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Globe Meeting of great minds Wiesel, Sharansky hold forum at G.A.

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NOVEMBER 15, 2012

kislev 1, 5773

Vol. 56, No. 27

Pittsburgh, PA

75 and counting


Highmark to begin coverage for genetic screening in 2013 BY TOBY TABACHNICK Staff Writer

JF&CS photo by Elizabeth Waickman

Aryeh Sherman says Jewish Family & Children’s Service has achieved a great deal in the past five years, but new challenges lay ahead.

Sherman reflects on JF&CS progress at milestone date BY LEE CHOTTINER Executive Editor

As Jewish Family & Children’s Service prepares to mark its 75th anniversary, Aryeh Sherman is reflecting on how far the social service agency has come and where it’s going. For Sherman, the JF&CS president and CEO for the past 13 years, this is a good time to do both. Not only does this week mark a milestone anniversary for

the agency, but next June will be the completion date for its five-year plan. “We have to recognize it was a different time [when the strategic plan was drafted] and we had some good foresight to deal with what was coming down the line,” Sherman said in an interview with the Chronicle. The five-year plan addressed five strategic goals: • Reducing hunger in the community; • Improving workforce diversity;

• Safe and healthy living for the elderly; • A developed continuum of care for families; and • Addressing employment needs in the community. As the June 30 completion date for the plan approaches, Sherman is pleased with the progress JF&CS has made on all fronts, but he noted challenges lay ahead.

Highmark, Inc. will be changing its medical policy in January 2013 to provide insurance coverage for pre-conception genetic tests for Ashkenazi Jews between the ages of 18 and 29. Most other large insurers in American cities the size of Pittsburgh have been covering these tests for years, according to Dr. Arnold Cohen, chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, and chairman of the national advisory board of the Victor Center for Jewish Genetic Diseases, which provides genetic education, screening and counseling services at various cities throughout the country. The screenings can determine whether an individual is a carrier for any of the 19 genetic diseases prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews. “Highmark has to be congratulated for listening to us, and acting appropriately,” said Cohen, who was instrumental in bringing the importance of the tests to the attention of Highmark officials. About one in every four Ashkenazi Jews are “healthy carriers” of a genetic disease, meaning they show no symptoms of the disease. But if two carriers of the same Jewish genetic disease decide to have children, each child conceived by that couple has a 25 percent chance of being affected by the disease. If a couple knows they are both carriers, they can undergo genetic counseling before starting their family, and consider options such as adoption, in vitro fertilization and sperm or egg donation. The change in Highmark’s policy is

Please see Sherman, page 21.

Please see Highmark, page 21.


Times To Remember



Metro Christian, Jewish leaders dialogue locally despite national rift BY SAM LAPIN Chronicle Correspondent

Leaders of various denominations from the Pittsburgh Jewish and Christian communities gathered at Congregation Beth Shalom Thursday, Nov. 8, to discuss the ramifications of a letter to Congress asking to end unconditional U.S. military aid to Israel signed by 15 leaders of mainstream Protestant churches. Rabbi James Gibson of Temple Sinai, and Rev. Donald Green, executive director of Christian Associates of Southwest Pennsylvania, led the dialogue. The dialogue’s Jewish attendees represented the Reform and Conservative movements and its Christian attendees represented the Episcopal, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Greek Orthodox, Assembly of God and Catholic Churches. In ad-

dition to clergy, there were lay leaders from almost all religious communities. In their letter to Congress, sent Oct. 5, the Protestant leaders acknowledged the insecurity that Israelis have been left with after suicide bombings and rocket attacks from Gaza, in addition acknowledging the suffering of the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. They also acknowledged that no one party is to blame for lack of progress in the stagnating peace process. The Protestant leaders, however, expressed concern that the chances for peace are moribund and that this is in large part due to human rights violations committed by the Israeli military. They asked Congress to investigate the use of U.S. military aid to Israel to confirm that it is in line with federal law. If those investigations show anything but Israeli compliance with the law, then they asked Congress to withhold military aid to Israel. In response to the letter, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism decided not to attend the meeting of the Christian-Jewish Roundtable, which was to take place on Oct. 22. In a statement, Rabbi Steven Wernick of the USCJ said, “In addition to being completely

baseless, this letter demonstrates that all of our work, all of our dialogue and all of our Protestant partners’ pledges of commitment to coexistence amount to very little if such a letter can be sent to Congress without event he courtesy of a heads-up.” The American Jewish Committee, B’nai B’rith International, Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, the Rabbinic Assembly and Union for Reform Judaism all joined USCJ in its decision. Deborah Fidel, executive director of the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee, believes it is necessary to continue this dialogue, which has been held for 30 years, even as national Jewish organizations were cancelling their meeting with their Christian partners. “The PAJC kept the dialogue open because there are ups and downs but the relationship has to endure,” said Fidel. “To experience and enjoy the good times, the relationship must make it through the difficult times. We felt that, especially in times of conflict, the conversation is even more important.” Participants from all religions and denominations echoed the high value that Fidel attributes to dialogue throughout the forum. Gibson, a mediator of the Jewish-Christian dialogue, stressed that the relationship has survived and worked through many crises, such as the Sept. 11 attacks, the release of Mel Gibson’s film “The Passion of the Christ” and Pittsburgh’s financial problems. It has even tackled the thorny issue of abortion. Zionism is the nationalist aspiration of the Jewish people, Gibson said, and the Protestant leaders’ letter makes it harder to work together to achieve a secure homeland for the Jews because it puts the relationship between Jews and mainline Protestants at risk.

Gibson, however, noted that when the Presbyterian Church (USA) held its General Assembly in Pittsburgh this past summer, it narrowly voted down divestment from Israeli businesses. When there were Jews who charged the PCUSA for even introducing the motion to divest from Israel, he said, Rabbi Eric Yoffe, former head of the Union for Reform Judaism, reminded them that similar frustrations were coming out of the Jewish community as well. Green echoed the call for understanding and a continuation of dialogue. When he was a parish pastor helping couples define what love is, Green said he defined love as a persistent and continuous action, one for the sake of the other. Such things also ring true for the relationship between Jews and Christians in America and around the world. While he has his own opinions on the Middle East, Green said he thinks the manner in which the letter was sent was inappropriate and that the Protestant leaders should apologize. The timing of the letter was questionable as the Protestant leaders sent it two weeks before the Christian-Jewish Roundtable was to take place. By going to Congress without speaking with their Jewish colleagues, he said the Protestant leaders alienated them, and maybe Jews across America, which is why they pulled out of the Roundtable. In closing, Gibson recited a quote from the Book of Zechariah that presented an avenue that the American Jewish and Protestant communities could use to put their rift behind them: “Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” (Sam Lapin can be reached at


METRO Briefly

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has won the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) Sapir Award for Campaign Excellence. The award, which recognizes the Federation’s 2011 Annual Campaign, was presented this week at the JFNA General Assembly in Baltimore. Named after Israel’s third minister of finance, Pinhas Sapir, the Sapir Award is JFNA’s primary recognition of outstanding annual campaigns among the 155 Jewish Federations and more than 300 independent Jewish communities across North America. Winning the Sapir Award is based on a series of criteria that cover the major aspects of campaign activity such as donation increases, donor acquisition and retention, and campaign innovations. “It’s wonderful to be honored with the Sapir Award and to be lauded as setting the standard for the country,” William C. Rudolph, Federation chair during the award-winning 2011 campaign, said in a prepared statement. “But what’s most significant about the Federation’s fundraising success is that it allows us to do more to help people in need.” The 2011 Annual Campaign raised $12.8 million to support the programs and institutions that enrich Jewish life in Pittsburgh, Israel and around the world. The campaign, which focused on donor cultivation saw four new major donors ($10,000 or more), 13 new pacesetters ($1,000 or more), 134 new women donors and nearly 600 new or recovered community donors. “Our Campaign focused on strengthening relationships with donors through face-to-face meetings and personal cultivations,” Federation Chair Louis B. Plung, who chaired the 2011 Campaign, said in a prepared statement. “We spoke to donors’ interests and talked a lot about the return on investment they receive by giving through the Federation.” Plung has been instrumental in implementing a Center for Jewish Philanthropy model in the Federation, which enables donors to address philanthropic goals through several development initiatives. “Winning the Sapir Award is a wonderful acknowledgement of the way the Pittsburgh Jewish community persevered in a difficult economic environment,” he said in his statement. “This is a community that truly understands that the most vulnerable among us need our help even more during harder economic times. Our donor-base mobilized in 2011, succeeding in deepening the Federation’s impact while smack in the middle of a global financial downturn.” Added Federation President and CEO Jeffrey H. Finkelstein, “We’re blessed to live in a city that has thoughtful, philanthropic people eager to be leaders in our community, and that’s evidenced by our receiving the Sapir Award. It’s a blessing that the Federation takes very seriously, which is why we place such a high priority on being a trusted partner in tzedakah and tikkun olam.”

