B. Lebovitz*° Dr. Henry and Susan* Lehrich Dr. Edward Levy Dr. Lisa* and Rivki Lindauer Pam Lott* Ryan Mattison Dr. David and Robyn Meir-Levi Edith Miller*° Dr. Jonathan Munves Jay and Bobbi* Needle Marc Nissenbaum° Dr. David and Carole* Ostfeld° Leon and Elaine* Papir° Alan and Roberta* Penn° Henry and Phyllis* Perkin Allen Perlman Edward and Beth* Posner° Alison Post* Michael Prokup° Dr. Mitchell and Carol Rabinowitz° Elaine Rappaport-Bass*°
Dr. Max L. and Helen Robbins Dr. Howard and Lisa* Rosenberg° Joseph Rosenfeld and Jonathan Rosenfeld Adam and Penny* Roth and Family Dr. Charles and Sheila* Saunders° Marcia Schechter*° Nathan and Rusty* Schiff Dr. Michael and Heidi* Schiffman° Michael and Brenna Schlossberg Bernard and Sara* Schonbach Lillian Schwab Memorial Fund Dr. Andrew and Jacqueline Schwartz Schwartz Family Fund Dr. Howard and Tamara Selden Randi and Donald Senderowitz Fund Dr. Edward and Sally* Shapiro° Elliot and Linda Sheftel° H. Sheftel Memorial Fund Helaine Sigal* Dr. Howard and Diane* Silverman° Rabbi Michael Singer and Alexis Vega-Singer* Dr. Bruce and Ardeth* Smackey Richard and Allison Staiman Dr. Phil and Diane* Stein Dr. Richard and Arlene* Stein° Dr. Stanley and Manya Stein Kevin Stempel Dr. David and Laurie Strassman Dr. Michael F. Stroock° Fred and Barbara K.* Sussman Fund Dr. Mark and Abby* Trachtman Janet Ulman* Dr. Stephen and Beverly* Volk° Dr. Stanley and Judith* Walker Dr. Ronald and Beverly* Wasserman° Gerald Weisberger and Gail Ehrens* Deborah Weiss* David and Deborah* Wiener Jerry and Flossie* Zales° Richard and Cherie* Zettlemoyer Debbie Zoller* Anonymous (20) SHORASHIM $250 - $499 Karen Albert*° Vivian Appel* Dr. Mark Auerbach Miriam Bandler*° Dr. Peter and Barbara Barbour Patricia Beldon* R. Bill Bergstein° Sharon Bernstein* Andrew and Dr. Christy* Block and Family Dr. Neil and Christy Boderman° Sally Brau*° Dr. Scott Brenner Allen and Marjorie* Carroll Marcia K. Cohen*° Temple and Ann Coldren Natalie Coleman*° Coleman Family Fund Donald Denburg° Albert and Eva* Derby Dr. George and Roberta* Diamond° Marc and Judy* Diamondstein Richard Director Fred and Gail* Eisenberg Jack and Shirley* Engelson° Dr. Alex Feig° Marcia Felkay*° Dr. Ellen Field* Harry and Amy* Fisher Brian and Emily* Ford Phyllis Ford* Dr. Allan and Sandra* Futernick Renee Gittler*° Dr. Barry and Sharon* Glassman Rhoda Glazier*° Glazier Furniture° Ann Goldberg* Amy Golding* Libby Golomb*° Allan and Mary Goodman° Dr. H. William and Ruth* Gross° Lothar and Wendy Gumberich Mark and Alice Gutman Lisa Jeffery* James and Andrea* Jesberger Irving Kaplan° Dr. Binae Karpo* Iris Klein*° Suzanne Lapiduss* Olivier and Alice* Level Gilfrid and Michele* Levy Dr. Irwin and Linda Lewis Scott Lipson Herbert Litvin Robert and Shirley* Malenovsky° Marvi Family Fund Sandy Newman* Dr. Michael and Martina Obenski° Stephen Phillips Daniel Pomerantz Fund Seymour and Sandra* Preis° Raab Fund
Julian Rappaport and Toby Brandt° Jeffrey Rembrandt Harry and Carole* Rose° Rosenau Family Fund Michael and Linda Rosenfeld° Gerald and Selma Roth Family Fund Alexandra Sacher Philanthropic Fund Dr. Matthew and Keren* Saltz Joel and Linda Scheer Terry Schettini and Barbara Yudis* Jane Schiff* James and Sandra* Schonberger° Dr. Gregg Schubach Stuart and Susan* Shmookler Reba Scoblionko* Dr. Laurence and Mimi* Silberstein° Dr. Roger and Marna* Simon° Rabbi Melissa B. Simon* and Rena Fraade* Keneseth Israel Sisterhood° Sons of Israel Sisterhood° Adam and Stephanie* Smartschan Michael and Jane* Spitzer Dr. Mark Stein and Sharon Albert* Dr. Jonathan Tenzer Family Fund Robert and Marcia* Weill Joseph and Kristina* Weiner Rabbi David and Dr. Rachel* Wilensky Bernard and Adele* Wolensky° Bruce and Alicia* Zahn Zelickson Family Fund Dr. Robert and Susanna* Zemble Debby Ziev* Anonymous (17) KEHILLAH $100 - $249 Linda Adler* Richard and Maria* Ain Isabella Alkasov* Elaine Atlas*° Pnina Avitzur* Karen Bader*° Don and Robie* Barga Michael and Barbara* Bassano Belman Family Fund Dr. Neil Belman Millie Berg Memorial Fund Elaine Berk* Neal Berkowitz Scott Berman Dr. Jason and Roslyn* Birnbaum Dr. Joan Bischoff* Randi Blauth* Glenn and Melisa Block° Stephen and Ellen* Blumberg Amy Born Fund John Botzum and Miriam Harris* Botzum Joan Brody*° Victor and Leslie* Bunick Robert and Gail* Burger Betty Burian* Sara Camuti* Muriel Charon* Audrey Cherney*° Arnold Cohen Jerome and Audrey* Cylinder° Arianna Delin* Ben Delin Noah Delin Leah Devine* David and Cindy* Drill Dr. Abbott and Judy* D’ver° Barbara Einhorn* Lisa Ellis Fund Eleanor Extract* Samuel and Lynn* Feldman° Brad and Robyn* Finberg Harris and Sandi* Fine Michael Finley and Audrey Ettinger* Vivian Fishbone* Lance and Marian* Flax Atty. Jeffrey Fleischaker and Dr. Ophira Silbert* Julie Fraenkel Fund Dr. Michael and Traci Gabriel Murray and Linda* Garber° Jerome and Gloria* Ginsburg° Gary and Pat* Glascom Julia Goldberg* Brian and Judith* Goldman Mark Kennedy and Arlene Gorchov* Aaron Gorodzinsky Donald Greenberg Arlene Griffin*° Merle Grollman* Shirley F. Gross*° Tom and Rita* Guthrie° Marion Halperin*° William and Sharon* Hamilton Suzanne Harris* Alvin and Arlene* Herling° Marjorie Hertz* Syman and Anita* Hirsch Rima Hirsch* Stuart and Hope* Horowitz° Dr. Michael Hortner Michael and Tina* Imerman
Charles and Dale Inlander° Dr. Lewis and Joan* Katz Katz Family Daniel and Anne* Kaye Ludmila Khodorkovsky* Kimmel Family Fund Renee B. Kleaveland* Jerry Knafo Jeffrey Koch Alyssa Komarow* Dr. Arnold and Barbara* Kritz Ruth Kugelman*° Gary and Jennifer* Lader Dr. Samuel and Sharon* Land Peter and Madeline* Langman Mary Laronge* Frederick and Sherry Lesavoy° Leonard and Janice Levy Paul Levy and Helen Mack-Levy Joan Lichtenstein*° Boris and Ellen Lifschutz Elizabeth Lischner* Dr. Zalman Liss° Morton Litwak Dr. Henry and Pat Luftman Anne Lyons* Reba Marblestone Steven Markowitz° Susan Mellan Memorial Fund Eugene Meyer and Dr. Lisa Jean Todes* Janis Mikofsky* Gary and Diane* Miller° Judy Miller* Norman and Maxine* Miller° Natalie Millrod* Steven and Judy Molder Gladys Morgenstein*° Amy Morrison* Joyce Morse* Hank and Jill* Narrow Dr. Douglas and Ruth* Nathanson Howard and Jill Nathanson Jerome and Norma* Neff° Richard and Paula* Nelson Audrey Nolte* Robert Orenstein Debbie Ovitz*° Papir Family Fund Dr. Ilan and Sima Peleg Joseph and