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Volume 35 Number 2 Fall 2014 $3.50 h The High Holidays of Our Lives Saving Your Life Hi story
Vacations y V Family
Your Best Face Forward
Spirits s Gu Guides
High-fl -flying Eagle
Dinn er T heat er
Running â€™s Next Wa ve
ble orab Memo Memorials
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Learning to Trust Hospic e
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2014 Supplements Simchas
Chanukah Gift Guide
The Good Life
In-Paper Special Sections Fighting Cancer (2 sections)
Inside Magazine Winter
a letter from the editor
e are having the times of our lives right now. Seriously. You, me and everyone we know.
Doesn’t feel like it at first, does it? Too much time spent at work, too little time spent on family and friends, no time to pursue your passions — or that which you hope might become a passion. But that’s just it — this isn’t about having the time of your life — it’s about immersing yourself in the times of your life. That one little letter changes everything. Remove that “s” at the end and we end up viewing our lives through the prism of “the best time” we ever had — a metric that, by definition, means that every other similar experience is diminished to some extent. Put it back, and we’ve got our Greg Salisbury, editor whole lives in front of us again — wherever we are right now, whatever we’re doing — these are the times of our lives. There are few times where we are more conscious of what we have done and what we want to do with our lives than the High Holidays. Taking
There might not be any vintage Dom Pérignon or front-row seats to tweet about, but sharing your newborn’s first beach experience with your parents is nothing to sneeze at. stock to see what we have done to warrant inclusion in the new edition of the Book of Life can do that to a person. That’s why this is the perfect issue to make the point that no matter where you are on the life cycle spectrum, now is, indeed, the time of your life. There might not be any vintage Dom Pérignon or front-row seats to tweet about, but sharing your newborn’s first beach experience with your parents (p. 63) is nothing to sneeze at. Nor, for that matter, is the ability to actually record and share your life with an oral history archive (p. 20). And then there is, literally, the ultimate time of your life, from the world of hospice (p. 28) to the business of burials (p. 34) to the new wave of memorial services (p. 42). May these High Holidays help you find the times of your life!
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The Jewish Lifestyle Magazine EXECUTIVE EDITOR LISA HOSTEIN VICE PRESIDENT/GENERAL MANAGER DAVID A. ALPHER EDITOR GREG SALISBURY DESIGN DIRECTOR JOSEPH KEMP PRODUCTION DIRECTOR JOSEPHINE KUKUKA PREPRESS MANAGER SALVATORE PATRONE TRAFFIC MANAGER ELIZABETH THOMPSON PRODUCTION CONTROL MANAGER TERY MORAN-LEVER PRODUCTION ARTISTS LUD HUGHES, LIONEL ROBINSON SALES & MARKETING COORDINATOR COLLEEN DUNLAP MARKETING DIRECTOR JOSHUA HERSZ ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES MELISSA BARRETT, NORMA KRAMER, DEBBIE LUSANA, TAYLOR MACH, HELENE ROTHMAN, SHARON SCHMUCKLER, BRUCE WARTELL CLASSIFIED ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES BEVERLY ALDORASI (MGR.), VICKIE FARBER, NICK STALLER NATIONAL REPRESENTATIVES JOSEPH JACOBS ORGANIZATION, INC. 60 E. 42ND ST., NEW YORK, N.Y. 10165 212-687-6234 ISRAEL REPRESENTATIVES INTERNATIONAL MEDIA PLACEMENT POB 7195, JERUSALEM 91071 ISRAEL 972-2-252933 FINANCE MANAGER CHERYL LUTTS ACCOUNTING MARIE MALVOSO CIRCULATION NICOLE MCNALLY Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia PRESIDENT BERNARD BUD NEWMAN CEO NAOMI ADLER PUBLISHER’S REPRESENTATIVE JEROME P. NACHLIS Jewish Publishing Group JAY MINKOFF (CHAIRMAN) DANIEL E. BACINE (IMMEDIATE PAST CHAIRMAN) HARRIS DEVOR, DANIEL ERLBAUM JOEL FREEDMAN, JOAN GUBERNICK MATTHEW HANDEL, MICHELE LEVIN RUSSELL PAUL, HERSHEL RICHMAN PETER SOLOFF, JON STEVENS JEWISH PUBLISHING GROUP 2100 ARCH STREET, PHILADELPHIA, PA 19103 MAIN PHONE NUMBER: 215-832-0700
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volume 35 number 1
THE STYLE SECTION
LIFE AS THEY KNOW IT Hospice professionals focus on both patients and loved ones. Amy Wright Glenn
THE TRANSITION TEAM
Brian Lipstein is tailor-made to run Henry A. Davidsen. Gail Snyder
Meet the people who make final destinations their business. Barbara Rothschild
LOOKING BACK TO MOVE FORWARD How we memorialize loved ones is changing — but why? Carol Saline
THE MADE-TO-MEASURE OF A MAN
THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO GO The wearable fitness revolution will be digitized. Joseph Kemp
MOST IN THE MACHINE Are you ready for the new generation of home appliances? Beth D’Addono
Photos: 34 Barbara Rothschild; 50 Courtesy Henry A. Davidsen; 58 Courtesy Fratelli
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A Sorry Group Bryan Schwartzman
GENERATIONS Ones for the Record Gail Snyder
What’s On Your Jewish Bucket List? Eric Berger
Potion Sickness Carol Saline
WHAT’S YOUR ISH?
Waste Not, Drink Well Richard Pawlak
Family Sojourner Truths Hilary Danailova
FRESS The Comeback Kid Greg Salisbury
LETTER FROM ISRAEL
Dens of Antiquity Ilan Ben-Zion
JUST A MINUTE Talon Scout Greg Salisbury
Photos: 20 Courtesy Wexler Oral History Project; 67 PikiWiki
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ONE SORRY GROUP The issue of repentance resonates far beyond the High Holidays and Judaism. By Bryan Schwartzman
epentance may be regarded as the cornerstone of religious life of both the individual and society.” — Mahmoud Ayoub, fellow in ChristianMuslims relations, Hartford Seminary
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Dara Horn, a 37-year-old novelist and academic from New Jersey, has three siblings — two sisters who are also writers and a brother who is DARA HORN an Emmy-winning animator. She also has three children of her own. Perhaps it is not surprising, then, that since childhood, her mind has fixated on the ancient paradigm of sibling rivalry, particularly some of the episodes canonized in the Hebrew Bible. Her imagination zeroed in on the saga of Joseph and his brothers. “Siblings are people who share a past but not necessarily a future, and forgiveness and repentance are about new ways of understanding a shared history,” explained Horn, whose 2013 novel — her fourth — A Guide for the Perplexed, is a modern-day retelling of the Joseph story, which hinges upon an intense sibling rivalry and a supreme act of repentance and sacrifice. Repentance, or teshuvah in Hebrew, is the act of reviewing one’s past actions, asking for forgiveness from others and from God, and seeking transformational change. Ron Wolfson, the noted Jewish educator and professor at American Jewish University in Los Angeles, teaches that Judaism is a system of relationships. In his much-talked-about book, Relational Judaism, Wolfson writes that a Jew enters into a relationship with family, congregation, Jewish community, tradition and texts, the state of Israel and, ultimately, God (or some manifestation of higher power). No relationship is complete without tension, transgression and the need for sincere apologies and forgiveness. Repentance, which plays a central role in the High Holidays, also takes center stage in many other religious traditions, particularly the two other major Abrahamic faiths. Each has different notions about the meaning of sin, how to “get right with God” and how an individual can meaningfully transform oneself. It is fair to say that how Judaism, Christianity, Islam and other faiths understand the concept of repentance says a great deal about the essence of the particular faiths themselves. In the biblical saga of Joseph, his 11 brothers, jealous of his
“favorite son” status — and severely annoyed by his obnoxious and arrogant personality — sell him into slavery. Years later, when Joseph has achieved great power to become practically ruler of all of Egypt, his brothers come before him pleading for food. “He tests and even taunts them for a time,” Horn said in an email interview. “But when he reveals who he is, he says something truly amazing: ‘Don’t be angry at yourselves that you sold me to this place, because it was to save life that God sent me ahead of you.’ This is technically true; if Joseph hadn’t been enslaved in Egypt and been positioned to save Egypt’s food supply, Joseph and his brothers all would have died in the famine. But for the reader, it is still a mind-blowing revision of history: ‘Hey brothers, remember that heinous crime you committed against me? Don’t worry, it’s all good — it was a benevolent act of God!’ ” Horn said his handling of the situation “shows the amazing power that Joseph has to forgive, and exactly how he does it — by choosing to remember
DR. RON WOLFSON
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faith and understand the past in a way that allows for a shared future.” It is also, essentially, a major act of repentance on Joseph’s part: Joseph was an arrogant young man at the time of his brothers’ betrayal. When he is vindicated by seeing them bow before him, he doesn’t say, “ ‘I was right,’ ” she said. “I think the acts of his brothers at this point, PHILIP CUNNINGHAM especially his brother Judah, who pleas for the release of his young brother Benjamin just as he failed to do at the time of Joseph’s betrayal, are also evidence of repentance.” Professors Philip Cunningham and Adam Gregerman are, respectively, director and assistant director of the Institute for CatholicJewish Relations at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Cunningham, a professor of theology, is Catholic, while Gregerman, whose specialty is ancient Jewish and Christian sources, is Jewish. During the 2013-2014 academic year, the two co-taught a class called Jews and Christians: Estranged Relatives or Total Strangers?
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Session nine was titled Sin and Repentance. In a recent joint interview, Cunningham said that “both Judaism and Christianity ask similar questions about how human beings stand in relationship to God. There is a sense that human beings are capable of sins — and that is displeasing to God. There is also a sense that people can be
penitent and change their ways.” To understand the concept of sin in Judaism, Gregerman said, it is essential to keep in mind that Judaism is based on a series of mitzvot, or commandments. Failing to perform the commandments or violating the negative commandments — those that dictate one’s relationship to others, to community and to God — means that one has to repent to be in good standing with both the body politic and with God. “The Jewish idea is to see sin as a misdeed. The sin reflects
RABBI ADAM ZEFF
not an evil or sinful person, but a sinful action,” said Gregerman. “The word for sin, chet, is related to an arrow in Hebrew. One needs to repent when it goes in the wrong direction or misses the mark. Jewish ideas of repentance are based on Jewish ideas of Torah observance. You repent when you don’t observe the commandments.” The concept of “original sin” is a fundamental aspect of Catholicism. It is the idea that all human beings bear guilt for the fall of man after the rebellion of Adam and Eve. The idea that Jesus was crucified for humanity’s sins lies at the heart of the faith. Unlike Judaism, Catholicism views people as inherently sinful. Cunningham explained that aspects of the religion, such as the liturgy of Mass, the act of confessing to a priest and the season of Lent, are designed to get the sinner to repent and change. It might seem, Cunningham said, that Judaism and Catholicism have markedly different views of human nature. But, he avers, they are not so far apart as they might first appear. Both believe human beings, if unchecked, have a propensity to do wrong. Judaism has the mitzvot to keep people on the right path, Catholicism has Christ,
he explained. According to Rabbi Adam Zeff, religious leader of Germantown Jewish Centre, the biggest difference may be that Judaism considers repentance a communal endeavor, while in Catholicism, repentance — salvation — is a matter between the individual and God. Zeff has spent a great deal of time thinking and writing about these issues. In his previous career, he was an anthropologist who performed field research in India. In his rabbinate, he’s spent a great deal of effort on interfaith dialogue. His synagogue recently held a Muslim iftar meal, celebrating the breaking of the Ramadan fast. This summer, as Israel battled Hamas in Gaza, he was preparing to head to the Jewish state for the year with his family and study Arabic at Haifa University. “In Judaism in the ancient world, there was one rule of law that applied to everybody: the lowest of the low, the ditch-diggers, the teachers, the leaders; everybody was covered by this one standard of behavior,” he said. “In Hinduism, it is very different. Human beings are actually different. The dharma of each person depends on who they are. What might be the right thing for you to do might not be
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the right thing for me to do.” The Islamic approach to repentance may have more in common with the Jewish understanding than any other faith, explained Zeff. The Arabic word tawbah bears a striking resemblance to the Hebrew idea of teshuvah — each connotes a return or turning toward. Like Rabbinic Judaism, Islam is based on a series of laws that is drawn from interpretations of the holy text. “When we talk about the meaning of fasting, especially in Ramadan, it is so parallel,” he said. “Ramadan is almost like a monthlong party. This is a traditional aspect of Yom Kippur that we have lost. The ancient rabbis said it was one of the most joyous holidays of
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the year. They said, ‘We have the opportunity to turn back, we can reconnect.’ ” Does the rabbi have any practical advice for Jews of whatever affiliation or religiosity who hope to get right with God or simply make themselves a better person? Preparation is key, said Zeff. He encourages people to think about broad patterns of behavior they would like to change. Don’t try to unearth a year’s worth of potential slights or misdeeds, he said. Instead, focus on the big stuff. Arrive at the High Holidays with one insight that can lead to a real commitment for change, he said. Think of life as a big cruise ship at sea. Changing direction takes time, and drastic movements can sink you. Learning how to manage changes in behavior lies at the heart of author Horn’s A Guide for the Perplexed. Her modern-day Joseph is a brilliant software engineer named Josephine Ashkenazi. Instead of being sold into slavery like her biblical namesake, she is captured by terrorists in post-revolutionary Egypt, and her sister bears some of the blame. In the novel, Josephine creates a program called the
Genizah to use existing digital technologies to track and catalogue virtually everything about a person’s life — kind of like a Facebook timeline on steroids. If the Genizah software — named after the Hebrew word for a repository where Hebrew religious texts and tracts which are no longer fit for use are stored — were real, people could theoretically head to their laptop, tablet or smartphone and review nearly everything they had done or said over the previous year. If people could click on a program and review their thoughts and deeds for the past year, it might be the best — or worst thing that ever happened to the High Holidays. “In Judaism we already have a concept of, as the rabbis put it, ‘an Eye that Sees, an Ear that Hears, and all of your deeds recorded
The Joseph story has a powerful message, one that Jews should keep in mind as they prepare to face the High Holidays.
in a book.’ The difference now is that we live in a world where all this is not only a theological concept, but the reality of life online,” she said. “I wanted to explore what this potential for complete recall really meant — if we had a memory resembling Divine memory, it would never be possible for us to forgive anyone. Fortunately, God is rumored to be more forgiving than we are.” In bringing things back to the broader question of faith, repentance and the human potential for transformation, Horn said that Judaism “is not a fatalistic system like many other ancient traditions, nor a system that believes humans alone control the world, as many modern societies suggest.” Judaism teaches of “an interdependence between free will and destiny — that human beings cannot control the world, but they can control how they respond to it.” The Joseph story has a powerful message, she said, one that Jews should keep in mind as they prepare to face the High Holidays. “It suggests, in a way other ancient literature rarely does, that it is possible, even likely, that people can change.” ❏ Bryan Schwartzman, an award-winning journalist living in Philadelphia, has much to repent for this year.
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POTION SICKNESS When dealing with the dizzying array of creams, serums and sprays designed to save your skin, what you don’t know can cost you money — and protection. By Carol Saline
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ack in the late 1970s, I had the opportunity to profile the brilliant, colorful Penn dermatologist and researcher, Dr. Albert Kligman, the man who developed Retin A — still the most significant drug for skin care in the last 50 years. I had barely opened my reporter’s notebook when he let loose a diatribe on his favorite subject: wrinkles. “The wrinkle,” Kligman, who died at age 93 in 2010, declared, “is a goddamn real disease. The anguish caused by wrinkles is far worse than what’s caused by heart disease. Do you know anybody who gets up every day and worries about cancer? No, huh. But everybody worries regularly about their dry skin and their fucking wrinkles.” Nobody dies from wrinkles. They don’t affect our health or interfere with our vital functions. In the pantheon of medical maladies, wrinkles don’t rate more than a passing mention. And virtually no medical professional took them seriously before Kligman, who opened one of the nation’s first clinics for aging skin right here in Philadelphia. His academic colleagues, deep into the scholarly pursuit of serious problems like skin cancer, scoffed at him for wasting time in the mundane realm of aging skin. He ignored their scorn because he sincerely believed that good health requires the maintenance of physical attractiveness. “If you’re old and have
“The anguish caused by wrinkles is far worse that what’s caused by heart disease. Do you know anybody who gets up every day and worries about cancer?” –Dr. Albert Kligman dry, wrinkly skin, people look at you with pity,” he told me. “But if you’re old and have smooth skin, you get treated with respect and admiration.” Well, haven’t times changed? Today, Kligman would probably grace the cover of every beauty magazine, applauded as the father of the multibillion-dollar skin care industry. What he understood, even before the baby boomers set off on their passionate quest for endless youth, is that skin is the difference between looking like your biological age 50 or passing for 35. Hardening arteries, declining sex drive, your heart muscle grow-
ing flaccid — those are hidden signs of aging shared between you and your doctor. The only public display of aging is the one thing you can’t hide — your face. And there is now an army of professionals armed with lotions and potions and procedures to slow down — and even reverse — the clock on facial aging.
Getting Deep Into Skin To understand how skin ages, you need some very basic middleschool science. Skin is our most durable organ and an expert multitasker. It serves as an infection barrier between the body and the environment; it regulates temperature; it houses millions of nerve endings that give us our sense of touch and response to pressure and pain; it synthesizes the essential vitamin D. You already know that skin has three layers. The epidermis, which guards the body
Parts of the Skin
hair sweat gland epidermis
fat, collagen, ﬁbrolasts
from invaders, is made of clumps of cells called keratinocytes that are regularly shed about every 21 days. Next is the dermis, the scaffolding containing all the goodies — oil glands, blood vessels, nerve endings, sweat glands, hair follicles. Its tissue is made up of elastin, fibrillin and collagen, the support structure that gives skin a firm, young appearance. The bottom layer is fat, a kind of mattress that helps keep us warm and stores energy.
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health Skin ages from the outside in as well as the inside out. The most damaging outside factors are sun, smoke and, to some degree, environmental pollutants. Most of these can be easily controlled. Use sunscreen every time you walk outside and don’t smoke. Inside deterioration is harder to manage. As we age, new cells don’t replace old ones as rapidly as they once did, so skin looks duller. Skin thins over time as the fat layer decreases. Oil glands secrete less lubricant, so instead of glowing we look dry, and elastin and collagen production really sloooows down. Oh, and let’s not forget gravity and the joys of sagging! The raison d’être of the skin care industry is to mediate both these internal and external changes with products designed to defend against Mother Nature’s increasing laxity. Don’t deceive yourself that anything in a jar or bottle can restore youth. And don’t trust claims like “laboratory-tested” or “clinically proven” that may mean nothing more than that a product works on lab rats but is unlikely to have undergone the kind of rigorous test-
USE SUNSCREEN EVERY TIME YOU WALK OUTSIDE — AND DON’T SMOKE!
ing required for drugs. In fact, cosmetics and cosmeceuticals (skin products sold by doctors and spas instead of drugstores) are not regulated by the FDA, so any scientific promises made about one of these products should be taken with a grain of salt. The one and only drug approved for skin care is tretinoin, the generic version of the Retin A originally developed by Dr. Kligman. Retin A, or retinol acid, which was recommended as part of a daily skin regimen by everyone interviewed for this article, isn’t the Fountain of Youth, but it remains the gold standard of skin care. Because it’s a drug, it has been scientifically proven to ameliorate sun damage (along with a slavish adherence to sunscreens), reduce blotchiness, stimulate skin tissues, palliate fine lines and wrinkles and improve skin texture by increasing cell turnover. Yes, all that dermatological assistance, contained in one little tube. Some people with sensitive skin have trouble tolerating tretinoin because it can initially produce dryness, flakiness and redness. Center City dermatologist Dr. Jason Neustadter suggests experi-
THE BIG THREE: SUNSCREEN, ANTIOXIDANT AND RETINOL
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health menting until you find a formulation that works best for your skin. “You only need a pea-size amount to cover your whole face,” he says, “and you can start out using it every other night.” One alternative to the three available prescription strengths is a weaker OTC product with retinol on the label. The problem is, you don’t know how much retinol is in the drugstore cream so the results can be wildly different. You should see a change in about eight weeks. Neustadter is a believer in the KISS approach to skin care: keep it simple, stupid. “A handful of good products is better than a shelf full of stuff,” he says. His skin regimen is based on what he calls The Big Three: sunscreen, antioxidant and retinol with the addition of a moisturizer and eye cream. Sunscreen is the be-all-and-end-all of skin care. Without a daily sunscreen, don’t waste your time and money on anything else. For your face, you want a sunscreen with 30 SPF that contains zinc and titanium to block both UVA and UVB rays. The good news is that an inexpensive over-the-counter product called CeraVe AM, a combination sunscreen and daytime moisturizer, was on everyone’s recommended list and its zinc is absorbed so you won’t look like a lifeguard with a white nose. Ellen Ehrlich, a registered nurse clinician in dermatology, advises that if you spend a lot of time driving, consider tinting your car windows to keep the sun out. And don’t fool yourself that a hat is enough to eschew sunscreen, because sun reflects off the sidewalk.
