Metro Future uncertain Holocaust Center etchings may stay at JCC
JULY 12, 2012 tammuz 22, 5772
Vol. 56, No. 9
Boycott measure passes
Cohan to promote vegetarianism among Jews as JVNA director BY TOBY TABACHNICK Staff Writer
apartheid. The divestment resolution was directed against three companies purportedly doing business in Israel: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Proponents of divestment say that Caterpillar supplies the bulldozers and earth-moving equipment used by the Israel Defense Forces to clear Palestinian homes and orchards; that HewlettPackard provides biometric monitoring at checkpoints and information technology to the Israeli navy; and that Motorola supplies surveillance equipment to “illegal settlements” in the West Bank, and communications equipment to “occupation forces.” Brian Ellison, chair of the Mission
Jeffrey Cohan will be stepping down from his position as director of community and public affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to become the first executive director of the Jewish Vegetarians of North America. Cohan will take the helm of JVNA, a national nonprofit organization, beginning July 16. “The Jewish Vegetarians of North America have been around for about 30 years, but have never had a professional executive director,” Cohan said, adding that the time is now right for the organization to expand its reach because of a growing interest in food and environmental issues. Cohan is the author of the Chronicle blog “The Beet-Eating Heeb,” where he “lives at the intersection of Judaism and vegetarianism, very close to veganism.” Cohan will work to grow the JVNA through board development, strategic planning and program measurement. JVNA was founded in 1975 following a World Vegetarian Conference held at the University of Maine in Orono. The group’s mission is to advocate for Jewish vegetarianism based on compassion for animals, concern for the environment, feeding the hungry and preserving health. JVNA emphasizes the connections between vegetarian and Jewish values, utilizing material from the Torah and Talmud, modern responsa and Jewish legal codes. From its start JVNA has been affiliated with the International Jewish
Please see Divestment, page 19.
Please see Cohan, page 10.
A section of Israeli-West Bank barrier located on Route 443 (Israel), near Jerusalem. Israelis say the barrier has saved many of lives since its erection, but proponents of the divestment resolution at last week’s Presbyterian Church (USA) General Assembly only addressed hardships the Palestinians endure.
PC (USA) narrowly rejects divestment resolution BY TOBY TABACHNICK Staff Writer
A sharply divided Presbyterian Church (USA) voted 333 to 331— with two abstentions — to reject a resolution to divest funds from companies doing business in Israel last Thursday at its 220th biennial General Assembly in Pittsburgh. The controversial divestment resolution was replaced with an alternative resolution emphasizing positive investment in enterprises that would help grow the Palestinian economy. The resolution for positive investment passed the G.A. with a vote of 369 in favor, 290 opposed, and eight abstentions. A slim majority of G.A. commissioners voted against the divestment resolution
despite the recommendation of the church’s Middle East Peacemaking committee to pass it. The vote came after nearly three hours of G.A. debate, preceded by several days of debate within the committee. While some members of the church urged the commissioners to vote against divestment for the sake of Jewish-Presbyterian relations, and to avoid partisanship, others resorted to a vitriolic lexicon, accusing Israel of “apartheid,” and “ethnic cleansing.” The majority of commissioners, however, formally rejected the “apartheid” label in a 463-175 vote on Friday. The Middle East committee opposed the label, saying that while Israel’s policies were wrong, they did not fit the United Nations race-based definition of
B USINES S 15/C L AS SIFIED 17/O BITUARIES 18 O PINION 6/R EAL E STATE 16/S IMCHAS 12
Times To Remember
KINDLE SABBATH CANDLES: 8:32 p.m. DST. SABBATH ENDS: 9:38 p.m. DST.
2 — THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012
Metro After 125 years:
Photo provided by Barry Rudel
This restored 1931 photo of the staff of the Glosser department store, a Jewish-owned business in Johnstown, is part of an exhibit marking the 125th anniversary of official Jewish life in that city.
Jewish Johnstown marks milestone with yearlong program series BY ANDREW GOLDSTEIN Staff Writer
The size of Jewish communities in small towns across the United States is shrinking — and has been for many years. As those communities decline and
disappear, their histories are also in danger of being lost. Starting this fall, the Jewish community of Johnstown will do something about that. The community, which is about 70 miles east of Pittsburgh, is preparing to mark the 125th anniversary of organized
Jewish life in Johnstown. To celebrate, the Johnstown Area Heritage Association (JAHA) and Beth Sholom Congregation are partnering with the Jewish Community Heritage Project to bring a series of traveling exhibits, special guests and more to the west-central Pennsylvania city, from this coming September through August 2013. Jews have called Johnstown home since the 1850s, but they didn’t make it official until the first Jewish burial ground at Grandview Cemetery was established in 1888. Eastern European Jews flocked to the city from 1880 to 1920, during the great wave of immigration. At one time, there were some 1,800 Jews in the city. Today, there are fewer than 150. “There are a lot of reasons why Johnstown lost its [Jewish] population,” said Barry Rudel, a volunteer heading the series, “but certainly it’s a microcosm of the rest of the Tri-State area, no doubt. There are some other factors including its proximity to Pittsburgh.” Rudel is a Johnstown native who now lives in Pittsburgh. Several other Johnstown natives make their home in the Pittsburgh area. Many left Johnstown to find work here. Rudel also cited an aging population and assimilation as factors in the diminishing Jewish life in Johnstown and other communities throughout western Pennsylvania and West Virginia. Yet Pittsburgh’s Jewish community has long supported Johnstown. “Johnstown in and of itself has always been considered Pittsburgh’s miniature
sibling; that’s been written in books,” Rudel said. “The 1889 flood where 24 Johnstown Jews died, the Pittsburgh Jewish community was right there for them, along with the rest of the country, in gathering up about $13,000.” But the Johnstown Jewish Community Heritage Project will give Johnstown’s Jewish community a chance to take the spotlight. “It’s really in response to the interest in the community, in fact it was Barry Rudel who actually calculated that it was the 125th anniversary of the establishment of organized Jewish community in Johnstown,” said JAHA President Richard Burkert. “He’s a historian and he really thought it was an opportunity to encourage the Jewish community to look back at its own heritage here in Johnstown and better inform the larger community about that story.” The series kicks off Sept. 27 as Princeton University professor Michael Walzer, who is Jewish and a Johnstown native, gives a lecture at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown on a topic to be announced. The next day, Sept. 28, an exhibition called “The Johnstown Jewish Community: 1888-Present” will open. The exhibition, which will run until June 2013, will include themes from the history of the Jewish community in Johnstown such as differences in religious practice, discrimination versus integration and philanthropy, among other topics. “One of the themes in the exhibit will
incorrectly referred to her as Sarah. Also, the first name of Fireman’s daughter Anna was misspelled and his wife, Gail, was omitted from the story. The Chronicle regrets the errors.
Paul Fireman’s grandmother’s name is Anna Fireman. A story in the July 5 Chronicle, “Mega Mission memories,”
Please see Johnstown, page 5.
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 3
METRO Briefly A Squirrel Hill teen has raised nearly $7,000 for a philanthropic fund she established on her own to support a host of charities. Blaine Dinkin, 17, daughter of Elliot and Laura Dinkin, who attend Rodef Shalom Congregation, was a participant in the Samuel M. Goldston Teen Philanthropy Project. In addition Blaine Dinkin to donating $500 of her bat mitzva money to the pooled fund — as Goldston participants do — she asked her bat mitzva guests to contribute to her philanthropic fund. “I didn’t need another bracelet or pair of earrings, I’d rather give the money elsewhere,” Dinkin said, “and I figured if I was already giving $500 [to Goldston], why not just give it all.” She continued to grow her fund. Now, as she enters her senior year at the Ellis School, the Blaine Dinkin Philanthropic Fund has $6,800 on hand to support charities such as Circle of Tapawingo (a summer camp Dinkin attends, which also hosts a twoweek camping program for kids who have lost a parent), City of Hope, Diller Teen Fellows, Friendship Circle, Hebrew Free Loan and the Jewish Assistance Fund. “All these are things I have a personal connection with,” Dinkin said. Dinkin raised most of the money through donations, though some was generated through market gain from Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh investment.