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is offering $1,000 to eligible Jewish children toward the cost of overnight Jewish camp for summer 2013, through the One Happy Camper program. One Happy Camper, which is starting its fourth year, has awarded more than $160,000 to children attending approved overnight Jewish camp programs for the first time, for a session of at least 19 days. The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future (CFJF) has set Jewish camp as one of its top priorities for funding based on statistical and anecdotal evidence of Jewish summer camp’s impact on participants. Four out of five children report increased Jewish knowledge and identity after attending Jewish summer camp, and 41 percent of those who attended camp felt a strong attachment to Israel, as opposed to only 14 percent among those who never attended Jewish camp. The Papernick Family Foundation, the Federation’s Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future and the Foundation for Jewish Camp are supporting the program. The application process for One Happy Camper grants varies. Families whose children attend one of Pittsburgh’s all-day Jewish schools can make application by contacting Sally Stein at the Federation, or 412-992-5243. All other families should visit the Foundation for Jewish Camp website at Temple David’s Holiday Shopping Bazaar will be held Sunday, Nov. 18, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will be aisles of crafts, chocolates, clothing, gourmet food, home decorations, jewelry, makeup, purses, skin products, toys and other gifts. Over 60 vendors will participate; there is no cost to attend. Temple David is located at 4415 Northern Pike in Monroeville. Contact Lisa Chotiner at for more information. The Jewish Community Center-South Hills announces the appointment of Emily Morrow as health/physical education/recreation coordinator. Morrow graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in health and physical activity with an emphasis in exercise science. She grew up in Upper St. Clair, where she played soccer and was a cheerleader at Upper St. Clair High School. During her time at Pitt, she worked at Kinder Kinetics, a youth activity/sports program offered through the University of Pittsburgh. She served as both a swim instructor and gym instructor, working with children ages 2 to 12. Morrow came to the JCC-South Hills as an intern and was invited to teach part time. She was a popular teacher of the mother-daughter yoga class. In her new role at the JCC, Morrow will be teaching children’s sports, including soccer, golf, basketball, tennis and floor hockey. She will also be Please see Briefly, page 5.


METRO Lessons of a Lifetime

JAA program uses ethical wills as blueprints for life well lived BY TOBY TABACHNICK Staff Writer

What makes up the story of someone’s life? Facts can be recorded, important dates, careers, hobbies, awards. All of those things matter, of course, and can certainly describe what a person did. But what if you wanted to know whom a person really was, what was meaningful to them, their regrets, what made their life worth living? Volunteers with the Jewish Association on Aging, through its new Lessons of a Lifetime program, are now being trained and matched up with senior citizens to conduct interviews that will culminate in ethical wills, aiming to document the essence of our elders. Ethical wills are not legal documents, but rather personal accounts created for the benefit of current and future generations. And they go a step further than mere oral histories, said Beverly Brinn, director of community engagement at

the JAA. “The questions go even deeper, to get at their values and their feelings,” Brinn said. “It’s about their lives and what they want to pass on to the next generation.” The concept of an ethical will is not new, but has existed for 3,000 years, described in the Torah when Jacob gives his final blessing to his children and grandchildren at the end of his life. (Genesis 48:15-16) The Lessons of a Lifetime program was initiated in Pittsburgh last year, underwritten by a grant from the Jewish Women’s Foundation. Last year, volunteers were from the Hillel Jewish University Center, but now volunteers are being drawn from the wider community, and will include high school students. The volunteers are being matched with senior citizens who are living at Sivitz Jewish Hospice, at home or at the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. The program currently has four volunteers, who conduct their interviews over

Want to help? To volunteer for the Lessons of a Lifetime project, contact Beverly Brinn at 412-521-1975. JAA photo

The late Estelle Davidson, a former Weinberg Terrace resident, pictured here with JAA volunteer Becca Stern, a student at the University of Pittsburgh, was a participant in Lessons of a Lifetime.

the course of at least three visits with the senior citizens, according to Brinn. Volunteers, who were trained last month, are given a set of 22 questions to ask the senior citizens, with the goal of creating a lasting document that will serve as both a memento and guide to future generations. “We’re looking for values, thoughts and words of wisdom,” Brinn said. The questions include: • “What values and beliefs are important to you, and to pass on to others?” • “Is there anything in your life that you want others to know about?” • “Have you ever had a life-altering experience or was there an event that changed your life that you can share with us?” • “What was the most meaningful event in your life?” Lessons of a Lifetime was created six years ago at the Charles E. Smith Life Communities in Rockville, Md., said Andy Siegel, a sophomore at George Washington University, who helped develop the training for the program along with its creators, Hedy Peyser and Joshua Stanton. “My goal was to train, to conduct interviews, and to spread the project to other organizations,” said Siegel, a human services major. “The program has been pretty successful in Pittsburgh.” So far, the Lessons of a Lifetime project has been picked up by communities in Ohio, Virginia, West Virginia and Maryland, as well as in Pittsburgh. “The stories and life experiences you

hear from the elderly are so much more valuable than academic education,” Siegel said. “They’ve been through so much; these stories are so valuable.” In addition to providing a lasting record of one’s values for his family, the interviews for the ethical wills are also often therapeutic, Siegel said. “Sometimes, there are things that [the elderly] want to get off their chests to a third party,” he said. “Things they have been holding in. Oftentimes, it is a form of closure.” A “recurring theme” that surfaces in the interviews is the importance of family, Siegel said. “So many times people get caught up in their jobs, and they lose sight of what’s really important.” John Davis, a volunteer at the JAA’s Sivitz Jewish Hospice for about six months, has conducted interviews with many patients there. He finds it rewarding to see the patients reconnect with who they are by remembering the significant lessons of their lives. “When people are in that position — when their bodies are not what they were — and they are separated from family and friends, and no longer work at a profession, it’s easy for them to forget who they were and what they did,” Davis said. “[Interviewing them] helps them feel affirmed as a human being. It helps to bring back a sense of self they might have lost.” (Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

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METRO Checking out at Designer Days

Chronicle photos by Carl Bloss

Above, a shopper finds an interesting item off the rack at the Checkout Line event of the 2012 Designer Days last week at the Monroeville Convention Center. Left, NCJW Pittsburgh President Hilary Spatz speaks with Dr. Nick Chernew during a special memorial tribute to his wife, Sandy, during Designer Days. Sandy Chernow was actively involved in NCJW’s retail and financial operations as well as Designer Days for the last two decades.

Chronicle photo by Carl Bloss

NJCW Pittsburgh honored its Singular Sensations volunteers for their years of service to Designer Days during the 2012 event last week at the Monroeville Convention Center. Pictured from right are Cheryl Braver, Joan Reich, Lenore Schwartz, Marsha Stern and Rita Tauberg. Nancy Recht, the sixth honoree, is not pictured.

Briefly Continued from page 3. introducing new programs for children. The JCC-South Hills, built in 1999, houses state-of-the-art fitness and wellness facilities, 25-yard heated indoor swimming pool, double-court gymnasium, and accessible outdoor playground. Comprehensive programming includes the Early Childhood Development Center, private and group swim lessons, summer camps, group exercise classes, personal training, sports and recreation programs for all ages and the SilverSneakers® senior fitness program. The Women of Ohav Shalom will hold a Chanuka gift fair to benefit their youth education Sunday, Nov. 18, from 12:30 to 3:00 p.m. This year more crafters

and artists expand into a second room. The crafters/artists and vendors (which include temple members and friends) include decorative batik creations, handcrafted beaded jewelry by Eileen for women and girls, Thirty-One Gifts, Tastefully Simple, handcrafted tallit designs, Pampered Chef, Steeler and Penguin jewelry, homemade baked goods, acrylic paintings, handmade Chanuka cards, Tupperware, Longaberger, knit and crocheted items, My Shoe Girl, pet products and more. Lunch will also be available. Temple Ohav Shalom is located at 8400 Thompson Run Road, Allison Park.