Eve* Peterson Dr. Peter Pettit Mark and Nina* Pinsley Adina Poresky Family Fund Patti Price* Abram and Alyssa Pure Martin Rapoport Eric Rappaport and Choty Andres* Rabbi Moshe and Adina Re’em Bruce and Enid* Reich David Reiff Ruth Reiter* Ira and Erica* Robbins Dr. Joel Rosenfeld Debra Ross* Ryan Sacher Philanthropic Fund Alan and Mary* Salinger° Gerald and Etta* Salman° Dr. Norman and Jett* Sarachek° Helene Rae Scarcia* Seith Schentzel Elana Schettini Fund Noah Schettini Fund Mike and Ellyn* Schindler Leon Schneider Ivan and Jill* Schonfeld Lewis Schor° Sally Schraden Lynne Shampain*° Adrian Shanker and Brandon Pariser Dr. Stephen Shore Stanley Shrager Dr. Andrew Shurman Barry Siegel° Sheldon and Lolly* Siegel Serita Silberg* Abigail Silverman* Jessica Silverman* Shelly Silverman* Micki Sinclair* Dr.Yehuda and Victoria* Smooha° Anne Snyder-Lyons* Susan Sosnow* Michael and Sybil* Stershic Rabbi Danielle Stillman David Vaida and Cantor Ellen Sussman* Matthew and Tracy* Sussman Kenneth Szydlow Norman Tahler Alan and Enid* Tope° Sharon Trinker* Dr. William and Rae Tuffiash° Dr. Mark and Gayle* Unger° Sharone and Lora* Vaknin Dr. Steven Vale and Dr. Jennifer Gell* Volk Family Fund Lynn Waite* Debbie Walther* David Weiner Martin and Frances* Weinberg Marjorie Weiss* Dr. Brian and Joy* Wernick Alfred Wiener Family Fund Norman and Sandra* Wruble Anonymous (28) GENESIS $1 - $99 Bonnie Abrams* Marvin and Sylvia* Adler Aaron Alkasov Gregory and Seli* Allen David and Randi* Anderson Scott Appleman Dr. Mark Auerbach David and Carmit* Bach Terrence Baker Jayson and Nurit* Baron Dr. Susan Basow* Marla Beck*
Delores Bednar* Michael Benioff Jan Bensimhon* Lillian Benton* Arthur Berg Stephanie Berman* David Bernfeld Jeffrey and Lisa* Bernfeld Marc and Sara* Bernstein Nancy Bernstein* Jerome Block Dr. Neil Blumenthal Igor and Alla* Bolotovsky Dr. Edward and Lila* Borshansky Gerald and Audrey Brandis Mark Breitbart Anita Brody* Ziona Brotleit* Neil and Diane Brown Jerry and Wilma Brucker Victor Bunick Joyce Camm* Dena Cedor* Fran Chizeck* Linda Chmielewski*° Elena Cohen Charity Fund Zachary Cohen Andrew Cook Dr. Karen G. Cook* and Caity Kanengiser Eric and Joanne* Daniels Edwin and Rabbi Melody* Davis Arianna Delin Fund Noah Ryan Delin Fund David Deneberg Betty Diamond* Marilyn Doluisio*° Sandra Dror* Vicki Duerr* Wendy Edwards* David Eiskowitz Joseph Epstein and Sheryl Feinstein Anita Evelyn* Inna Eyzerovich* E.G. Jerry Farris* Sharon Feldman* Brenda Finberg* Fredda Fischman* Claudia Fischmann Fund Diana Fischmann Fund Veronica Fischmann Fund Adele Fisher* Diane Fisher*° Terry Fisher Jennifer Fracas* Keith and Randi* Fraley Mark and Lauri* Franko Marla Freedman* Ann Friedenheim* Fran Gaines* Renee Galgano* Steve Gallin Laura Garber* Dr. Debra Garlin* Barbara Garrison* Arnon Gavish Gail Gelb* Nancy Gevirtz Memorial Fund Samuel Gevirtz Mitzvah Fund Libby Glass* Barry Glassman Shelley Goldberg* and Family Caroline Goldblat* Dr. David Goldner Dr. Malvin and Lillian* Goldner David and Tova* Goldstein Martin Goldstein° Nissa Gossom* Betty Greenberg*° Judith Greenberg* Rosaly Greenberger* Harry and Paula* Grines Herman and Maryalice Gross Lila Gross* Marcel and Sharon* Guindine Rabbi Yaacov and Devorah Halperin* Bernice Harris* Dolores Heller* Greg Heller-LaBelle Ted Herstein Philip Heyman Carolyn Hoffman* Dorothy Hoffman*° Robert and Arlene* Hurwitz Michael and Donna* Iorio Nina Jackson* Sondra Jacobs*° Harry and Grace Kagan Dr. Susan Kahlenberg* Honey Kandel* Sidney and Helene* Kaplan Harriet Karess* Lorraine Karess* Gary Kaskowitz Jeremy Katz Chaim and Carol Kaufmann Ilena Key* Lisa Kitterman* Paula Klein* Herbert Klivan Rosine Knafo*° Barry Konigsberg James and Kathleen Koones Lucy Korsky* Barbara Kowitz* Brett and Hilary Kricun Dr. Ronald Krisch Diane LaBelle* Jill Lang* Daniel and Daniella Leisawitz Maur and Doe* Levan° Bob and Ilene* Levin-Dando Lee and Mary Jane* Levine Rebecca Levine* Nancy Levy* Eileen Lewbart Julian Lewis Doris Lifland* Dr. David Lischner Raymond and Emilia* Livezey
Marylou Lordi* David and Marilyn* Louick° Jodi Lovenwirth* Rebecca Lovingood* Rochelle Lower* Caren Lowrey* Gloria Lowy* Daniel Lubczanski Art Lukoff Leonard Lutsky° Karla Lyle* Michael and Pam Magnan Ronald and Patricia Malvin Itzik and Elvira* Mana David and Susan* Manela Beth Marquardt* Aliza Martin* Chahine Marvi* Robert Mayer and Jan Muzycka* Debrosha McCants* Ruth Meislin*° Betty Mikofsky* (z”l) Julia Miles* Murray Milkman° Stanley Miller Susan Mohr* Daniel and Larisa Morgenbesser Anne Morris* Patricia Morris* Joseph Mozes Memorial Fund David and Jane* Much William and Sharon* Mullin Sharon Murdoch* Michael Mylnarsky Dr. Scott and Barbara* Naftulin Scott and Phyllis Naiden Mattathias Needle Myra Needle* Olivia Nolt* Richard Nolte Gary Nussbaum Maurice and Sandy* Ojalvo Cantor Jill Pakman* Cantor Jennifer Duretz Peled* Jay and Marlene* Plotnick Mildred Poliner*° Robert Prichard and Ellen Osher* The Purple Fund Alex and Nava Raban Loren Rabbat* Alan Raisman Linda Rich* Robert Rockmaker Dan and Mary* Rockman Theresa Romain* Phyllis Rothkopf* Steven and Ilene* Rubel Barbara Rudolph* Richard and Amy* Sams Deborah Sarachek* Mary Lou Scarf* Andrew Schaeffer Rachel Schmeidberg* Melvin and Pearl* Schmier Nolie Schneider* Donald Schwartz Dr. David Scoblionko Joy Scott* Lorraine Secouler* Marlee Senderowitz Fund Rissa Senderowitz Philanthropic Fund Robert and Maryanne Appleby-Shaffer Alan Shapiro Ezra Shapiro Shay and Allison* Shimon Greg and Pamela* Silverberg Silverman Family Fund Abigail Silverman Fund Jessica Silverman Philanthropic Fund Richard Silverman Debra Skinner* Monica Slutsky* Hillary Smith* Michael Smith Danielle Staiman Mitzvah Fund Alan and Lori Starr Lois Steinberg* Dr. Rima Strassman* Ronald Susser Norman and Cindy* Sussman° Carrie Tamutus* Sandi Teplitz*° David Teumim Donald Thaler Harriet Theodore* Earl and Sondra* Toland Saul and Sheila* Topolsky Sheila Topolsky* Nancy Trabin* Robert Trotner Ufberg Family Fund Inna Vishnevetsky* Eugene and Alice Ward Cantor Kevin Wartell° Micki Wechler Les and Anita* Weintraub Stuart Winnick Jon and Francine* Wolfe Barbara Wolfgang* Gladys Yass* Herman and Jessica* Ytkin Krista Ytkin* Douglas and Marcia* Zakin Dr. Jeffrey and Susan Zlotnick Anonymous (18)
Super Sunday Co-Chairs Emily and Brian Ford hit the phones.