Over-the-Counter Programming Antioxidants are also on everyone’s essential daily care list because they scavenge about attacking free radicals, those byproducts of oxidation that cause degenerative changes to skin cells associated with premature aging. You can eat your antioxidants in foods like blueberries, strawberries, oranges and dark leafy greens — and you can feed them directly to your skin from an expensive little jar. “Here is a good example of ‘you get what you pay for,’ ” says Neustadter. “Antioxidants like vitamin C are unstable and need to
be properly compounded to deliver the right concentration into the dermis. This is one place I’d spend the money for a good cosmeceutical.” Several experts interviewed liked CE Ferulic, a product from Skin Ceuticals, a company that makes its research available to the public. Other frequently mentioned cosmeceuticals are those made by Skin Medica and Neocutis. (All are available online.) Neustadter prefers antioxidants in serum rather than cream form because serums are lighter and have smaller molecules than creams, so they are better able to penetrate deeper into the dermis. Creams are fine for moisturizers, which basically lay on the top of the skin to hy-
If you are a devotee of regular spa facials, you might want to ponder instead putting your money into the more science-based maintenance of a clinical facial every three months. drate it. “As far as moisturizers go,” Neustadter points out, “a $9 product from the drugstore can be as good as something 10 times as expensive.” You could drive yourself crazy trying to choose good drugstore skin products. Dermatologists like the La Roche Posay line available at CVS, or you can check out the lists periodically published by beauty magazines like Allure. Two other perennial favorite lines seem to be the Olay Regenerist and L’Oréal. Keep in mind, however, that cosmeceuticals have more biologic action than these mass-market compounds, along with fewer preservatives and a higher concentration of active ingredients. Sometimes, you want to buy caviar and sometimes, salmon roe will suffice.
Not all of your skin care regimen needs to come via prescription — below are some recommended over-the-counter options.
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You can also go totally natural by filling your skin care needs in your grocery cart at Whole Foods. Rachael Pontillo, author of Love Your Skin, Love Yourself, is a local natural products proponent and adviser. She likes the mineral-based sunscreen Osmosis Shade, argan oil with a few drops of lavender, sandalwood and frankincense for her daily under-eye treatment, a dab of shea butter for a moisturizer, aloe vera gel for a weekly firming and tightening mask, and Osmosis Purify for an exfoliating cleanser. Product lines she approves of include Dr. Hauschka and Acure. “Only Western culture relies on chemical products for skin care,” says Pontillo. “The holistic approach includes what you put in your body as well as on the surface.” To Pontillo’s suggestions, I’d add my own personal fave, a night cream called African Secret that I buy at Whole Foods for about $15 and apply after my Retin A right before bed. The four-ounce jar seems to last forever and is packed with goodies that include shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, baobab oil and royal jelly. It even got the stamp of approval from my goto aesthetician, Jane-Marie D’Amato at Deme in Center City. D’Amato is the skin care guru I visit every few months for a clinical facial, which is as important to anti-aging as a good daily skin care routine — and as different from a spa facial as a Swedish massage is from a chiropractic adjustment. While spa facials are relaxing and will hydrate the skin, they are, at best, superficial in terms of serious skin care. If you are a devotee of regular spa facials, you might want to ponder instead putting your money into the more science-based maintenance of a clinical facial every three months, such as the kind Ellen Ehrlich offers at Main Line Dermatology or from a clinical aesthetician like D’Amato. A clinical facial will include an analysis of your skin’s current needs (which change seasonally) along with procedures like derma-planing, which uses a scalpel to skim off dead cells and peach fuzz, some kind of light acid peel to further exfoliate dead cells and give your skin a youthful glow, micro-dermabrasion to polish the skin surface and maybe a laser zap to get rid of unwanted pigmentation.
“You can’t make a 50-year-old look 20,” D’Amato says. “But you can make her look refreshed and well-rested.”
Solutions for Ablutions Finally, here are some useful tips I picked up from all the specialists I interviewed. Spend a little time reading labels and becoming ingredient-savvy. Look for things like peptides — amino acids with skin-repair properties — that have been kicking up a fuss since 2008, when it was observed that using them on burn victims hastened healing. They seem to trick the skin into thinking it needs to produce collagen. Caffeine is gaining popularity as a skin care ingredient for its effect on dehydrating fat cells and tightening skin. Ceramides, which are naturally found in the epidermis, are garnering attention as an additive in moisturizers for combating dry skin and maintaining the skin barrier. Among the antioxidants known to repair skin damage, look for açai oil, green tea extract and acids with names like alpha-lipoic, alpha-hydroxy, hyaluronic and salicylic. Mild bar soaps are fine for the shower, but for your face use a cleanser like Cetaphil, CeraVe, or Acqua Glycolic. Moisturizers are best applied on damp skin. If you want to keep your whole body as smooth as a baby’s, leave a container of Eucerin or Nivea in the shower and rub it all over before you towel off, especially in the drying months of winter, when your arms and legs can look like a lizard. Skin care is like exercise. To maintain a youthful appearance, it needs to be a daily, lifelong commitment. And give any skin routine at least three months to show a result. Those overnight sensations are as believable as the tooth fairy. It’s a no-brainer that the healthier your diet, the better your skin will be, and to look younger as you get older, it’s wise to start a skin care regimen when you are under 40. For some women, skin care will be the last stop on the anti-aging express; for others, it is the beginning of the journey. ❏ Carol Saline is the chief medical affairs correspondent for Inside.
If you’re looking to fill up your medicine cabinet with skin-friendly potions, the products below are all professionally recommended.
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ONES FOR THE RECORD Jewish oral histories have found new life — and relevance — in the 21st century. By Gail Snyder
anna hear a good story? It’s about the ancient art of oral history — and how, thanks to a new generation of archivists, it is being updated for 21st century audiences. It’s a tale that will take us on a cross-country journey from Los Angeles to Amherst and Brookline, Mass., and, finally, to Philadelphia.
Christa Whitney of the Yiddish Book Center interviews Prof. Chava Turnyansky
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Organizations in these cities are leading the charge to adapt the way stories about such subjects as community leaders, immigration, the Holocaust and Yiddish culture are being told and preserved. “Oral history, or the transmission of culture, heritage and law, has been a part of human society from the very beginning,” according to Josh Perelman, chief curator and director of exhibitions and collections at the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. “Not only is it the basis for the legal aspects of Judaism, but you only have to think about the vibrancy of storytelling from Chasidic masters to Yiddish poets to the marvelous literature created out of Europe, Israel and the U.S. to understand the importance and significance of telling and retelling the Jewish experience in order to keep them alive and to keep them visceral. The power of the individual storyteller, the power of the person narrating their own life, is a deeply emotive experience that is critical to connecting us to the community we live in — and to the past.” The first stop in any discussion about the modern Jewish take on oral history is the University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation Institute in Los Angeles. Created 20 years ago by the director Steven Spielberg to preserve the eyewitness accounts of Holocaust survivors for future generations, the foundation has already collected 53,000 testimonies and has also developed a special process to ensure that the physical form these video testimonies take will not degrade over time. Furthermore, it is now sharing the process with other Holocaust centers and Jewish federations to help them protect the testimonies in their own collections. But what is truly exciting is the Shoah Foundation’s pioneering use of holograms and voice recognition software to replicate the experience of having a face-to-face interview with Holocaust survivors. Due to the special way the survivors are to be filmed, they will look as though they are sitting in the same room as their future questioners, engaging in a naturally flowing conversation that will anticipate their questions. The first holographic interview subject, 81-yearold Pinchas Gutter, was filmed in April. As he graciously answered 500 Stephen D. Smith, executive director questions over a five-day of the Shoah Foundation
The story booths at the National Museum of American Jewish History
period, 22 3-D cameras recorded his image, ensuring that Gutter, who regularly speaks to schoolchildren about his experiences as a 10-year-old who lost his parents and twin sister in the Holocaust, will continue to offer his testimony literally forever. Much still needs to be done to fine-tune the process so that it will work with a variety of user groups, explains the Shoah Foundation’s 47-year-old executive director, Stephen D. Smith. Among the difficulties is parsing the different questions likely to be asked of the survivors, Smith says. For example, an 11-year-old Hispanic student may want to know something completely different than an 11-yearold Jewish day school student, and a middle-aged museum visitor with children in tow may want to ask a separate set of questions from a high school student. In the end, though, the technology is not the star. “If we do our job really well here, you shouldn’t really notice the technology,” Smith says. The Shoah Foundation is working with the Illinois Holocaust Museum, which will be testing the program with students over the next year. “We should start to see it in museums in the next couple of years,” Smith says. He adds that the foundation’s website (sfi.usc.edu) attracts about 3.4 million users annually and its analytics show that 50 percent of its online archives have been viewed in the past two or three years. Once other initiatives are completed, Smith envisions the number of webChrista Whitney, director of the Wexler site visitors increasing draOral History Project
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generations to connect with people every day and get to listen to these incredible experiences, even people who are seen as normal and consider their own lives to be normal. What you can learn from just human experience is what keeps me going.” Further east in the Bay State, the JewJudith Rosenbaum, executive director of the ish Women’s Archive Jewish Women’s Archive of Brookline, Mass., was one of the earliest organizations to recognize the potential of the Internet for disseminating oral history. Its archive went online 19 years ago, before Google and Wikipedia even existed. JWA now boasts the world’s largest collection of material representing the voices of North American Jewish women; every year, 1.2 million people visit JWA.org, a favorite of educators, historians, researchers and the simply curious. In July, historian Judith Rosenbaum, 40, became its executive director. Marjorie Fineberg Winther onstage, “One of the things we find when we look at what sharing the story of her life we know about Jewish women’s lives is that often, their stories are not included in traditional histories that are written,” Rosenbaum says. “And oral history is a way of getting at some of the stories that haven’t been heard before and haven’t been told. Often, women have been trained to think that the stories of their lives aren’t particularly important because they are stories of the everyday, stories of family, of work, of volunteer work, of community building, but they are not necessarily the kind of standout stories that seem exceptional or seem to be honored in the traditional approach to history. But obviously, there is a lot we have to learn from the everyday lives of regular people.” On the JWA website are stories of well-known and little-known women, including those from oral history projects the JWA conducted in Jewish communities in Seattle, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. In addition to conducting its own projects, JWA teaches others to do so as well. From its website, it is possible to download a copy of the organization’s book, In Our Own Voices, which offers information on
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matically. He says, “I don’t think this is the end of telling the story. I think we’re at the beginning.” Technology is also breathing new life into — and creating new fans for — Yiddish culture and the Yiddish language. At the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., a collection of 450 Jewish oral histories has been made available to anyone with an Internet connection through its Wexler Oral History Project, which began in 2009. “We have a lot of people who find us through YouTube and Twitter,” says 27-year-old Christa Whitney, who directs the project with a staff of fellows, interns and volunteers. She conducts many of the interviews, often in Yiddish. The most popular video, featuring Star Trek actor Leonard Nimoy talking about the Jewish origins of Mr. Spock’s Vulcan greeting, has garnered 130,000 views. “We were thinking from the beginning about how to get the material out to the public,” Whitney says. “The Web really has been the main way of doing that. The idea is that people can stumble across all kinds of things on social media. Why not stumble upon Yiddish history? And maybe someone will get curious and want to learn more and watch a longer video.” Whitney, who is not Jewish, is honored to help preserve Yiddish culture. “It’s a culture that, due to tragic, historical and political circumstances, needs advocates and stewards,” she says. “It’s a warm community to be a part of. I feel very lucky in my line of work
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BEC C A J EN NI N G S
Vicki Solot, founder of First Person Arts
how to conduct oral histories, and includes lesson plans for teachers who want to encourage their students to conduct oral histories with adults they know. The JWA also conducts teacher workshops. Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, two booths located on the second floor of the National Museum of Jewish American History on Independence Mall allow visitors to be filmed as they tell their own stories based on a question prompt they select. So far, the museum has amassed about 8,700 visitor stories. Stories are archived, and some are featured on the museum’s website (nmajh.org). Storytellers can get a link so they can share their tales through social media. Ilana Blumenthal, 32, marketing and communications manager for the museum, says, “A major part of the mission of the museum from the beginning was to collect the stories of our visitors. The booths were developed because we recognized that many of the very compelling stories that we focus on are about the lives of everyday people and we wanted our visitors to know that they are part of the history we tell.” About six months ago, the museum hosted an event in which six members of First Person Arts, a Philadelphia-based group dedicated to the art of storytelling, shared memories from their grandmothers’ kitchens. More than 100 people attended the event that night when Marjorie Fineberg Winther, 60, of Mount Airy, talked about her paternal bubbie, who could only cook two things: chicken soup and tongue. Forty-five years later, Winther says, “I still remember the trauma of tongue.” Winther was the 2012 winner of First Person Arts’ Grand Slam story competition, besting 11 other competitors. The StorySlams, annual festival and podcasts that make up the organization’s contribution to Philadelphia storytelling, are the brainchild of Queen Village resident Vicki Solot, 68, who was its executive director from
2000 until 2011. Solot conceived of the group after becoming aware of the increasing number of personal memoirs, documentaries and theater pieces that began coming out earlier in the decade and wanted to bring attention to the creative people producing them. The group soon decided to let average people share their stories, too. She says the StorySlams have been a particular hit with twentysomethings who, in part thanks to social media, are very comfortable publicly sharing their own lives. When it comes to personal history, Solot sees a big distinction between her parents’ Depression generation and their baby boomer offspring. “In Judaism, in the Diaspora, my parents’ generation was pretty eager to move on and not focus on the stories of the past,” she says. “Also, it was considered so much better to be Americanborn, to not speak with an accent, to not exhibit Old World habits, to assimilate into American life. That generation seemed to really shy away from any kind of focus on their history, whereas my generation has had a renewed interest in that.” It is an interest shared by Solot’s daughter. Recently, while taking a course in the art of the Great Depression, her daughter asked for information about Solot’s late father, who had been a fighter pilot. “I told her everything I could remember, but like so many of us, she said, ‘I’m so annoyed at myself that I hadn’t asked him questions when he was still around and able to tell me more specifically, and heard the story from him and written it down.’ I think many of us have that experience — that we missed the moment.” ❏ A frequent contributor to Inside, Gail Snyder greatly misses her favorite family storyteller, Louis Snyder.
Want to know more? • See a demonstration of USC’s New Dimensions in Testimony technology by going to sfi.usc.edu/research/initiatives/newdimensions. • For advice on what to ask and other particulars for doing your own oral history project, download a free copy of Jewish Women’s Archives’ book, In Our Voices, at jwa.org/ mediaobject/In-Our-Own-Voices-PDF or access their family history toolkit at mybatmitzvahstory.org/familyhistorytoolkit. • Watch some of the National Museum of American Jewish History’s “It’s Your Story” recordings at iys.nmajh.org. • Watch Leonard (Leyb) Nimoy’s Star Trek video at youtube.com/ watch?v=DyiWkWcR86I. • Visit firstpersonarts.org for information on how to record your own three-minute story for possible use on one of First Person Arts’ story podcasts. • Last, but perhaps most important, take the opportunity to ask relatives to share their stories with you and share yours with them.
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What’s Your Ish? What being a Jewish Philadelphian means to you. By Eric Berger Photos by Joseph Kemp
hinking about the High Holidays always puts us in a reflective state. So it’s no wonder that our question for the attendees at the National Museum of American Jewish History’s second annual A Midsummer’s Eve, an event billed as “celebrating life, love and Tu B’Av,” would focus on that. The event, which raised money for the museum’s pro-
gramming, drew nearly 300 young Jewish Philadelphians dressed in white to Independence Mall to partake in the traditional Jewish matchmaking holiday. Since so many people were already thinking about their future, it seemed like the perfect time to ask them: “What is on your Jewish bucket list?”
Taking our 4-month-old son to the synagogue for the first time. Katharine Koob, 29, Philadelphia And when he’s old enough, I’d like to take him to Israel; I’ve never been myself. P.J. Koob, 29, Philadelphia
I need to put a mezuzah on my door. I moved a year ago and haven’t done it. Irene Lax, 27, Blue Bell I would like to do a Shabbas dinner. Lior Rennert, 27, Philadelphia
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I would like to get Bar Mitzvahed; I’ve never been Bar Mitzvahed. Greg Margolin, 38, Center City
I would like to go back to Israel as much as I can — and to find a nice Jewish girl. Adam Rosen, 27, Cherry Hill (right) To make my own homemade gefilte fish — Sephardic-style. Pedram Kohan, 26, Center City
To go to Poland and see the concentration camps. Avi Benshetrit, West Philly, 33
To get married and have a Jewish child. Nikki Bromberg, 28, Miami I would like to walk up Masada rather than take a tram. Ryan Green, 30, Cherry Hill INSIDE FALL 2014
I want to go to every city in Europe that used to have a large Jewish population and visit all the old shuls. Alex Marden, 24, Center City
I wish I knew how to make a challah. My mom makes a killer one, but she never taught me. Eva Jeanne Tanenbaum, 24, Rittenhouse Square
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To go see the Israeli team in the Olympics. Rena Asher, 24, Graduate Hospital
I want to go to Aleppo. Yehuda Stiefel, 25, University City
“I wish I knew how to make a challah.”
what’s your ish?
“To spend another year in Israel.”
To spend another year in Israel and to learn Hebrew. Molly Wernick, 26, Elkins Park
My mother has never been to Israel — I’d like to go with my entire family, which I have not done. Greg Millhauser, 32, Ft. Lauderdale
I’ve never been to Ein Gedi; I’d like to go there. Carly Stanton, 25, Chestnut Hill (left) I want to go skydiving in Eilat. Karli Hershorin, 26, Villanova
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Life As They Know It Hospice professionals can completely change how people die, as well as how their loved ones go on living. By Amy Wright Glenn
Joan “No one wants to go in her room,” an outspoken middle-aged man says. “Aunt Joan looks awful.” As the hospital chaplain on call, I’ve been paged to offer support to the family clustered in the brightly lit hallway. Within a few minutes, I learn that they gathered after hearing of their elderly aunt’s death after struggling with a terminal illness. The family is Jewish, but not religious. They are at a loss when it comes to dealing with the death of their Aunt Joan.
Joan’s family was, I have no doubt that hospice would have better served everyone involved. Supported by hospice, Joan and her family could have crafted a specific, sensitive and well-informed end-of-life care plan. Hospice personnel would have been present for both Joan and her family throughout the dying process. Knowing that people carry vivid images of their last vision of the deceased, hospice professionals certainly would have respectfully prepared Joan’s body for her family to view as they honored her life.
“You should go in there and look at her yourself,” they tell me. I open the door and enter. Joan’s body is propped up in bed. A wild tangle of shimmering white hair surrounds the contorted face of a dead, skinny, old woman. Joan’s mouth is wide open, as if she is trying to shout or, perhaps, scream.
Saying a meaningful goodbye to a loved one is one of the most difficult tasks we are ever called to do. The support of caring professionals who work with families through the grieving process and help dying individuals prepare for death can offer needed strength and healing balm. While hospital chaplains are trained to provide immediate and sensitive care to those awaiting surgery, making sense of trauma or facing end-of-life issues, hospice professionals focus on offering long-term and in-depth support solely dealing with death and dying.