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A new term, a new trip resident Obama supports Israel; take it to the bank. That said, this administration made mistakes in its first term in its treatment of Israel, which led to a deficit of trust between the two countries. Make no mistake, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made mistakes, too, which he must answer for, but the president can only control his own actions, not those of his allies. That is why we believe a state visit to Israel should be a very high priority in the second term of the Obama administration. We don’t say this for political purposes; there are concrete reasons to make


this trip: • It will demonstrate to Iran that the United States has Israel’s back • It will give the president the chance to see changing conditions on the ground, such as Israel’s borders with Egypt and Syria, which have been heating up in recent months. • Finally, it will afford the president and Netanyahu a private opportunity to mend fences. Both men share responsibility for their tense relationship; both must take steps to repair it. To be sure, a state visit to Israel won’t happen immediately. The president must address a few pressing matters first, such as the fiscal, cliff, a grand

compromise on deficit reduction and some key Cabinet appointments. But the visit should happen sooner than later. The president’s physical presence in the Jewish state would serve notice to all destabilizing forces in the region that the United States remains firmly engaged in Middle Eastern affairs, which could have a calming effect in that part of the world. A new term, a new trip — it makes sense. (Editor’s note: We’re interested in your thoughts on priorities for the president’s second term. Send them to

What Obama’s re-election means for U.S. foreign policy joel rubin

WASHINGTON — President Obama will be in the White House until January 2017. His re-election and the political space it creates for him now allow him to advance his foreign policy priorities with confidence. These are, as he stated in the campaign, to vigorously fight terrorism, to end the war in Afghanistan, to use both pressure and diplomacy to deal with Iran, and to advance American global leadership. But long before the American people endorsed these priorities in the election, the Republican standard-bearer endorsed them as well. In the final presidential debate that focused on foreign policy, Gov. Mitt Romney made it clear that he agreed with the president on issues ranging from how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program to ending the war in Afghanistan to fighting terrorism. And for that, the president won over undecided voters watching the debate, according to a CBS poll, by a 53 percent to 23 percent margin. Interestingly, in Fox News exit polls from Election Day, of the voters who said that foreign policy was the most important issue to them when determining their vote, they voted 56 percent to 33 percent in favor of Obama — a near identical margin. This group was only 5 percent of the electorate, but in an election with only a 2 percent margin of victory for Obama, that national security voter gap was crucial to the president’s electoral success. Yet while the president scored big for his handling of terrorism — including killing Osama bin-Laden, ending the war in Iraq, transitioning the war in Afghanistan, and using diplomacy as a major lever of American power — he also gained electoral support where his most vociferous political opponents had been very critical of his perform-

ance: the Middle East. When it comes to the Middle East, President Obama’s success in attracting votes from those Americans most politically engaged on Middle East issues — American Jews — was neither surprising nor new. He had won 74 percent of the votes of American Jews in 2008, and again won by a huge margin in 2012, this time with 70 percent of the votes. Yet what was most striking about his American Jewish support this year was that it came in the face of significant attacks against his Middle East policy, particularly of his handling of U.S. relations with Israel and U.S. policy toward Iran. Neoconservative pundits in general — and Gov. Romney in particular — had been extraordinarily critical of Obama’s foreign policy performance. Romney’s favorite lines about Obama’s Israel and Middle East policies were that the president “threw Israel under the bus” and engaged in “an apology tour” for America when he visited Arab countries but not Israel, creating “daylight” between America and our closest Middle Eastern ally. And these critiques reached a climax when Romney attacked Obama for the brutal killing of four Americans, including our ambassador, in Benghazi, Libya. Yet despite his misgivings about making these attacks, such as when Romney publicly backtracked on Libya at the presidential foreign policy debate and privately ordered his campaign, according to the Washington Post, to cease the politicized Benghazi attack ads, saying to aides that “We screwed up, guys,” and that “This is not good,” the Romney narrative was set. In this narrative, America was weak in the Middle East because of Obama, and I, Mitt Romney, would fix it. And with hawkish former Bush administration neoconservative advisors like Dan Senor and John Bolton surrounding him, Romney gave off the image of a second coming of the failed foreign policies of President Bush. The only problem was that the American people weren’t buying it. And neither, it turns out, were American Jews. According to an exit poll by pollster

Jim Gerstein, Jewish voters — 10 percent of whom voted for president in 2012 based solely on Israel policy — trusted Barack Obama more than Mitt Romney on Israel by a margin of 53 percent to 31 percent. And on Iran, American Jews felt that Obama would do a better job than Romney by a 58 percent to 26 percent margin. It’s clear from the overall results and these exit polls that Americans and American Jews in particular trust President Obama on the Middle East and foreign policy. So now what will President Obama do with this trust? The first thing that the president should do is ignore the critics who argue that he needs to start a war with Iran to prevent its acquisition of a nuclear weapon, who argue that he should not pursue Middle East peace, and who argue that he should reject the changes sweeping the Arab world. The president has been ignoring these critics and received much political pain for it. Well, the results are in. The American people want him to keep on doing what he’s doing. They trust him to keep America safe. They like his pragmatic, results-oriented, calm approach. They agree with him on his handling of the Middle East, Israel, Iran, Afghanistan and terrorism. And they want him to show America’s best face to the world in a manner that strengthens our global position. A president has unique powers to navigate foreign policy with less constraint than he does domestic policy, but he also needs the support of the American people to do so. Unlike his predecessor, this president enjoys the backing of the American people, who like his brand of foreign policy. It’s time for his critics to recognize this reality as he charts his next steps. But I’m not holding my breath. (Joel Rubin, director of policy and government affairs at Ploughshares Fund in Washington, D.C., and a Pittsburgh native, can be reached at or His views are his own and not necessarily those of Ploughshares Fund.)


OPINION If Maimonides ran a presidential campaign: Civility, politics and Jews Guest Columnist RABBI SCOTT AARON Let’s start by stating the obvious: Politics is a nasty business. Anyone who runs for office today must be willing to endure not only “the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune” as Hamlet the wronged politician proclaimed, but also the mud and garbage that our current political climate has come to accept as normal. The election cycle that just ended was the worst eruption of this incivility in my lifetime (so far), but the invasive tone of rudeness was a culmination of national bad behavior that has been festering since the 2008 elections. Be it Rush Limbaugh calling New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie “fat” and “a fool” on the air for crediting President Obama for federal aid to the state after Hurricane Sandy; or Ed Schultz saying of the

Biden-Ryan debate, “It was a man Convention speeches were crafted to be against a boy” on Twitter; Rep. Joe inspiring to a national audience — such Smith (R-S.C.) heckling President Oba- as Barry Goldwater’s “defense of liberty ma as a liar during an address to a joint is no vice” speech in 1964 or Ted session of Congress; or President Obama Kennedy’s “the dream lives on” speech dismissing people in small towns who in 1980 — rather than insulting. The don’t support his view on immigration media’s role was to keep the candidates issues as “clinging to guns and religion,” honest through facts rather than spin the list just goes on and on and that is with innuendo. just at the national level. Now we watch the debates to see who When did the can draw first American politiblood rather cal process start than make a to look like the better arguWhen did the American politiBritish House of ment. We accal process start to look like Commons? cept pundits Political camwho label canthe British House of paigns in Amerididates’ motivaCommons? ca have always tions as good or been mean. Anevil rather than drew Jackson’s challenge their ideas for accuwife was called a bigamist, Abraham Lincoln was consis- racy and feasibility, like credible jourtently caricatured as an ape and Richard nalists should. We have devolved as a Nixon falsely accused a Senate cam- democracy in the last 30 years and I am paign opponent of being a communist deeply troubled by it as an American and deeply saddened by it as a Jew. “pink lady.” While I am proud of our American But for most of the 20th century there was a modern expectation of civility in process of free speech and open debate, I our debates, presumptions that while can- have always been guided in that speech didates may be wrong in their ideas, they and debate by Jewish concepts of middot. are at heart honorable in their intentions. Middot are Jewish moral virtues one The advent of television actually rein- should cultivate in oneself in order to forced this presumption during its first bring balance and sacredness into one’s few decades. Think about the Nixon- daily life. Kennedy debate, which was so formal by Some examples of middot that are oftoday’s standards, but also so respectful. ten emphasized throughout the Jewish community are tzedaka (using one’s money for worthy purposes), gemliut chassidim (acts of loving kindness) and tzniut (modesty), but there are many other middot as well. Of particular relevance for political discourse are derech eretz (respect) and tochecha (constructive criticism). These particular middot are so instructive because they buffer us in moments of heated debate. We all know the old adage “two Jews, three opinions,” and it is based in truth. Our people have embraced a good debate since Abraham challenged G-d about destroying Sodom and Gomorrah, and the ability to craft and press a point of logic or belief is a prized skill in Jewish culture. We treat argumentation as an art form; argumentation for the common good is understood by our tradition as being l’shem Shamayim (for the sake of heaven) and we are duty-bound to make an argument if we deem it capable of improving our community and life. Consider this by the great Rav Kook: “There are those who err, thinking that world peace will not be built except by means of one form in points of view and qualities. Therefore when they see students of Torah scholars inquiring into wisdom and the knowledge of Torah, and by means of their searching, the perspectives and approaches multiply, they believe that they thus cause argument and the opposite of peace. Yet truthfully this is not so, for true peace cannot come into the world except by means of the value of a “peace of many faces.” A peace of many faces means that all sides and approaches are seen; and it be-