Margaret Stettner and a Lehigh student make mezuzot at Cedarbrook.
Muhlenberg’s Israel fellow Or Adi helps students make calls.
Rabbi Melody Davis and Gary Lader get ready to make calls.
The donors noted above represent gifts to the JFLV 2016 Campaign for Jewish Needs. Every effort is made to correctly recognize all of our generous donors and honor their listing requests. If there are any inaccuracies or omissions, please call the Federation office at 610-821-5500. * Indicates an individual woman’s gift to the 2016 Campaign for Jewish Needs ° Indicates Silver Circle member
Daniela Viale helps gather the PJ kids for the musical program. HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 15
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Volunteers reach out on Super Sunday By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Marketing
The mitzvot were plentiful on Jan. 31 as volunteers gathered at the JCC and Cedarbrook Nursing Home for the Federation’s annual Super Sunday and Community Mitzvah Day. More than 100 volunteers, from Hillel students to retirees, made calls to community members to ask for their support of the Federation’s campaign. A contingent of BBYO students led the charge to thank the more than 800 donors who had already signed on this year. IronPigs mascot FeFe provided hugs, high fives and enthusiastic greetings to callers before dazzling at the PJ Library program. The kids gathered close as State Rep. Mike Schlossberg enthralled them with stories. Cantor Ellen Sussman and her husband David Vaida marched the kids through the halls to a musical beat. At Cedarbrook, another group of kids – Lehigh University Hillel students – paired with senior residents to hear a story from Rabbi Seth Phillips. The students and other volunteers helped the residents make their own mezuzot and then accompanied them to their rooms to affix to their doors. “There are few Jewish residents at Cedarbrook and little Jewish life, so being able to bring in this kind of program is so uplifting for the residents,” said Carol Wilson, clinical coordinator of older adult services at Jewish Family Service, which partnered with Federation on the mitzvah project. While plans to help out at Camp JCC had to be postponed because of the snow, another mini mitzvah day is being planned for May.
thank you for being a superhero
150 volunteers, 30 kids and 1 pig made Super Sunday a big success.
You made thank you calls to donors who had previously pledged their support to the 2016 campaign;
260 donors pledged $33,000 on Super Sunday totaling $103,000 for our Phone & Mail Division Thank you to everyone who volunteered and everyone who gave! You are supporting Jewish life in the Lehigh Valley, across the country and around the world. If you did not have an opportunity to answer the call on Super Sunday, please contact JFLV at 610-821-5500 or visit www.jewishlehighvalley.org.
Thank you to our sponsors & partners:
Balloons by Paulette
1. Federation President Mark H. Scoblionko, U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, Eric Fels, Barry Halper, Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski, Rabbi Seth Phillips, Federation Executive Director Mark L. Goldstein 2. JDS Interim Head of School Amy Golding, her daughter Lyla and FeFe 3. State Rep. Mike Schlossberg reads to PJ Library kids 4. Dave Eiskowitz, Patty Carlis, Patty Glascom 5. Suzanne Lapiduss and her granddaughter Madison 6. The Corsa Family 7. Carole Rose and Elaine Rappaport-Bass 8. Abby Trachtman, Mike Smith and Brenda Finberg prepare PJ Library projects 9. Robby and Laurie Wax 10. BBYO volunteers 11. FeFe and Moshe Markowitz 12. Irving Kaplan and Barry Siegel
TO SEE MORE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT www.jewishlehighvalley.org
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Purim poser: What is our fascination with villains?
By Edmon J. Rodman Jewish Telegraphic Agency Who is the Haman in your life? The person, who like the bad guy in the Megillah Esther that we read on Purim, schemes to bring you down. When we get to the place in the Megillah where Haman is forced to lead Mordechai though the streets of Shushan, saying, “This is what is done for the man whom the king desires to honor,” might we insert ourselves — like a video game — into an updated version of the story? Imagining that a seriously negative person in our life
is pushing our car down the street while we sit behind the wheel and wave? Not that your neighbor is Lord Voldemort or Dr. Moriarty, but what about that boss who is omitting your name from the organization chart? The relative who always leaves you off the guest list? That student spray-painting swastikas on your son’s fraternity house? Or just the forever interrupting “Rachel” from cardholder services? If we could only rid ourselves of them, then “Oh, today would merry, merry be.” Or would it? In the Purim story, we have sweet Esther, wise Mordechai and foolish Ahashveras, a pretty light cast of characters until the heavy, Haman, adds the contrast of evil and stirs the action. Beginning with childhood, we intuitively understand how boring fairy tales would be without the witch, and in Oz,
Dorothy would have no one to resist surrendering to. On Purim, Haman is the name we are supposed to blot out, yet clearly his name remains written in our minds. Could it be that in our own life stories, we need someone to mix it up with in order to progress? Does that explain our fascination, even attraction, to villains? Pirkei Avot, In “Ethics of the Fathers,” tells us that the “crown of a good name is superior to all.” So why do we seem so at ease with those who wear a black hat? We hate what Gordon Gecko of “Wall Street” stands for, but why do we know what he had to say about greed? Is it that we like to see the bad guy get his comeuppance, or do we just like seeing him coming up? Either way, the series finale of “Breaking Bad,” featuring the high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine dealing anti-hero Walter White, was watched by over 10 million viewers. In sports, when our team’s archrival comes to town, we get tickets to watch our heroes trounce the villains. But as we boo when their stars come to the plate, make a late hit or a flagrant foul, we hate them while at the same time understanding that without those bums, the fun would fade. In some of our favorite computer games, like “Grand Theft Auto,” we can even act out the ways of the villain. Watching my adult sons play one day, I was surprised to see how readily they took on the role of the evil protagonist. Trying it myself, driving my stolen car down the streets of Santa Monica, I soon became a regular Haman on Wheels, threatening the extinction of an entire population of pedestrians. Was that me grinning as I “accidentally” backed up over a man on the sidewalk? In Jewish texts, beginning with the snake in the Garden of Eden, we are tempted by the promises of the villain. At
Passover, as we take a drop of wine for each plague, the heart-hardened Pharaoh fills our seder tables, though afterward we ease the tension by singing about “frogs in his bed.” In synagogue, the words of the sorcerer Bil’am, who the rabbis called “harasha,” “the wicked,” even begins our prayers with the words “Mah tovu,” “How goodly.” At Hanukkah, without the severe decrees of King Antiochus, we would not only be minus a dilemma in December but a holiday, too. The biblical anti-hero calls to us as well. In discussions about the Torah portion Korach, which is named for the man who rebels against the authority of Moses, I sometimes find it easy to take his side. Wasn’t he just a misunderstood nonconformist? And though I first heard the story of the Golem as a child, I am still confused: Was the Rabbi Judah Loew of Prague’s monster of mud hero or villain? Or a little of both? The truth is that in villains we see a little of ourselves. An idea in Jewish thought is that we are all born with both an evil inclination, “Yetzer hara,” and a good one, “Yetzer hatov.” Does this internal duality connect us to Haman? Perhaps for the part of our psyches that conjures up ways to wipe out opposition before we consider how wrong it is. In terms of reconciling the villain inside, thankfully most of us don’t have Darth Vader as a dad. But we do imagine, and even know, what we look like in black. And on Purim, if you put a light saber in our hands, even if it is a toy, we know that somehow the force wouldn’t be any fun without the bad. Edmon J. Rodman is a JTA columnist who writes on Jewish life from Los Angeles.