Jewish Association on Aging will have two representatives on hand for a White House meeting to discuss senior citizens’ issues. Steve Halpern, who chairs the JAA board, and Deborah Winn-Horvitz, president and CEO, have been invited to attend the July 16 briefing that is an opportunity for grassroots leaders to discuss issues that are affecting their communities with White House officials. NA’AMAT USA, Pittsburgh Council will hold their annual Child Rescue/Tzedakah Box Barbecue Sunday, July 15, 5:30 p.m., at 1714 Beechwood Blvd. There is a charge for this event. Child Rescue funds help NA’AMAT Israel provide the assistance of psychologists and social workers for children, their parents and staff in their day care centers, where they help chil-
dren cope with the traumas and fears that shellings have caused, and relocate the children who are most affected. Bring a tzedaka box (or a check for the money in it), and you will be eligible to participate in a raffle for gifts. Everyone is welcome to the event. Call the NA’AMAT office at 412-5215253 to make a reservation or for more information.
The Pittsburgh Social Justice Roundtable will host a Voter ID forum, Monday, July 23, 7 p.m., at the Jewish Community Center, 5738 Forbes Ave., in Squirrel Hill. The forum will include a roundtable discussion of the implications of Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law, offer a variety of perspectives on how the law will impact the upcoming presidential election and educate members of the public so that they will be able to vote Nov. 6. Speakers will include Rep. Dan Frankel; Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald; American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Pittsburgh Executive Director Barb Feige; Arlene Levy, League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania past co-president; Allegheny County Division of Elections manager, Mark Wolosik; and former Pittsburgh Mayor Sophie Masloff. The Social Justice Roundtable is a collaboration of synagogues, direct service providers, advocacy groups and foundations in the Pittsburgh region who work collaboratively to advance their shared vision of tikkun olam (repair of the world) at the state and national levels. The event is free and open to the public.
More Than Just Learning hosts Shirley and Morris Shratter interview teachers Norman Brown, Susan Monroe and Irv Krasnapoler on their views and opinions about teaching in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. The Shratters also share in this discussion. The program airs Tuesdays in July and part of August at 8 p.m. on Channel 21 or Verizon47 in Pittsburgh only.
The Israeli National High School baseball team is coming to Pittsburgh this week. The team is here for a tournament and will play two games against the Allderdice High School baseball team. The first game between the Israeli National team and Allderdice is Sunday, July 15, 4 p.m. at the Allderdice field. The next game between the team will be one week later on Sunday, July 22. No time has been set for the second game as of yet. The community is invited to attend free of charge.
4 — THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012
METRO In West Virginia:
Homegrown hechsher serves state’s cottage food businesses BY LEE CHOTTINER Executive Editor
West Virginia, a state widely, though undeservedly, known for road kill jokes, has its own hechsher symbol. Relax. That doesn’t mean road kill is kosher in the Mountain State. It does, however, mean that a small number of cottage industry food producers — a bakery, a salsa maker, a tofu producer, to name some — anxious to reach out to kosher Jewish consumers, have sought a credible, and affordable, kosher certification. And Rabbi Victor Urecki has obliged. The spiritual leader of B’nai Jacob Congregation in Charleston, Urecki has been certifying parve and dairy food producers (no meat) for 10 years. He said his predecessors did the same. The major difference, Urecki said, is that he developed and copyrighted his own hechsher symbol as a “service” to some West Virginia food purveyors, including at least one in his own congregation, who wanted to market their products out of state. “They look at it as a symbol of pride that this product is kosher,” Urecki said. West Virginia isn’t the only state with its own hechsher symbol. Several hechsher symbols across the United States, some well known, such as the O.U. symbol of the Orthodox Union,
others maintained by local or regional boards of rabbis, even individual rabbis, as in Urecki’s case. In West Virginia, where at least six companies have received Urecki’s hechsher (others are pending), the rabbi
said some of the producers inquired with larger hechsher providers, but found it difficult or impossible to afford. “I don’t charge for it,” Urecki said. “It’s a service for anyone in West Virginia who has a product they want to promote.” Urecki doesn’t misrepresent himself. “I tell them it’s only as good as the rabbi or the organization that’s behind it,” the Yeshiva University-trained rabbi said. “I always tell them [the business owners], if you want this to fly you should contact the O.U. Well, when they contact the O.U. the price to just look at the product is cost prohibitive.” Thistle Dew Farms, a honey producer
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in Proctor, W.Va., is one business that sought a hechsher from an out-of-state provider before going with Urecki. “We checked several large organizations and they are all very, very expensive; and we’re small — I mean we’re really small,” said Ellie Conlon, who coowns Thistle Dew Farms with her husband, Steve, “so there was no way we could afford that kind of symbol at this point in our business. We’ve been in business for three years and I doubt we will ever get that big.” How expensive were the other hechsher providers? Over $1,000 per year, according to Conlon. “Some of them were $2,500. It was totally out of our budget.” The Orthodox Union, arguably one of the best-known kosher certification authorities, did not disclose the cost for its hechsher, calling it “proprietary information,” its spokesman said. But Conlon, who grew up in suburban Philadelphia, said there is a need for hechshers such as the one Urecki provides, noting that niche businesses like hers could otherwise never budget for it. “I grew up in a Jewish community, and I realize how important it is to have a symbol that shows your product has been checked out,” she said. Larger certification boards have told her that her hechsher “doesn’t mean anything, but to individual synagogues and individual people, they recognize it right away, and they purchase it (the product) right away.” “Rabbi Urecki has filled a niche for small producers,” Conlon added. “He’s a great guy.” (Lee Chottiner can be reached at email@example.com.)
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THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 5
METRO Johnstown: Continued from page 2. be [how] the (Jewish) community helped with the recovery from our flood,” said Kaytlin Sumner, JAHA collections manager. “That’s an important part of the story that we’re telling.” Also on Sept. 28, the traveling exhibit, “The Jonah Drawings,” by David Wander, opens at the Johnstown Discovery Center. The drawings explore the Book of Jonah and the writings of the prophets. The display consists of 13 panels in shades of grey, blue and black that follow the texts and visually interprets scenes. The arrangement will be accompanied by additional paintings interpreting the writings. The exhibit will be at the Johnstown Discovery Center until Dec. 31. Other traveling exhibits and activities include: • “Cinema Judaica: The War Years,” (Feb. 1 to March 31, 2013) featuring iconic Hollywood film posters from 1939 to 1949. This exhibit will illustrate how the motion picture industry countered America’s isolationism, advocated going to war against the Nazis, influenced post-war perceptions of Jewish people and the founding of the State of Israel and shaped the face of contemporary Jewish life; • “Letters to Sala — A Young Woman’s
Life in Nazi Labor Camps” (March 1 to Aug. 31, 2013), a traveling exhibition based on the Sala Garncarz Kirschner Collection in the Dorot Jewish Division of the New York Public Library, a new collection of letters, photographs and documents that were mailed or smuggled into Nazi labor camps; and • a bus trip from Monroeville to Johnstown Nov. 11, hosted by the Johnstown Jewish Family Service, which will depart at 8:30 a.m. and give people in the Pittsburgh area a chance to take advantage of the exhibits that will be in the city. The trip will include a morning visit to the Jewish exhibits, a riding tour of Johnstown’s Jewish and general sites with stops at the incline plane and Flood Museum and a return to Monroeville by 5 p.m. All of the events are free. Funding is coming from the Abe and Janet Beerman Fund at the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, the William L. Glosser Family Fund, the Saul and Eva Glosser Memorial Fund and the United Johnstown Jewish Federation. “Johnstown is better off because of its Jewish community,” said Rudel. “There are like six or eight institutions that are funded by Jewish philanthropists there very quietly. It’s rather unique in that way.”