comes clear that there is a place for them all, each one according to its worth, its place, and its content.” Arguments get heated though in the best of circumstances. Tempers can flare and words can be said that take the argument from abstraction to personal in a heartbeat. Keeping that risk in mind is central to Jewish communal debate. Consider the words of the Talmud: Rabbi Hiyya bar Abba said, “If a father and son or a teacher and a student who are studying Torah in one place become enemies to one another, they should not move from there until their love for one another is restored.” (B.T. Kiddushin 30b) So our passion for winning our argument is tempered by our respect both of our opponent’s intentions and feelings. They may be wrong, but they are still human and made in G-d’s image; calling a candidate “evil incarnate” would not be in keeping with our community’s ethical expectations. However, that does not mean our arguments must be weakened in some way. People make mistakes and erroneous decisions that have consequences, especially people who are entrusted as leaders of the community, and we are also duty-bound to offer constructive criticism to them as directed in the Torah, “Do not hate your brother in your heart. You should surely rebuke your neighbor and not bear sin because of him.” (Leviticus 19:17) “Rebuke” is an old word for critique and in Hebrew is called tochecha. Maimonides tells us that such critique is not offered if it will shame the recipient publically: “Our Sages said: ‘A person who shames another in public does not have a share in the world to come.’ (Mishnah Avot 3:11) Therefore, one should be careful not to shame another person — whether of great or lesser stature — in public, nor to call her a name that embarrasses her, nor to relate a matter that brings her shame in her presence.” (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot) Such public embarrassment is called bousha in Hebrew, and our American political culture has adopted it as an honorable act rather than a shameful one. This culture is not new to we Jews unfortunately, and practicing honorable, constructive debate is easier said than done. Even the Babylonian Talmud asks in exasperation if there is “anyone in this generation” who knows how to give or accept constructive criticism. (Arachin 16b) Sadly, the current 21st-century political climate shows we have not come very far in maintaining and valuing respectful debate from the Talmud’s 5thcentury political climate, but if we continue to just give lip service to the ideas of honor, respect, dignity and civility in our arguments then as a nation and as a community our political discourse will continue to diminish from l’shem Shamayim to l’shem Ego. (Rabbi Scott Aaron is the community scholar of the Agency for Jewish Learning.)

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OPINION A rabbinic response to the Pittsburgh Zoo tragedy Guest Columnist RABBI AARON BISNO Our 7-year old, reached for the paper I had turned upside down on the counter. Before I could stop him, he read the headline. “I didn’t want you to see that,” I said. He was silent. He understood. “It’s a terrible story,” I whispered. And hoping he’d get my meaning, I inclined my head towards my 4-year-old in the room and added, “We don’t need to talk about it now.” I reasoned that even if I had carelessly allowed my older son to come upon this news, certainly I didn’t want to fail to protect his younger brother. “What?” the little one asked. We piled into the car and then rather quickly, we told what we knew, my 7year-old and I. “A boy got killed at the Zoo,” I began. “He fell.” “What happened?” “We don’t know for sure. Awful. He slipped I guess.” “Was there blood? Did he cry?” “I don’t know. We may never know the whole story.” And in an attempt to conclude our conversation, I stated simply, “A twoyear-old died at the zoo yesterday, that’s what we know.” But then my 7-year-old continued. “Yeah. He fell and landed in the cage with wild dogs and he was killed by the dogs.” His younger brother: “How? Why?” Yes, why? Why did he need to give his brother that last part, the details, the whole truth? And why is the car in front of us not moving faster? Why, a 1000-times why. “No one knows. That’s what they do, wild dogs.” “Maybe he frightened them,” one offers. “I’m sure everyone was terrified,” I reply. “The dogs and the people and the boy. But, really, no one knows why.” And the car grew quiet but for a still small voice. “What was his name, the boy?” “We don’t know. They haven’t said.” “Why not?” “To protect the family’s privacy,” I replied. And then, we were all silence. (We now know the child’s name was Maddox Derkosh.) But the questions would return. As more information comes in, even more questions will come. But for many of us, one big one looms larger than the others. Where is God in all of this? Why would God allow such a horrendous thing to occur!? ••• Permit me to reject the questions’ premise, but to accept the privilege of answering the query. Let me begin by saying that I do not believe suffering and sadness are the

will of God. Indeed, to one who hears a tragic tale and shakes his or her head, lamenting “we just don’t understand the will of God,” my reply is the same as was provided by the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin in his eulogy for his son Alex, “You bet we don’t!” Indeed, there is simply too much we don’t understand about our own lives to deign imagine we could place this reality within the realm of God’s will. As we read in the Book of Job, “Adonai natan, Adonai lakakh … God gives and God takes… Life begins and life ends… Barukh Shem Adonai… Praised be the Source of Life.” Then, in spite of all, we live. Christian theologian C.S. Lewis, in his slim monograph “A Grief Observed,” put it this way: “Talk to me about the truth of religion and I'll listen gladly. Talk to me about the duty of religion and I'll listen submissively. But don't come talking to me about the consolations of religion or I shall suspect that you don't understand.” For this reason, I begin my answer to the question “where is God in all of this” from a place of silent humility and dumbstruck awe. The might of the cosmos and the sheer number of random events the universe allows fills me with a sense of deep respect and profound wonder, something akin to what Soren Kierkegard referred to as “fear and trembling.” New York Times columnist Anna Quindlen wrote, in the single column of her career that elicited the greatest reader response, “Grief is one of the few things that has the power to silence us.” And grief does, indeed, possess the power to silence. What more fitting response could there be, after all, to everything we trust being upended? What could be a more appropriate response to everything we thought was true being proved wrong? What can one possibly say at such times? I suggest, respectfully, that at times, there is no more human/humane response than silence. If there is a single verse in the Torah to which I return to orient myself when I hear a story such as took place at the Pittsburgh Zoo on Sunday, it is surely “vayidome Aharon — and Aaron was silent.” (Leviticus 10:3) The Hebrew words Vayidome Aharon come from Leviticus, specifically from a portion Jews call Shemini (Lev. 9:111:47). Here we read of Aaron’s response to the death of his sons (Moses’ nephews) Nadav and Avihu after they come “lifnei Adonai — before God.” We know Nadav and Avihu’s deaths are sudden and a spectacle, yet all the Torah tells us of Aaron’s response is: “vayidome Aharon — [that he] was silent.” But, OK. Silence. And then, what? The inevitable questions: Why? and Where was/is God? Why? Because sometimes people fall. Wild dogs attack. Bad things happen that can’t be stopped. Why? Because the conditions were such that the likelihood could come to be. And it did. The worst thing imaginable. Truly. This was it. And it happened. Please see Bisno, page 17.

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GLOBE Sharansky urges Soviet Jewry freedom movement’s inclusion in Jewish education (Editor’s note: In a Jewish Federation GA conversation with Elie Wiesel, arguably the world’s best-known Holocaust survivor, Natan Sharansky — perhaps the best-known “refusenik”— laments what he perceives as lack of educational material being conveyed to youths on the success stories of their parents in the movement to free Soviet Jews.) BY JACOB KAMARAS

BALTIMORE—Modern Jewish education, according to Natan Sharansky, ignores an event of historic proportions akin to the exodus from Egypt. While in dialogue on Monday with Elie Wiesel, arguably the world’s best-known Holocaust survivor, Sharansky—perhaps the best-known “refusenik” and now chairman of the executive at the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI)—made that statement about what he perceives to be a lack of educational material being conveyed to youths on the success stories of their parents in the movement to free Soviet Jewry.

“Why is it not part of the curriculum of every Jewish school?” Sharansky asked, adding that it was “a big, big loss in all of our Jewish education,” and something that leaves him “really puzzled.” “American Jewry lived through this, actively participated in this,” he added. “They did it. That is what is so surprising [about its lack of presence in Jewish education].” During a plenary session at the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) General Assembly in Baltimore, Sharansky and Wiesel reflected on the 25th anniversary of the Dec. 6, 1987 “Freedom Sunday for Soviet Jews,” which drew 250,000 people in Washington, D.C., leading up to a meeting between Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Misha Galperin — CEO, International Development for the Jewish Agency for Israel—said in an interview with that Sharansky’s comparison of the Egyptian exodus to the Soviet exodus was apt, calling the freedom of Soviet Jewry “one of the great peoplehood actions” of Jewish history. Galperin was born and raised in Odessa, Ukraine, part of the former Soviet Union. “The Soviet Jewry movement galvanized Soviet Jews, it galvanized American Jews, Australian Jews, Argentine Jews, Jews in Israel,” Galperin said. Galperin also cited the efforts of Freedom 25 (, which is partnering with major Jewish organizations —

Robert A. Cumins for JFNA

Elie Wisel and Natan Sharansky on stage during the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) General Assembly on Monday.