All heads turn toward me as I walk out of the room. “I can see why her facial features are disconcerting and perhaps even scary,” I acknowledge. “At the same time, Joan means something to each of you. You’ve come here to acknowledge that fact.” I invite those who are willing to do so to join me in the room. As we stand in a semicircle around the hospital bed, meaningful memories are expressed. Joan’s face no longer looks so distorted; the gathering, the telling and the sharing have softened it. A few tears are shed. “We will miss you, Aunt Joan. We love you.” Hands reach out for support. Most hold the living and a few reach out to touch the dead. Then it is over. The family wants to leave. I wish them well and encourage them to seek out further support as they continue to process Joan’s death. Befriending Death Regardless of how meaningful and helpful my brief encounter with
This approach to death isn’t new. The roots of our modern Western hospice movement date back to the 11th century, when religious orders in Europe created special homes for the dying that focused on offering spiritual comfort to the terminally ill. Characterized by providing spiritual, emotional and palliative care to the dying and spiritual and emotional care to the bereaved, hospice is based upon a holistic vision of life. Today’s hospice movement builds upon the work of Swiss psychiatrist Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and British nurse-turned-physician Dame Cicely Saunders. Saunders coined our contemporary use of the term “hospice” in reference to her palliative-focused care of the terminally ill. In 1967, she founded the first modern hospice in a London suburb. In 1974, the
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Life as They Know It first American hospice was established in Branford, Conn. By this time, most Americans no longer died — or, for that matter, were born — at home. The institutionalization of the dying and a growing faith in medical advancements to continually push off the inevitable created a need for dying individuals and grieving families to be supported through the process. Hospice professionals customize the care they offer for each family as they focus on the alleviation of physical suffering while helping all involve accept the natural process of death. Yet, we remain largely disconnected from the wisdom embodied in hospice. Why? In comparison to a death that results from an exhausting and aggressive series of increasingly futile medical treatments, “hospice is a much more natural way of approaching the death of a loved one,” states Rabbi
all specializing in end-of-life care. Members of the hospice team move from this center point and travel to their patients whether living in private homes, hospitals or nursing facilities. There is an interdisciplinary nature to the holistic care provided by the hospice team that meets regularly to discuss each patient and his or her family. Kaplan highlights hospice bereavement protocol consisting of followup phone support and home visits that can continue for up to a year following a death. In her book, Kaplan tells moving stories of visiting bereaved family members over the course of many months following the death of a loved one. With regard to the process of grieving, she writes that “grief does not occur in a neatly packaged period of time with a clear beginning and a clear end — even after several years, a cer-
“Hospice care never was really accepted by Jews in the beginning. That feeling still exists to some extent.” — Rabbi Ilene Schneider Ilene Schneider, the former coordinator of the Jewish Hospice Program for South Jersey’s Samaritan Healthcare and Hospice. A graduate of the the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Schneider works to dispel the misconception that hospice encourages people to actively speed up the dying process. It does not. When a person will not recover from an illness and prolonged treatment only brings prolonged suffering, she says, hospice care is a way to “stop treatment and make the person comfortable.” Stopping treatment in an age of ever-advancing medical innovations isn’t easy. According to a 2013 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the percentage of American seniors who used hospice between 2000 and 2009 doubled. This is good news. Yet, 75 percent of these seniors used hospice for three days or less. Clearly, hospice is being regarded as “an add-on to a very aggressive pattern of care during the last days of life,” writes Joan Teno, the study’s lead author and associate director of the Center for Gerontology and Health Care Research at Brown University Medical School in Providence, R.I. An aggressive model of care focuses solely on curing disease and offers no support when it comes to the inevitable. A readier acceptance of death allows medical support teams to provide appropriate palliative care rather than to prolong physical existence for as long as machines can pump air and circulate blood. While some hospices do have residences and all hospices have office locations, it’s best to think of hospice as a philosophy. “Hospice is a status, not a place,” states Rabbi Karen B. Kaplan, author of Encountering the Edge: What People Told Me Before They Died. Kaplan, a Reform rabbi, served the dying and grieving as a Jewish chaplain for seven years before turning her energies to teaching and writing. She describes a hospice office as “an organizational hub” for chaplains, nurses and doctors
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tain event, thought, experience or smell may suddenly stir up the sense of loss for a little while.” Through their visits, hospice chaplains help the bereaved understand the ebb and flow of grief’s fluidity. Families under the care of hospice are not left alone to sort through the complex and difficult feelings of letting go. The support of hospice chaplains is only a phone call, or a home visit, away. Did Joan’s family receive follow-up care? Even if her death came as a surprise, the support provided by hospice would have eased the anxiety facing the family awkwardly gathered in the hallway. Perhaps hospice wasn’t considered because Joan wanted to extend her physical existence at all costs. It’s possible that hospice wasn’t regarded as an option because the topic of death was one the family was so used to avoiding. It’s also possible that Joan and her family didn’t consider hospice because they were Jewish. Semantic Barriers “Hospice is a hard sell” for Jews, observes Rabbi Tsurah August, the hospice chaplain for Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia. August identifies heself as an “inclusive Jew” and was ordained by both the Academy of Jewish Religion and the late Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi through the Aleph Religious Fellowship. She highlights linguistic hurdles to Jewish acceptance of hospice and the misconception that by engaging hospice, the patient and their family are giving up on the possibility of a cure or treatment. “It’s a double whammy,” she laments. August runs the Jewish Hospice Network, a JFCS program, and launched the Hospice Awareness Shabbat project earlier this year. The project involves partnering with rabbis of Philadelphia synagogues and planning a Shabbat service focused on informing members of indi-
vidual synagogues about both hospice philosophy and various hospice services in the Philadelphia area. Before each Hospice Awareness Shabbat, August writes an article in the host synagogue’s newsletter to raise awareness. During the service itself, August shares a Torah reflection incorporating the spirit of hospice philosophy, and members of the synagogue who have used hospice are invited to share their experiences. When hospice first emerged as a viable end-of-life treatment option in the United States in the latter half of the 20th century, “a lot of Jews thought it was a Christian thing,” Kaplan says. In the 1970s, few Americans were familiar with the work of hospice or hospice chaplains. For many Jews, the word “chaplain” itself carried Christian connotations. Due to these associations, Jews feared becoming the subject of unwelcome conversion attempts. As Kaplan notes, “semantic barriers” explain why most Jews didn’t draw upon hospice support at that time. Schneider concurs. “Hospice care never was really accepted by Jews in the beginning,” she says. “That feeling still exists to some extent.” Even the incorporation of the terms “grief counselor” or “spiritual support counselor” are attempts to overcome some of the overt Christian associations with the word “chaplain.” In Schneider’s experience, “spiritual support counselor” and “chaplain” are used interchangeably but neither expression is fully adequate. How to find the right term to clearly express what a hospice chaplain does? Should the terms “pastoral care provider” or “spiritual companion” replace “hospice chaplain”? “The thing is to get in the door,” August emphasizes. Regardless of the term being used, hospice philosophy speaks for itself. Hospice chaplains support dying individuals in defining what matters most to them. For many Jews, this often entails a reflection on what is permitted in Jewish law. The Question of Jewish Law “Is it OK to be Jewish and be on hospice?” During her time at Samaritan, Schneider frequently was asked this question. “I’d tell them it’s absolutely possible,” she says. “There is nothing within hospice that goes against halachot.” Rabbi David Glicksman, who is Modern Orthodox, agrees. “Without blinking,” he says, he regards hospice as a halachically acceptable form of caring for the dying. Glicksman, a clinical pastoral educator, currently works as a part-time hospice chaplain at the Regency Jewish Heritage Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Somerset, N.J. According to Glicksman, there’s a default position in Judaism to preserve life that posits: “No, you can’t stop. You have to do everything” possible to stay alive. This is often the first reaction that Jews have to hospice. In Jewish law, one can break key mitzvot in order to save a human life. Consider the talmudic teaching: “He who saves a single life saves the world entire.” However, hospice chaplains realize this ap-
proach to safeguarding life needs nuance. “If further medical intervention is futile, the focus should be on palliation,” Glicksman asserts. Some very observant Jews are also open to receiving additional emotional support from members of other faiths. Glicksman’s brother-inlaw was a “black-hat, Yeshiva-type” Jew from Lakewood, N.J., who died in hospice. A Christian chaplain came to support him and the brotherin-law appreciated how this chaplain affirmed the “strong spiritual support” the dying man had in his own community, Glicksman said. Despite these examples, there is generally “a strong resistance to hospice in Orthodox and haredi communities,” Glicksman notes. Hospice is viewed as disregarding the mandate to affirm life at all costs and the advances in medical science that are seen as a gift from God. For Orthodox Jews, issues of death and dying are likely to be resolved by reaching out to their rabbi. Yet, as technological innovations continue to complicate the world of medical ethics, some Modern Orthodox and haredi rabbis are approaching their communities’ resistance to hospice in more nuanced ways. According to extensive, community-based research conducted by the Metropolitan Jewish Health System in New York, there is a growing and active discussion among Orthodox rabbis about circumstances when the continuation of medical treatment can be considered halachically “futile or unjustified” due to the “intense suffering” it entails even as it intends to prolong life. In the health system’s report, “Increasing Access to Palliative Care for the Orthodox Jewish Community,” Rabbi Tzvi Flaum, well known for his contributions to the study of Jewish medical ethics, states, “There is confusion about halachic decision-making at the end of life. However, the difference between philosophical and practical aspects of decision-making are taken into account by experienced poskim [rabbis who make halachic determinations]. The halachah supports ameliorating pain and suffering and definitely supports pain management in illness and throughout life, until the very end.” Non-Orthodox Jews are generally much more open to hospice, especially when the difference between religious and spiritual support is explained. In Schneider’s experience, most of the Jews she served were not religious and hadn’t been affiliated with a synagogue since their children were small or became Bar or Bat Mitzvah. When Schneider visited a secular Jewish home, she would notice items like a mezuzah or Shabbat candles. “They may not use them, but they have them,” she says. At first, many families would hesitatingly receive her support because they feared the judgment of a rabbi when it came to their nonobservance. She learned to quickly allay their concerns by explaining that her role was one of offering spiritual support in a nonjudgmental way. “What Is Important to You as a Jew?” Rhona Bergman’s husband of 35 years, Ira, was culturally Jewish but identified as agnostic. He struggled with health issues for most of their marriage. Yet, she says, he was always proud of “never giving up.”
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Life as They Know It When he was stricken with cancer, it was “really, really bad,” Bergman recalls. Now living in Delaware, Bergman and her late husband were residents of Philadelphia throughout the course of his illness. “I think he saw death as a failure,” Bergman reflects. As a former hospice nurse, she saw death in a different light. Hospice philosophy made perfect sense to Bergman and she often would return home sharing insights gained with Ira. Her husband was supportive of Bergman’s profession but never saw hospice as something he would consider. As her husband’s illness progressed, Bergman tried to convince him of the benefits of palliative care. She also knew that her family as a whole “needed the support” that hospice provides. After learning that his insurance company would no longer cover the cost of his oxygen needs at home, Ira signed up for hospice through Wissahickon Hospice in Bala Cynwyd. This is another benefit of joining hospice: in addition to the spiritual and professional support that it offers, insurance companies will cover a host of expenses for hospice patients that might not otherwise be covered, including equipment like oxygen, therapy and more.
the profound connection he would feel to the hospice staff, particularly to August. August was able to connect to Ira on a deep level while helping him prepare for his death. “One thing Rabbi Tsurah had shared with me about their conversations was that Ira’s biggest regret and concern was that he could not fathom how he’d be able to say ‘thank you’ and show his gratitude to the people in his life for all that they’d done for him during his illness,” Bergman says. The support of hospice helped Ira find a way to articulate this concern and take the time to express his gratitude. “What is important to you as a Jew?” August often asks this question of her hospice patients. As death approaches, she says, it is very helpful to feel connected to “one’s deep identity because everything is shifting.” It’s particularly important to give the dying a sense of connection to “something bigger than illness or loss,” she explains. Whether a Jewish hospice program exists as its own agency or within the framework of a larger, nondenominational body, the focus of Jewish hos-
So often the grieving are called to support a loved one with a “deer in the headlights” ignorance of what the experience of dying entails. After doing all of this, he asked to see a rabbi. “This was huge for him. He never went to services,” she emphasizes. August came to their home. “They adored each other,” Bergman recalls. She adds that Ira also “loved and accepted” the hospice nurses who cared for him. During one visit, August noticed that Ira had a shofar in his possession due to his interest in wind instruments. She mentioned the Jewish tradition of blowing the shofar every day for the month of Elul. Given that it was the month of Elul, Ira started blowing the shofar daily leading up to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. About a week before he died, Ira woke up one morning and said, “I think I’m going to die today. Where is my horn? Give me my horn.” He blew the shofar and then proceeded to make numerous phone calls to say goodbye to friends and family. During this time, he was surrounded by his wife, their three daughters and Clyde, the family dog. The medications helped ease his suffering. A week later, when Ira breathed his last breath, Bergman remembers, an incredible smile came across his face. It was “a smile unlike any smile he had ever had,” she says. “He was free.” For Bergman, hospice care was essential to the transformation witnessed in Ira’s final weeks. Given his previous antipathy regarding hospice philosophy and religious practice, she couldn’t have anticipated
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pice is to draw upon Jewish traditions while providing nonjudgmental and loving comfort to all involved. On a practical level, members of a Jewish hospice team can offer a weekly challah and Shabbat candles to families in their care. Jewish chaplains can provide a great deal of comfort with regard to sharing information on shivah, Jewish funeral practices and providing an environment for survivors to express their views or questions about the afterlife. August offers her support in planning or leading a shivah minyan for bereaved families. Ideally, a hospice patient can plan the funeral, shivah and even write his or her own eulogy. “This can be very empowering,” she says. She encourages the bereaved family to use the full seven days even if they do need to return to work. Even taking an hour each day to read, reflect and connect in a personal way to the remembrance of the loved one can be very healing. “Some say they don’t want their family to sit shivah,” August notes. This is because of a misunderstanding of the practice. Shivah isn’t about having a party or feeding people; it’s about taking the time to support the grieving and remember the dead in a way that is meaningful for each individual. Individuals matter in hospice. “We go with the needs of our patients,” affirms Schneider. This includes serving the needs of interfaith families. “There’s nothing like doing a Jewish funeral in a Catholic cemetery so a man can be buried next to his wife,” she says.
A Gentle Death It’s easy to avoid deep and difficult conversations about our inevitable death and the loss of those we love. Perhaps the fear of death is inherent in the human condition. After all, it seems we are the only mammals capable of imagining a future existence bereft of our individual presence. Combine this with the fact that culturally we are severed from experiencing the entrance and exit points of human life — until they are directly visited upon us. So often the grieving are called upon to support a loved one with a “deer in the headlights” ignorance of what the experience of dying entails. Joan’s story serves as a case in point. Great insight unfolds when tending to the dying. Members of hospice teams carry with them an essential repertoire of knowledge, once held
by our not-so-distant ancestors. Most importantly, hospice philosophy inspires families to talk openly about death. This matters. The telling of stories matter. How individuals and families are treated when death is upon them matters. Today’s modern hospice movement provides spiritual, emotional and palliative care to the dying — and spiritual and emotional care to the bereaved while openly embracing the truth that dying is a natural part of living. By doing so, hospice can be a way to make room again in our culture for the wisdom garnered from both difficult and healing encounters with death. As August succinctly sums it up, “There is a way to have a gentle death.” Amy Glenn is a hospital chaplain and freelance writer. She is the author of the book, Birth, Breath, and Death: Meditations on Motherhood, Chaplaincy, and Life as a Doula. This is her first contribution to Inside.
“There is a way to have a gentle death.”
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The Transition Team Meet the people who make final destinations their business. By Barbara S. Rothschild
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hen Cheryl Aboloff of Evesham, N.J., lost her father, Alvin Brown, in January 2009, the family had not done any preplanning for his funeral or final resting place — not even during the last months of failing health that led to his passing at age 78.
Aboloff’s mom, Leah, wanted to remain local and so the family turned to their synagogue, Adath Emanu-El in nearby Mount Laurel. Its administrator mentioned that the congregation had a section reserved in Crescent Memorial Park in Pennsauken. Aboloff’s husband, Steve, knew the owner of Mount Laurel Home for Funerals and suggested they try it. Although it’s nondenominational, it impressed Aboloff and her mother as modern, bright — and haimisch. The owner was attentive to her father’s veteran status, providing a flag to drape the coffin. “It was low-stress, sympathetic and comforting,” Aboloff said. As the first anniversary of Alvin Brown’s death approached, Aboloff helped her mother pick out a marker at Wertheimer/Liberty Monuments in Southampton, Pa. “We shopped at three places, but were comfortable there because they were Jewish and knew more than the others we visited,” Aboloff said. “Comfort” is perhaps the key word in describing what grief-stricken family members need when working out the details of burying their loved ones. For local companies involved in the business of death, the nearconstant evolution of their clients’ needs and demands to not just lay loved ones to rest but to do so in a way that satisfies their own particular traditions and interpretation of Judaism presents unique challenges. The Philadelphia Way At Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks Inc., a Philadelphia funeral home with roots dating back to 1877, vice presidents Randi Goldstein Casey and Brett Schwartz agreed that their roles — and profession — are ever-changing. “Older directors had it down to a science. They would tell a family what casket to take, and people were in and out very quickly,” said Schwartz, the great-great-grandson of Morris Rosenberg, founder of Morris Rosenberg Furnishing Undertakers in 1877. Rosenberg’s merged with RaphaelSacks in 1958, and the merger with Goldsteins’ was completed in 1992. Today, the company directs 1,500 to 1,600 funerals annually at its loca-
tions in North Philadelphia and Southampton, Pa. Today, Schwartz said, “people want more guidance and education from us.” Casey, one of the funeral home’s grief counselors, said that while many people today are more educated and come in knowing what they may want, others are so distraught that funeral directors really have to work with them. Indeed, one of the first rooms at Goldsteins’ North Philadelphia location is the Grief Room, filled with books, toys and lots of tissues. At Joseph Levine & Sons, founded in 1883 and still family-owned with four chapels in Philadelphia and its suburbs, general partner Brian Levine isn’t the only funeral director with a grief counseling certification. Levine, who supervises the Broomall location, said the funeral home has a salaried social worker/certified grief counselor, Pam Weinstein, who works one-on-one and in family group sessions. “It’s a full-time job for us and for her. In the future, there will be more grief counseling because people want that,” he said. From Unadorned to Elaborate Today’s Jewish funerals not only take longer, but services and burials often take more time to plan and schedule — flying against Jewish tradition of burying within 24 hours. “It’s a more transient society and people want to know if they can wait until everyone can get here. We tell them, ‘Of course you can,’ ” Casey said. “We can also do webcasting, where families dispense an email link so people who can’t get here can watch the service.” Just as there are multiple ways to choreograph a funeral — which can cost up to $10,000 on average at local funeral homes, not including cemetery and clergy — there is no end of choices when it comes to caskets. Goldsteins’ showroom has about 40 caskets on display — metal ones, nontraditional wooden ones with metal hardware and all-wood traditional kosher ones — “ ‘kosher caskets’ is a slang term for a casket that meets the criteria for a traditional Jewish burial by being all wood and no metal,” Schwartz explains. Prices range from $1,295 for a traditional pine box to $22,000 for a doublewalled bronze casket with two lids. The average price for a wood or metal casket range from $4,000 to $6,000.