Join the Pinemere Family and have your best summer, every summer! Limited $1000 First time camper grants available! www.pinemere.com 22 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
The Lehigh Valley gets ready to celebrate
love of learning
IGNITE A T H AT W I L L L A S T A L I F E T I M E
Congregation Keneseth Israel
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23 6:30 to 9 p.m. Purim Spiel and Service. Join us for an evening of fun to celebrate Purim!
Congregation Sons of Israel
THURSDAY, MARCH 24 5 to 7:30 p.m. Everyone is invited to Congregation Sons of Israel’s annual Family Purim Se’udah! For more information and to RSVP, please call our office at 610-4336089.
JCC of the Lehigh Valley
SUNDAY, MARCH 20 12:30 to 3 p.m. Community Purim Palooza 2016. In Advance: $10, at the Door: $12, children under 2: FREE. Wear a costume and join the festivities!
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 9 10 a.m. Hamentashen Make & Take and Recipe Swap. Join the Women’s Division to make your own hamentashen. $10 at the door. Visit www.jewishlehighvalley. org/women to learn more.
Temple Beth El
SUNDAY, MARCH 20 10:45 a.m. Let’s Make a Shpiel! Purim Shpiels by our religious school students. Open to the whole congregation.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 23 6:30 p.m. Begin your evening with the Costume Challenge with USY. Come dressed in your Purim finest! The Megillah Reading will be at 6:30 p.m.; the Family Megillah Reading will be in in the sanctuary until 7:30 p.m. The complete Megillah reading will be in the chapel. We will finish the evening with the Midrasha Carnival at 7:30 p.m. Games, prizes, and dessert! The entire program is free.
demonstration. It is traditional to give gift baskets on Purim which have a baked good, a fruit and a beverage. To participate in the Cookie Swap, please send your recipe along with your RSVP to Cassie Mulligan by email at caasisine@yahoo. com or call her at 484-894-0240. Please bring five dozen of your favorite home-baked cookies to share. A light lunch will be served.
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THURSDAY, MARCH 24 7:15 a.m. Shacharit, Megillah Reading and Breakfast Seudah. For questions and complete information, contact Ilene Rubel at Ilene@bethelallentown.org or Shari Spark at email@example.com or call 610-435-3521.
Temple Covenant of Peace
SATURDAY, MARCH 19 6:30 p.m. The Purim King: A Purim Play. TCP proudly presents the consummate Purim schpiel –“The Purim King!” We will sing and dance the Purim story through parodies based on the music of “The Lion King.” The evening will begin with the show at 6:30 p.m. followed by a SouperSupper, a Costume Parade and a festive array of hamentashen, desserts, fruit and beverages. Donations gratefully accepted. SUNDAY, MARCH 20 12:30 p.m. How to Bake Hamentashen & Purim Cookie Swap. Join us to make hamentashen for Purim! This is definitely an activity which your children and grandchildren will enjoy. This is a hands-on, bake and eat HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 23
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Me, Sabah and JDC By Naomi Levin American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Editor’s Note: The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) is an overseas partner of the Federation. Naomi Levin is a program specialist in Global Immersive Experiences at JDC Entwine, an initiative that offers service experiences in Jewish communities around the world, educational events and programs and leadership development opportunities. Growing up as the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor always seemed normal. Just like the slight Polish accent I couldn’t detect or the fact that my 100-year-old grandfather exercised every morning, none of it seemed weird, special or out of the ordinary. As I grew up I learned that my grandfather and his life were not normal or ordinary at all. Everyone didn’t have a Holocaust-surviving, money-donating, businessgrowing, daily-exercising, 17-grandchildren-loving or book-writing grandfather, or Sabah as I called him. My Sabah, William Ungar, also known as Wolf, was born in 1913 in the small town of Krasne, Poland. He grew up in a big Jewish family and eventually became an engineering instructor at a technical high. In 1939 he was in the Polish army and was injured; after, he was kept on as an engineer instructor during the German occupation. During his time as an engineering instructor, his student Edward Wawer gave him false Aryan identification papers. In line with history, as millions of Jews were rounded up, Sabah’s entire family – including his wife and baby son among them – were exterminated by the Nazis. Sabah hid in a barn and was then taken to a labor camp, Janowska. With a bit of luck and many coincidences, my Sabah was able to escape the camp by joining in line with a group of prisoners who were exiting the camp, forced to desecrate Jewish cemeteries. While at the cemetery he somehow managed to sneak away and hid under a bush until dark. After his escape from Janowska, Sabah was graciously hidden by a superintendent of a building that would soon be occupied by the Gestapo. Until the war ended, for 10 months straight, Sabah hid in the basement cellar of this building in a coal bin. My Sabah always used to say he survived the Holocaust with a bit of luck, his education, many coincidences and faith
in God. But this is where the real story of William Ungar begins. In his memoir “Destined to Live,” he writes “Sam [his friend] put me in touch with the Joint Distribution Committee, a Jewish rescue organization based in America. One day a food package unexpectedly arrived from them, along with a questionnaire asking if I had any relatives in the United States.” After he survived this unthinkable nightmare, my Sabah was saved by none other than our JDC. Sabah goes on to explain how he made the dangerous journey to get on the first boat carrying survivors out of Europe: “A few days later Manya [his niece and sole surviving relative] and I were on our way to Bremenhaven to sail on the SS Marine Flasher. We were among the first boatloads of Holocaust survivors to leave Europe for the United States ... Before we boarded I bought a large round loaf of dark bread and hid it under my jacket ... It was going to be a long trip, and I was determined to start my new life with body and soul intact. That life started on May 19, 1946.” This new life that my Sabah speaks of was only made possible by JDC. I always knew my Sabah was helped by a Jewish assistance organization but it was not until I started working at JDC did the fact that JDC helped him truly hit me – not only that, but I was able to find proof of the life-saving assistance JDC provided. Just a few months ago, the same week I had accepted my job at JDC, I was helping my mom clean items from my grandparents’ house. Sitting on the floor going through a pile of trash, my mind wandered as I sorted recyclables. My thoughts drifted to my new job: What would it be like? Was it the right fit for me? How would this decision impact the rest of my life? I was mostly thinking of my grandparents and how I wished they could know of the job I had just accepted. Just at that moment, I picked up a booklet, almost throwing it out and four capital letters on the front page caught my eye: A – J – D – C. As I looked closer I saw they read “American Joint Distribution Committee.” This was the title of this booklet, and underneath it read, “Operations in U.S. Zone Germany 1948.” My jaw dropped as I realized
this booklet came from my Nana and Sabah’s house – and of course it did: They were highly involved in the struggle to free Soviet Jewry. I felt this was a message: My grandparents had found a way to convey to me their support and connection to my new job at JDC. After bringing this booklet to the JDC Archives, I realized it was a piece of history JDC wanted but did not yet have. This led to me to search for my Sabah in the JDC Archives. To my shock, Linda Levi, director of global archives at JDC, and I discovered a passenger list from the SS Marine Flasher, my Sabah’s life saver. Bringing in that booklet gave me the biggest present in return: my personal archives. Seeing my Sabah’s name “Ungar, Wolf” on the list truly shook me to my core. To have this piece of my family history, this evidence of the trials and tribulations he had gone through and the interconnectedness of the Jewish
Naomi Levin people is incredible. It’s not every day you come from work having just found a piece of your personal family history. Until I began working at JDC, I did not realize the critical lifesaving role the organization played in my grandfather’s life and hence in mine. I am blessed to have connected the dots between the
opportunity I currently have here and the opportunities afforded to my Sabah. This newfound family artifact touched my heart and my family’s heart. It brought me closer to my job and, ultimately, to my Sabah. JDC gave me a piece of my family history – and at the end of the day, it’s the whole reason I’m standing here today.