including JFNA—to “enlist one million people in an online ‘virtual march’ to mark 25 years since the Freedom Sunday March,” according to its website. “[The Freedom Sunday March] was a reaffirmation of the idea that we’re all part of the same family, and I think it’s something that unfortunately many in the Jewish world are losing and missing, and here (in Freedom 25) is a way to teach it, to remind us about it, and teach our children about it,” Galperin told, echoing Sharansky’s call for more education on the Soviet Jewry movement. Wiesel, a leading figure in the fight to free Soviet Jewry who said at the 1987 march, “We are not silent today,” recalled at the GA plenary that American Jewry initially “didn’t want to hear” about the plight of Soviet Jewry. In 1969, Wiesel said he had to use that year’s GA as a platform to urge Max Fisher, top executive of the Jewish Federation system at the time, to make Soviet Jewry a priority. This stood in contrast to the Israeli Jewish community and government’s immediate embrace of that issue. “Israel is the symbol of Jewish survival, and the fact that the Israeli government was taking this so much to the heart, [that] Soviet Jewry should be defended…It was great, a great medal, a medal of honor,” Wiesel said. Wiesel said there was eventually “a certain guilt feeling in America” among young Jews that that U.S. did not do enough during the dark years of Soviet Jewry, and those youths did not want to be burdened with the same criticism being levied on their parents and grandparents in that area. Then, when young people proceeded to take up the cause of Soviet Jewry, “the

parents actually liked it,” Wiesel said. “We were following a sense of history,” he said. “History in its totality has been moving [people] in a direction of human rights… It appealed to people, it was romantic to work for human rights, and human rights therefore in the Soviet Union.” Sharansky said that in the Soviet Union, Jews were deprived of freedom, but also of their identity, as Hebrew schools, Yiddish schools, and Jewish theaters were all closed. “When I was growing up in the Soviet Union…there was nothing that you can touch in your past, in your heritage, in your culture, in your religion—nothing,” he said. The former refusenik — who spent nine years in the Soviet Gulag — said activists on behalf of Soviet Jewry “discovered what we [as prisoners] discovered, in a different way — their identity.” The activists learned “they can make a historical change, and they were devoted to it,” Sharansky said. Wiesel said an important lesson from the movement to free Soviet Jewry was “to have imagination,” describing that his conversation with Sharansky on the GA stage would have been unfathomable at the time the struggle for freedom was taking place. Additionally, Wiesel reminded the GA audience to keep its attention focused on the Jewish state. “Israel is still in danger, Israel is still threatened, Israel still needs the Jews of the Diaspora more than ever before, and I don’t feel the commitment,” Wiesel said. “We have not mobilized our people for Israel, not enough,” he added.

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BOOKS ‘Unorthodox’ out in paperback, but is still unorthodox Book Review

BY NEAL GENDLER For the Chronicle

Deborah Feldman was unorthodox long before leaving Orthodoxy. As a child, Feldman led outer and inner lives, acting the good Chasidic girl while defying restrictions on her thirst for knowledge. Raised by loving grandparents in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg area of antiZionist Satmar Jews, she never quite fit in. Her autobiographical “Unorthodox,” out in economical paperback with a new epilogue, says that in the Satmar world, reputation is everything. Hers was blemished. Her mother had left the community, “and I carry the burden of that disgrace,” she says. Her father is an embarrassment, apparently with below-average intellect and perhaps mental illness in a community where those can damage family chances for children to make good marriages. Still, she is sent to psychiatrists; the third calls her an “individualist.” She storms out, goes to a library and finds pleasure in books by children’s author — and reputed anti-Semite — Roald Dahl. Secular books are forbidden, but she gets and hides them. She even buys a Schottenstein volume of Talmud, realizing years later that with it, she “stopped believing in authority just for its own sake and started coming to my own conclusions about the world.” Surreptitiously, she reads novels with heroines who, like her, feel out of place. “Zeidy says the English language acts like a slow poison to the soul” and insists she always speak Yiddish, “the language of my ancestors that God approves of,” she says. But she excels in English class, where other girls barely can read. “Zeidy doesn’t know it, but I don’t even think in Yiddish anymore. The books he claims are treacherous serpents have become my close friends.” Feldman’s first-person, present-tense style seems odd at first, but it gives an intimate feel. To her credit, she treats her former community mostly with respect, just wrong for a girl “who wants to know more than she is allowed.”

Book Review “Unorthodox: the scandalous rejection of my Hasidic roots,” by Deborah Feldman, Simon & Schuster trade paperback, 254 pages.

It’s important to read “Unorthodox” nonjudgmentally, or at least without scorn or in the context of Israel’s cultural battles. Satmar’s ways might fit most of us like a straitjacket, but Satmar isn’t trying to impose them on us. People can leave if they’re willing to bear and inflict emotional costs. “I don’t feel like Satmar,” she says. “I am hungry for power, but not to lord it over others; only to own myself.” Her school, which teaches, “God sent Hitler to punish the Jews for enlightening themselves,” goes through what would be 11th grade; more is thought pointless. With good grades, she is hired at $128 a week to teach sixth grade, increasing her confidence and her wardrobe. All along, she knew Zeidy would “start looking into matches when I turn 16, and he won’t wait long.” He doesn’t, and by the time she’s 17, a meeting is arranged in a grocery for her and her Aunt Chaya with a man’s unimpressive mother and disagreeable-looking sister. That test passed, the families meet in Chaya’s home. Shortly, the families retreat to the kitchen, leaving Deborah and blond, blue-eyed Eli, 22, to awkward conversation. She decides he’s OK, and they walk into the kitchen for a waiting engagement celebration. Their wedding night begins a year of sexual incompetence. Finally, she becomes pregnant, but their relationship remains strained. She has difficulty connecting with people, even her infant son, and she realizes the world is full of people who aren’t Chasidic “and no one is punishing them.” Enrolling in adult studies at Sarah Lawrence — telling Eli she wants to learn business skills — she takes a poetry class. Her desire for a less-constrained life grows, her marriage deteriorates, and before she’s 24, she has left Satmar, divorced with unexpected child custody and a “recent penchant for all things pork and shellfish.” Her epilogue admits that she’s paid a high price. Her book — first published in February — has brought her hate and abuse, but “I have claimed my place in the world,” she says. “I’m finally free to be myself.”

(Neal Gendler is a Minneapolis writer and editor.)




METRO Do we matter?

Jewish vote dissipates as new ethnic groups flex muscle BY LEE CHOTTINER Executive Editor

President Obama’s broad-based coalition of minorities, women and other voting blocs propelled him to a second term last week. But on Wednesday, at least one longtime observer of Jewish voting patterns openly questioned the role Jews played today in re-electing the president — at least at the ballot box. Steven Windmueller, professor emeritus of American Jewish affairs at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles, told the Chronicle that Jews, as a voting bloc, are becoming increasingly diffused. In fact, he openly wondered if there is such a thing anymore as the “Jewish vote.” Where Jews once comprised about 4 percent of the electorate, Windmueller said, that portion is less than 2 percent today, raising serious questions about how much Jewish voters can sway the outcome of an election. “It really changes what we mean and define as the Jewish vote and Jewish voters,” he said. “As the American population grows and newer larger ethnic communities are more engaged in the political process, we will see the decline and presence of the Jewish community as a political force — at least at the ballot box.” His assertion comes as polls show that vast majority of Jewish voters, though fewer than 2008, continue to vote Democrat in the presidential election. Exit polling reported by JTA showed the share of Jews who voted Democrat dropped to 69 percent — the same percentage reported by national polling the Republican Jewish Coalition com-

Chronicle photo by Ohad Cadji

Voters head to the polls in Squirrel Hill Tuesday. In the aftermath of the election, some pollsters have questioned the electoral significance of the Jewish vote.

missioned — down from 74-78 percent in 2008, depending on the poll. But J Street-sponsored polling showed the president received 70 percent of the Jewish vote compared to 30 percent for Gov. Mitt Romney. In Florida and Ohio, the president received 68 percent and 69 percent of the Jewish vote, respectively. While RJC leaders point to the polls as a sign that more Jews are voting Republican, J Street says those same numbers show the well-financed campaign to turn the Jewish community from blue to red failed. “The five-year-long effort to portray Barack Obama as weak on Israel or as having in some way abandoned tradi-

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tional support of Israel in his pursuit of a peaceful resolution to the IsraeliPalestinian conflict has failed,” Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of J Street, said in a prepared statement. The drop, if accurate is not surprising, Windmueller said. “I suggested before the election that I thought we’d see a 9 or 10 percent swing,” he said, “so obviously, we’re in that picture.” And he added that Jews who voted Republican this time could just as easily return to their traditional power base, depending on the candidates running and the positions they espouse. Windmueller is not alone in his assessment that the Jewish vote as a bloc of the total electorate is shrinking. Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll and professor of public affairs at Franklin & Marshall, also said the Jewish vote has become statistically difficult to measure. “We don’t break them down in our

polls anymore,” he said. “They’re just too few to get a reasonable sample.” The Jewish vote, like that of other ethnic groups, used to be easier to poll when they lived in separate city neighborhoods, he noted. “In the old days there were Italian wards, Polish wards and Jewish wards,” Madonna said. “They went as blocs in that sense.” That’s not so much the case anymore, although Jewish voters do remain concentrated in some urban and suburban areas, such as Montgomery County near Philadelphia and Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh. Even if the Jewish vote no longer exists as a practical matter, Windmueller, who is writing a book tracing a historic overview of Jewish power, thinks Jewish influence on the electoral process is felt in other ways. He noted Jews are well represented in journalism as reporters, editors and opinion writers, and that Jews contribute heavily to causes they identify with. They can also form coalitions with like-minded groups and organizations. “I think there are a number of strategies that are very possible and quite exciting,” he said. “One is this notion of coalitions. AIPAC already [does] that in its work, finding people that share common values on the agenda AIPAC puts out — reaching out to Latino voters and evangelical voters who have common ground.” Madonna agreed. “There are a fair number of Jews in the legislatures and Congress — again, way out of proportion to their actual numbers — so you can’t discount the influence Jews have in politics. I’m on a lot of TV shows with Jewish lawyers who are arguing different things.