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The Transition Team At Levine’s, simple wood caskets are trending these days, tying in with Jewish tradition and greener, more environmentally friendly burials that hew to the original “dust to dust” sentiment first expressed in Genesis, according to Brian Levine. “It’s a minuscule trend that may become more relevant as baby boomers age,” he said. Jewish funeral homes today also find themselves serving more than the Jewish population. “We are primarily a Jewish funeral home, but we will and do serve people of all faiths,” Schwartz said. “If people want us to do things like embalming, we do. We handle funerals for all races and religions because we have to — and want to.” This policy of ecumenical inclusion seems to be an industry standard, as variations on Schwartz’s response were echoed by other sources interviewed for this article. This includes accommodating non-Jewish spouses from interfaith marriages, as Brian Levine made clear by emphasizing that his funeral home is equipped to fill the needs of interfaith families. Making Arrangements in Advance Another growing phenomenon is prearranging funerals. The practice of making all of the financial arrangements in advance of one’s own demise has become an increasingly accepted one, to the point that prearranged funerals now comprise roughly 45 percent of Goldsteins’ business. “People my parents’ age think of it almost as a gift. They think, ‘I don’t want my children to go through the burden of having to sit and make the arrangements, and have to pay for it,’ ” Casey said. Because Levine & Sons owns Haym Salomon Memorial Park in Frazer — Pennsylvania, unlike New Jersey, allows funeral homes to own cemeteries — the company can save clients time by offering one-stop shopping. Levine
In New Jersey, preplanning money goes directly into an escrow account as a prepaid trust, earning interest until a person passes away. & Sons will work with people who choose to pay upfront in a lump sum or installments, but also provides guidance for younger folks who want to do as much prearranging as they without spending in advance. “One aspect of prearranging is you get your wishes known and kept on file,” Levine said. “The options are different for everybody and people who are young may feel their
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THE PRACTICE OF MAKING ALL OF THE FINANCIAL ARRANGEMENTS IN ADVANCE OF ONE’S OWN DEMISE HAS BECOME AN INCREASINGLY ACCEPTED ONE.
money is better invested elsewhere.” Larry Chelder of Elkins Park hasn’t preplanned funeral arrangements for himself and wife, Fran, but he intends to. When Fran’s mother, Sonia Kranzel, died at 103, she was buried with no fuss at Mount Sharon Cemetery in Springfield, where she had a plot purchased from her burial society. His wife’s late uncle had preplanned funeral arrangements made with Bennett Goldstein, one of the supervisor-directors at the family-run funeral home. That uncle and his wife are now buried at Montefiore Cemetery in Jenkintown, and the Chelders have purchased plots next to them. At 78, the retired general merchandise and hardware wholesaler, who serves as a lay leader at synagogue services, funerals and unveilings, has a final resting place, but has yet to make his own prefuneral arrangements. Chelder — father of three, grandfather of five and great-grandfather of one — said it’s on his to-do list once he and his wife have the necessary funds. “We should and will do funeral arrangements if we can,” he said. “We haven’t yet for economic reasons, but if we can it’s best for everyone.” The Jersey Way Across the Delaware River in Cherry Hill, N.J., it’s another family affair at Platt Memorial Chapels. Bernard Platt, a former township mayor who founded the company 37 years ago with his wife, Judy, now runs the business with three of his four children. Raised in Pennsylvania, Platt wanted to be a veterinarian but could not afford college. Two Quaker “lady friends” of his mother told Platt he would make a “fine mortician,” and ultimately helped him get an apprenticeship. He worked at a Philadelphia funeral home even after moving to Cherry Hill in 1966, then established his own memorial chapel in 1977. To this day, he said, he doesn’t know what qualities stood out that made those Quaker ladies peg
YOUR TRANQUIL PLACE OF REMEMBRANCE
Haym Salomon Memorial Park Set on 43 pristine acres in Frazer, Chester County, Haym Salomon Memorial Park’s established arboreal surroundings, dignified formal gardens and stately mausoleums offer a magnificent and peaceful resting place. Please visit haymsalomonmemorialpark.com for more information and to schedule a tour. Our Bronze Memorial Park offers: • Family and Private Burial Estates • Private and Community Mausoleums • Columbarium for Cremated Remains
Service. Tradition. Dignity. Founded in 1883, the Levine family has loyally served the Jewish Community for five generations. Under the mentorship of Joseph Levine, sons Adam, Brian & Jonathon carry the family legacy forward, holding high the values of service, tradition and dignity that forever bind them to the families they serve. • Pre-arrangement & arrangement services • Legal documents filing assistance • Entitlement (e.g. Social Security) filing assistance • Supervision of arranged service & graveside ceremonies • Coordination with out-of-state and out-of-country funeral service providers • Special equipment for House of Shiva • Memorial and Yahrzeit selections
Levinefuneral.com | (800) 992-3339
Joseph Levine & Sons, Inc. Brian M. Levine, Supervisor 2811 West Chester Pike Broomall, PA 19008 (610) 325-2000
Joseph Levine & Sons, Inc. Jonathon D. Levine, Supervisor 4737 Street Road Trevose, PA 19053 (215) 942-4700
Joseph Levine & Sons, Inc. Joseph H. Levine, Supervisor 7112 North Broad Street Philadelphia, PA 19126 (215) 927-2700
Haym Salomon Memorial Park A Levine Family Company 200 Moores Road Frazer, PA 19355 (610) 644 1100
The Transition Team
P HOTOS /B A RB A RA ROTHS CHILD
Montefiore cemetery includes sections for a Jewish burial society (left) and a synagogue.
him as a funeral director. Platt is proud of how his funeral home strives to educate the public through a program that brings in confirmation students and adult classes for tours of everything from the prep room to the showroom to the chapel. He and his staff also go out to speak in front of groups. In New Jersey, Platt said, prearranging money goes directly into an escrow account as a prepaid trust, earning interest until a person passes away. Only then is the money used, with the interest helping to offset the funeral home’s future costs. Cash disbursements, for such things as death notices and certificates, are not guaranteed in the prearranging process. “Moreover, if you move away and you decide you don’t want to be buried in New Jersey, by law we are required to return the money plus interest earned. That is unique to this state,” Platt said. “And we can’t speculate with this money. All the money that is invested must go into secured investment funds and is guaranteed like a bank.” At Rest At Jenkintown’s Montefiore Cemetery, a family-owned and -operated Jewish final resting place established in 1910 and easily identified by its castle-like, main building, 75 acres of burial ground includes sections for monuments and markers, as well as several mausoleums and a columbarium reserved for cremains.
to death, allowing those left behind to mourn without having to take care of burial details. Now, cemeteries are stepping in. About 90 percent of Montefiore’s business is prearranging, which helps economically by locking in prices, Loy said. “People think, ‘I have plenty of time.’ But there’s never enough time, and there’s never a right time. There’s just time,” said Samantha Bromley, Montefiore’s general manager. Jack Belitsky, 74, of Philadelphia, has dozens of relatives buried at Montefiore. The retired educator, who was a reading specialist in the Neshaminy school district and a teacher at both Temple Sholom in Northeast Philadelphia and Beth Sholom in Elkins Park, can see his final resting place when he visits loved ones. “My family has a long history at Montefiore going back to 1923,” the bachelor said. “My great-grandparents are buried there along with about 50 other family members.” Ten years ago, Belitsky made arrangements for himself and his sister and brother-in-law, Bernice and Michael Brown. “We are all basically in the same section. You will see all my family there,” he said. “When the time comes, it’s very emotional and difficult and now no one has to be bothered with finding a plot.” Because Pennsylvania allows it, Montefiore offers a monument and marker service for one-stop shopping. Those who preplan have the prices locked in, and can pay out their fees at no interest. The markers start at $600, while a black pearl marble double monument could go as high as $15,000. Private mausoleums cost more.
Montefiore marketing director Bill Loy has his own plot ready near his parents’ graves. Herbert and Greta Loy, Holocaust survivors who met in Shanghai, immigrated to Philadelphia via San Francisco after the war and almost immediately joined a burial society called Chevra Tikvah Kadisha, their son recalled. Their yearly bill was $10.
At Montefiore, graves can cost as little as $1,500 — there are some areas reserved for indigents whose costs are entirely covered by philanthropists’ donations — and increase to as much as $8,000 for a grave surrounded by a lot of open space. The average cost is about $3,000 to $3,500, Loy said.
The societies ensured there would be some ease in transitioning from life
By state law, Pennsylvania cemeteries are required to offer perpetual care,
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The Transition Team but people also have the option of paying for care annually. Even if they forget to pay a bill, the grass is cut and any safety problems are remedied.
here,” he said. “If you want to get a sense of the South Jersey Jewish community and its leaders, this is where you go.”
The cemetery has various sections, including an Orthodox area, and plenty of room for expansion. “We try to keep families together,” Bromley said. “It can sometimes be difficult, but this cemetery is built around heritage, and family is what’s most important.”
Shreter’s father, Morris, was a Czechoslovakian war refugee who arrived in America in the early 1950s; his mother, Elaine, came from England. His dad had a business in Camden making orthotics and prosthetics, but the family settled in Cinnaminson and became immersed in life at Temple Sinai.
“Their synagogue was their family,
“Their synagogue was their family, and now they’re buried among their synagogue family,” Shreter said. “When I walk around the Sinai section, I see all the people I knew growing up, including four or five of my parents’ closest friends.”
and now they’re buried among their synagogue family. When I walk around the Sinai section, I see all the people I knew growing up, including my parents’ closest friends.” — Jon Shreter Loy is a case in point. He purchased six plots — for himself, his wife and two each for both his children — one row over from his parents, who are buried in the last row of their society’s section. A Link to the Past Jon Shreter of Moorestown, N.J., would agree that prearranging is a key component of a problem-free final transition — in theory. Shreter, president of the board of trustees for Crescent Memorial Park, an independent, not-forprofit entity established in 1933 in Pennsauken under the auspices of the local Jewish community, hasn’t gotten around to preplanning his final resting place. Although he hasn’t decided on anything yet, it could be at Crescent — where each owner of a burial plot is a member of the cemetery association — perhaps in the section reserved for members of Temple Sinai, the Conservative synagogue in Cinnaminson, the Burlington County town of his childhood. About one-third of the 35 acres at the not-for-profit, volunteer-governed cemetery — a rarity in today’s corporate, for-profit cemetery landscape — have been developed, with areas reserved for markers and monuments, a mausoleum and columbarium, and sections belonging to six South Jersey synagogues, with more planned. Shreter, executive director of a health-care management association, said the cemetery began for the benefit of the Camden community, which was heavily Jewish in the 1930s. “We’re the repository for the history of all the people
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Shreter said Crescent’s job is to make the process of burial as comfortable as possible. “A lot of people have individual wishes,” he said. “We balance those with the fact that it is a community here, and there must be respect and dignity for the environment as a place of remembrance.” Preparing for the Future Synagogue sections hold flat markers, while monuments in hues of gray, red and black populate the landscape as changing times and requests are honored. As at Montefiore, increasing numbers of stones bear Eastern European and Russian names and Cyrillic lettering — a reflection of the region’s influx of Russian immigrants over the past few decades. Some of the areas marked for future development will remain wooded in answer to demand, Shreter noted. “People are seeking a park-like setting, but we also have people who like to have sidewalks,” he said. Besides being kept up by groundskeepers, graves are tended by synagogue youth groups and a local Boy Scout troop that places American flags on veterans’ graves before national holidays. While synagogues set their own prices for the plots in their sections, other plots start at about $1,000 and go up depending on size and location, Shreter said. Perpetual maintenance is included. There are anywhere from 130 to 150 burials at Crescent annually, with the mausoleum and columbarium gaining popularity. Ashes may also be buried in the grave of a loved one, or in a companion grave. Despite his own procrastination, Shreter said the cemetery encourages prearranging. “It’s nice to see people come to buy plots for themselves and their family,” he said. “They’re really doing a mitzvah. It’s much better to come when you’re calm and collected and in a better place emotionally.” Shreter believes the biggest challenge for his community burial ground is to operate efficiently. “We have a fiscal responsibility to make sure we take care of things in perpetuity,” he said. “Our goal is to make sure this place is here for the next several hundred years and more — and make it relevant to the community’s needs.” Barbara Rothschild is a longtime local journalist. This is her first contribution to Inside.
LEAVE THEM THE ULTIMATE GIFT.
One of the most generous things you can do for your loved ones is to give them the gift of pre-arrangement. By taking the time to pre-arrange your funeral now, you can remove future anxiety, planning and financial burden from the shoulders of your loved ones, allowing them to focus on whatâ€™s most important during one of the most difficult times they will ever endure. Give them the freedom to celebrate your life in the way you imagined and that they deserve, without the worries or stress of managing the process.
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Joseph Levine & Sons is a 5th generation family business, so we uniquely understand family legacies and the impact one generation has on the next. We will guide your family through your pre-arrangement with dignity, respect and great care to ensure your wishes are fulfilled. Let us explain the many benefits of pre-arrangement in an open, honest and comfortable way.
The Gift Of Emotional Freedom Pre-planning takes the burden of planning and guesswork off of their shoulders so that they can focus on finding inner peace without being distracted by the stress of administrative decisions and guesswork about the proper way to honor you.
The Gift Of Financial Security Whether you decide to cover part, or your entire funeral costs, you will ease your familyâ€™s financial burden and also lock in the cost now, without being subject to future increases.
The Gift Of Peace Of Mind We will help you obtain and file all necessary legal documents, so your family will not have to worry about searching for them after your passing, freeing them to focus on whatâ€™s most important, without distraction.
About Joseph Levine & Sons Founded in 1883, the Levine family has loyally served the Jewish Community for five generations. Under the mentorship of Joseph Levine, sons Adam, Brian & Jonathon carry the family legacy forward, holding high the values of service, tradition and dignity that forever bind them to the families they serve.
Haym Salomon Memorial Park Set in the beautiful, arresting landscape of Chester County, Haym Salomon Memorial Park offers Philadelphiaâ€™s most magnificent eternal resting place. Learn more about the Memorial Park on page 37.
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Finding Common Ground on Cremation hen Suzi Freedman’s mother, Anita Schipper, died in March, Freedman knew she was going to get her mother cremated — not because she believes in it, but because it was what her mother wanted. Though she was 87, Schipper, a resident of the community Lions Gate Jewish retirement in Voorhees, N.J., had been relatively fit until shortly before her passing from infection and heart failure following complications from a surgical hip procedure. “It was a shock. You’re crying. You’re sad, you’re angry,” Freedman said. “But because of your religion, you have to make decisions immediately.” The whole process was distasteful to Freedman. Moreover, as a teacher of the Holocaust at a local religious school, she was aghast at the thought of Jews willingly incinerating their bodies, lifeless or no. “When she said, ‘Just cremate me,’ I was horrified and I asked her, ‘Mom, why would you want to be cremated? It’s against our religion and it reminds me of how Jews were treated in the Holocaust.’ I always assumed we’d bury Mom,” Freedman said. But like the rest of the American population, a steadily increasing number of Jews are choosing cremation. For Reform Jews, the tacit acceptance of cremation by the movement has made the shift easier for those who choose the method. “I personally think there is something to be said for going to visit a grave with a stone,” said Reform Rabbi Benjamin David of Adath Emanu-El in Mount Laurel, N.J. “But part of my work is helping people find a path that is more appropriate for them, and this one may be less painful somehow. “For me, it’s about not coming to this conversation with being judgmental. It’s about explaining Jewish teachings and respecting the decisions that mourners make,” said David, who will officiate at funeral services with cremation. Funeral professionals cite practical and financial reasons as other motivating factors for people making the choice. Brett Schwartz, of Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphael-Sacks, estimates that 14 percent of the deaths currently handled there are cremations. While that number may seem high to those who are used to thinking of it as verboten, it is indicative of the larger trend: according to the Cremation Association of North America, 38 percent of deaths in North America in 2009 — the last year figures were available — were cremations, up from 15 percent in 1985. At Goldsteins’, Randi Goldstein Casey attributes increasing requests for cremation in large part to rising costs, not just for funerals and burials but also for shivah and other rituals attached to death and mourning. While an average funeral in Philadelphia can cost from $8,000 to $10,000 before factoring in clergy and cemetery, a direct cremation with no service runs about $3,000 at Goldsteins’. “It’s also because we’re a more transient society now. Not everyone’s here, they’re out of state,” Casey said. “The feeling is, why put a stone up when no one can visit? And some people say, ‘I don’t want to be stuck in the ground.’ ” At Joseph Levine & Sons, Brian Levine said cremation is definitely trending and accounts for about 10 percent of the deaths handled by the funeral home. “I don’t know how far it will go, but about 15 years ago when I
started in the business, it was about 4 percent,” Levine said. Like Casey at Goldsteins’, he attributes much of it to family mobility. “People don’t have roots in the Philadelphia area like they used to. If you have three children, they may live in different states. There is no place to call home, even for a final resting place,” he said. The other reason, he said, is that more rabbis are agreeing to officiate at cremation services. Like Freedman, Jewish tradition frowns heavily on cremation. Orthodox and many Conservative Jews would never even consider it. “The clear position of Judaism since the time of the Bible has been that life is a divine gift, and life is composed of the symmetry of body and soul,” explained Rabbi Ephraim Epstein of Congregation Sons of Israel, an Orthodox synagogue in Cherry Hill. “We have an obligation to take care of this divine gift while we are alive and after the body and soul separate. It’s biblically mandated to give Kavod Hameis, honor to the dead.” Epstein also noted that physical resurrection is a basic tenet of Jewish belief, and that when the Messiah comes, Jews will be resurrected to their bodies — if those bodies exist. He added that the visceral disgust felt by people like Freedman about cremation is because of how Jews were exterminated by incineration during the Holocaust is real and far-reaching among members of the faith. “We live in a world today where there is a lot more egocentric existence. The world points us in the direction of what’s right for me,” Epstein said. “But taking care of the dead, preparing a body for burial is considered the ultimate kindness because you can’t expect anything in return. It’s the opposite of what is convenient for me.” Convenience was a factor in Schipper’s decision. She wanted her ashes returned to Toronto, the family’s native city where her late husband, Hartley, was buried in a Conservative cemetery. In discussions with her mother, Freedman said, “Mom reminded me of how Dad was put in a metal casket to be shipped to Toronto. It cost $10,000 back then to have him buried there. She told us, ‘Do you think I care what happens to my body? The body is just a shield.’ So with my sister and my mother, it was decided that if Mom was cremated we could sprinkle her ashes over Daddy” or, if possible, she added, “we’d put them in the grave next to Daddy.” In August, Freedman’s daughter and her sister took her mother’s remains to Toronto. “They dug a little hole in Dad’s grave and buried Mom’s ashes there, not too far down, so it would not disturb the grave,” Freedman said. “My daughter wrote a little service, and it was done.” “Mom was trying to make it easier on us, but she knew it bothered me,” said Freedman, who now says it is not out of the realm of possibility that she would make the same choice for herself. “We had many conversations, and I came to realize that Mom was right — the soul is what matters, if there even is a soul.” She doesn’t know what she will ultimately decide to do, she said, but added that she and her daughter must have that conversation. “I’m going to get a new will, and I’ll decide then. Can we even do this? We can under Reform Judaism,” she said. “It’s important that I figure it out so my daughter doesn’t have to make decisions alone when I’m old and sick. But the whole thing has just left us with a feeling of sadness.”
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Looking Back to Move Forward The ways that we memorialize the departed are changing — and fast. By Carol Saline
fter gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson committed suicide in 2005, his buddy, film star Johnny Depp, arranged what he considered an appropriate send-off. Depp commissioned the erection of a 150-foot tower mounted with a cannon that blasted Thompson’s remains into the Colorado stratosphere while a band, accompanied by a shower of fireworks, played the journalist’s favorite songs. Thompson was an iconoclast in death as in life, but he wasn’t the only one to shuffle off this mortal coil in a memorable way. An ice cream vendor in Massachusetts requested that his old truck lead his funeral procession, and all the mourners got popsicles at the end. A real estate mogul in California funded a $75,000, 20-minute tribute video of his life while he was still living for his heirs to screen at his funeral. A volunteer fireman in Pittsburgh had his casket placed on a fire truck and taken to the cemetery with sirens blaring. Tupac Shakur’s friends mixed the murdered rapper’s ashes with pot and smoked him into oblivion. Estée Lauder had waiters serve chocolate-covered marshmallows on silver trays at her funeral reception. Choreographer Benjamin Harkarvy, who did a stint at the Pennsylvania Ballet, left $10,000 in his will for a memorial program featuring a selection of his works to be performed at the Juilliard School, where he’d taught. Even the scattering of ashes after cremation has become too pedestrian. Taking the theme “a diamond is forever” into a new realm, a company called LifeGem will extract the carbon from your loved one’s ashes to create a man-made diamond pendant of your choice ranging in price from $2,500 to $14,000. Or Companion Star Crystal will take a small amount of a beloved’s ashes and blow them into a piece of glass sculpture. Eternal Reefs will mix your scuba-loving deceased’s remains into a concrete memorial reef that’s placed in the ocean as part of a marine habitat. One of its artificial reefs is in Ocean City. N.J. Creative Cremains will pack ashes into anything from custom-made musical instruments to fishing rods and golf clubs. The sounds of a marching band, a jazz trio or a Dixieland quartet at your service, your funeral or memorial service broadcast on the Internet
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Looking Back to Move Forward — you name it, you can have it as part of your goodbye. You can even hire a trained end-of-life death doula to assist with dying the way birth doulas take charge at the beginning of life to help out new moms. To the growing list of “nothing’s sacred anymore,” you can add the sanctity of the traditional funeral. In an industry designed to sanitize and professionalize death, the buzzword these days is personalization. People today, especially narcissistic baby boomers, want to replace a painful farewell with one that doesn’t conform to a time-honored script.
your death to be?” For those less inclined to group activities, The Conversation Project, initiated by writer Ellen Goodman, offers a toolkit for initiating end-of-life conversations on a variety of topics from estate planning to funeral directives.
If you think about it, our society has been altering ironclad traditions in just about every aspect of the life cycle. My friend, former Daily News columnist Jill Porter, got ordained online so she could perform the marriage ceremony of her beloved niece. So long, clergy! My granddaughter orchestrated her entire Bat Mitzvah in the backyard of her home where she wrote the service, designed the prayer book and played the guitar (in addition to reading the Torah). So long, synagogue! And don’t forget the bat simcha, a ceremony for families who want to celebrate the birth of a daughter. So long, male dominance!