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 25
Like Queen Esther, modern-day Jewish women making a difference
Left, The photo posted on Instagram by Miss Israel (far left), in which Miss Lebanon (second from left) also appears. Right, From left to right, the mothers of the Israeli teenagers who were kidnapped and murdered by Hamas last summer: Irish Yifrach, Bat-Galim Shaar, and Rachel Frenkel. By Alina Dain Sharon JNS.org Most Jewish women have at
least one childhood memory of wearing a Queen Esther costume for Purim. Esther’s image is ubiquitous in the col-
lective Jewish consciousness, not only as the character in the Purim story who outwitted the villain Haman in order to save the Jewish people from annihilation, but as a symbol of a strong and intelligent woman. No wonder so many little girls want to dress up as Esther. Like Esther before them, there are plenty of modernday Jewish women leaving a strong mark on our society. Admittedly, the following
list only scratches the surface of Jewish women making a difference, but here is a sampling of those who have made headlines for channeling their inner Queen Esther. Jennie Rosenfeld: trailblazing spiritual advisor Jennie Rosenfeld, a native of Riverdale, N.Y., began a new role as manhiga ruchanit (spiritual advisor) in 2015 in the Israeli community of Efrat.
Rosenfeld is the first woman in the history of Israel to fill such a role. Efrat’s decision to name a female spiritual leader has been met with controversy in Israel, whose government does not recognize women rabbis. But Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, the chief rabbi of Efrat, said he made the decision because Jews “are living in very special times in which religious education extends to women on a very high level.” “I am standing on the brink of something very exciting, and there is a sense of hopefulness that this will lead to good for the Jewish community and help bring people closer,” Rosenfeld, 34, recently told JNS.org. Scarlett Johansson: principled actress
Jewish-American actress Scarlett Johansson took a principled stand last year when she stepped down as a global ambassador for the non-governmental organization Oxfam International, which had criticized her for serving as a pitch woman for SodaStream, the beveragecarbonation company that has a factory in Judea and Samaria. Johansson said in an interview with the British Observer newspaper that she was “aware of that particular factory before I signed [with SodaStream]. And it still doesn’t seem like a problem—at least not until someone comes up with a solution to the closing of that factory and leaving all those people [working there] destitute.” She added that the SodaStream factory, which employs many Palestinians and has an on-site mosque, is “a model for some sort of movement forward in a seemingly impossible situation.” Jewish women Continues on page 27
26 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
Iris Yifrach, Bat-Galim Shaar, Rachel Frenkel: mothers turning tragedy to unity
Doron Matalon and Yityish Aynaw: Miss Israels making a statement
After Hamas’s kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens Eyal Yifrach, Gilad Shaar, and Naftali Frenkel in 2014, their mothers, despite their overwhelming grief, decided to campaign for Jewish unity. Since then, Iris Yifrach, Bat-Galim Shaar and Rachel Frenkel, in partnership with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, have launched the Jerusalem Unity Prize in memory of their sons. The prize of up to 100,000 shekels (approximately $25,600) will recognize “the efforts of organizations and individuals in Israel and the Diaspora who actively work to advance unity throughout Jewish communities and Israeli society.” “For many years, Eyal talked about unity and connecting to others,” Iris Yifrach said. “The most appropriate way to pay tribute to his life is to commit ourselves to these ideals.”
Continues from page 26
This year’s Miss Israel, Doron Matalon, was accused of photo-bombing Miss Lebanon Saly Greige, who distanced herself from her competitor due to criticism of the photo in Lebanon. But Matalon denied wrongdoing and struck a more peaceful tone on the relations between enemy nations, lamenting, “Too bad you cannot put the hostility out of the game. “I hope for change and I hope for peace between us, and even just for three weeks, just between me and her,” Matalon told NBC News. “We need to remember that we represent the country and the people, not the government and not the political issues.” In 2013, Yityish Aynaw became the first EthiopianIsraeli contestant to win the Miss Israel beauty pageant. A former Israeli army officer, Aynaw made aliyah with her family as a child. During the competition, she told the judges that civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is her hero, saying that King “fought for justice and equality, and that’s one of the reasons I’m here.” The late Bess Myerson: only Jewish Miss America The only Jewish Miss America, Bess Myerson, died in 2014 at the age of 90. Myerson is known not just for winning the 1945 Miss America crown, but for defending her Jewish identity during the competition. Organizers asked Myerson to change her name to Betty Merrick, but she refused. Later on in life, Myerson campaigned against anti-Semitism for the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and was named ADL’s Woman of the Year in 1965.
Hessy Taft: ‘Aryan’ baby Eighty years ago, 6-monthold Hessy Taft’s picture was selected by the Nazis, reportedly chosen by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels himself, as the image of the ideal Aryan baby. The picture was distributed on postcards far and wide, and nobody—the Nazis included—ever discovered that this puffy-cheeked baby was actually Jewish. Perhaps the sweetest revenge of all is that Taft is still alive and still working, as a professor of chemistry in New York. Taft, 81, never intended to be a symbol for the survival of the Jewish people, but she has become just that. Rose Marchick: prolific foster mother Rose Marchick is the biological mother of three and adop-
tive mother of two, but her ma-ternal instinct extends far beyond that. As of last year, she had been a foster mother to more than 150 children over the course of nine years in Olathe, Kansas. Marchick’s foster home is one of the only homes in the area that will take in severely troubled children, and it’s the only Jewish-run foster home. The foster children themselves are usually not Jewish, but they are always invited to Shabbat dinner, lunch, and even synagogue. She keeps accessible a bookshelf of Judaic wisdom—and books of other religions—to offer spiritual guidance to the youths. “The kids need a home, and we have one,” Marchick told JNS.org last year. “It’s no more complicated than that.” Or Cohen: first female commander of an Israeli Navy vessel Israel Defense Forces Capt. Or Cohen, who is currently a navigation officer on a missile boat, will become deputy chief of a patrol boat pending final confirmation by the Israeli Navy’s commander Maj.-Gen. Ram Rothberg, who gave the initial approval in November 2014. This is the first time a woman has been appointed as a vessel commander in the Israeli Navy. “My life’s dream is coming true,” Cohen said. “I’m very excited and I’m grateful for the opportunity and the trust the senior command has in me. As an IDF officer, I believe in the integration of women into meaningful combat roles and I’m glad that I’ve been given the chance to have influence.” Gillian Rosenberg: member of anti-Islamic State fighters Canadian-Israeli Gillian Rosenberg, 31, stunned the world in 2014 with the announcement that she had joined Kurdish forces in their fight against the Islamic State
Rose Marchick (center) has been a foster mother to more than 150 children with severe emotional disorders over the last nine years. terror, becoming the first nonIraqi woman to do so. Rosenberg later put fears to rest by denying reports that Islamic State had captured her. “[The Kurds] are our brothers. They are good people. They love life, a lot like us [Israelis], really,” Rosenberg, a former Israel Defense Forces soldier, told Israel Radio. Leora Maccabee Itman: community-building social entrepreneur In August 2014, NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation and the Natan Fund announced three recipients for the 2014 Natan/ NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs. Among the winners was Leora Maccabee Itman, founder of TC Jewfolk, a start-up that uses social media and communitybased journalism to connect, engage, and inspire young Jews in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, Minnesota. TC Jewfolk promotes what it calls “a thousand ways to be Jewish,” bringing myriad Jewish voices together to reflect and forge diverse connections to local and global Jewish life. Itman is also an attorney at Maslon, Edelman, Borman & Brand, LLP.
Violet Spevack: author of newspaper column spanning five decades On Jan. 30, 2015, writer Violet Spevack announced her retirement after more than 2,500 columns over the course of 50 years for the Cleveland Jewish News. The 98-year-old Spevack’s “Cavalcade” column is believed to be one of the longest continuously published weekly columns in America. “I’ve had the time of my life covering our Jewish community through the lens of my society column,” Spevack wrote in her final column. “I can’t thank you all enough for reading my columns and most of all, for letting me into your homes every week.”