(Andrew Goldstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
6 — THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012
The Jewish Chronicle
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Watershed moment f you think the Jewish world dodged a bullet when the Presbyterian Church (USA) rejected by the narrowest of margins a proposed resolution to divest from companies doing business with Israel, think again. As you know, the PC (USA), at its 220th biennial General Assembly last week in Pittsburgh, voted 333-331 with two abstentions against a divestment resolution. That resolution, which was hotly opposed by Jewish leaders, targeted three companies: Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions. Its proponents claimed Caterpillar supplies the bulldozers and earth-moving equipment used by the Israel Defense Forces to clear Palestinian homes and orchards; that HewlettPackard provides biometric monitoring at checkpoints and information technology to the Israeli navy; and that Motorola supplies surveillance equipment to “illegal settlements” in the West Bank, and communications equipment to “occupation forces.” The commissioners also voted 463-175 against labeling Israeli policy toward the Palestinians “apartheid.” The Middle East committee opposed the label, saying that while the policies were wrong, they did not fit the United
Nations race-based definition of apartheid. Instead of those resolutions, the church commissioners opted for an alternative measure emphasizing positive investment in enterprises that would help grow the Palestinian economy. It passed by a 369290 vote with eight abstentions. What isn’t as well known is this: The church voted overwhelmingly, Friday, July 6, one day after the divestment debate, in favor of a resolution boycotting “all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories” and for “all nations” to prohibit settlement imports. The resolution, which the G.A. passed by a 457-180 vote, singles out Ahava, a skin care company, and the Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers, which both have factories in West Bank settlements. Make no mistake about it; this is just as big a victory for the BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) movement as the divestment resolution would have been. It’s not being seen as such — yet — in the Jewish world only because so much energy was expended opposing the divestment resolution. But to the BDS movement, whose ultimate goal is to delegitimize Israel by any means available, a boycott measure
against two Israeli companies is just as good as a divestment measure against three American companies. The PC (USA) commissioners who opposed divestment on the grounds it would harm Presbyterian-Jewish relations clearly weren’t as vocal on the boycott vote. We’ll let others debate why, but we’ll say this much: There is a cancer in the PC (USA). As we report in this week’s issue, the debate over divestment included some vicious — and fallacious — attacks on Israel, including the charges that the Jewish state is engaged in “ethnic cleansing.” We’re not saying everyone in the church believes that; indeed, Israel has many sincere and active supporters in the PC (USA). But we are saying that more responsible members of the church should have refuted those accusations immediately and loudly. They did not. This G.A. was a watershed moment in Presbyterian-Jewish relations. If nothing changes to correct the growing antiSemitic sentiment within the church, then sadly enough, relations between the two faith-based groups may never be the same.
Crafting a Holocaust insurance solution that works Menachem Z. Rosensaft
NEW YORK — There is a solution to get us beyond the seemingly endless stalemates and complications that continue to characterize the ongoing debate over Holocaust-era insurance claims. And I do not believe it can be found in the well-intentioned bill before Congress. This different approach will put money more quickly into the community of survivors and their families, minimize huge financial rewards for certain lawyers, and help bring closure to this extremely painful process. I propose that the relevant insurance companies agree to the appointment — at their expense — of an independent monitor who could determine whether all potentially valid but as yet unresolved Holocaustera claims are being honestly processed under the relaxed standards of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims, or ICHEIC. Some history of how we arrived at this point is in order. For more than 50 years after the end of World War II, many German and other European insurance companies refused to honor life insurance policies that they or their predecessors sold to Jews who eventually perished in the Holocaust. In 1998, the National Association of Insur-
ance Commissioners joined with a number of such insurance companies and representatives of Jewish and survivor organizations to create ICHEIC. Its mandate was “to identify, settle, and pay individual Holocaust era insurance claims at no cost to claimants.” ICHEIC applied relaxed standards that allowed individuals to file claims without documentation such as a policy number or even the name of the company they believed to have issued a policy. The insurance companies were given assurances backed by both the Clinton and Bush administrations that their participation in ICHEIC would insulate them from civil suits in U.S. courts. According to its website, ICHEIC distributed $306 million “to more than 48,000 Holocaust survivors, their heirs, and the families of those who did not survive.” The process was not without problems. There are survivors who argue, with some justification, that their claims were not properly considered, although the number of such remaining open claims is in sharp dispute. As a result, Congress is now considering a bill that would enable these survivors to resolve their grievances in U.S. federal court. But the proposed legislation is unlikely to accomplish its intended laudable purpose. The aggrieved survivors generally do not know which insurance company may have issued a policy to a family member and/or do not have other specific information regarding such a policy. If lawyers are telling them they can prevail without any proof of their claims in a litigation that must satisfy the exacting standards of the Federal Rules of Evidence, such advice, to put it mildly, is
unduly optimistic. Also, the principal beneficiaries of past Holocaust-era litigations have indisputably been the plaintiffs’ lawyers. For example, in 2001 lawyers pocketed more than $59 million in legal fees from the multibillion-dollar slave and forced labor settlement with German corporations. The surviving slave laborers themselves — mostly Jews and SintiRoma — received about $7,500 each; forced laborers — primarily Eastern Europeans forced to work in Nazi war factories — received approximately $2,500 apiece. One especially egregious lawyer profiteered from the slave labor and Swiss banks settlements to the tune of more than $7.4 million. In 2005, a federal judge in Florida awarded three law firms an aggregate $3.85 million in fees and expenses out of the $25.5 million “Gold Train” settlement of litigation for the looting by U.S. Army personnel of property belonging to Hungarian Jews. Thirty-four named plaintiffs received “incentive” payments of $2,000 or $5,000 apiece, with the bulk of the settlement going for social services for needy Hungarian Holocaust survivors. You see the pattern. While survivors receive, at most, a few thousand dollars each, their lawyers walk away with millions. Lawyers promoting the new Holocaust insurance bill in Congress most probably have already collected names of potential plaintiffs and plan to bring suit on their collective behalf in the hope of being awarded hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars, in yet another settlement. The proposed bill also risks raising unrealistic expectations. After ICHEIC Please see Rosensaft, page 16.
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 7
Letters to the editor We invite you to submit letters for publication. Letters must include name, address and daytime phone number; addresses and phone numbers will not be published. Letters may not exceed 400 words and may be edited for length and clarity; they cannot be returned. Mail, fax or e-mail letters to: Letters to the Editor via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Address & Phone:
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Mission Atidim remembered Your great description and imagery of the recent Centennial Mission (“From family tree to Tel Aviv kitchen, mission
made lasting impact,” July 5) brought back fond memories of Mission Atidim. That March 2006 UJF-YAD trip in conjunction with “Tel Aviv 1” was the best of my three visits to the Promised Land, one which I immensely enjoyed experiencing with 80 fellow young Pittsburghers. My having been asked by Federation staff to keep a blog on that trip led me to share since March 2006 my weekly J BLOGH of Jewish humor and articles with a mailing list of hundreds of Jewish friends and acquaintances on issues of local and international topics and events and to chair a three-year-long Melton course. Please see Letters, page 9.
8 — THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012
EITC’s value must be hiked, but public support is needed Guest Columnist MICHELLE TWERSKY PHILADELPHIA — Everyone worries about something. Some people worry about their health and others about their safety. Nonpublic school parents, particularly those in the Jewish community, worry about tuition. Every Jewish child should have the chance to attend a Jewish school, but the cost of tuition is too high for many parents. I know some parents in my community who work three jobs in order to afford a Jewish education for their children. I know other parents that have been laid off and are forced to send their children to public school. Thanks to Pennsylvania’s Educational Improvement Tax Credit (EITC) program, Pennsylvania parents are much better off than their New Jersey and New York counterparts. According to the Philadelphia Jewish Federation, 22 percent of students at participating Jewish schools receive a scholarship funded by the EITC. These
scholarships are a lifeline for parents, scholarships. No student has been demany of whom would otherwise have nied a scholarship due to lack of funds, to send their children to either public though the amount each student reschool or to schools, many of which ceives may fluctuate.) By comparison, Florida’s tax credit struggle to accept students paying litprogram provides $175 million in tax tle or nothing in tuition. Yet many of the remaining 78 per- credit scholarships each year and aucent of students who meet the EITC’s tomatically expands by 25 percent income limits are nonetheless denied each year that all available scholarscholarships ship tax b e c a u s e credits are there simply c l a i m e d is not enough (which should Parents deserve access to promoney. For be every grams that help pay for their the past five year for years, fundquite some children’s education ... ing for the time). EITC has reIn order to mained flat keep up with at $75 milPe n n s y l v a lion per year, nia’s growing and was even population, cut to $60 million in 2009 and 2010. rising tuition costs, and continued inThough $75 million may sound like a flation, the EITC must be drastically lot of money, only $44.7 million are increased and must have a mechanism available for scholarships (the rest is to automatically expand each year. While there are numerous proposals set aside for preschool and public school programs) and inflation has re- to assist families with sending their duced the real value of those scholar- children to schools that fit their needs, whether it is a Jewish Day School, a ships by a tenth since 2007. (The Jewish Federation of Greater special needs school or one with a spePittsburgh reports that 46 percent of cific academic program, the quickest 2011-2012 day school students in and easiest way to assure more options grades K-12 received EITC-funded is to have the existing EITC program
Buy, Sell, Trade in the Classifieds Call Donna 412-687-1000
funding increase to $100 million. In recent months, Pennsylvania citizens have sent thousands of phone calls, emails, and letters to their legislators in a show of grassroots support for expanded school choice. For its part, the Orthodox Union co-sponsored a rally in Philadelphia May 30 in support of EITC expansion. In the days leading up to the rally, my phone did not stop ringing and my email inbox was full. Parents were calling and writing to ask what they can do to help our school choice efforts. Parents understand just how important the EITC is for their children, and they want to do everything they can to see an increase approved. Parents deserve access to programs that help pay for their children’s education and students deserve adequate educational resources and services. Our proven and successful EITC program does this and needs your support.