Jewish funerals tend to be somber and rest on two pillars: to honor the dead and comfort the bereaved. But increasingly, the rabbinical community varies in how rigidly they interpret these dicta. “I recognize that people have their own ideas, and it behooves rabbis to be with” the bereaved and to offer them “whatever they need in their darkest hour,” says Reconstructionist Rabbi Lauren Grabelle Herrmann. “At the same time, I believe our traditions have great merit and I like to tell people what they are.” According to halachah, Jewish rituals around death are tightly scripted. There is a huge body of law outlining every step of burial and mourning: how to prepare the body; when to bury (as soon as possible); what kind of casket (simple wood, always closed); who can be a pallbearer (never the immediate family) and much more.
A New Beginning for End-of-Life Celebrations After Michelle Cromer lost her infant daughter, she wanted to encourage more people to engage in conversations about grief. She ended up writing an oddly delightful book, Exit Strategies, based on her travels around the country interviewing people like the potter near Santa Fe
The Evolution of Commemoration Over millennia, Jewish traditions surrounding death have provided a helpful behavioral guide to mourning, The mitzvah of comforting the bereaved is incumbent upon the whole community, and nowhere is that more brilliantly fulfilled than through shivah, the ritual designed
If you have a hankering for a particular kind of funeral, write down your wishes and leave them with a family member so they know what you want. who incorporates cremains (the proper term for cremation ashes) into the clay she uses to make custom ceramic pieces for her clients; or the company that will shoot your remains into space in a rocket or release them in a helium balloon. “My book is about celebration,” says Cromer. “These unusual ‘exit strategies’ are a different way of embracing death, not a way to shortcut or avoid grief. If you love, you must grieve — but there are many ways to honor a life.” That’s the philosophy of Kyle Devlin, a Philadelphia graphic designer, who started a company called Fun Funerals. “I’d been to a series of cookie-cutter funerals,” she says, “and I wondered why they all had to be the same. Then I heard about some of these outrageous funerals and thought, what an opportunity to celebrate a life. I believe every funeral should be tied to the deceased and reflect their soul and spirit — infused with their personality.” Her workshops are for those interested in planning their own funerals. “Talking about dying helps lessen the fear of the participants,” she says, “and it gives people a chance to examine their lives. You write a living will; why not think about how you’d like
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to protect and comfort the bereaved at their most vulnerable time. The Hebrew word “shivah” means “seven” and refers to the seven days Joseph mourned the death of his father Jacob. Many contemporary shivot last only three days, but Herrmann encourages people to do more if they can. “Our society is not great about mourning,” she says, “and having more time to be with your grief is a gift.” The evolution in Jewish funeral traditions can be partly explained by the shift in religious attitudes. Today, according to Rabbi Lance Sussman of Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, the largest segment of Jews in the United States identifies as unaffiliated (the second-largest belongs to the Reform movement). Neither of these cohorts is very tightly bound to the old ways. “In my version of Reform Judaism, we can be both adaptive and creative,” Sussman says. “Judaism and culture can go hand in hand. My goal is to bring comfort to mourners in the way they choose.” That’s why cremation, while not encouraged, is now permitted. “As our belief in physical resurrection weakens,” Sussman says, “we are less inclined to have the need to preserve the body.”
Gradually, strict adherence to ritual has morphed into flexible interpretation. When Sussman’s father died, the family had a progressive shivah: The first took place in Baltimore where his parents lived, followed by one in Philadelphia for his friends and then one in Long Island where his sister resided. Other changes he’s noticed are the importance of music and speakers at the service; grandchildren requesting to wear the cut black ribbon typically reserved for the spouse, children and siblings; and, occasionally, a eulogy written by the deceased himself. (One began, “Just like you, I didn’t want to be here today.”) Even more involved than rabbis in the changing culture of death are Jewish funeral directors, whose services have expanded in ways they never imagined. Joseph Levine has been part of his family’s 150-year-old mortuary business since 1945. “Thirty years ago, it would have been unheard of to have a mariachi band at a funeral here,” he says, “but we had one recently. Whatever people want, it’s no problem — a musical quartet, a harpist, bagpipes — we’ve done it all.” Levine’s now offers webcasts of funeral services (which are especially popular with Russians who have relatives in Ukraine), as well as audio broadcasts so distant relatives can listen to the service and CDs for mourners who want keepsakes. Levine has also seen a large increase in services held graveside instead of in the chapel and a marked decrease in the participation of rabbis. “When I was a kid,” he recalls, “you typically had families living in the same state. Today, families are scattered all over, they don’t belong to a synagogue and they don’t want some strange rabbi who didn’t know their loved one talking about them. They’d rather speak themselves.” Transforming the Universal Into the Sui Generis Bernie Platt, who operates Platt Memorial Chapels in Cherry Hill along with his son Harry, first sensed something happening 10 years ago when a family tied balloons and exotic flowers to the ends of the pews in the chapel. “It was surprising and unique,” he recalls. “But the guests seemed to understand that this was fitting for the person who’d died.” Harry Platt adds, “Today, people are less formal and more casual about what’s allowed at a funeral. They ask a lot more questions — ‘can I do this or that?’ Our answer is, ‘Whatever you’re comfortable with is OK.’ No desire is looked upon as unusual.” Even the funeral of a rabid sports fan whose family asked attendees to wear red for the Phillies or green for the Eagles and pasted a Philly Phanatic decal on his coffin. What has become a rather common practice is placing mementos inside the coffin, which, in Bernie Platt’s view, “leavens the sadness and helps the mourning process.” Golf clubs and tees are particularly popular, but the Platts have seen families bury loved ones with a remote control, a cellphone, a good bottle of Scotch, casino chips and expensive cigars. I can understand this predilection to personalize: We buried my father with The New York Times Sunday crossword and a pencil with an eraser. In response to requests for video presentations, the Platts installed a large screen TV in the lobby to show photomontages of the deceased as attendants arrive — just like the ones typically on display at Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and birthday parties. Rare is the funeral that doesn’t
Shrouded in Loving-kindness One of the most moving of Jewish funeral rituals is tahara, the ritual of cleansing the body and wrapping it in a simple linen The tahara ritual shroud. Today, this is one of the most is typically done in a funeral home. intimate acts of the But in PhiladelJewish mourning phia, there is a process. more tender option. Back in the 1980s during the height of the AIDS crisis, a small group of local Jews led by Rabbi Linda Holtzman worried that Jewish AIDS victims were being treated as pariahs and denied traditional funeral practices, so they began doing tahara on request. Today, a group of 25 lay people lovingly offers tahara to any Jew in the community. Family members are invited to the funeral home to share the experience, encouraged to participate in the ceremony and offered the opportunity to put mementos into the casket if they so wish. The $225 fee is donated to charity or waived when necessary. “We take honoring the dead very seriously,” says Holtzman, who officiates at all kinds of final services. She believes that life celebrations are entirely appropriate. “To find joy in the life of a person you’ve lost,” she says. “can lessen the grief of the goodbye.” To arrange tahara for your loved one, contact Holtzman at firstname.lastname@example.org display an array of framed pictures or posterboards plastered with photos of the deceased and their friends and family. “Funerals today focus increasingly on life,” Harry Platt notes. “You see this especially in the content of eulogies, which are likely to be full of wonderful stories. Twenty years ago, you never heard laughter in the chapel. Now it’s routine.” Both Platts advise that if you have a hankering for a particular kind of funeral, write down your wishes and leave them with a family member so they know what you want. It will make the process much easier. Of all the transformations in Jewish funerals, the most radical has been the rise in cremations. Your grandparents would have been horrified at the idea; your grandchildren are likely to be surprised that it was once
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Looking Back to Move Forward verboten. Statistics project that by 2025 nearly half of all funerals in the United States will be cremations. Currently the nationwide rate is 43 percent; in Philadelphia it’s slightly lower at 38 percent. Although Jews lag far behind those averages, the numbers are growing. The Platts have seen a slight increase in cremations and Joseph Levine pegs their cremation rate at about 14 percent. Cost is one factor. Cremations are
much cheaper than burial plots. Another is the wide dispersal of family members who can’t get together quickly for a funeral and have no ties to the community where the deceased died. Honoring a Death, Celebrating a Life “Families today are seeking uplifting experiences,” says Rabbi Carole
A Quick Guide to Consoling the Bereaved, by Fran Gerstein When our son died, people had questions regarding how to best console my family and me. Let me say that not all bereaved people are alike. This guide encompasses what was helpful to us. We are a family that chooses to grieve while living our lives. That is, we go out in public, work at our jobs, see our friends and carry on as normally as possible, given the fact that one of us is no longer living. TIP #1 Go to the bereaved person. When our close friends heard what had happened to our son, they contacted each other and formed an informal committee. The main credo was to show up, whether it’s with food, sweets or nothing at all. Food helps, even if the bereaved don’t eat it. In our case, we had a refrigerator full of homemade and store-bought goodies. At one point, there were four whole cooked chickens in my fridge, all wrapped and ready to eat. I had never considered that owning four chickens could make me feel loved. I don’t even like chicken, but I derived much pleasure from looking at them on their little refrigerator shelves. Some people (I’m not sure who) stuck things in our freezer, with sticky labels. Others made fro-yo runs. Two sets of friends, noticing that my husband wasn’t eating solids, began to deliver fro-yo before breakfast each morning. Seeing him eating it in his pajamas made us feel like everything was going to be all right. TIP #2 Know that the bereaved are under great stress. I am still trying to figure out who gave me a “de-stressor” gift bag filled with lavender oil, incense and a pair of white and-lilac-striped stress-zapping socks. I will give such a gift to the next friend in need. TIP #3 Make sure the bereaved sit, eat and rest. People in a grief state are overcome with emotion; shock takes a lot out of you. My daughter kept asking why her body felt like she had been hit by a truck. Grief is a physically exhausting process. It took me days to be able to walk down the block, even though prior to my son’s
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death, I regularly took two-hour walks. TIP #4 Look into the bereaved person’s eyes. Be genuine. If you liked or loved their loved one or like or love them and it breaks your heart that this loss has occurred, show them that. Do not say things you don’t mean. People in a grief state notice your disingenuous attitude and they find it annoying and depressing. TIP #5 Hug the bereaved person. Almost everybody likes to hug and be hugged. I came to this hugging thing late in life and with much trepidation because I grew up in a family that rarely hugged. But all that has changed. Losing someone you love makes you crave touch. I wanted hugs from men, women, old, young, gay, straight. I demanded hugs. TIP #6 Refrain from offering the person your philosophy on religion, your own views on the meaning of life and/or your beliefs about the afterlife. It is OK to discuss these topics with the bereaved person if they have specifically asked you, “Do you believe in life after death? If so, will you be kind enough to share your beliefs with me?” But if they do not ask, chances are they do not want to know what you think. TIP #7 Refrain from looking at bereaved people with sad, puppy-dog eyes, especially if they smile at you and tell you they are doing OK. Please believe me on this one: Take your cues from the bereaved person. If the bereaved person is smiling and saying hello, smile back. Do not frown at them. This confuses the bereaved person who then feels they need to cheer you up about their loved one dying. If you feel genuinely sad and tear up, that is OK. TIP #8 Refrain from gasping when the bereaved enter a public space. My husband and I felt the need to go out. Sometimes we went to local restaurants. When we walked in there was sometimes a gasp. People stared at us in disbelief, then quickly looked down at their plates. Bereaved people need to eat; they want to be in public sometimes. It is their right to do so. Your gasping makes it feel as if they have done something wrong.
Limited Time Pre-Construction Offer Gould. With the increase in cremations, that has come to mean something other than a traditional funeral. Last spring, Philadelphians Fran and Stuart Gerstein lost their 28-year-old son, Daniel, a few days after he was in a bike accident. Neither of them believed in the template of a typical rabbinical funeral so they chose cremation, partly because “we just couldn’t see putting Dan in the ground,” Fran says. “It wasn’t who he was.” While an ad hoc shivah evolved over the first several days after Dan’s death, with friends coming by and bringing food and solace, what became clear to the family was that they needed some public way to honor Dan and share their grief. Fran, a therapist, called her rabbi friend, Gould, seeking guidance. Her specific words were, “We don’t want a funeral or a memorial service. We want a celebration of
“We did have moments of concern that we’d be seen as crazy or disrespectful but, ultimately,
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planning the ceremony helped us from being catatonic those first few weeks. It gave us purpose and focus.” —Fran Gerstein Dan’s life.” Frankly, Gould wasn’t sure exactly what that meant. As it turned out, neither were the Gersteins, so they simply plunged into the uncharted process of capturing a life not fully lived — a process that turned out to be immensely successful in lightening their grief. “Dan was eccentric,” Fran says, “and as we thought about how he would want to be remembered, we all got very excited — ‘what if so and so sang and this or that one spoke. Oh, Dan would love that or this would be perfect for him.’ ” Friends started coming around and asking to be included. Dan’s sister went on his Facebook page requesting photographs — and got 300 responses with an hour.
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“We all went into creativity mode,” Fran recalls. “Stuart created an opening video montage and designed a guest book with reproductions of Dan’s artwork. We did have moments of concern that we’d be seen as crazy or disrespectful but, ultimately, planning the ceremony helped us from being catatonic those first few weeks. It gave us purpose and focus. It helped us grieve. In remembering him, we had huge reliefs of emotion. I laughed as hard as I cried. Why do we think that the only way
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Looking Back to Move Forward to be cathartic is to be sad? Why can’t we mourn a death by celebrating a life? I truly think it’s possible to grieve joyously and that belief and the planning we immersed ourselves in was an immense help getting us through this tragedy.” I was privileged to be invited to Dan’s life celebration, which turned out to be an eclectic mix of songs, stories, poems, remembrances and
Amy Cunningham, a Brooklyn-based funeral director, told me that a good funeral — or memorial or life celebration or whatever you want to call it — should have the goal of sending everyone out the door with a slightly altered life philosophy. I don’t often feel this at funerals, but I do at many of the memorial services I’ve witnessed, which may be why they have become so popular. A life joyfully recalled even in sadness has a powerful impact.
In a way, I was inspired to be a better person, to live my life with some of the zaniness, joy and generous spirit that Dan brought to his. music that concluded with everyone going outdoors and releasing balloons into the heavens. While I did not know Dan, I left his life celebration profoundly wishing that I had. In a way, I was inspired to be a better person, to live my life with some of the zaniness, joy and generous spirit that Dan brought to his. I felt his family had given me a gift in the way they chose to remember him. And for Fran and Stuart, having a community share their grief was its own gift. “We were able to receive overwhelming support by being willing to share our vulnerability,” Fran said.
Years ago, I told my children that for my send-off, I want Mummers strutting and playing at my grave, followed by a party with my favorite foods — chocolate in every variation, a gelato bar with lots of flavors, something made with peanut butter and oodles of Champagne. They thought I was kidding, but I wasn’t. And given the way goodbyes are changing, I now fully expect my wishes to be carried out. Too bad I can’t attend. Carol Saline is dead serious about that, by the way.
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The Made-toMeasure of a Man
The Shape of Things to Go
Most in the Machine
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The Made-to-Measure of a Man Brian Lipstein just wants you to look good. By Gail Snyder
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Brian Lipstein (opposite) is his own best advertisement for Henry A. Davidsen; Doug Burman (right) proudly shows off the silk Bemberg lining of his H.A.D. suit.
s an economics major at the University of Pennsylvania at the turn of the century, Brian Lipstein figured his future would involve working in finance and living in New York City. Today, the 30-year-old resides in Bella Vista while running Henry A. Davidsen men’s clothing design studio in Rittenhouse Square. The company offers by-appointment-only image consulting, traditional barbering and custom-made classic business suits that make clients look — and feel — like a million bucks. Lipstein could care less that Philadelphia, which is only about 100 miles from New York City, remains two years behind the Big Apple in men’s clothing trends. It doesn’t faze him at all that even though three-button suits are making a comeback after 10 years of being out of favor, they won’t show up here anytime soon. And when asked about what Delaware Valley men might be wearing to High Holiday services this year, he predicts more doublebreasted suits — last year’s fall trend — as well as fitted garments that are a bit more relaxed than they were five years ago and a preponderance of brighter, bolder colors. Should Lipstein be spotted at services, don’t expect him to be wearing anything trendy. The owner of 15 suits and 12 pairs of shoes — he can rattle off his chest, waist and hip measurements the way most people can recite their Social Security numbers — would probably wear something simple, classic and elegant: perhaps his favorite outfit of a solid navy, three-piece, twobutton suit with notched lapels. Too often, he points out, fashion and style are confused for each other. “Fashion is trendy and determined by the industry. Style is determined by your personality and it’s permanent,” he says. On the warm summer afternoon that Lipstein welcomes a reporter to his second-story showroom on Spruce Street, the self-assured entrepreneur is nattily attired in navy blue suit pants and a matching vest; he is also wearing a light-blue French cuff shirt with gemstone
cuff links — he says he loves the way a French cuff shirt feels on his wrists and how cuff links allow him to express his personality. Lipstein, the only male certified image consultant in Pennsylvania, estimates that over the past eight years he has put nearly 1,000 men — including some celebrities and the Philly Phanatic (in his off-duty persona, naturally) — into custom-made clothing that complements their professions, personalities and images. Where appropriate, he has also advised them on other aspects of their lives such as diet, fitness and body language.
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The Made-to-Measure of a Man “Our overall approach is image consulting, so it’s not just clothing but a person’s complete image we can service from head to toe: haircut, shave, mini-facial, clothing, anything from suits and shirts to jeans and custom polos, top coats, tuxedos and tailored clothing,” he says. “You name it, we can do it custom.” Lipstein’s customers are predominantly doctors, lawyers, financiers, salesmen and young men fresh out of college. The suits Henry A. Davidsen sells range from about $770 for its introductory label aimed at first-time buyers to several thousand dollars for its top-of-the-line bespoke suits that require between 45 and 55 hours of handiwork to produce. Lipstein explains that a $2,000+ level suit is an investment that
may last from 15 to 30 years, while lesser-priced suits are short-term purchases, lasting three to five years if cared for properly. Most men learn about professional attire from their fathers. Not Lipstein, whose father hated having to wear suits to work and always opted for inexpensive, offthe-rack garments. When it came time for him to own a suit of his own — he says he made do with khakis up to that point — the Malvern native had a friend’s father, a master tailor, create a $2,500 interview suit for him, paid for by his parents. He also let the tailor make all the decisions about its construction. He ended up with a navy suit with orange pinstripes — a style not entirely appropriate for a 21-yearold and one that he did not feel comfortable wearing. “I kind of fumbled my way through it,” he remembers of his first suit-buying process. However, that experience motivated Lipstein to absorb everything he could about how fine men’s clothing is constructed. He learned about image consulting and ways people can improve their confidence and how they are perceived by others. That led to his present business concept. “No tailor is doing image consulting and no image person is doing tailoring. They go hand-in-hand — why not marry them together?” he says of his business epiphany. Fortunately, Lipstein was still enrolled at Penn when he had his life-changing experience. He and a fellow student, who is no longer a part of the business, developed a business plan that got them accepted into the Wharton Venture Initiation Program, a yearlong boon that gave the fledging business free on-campus office space, phone service, access to business machines and one-on-one strategy meetings with Wharton professors. Had he come up with his idea when he was 23 or 24, Lipstein reasons, and immediately needed to carry that overhead, the business would probably not have happened. With the exception of 2009, sales have grown smartly. In 2006, the company’s first year, “we had enough money in sales to keep reinvesting in the business,” he says. “The second year, we doubled in sales; the third year, we doubled in sales again. Then came 2009, which saw the split-up of my partnership and the recession. We had a little bit of a hit that year, but in 2010 we doubled our sales again. In 2011, we almost doubled sales again. In 2012, we grew by about 35 percent and in
“No tailor is doing image consulting and no image person is doing
tailoring. They go hand-in-hand — why not marry them together?”
Garrett Miller rocks a charcoal three-button pinstripe suit with a paisley tie.
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The dormeil aquaplan suit shown at right, highlighted by an Edward Armah pocket circle, is made from waterproof fabric.