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 27
Italy releases classified documents related to Nazi war crimes Jewish Telegraphic Agency The Italian government has released thousands of previously classified documents related to fascist and Nazi war crimes committed in Italy during World War II. On Feb. 16, the historical archives of the Chamber of Deputies put an index of some 13,000 pages of material on its website. The documents concerned specifics of crimes ranging from anti-Jewish persecution to massacres of civilians that in total resulted in 15,000 deaths. Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, called the move a “historic breakthrough.” The documents were declassified by a par-
liamentary commission after it investigated the concealing of files related to the crimes. Specifically, the commission had dealt with what was dubbed the “cabinet of shame” – a wooden cabinet discovered in 1994 in a storeroom of the military prosecutor’s headquarters in which 695 files on war crimes had been hidden for decades. Original documents were hidden in the cabinet. Users can consult the online index and request digital copies of specific documents. Opening the cabinet of shame to the public, Gattegna said, “fills a serious gap and announces the start of a new season of awareness about the crimes and responsibilities of fascism and Nazism in Italy.”
Refugees in Greece get medical equipment from Jewish-funded group Jewish Telegraphic Agency A New York-based humanitarian organization, funded by several Jewish groups, has begun supplying a Greek island with desperately needed medical equipment to help cope with the influx of tens of thousands of refugees. The Afya Foundation has already dispatched a container full of aid to hospitals and rescue organizations on the island of Lesbos, said the foundation’s executive director, Danielle Butin, who has just returned from a visit to the island to assess the needs. The situation she found was dire: Hospital wings stand empty for of lack of equipment, doctors lack medicine to treat the ill and Greek Coast Guard boats that are pulling drowning refugees out of the sea don’t have basic resuscitation equipment like defibrillators. “The simply don’t have enough medical supplies and
equipment,” Butin said. Over the past year, hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants, most of them from Syria, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan, have landed on Lesbos in the northern Aegean Sea as they try to reach Europe. Afya — which means “good health” in Swahili — has in the past sent medical supplies for humanitarian relief to Haiti, Ghana, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Malawi and Sierra Leone. “We decided on this trip that our response is going to be to send as much as possible and we want to support the already existing systems with concrete supplies to benefit the locals and the refugees,” said Butin. In Lesbos, Butin said she saw a newly renovated hospital standing empty, because local authorities don’t have the equipment to run it, while the existing medical facilities are stretched beyond their abilities. She returned to New York with dozens of pages of handwritten lists in Greek of the supplies each hospital department was short of.
The first shipment was funded by the Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, a coalition of American Jewish groups led by the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, an overseas partner of the Jewish Federation of the Lehigh Valley. The coalition has so far raised more than $1.2 million to fund projects dealing with the Syrian refugees, according to the the JDC, including funding to the Israeli aid agency IsraAid, which has been operating in Greece since September, providing medical and psychological assistance to the refugees. Israel also donated 1.5 tons of medication to the Greek Ministry of Health. Butin said she is trying to raise further funds for additional shipments and has already had “extraordinary support from the Jewish community and [New York-area] synagogues.” “We are trying to raise a couple hundred thousand dollars, the goal is to raise as much money as possible to keep the containers flowing,” she said.
British government to prevent publicly funded bodies from boycotting Israeli goods Jewish Telegraphic Agency Publicly funded authorities in Britain will be prevented from boycotting Israeli goods under new government procurement guidelines. The new regulations will be announced by Cabinet Office minister Matthew Hancock during an upcoming visit to Israel, the Guardian reported on Feb. 15. According to the guidelines, such boycotts are considered by the government ministers to be “inappropriate, outside where formal legal sanctions, embargoes and restrictions have been put in place by the government," the Guardian reported. Plans for the guidelines were first announced in October. “We need to challenge and prevent these divisive town hall boycotts," Hancock said, adding that the guidelines "will help prevent damaging and counterproductive local foreign poli28 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
cies undermining our national security.” A spokesman for Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn told the Jewish Chronicle that the guideline plan is "an attack on local democracy." “People have the right to elect local representatives able to make decisions free of central government political control," the spokesman said. "That includes withdrawal of investments or procurement on ethical and human rights grounds." The spokesman added: "This government’s ban would have outlawed council action against apartheid South Africa." Corbyn has been accused of being anti-Israel. He has publicly endorsed a blanket arms embargo on Israel and the boycott of its universities involved in weapons research. Among the publicly funded bodies affected by the guidelines are councils, universities and National Health Service trusts.
The family that makes kosher together
Jonathan Powers stands outside the kosher cafeteria at Muhlenberg College.
By Susan Snyder The Philadelphia Inquirer At Muhlenberg College's dining hall, Jonathan Powers turns on the ovens, makes sure the eggs contain no blood spots, and inspects the broccoli and cauliflower for forbidden pests. They are some of his duties as the Allentown college's mashgiach, a Jew who supervises a food establishment to make sure the dietary laws of his faith are followed. "We're here to make sure everything is kosher," explains Powers, 41, "and that all the food that comes in is kosher." The college hired him five years ago when it opened two kosher food stations in its new dining hall in an effort to better serve Jewish students. For Powers, the work is a family tradition; his mother, Louise, 66, is a kosher supervisor at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa., and his father, Mark, 66, holds the job at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster. Nearly a third of Muhlenberg's 2,200 students are Jewish, among the highest percentages of any non-Jewish college in the country, and just behind Barnard College. "I'm an observant Jewish student, and I came to Muhlenberg College because it had kosher food," Eli Russ, 21, a junior public health major from Westchester County, N.Y., said as he enjoyed a lunch of jerk chicken and rice in the dining hall on the second day of Chanukah. "I wasn't looking at schools that didn't have that kind of option." Russ especially likes that the two kosher stations, Noshery North for dairy and Noshery South for meat - Jewish dietary law requires that dairy and meat be served separately - are integrated within the main dining hall, along with an Italian restaurant, a grill, a salad bar, and other stations. Students do not have to pay extra for food from the stations, and they can eat with everyone else. Not all colleges have a mashgiach, but the role is becoming more common as schools aspire to serve stu-
dents' diverse dietary needs. Some colleges include kosher food at their Hillel International buildings; some integrate the service into their dining halls. The University of Pennsylvania and Temple University both offer kosher food under kosher supervision. The University of Delaware added a mashgiach this fall when it opened a new dining hall. At their schools, the Powers family members chart recipes, plan menus, and order the food. "It's a dynamic trio. They really are," said Rabbi Mayer Kurcfeld, administrator at Star-K Kosher Certification, a Baltimore-based agency that helped to place the Powerses. All three Powerses are veterans of the food industry and for a time ran a Chinese restaurant, Yi-Tzi Peking, in Bala Cynwyd. Mark Powers was the first to become a kosher supervisor. He started seven years ago. When Star-K was looking for a supervisor for Dickinson a year later, he recommended his wife. A year after that, his son heard about the Muhlenberg job. He had been working for a kosher food manufacturer in Allentown. They all were trained in the fine details of the job. "I had to learn how to find bugs in leafy vegetables," Mark Powers said. Consumption of insects is prohibited. Mark Powers also does some of the cooking at F&M. "I'm a chef, so I cook," he said. The family shares trade secrets. Mark Powers took his wife's fish taco recipe. Father and son swapped ideas for a hot dog bar. When they get together for dinner at the parents' home in Harrisburg, shoptalk is on the menu. "Now that my mother's in it, my father's in it, and I'm in it, that's all we talk about at the table," Jonathan Powers said. At Muhlenberg, the kosher kitchen also serves the broader community. One morning, a local rabbi stopped by to place an order. Earlier that day, a worker from a Reading-area drug and alcohol treatment facility picked up meals. The
night before, the kitchen had catered an event at the Jewish Community Center. The food stations begin serving each day at 11 a.m. First, Jonathan Powers had to light the hot plate. The rules that govern kosher food preparation (kashruth) require that mashgiachs light fires and ensure that diners are not served eggs with spots of blood. The stations are open for lunch and dinner. When they are closed, locked gates cross the entrance so no contamination occurs. At the kosher stations, servers hand students their food on paper plates rather than china - that's to avoid any residue of nonkosher food. Potato pancakes, jerk chicken, penne with eggplant, and falafel were on the menu that day. A latke bar was on tap for dinner. About 300 students eat at the kosher stations each meal, Powers said. And not all are Jewish. Anna Phillips, 20, a sophomore theater and English major from Lansdowne, recently helped herself to a veggie burger. "It's a nice variety," said Eric Quitter, 21, a senior neuroscience major from Rochester, N.Y., who also is not Jewish. "The Noshery tends to mix it up." Hailey Goldberg, 20, a junior political and environmental science major from Montclair, N.J., said the Noshery is a favorite of her non-Jewish friends - particularly the vegan ones. "They can go to the dairy kosher station," she said, "and know that it is going to meet their dietary requirements."