(Lee Chottiner can be reached at



METRO Israeli peoplehood specialist stresses youth during visit BY LEE CHOTTINER Executive Editor

An Israeli expert on peoplehood education said the biggest challenge facing Jews on this subject is not defining peoplehood but engaging young people. On that front, Shlomi Ravid, the founding director of the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education in Israel, wants to work with American Jewish communities. “I think our role is to engage [young people] in the conversation and in that context to offer them a whole variety of options [to express Jewish identity],” Ravid told the Chronicle. “Israel is still the sovereign Jewish experiment. [But] I think we should offer the variety of pillars or issues that comprise peoplehood today. I don’t think we should decide for people how to express it. The emphasis should be on nurturing peoplehood rather than interpreting it.” Further, he emphasized that laying a guilt trip on the next generation to be Jewish won’t make young people identify as Jews. “Guilt trips don’t work today,” he said. “We need to find another language.” Ravid was in Pittsburgh last week meeting with Jewish leaders on the subject of peoplehood. He met Wednesday with members of the Israel and World Jewry Commission of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for a two-hour workshop. He facilitated a Lunch and Learn at the Agency for Jewish Learning for rabbis, educators and congregational presidents on Thursday, and he made a short presentation later that day to the Federation’s board of directors. A pioneer in the field of peoplehood education for 25 years, Ravid was the founding director of the Israel Center of San Francisco and the founding director of the International School for Jewish Peoplehood Studies at Beth Hatefutsoth. He has published over a dozen articles and studies on Jewish peoplehood. He studied philosophy at Tel Aviv University, where he earned his doctorate. “Peoplehood education focuses on nurturing a sense of peoplehood, Ravid said. “We [at the Center for Jewish Peoplehood Education] are a fairly new entity. My startup started with five educators — now we’re up to eight actually — who are really interested in working with those interested in belonging to the Jewish people and nurturing what we call a collective consciousness, and that’s our focus. “Our real focus is how we engage the young generation in the conversation — what it means [to belong to a people], what responsibilities come with it, what are the challenges, how can people actually define their involvement in the current and future Jewish civilization,” he continued. “I like to look at it as what are the bricks people want to put into the wall that the Jewish people have been building for thousands of years.” Different people have different ways to identify, he said. “It could mean focusing on your own town; it could be focusing on the needs of the Jewish community. My own daughter volunteered in Africa for a

Travelers reflect

CWB wants to take W.Va. students, teachers to Poland BY LEE CHOTTINER

Mark Barga, social studiers teacher in the City Charter High School in Pittsburgh, said the trip “revolutionWHEELING, W.Va. — Scores of teach- ized” the way he teaches the Holoers and students from across the Pitts- caust, not as a horrible event in histoburgh area have for years traveled to ry, but as a period in which Jews, Poland to see firsthand the sights of the Poles and Germans made many choicHolocaust. es — good, bad, moral, immoral — In 2014, perhaps for the first time, an which affected the lives of millions. all-West Virginia group may make the “Shock and horror is not a good way to trip. teach the Holocaust,” said Barga, who is Temple Shalom in Wheeling hosted a Jewish. “Everything I saw there was program Sundone by huday for Classmans. … The rooms Without best way to Borders, a nonteach it is to “There is an urgency [to profit educadiscuss how tional organizaand why it hapthese trips].” tion that takes pened, instead students and of what hapteachers to Eupened. The Zipora Gur rope, accompaevents of the nied by HoloHolocaust are caust survivors man-made, and and historians, they could hapto see firsthand where the worst geno- pen again.” cide in world history happened — and Danielle Plung, a senior at Shady Side why. Academy, echoed those sentiments, sayApproximately 150 people, mostly ing, the Holocaust “wasn’t the mass non-Jews, attended the program, which murder of 11 million, it was 11 million included a video from this past sum- individual murders.” mer’s trip, and speeches from five of its But the most touching moment of the participants. evening came when Madeline Lemberg, The purpose of the program was to be- an Ellis School junior and performing gin the yearlong process of raising mon- artist, sang two songs that expressed ey to send local teachers and students to how the trip affected her — one she Poland on a CWB trip. composed titled “Sheshet Alafim” (He“There is an urgency [to these trips],” brew for “Six Thousand,” a reference to said Zipora Gur, founder and executive “six thousand stars” in a Holocaust era director of CWB. “The survivors are dy- poem, the other a Debbie Friedman song ing; they are going away. And there are titled L’Dor V’Dor” (“From Generation people who say the Holocaust never to Generation”). happened.” She said she struggled with “how to To show how the trip affects the way create something beautiful out of so students see the Holocaust, and how much ugliness.” teachers teach it, Gur brought with her Two Temple Shalom members urged three teachers and two students who the gathering to support the planned were on her last trip. 2014 trip. One was Jacob Galik of Wheeling Park Barb Lewine, who traveled with CWB High School, who teaches the Holocaust last year to Israel, said she became inin his social studies class. Members of terested in Holocaust studies years ago the Wheeling Jewish community subsi- following an incident in which a boy dized his trip. scrawled a swastika in her daughter’s For Galik, the experience put the textbook. Holocaust into a human perspective. He “Kids just didn’t have an idea what said he expected to find “a great big evil this meant,” she said. To counter that place,” but instead found scenes of evil lack of understanding, she said teachers surrounded by average Polish neighbor- need the “ammunition” to teach the tophoods. ic well. At Auschwitz, he said he walked Finally, Seth Posin, who helped subthrough the infamous gate to the place sidize Galik’s trip, said writing a where Dr. Mengele made his selections check for such a cause is an “empowof who would live or die. To reach it, he ering” experience. had to cut through the backyards of “I feel like I defeated the Third Reich three nearby homes. singlehandly,” he said, “ and all it took “The Poles are in an interesting situa- was a dumb little check.” tion,” he said. “They didn’t do it [the Holocaust], but it’s there.” (Lee Chottiner can be reached at Other speakers also put their experi- ences in human terms. Executive Editor

Shlomi Ravid

year, in Rwanda. People express it [peoplehood] in different ways; they take it in different directions, but it’s part of our DNA. We’re perceived as a community that cares.” If Jews disagree on how to express a sense of peoplehood, that too reflects Jewish identity, according to Ravid. “We don’t take things for granted,” he said. “I actually think that’s very important. We don’t accept the status quo; we always push to make things better and I think that’s part of our sense of argument. “I don’t see my role as to tell people how to express their sense of Jewish peoplehood,” he said. The CJPE is developing online resources to help American communities nurture peoplehood, he said. Among those resources is a new peoplehood bookshelf where visitors can download resources. The center also is creating a peoplehood tool kit, in which educators can find resources for their lesson plans. “We don’t actually have a physical center,” Ravid said. We’re more of an educational resource center, or hub if you will. Part of my visit to Pittsburgh was to see if there are some things we can develop together, to advance or to enhance the goal of peoplehood nurturing.” Part of the CJPE faculty happens to be a Pittsburgher — Rabbi Scott Aaron, community scholar of the Agency for Jewish Learning. “CJPE has the potential to bring culture change to our community in an organized and productive way,” Aaron said. “While the concept of peoplehood has been explored and inculcated in larger cities and in Israel, it is still a new conversation locally but one that must be had in order to be more in sync with global Jewry.” Ravid said he was impressed by the openness of Pittsburgh Jewish leaders to peoplehood development, noting that it is different from other larger American communities with which he’s worked. “Here, you can really feel the community,” Ravid said. “It’s a little like a kibbutz — Kibbutz Pittsburgh.”