2013, about 23 percent.” In May, he began leasing an additional 700 square feet of space, in part to add a second tailor and expand his tailoring shop so that all finishing work can be done on the premises. Eventually, Lipstein hopes to have the capability to draft suit patterns and create suits in-house. Lipstein attributes the company’s robust growth to smart marketing, including some Groupon campaigns to attract new customers, word-of-mouth and constant networking and relationship-building. “The more people who are wearing our clothes, the more walking billboards we have,” he says. “So clients are constantly referring people who comment on their suits to us. They get stopped on the street by people who say, ‘that’s a nice suit, where did you get it?’ ” Also helping business, he explains, is the embrace of suits by millennials jockeying to stand out in the highly competitive job market and rebelling against the business casual look pioneered by their parents. “When you are up against someone in a suit versus somebody in a sport coat, the judgment is the person in the suit is more put together and more qualified. If you are interviewing in a stricter type of environment, then looking good is that much more important,” Lipstein says. He has also enhanced his business network through community involvement. For instance, he is in his second year as Young Friends co-chair for the Academy of Music and not long ago raised $90,000 in just 10 weeks for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. He also serves as chairman of the advisory council for Menzfit, an organization that provides suits to disadvantaged men seeking employment. Through Tribe 12, he has served as a mentor for people pitching business ideas, and he has also donated custom suits and other clothing items to Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Philadelphia. Lipstein’s involvement in the Association of Image Consultants International and his local chapter has led to an unexpected bonus: an Australian fiancée named Amanda whom he met at a convention in
Hawaii and expects to marry next year. As an etiquette and protocol expert, she should be a nice fit at Henry A. Davidsen as well. Gail Snyder is a freelance writer whose grandfather and uncle were proud members of the garment trade.
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The Shape of Things to Go A fast-paced look at the latest developments in running technology. By Joseph Kemp
he best exercise, it is often said, is the one that you will continue to do. Once you’ve completed the charity 10k, after your trial membership to CrossFit ends, when your mountain bike’s not so shiny and new — if you still want to run, ride or do Insanity, then you’ll know you’ve found the right one. For me, it was running. I could fit it into my schedule and all I needed was a dryish day and a pair of shoes. Also some shorts. Cutoffs and cargo shorts won’t do, so yes, I’d have to buy running shorts. And though I have countless T-shirts, those tech togs sure do wick away the sweat, the tag says. And did you know they make special socks for running? Some have toes! And so forth.
heartrate distance steps calories time pace temp elevation
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Some of the new fitness trackers, including (from left) Basis Carbon Steel Edition; Misfit Wearables Shine; Jawbone UP; and MilestonePod.
As it turns out, it’s easy to accessorize what should be the simplest of fitness plans. Not counting choice of shoes — no need to further boggle the mind here — there are huge markets for shirts, shorts and all-weather gear. New Adidas shorts may help motivate a run on a gray day, but we live in the future and we need technology to be part of the process of putting down and picking up of two feet in rapid succession. Two of the biggest recent trends in fitness tech are compression wear and wearable trackers. Races are full of runners sporting colorful, over-the-calf knee socks or slick, black sleeves covering their calves. It’s not a fashion statement like the runner’s tutu; it’s a perceived edge in the race or a hedge against injury. Compared to compression gear — the tights, shorts, shirts, arm or calf sleeves, and socks, available from numerous companies, are all quite similar — fitness trackers are all over the place and no single device or app has yet to set the standard. Running with a smartphone is very popular and useful. Google Play and the App Store have plenty of free fitness trackers that can be deluxed for a small fee. However, running with a phone can be annoying — it’s got to be strapped on somehow and it’s relatively large and heavy. Dedicated fitness tracking devices, in comparison, run the gamut from button-sized upscale pedometers to multifunctioning, satellite-talking, pulse-taking wrist trainers. Many of the trackers sync via Bluetooth to your phone or computer.
whether he’s running alone (MapMyRun allows him to listen to music) or with friends. Running three to four times a week over four years accumulates a lot of data. How obsessive is he about that information? “Very obsessive,” said Amos, “I’m training for an Ironman Triathlon. I tend to run the same races over and over, so I can compare the data. For instance, if I felt like I was running slow in a race, I can look back and see that last year I was running 8-minute miles and this year, it was 7:50.” Another West Philly Runner, Kyle Cassidy, 47, gets his stimulation from simulation. Zombies, Run! is an app for Apple and Android phones that turns you, the runner, into a survivor in the Zombie Apocalypse. “When you hear the zombies come, it’s actually kind of scary,” Cassidy said, “and it motivates you to run faster.” Motivation is a key factor in Cassidy’s training, and he really enjoys the gimmicks such as virtual trophies he earns using his Nike+ GPS watch. “One of the nifty things is that I just ran my 1,000th mile. It was during a run with my running club and they threw me a little celebration during it.” Cassidy likes how his Nike+ shows his stats in comparison to other runners in his age group and uses it as a motivator. “Whoever designed the app really understood my psyche,” he said. He never exercises without it, because he feels “sort of journalistic — if it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen.”
But I’m not training for a triathlon, sir Who watches the watchmen (and women)? We’re in a transitional time in the world of the smart/fitness/ watch/activity/lifestyle/tracker. GPS watches for runners have been around for most of this century and current offerings from companies such as Adidas, Nike, New Balance, Timex, Garmin and TomTom are well-reviewed and reasonably priced from about $100 to less than $300. Paul Amos, 44, a member of the West Philly Runners (westphillyrunners.com) club, uses a Garmin GPS watch (garmin.com) and the MapMyRun app on his iPhone combined with a heart rate monitor. Amos has been using the Garmin for six months and MapMyRun for the past four years. He switches between the two depending on
GPS fitness watches are definitely designed for serious athletes, with more settings than most people would need or like and unit bodies that all seem ridiculously large. Hence, the appearance on the market of the Activity Tracker. The difference between activity trackers and the classic runner’s watch is primarily the GPS. Activity trackers use accelerometers alone to count steps and then combine the data with other information to give you a picture of your overall activity level and help you reach your fitness goals. After a 2012-13 explosion, the activity tracker market seems to have leveled off and is shedding some of the underperformers. Nike has stopped developing hardware for its FuelBand line, but will con-
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The Shape of Things to Go tinue to sell them and instead focus on software, Motorola discontinued its music-playing MOTOACTV smart watch in 2013 after a late 2011 launch, and Fitbit, one of the leaders in the field, has recalled one model, the Fitbit Force, due to a rash it caused on some users. Design and function vary widely in the trackers. At best, they should help you reach your fitness goals, telling you just how many steps you’ve taken, calories you’ve burned, etc. Trackers come in three basic styles: wristwatch, bracelet and pendant with some crossover and variation. If a tracker looks good with non-fitness clothes, you’re likely to wear it more often, allowing the data it collects during the non-workout parts of your day to paint the best picture. If it helps to combine your fitness tracking with social media, there are choices there as well. Ben Taylor at Time magazine online put together a great comprehensive list of 26 fitness trackers, ranked and scored on several criteria including ease of syncing and battery life (time.com/516/26-fitnesstrackers-ranked-from-worst-to-first). Unless you fall in love with a tracker and find it to be truly compatible, check out this article before making any purchases.
Road-tested I received three trackers from manufacturers to demo and learned a few things about them — and myself — in the process. I found out that my inner geek comes out when data about my runs are readily available. I also learned how important device compatibility is in the fitness tracker market. I learned that when you have an iPhone, you’ve got a wider array of choices, and that when you’ve got one of the cheaper smartphones on the market, you may not be able to sync it to any of your trackers. As it turns out, the Basis Carbon Steel Edition (mybasis.com, $199) that I tested syncs with Mac and Windows computers, while many others track your information just with app-based software. Owning the previously mentioned cheap phone, that’s a plus for me. I often take my runs at lunch on workdays and it’s simple to hook the watch up to its USB cord and sync my fresh info while charging the watch for the next few days. As data built, the Basis software started pointing out trends and habits. You can select up to 12 habits you want to adopt, such as getting up from your desk and moving around during the workday. Then you can disappoint the Basis when you commit the sin of not living up to your best intentions. One of the best features of the Basis is that it automatically knows what activity you’re doing. It knows when you’re walking as opposed to running or even biking. According to the company literature, “Basis uses four types of advanced sensors to track motion, heart rate, perspiration and skin temperature separately.” The sensors include a blood flow monitor with proprietary optical sensors that somehow “see” the blood flowing through your arm; a 3-axis accelerometer which detects body movement; a perspiration monitor detects changes in sweat levels; and a skin and ambient temperature sensor saves on the cost of thermometers. Proprietary technology crunches these numbers and tells you what you’re doing
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and for how long you’ve been doing it. The data gets uploaded to the Basis website upon connection to your PC where your workout history is viewable. The built-in heart monitor is a selling point for the Basis, and it also makes sleep analysis possible. I was disappointed when I couldn’t get real-time heart rate readings while running, so I asked Stacie Blanke, a company representative: What’s up with that? She replied, “While most people associate heart rate monitoring with exercise and athletic training, Basis is not intended to replace a chest strap monitor at this time. The Basis team purposefully designed the product with blood flow-sensing technology that helps maintain battery life and keep the band lighter and smaller for comfortable, 24/7 wear, but movement and exercise will likely disrupt the heart rate-monitoring capabilities.” Though it’s not the most effective way for an athlete to do realtime heart rate checks, Basis pushes the monitoring as a way to track and manage stress levels during the day and give you information on your sleep patterns. Mostly, I’ve used the information to see that, yup, I sure don’t get much sleep. The best-looking trackers could be something else at first glance. The Misfit Shine (misfitwearables.com, $99.99) is a standout because the interface is so distinctive. It’s a quarter-sized, seemingly blank, convex disk of aluminum that can be worn any number of ways. The Shine comes packaged with a silicon wristband so you can wear it as a wristwatch or bracelet. Or it can be fitted into a small silicon sling with a magnet on the end that can be wrapped around an item of clothing to wear like a pin or a brooch. The most interesting thing about the Shine is that it gives you immediate information via a circle of 12 LED lights shining through tiny laser-drilled holes in the metal. Two taps on the face will tell you how much of your personal daily goal you’ve achieved (i.e. 2 dots out of 12), then it tells you the time, first flashing an hour, followed by minutes. You set up weight and activity goals through the Shine’s welldesigned, iOS-only app. It’s also there that you find details about your day’s and week’s activity levels. A sleep monitor with fungible goals is also available, though my colleague and running partner who tested it found it to be inexact, mistaking sitting and watching TV for sleeping. The Milestone Pod (milestonepod.com, $19.95) is the simplest tracker I used. Slightly larger than a quarter and as thin as a dime, the device laces into your sneakers and keeps track of your miles. It’s marketed primarily as a way to record the miles you put on a pair of shoes so you know when to replace them. The Apple and Android app will store and track your workout sessions indefinitely — you just need to sync the Pod every day. The Pod knows the difference between a walk or run for exercise and distinguishes it from casual movement. Mileage, pace, cadence and run history are viewable on the app and it will also store contact and emergency information that can be accessed if necessary by emergency personnel. (The EMS symbol is printed on the silicon holder that laces to your shoe.) Though the utilitarian Pod just sits on my running shoes, fighting with their grungy simplicity and the Basis looks like a digital watch I
compression socks or sleeves while running and I seem to do OK without them. My editor, on the other hand, wore a pair a day after tweaking his calf and thought the added support helped a great deal. So I didn’t like running with compression sleeves. But after a run? Oh, my. Following a medium-fast 8-mile run, I pulled on a pair of CW-X knee-length, circus peanut-orange Ventilator Compression Socks (cw-x. com, $55), noticed the “R” stitched onto the sock on my left foot and tried L-R: CW-X Ventilator compression support socks; CW-X Endurance Generator shorts; McDavid compression calf sleeves again. The soles of my feet had in the early ’80s, there’s a mental fashion line I had to cross to put were a little tender, as per usual after a long run, but my calves, which my compression gear to use. are also usually sore, felt perfectly fine right away. I wore them for the rest of the evening and was shocked to discover the next day that I had Compress or excess? absolutely no lingering leg soreness. Although brightly colored compression gear is ubiquitous on race CW-X is a subsidiary of Wacoal, the Japanese brassiere concern. day, and would have fit right in aesthetically back in the 1980s, it may The company calls its patented Support Web technology “targeted or may not have any effect on athletic performance. The idea is that support” and equates it with taping techniques used by trainers for the tight-fitting, elastic items will help support your muscles and also injured muscles. It seems to be a tech-centered company, as it refers increase blood flow through the extremities. Most manufacturers tout to the research in kinesiology done at the Wacoal Human Science their products as aiding in and shortening recovery time. Specially Research Center in Kyoto. For me, the research would be simple and placed panels of different fabric stiffness and graduated support difunscientific. I tried the socks and I felt good. Then I tried the Endurferentials are supposed to enhance your exercise experience. Research ance Generator Shorts ($119.95). points to recovery as being the most likely effect of wearing the socks The shorts, featuring trademarked fabrics, are like bike shorts, but or calf sleeves during or after a run, with performance and endurance with more seams connecting the various fabric panels. The panels (see parameters less well established. above) mimic the way doctors and therapists use kinesiology tape on I ran in a pair of McDavid calf sleeves (think spandex socks an athlete. I initially liked the fit and the flexibility, but it wasn’t until I without the feet) provided by the company (mcdavidusa.com, $24.99/ reached the Art Museum steps that I found something to distinguish pair). My first experience was a couple of days after I got a bad case them from regular spandex. The company claims that the shorts are of shin splints during a run across the Ben Franklin Bridge. The good “ideal for long-distance trail runners,” and after climbing those stairs, news is that the shin splints didn’t return — and still haven’t — but I’m inclined to agree. It actually felt like my thighs were being pulled the bad news is that I ran very slowly and never felt comfortable. The up on each step. I didn’t feel that way running on the flat Schuylkill first time, I had myself half convinced that they were too small and River Trail, but I did on two sets of stairs that day. cutting off the circulation of blood back to my brain and that I was The shorts and I got a workout at the 15k Quadzilla Trail Race going to have an embolism (I don’t know much about physiology). In in July. The good news is that I finished the race without injury at a my experience, if I expect something to hurt or go wrong during a run, respectable pace. The bad news is that the shorts are not magic hillit throws off everything and makes for a rough time. For a subsequent climbing cyborg symbiotes and the race was really hard. Next year, run, I measured my calves and found that the sleeves were, in fact, a more actual hill training, less hoping that the gear will do the job. proper fit. But I still ran slowly and didn’t feel like I was getting any Joseph Kemp is the design director for the Jewish Exponent. benefit from them. Obviously, not everyone needs or wants to wear
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Most in the Machine An appliance scion dishes on the amazing improvements to home essentials. By Beth D’Addono
he year is 1967. The summer of love was drawing hippie hordes to the Haight in San Francisco. The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced? commanded the airwaves. Another kind of revolution was heating up the homefront. The first countertop microwave oven was introduced to an amazed public that same year. Called the Amana Radarange, the thing was huge, oddly menacing and touted as the absolutely latest in space-age cooking technology. Although sales started slowly, thanks to the oven’s spendy $495 price tag ($3,500 in 2014 dollars), the miracle of quick microwave cooking — “cook a hamburger in 28 seconds!” — was here to stay.
Appliances have come a long way, baby. Today’s kitchen workhorses are sleeker than ever, energy-efficient and loaded with all kinds of techie bells and whistles. Appliances have come a long way, baby. Today’s kitchen workhorses are sleeker than ever, energy-efficient and loaded with all kinds of techie bells and whistles. That smartphone in your pocket can now turn on your dryer and get that turkey started for Thanksgiving while you’re picking up a few last-minute groceries. Linda Gerhard has seen tectonic changes in what customers expect from their appliances. Gerhard is the third generation to run Gerhard’s Appliances, a business started in Glenside by her grandfather in 1945. Now also located in the Northeast, Doylestown, Ardmore and Malvern, Gerhard’s sells and services more than 100 brands of apThe first consumer-marketed microwave oven, the Amana Radarange, cost about as much as a whole space-age colored Frigidaire.
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For $3,000, you could outfit an entire kitchen — or just splurge on a really nice range, like this 6-burner Bertazzoni.
pliances, from familiar names like Whirlpool and GE to higherend lines like Bertazzoni, Miele and Wolf. Like the rest of her eight siblings, Gerhard started working in the store, emptying the trash and sweeping the floor, when she was about 10. As a kid, what impressed her most about the appliance business was the size of the boxes. “We had the best forts in the neighborhood,” she recalled. Now, as manager of the Glenside store, Gerhard is experienced in thinking both inside and outside the box. When in the market for new appliances, she advises, it’s best to have a sense of how your family uses the appliance’s locaiton, what features are important and to know both your budget and an integrated design plan if you’re doing a renovation. Figuring out how you use your kitchen space, how often you cook and entertain and whether you need industrial-strength cleaning power for the washing machine are a few things to think about before you buy. If you are buying more than one appliance, bundling gives you negotiating power and the chance to get a deeper discount. A basic kitchen package can start as low as around $2,000 with rebates. Then again, you can pick out a $20,000 range if that’s what you want. Either way, figuring out the budget in advance is key.
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Most in the Machine
Stainless isn’t going anywhere soon, especially if you enjoy using Viking appliances.
Appliances started out in one flavor: white. Then modern kitchens started showing up in colors like harvest gold, avocado and even petal pink. Stainless has reigned supreme for more than a decade, infusing industrial chic into many kitchen designs (along with a pesky propensity for fingerprints that can drive an OCD homeowner batty).
Gerhard says that stainless isn’t going away anytime soon — at least for 20 years, according to her oft-consulted source, Architectural Digest. But guess what? White is back. Not the simple white of yore, though. These white appliances are accented with stainless handles, knobs and brand names. White is making a strong showing both in midlevel brands like Maytag and Whirlpool and bigger-ticket companies including AGA, Viking and Bluestar. As to other color choices, Gerhard is mostly meh about black, and the jury is still out on the likes of slate and Miele’s truffle brown.
The AGA 3-oven gas cooker comes in tasty colors like pistachio.
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Energy efficiency isn’t a trend — or even an option — these days, said Gerhard. “From laundry to refrigerators to dishwashers to cooking with steam, everybody is concerned with energy efficiency and being a health-conscious consumer.” One of the greatest areas of change is in the washer and dryer world, where front-loading machines now dominate the market, thanks to their energy efficiency, low water usage and sleek good looks. Some consumers have complained about the first wave of these machines, citing problems with mold and a persistent funky smell. There’s even a series of class action lawsuits against companies including Whirlpool, Bosch and Sears as grievances continue. “The new washers don’t have any issues,” said Gerhard. “Of course, we tend to over-soap in general, which causes problems,” she said. “Washing machines work better with powdered soap and it’s important to leave the door open some of the time for air circulation.” Antibacterial washing machine filters are also a popular item in the quest for cleaner clothes. Her repair guys aren’t wild about
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dryer sheets, not only because theyâ€™re landfill fodder but because over time, they create an oily buildup in the dryer vents, which can be an issue. And, she said, a steam cycle is a must-have in the newest machines, cutting down on wrinkles and banishing germs for betterdressed families. Energy-smart dishwashers, many incorporating a â€œsteam cleanâ€? setting, have sensors to hunt down dirt particles, treat silverware with care and keep soap usage to a minimum. While dual-drawer dishwashers were popular for a time, now, not so much. â€œThe new dishwashers are so energy-efficient that it doesnâ€™t matter whether you put dishes on the top or bottom rack â€” they all get clean,â€? she explained. Steam is also showing up in ovens, allowing for better bread baking and the option to steam-cook an entire dinner in a matter of minutes. Gerhardâ€™s clients are still set on the tried-and-true trio of separate cooktop, warming tray and wall oven. Her advice if you feel the urge to install a second oven: donâ€™t. â€œI see a lot of homes with a double wall oven, and the second oven ends up being storage,â€? she
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Most in the Machine said. Her advice: Use that space for a combo microwave/convection oven. That gets your microwave off the counter and gives you the ability for speedy convection cooking when it makes sense.
Cooler Refrigerators Today’s refrigerators are a world away from the earliest kitchen refrigerator units, hulking cooling boxes that came into common use in the 1920s. Today’s savvy home cook wants to do more than just keep food at the right temperature. “It’s really about fresh foods,” said Gerhard. “Humidity control, twin cooling systems, advanced filtration and the ability to control commingling of flavors and odors are all at the top of our customers’ list.” Consumers want high-capacity icemakers, temperature-controlled compartments and sparkling doorfront water dispensers. The three- or even four-French-door models are outselling the usual top- or bottomfreezer style. The days of using a box of baking soda in the back of the fridge to keep the inte-
rior smelling fresh are over. For about $15, you can buy a filter that can be used in any refrigerator to deliver the odor-free goods. Wine coolers, some zoned for both red and white, are wildly popular, she added, as are under-cabinet icemakers. Today’s foodie is also hip to the importance of odor- and taste-free ice in the world of craft cocktails. “One of the biggest trends is the demand for crushed ice,” said Gerhard. “Educated consumers are getting more particular about the shape of their ice — from chipped to shaved to half-moon. There are all kinds of options.” An under-counter ice machine can range from $300 to $3,000, depending on the features.