(Michelle Twersky, Pennsylvania director of political affairs for the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America [OU], can be reached at email@example.com.)
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 9
OPINION Letters to the Editor: Continued from page 7. Our group was motivated to return and become even more committed to tikkun olam than we were before; and I am sure that this much larger mission will get even more people extensively involved in and dedicated to helping Federation agencies and Jewish causes and fellow MOTs. Jeff Pollock Squirrel Hill
Understand Voter ID law It is gratifying to see so many organizations coming together under the umbrella of the Pittsburgh Jewish Social Justice Roundtable to help coordinate activities that further the shared vision of tikkun olam in Pittsburgh. The new Voter ID law is not easy to understand and requirements keep changing. With the possibility of so many Pittsburghers needing help in understanding the requirements to be registered to vote in November, it is good to see an organization like PJSJR coordinating the upcoming public forum on Voter ID Bill requirements Monday, July 23, at the Squirrel Hill Jewish Community Center. Bringing together so many groups with so many different points of view such as Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation, Ahavath Achim, Jewish Association on Aging, the Jewish Women’s Center, Jewish Family & Children’s Service and the Reform Action Commission on Social Advocacy gives hope that many of the problems we face as a community can be addressed and solutions found through coordinated activities. Marc Yergin Squirrel Hill
Be careful what you wish for I would suggest to those who are thrilled by the Supreme Court’s affirmation of the Affordable Patient Care Act that their joy may be short-lived. I acknowledge that the American health care system and its “fee for service” model are disastrous. It encourages unnecessary tests, procedures and operations. Insurance is denied to individuals with pre-existing conditions, and health insurance companies have been able to drop individuals from coverage. Many use expensive hospital emergency rooms for routine care, sticking their neighbors with the bill. The medical model is held up as the only standard of care recognized by government and insurers while there is generally no coverage for natural healing care or for vitamins and supplements, which facilitate good health. [But] the Obama plan levies inadequate penalties on individuals that opt out of securing health care insurance and upon large companies that choose not to insure their workers, providing disincentives to participate. The plan would add millions of individuals to the Medicaid rolls with
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the federal government footing all of the cost for years as it cements a new set of entitlement expectations. The administration could have examined and adopted best practices of nations that deliver cost-effective, efficient care. Instead, a flawed, omnibus 2,700page bill, which virtually no member of Congress read or understood, was passed over widespread objections. The president asserts that savings will counter the cost of the plan, but even the independent Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has predicted that it will inflict a staggering $1.76 trillion in deficit spending over the next decade, this as the nation is drowning in a $16 trillion debt. I would refer readers who believe the rosy scenario painted by the president to revisit the Medicare program at its initia-
tion in 1964, at which time government economists forecast the annual tariff for it would be $12 billion by 1990. The actual cost rang in at a staggering $108 billion. If the same type of “accuracy” is found to exist in the Obama plan, the nation is doomed, the word “Affordable” within the legislation to be seen as comical. Be careful what you wish for, friends. Oren Spiegler Upper St. Clair
The key question Congratulations for daring to speak out when so many others continue to be quiet. Your simple, concise statement,
“Yes, Its Personal” (editorial, July 5), plus the content of the editorial — especially the comments about failed Palestinian leadership — succinctly summarize the topic. I had not been aware of The Jewish Chronicle before. I plan to be a follower now. The key question, however, is how to educate others. For example, I met someone recently (Jewish) who agreed with me (us) about the failed Palestinian leadership but would not budge from her opinion that “Israelis know better and should do more than we expect from the Palestinian leadership.” How do we counter such logic? Jay Shaffer New York
10 — THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012
METRO Cohan: Continued from page 1. Vegetarian Society, which is centered in London and has published a quarterly Jewish Vegetarian magazine since 1965. Over the years, JVNA activists started local chapters and carried out Jewish vegetarian activities in several parts of the United States. In addition to creating newsletters and maintaining a website (JewishVeg.com), the JVNA has also produced the one-hour documentary, “A Sacred Duty: Applying Jewish Values to Help Heal the World,” and has distributed over 35,000 complimentary copies of the film.
While the organization is based in New York, Cohan plans to remain in Pittsburgh, commuting when needed. Cohan, who has been a vegetarian for about five years, was inspired to adopt a plant-based diet by Genesis 1:29, in which God says to Adam: “Behold, I have given you every herb yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree that has seed-yielding fruit — to you it shall be for food.” “Vegetarianism and veganism are the highest forms of kashrut,” Cohan said. “The Torah clearly expresses the vegetarian ideal. My wife Kathryn and I both came to it through the Torah.” Cohan said the JVNA will work on outreach to Jews who are not “finding meaning in their Judaism.” “I think the number one reason why
membership is down in Reform, Conservative, and some Orthodox congregations is because people are struggling to find meaning in their everyday lives through Judaism,” he said. “With vegetarianism, people are finding meaning three times a day, at meal times. “The amazing thing is, when you see [vegetarianism] is the Torah ideal, you see how it all falls into place,” he continued. “It’s better for the environment, it’s better for animals and it’s better for your physical health. You can see God’s wisdom.” Cohan comes to the JVNA with his experience working at the Federation, as well as with a master’s of public management from Carnegie Mellon University. “Jeff seemed like the right person to
get us moving,” said JVNA President Richard Schwartz. “We want to get the message out that vegetarianism is consistent with Jewish teachings. We feel we have a very important message on one of the most important decisions of the day. Most people are unaware of the environmental impact of a meatcentered diet. Jews are supposed to be a light unto the nations. We need to do as much as possible to get the message out.”
(Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 11
Community Garden named for Ziskind family
A C L O S E R
‘The Diva Chef’ The Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry hosted a cooking demonstration for their clients and the community July 2. Pittsburgh native Elise Wims cooked up her recipe for wheat linguine with mint and basil pesto and gave out samples to the appreciative group that gathered. Wims finished in third place in television’s “Hells Kitchen” competition. Known as “The Diva Chef,” she graduated from the Pennsylvania Culinary Institute. Growing up in a single-parent family, Wims helped out, starting at age 9, by creating meals and cooking for her siblings. In her business, The Diva Chef LLC, she teaches how to cook healthful meals. Wims connected with the Pantry in May and has been a volunteer since. “The pantry’s mission is so in line with my own personal mission,” Wims said in a prepared statement. “I want people to know that even when they’re on a budget, or turning to organizations like the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry for help with putting food on their tables, they can still create healthy, great-tasting meals for their families.”
Wheat linguine with mint & basil pesto INGREDIENTS: 16 ounce package, uncooked wheat linguine 6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped 20 fresh basil leaves 10 fresh mint leaves 2 garlic gloves, chopped 1/2 cup pine nuts 3 tablespoons Parmesan cheese 2 tablespoons ricotta cheese 1.5 tablespoons olive oil Salt and pepper DIRECTIONS: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Place linguine in the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes until al dente. Drain and set aside. Reserve 1.5 tablespoons of water. In a blender or food processor, blend the reserved water and remaining ingredients together until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Toss with cooked pasta and serve.