(Lee Chottiner can be reached at

Buy, Sell, Trade in the Classifieds, Call Donna 412-687-1000


Simchas & Mazel Tovs! Engagements

Solomon/Kaplicer: Noal and Jayne Solomon of Wayne, N.J., and Neil Kaplicer of Chestnut Ridge, N.Y., announce the engagement of their children, Elisa Paula Solomon of Manhattan to Austin Michael Kaplicer of Manhattan. Austin’s mother is the late Anna Kaplicer. Elisa’s paternal grandparents are the late Federal Judge Bender and Mildred Solomon of Albany, N.Y.; maternal

grandparents are Bill and Phyllis Katz of Squirrel Hill. Her mother also grew up in Squirrel Hill. Austin’s paternal grandparents are the late Edward and Lillian Kaplicer of New York and maternal grandparents are the late Sidney and Adele Leib of New York. The bride-to-be owns her own jewelry business, Elisa Solomon Jewelry and The future bride’s mother works in Elisa’s jewelry business and her father is director of real estate development with Staples, where he has been a vice president. Austin is director of accounting policy with Time Warner Corporation in Manhattan. His father is principal of the Smith Elementary School in Tenafly, N.J., and his mother was a teacher in the East Ramapo, N.Y., Central School District before she passed away in 2009. Elisa graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s of fine arts degree from their School of Art and Design. Austin graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a bachelor’s of science degree in accounting. An August 2013 wedding is planned at Temple Emanu-El in Closter, N.J.


B’nai Mitzva

Allen/Weisberg: Talia Esther Allen and Lee Edward Weisberg were married Sunday, Oct. 21, at the Park Hotel in Jerusalem. Celebrating with the couple in Israel were Tali’s parents, Rabbi Wayne and Patti Allen of Toronto; Lee’s parents, Cheryl and David Weisberg of Point Breeze; and Lee’s grandmother, Rosalyn Wein of Pittsburgh, along with his sister Elana. Lee is also the grandson of the late Joseph Wein of Pittsburgh, and the late Cantor Herman and Esther Weisberg of Pittsburgh. Talia is the granddaughter of Barbara Simons of Ventura, Calif. The couple will be residing in Tsfat, Israel.

Reuben Nepo, son of Eloy and Tobie Nepo, will become a bar mitzva Saturday, Nov. 17, at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills. Grandparents are Roslyn Lando and the late Charles Lando of Wheeling, W.Va.; and the late Eloy and Bertha Nepo-Leguia of Lima, Peru.

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Jason Piechowicz, son of Shelley and Randy Piechowicz, will become a bar mitzva Saturday, Nov. 17, at Temple Ohav Shalom in Allison Park. Grandparents are Greta Strahl, the late Shirley and Milton Strahl, Roseanne Piechowicz and the late Raymond Piechowicz.

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Rachel Florence Rollman, daughter of Jane and Bruce Rollman, will become a bat mitzva Saturday, Nov. 17, at Congregation Beth Shalom. Grandparents are Linda and Howard Miller and the late Marian and Eric Rollman.


OPINION Bisno: Continued from page 9. ••• Why did God allow this to happen? I don’t believe God had a hand in bringing this tragedy into being. Surely not any God I want any part of; that’s not a God I could believe in. What, then, can we say about God in all of this, and what might we share with our children and with our family and friends? Consider this: For those closest to the events of this past Sunday, these hours are full of grief. Our hearts ache for them. For the rest of us, the news carries and curries horror and fear. And we ought be patient with these emotions, our responses. Honor them. Respect their power and their truth. Was it not C.S. Lewis, writing elsewhere in “A Grief Observed,” who of-

fered how he’d not before realized how closely aligned grief is with fear, for everyone. The anguished may sit and wail; others may silently weep. So it is that upon hearing this story, we either cry out or we cry in. But no one is unaffected. After all, we reason, if this can happen, then what else? “What else” is that in a collection of rabbinic legends known as Leviticus Rabbah (20:10), more than 15 centuries ago, Judaism’s sages went beyond acknowledging how fear grips those who grieve. Indeed, the rabbis write that it is necessarily and always a grievous matter to God when children die in their parents’ lifetime. What’s this? God grieves too? Yes, the rabbis affirm. And then they explain their audacious theological assertion by noting that the verse in which Nadav and Avihu’s deaths is recorded twice employs the idiom “lifnei Adonai — before God” and, thus, they assert, in

response to Aaron’s silent grief was God’s redoubled silence; indeed, it is as if the Rabbis are telling us that, when grief renders us mute, God hears us in our silence and joins us there. Now that’s a powerful understanding of God’s presence in the face of suffering and in the throes of our fear. Where is God? Exactly where we are. Crying, grieving, suffering as much, if not more, than we are. God’s silence as parallel to our own doesn’t explain why terrible accidents occur, of course. But that might be OK. For as we know, there are indeed times when the inexplicable happens and it is silence that is ours — and, seemingly, God’s — most appropriate and powerful response. And then from here, we ought go one better. For what God offers to us, so can we do for others. So it is that when we offer one another — even in stunned silence — our comfort and solace, our companionship

and support, for engaging in such a simple and godly act as joining another person in their time of trouble, for our coming together lifnei Adonai — in the presence of God — we make life’s most precious and precarious experiences just a little more safe and a little more sacred. With this awareness amidst all we cannot control or understand, we should be quick to reassure our children and ourselves: in the absence of certainty, can we be with one another when we need one another most. Now let’s take care of one another. Go in silence and go in peace.

(Rabbi Aaron Bisno holds the Frances F. and David R. Levin Senior Rabbinic Pulpit at Rodef Shalom Congregation. He and his wife Michelle are the parents of two boys, ages 7 and 4.)












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All in the family Portion of the Week RABBI HOWARD STEIN TEMPLE OHAV SHALOM Toldot, Genesis 25:19-28:9

“Hafokh ba, v’hafokh ba,” our sages teach us — turn it, and turn it again, for all is in our Torah. More than the ritual laws and ethical precepts that form the basis of our religious tradition, the Torah also has much to teach us about human nature and family dynamics. These latter elements figure prominently in this week’s parsha, Toldot. Our patriarch, Jacob, and his twin brother, Esau, are at odds with one another even while still in the womb. As they grow up, the rivalry grows as well. We read that Esau becomes a “skillful hunter,” while Jacob was a “simple man.” (Genesis 25:27) However, for all his skill, Esau is driven by his carnal passions more than by reason, and Jacob turns out to be quite clever in exploiting his brother’s weakness. And so, Jacob takes Esau’s birthright and their father’s blessing through guile. However, when we look at the bulk of the classical commentaries, Esau is presented as the prototypical wicked enemy of the Jews. Why? When I was in rabbinical school and had my first contact with critical biblical scholarship, my teacher always reminded us to be aware of both what the text says and what it means. The text of our parsha says nothing about Esau’s wickedness; to be sure his choice of wives is not to his parents’ liking, but this is understandable considering the alienation he must feel

from his family heritage. The meaning attributed to the text is not Esau’s fault. The rabbis needed a proxy for their polemics against Rome, since they could not openly criticize the ruling power. In this regard, Esau became the fall guy, since he was already presented as a rival to our patriarch. The tensions and rivalry that are inherent in the relationship between Jacob and Esau is because they are brothers, not in spite of that fact. Only someone close to us, who knows us intimately, can arouse such heated emotions within us. But we must never lose sight of the fact that we are still family. Indeed, there is an important lesson here as we examine our relationships with other Jews and with outside communities. Throughout our history, Jews have lived in many places, and have developed different customs and cultures. Consider the differences among Jews from France, Germany, Poland and Russia, to say nothing of the differences between Chasidim and Litvaks or Ashkenazi (European) and Mizrachi (Middle Eastern) Jews. To go a step further, consider the similarities between Jews from each of these places and their nonJewish neighbors. These relationships have been more or less cordial depending on time and place, but Jews have always incorporated local cultural elements into their food, music and so forth. Just as we know that Jacob and Esau will reconcile (even if their relationship will be best nurtured by maintaining a certain distance), we must always seek to build peaceful relationships with other Jews as well as with outside communities. Shabbat shalom. (This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.)




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Letters have been granted on the estate of each of the following decedents to the personal representative named, who requests all persons having claims against the estate of the decedent to make known the same in writing to him or his attorney, and all persons indebted to the decedent to make payment to him without delay: KATZ, Shirley, deceased of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, No.: 06498 of 2012. Caryn S. Loffman, Executrix c/o Hilary A. Spatz, Esquire, 444 Liberty Ave., Four Gateway Center, Suite 2200, Pittsburgh, PA 152221207. 3Th 060, 053, 046


METRO Sherman: Continued from page 1. “Our mission stays the same, to improve the quality of life of the Jewish community through employment and community services,” he said. “What has changed is the number of people we serve.” That number has doubled, in fact, climbing from approximately 4,000 five years ago to 8,223-plus today. JF&CS will mark its 75th year, Saturday, Nov. 17, with a “Lifecycles & Laughtracks” gala at Stage AE on the North Shore. Some 250 guests are expected to attend. The evening will feature five-time Emmy Award winner comedian Alan Zweibel, who wrote for “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the original “Saturday Night Live.” Barbara and Herb Shear are the honorary chairs and Carolyn and Marc Mendelson are the gala chairs.