It’s not enough that our refrigerator or oven just cool or cook for us. From a Sub-Zero that keeps Shabbat to an oven that we can command from our cell phone, appliances are smarter than ever. Gerhard’s has been working with Star-K certified appliances to meet the needs of Orthodox customers for close to a decade. These appliances are programmed and designed for Shabbat mode or to be Shabbat-compliant. “Our observant customers used to put tape over the refrigerator light — which could burn out the compressor,” she said. “They don’t have to do that anymore.” New appliances can interface with free apps for smartphones and tablets to offer a level of connectivity that can make managing kitchen chores easier from afar. Whether you’re high-tech or not, the sweet spot that marries form with function remains the bottom line with the appliances we use and depend Running hot and cold: Advanced kitchen equipment available at on every day. Gerhard’s includes a wood-grain finish Jenn-Air French door refrigerator (left) and, if you like to play bartender, ice machines like the Danby model pictured (bottom left) as well as energy-efficient, steam-powered dishwashers from LG (below) and Sub-Zero models that are not only industrial chic, but also have Shabbat settings.
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Beth D’Addono would love to see appliance manufacturers do an homage to avocado at some point.
FAMILY SOJOURNER TRUTHS A new mother learns the calculus of the multigenerational vacation. By Hilary Danailova
ometime between the Occitane poem and the lute-and-recorder serenade, my father began listing in his seat, like a palm tree in a hurricane. As his snores became audible and my mother looked on in horror, my daughter’s eyes also began to flutter shut.
It was the eighth straight day of rain on our Martha’s Vineyard vacation. Desperate for distraction, I had schlepped them all through a morning of shopping before landing at a concert of 13thcentury French troubadour romances. I did so with some trepidation about whether this arcane entertainment would be stimulating or stultifying for Zelda, who, at 5 months old, finds the 13th century and the 20th equally remote. But as it turns out, my father was the one we had to worry about. “I think he may topple over,” my mother fretted. “How embarrassing would that be? Oh, and how’s Zelda holding up?”
Zelda was fine. But with one eye on my teetering parent and another on my sleepy child, the laments of long-dead troubadours flew past me unheeded. French art songs were as close as I would get this year to the Mediterranean, where — in my carefree, childless days — I whiled away two decades of summers in a style best described as aleatory. I am wont to detour unexpectedly because a place name captivates me; how can you not visit a Greek city called Drama? Along the Apulian coast, I blew into Gallipoli at dusk and found lodging by flirting with the bored-looking cop, whose brother happened to rent rooms in a local palazzo. But I am not so bohemian as to think this strategy would be a good idea with Zelda, let alone my kvetchy Jewish mother. With the arrival of the family’s first grandchild, I came to three realizations: One, that this was the year for a multigenerational family vacation, since her grandparents live far away and time together is precious. Two, that the destination ought not to be overly ambitious. And three, that as the generation in the middle — free of the exigencies of extreme youth or age — I would be the one to compromise on everything from beach timing (no high sun) to food (no cholesterol for Dad; no solids for Zelda) to nights on the town (nonexistent). Martha’s Vineyard, where my family has spent 40 straight sum-
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travel mers, seemed the safest bet. Beach resorts are a classic choice for families, offering a low-key, breezy setting for lazy summer days. But as the Internet attests, travel options are today so multifarious that there is virtually no destination and no activity — from safaris to Disney cruises, glaciers to megacities — that cannot be fashioned into a family vacation.
When I turned to experts for advice, I found that Zelda and I have plenty of company. Fueled by long-distance families like mine, multigenerational travel “is one of the most active parts of our business today,” according to Susan Brenner, vice president of sales for Cherry Hill-based Rosenbluth Vacations. The diversity of modern families — in terms of ages, activity levels and geography — means there is no single niche for this type of travel. While younger seniors and teenaged grandchildren might all rock-climb together, Brenner is a big fan of cruises, which offer myriad activities tailored by age. “The youngsters can climb the walls and zipline onboard, while there’s an elevator for the older people who aren’t as mobile. They can still enjoy the family time together, sitting around the pool,” she explained. An added bonus: With families having fewer kids these days, cruises offer a ship full of potential playmates to ward off boredom. Motion sickness runs in the family, so cruises were out for us. And the Vineyard, which seemed humdrum to me as a singleton, suddenly appealed for the very reasons I had found it dull before: no
nightlife to tempt, stroller-friendly small towns and daytime activities with broad appeal — farmer’s markets, gallery openings and, of course, French troubadour concerts. Iris Hami, who owns Philadelphia-based Gil Travel and has organized multigenerational tours of Israel and Europe for 40 years, confirmed that beach destinations are popular for a reason. “A combination of beach and sightseeing is conducive to little kids,” she said. Having somewhere to cool off — be it beach or pool — is also key because summer is prime time for travel, and “heat makes people cranky.” In addition to Israel, Hami said, Greece, Spain and Turkey have become very popular, offering spectacular coastlines alongside historical sights. What about Paris or Rome? The consensus is that cities are fun — but tricky — for mixed-age travelers. “You don’t need a specialist to tell you that you don’t want to take a 3-year-old through the museums of Florence,” noted Richard Rosenblum, who has advised private clients through his New York-based agency, Premier Travel, since the 1970s. Jean Krasnow, who has nearly a dozen grandchildren, learned this the hard way on a family museum trip to Washington, D.C. “We were walking along in D.C., and I was just thinking it was the coolest thing,” she recalled. But nobody had noticed that a 9-year-old was exhausted by all the walking — “until he just sat down on the curb and announced, ‘I’m done.’ He refused to budge.” Mental note: No vacations without a car, at least for now.
HAVING SOMEWHERE TO COOL OFF, BE IT BEACH OR POOL, IS KEY. 64
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It wasn’t her infant son, but her septuagenarian mother who complicated the Montreal vacation for Anna Love, who has both a 2-year-old and a taste for nightlife. All parties had agreed beforehand that after days filled with sightseeing, Grandma and baby would retire to the hotel suite while the parents caroused. But the bright lights of a big foreign city whetted Grandma’s appetite for adventure, and she announced that she, too, wanted to go out at night. “Montreal just had too many things to do,” reflected Love. “And six days was too much.” Lesson learned. This year, they whittled the trip to three days in Spring Lake, a pretty town on the Jersey shore with no bars and not much to do except lounge on the sand. A rental house near a beach works well for a small family — but if we were a larger group, we might opt for an organized tour. “With a lot of people, you need a guide and an itinerary,” said Brenner. “Otherwise, you debate what to do all day, every day — unless it’s a cruise or
an all-inclusive, where people do what they want and plan on having dinner together.” The latter is a strategy that works for Phyllis Recine, the mother of three married daughters, who organizes an annual winter beach vacation in Rincón, Puerto Rico. “We rent three cars,” she said, explaining that one daughter takes off for the urban wine bars, while another goes to the mall with her husband. They all meet on the beach and at dinner, which is scheduled according to the needs of the youngest child. Thirty years ago, Recine’s mother organized family weekends at the Nevele, the Borscht Belt resort. The girls bunked with their cousins, everyone ice-skated and stayed up late to watch the shows and “dressing” for dinner was mandatory, Recine recalled. “I would never go to the Jewish Catskills, but it was my mother’s choice, her pleasure,” she explained. “My mother invited us into her world, and now I invite people into my world.” In Rincón — a laid-back surf town with a family vibe — “you can go out to dinner in something over your bathing suit, which is much more ‘me,’ ” Recine said. But though the ambiance is different, the experience of family bonding through annual ritual remains intact. “You have the time together to really share your values, to tell the family stories,” she explained. Ultimately, those distilled moments together are the point of a
PLENTIFUL MENU CHOICES HELP KEEP THE PEACE family getaway. The Vineyard’s languid summer rhythm suits my relatives perfectly — and I’ve discovered that having a baby is a full-time activity in itself, filling up days that would otherwise have felt oppressively slow. Seeing the world anew through a child’s eyes is a cliché for a reason, I thought, dangling Zelda’s feet in the lapping waters of Vineyard Sound, warmed by the sun and beaming grandparental gazes. And next summer? I’m still hoping for Italy. ❏ Hilary Danailova is a freelance writer specializing in travel. This is her first piece for Inside.
Family Travel: Some Things To Keep In Mind 1. Choose your airports wisely. Massive, sprawling hubs (JFK, Frankfurt, Heathrow) can be a challenge for travelers with limited mobility. And a 20-minute sprint between terminals for a connecting flight can easily turn into an hour with stops for restrooms, bottled-water purchases and diaper changes. That’s why Phyllis Recine bypasses San Juan for Rincón, a small, manageable airport in Puerto Rico. “It has convenient parking and it’s easy to get to the car-rental counter, and when you’re traveling with a crowd, those things are important,” she explained. Iris Hami agreed, but pointed out one advantage of larger airports: If someone needs to get home in a hurry — for a medical or family emergency, say — it’s a
lot easier with 25 flights a day versus two. 2. Have an up-front discussion about cost. Susan Brenner sees a lot of family trips sponsored by the grandparents, who call the shots and enjoy the company. But if costs are shared, sensitivity to varying financial situations will be essential. Before you leave, talk about whether you’ll be eating every meal in a restaurant or cooking in the rental, hailing cabs or figuring out the bus routes. Cruises and all-inclusive resorts are ideal for avoiding these issues entirely; Brenner recommends Club Med, which has all-inclusive family resorts around the globe. 3. On a tour, set aside a specific time to discuss any health-, weather- or interest-
related changes to the itinerary. “People have to be very flexible and know that things may change during the trip,” said Iris Hami. “We have a meeting between the guide and the family every night to decide what to do the next day.” 4. Establish in advance how much time everyone will be expected to spend together. “Before you go, discuss the basic daily routine — who will go out, who will stay home with the kids — so you can manage expectations,” said Anna Love. The last thing you want is a reproachful look every time you take off on your own, especially when shared cars are involved. 5. Bring snacks wherever you go, “so people don’t get cranky,” advised Jean Krasnow.
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letter from israel
DENS OF ANTIQUITY There’s no time like the present to explore Israel’s past.
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Above: The Mona Lisa of the Galilee is one of the highlights of a visit to Sepphoris. Below: Hikers stop for lunch next to the stones of Mt. Karkom.
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By Ilan Ben Zion
he blazing sun overhead bakes the duncolored, pocked paving stones running along what used to be the main street of Sepphoris, in Israel’s Galilee, where the reconstructed houses provide visitors with a window into the lives of their former inhabitants. At the crest of a hill overlooking the town stands the remains of a restored Roman-era mansion, its interior cool as a cave compared to the dry summer heat outside, its floor decorated with sumptuous mosaics. The pièce de résistance: the bust of a woman framed by garlands — the Mona Lisa of the Galilee.
The Roman-era Decumanus, or east-west thoroughfare, which runs through Sepphoris.
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Sepphoris, known also by its Hebrew name, Tzippori, is one of dozens of archaeological sites whose magnificent finds often escape visitors to Israel. The country’s Nature and Parks Authority, however, aims to improve access to these lesser-known spots and draw more visitors to Israel’s often-overlooked ancient gems. The land’s storied history provides it with a unique variety of archaeological sites spanning thousands of years of history. As a crossroads in antiquity, few other places in the world hosted so many civilizations and cultures — Egyptians, Canaanites, Israelites, Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders and Turks, to name a few. Each conquest left its marks, which modern archaeologists have meticulously excavated and preserved. So many aspects of Israel are rife with controversy, but one thing almost all visitors agree on with near-universal consensus is that the archaeological sites are not lacking. Tourists might find the streets filthy and the country expensive, as a 2013 Tourism Ministry’s survey showed, but archaeological sites and tour guides found unanimous appeal. The ministry polled just over 33,000 visitors, or roughly 10 percent of the total who entered the country last year, who responded with an average 4.4 out of 5 satisfaction rating for historic places and guides. (Public cleanliness got a 3.4 and value for cost a mere 3.1.)
In addition to blockbuster sites, such as Masada, Caesarea and Jerusalem’s Old City, the countryside is peppered with fascinating, lesser-known and well-preserved places essential to understanding the land of Israel’s past. King Herod’s royal architectural masterpieces, such as Masada — site of Jewish rebels’ last stand against the Romans in 73 C.E. — and Caesarea, his royal capital and port, boast hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Off-the-beatenpath locales offer greater insight into the day-to-day of ancient life, and a respite from the roads more traveled. Long neglected, some of these lower-tier sites are set to start receiving critical government funding to develop them as greater tourist attractions. Tsvika Tsuk, chief archaeologist of the Nature and Parks Authority, said in a recent interview that the government’s Tamar heritage project aims to develop archaeological sites not for archaeological excavation but “for interpretation, mostly from the Jewish point of view.” The project, approved in 2010, will pump roughly NIS 120 million ($35 million) into transforming historically Jewish sites, including Herodion, Beit She’arim, Megiddo, Arad, Sepphoris, Hamat Tiberias and Lachish, into stronger tourist attractions. The parks authority will use the funds to reconstruct central elements of the sites, such as the Iron Age temple at Arad and a synagogue at Hamat
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letter from israel
L E H A V A R A MLA / P IK I WI K I. O RG
The stately ruins of Hippos, which was destroyed by an earthquake in 749.
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Tiberias, as well as visitors’ centers and site interpretation — the manner in which a place’s historic relevance is conveyed to tourists. The parks authority’s master plan also includes equally impressive sites that are almost wholly undeveloped. One such site is Hippos, also known as Susita in Hebrew, an ancient Roman town in the Golan Heights. Perched on a precipitous plateau above the Sea of Galilee, the once grand community of Hippos lies in ruin. The volcanic, grey basalt stone used for much of the city’s construction makes the entire site appear to be an old photograph come to life, until you lift your eyes and see the brilliant cerulean of the Kinneret below. Roman historian Pliny the Elder refers to Hippos as one of a handful of “pleasant towns” on the Kinneret’s eastern shore, and one of the 10 Greek cities straddling the Jordan Valley known as the Decapolis. Its sister city, Beth Shean, lies just to the south, and is home to some of the best-preserved Roman architecture in the country. Hippos was destroyed by an earthquake in 749 C.E., and today the pillars of its churches and temples and the walls of its homes strew the ground. Despite its desolation, the main street remains intact — and better paved than some in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv or Philadelphia. After over a decade of excavations, archaeologists have uncovered a once-bustling forum and a Greek theater, both evidence of the Hellenistic city that once thrived under Roman rule. Adjoining the forum — the social and economic heart of the city — stands the remains of the basilica, a many-columned public building whose
A windswept view of the stark beauty of the ancient Biblical site of Tel Arad.
capitals rest atop stumps of their former selves. Although it is a short drive from some of the major Christian and Jewish attractions around the lake, few tourists, if any, venture to Hippos. Hippos, along with a handful of other historic treasures, like the UNESCO World Heritage Site at Shivta, south of Beersheva, are on a short list of parks authority sites the government aims to develop. “Those places are not well developed now,” but are part of “our program for the future,” Tsuk said. The Galilee — long an epicenter for Jewish thought and culture — retains some fragments of its glorious past, but the Negev Desert, Israel’s southern expanse, is also home to an untold multitude of archaeological sites virtually unknown to the ordinary visitor. Which is where people like Steve Rubin come in. Rubin, a Philadelphia native who is a licensed Israeli tour guide. With the jawline of a young Tom Cruise and the air of a Harrison Ford character, I half expect him to break out a fedora as we sit for coffee. He says he aims to bring some of the passed-over sites, in Israel’s South in particular, out of obscurity. He lamented the comparative difficulty for tourists to access the more remote sites Israel has to offer. When travelers seek to explore the far-flung locales in Jordan, Turkey or Egypt, he noted, a multitude of guides are on hand to hawk their services for transporting, feeding and watering customers during the trek, and to share their intimacy with the place. While major sites such as Masada and Caesarea are conveniently accessible, Israeli services allowing travelers to visit remote treasures are limited. Websites offering tourist services for these sites abound, but “if you’re looking for information about it in English, there’s nothing there,” Rubin said.
Caesarea is renowned for its archaeological sites, which include the ancient Roman ruins of a bathhouse (top) and a shrine to Pan (bottom).
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“There’s a whole sector of archaeological tourism that’s waiting to be developed.” One such diamond in the rough is situated near Israel’s border with Egypt, roughly halfway between the Gaza Strip and Eilat: Mount Karkom. More than 20 miles from the nearest town and surrounded by Israel Defense Forces firing ranges, the mountain was a Paleolithic cult center, and is covered with ancient shrines, altars and tens of thousands of petroglyphs and geoglyphs — giant icons in stone visible from the air, like the Nazca Lines of Peru. Rubin aspires to help revolutionize the industry and bring inaccessible sites like Mount Karkom into reach for tourists. “Israel has the rare fortune to sit at the crossroads of civilizations, and possesses a diverse multitude of cultural relics in an excellent state of preservation,” he explained. “At this point, we’re only showcasing a tiny fraction of what there is to offer.” Israeli cities are also investing huge sums in developing their historic districts. While the Tourism Ministry survey published earlier this year found that the vast majority of travelers visited old Jerusalem and Jaffa, other, less-frequented cities are trying to put themselves on the map. Ramle, for example, is situated just 10 miles from downtown Tel Aviv, and was founded in the early eighth century as the first Arab capital in ancient Palestine. It served as the largest and most important city in the region during much of the Muslim period. Having fallen into disrepair over the centuries, Ramle now boasts a revitalized open-air market and restored buildings exhibiting paragons of Islamic architecture from a variety of periods. “It’s probably the best way to see a microcosm of Israel with its multifaceted cultural and religious face,” Rubin asserted. “All of the major sites can be visited on a walking tour. History, food, culture, location and archaeology make it the perfect way to see the history of the Holy Land over the last 1,300 years. Whenever people finish a day in Ramle, they’re usually shocked about how they never knew it was such an historically and culturally rich place to visit.” For a country reliant on tourism for roughly 6 percent of its gross domestic product, Israel stands to gain immensely from developing untapped parts of its rich cultural heritage. As it does, a vista into the land’s broad array of historic landmarks will open up for visitors to enjoy. ❏ Ilan Ben Zion is a reporter for the Times of Israel. This is his first Inside piece.
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WASTE NOT, DRINK WELL Some of the world’s best spirits are made from what wine leaves behind. By Richard Pawlak
t is the rare new restaurant that doesn’t espouse its farm-to-table bona fides. “Wild-caught salmon,” they proclaim; “grass-fed beef,” they boast; “artisanal cheese and honey from some cute farm in Chester County,” they assure. To farmers and vintners from France or Italy or even the Middle East, all of this American frenzy to be the freshest and the most local is all so, so arriviste.
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Our enthusiastic return to agrarian roots, at least with regard to our food and drink, must give pause to those who have always eaten and imbibed what the seasons provided and what their own resourcefulness preserved. Fishermen have salted and dried fish for centuries to store and transport them for sale to places far away. Hunters have roasted and preserved ducks and other fowl in their own fat — duck confit, anyone? — to eat later in the year. Farmers have been canning fruits and vegetables in cool cellars for centuries, and have made “potted meat” and sausages from butchered scraps for just as long. But some farmers also like to cook up the leftovers from winemaking and canning — the skins, pits and even the stems and vines — to make brandies for bartering, family celebrations, winter warming and relaxing after a long day in the fields. These distilled spirits go by various names. In France, they are all classified as eaux de vie, “the water of life,” and pour clear to light amber in color, such as oak barrel-aged Armagnac, the country’s oldest brandy, and Calvados, distilled from apple cider. In Italy, it’s called grappa, made from grape skins, stems and pits. In Scandinavia, dill and caraway perfume their akavit, while in Turkey and southeastern Europe, grapes, plums and other fruits become slivovitz, raki or rakia, palinka or palenka. And if you’ve ever been to a big fat Greek wedding, you’ve raised a glass of licorice-charged ouzo with a loud “Opa!” In Israel and parts of the Middle East a similar, anise-flavored spirit is called arak.