O O K
Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry photo
(Angela Leibowicz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
A Western Pennsylvania Conservancy community flower garden has been named for the Ziskind family in recognition of an endowment donation by Burton “Les” Ziskind of Alexandria, Va., whose family has roots in the East End. The garden is at Beechwood Boulevard and Reynolds Street; a dedication ceremony was held Sunday, June 24, with the Ziskind family and WPC staff. The Conservancy manages the quarter-acre community garden along Mellon Park as one it its nearly 140 community flower gardens in 20 counties. “The Ziskinds have called Pittsburgh home for over a century,” [Burton] Ziskind said. “The community garden at Beechwood Boulevard and Reynolds Street, named in honor of my family, recognizes their distinctive local and afar achievements — as family doctor and rehabilitation counselor, attorney, and World War II combat veterans. It also says ‘thanks’ to Pittsburgh for being such a great hometown, and does it in a way that is especially meaningful to the community — conserving our lovely green public spaces.”
Two views of BBYO Amy Dicker began her love of BBYO as a professional staff member while also serving as a Jewish Community Center teen director. Having been a high school participant of NFTY, she was intrigued as an adult by BBYO’s pluralistic model as a place for every type of Jewish teen to fit in. With this in mind, she began a 13-year partnership as both a professional staff and volunteer advisor. While she enjoys synagogue and denomination-affiliated groups because it brings peers of like-religion/culture together, Dicker prefers to spend her time with BBYO for the opposite reason — she strives to make sure the teens know and promote that everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate, be it at a one-time community event or ongoing membership in the leaderAmy Dicker ship chapter models of AZA and BBG. Dicker strongly supports BBYO’s world experiences such as the mission to Bulgaria, and has seen first-hand how educationally and emotionally enhancing it is to go on March of the Living. She chaperoned the trip in 2004, taking “youngsters who’d heard of Holocaust camps” and bringing home “living historians dedicated to making sure the atrocities will not be repeated.” Dicker’s schedule has changed in that she can no longer advise the South Hills boys’ chapter of David Iszauk AZA but hopes to continue her involvement behind the scenes. Anyone interested in taking her place with this group should contact KMR BBYO regional director, Chuck Marcus at 412-421-2626 or email@example.com. Jamie Exler — Dayenu BBG advisor — talks about her connection to BBYO in a prepared statement: “I began my BBYO career in high school and fell in love with the organization. I met some of my best friends while I was in BBYO. After college, I always thought about being an advisor and finally made the decision to do so in 2010. I then became Dayenu’s advisor and fell in love with what I do. I really enjoy spending time with each and every one of the kids in BBYO.”
12 — THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012
Simchas & Mazel Tovs! Engagements
Check The Jewish Chronicle out on the Web thejewishchronicle.net
Schwartz/Dayan: Sharon and Steve Schwartz of Oakland announce the engagement of their daughter, Laura Beth Schwartz, to David Jeffrey Dayan, son of Lillian Dayan of Toronto. Laura’s grandparents are Ruth Fineberg, the late Irwin Fineberg, and the late Ruth and Nathan Schwartz. Dave’s grandparents are Ida Rice and the late Joseph Rice. Laura graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s of arts degree and holds a master’s degree from Columbia University School of Social Work. She is a disability accommodations specialist with Bronx Community College, City University of New York. Dave graduated from Yeshiva University’s Sy Syms School of Business with a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting. Dave is an accountant with Davis, Graber, Plotzker and Ward, LLP. A November 2012 wedding is planned in New Jersey.
Swerdlow/Kramer: Steven and Jenny Swerdlow are happy to announce the marriage of their daughter, Debbie Sharon Swerdlow, to Scott Leslie Kramer, son of Marilyn Kramer and the late Marty Kramer, June 3, at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts. Rabbi Michael Werbow officiated. Debbie’s grandparents are Sylvia Goodman of London, the late Louis Goodman and Marion and Marty Swerdlow of Chicago. Scott’s grandparents are the late Minnie and Alfred Racusin, the late Sam Vixman, and the late Anna Kramer. Debbie works as a mental health therapist and Scott is a restaurateur. Debbie and Scott reside in Pittsburgh.
Births Goykhman: Debra and Alan Goykhman announce the birth of their daughter, Zoey Grace, Nov. 12, 2011. Grandparents are Robin and Bill Halpern of Pittsburgh and Sam and Helen Goykhman. Zoey Grace is named
in loving memory of her great-grandmother, Rose Grace Halpern, who had lived in Pittsburgh. Greenwald: Mr. and Mrs. Alex Greenwald of Cherry Hill, N.J., announce the birth of their daughter, Morgan Harper, June 9. Morgan’s mother is the former Jennifer Finkel of Monroeville. Grandparents are Claudia and Warren Finkel of Monroeville and Susan and Sid Greenwald of Englewood, Colo. Morgan was welcomed home by her older sister, Madison Olivia. Great-grandparents are Ben and Esther Zlochower of Peoria, Ariz.; the late Edward and Olga Linton; Henry and Hilda Finkel; and Walter and Amy Greenwald of Pittsburgh. Morgan Harper is named in loving memory of her paternal great-grandmother, Amy Greenwald; and her maternal great-grandparents, Hilda and Henry Finkel. Kosoff: Ilene and Jacob Kosoff proudly announce the birth of Rafaela Edeet’s baby brother, Avi Harold. Proud grandparents are Richard and Helena (Kosoff) Sullivan, Daniel and Ronna (Harris) Askin and the late Dr. Richard N. Harris. Avi Harold is named in loving memory of his paternal grandfather, Harold Kosoff. Shear: Ori Adiel Shear announces the birth of his sister, Tali Miriam Shear, June 16. Parents are Judith and John Shear of Chicago. Grandparents are Barbara and Herb Shear of Pittsburgh, Jan and Bob Stewart of Arlington Heights, Ill., and Kirsten and Gary Yarkony of Lake Forest, Ill. Tali Miriam is named in loving memory of her paternal great-grandfather, Morrie Schwartz.
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 13
METRO Removal stalled
Chronicle photo by Angela Leibowicz
The Holocaust Center etchings depict scenes from the Shoa in stark detail.
Holocaust Center etchings may stay put BY LEE CHOTTINER Executive Editor
While the Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh has moved to its new digs in Oakland, the two wall size etchings outside its old offices may have to stay where they are. When preparations began last week to cut the etchings down from the wall at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill, where they have hung for about 15 years, workers soon discovered a problem. The etchings, original works of art by the late Jerry Caplan that the Holocaust Center commissioned for $20,000, were glued to the wall. “It’s making it difficult, if not impossible, to get them off the wall in one piece,” said Holocaust Center Director Joy Braunstein. “We have not yet found a person or mechanism to do that.” The center is consulting with several art experts on how to proceed, and should have an opinion in hand within the next two weeks. However, “It’s possible they will not
come off those walls,” Braunstein said. “Because they are original works of art, because they were commissioned for such a high price, because the artist is deceased, we are extremely reluctant to remove them unless they can be removed in one piece.” The Holocaust Center announced earlier this year it would move back to its original space at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh while its board plans for its future and selects a permanent location. Since then, many Holocaust Center artifacts have been removed from the JCC and placed in storage at a location in the Strip District. Aside from the etchings, the only artifacts still at the JCC are the wall size copy of an Anne Frank collage at the top of the stairs in the Robinson Wing, and the Jakob’s Torah in the Levinson Building, which will remain at the JCC indefinitely. (Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
14 — THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012
S UMMER D INING G UIDE
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 15
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OPINION Rosensaft: Continued from page 6. was formally dissolved in March 2007, the German insurance companies agreed to continue processing Holocaust-era claims under ICHEIC’s relaxed standards. Yet the German Insurance Association reports only 219 inquiries regarding such claims in the past five years. That’s led to the identification of only 102 policies, 60 of which had previously been disposed of. It seems doubtful that thousands or even hundreds of additional policies will
now be suddenly discovered. Hence my suggestion that the relevant insurance companies be asked to agree to an independent monitor, a person who would determine whether all potentially valid but as yet unresolved Holocaust-era claims are being honestly processed under the relaxed ICHEIC standards. The monitor, who should have the confidence of Congress and the survivor community, should be authorized to examine claims that ICHEIC supposedly disposed of in violation of its own rules. The monitor should report to Congress periodically on the status of all open or disputed claims. If the insurance companies reject such a
compromise, or if the monitor were to find one or more of these companies to be recalcitrant, congressional action could then loom as a final remedy. There is precedent for such oversight. Ambassador J.D. Bindenagel, the State Department’s special envoy for Holocaust issues in the Clinton and Bush administrations, recently pointed out to the Senate Judiciary Committee that the New York Holocaust Claims Processing Office is mandated to report on the insurance companies’ processing of survivor claims and has done so. To date, it appears that all such claims have been handled appropriately.