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 29
PJ Library and Muhlenberg Hillel team up for Havdalah pajama party By Stephanie Smartschan JFLV Director of Marketing PJ Library and Muhlenberg College Hillel teamed up on Feb. 6 to offer a Havdalah program for young families. The evening focused on the meaning of Havdalah, with activity stations planned and manned by the students. The children had the opportunity to make their own Havdalah candles, decorate stars and paint with spices. After the activities and storytime, the group came together for a brief service led by Rabbi Melissa Simon and the students. While the children played, parents had the opportunity to schmooze with wine and snacks. “This was a great chance for our families to get to know one another better,” said Abby Trachtman, PJ Library coordinator. “The Hillel students were so attentive to the children and their projects and I think they had a great time too.” On Sunday, April 17, the Da Vinci Science Center is coming to the JCC to present a special Passover-themed program, “Science of the Plagues.” Kids will be able to visit stations where DaVinci educators will provide hands-on activities and demonstrations related to the plagues. The program costs $18 per family and is open to the community and suitable for all ages. Register at the JCC front desk, by calling 610-435-3571 or online at www.lvjcc.org.
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SecondOpinion.sluhn.org 30 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
New citizenship law has Jews worldwide flocking to tiny Portugal city By Cnaan Liphshiz Jewish Telegraphic Agency Five years ago, this city’s tiny Jewish community was so strapped for cash it couldn't afford to fix the deep cracks in its synagogue’s moldy ceiling. The Jewish Community of Porto was also too poor to hire a full-time rabbi because of its small size (50 members) and the paucity of donors in a country gripped by a financial crisis. But in January the community, situated 200 miles north of Lisbon, showcased its stunning turnaround. Hosting the biggest event in its history, it drew hundreds of guests from all over the world to the city’s newly opened kosher hotel and newly renovated synagogue. The community also has a new Jewish museum and mikvah ritual bath, and there are plans to build a kosher shop, Jewish kindergarten and school. The money, community members say, came from a massive influx of Jewish tourists that coincided with the implementation of Portugal’s 2013 law of return for Sephardic Jews and their descendants. The law named the Porto community, founded by a handful of converts to Judaism, one of two institutions responsible for vetting citizenship applications, providing the Jews in this little-known city of 230,000 with tens of thousands of dollars in income and turning Porto into a destination for Jews from around the world. “This law not only gave us new funds but put us on the world map,” said Emmanuel Fonseca, a 53-year-old Orthodox convert to Judaism. “In no time, we went from a tiny group struggling to exist to a well-to-do congregation with local and international standing. I never thought I would live to see this.” Applying for membership in Lisbon and Porto’s official Jewish community costs $300-$560 and is a required step for a Jew to become a Portuguese citizen under the 2013 law. (Spain recently passed a similar law aimed at descendants of Sephardic Jews.) Each application must be checked by one of the two Jewish communities against their records and lists of lineages. Some of the hundreds of applicants to Porto
have added handsome donations on top of the required fee. So far, only three of the hundreds of citizenship applications have been approved, a wrinkle that Leon Amiras, an Israeli attorney handling citizenship requests and chairman of the Association of Olim from Latin America, Spain and Portugal, attributed to bureaucratic complications connected to last November’s elections in Portugal. Amiras said he expects hundreds of applications to be approved this year. Meanwhile, Porto is becoming a more attractive prospective home for Jews with European Union passports, who can move here without obtaining citizenship. Yoel Zekri, a French Jewish student in his 20s who temporarily moved here last year from Marseille, where five Jews have been assaulted in three stabbing attacks since October, said he’s considering staying on after his studies “to help build the community.” “I no longer feel comfortable in France,” Zekri said. “I would never wear a kippah on the street. Here people sometimes tell me they are happy to see the Jews return.” Porto hasn’t seen a single antiSemitic incident over the last decade, according to the mayor, Rui Moreira, who spoke in January at an event at the synagogue and obliquely referenced the rising anti-Semitic violence elsewhere in Europe. “This synagogue was built when others across Europe were being burned,” he said. “Today it again offers shelter from the bad winds blowing around us." Alexandre Sznajder, a Jewish businessman from Rio de Janeiro with a Polish passport who was in town for the kosher hotel and synagogue celebration, is thinking about moving to Porto with his wife and son. “The economic situation in Brazil is deteriorating and personal security is terrible,” said Sznajder, an importer who said he was kidnapped for ransom two years ago. “If I can keep doing business from here, where it’s safe, Porto could be the place for us.” Some applicants for Portuguese citizenship from non-EU countries want a Portuguese passport as an insurance policy, in the event things in their home
The Kadoorie Mekor Haim Synagogue in Porto was recently renovated thanks to a massive influx of Jewish tourists that coincided with the implementation of Portugal’s 2013 law of return for Sephardic Jews. countries go south. Hila Loya, a visitor from Cape Town, applied last year for that reason. In South Africa, she said, “the anti-Israel, anti-Jewish atmosphere is worsening, and there’s a feeling things may turn for the worse in the near future.” In January, approximately 250 Jews from 14 countries convened here for a weekend retreat designed to introduce them to Porto and its Jews. Among those present were the president of Lisbon’s Jewish community, Turkish Chief Rabbi Ishak Haleva and 80 other Turkish Jews. Most of the applicants to Porto's community so far have been Turkish Jews, including many of those who came for the weekend retreat. Haleva, one of Sephardic Jewry’s most respected religious figures, said he came not to apply for citizenship – “I'm a Turkish Jew, period” – but to visit “this place where our roots are.” Many of Turkey’s Jews are descended from Sephardic Jews who fled
northern Portugal after 1536, when Portugal joined Spain in applying the Inquisition’s expulsion orders against Jews, according to Haleva. And many of those who fled from Portugal to Turkey originally came from Spain, where the Inquisition began in 1492. Tens of thousands of Jews stayed in Portugal and converted to Christianity. While many continued to practice Judaism in secret as anusim – Hebrew for “forced ones” -- the Jewish presence ultimately vanished from this once heavily Jewish area. The Jewish revival was sparked in 1923, when a Portuguese army captain, Arthur Carlos Barros Basto, reached out to the descendants of the anusim, leading to the construction of Porto's synagogue. Built in 1939, the community’s Kadoorie - Mekor Haim synagogue is among the largest and most beautiful in the Iberian Peninsula, but it saw long periods of neglect until last year’s exten-
sive renovations were completed. That helped put a new shine on the synagogue’s best features: Moroccan-style interior arches; heavy redwood interior and dazzling collection of more than 20,000 hand-painted azulejos, Portugal’s iconic ceramic tiles. When Porto’s mayor dropped in at January’s retreat, it was his second time at the city’s shul – a sign of the Jewish community’s increased significance in Porto, according to the local rabbi, Daniel Litvak. Addressing 300 guests from the synagogue’s podium while wearing a kippah, Moreira, who himself is descended from an Ashkenazi Jew who settled in Porto in the 19th century, said Portugal’s new law of return was to “correct a historical wrong” – the 16th-century expulsion of Portugal’s Jews. But, he added, “the law has future implications: We want you to come live here, with us, and share that future.”
HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY | MARCH 2016 31
The Jerusalem Post Crossword Puzzle By David Benkof Special to HAKOL Designing puzzles with the knowledgeable but not necessarily bilingual Jew in mind, David Benkof says, “No more than a very few clues per puzzle expect the solver to simply translate between Hebrew and English.” Note that some answers may actually be two words written as one, without a space between them. For answers to the crossword puzzle, visit the Federation website at www.jewishleighvalley.org/hakol.