Mezze, Cherries, Plums and Sweat “Oh, dude, arak and grapefruit juice all the way,” said chef Michael Solomonov, co-owner of Zahav, the modern Israeli restaurant in Society Hill, as well as the mini-chain of doughnut-and-fried chicken shops, Federal Donuts, and the new Abe Fisher restaurant and Dizengoff hummusiya in Center City. “All the teenagers in Israel drink it that way, on ice in plastic cups, relaxing on the beach, or sitting on park benches at night, boy- and girl-watching,” he explained in his signature surfer-dude patter. “Old-timers might drink it straight with ice after dinner, but really, it’s great with a table full of mezze, like what we serve here, some kibbe tartare, a plate of fried haloumi or cauliflower, garlicky yogurt dip, stuff like that.” Brian Kane, Zahav’s beverage manager, pours two different araks at the restaurant, both from Lebanon. “These are distilled from the obaideh grape, the ancestor of chardonnay,” said Kane, “and in the second distillation, anise seeds are added and the liquid is then stored in traditional clay barrels” known to archaeology lovers as amphorae. “This allows the arak to ‘sweat’ through the porous clay and hopefully remove any harsh edge.” Arak derives from the Arabic word araq, which means “sweat.” Traditionally, an ounce or two of arak is mixed with an equal amount, or up to twice as much, of water, and poured over ice. Be-
cause the oils in anise seed dissolve in alcohol but not in water, this turns the arak into a milky white emulsion. Kane and I sampled the more traditional Razzouk brand arak first. At 100 proof, it exploded with anise spice and heat, and even my small sip subtly burned on its way down. Our next sip of 106 proof Massaya arak (“a newer, more artisanal product,” Kane added) was distinctly different; smoother, sweeter, with notes of grass and even the original grapes. This arak was triple-distilled in copper stills and aged for two years in amphorae before bottling. Then we splashed in a good amount of fresh grapefruit juice and ice and the arak in taller glasses and — surf’s up, dude — we could taste why Solomonov was so stoked when he spoke of it. Light, citrusy, floral, with just a whisper of licorice, it’s a totally quaffable anytime drink. I ask Kane, the newly crowned Best of Philly sommelier, about
Some farmers like to cook up the leftovers from winemaking and canning — the skins, pits and even the stems and vines — to make brandies. two other brandies — kirschwasser and slivovitz — popular throughout Eastern Europe. “Kirschwasser, typically from Germany, is often served cold as an aperitif,” he explains, “but I think of it more as something used frequently in desserts, fondue and in chocolates. At Zahav, we’re serving the food of the Middle Eastern diaspora, where it’s not as well known. “Slivovitz, on the other hand, made from Damson plums, is very prominent in the Balkans, especially Serbia and Romania,” Kane continues, “and very popular among Romanian Jews. We actually have a couple of Romanian customers that always ask for it. At our new restaurant, Abe Fisher, where we’ll be serving the food from the wider net of Jewish cuisine — Montreal, New York, France, Hungary, Italy — we will definitely be pouring slivovitz and kirsch, where it makes more sense.”
Chef Olivier Tells All Lining up a row of small cordial glasses on the long bar of Caribou Café, his French bistro in Center City, Olivier DeSaintmartin was as excited as I’ve ever seen him. Known for his boyish good looks, boundless energy (and his exciting win on the Food Network’s chef competition, Chopped, two years ago), he splits his time between Caribou and its sister restaurant, Zinc, a few blocks away. In the lull
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quaff of a quiet afternoon at Caribou, DeSaintmartin is educating me on eaux de vie. “These are all for sipping after dinner — digestifs, the proper name — for helping to digest the meat, the sauces, the desserts, the butter, everything people think about French food,” he said, pointing to almost a dozen bottles of eaux de vie he’s also lined up on the bar. “But they are good for digesting after any food.” DeSaintmartin grew up in Picardie, in the Champagne region of France, and he is partial to the Vieux Marc de Champagne and Fin du Marc spirits he’s known since childhood. Distilled from the remains of pinot noir grapes after pressing (called the marc), they are then aged in oak barrels for several years, imparting a golden-bronze color. “When I was a child,” DeSaintmartin recalled, “after a big family dinner, I would line up with the other children and we would get to dip a sugar cube into a glass of Fin du Marc. That was a big deal, a big treat! I still love a glass of Fin du Marc.” Eaux de vie are most often associated with the Alsace region, notes DeSaintmartin. “From the Alsace comes all the well-known eaux de vies made from fruit: Poire William (pear), Calvados (apple), and the lighter ones, framboise (raspberry), kirsch (cherry), mirabelle (plum).” The clear Poire William was the essence of pear, while the amberhued Calvados was like an apple cider palate-cleanser. The richest
of the flight we tasted was the mirabelle, rich and buttery, like a fruit tart. The kirsch was a clash of intense cherry and pepper. The framboise had a disarming, vinegary aroma, but the taste was remarkably light and raspberry refreshing — the anomaly of our tasting.
“From the Alsace comes all the well-known eau de vies made from fruit: Poire William (pear), Calvados (apple), and the lighter ones, framboise (raspberry), kirsch (cherry), mirabelle (plum).”
“Burgundy has an eau de vie of its own,” added DeSaintmartin. “Marc de Bourgorgne is what they drink there, and then you go southwest from Burgundy and you find the Cognac and Armagnac, which people get confused.” We tasted both, just to be sure. The Armagnac was rich and soothing, with loads of caramel in the nose and on the tongue, while
A Plum Assignment As good as the grapefruit-and-arak cocktail at Zahav sounds, arak is only available online in Pennsylvania by special order. A trip across the bridge didn’t find any either, but slivovitz was available. The 100-proof plum brandy that has long been a staple in Eastern Europe is not a sipping drink, but its distinctively fruity aroma mixes exceptionally well in this sweet/sour cocktail from absolutdrinks.com.
Yellow Plum 3 parts slivovitz 1 part lemon juice 1 part orange juice 1 splash maraschino liqueur 1 splash simple syrup Fill a shaker with ice cubes. Add all ingredients. Shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. JA K E M P
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D AVID LYTL E
Pomace, the leftovers from pressing grapes for wine, gets cooked down and distilled to make grappa.
the cognac we sampled was candy-sweet with an almost syrupy feel. “Armagnac is the more artisanal product,” the chef said, “much closer to what the local hunters would make for themselves when they would go duck hunting, to keep them warm in the cold. Cognac is more like a commercial product, made in larger quantities. “Now let me show you what they make in Grenoble, in the southeast, near the Alps,” said DeSaintmartin, as he pulled out a surprise sip. “My grandfather, who was a pharmacist, used to make this in his free time.” He poured emerald-green Chartreuse into a small tumbler. “This has more than 100 herbs in it, and it is, to me, the best digestif.” It was multi-minty, with distinct notes of tarragon, basil and oregano. “My grandfather would store his chartreuse in this big bottle with a skull stopper,” DeSaintmartin confided, “and it used to scare the heck out of me, but I loved what was inside. I still do.”
White Lightning, Italian-Style “There is usually a little bit of a burn,” said Bill Eccleston, general manager of Old City’s Ristorante Panorama and Il Bar, “but that’s part of the pleasure of grappa. There is such a range of flavors with grappa, from raw and intense to softer, fruitier notes.” Eccleston oversees the prodigious 150-bottle wine dispensing system at Il Bar (for which it has won a Guinness Book of World Records designation), but finds himself pouring plenty of grappa from the dozen-plus bottles he carries. “People who enjoy grappa after dinner tend to know what kind they want,” Eccleston continues, “but I find it’s a good counterpoint to something sweet, like cookies, even ice cream, which cuts through the bitterness of many grappas.”
Grappa is made from everything left over from the winemaking process — even seeds, stems and vines — and its outcome can be as unpredictable as Virginia mountain moonshine. “It’s often called Italian white lightning,” added Eccleston, “but some of the finer, more expensive grappas can be quite enjoyable, especially those that come from a single grape varietal. Grappas made from Arneis and Moscato grapes will have a lot of the sweetness of those grapes, while a grappa of Barbera grapes can have a raw edge to them. Grappas from Nebbiolo and Picolit grapes are also quite delicious.” Widely known for his wine education skills, Eccleston has solid advice for exploring after-dinner grappas. “Approach the glass differently than you might with a wine,” said Eccleston. “Swirl the grappa a bit in the glass and smell from the edge of the glass. If you sniff directly into the glass, you’ll just get the harsh alcohol. Smell is a big part of what we taste. “Start with small sips, and let the grappa settle in your mouth,” he continues. “After you swallow, you’ll get the most flavor. The aftertaste is where the enjoyment is.” ❏ Richard Pawlak is the chief beverage correspondent for Inside.
EAU DE PHILLY Zahav 237 St. James Place 215-625-8800 Caribou Café 1126 Walnut St. 215-625-9535
Zinc Bistro a Vins 246 S. 11th St. 215-351-9901 Ristorante Panorama and Il Bar 14 N. Front St. 215-922-7800
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Jose Garces’ new restaurant is putting on the best show at the Kimmel Center. By Greg Salisbury
ose Garces wasn’t there the night we dined at Volvér — “to come back” in Spanish — the latest addition to his national restaurant portfolio that includes Amada, Tinto and Distrito in Philadelphia, to name a few.
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The salad at Volvér looks deceptively simple. Don’t be fooled.
He’s a busy man and even with his early declarations that he would be seen in the Volver kitchen on a regular basis, for him to have been on the line at the end of August would have been a surprise, given all that he has going on. Despite having more projects on the drawing board, including a café located in the newly renovated and reopened Dilworth Plaza on the west side of City Hall, it would be tough to call it a growing empire at this particular point in time. That’s because, as of Labor Day, all four of the Garces Group’s establishments in Atlantic City were closed, the result of being located in the now-shuttered Revel casino. That preamble isn’t meant as any sort of qualifier for my meal; far from it. It is instead meant to illustrate that with the team Garces has assembled at Volvér, which was just named best new restaurant in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine, it is hard to imagine how Garces’ presence could have possibly improved on the meal. And when a place is under the kind of intense perlustration that has faced Volvér from even before it opened for business in April, the exceptional meal that we enjoyed becomes even more impressive. The reason for all of the scrutiny can be summed up in one word: change. Ever since it was announced that Volvér would only offer a fixed-price menu, and that diners would have to purchase non-refundable tickets for their meal — the first and only restaurant in Philadelphia to do so, and one of just a handful in the country to treat dinner like theater — people have eagerly lined up on both sides of the paradigm shift. It is surprising that the imbroglio over this policy continued to resonate for so long. No-shows are a serious, verifiable problem for restaurants, and that problem becomes exponentially magnified in a restuarnt that only has 34 seats and a check average well into the three figures. The theater analogy isn’t that ludicrous, anyway. You are seated, you experience a number of acts, and then you leave with your synapses firing with pleasure and satisfaction at what transpired. With its 15-course prix fixe menu, dinner at Volvér isn’t exactly the culinary equivalent of a three-act play, but make no mistake: this is dinner theater, a perception that is only reinforced when presented with a menu titled “Performance Tasting.” Every table at Volvér is situated with an unobstructed view of its state-of-the-art open kitchen — part of a multimillion-dollar design plan (with somewhere north of $3 million of that cost being borne by a partnership of the Kimmel Center and state funds). Watching the silent ballet of the restaurant’s five-person kitchen staff is hugely entertaining, from the cook who obsessively turns the food on the small oak-fired countertop grill to chef de cuisine Natalie Maronski’s quietly focused plating techniques.
Using equipment that ranges from liquid nitrogen and sous vide to tweezers and eye-dropper-sized squeeze bottles, Maronski sends out still lifes so beautifully composed that I felt guilty about destroying them with such gusto. The fourth course, “From the Garden,” is a perfect example. Dewy lolla rossa leaves are cut à la minute from their countertop perch and then used to frame banyuls-perfumed baby carrots from Garces’ Luna Farm in Bucks County, plump curried raisins, meringue-like almond milk crisps, sunspot-yellow droplets of Meyer lemon puree, a tiny, jiggly disc of ivory-hued cauliflower panna cotta and a mound of goat cheese “dirt,” rendered grey with ash and granular with a Pacojet. A surfeit of elements and of preparation techniques, all brought together to adorn a Bernardaud plate. Oh, and it tastes amazing. I’m not going to punk out here and say that words fail, but there is really no way to properly describe this dish, especially considering how many other aspects of the meal also deserve attention and mention.
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fress It is, above all, a thoughtful creation in the most encompassing sense of the word. The care that went into selecting so many complementary components, the effort that was required to prepare those components, the calibration of the proportions — in a dinner replete with superlative tastes, the fact that the first course discussed is the elevation of a simple salade composée is but one indication of how Volvér can change the perception of what a dinner can be. Gordana Kostovski’s wine selection for this course is another example. The astringent elements of salad have always made wine
pairings difficult to the point that general wisdom dictates not even trying to do so. As part of her optional $95 11-beverage pairing, Kostovski, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence-winning sommelier, chose a Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire Valley grower Domaine du Salvard. With soft melon notes that worked with the sweetness of the carrots and almond crisps, and just enough steely heft to stand up to the muted tang of the goat cheese and lemon puree, the wine made a great dish even better.
Kostovski’s creativity was evident throughout the menu, shining unexpectedly in courses like a fresh sardine fillet served with bottarga mayonnaise, eggplant and pimentón purees and garlic chile oil. Her choice of an amontillado sherry from Hidalgo la Gitana both cut the oily richness of the fish and enhanced the smokiness of the plate’s other components. Beer and fried chicken is a time-honored combination, and Kostovski’s selection of Ichtegem’s Grand Cru Flemish red ale washed down the seventh course, “KFS” — Kentucky-Fried Squab — with a sour aplomb. The squab was one of a number of courses on the menu with a connection to Garces’ life. In this case, the dish — a gamy piece of squab coated in Clockwise the chef’s own version of the Colonel’s 11 from left: KFS, secret spices and served with gravy, pureed sardines, sweet corn, a cylinder of celery root slaw and Wagyu beef a miniature biscuit — is an homage to a ritual he had growing up as a child in Chicago. His father would take the kids to play soccer, always to be followed by a meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken. This type of irreverence is evident throughout a meal at Volvér and serves the dual purpose of showcasing a kitchen staff so talented and self-assured that they have no problem skewing accepted standards to better present their own vision of what a dish should be, and in the process, keeping the dining experience from ever feeling too staid. A bloodily crimson streak of beet crema to amplify the absolutely flawless dry-aged Wagyu beef works in such an obvious way that I am amazed to have never seen it on a menu before. Duck liver mousse, piped in all of its iron-y goodness into an “egg white” made of goat milk and orange blos76
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som water is a cheekily offal rejoinder to the standard deviled egg. And “Milk & Cereal,” the night’s third course, which features thyme marshmallows, a quail egg, chicken “oyster,” shaved Piedmontese black truffles and crispy black trumpet mushrooms comes alive when splashed with warm white asparagus milk poured from a glass facsimile of the classic half-pint container of milk from Garces’ school days. That sense of whimsy extends to the dessert courses — all four of them. “Blossoms & Berries” is a parfait of elderflower panna cotta topped by a gauze of whipped blackberry. A spoonful of this chased by a sip of the sparkling moscato d’Asti from La Spinetta Bricco Quaglia is the gustatory equivalent of standing in your herb garden when it is in full blossom. The carrot cake course is as deconstructed as it gets, with shards of sponge cake, perfectly turned baby carrot-shaped carrot sorbet, candied baby carrots and a flash-frozen shard of coconut-labne mousse, all scattered deliberately across an imposing Boos cutting board.
It’s a shame to not be able to focus solely on what an exhilarating experience dinner at Volvér is. To still be actively engaged with a meal 11 courses in, to feel a euphoric burst of surprise upon the first sample of beef and beet, is no mean feat. To watch the service staff seamlessly change roles depending on each table’s requirements and to feel their obvious enthusiasm and comfort with an incredibly complex menu and wine list (over 1,500 bottles) imbued my dinner with a sense of comfort and ease that was, frankly, unexpected. But Volvér is not just a new restaurant; it is a new direction in dining, and as such, it raises questions beyond “What did you like best?” It is expensive, no argument — with the wine pairing, it is among the most expensive restaurants in the United States. But what does that mean, exactly? The price per course works out to be $10, which is eminently reasonable by any fine-dining metric. And the wine pairing breaks down to roughly $9 per pour — also fair,
considering the depth and breadth of the selections. If you love to eat, are genuinely interested in the potential of what a restaurant can do and you have the means to do so, then it is incumbent upon you to taste what is going on here.
If and when you do decide to go, make sure you bring someone you either have a lot to talk about with, or whom you feel comfortable with dining in silence, because dinner at Volvér will take about four well-paced hours. Alternatively, if you don’t have the time or desire to drop that kind of legal tender, spend less time and money in Bar Volvér, a drop-dead gorgeous space dominated by an enormous Conrad Booker textile installation. Bar Volvér offers a selection of small plates, including a remarkable Wagyu steak tartare and a tuna tartare made with tuna flown in from Tokyo’s famed Tsukiji Market. The bar also serves two of the best cheeses I have had this year, served ripe and at room temperature: Cremont, a cow-goat milk blend from Vermont Creamery; and Good Thunder, a smoky, stinky beer-washed cow’s milk cheese from Minnesota’s Alemar Cheese Company. Bar Volvér doesn’t require reservations, and should prove popular as a pre- and post-concert or theater destination, thanks to its food and cocktails like the Basil-Chile Smash, which combines gin, lemon, Luna Farm basil and chile oil, and the Broad & Spruce, a mixture of rum, Licor 43, pineapple and bitters that goes down way too smooth. The bar also features a selection of Garces Trading Co. coffee, including a stout espresso blend, and housemade petits fours like a heart-stopping salted caramel tartlet and peanut buttermarshmallow taffy. 300 S. Broad St. (inside the Kimmel Center, with a direct entrance on Spruce between Broad and 15th streets) volverrestaurant.com; 215-670-2303 15-course dinner for two: $300 before drinks, tax and gratuity (at least one of you should get the $95 wine pairing) INSIDE FALL 2014
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Inside delivers the Jewish Market INSIDE FALL 2014
Just a Minute
TALON SCOUT Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has a bird’s-eye view of life. By Greg Salisbury owie Roseman’s four young children don’t have to look too far football!” The best jobs don’t feel like you’re going to work. for proof that it is possible to follow their dreams to fruition. Their father knew since he was a child himself, following his The Eagles organization practices tikkun olam on a large scale, beloved New York Jets teams of the 1980s, that he wanted to be the from building playgrounds to vision testing to literacy through the general manager of a football team. He was named the general manEagles Youth Partnership. When you are looking at a potential ager of the Eagles in 2009 at age 34; five years roster addition, is a player’s commitment to later, he is still the youngest GM in the NFL. community involvement a factor for you? Of course, they also won’t have to look far Sure — it speaks to a person’s character. to see the value of perseverance. The son of When you get a job in the National Football two teachers, Roseman’s dogged pursuit of League, you are extrmemely fortunate — are a career in the NFL began while he was in you willing to give back to the people who high school and continued through college aren’t as fortunate? at the University of Florida and law school at Fordham. He repeatedly wrote and cold-called Do you participate in tikkun olam? every team in the league until he was finally I’m involved with the military — we bring given an unpaid internship with the Eagles in service members to the games. I’m also a 2000. He quickly advanced from sharing a spokesperson for the Boys & Girls Clubs corner of an administrative assistant’s desk to and am on the Kipp Philadelphia Charter ledership roles in football administration and Schools Leadership Council. vice president of player personnel before assuming the GM role. There are only 32 NFL general manager The member of Har Zion Temple has come jobs in the world. Is it a fraternity or a shark a long way from watching childhood idols like tank? Dick Steinberg and George Young, the general I have relationships with all of those guys managers of the Jets and Giants, respectively, Howie Roseman (right) has a walk-and-talk — we have conversations by email, phone, with Eagles head coach Chip Kelly. in the 1980s on the family television in the we all pull for one another — and we try not Canarsie section of Brooklyn and later, in Marlboro, N.J. In the followto get kicked out of it. ing conversation, which has been edited and condensed from a longer interview, he discusses football, family and following your dreams. What do you tell your children about deciding what to be when they grow up? Are there any lessons you learned as a childhood Jets fan that have Pick something you’re passionate about and follow your dreams. stuck with you? The great thing about sports is that there is always a “next seaWhat is the one thing you wish Eagles fans knew about you? son” — there is always something to get focused on to get better. About how fortunate we are to be part of this organization, and that we have emotions. We feel like they feel, and we have incredYou worked so hard for so long to get your foot in the door. What is ible passion for this team. it like for you to walk through the NovaCare doors today? Greg Salisbury still remembers his first Eagles game — Nov. 16, It’s an unbelievable feeling. I recently told one of my sons, “I 1986 at the Vet, 13-11 loss to the Lions — mostly for the 700 level. gotta go to work.” He said to me, “You don’t go to work — you watch
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