We need a new path. Our collective challenge must be to at least try to provide, in the words of Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), an actual and viable “approximation of justice” for Holocaust survivors and their families. This proposal may be able to accomplish just that. (Menachem Z. Rosensaft is general counsel of the World Jewish Congress and vice president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendant. He teaches the law of genocide and World War II war crimes trials at the law schools of Columbia, Cornell and Syracuse universities.)
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 17
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TORAH Daughters of Zelophehad came before feminism Portion of the Week RABBI MARTIN WILLIAM SHORR TEMPLE HADAR ISRAEL Pinchas, Numbers 25:10-30:1
No need for coming that “long way baby,” G-d already got you there a long time ago. In recent times, more specifically the late 19th to the mid 20th century, women have struggled for equal common ground. And not necessarily with men, but in actuality, it has been more of a struggle to attain status as a whole for females. As a man, I certainly am not going to share a whole concept of how treatment of woman, combined with a stereotyped evaluation of their roles in many areas of society, has caused women to be labeled as inferior. I will keep it rather simple and reference a place where there can be no worries of dispute of status involving any group or individual — the Torah. Also, I will gladly site this idea from the highest authority on any matter, in a case involving rights for a few “ladies.” That authority would be none other than the Holy One, blessed be He — G-d. In this week’s portion, Pinchas, the very beginning of Chapter 27 tells of five women who are daughters of a man named Zelophehad. He had passed away in the desert following the attempted revolt of Korach against Moses. Zelophehad had no sons. Thus, Zelophehad’s daughters made their case to Moshe in front of the entire assembly of Israel. They asked for the inheritance due from their father, on par with any of the sons of any of the tribes. There is another concept to be brought out in this case beyond the ruling. Moses was stumped. He turned to G-d for the correct ruling, which was absolutely in favor of the request of all
five of Zelophehad’s daughters. This additional concept proves a simple, but often misinterpreted one, and at times a debated issue in some venues of religious belief. No matter how high G-d elevates a human being in spiritual leadership, they are never equal, nor will they ever be, to G-d almighty. In this case, when you look at the word mishpawton the third word from the end of verse 5, the final nun in that word is written in a special way. This usually means that a special lesson is to be learned from such a letter or word. In this instance, Rabbaynu Berachah states that 50 gates of understanding were created by G-d in this world, and Moshe knew all but one of them. The one gate of understanding he lacked prevented him from ruling on his own in the case of Zelophehad’s daughters, and he needed to inquire of G-d. It is another example of G-d making it clear to us that, while we should indeed love, cherish and follow the rulings of our rabbis, that it should be done with the understanding that even the greatest leading human being of all time, Moshe Rabbaynu, Moses our great teacher, is not at all comparable to G-d. The ruling by G-d certainly makes a few things clear involving women and Judaism, such as inheritance. If you examine the case carefully, Zelophehad’s daughters by no means come across as strong advocates for woman’s lib. There is actually no certain display of their stance, other than what is rightfully theirs to claim. Therefore, I will stop short of producing the case as any sort of ryah, a talmudic term for proof of reference on matters, as to what women’s roles in the minyan and in Judaism should be in today’s world. Perhaps one day in the future there will be another Moshe appointed by G-d among us, and perhaps once again G-d will have to be called in for that ruling as well. (This column is a service of Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.)
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18— THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012
OBITUARY/BOOKS BELKIN: On Friday, May 18, 2012, Estelle Belkin, 81, of Monroeville; beloved wife of David Belkin; loving mother of Richard (Billie Jo) Belkin, Glenn Belkin and Randi (Sam) Lichtenstein; grandmother of Matt, Ryan, Jacob and Daniel; daughter of the late Jacob and Molly Begler; sister of the late Bernice Cooperman, Shirley Begler and lifelong friend of Catherine Johnston. Estelle graduated with a master’s degree in library science and served as the children’s librarian for 25 years at Rodef Shalom Congregation. She was the founder of the Computer Club at Monroeville Senior Center. Services and interment were private. Arrangements by D’Alessandro Funeral Home LTD, 4522 Butler St., Pittsburgh, PA 15206. www.dalessandroltd.com BOSWELL: On Friday, July 6, 2012, Sydne H. Boswell; beloved wife of Randall Boswell; beloved mother of Joshua (Anna) Boswell of Huntington Valley, Pa., and Jacob (Nina) Boswell of Columbus, Ohio; sister of Sam (Debra) Lauar of Boynton Beach, Fla.; grandmother of Asa and Adar; also survived by many nieces and nephews. Services were held at Temple David; interment Temple Sinai Memorial Park. Contributions may be made to Forbes Hospice, 4800 Friendship Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15224 or Temple David, 4415 Northern Pike, Monroeville, PA 15146. Arrangements by Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., 5509 Centre Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15232. www.schugar.com CHOTTINER: On Wednesday, March 28, 2012, Jacob Chottiner; husband of (63 years) Jean Chottiner; father of Elaine Chottiner, Gary Chottiner, Sharon (Gerard) Myatt and Becki (Andrew Rosenzweig) Chottiner; son of
the late Solomon and Naomi Chottiner; brother of the late Lou Chottiner, Leonard Chottiner and Hilda Wertkin; half-brother of the late Ben and the late Abe Chottiner; grandfather of Ariel Myatt and Diana (Aaron) Rosenzweig;. Born in Clairton, Pa., on Aug. 2, 1922, Jacob completed his bachelor’s degree in engineering after serving in Europe as a first lieutenant in the United States Army during World War II. Chottiner passed after a long illness. Services and interment were held at the Pliskover Cemetery in Coraopolis. www.pliskover.com SIEGAL: On May 24, 2012, Jean Siegal, 92, of Bal Harbor, Fla., and formerly of Pittsburgh; beloved wife of the late Benjamin Siegal; loving mother of Marlene (Richard) Kohn and Ted (Lois Levinson-) Siegal; grandmother of Larry (Jami) Kohn, Linda (Matt) Heller, Amanda Siegal, Jonathan Siegal, Huey (Indira) Futch; “GG” of Nate and Jacob Heller, Vivian Kohn and Amiya Futch; sister of Rosalind Bernstein and Henrietta Price; sister-in-law of Jean Robin and Sally Siegal. Jean’s love, elegance, class and style will be greatly missed. Services and interment were held at Riverside Gordon Memorial Chapel at Mt. Nebo Kendall, 5900 SW 77th Ave., Miami, FL 33143. www.riversidegordonmemorialchapels.com
Unveiling LIPSITZ: A monument in loving memory of Helen Nobel Lipsitz will be unveiled Sunday, July 15, at 10 a.m. at Adath Jeshurin Cemetery, 4779 Roland Road, Allison Park 15101. Relatives and friends are invited. RSVP is appreciated to help ensure a minyan. 412-5215859 or Recep@hlipsitz.com
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Errors, kvetching doom Pekar’s ‘Not the Israel’ BY NEAL GENDLER For the Chronicle
“Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me,” Harvey Pekar’s conflicted lament over Israel, would be more tolerable with more facts, fewer errors and if Pekar ever had visited the country that so disappointed him. Real, live Jews didn’t produce the ideal state his Zionist parents evidently led him to expect and which he spends his last pages haranguing. Pekar, who died in 2010, used his job as a VA file clerk in Cleveland as the basis for his acclaimed “American Splendor” comic books. They became the graphic autobiography of the same title, adapted for film in 2003. He also was a book and jazz critic. “Not the Israel” is a graphic memoir — like a hard-cover comic book for thinking adults, a format I wouldn’t have taken seriously until Art Spiegelman’s Shoah masterpiece, “Maus.” Pekar shared his parents’ Zionism until he began to question nationalism in the 1960s and met leftists who criticized Israel. Their ideas grew on him after the 1967 war and he began, legitimately, to question Israel’s morals in occupying territory. Pekar tells artist JT Waldman of his upbringing, Jewish history and the evolution of his thinking on Israel as Waldman drives him around Cleveland seeking material for this book — a clever device, like a movie about making a movie. Waldman’s black-and-white drawings are well done, some in the manner of eras about which Pekar is talking. Pekar is drawn in persona-capturing detail; others’ faces, less vivid, skillfully suggest their natures. As history, the book is less successful — useful for those knowing little about Jewish or Israeli history, but lacking some balancing details. Pekar correctly blames Arabs for rejecting the 1947 partition plan and invading. To his credit, he includes Britain’s nearly forgotten 1937 Peel Commission. After the 1936 Arab revolt, the commission recommended partitioning the area west of the Jordan, about one third for Jews, the rest for Arabs. The Jews agreed; the Arabs refused. He reminds that Vladimir Jabotinsky, who inspired Menachem Begin, was a founder of the Hagana in 1920, but Pekar too simply lumps Begin’s Irgun with the terrorist “Stern Gang” — more than once, lest we miss it. Credibility is damaged by perspective-omitting simplification and by errors. Pekar says the refugee ship Exodus was “captured by the British Navy, which sent it back to France,” then
Hamburg, where “the refugees were forcibly removed.” In fact, the 4,500 refugees were packed into three British prison ships and sent first to a French port where they sweated nearly three weeks, refusing to debark. Journalist Ruth Gruber got aboard one of those ships, the Runnymede Park, interviewing refugees and taking pictures that included one that became “Life” magazine’s photo of the week. A full page says: “Many Jewish refugees spent [World War II] in detention camps in Cyprus.” No. A few hundred refugees fled to Cyprus, but in 1941 the British moved them elsewhere. Britain created the notorious camps in 1946. Waldman tells Pekar that he lived in Israel during the second intifada, and grew accustomed to “tank fire outside my window.” Maybe so, but did I miss the huge news of Israel cutting down Arab mobs with tank shells? The book raises serious issues, but Pekar’s intensifying kvetch becomes annoying. So Israel didn’t meet your hopes, Harvey? So sorry, but it’s full of people, not angels, they’ve been besieged for 64 years, and you didn’t move there to try to improve it. You didn’t even visit to experience the gulf between Israel’s reality and its militaristic, conflict-cauldron portrayal in Western news media. Even the Almighty came down to see for Himself before condemning Sodom and Gomorrah. Besides, what do Israelis owe you — or any of us who don’t live there? They’re the ones “in the arena,” in Teddy Roosevelt’s term. Pekar ends up out of a Jewish arena. An epilog by his wife and sometime collaborator, Joyce Brabner, shows his burial next to Eliot Ness, in a cemetery with gentiles.
“Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me,” by Harvey Pekar and JT Waldman, Hill and Wang, 172 pages.
(Neal Gendler is a Minneapolis writer and editor.)
THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012 — 19
METRO Divestment: Continued from page 1. Responsibility Through Investment Committee, told the G.A. that divestment was a “last resort” after years of engagement with the companies failed to influence them to “refrain from using their goods and services for violent acts.” Ellison pointed to “the Israeli military occupation,” the “separation wall” in the West Bank, and Israeli checkpoints as “inconvenient, humiliating, and discriminating” to the Palestinians. Ellison failed to mention that Israeli lives have been saved by the erection of the security wall and the checkpoints. In 2002, the year before construction of the wall began, 457 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists; in 2009, eight Israelis were killed by terrorist attacks. While G.A. moderator Jack Baca emphasized that divestment “is in no way meant to express contempt for Israel or condemnation of our Jewish brothers and sisters,” the mainstream Jewish community, did, saw the resolution as exactly that. “Clearly, we have seen some mission networks and advisory committees and other institutions [in the Presbyterian church] in a comfort zone with anti-Israel, anti-Jewish animus that we hoped had died with Father Coughlin,” said Ethan Felson, vice president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. “Our primary focus before the General Assembly was in communicating how dire we saw this.” While a potential Presbyterian divestment from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions would have no effect on the companies’ bottom lines, the significance of such a symbolic move by a mainline Christian denomination would not go unnoticed by those behind the BDS (boycott, divest, sanctions) movement, whose ultimate goal is the delegitimization of Israel as a Jewish state. The BDS campaign began in 2001 at the United Nations Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa, where political NGOs organized around what they called “the apartheid strategy” in an effort to brand Israel the new South Africa. The BDS campaign aims to appeal to the genuine humanitarian sentiments of grassroots groups that are generally unfamiliar with the intricate details and history of the issues in the Middle East, presenting a one-sided, pro-Palestinian narrative. The targeted audience finds it easy to support any movement that ostensibly opposes apartheid, discrimination, inequality and colonialism. While a divestment action against just a few companies — like the one proposed by the Presbyterians — may appear to be limited in scope, once a mainstream church comes on board, those behind the BDS movement expand the message to the world that the church also agrees that Israel is an apartheid state, according to the website of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Mainstream Jewish groups thus view even limited divestment from Israel as a very serious matter, and were poised to react accordingly if the vote had gone the other way for the Presbyterians last week. “Obviously, we would have been in a stage of ‘no business as usual’ had [the divestment resolution] passed,” Felson said. “That was not a threat; it was just a broad-based understanding of a reality, not by fiat, but organically.”
Many Presbyterians understood the potential fallout of a vote in favor of divestment. “No one cares about our symbolic gesture,” Matthew Miller, of the Presbytery of Prospect Hill, told the G.A. “The unintended consequence of a divestment strategy will alienate our interfaith Jewish partners in this country. It will privilege the Palestinians’ suffering over the suffering of the Israelis. This is not a course of action that will have its symbolic effect.” On the other side of the debate, the language became inflammatory, as Raafat Zaki, synod executive of the Covenant, accused Israelis of “ethnic cleansing,” and “apartheid,” and Moufid Khoury, a commissioned lay pastor in Lehigh, referred to the Israeli “occupation” as “the worst form of terrorism,” saying that it was Israel’s actions “that inspired the terrorism of 9-11.” “Obviously, the Presbyterian church is very divided,” said Jeffrey Cohan, director of community and public affairs for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “And it is vividly apparent that there are packets of institutionalized anti-Zionism, and in some cases, antiSemitism within the Presbyterian church. On the other hand, last night’s vote for positive investment gives us something to build on with our Presbyterian friends. At the same time, that’s going to be very challenging if the Presbyterian church doesn’t do something to address some