53. Kosher alternative to a Pop-Tart 54. Wise one, often 58. ___ Rand (born Alisa Rosenbaum) 59. Comic persona G 60. Like Wilpon’s Mets fielding in the World Series 62. “Franny and Zooey” author (1961) 65. Tom and Meg’s “You’ve Got Mail” director 66. An archangel 67. “King David” star Richard 68. Shomea K’___ (Shofar related law) 69. Director Meyers 70. Kacha kacha 71. Emperor who the Talmud says became a proselyte
“INITIALLY…” By: Yoni Glatt firstname.lastname@example.org Difficulty Level: Medium
ACROSS 1. Like a slightly open ark 5. Hatzolah people 9. Many a Jerusalem morning in February 14. Challah option 15. Celine not for BDS 16. Genre for Maurice Stern 17. Bills in America, but not Israel 18. “Ragtime” novelist (1975) 20. Vesper drink in “Casino Royale” 22. Job experience? 23. It held for Joshua 24. Like Mamilla Mall on a Saturday night 25. Goes out, like Shabbat 27. Lansky had to worry about them
32 MARCH 2016 | HAKOL LEHIGH VALLEY
28. Crab even gentiles can’t eat 30. Sal’s “Exodus” role 31. “That’s life!” 34. His “The Magician” had artwork by Chagall (1917) 38. Gwyneth’s “Sky Captain” co-star Ling 39. Provider of kosher recipe chat rooms, once 41. Article in France-Soir 42. Loyalist to David and Solomon (1 Kings 1:8) 43. “The Brothers Ashkenazi” writer (1936) 46. Say “ken” 48. Gefilte fish fish option 49. Kosher cruise kitchen 51. Chinese dynasty that started the same time as the Davidic line
DOWN 1. Stewing cholent creates one 2. First name of a vaccine creator 3. Rocket red flag 4. “Fear Street” creator (1989) 5. Biblical plot? 6. (Jewish) environment 7. Anti-Nazi Mann’s “Der ___ in Venedig” 8. A cat on Sam Simon’s “The Simpsons” 9. Kotel item 10. Facebook’s was $38 11. Make like Jonathan Maccabee after Judah’s death 12. Many a parent at a graduation 13. Makes like many a sibling at a graduation
19. Bonet’s disgraced TV dad, informally 21. Chaim Herzog’s original home land 26. ___ eyen hora 27. Pro (Bibi) 29. Possible venue for Torah writing 30. Babka, perhaps 31. He protected Padmé, for short 32. “The ___” (Uris novel) 33. Where Golda Meir spent most of her childhood 35. Reverberation (from the audience at a Billy Crystal show) 36. Notable list number 37. Bat Mitzvah bummer 40. They might be worn with skirts 44. Shtar letters 45. Schmatta 47. “The Bridal Canopy” scribe (1931) 50. Moses and Elijah, atop Mount Sinai 51. Kosher ___, New Orleans eatery 52. Lee’s Marvel meanies 53. Teacher of Samuel 55. Pat who Elvis once opened for 56. The shamir worm, for one 57. Latke state? 59. US to Israel 61. Cookie that hasn’t been tref since 1998 63. Post-Manhattan Project org. 64. Political prefix for Netanyahu and Obama
Jews built this city on rock and roll (and klezmer)
Eduard Tumansky, third from left, with fellow Simcha musicians, Sept. 3, 2013. By Cnaan Liphshiz Jewish Telegraphic Agency When the six members of the Simcha klezmer band hauled their instruments into a dilapidated rehearsal space, no one suspected they were about to hijack a government building in this large, clean city some 450 miles east of Moscow. But that's exactly what happened in 1995 when this popular ensemble — founded in 1989 by Jewish musicians during the Soviet Union’s twilight years — entered the Teacher’s House, a government-controlled building that had once been a synagogue. For three years, city officials had pledged to return the structure to the Jewish community. But the band's members had had enough of empty promises. Determined to hold the mayor to his word, the players remained barricaded inside for three days as police prepared to storm in. The standoff ended with the city giving up the synagogue, which it signed over to its 8,000-member Jewish community the following year. In this part of Russia, near the Ural Mountains that divide Europe from Asia, Simcha has been the linchpin of the Jewish community's growth and strength and a symbol of the Jews' determination to maintain their religious and cultural identity amid persecution. “Many Russian Jewish communities grew to include klezmer bands,” Eduard Tumansky, the band's current leader, told JTA after a performance in September celebrating the synagogue’s centennial. “But I know of no other klezmer bands besides ours that grew into a Jewish community.” Violinist Leonid Sonts, who founded Simcha, “used musical activities as a vehicle for building a Jewish community long before open worship became tolerated again in Kazan,” said the city’s Chabad rabbi, Yitzhak Gorelick. Sonts, who opened a Jewish cultural center, Menorah, in 1987, "used the band to turn musical events into cultural-religious events," Tumansky recalled. "We performed during the holidays. Before [Kazan's] Jewish people had a synagogue, they got together at Simcha concerts. Simcha became the engine for Jewish life. "Simcha was the Jewish community’s main lobbying platform and face,” he said. “So when the Soviet Union collapsed, we already had strong partnerships. Everybody in Kazan knew Simcha.” Later the community hired a rabbi for its synagogue and built a Jewish school – institutions that took over the task of serving as an axis for Jewish life here. Sonts became the president of Kazan’s Jewish community – a role he maintained until his passing in 2001. After returning the Teacher's House, authorities in Kazan have done more than give the Jews a synagogue: They turned it and the community into tourist attractions. Since 2012, the city has held an annual Jewish music festival around Rosh Hashanah. And last year, the city held a series of Jewish-themed events outside the synagogue, including Kazan’s first Limmud FSU Jewish learning conference and a gathering by Chabad rabbis from across the former Soviet Union. The events attracted an unlikely mix of secular and religious Jews, who flooded the spacious, redcobble pedestrian streets of Kazan’s old city, with
its mosques and gold-spired Russian Orthodox churches. Local Jews say they feel safe among the Sunni Muslim majority in the Russian state of Tatarstan, of which Kazan is the capital. “I regularly put my tefillin on while waiting for the subway in the morning,” said Gershon Ilianski, 16, a student at the Jewish high school here. “I know they have problems with Muslims in Western Europe, but I never worried anyone would bother me here.” Thirty years ago, however, when Russia was still communist, Jews, Muslims and Christians all needed a non-religious alibi to worship. “Simcha performed at Purim and Hanukkah parties while camouflaging the religious and communal nature of these events,” Tumansky said. “To the community, the concerts were [seen] as a Jewish event. To authorities, just a musical one.” Even so, such musical gatherings were not allowed elsewhere in the Soviet Union, where Communist government sought to blur ethnic identities. This policy was less strictly enforced in Kazan, as its population was deeply attached to Islam and its heritage. “Moscow realized it couldn’t restrict the locals too much on religion and tradition, because there’d be too much alienation,” said Chaim Chesler, founder of the Limmud FSU organization. “The result is an inspiring example of coexistence.” This atmosphere of relative tolerance in Kazan during the Soviet era attracted hundreds of Jews from other parts of the Soviet Union. At a time when some universities nearer to Moscow barred Jews, they were accepted without problem at Kazan's institutions of higher education, the Ukraineborn Sonts said in an interview he gave to local media before his death. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, Kazan already had a functioning Jewish community — something that would take years to grow in other Russian cities. This head start has meant that Jewish lay leaders have been able to have a more hands-on approach to developing their community. For example, unlike most other Jewish Russian communities, Kazan employs its Chabad rabbi, Gorelick, full time. Elsewhere in Russia, rabbis often work independently of the community, sometimes competing with its lay leaders for donations from local philanthropists. Last September, the community celebrated its strength alongside its synagogue’s centennial by rededicating the shul following renovations. Tumansky, wearing his trademark black hat, performed with Simcha's other five musicians before a crowd of several thousand outside the synagogue. "It's true that we are now the sideshow of the community we used to run," he said of the band. "But then again, that was exactly what we fought for: to have a normal community." The concert was unorthodox; while Simcha primarily played klezmer, there were notable electric guitar and country music influences. After each solo, the crowd, a mix of Jews and non-Jews, waved blue and white balloons emblazoned with a Star of David, enthusiastically reacting with whistles and yelps. “Tell me,” Tumansky told a reporter after the show. “Have you ever seen a Jewish community built on rock and roll?”
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