of those internal issues.” Cohan pointed to several pro-divestment organizations, including a fringe Jewish group, “that went to incredible lengths to lobby the General Assembly here in Pittsburgh. The fact that they would be that committed to demonizing Israel was really breathtaking. It was disappointing to see the Presbyterian General Assembly highjacked and turned into an anti-Israel bash.” The anti-Israel sentiment stems from the national level of the Presbyterian church, according to Rabbi Alvin K. Berkun of Pittsburgh, immediate past chair of the National Council of Synagogues, who addressed the Presbyterian committee on Middle East Peacemaking Issues last week. Evidence of this antiIsrael sentiment is the people that the national level of the church chooses to send to the committee to serve as “resources” while deliberating divestment. Those resources — which included Anna Baltzer, a national organizer with the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation — presented a “skewed” perspective of the situation in Israel, Berkun said. “Their (the Presbyterians) sympathies are clearly in the Arab world, because that is where they missionize,” Berkun said, adding that divestment would most likely be on the agenda again at the next G.A. in 2014. “I think they’re going to come back for more,” he said. “And unless the tone changes from the top, we’re going to have a tough time.” While the Committee on Middle East Peacemaking presented 10 separate resolutions to the G.A. regarding Israel — and debated the issue for several days — it presented no resolutions and engaged in no debate regarding any other Middle Eastern countries that have been accused of persecuting Christians, e.g., Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, or Pakistan. It is precisely because Israel is open to hearing the protests of the church that may be why it has been singled out, speculated Rev. Sheldon Sorge, pastor to
the Pittsburgh Presbytery, who also sees the issue of divestment as one that will not go away anytime soon. “We have no assurance that anyone in Syria is even listening to us, or any of the other countries,” Sorge said. “The difficulty for Christians is we have no way of getting their ear. But with Israel, we have the ear of people who are listening, and maybe we can make a difference.” Sorge sees the closeness of last week’s vote as indicative of the dilemma the church faces in feeling loyalty to both Jews and Palestinians. “I think it indicates we are very much torn between our friendship with the Jewish community and Israel and our friendship with the Palestinian community,” Sorge said. “It is difficult to be caught in the middle. The vote is very revealing of how difficult it is. On any given day, it could have gone the other way. I hope everyone hears very seriously how close we are to the tipping point either way. I hope nobody sits secure.” In fact, on Friday, the G.A. voted 457180 in favor of a resolution boycotting “all Israeli products coming from the occupied Palestinian Territories” and for “all nations” to prohibit settlement imports. The resolution singled out Ahava, a skin care company, and the Hadiklaim Israel Date Growers, which both have factories in West Bank settlements. The PC (USA) is the only mainstream Christian church in the country that is so close to voting in favor of
divestment. Similar resolutions have been handily rejected by the Methodists, the Lutherans and the Episcopalians, among others. “The key leadership of the church needs to address why this denomination stands so far apart, not leading the pack, but falling astray,” Felson said. But, at least for now, the PC (USA) has found a way to pursue peace and build bridges rather than take a stand that, without question, would have severed its ties with the Jewish community at large. The adapting of the alternative resolution for positive investment “allows Presbyterians to be true to our calling as peacemakers,” said Russell Sullivan Jr., TEC of Carlisle. “This will sustain our positive relationship with both Palestinians and Israelis, and stand with everyone in the Middle East who desires peace and justice.” It is Presbyterian leaders like Russell on whom the Jewish community will rely to help spread the message that buying into the divestment movement is not a path to peace. “We are positive about the nature of those who came to the General Assembly who have, time after time, heard their better angels and rejected the partisanship placed before them,” Felson said. (Toby Tabachnick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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In MeMory of
REGGIE BARDIN .........................LILLIAN WELLS HARRY & IRENE CHIZECK HYMEN CHIZECK CAROL CONNOR ........................EDNA & LARRY ABELSON ROBET & RUTH ANN GLASSER .............MAURICE & LIBBIE GLASSER MARLENE ....................GOLDSTEIN HENRY RUDICK GLORIA & ALVIN GREENFIELD ................DAVID LEE GREENFIELD SUSAN N. JOHNSON ........................HAROLD L. NEUWIRTH, ESQ. ROSE KAPLAN ............................SAMUEL BUCK RICHARD KATZIVE...............JULIUS A. KATZIVE MILES MARKS.....................ANNA ROSENTHAL
In MeMory of
LOVELL & JACK OLENDER..........................BENJAMIN OLENDER TOBY PERILMAN.............FLORENCE PERILMAN TOBY PERILMAN ..........................HARRY LOUIK TOBY PERILMAN...........GERTRUDE STALINSKY NATHANIEL SAMUEL PIRCHESKY .....ELIZABETA PIRCHESKY SIKLOV JOEL & MARCIA PLATT..............ROBERT PLATT ROBERT ROSENTHAL....................ELI RACUSIN ABE SAMBOL & FAMILY MOLLIE LAPPIN SHEILA SLEWETT ....................HARRY LEIGTON WINKLER ALAN WALLIE .............................ANNA MARTIN SYBIL WEIN ..............................DOROTHY WEIN
SUNDAY, JULY 15: ARTHUR ABELSON, SARA RIDER BRENNER, MARTIN FRIED, ROSE ZELMANOVITZ GOTTLIEB, ELSIE E. HEPPS, HARRY M. JACOBSON, PHYLLIS KAISER, MORRIS MERMELSTEIN, ROSE MONHEIM, HAROLD L. NEUWIRTH, ESQ., MARIAN PLOTKIN, FRIEDA F. RIEMER, NORMAN S. ROM, ABE E. ROSENFIELD, REBECCA TEVELIN, LOUIS TUCKER. MONDAY, JULY 16: BEN BLOCK, HYMAN CHIZECK, MINNIE COHEN, JULES I. FRIEDMAN, JULIUS L. JOSEPHSON, HARRY KALLUS, MURRAY KAUFMAN, PAUL A. KLEINERMAN, ROSE MARSH. TUESDAY, JULY 17: ELLA AMPER, MARIAN S. BECK, ROSE BECK, SAMUEL H. BIGLER, WILLIAM L. BRILL, TILLIE DENTEL, HARRY LOUIS DIAMOND, SIDNEY ELINOW, CELIA M. ELOVITZ, MEYER FELDMAN, MAX FOX*, THERESA FRIED, FANNIE GROSS, JACOB M. HEPNER, HELENE ROSE HYMAN, HARRY LATTERMAN, SAMUEL LEDERMAN, BENJAMIN LOVE, L. J. MARKS, TILLIE MICHAELSON, BENJAMIN MIDDLEMAN, PHILIP RECHT, SAMUEL SANFORD ROSEN, CELIA SCHLESINGER, FANNIE R. SCHWARTZ, LOUIS SHAPIRA, GERTRUDE SIGAL, NATHAN SNIDERMAN, ROSE STERN, FRANK SUSSMAN. WEDNESDAY, JULY 18: YETTA BURKE, ANNA GOLDBERG CODY, DAVID M. FINEMAN, SIGMUND FLEISHER, SYLVIA GOLDSTEIN, ABRAHAM ISAAC GROSSMAN, EDITH LENA KAPLAN, JOSEPH KONIGSBERG, ROSE LIBERMAN, LOUIS LIBSON, SYLVIA WEINER MARKOVITZ, THEODORE MARKS, SAMUEL RECHT, SAM ROSEN, RACHEL ROSENBERG, SARAH ROSENTHAL, ABRAHAM SAFFRAN, MOLLIE SLUTSKY, ISADORE SOBEL, FREDA TAUBERG, BERTHA HARRIS WOLF. THURSDAY, JULY 19: DR. NATHAN ASHINSKY, SARAH L. BLUMENTHAL, SAMUEL J. CRAMER, HARRY EDELSTEIN, RAE R. GRANOWITZ, LEON ROBERT GREENBERG, TIBY M. GRINBERG, HOWARD HARRIS, LOUIS KITMAN, HERBERT MAGIDSON, LOUIS MOSKOWITZ, MILTON MYER, FANNIE DVINSKY POLLOCK, JACOB STEIN, ALEXANDER UDMAN, JOSEPH H. WELLS, REBECCA SIEGEL WILNER, MILDRED MARLIN WOLOVITZ, FAYE ZIMMER. FRIDAY, JULY 20: LEONARD BARMAK, YOLANA BERGER, SAUL CAZEN, BEN W. CLOSKY, CELIA COHEN, ROSE FREED, MILDRED MITZIE GOLD", JACKIE HELLER, JACOB HERRING, FRANK ISRAEL, HELEN N. LEHMAN, MAX LEVENSON, JACOB LIBERMAN, HARRY LOUIK, ABRAM MORGAN, ESSIE ROGALSKY ROSENFIELD, SAMUEL RUBEN, HANNAH RUBENSON, SIDNEY SCHWARTZ, BEN SHAPIRO, SARAH SHAPIRO, IDA SHOAG, FRANCES SIEGMAN, EVA SIMON, ABRAHAM B. SLESNICK, EDWARD IRVING STEIN, SOLOMON H. WEINBERG, JACK WOLF. SATURDAY, JULY 21: SAMUEL COHEN, LOUIS GERSON, RUTH WEIN GORDON HERSKOVITZ, SAMUEL HONIG, SAMUEL H. JACKSON, BENJAMIN LEBBY, MORRIS LEIPZIG, FAY LEVIN, CHARLES GERSHEN LISOWITZ, FLORENCE B. PERILMAN, SADIE ROSENBLUM, MANUEL SINIAKIN, SAMUEL NATHAN UNGER, MARCUS D. WEDNER, LOUIS M. WITKIN, MEYER ZARKIN,
20 — THE JEWISH CHRONICLE JULY 12, 2012