Highmark: Continued from page 1. the culmination of a local three-year effort led by Dodie Roskies to increase awareness of the value of these screenings among both young Jews and the large insurers. Roskies, in conjunction with the Victor Center, has been working with Highmark for three years. In 2010, the Highmark Foundation awarded a two-year community grant in partnership with the Hillel JUC “to build awareness and test young people for the 19 genetic diseases found more commonly in the Ashkenazi Jewish community,” Roskies said in an email to the Chronicle. About 340 young Jews were voluntarily tested during subsidized screenings held in Pittsburgh in the last two years as part of the Highmark Foundation grant. Of those 340, about 85 were found to be carriers of at least one Jewish genetic disease. “Our results, the high cost of laboratory testing, the lack of benefit coverage by all the large insurers in western Pennsylvania, and with persuasion by the Victor Center leadership to examine the greater good of its insured, resulted in Highmark’s decision to cover the testing of these diseases as of January 1, 2013,” Roskies said. The identified diseases which occur disproportionately in Ashkenazi Jews include: Gaucher; Cystic Fibrosis; TaySachs; Familial Dysautonomia; Canavan Disease; Niemann-Pick (Type A); Fanconi Anemia (Group C); Mucolipidosis IV; Bloom Syndrome; Dihydrolipoamide Ddehydrogenase Deficiency; Familial Hyperinsulinism; Joubert syndrome; Nemaline myopathy; Spinal Muscular Atrophy; Usher Syndrome Type 1F; Usher Syndrome Type III; Glycogen Storage Disease, Type 1A and; Maple Syrup Urine Disease. The key to reaping the most benefit from genetic screening is the timing of that screening, according to Dr. Debbie Rubinstein, physician advisor at Highmark, Inc. “In terms or timing, it is always best to do this prior to planning a pregnancy so you can understand your options,” she said. “Many of these diseases are devastating, and result in early death, or significant disability of different types,

Sherman attributed much of the success these past five years to the agency’s work on the hunger issue, which led to the establishment of a larger, more diverse Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry on Hazelwood Avenue in Greenfield. The hunger issue, Sherman said, has led to a better awareness of other social issues in the community. “I think if you look five years ago and today there’s a much higher understanding and awareness of these issues because we focused on the issue of hunger, which is a pretty straightforward thing; you can understand that,” he said. Hunger, he noted, is “really part of a bigger picture of poverty and of stresses that people in our community are facing. Because typically associated with that are low-paying or no jobs, health issues, long-term and chronic disabilities, stresses in the family related to emotional issues or to other factors, housing concerns ... all these

depending on the disease.” Discovering one is a carrier of a genetic disease becomes much more difficult once a baby is conceived, said the Victor Center’s Cohen, who has been an obstetrician for 40 years. “The worst thing in the world is for a woman to find out there’s something wrong once she is pregnant,” he said. “That is why, as an obstetrician, I am so in favor of pre-conception screening.” That Highmark, Inc. has decided to cover these genetic screenings is a victory for Jewish health care advocates who urge all young Jews to get screened before they try to have children. When not covered by insurance, testing for the full panel of Jewish genetic diseases runs about $4,000 a person. “This decision is remarkable,” Roskies said, “in that it is testing for asymptomatic — that is, you and your family members do not exhibit symptoms of the disease — pre-conception testing. We hope this is an example other insurers will follow, and other ethnic groups will examine.” Representatives speaking on behalf of Pittsburgh’s other big health insurer, the UPMC Health Plan, say it has been providing coverage for asymptomatic, preconception screening for all 19 diseases in the Ashkenazi Jewish population for the last two years, according to its director of public relations and community relations, Gina Pferdehirt. “UPMC Health Plan has been covering these tests for two years and we have had no issues to date and no appeals,” said Dr. Stephen Perkins, vice president of medical affairs for UPMC Health Plan in an email to the Chronicle. “UPMC Health Plan will continue to review individual cases as well as review individual diseases and write appropriate screening policies as necessary. We are pleased to see other companies join us in a wider acceptance of coverage for these screenings in our region. It is important that anyone of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage who wants to start or add to a family know their carrier status.” Debby Hirshman, national director of the Victor Center, said that the Pittsburgh Victor Center Partnership “is looking forward to working with the UPMC Health Plan on these screenings.” (Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

things tie in together.” He noted that one reason the Jewish community has been “generous” in addressing these issues is where so many Jews live — in a diverse urban neighborhood. “One of the key strengths of our Jewish community is really how concerned everybody at every economic level is for their fellow community members,” he said. “I think part of it is because in Pittsburgh you have a high concentration of Jews living in the Squirrel Hill area. I came from Philadelphia, so the first thing that struck me was we have the lowest income and highest income people living within a few blocks of one another, so there is some level of awareness of that and I think it causes people to understand the issues of their neighbors better.” Sherman also addressed how JF&CS has addressed the other goals of the plan. On workforce diversity, Pittsburgh is one of the least diverse populations of cities of its size in the country, he said, which means that even during a recession there are good jobs that go vacant for lack of “qualified applicants.” JF&CS established a welcome center — a one-stop shop for international newcomers to seek services they need to settle here. The job has since been taken over by Vibrant Pittsburgh. They also developed SOS Pittsburgh, based on a model supported by Edgar and Sandy Snyder in the former Soviet Union, which caters to families in onetime need of assistance to maintain their own self-sufficiency. Turning to the elderly, Sherman pointed to AgeWell Pittsburgh, a onestop resource linking older adults, their families, friends and caregivers to solutions for issues related to aging, as a signature achievement. AgeWell, which

Sherman noted is a communitywide collaboration of many Jewish Pittsburgh agencies, is a response to the rising cost of nursing home care. “If you can keep them in their homes,” he said, “they can participate in society more and have a healthier life.” Addressing the continuum of care for clients, he said JF&CS is trying to “break down walls” between its departments and assess the total realm of an individual’s needs when he or she first contacts JF&CS. Finally, in the area of employment needs, JF&CS is addressing needs of individuals trying to be “re-employed” in the workforce. They offer career counselors to help clients envision new job prospects and have employed new programs such as Maturity Works — a career job placement geared to the needs of low-income workers aged 45 and older. Services have changed over the years at JF&CS as the needs of the community have changed. Going forward, Sherman emphasized that ever-greater fundraising as well as collaboration between service organizations throughout Greater Pittsburgh will be essential to meet the needs of the community. He noted that fundraising covers 13 to 15 percent of its revenue sources. He personally would like to see that grow to 20 percent. As for collaboration, no single organization can meet the needs of its community alone, Sherman explained, noting that government assistance will be harder to come by in the future. “Collaboration is the name of the game entirely,” Sherman said. “Everything we do is based on collaboration.” (Lee Chottiner can be reached at

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OBITUARY BALSAM: Sara Rosenzweig Balsam, 99, a resident of Emerald Pond, died Tuesday afternoon, November 6, at her home. A native of McKeesport, PA, she was the daughter of the late Samuel and Malvina Spingeld Rosenzweig. She had spent most of her life in Pittsburgh, where she was a stockbroker for more than 30 years. In Pittsburgh she was active in the Beth Shalom Sisterhood, B’nai B’rith and Hadassah. Since moving to Durham in 2005 she was a member of Judea Reform Congregation. Her husband, Fred Balsam proceded her in death. She died 2 months short of the 100th birthday. Surviving are her daughter and son-in-law, Dr. Lenore Balsam Behar and Dr. Victor Behar of Durham; three grandchildren, Dr. Marcy Bolster Dimuzio, Dr. Jeffrey Victor Behar and Susan Behar Bonsell and 8 greatgrandchildren. She was predeceased by one brother and four sisters. Graveside funeral services were held on Thursday, November 8, 2012, at 2:30 pm in the Judea Reform Congregation Cemetery, on Jones Ferry Road, Chapel hill, NC. Officiating will be Rabbi John Friedman. In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to the Judea Reform Congregation, 1933 W. Cornwallis Rd., Durham, NC 27705 or to the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle, 1213 E. Franklin St., Chapel Hill, NC 28514. Arrangements by Howwerton & Bryan Funeral Home.

COHEN: Bernard Cohen of Lauderhill, FL, formerly of Pittsburgh, passed away on Oct. 4, 2012. He is survived by his wife, Eileen Sigel Cohen, daughter Amy Karelitz, of New Stanton and sons Richard of Greensburg and Martin of N.Y. 8 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. Services and burial were held in Florida.

dren’s Hospital and Colfax Elementary School. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment New Light Cemetery. Contributions may be made to New Light Congregation, 1700 Beechwood Boulevard, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 or Hillman Cancer Center, 5115 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232 or Sivitz Hospice, 200 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15217.

ELIAS: Kenneth C. Elias, 73, of Rosh Pinna, Israel, formerly of Pittsburgh, passed away on September 18, 2012. Beloved husband of Orli Katz Elias. Former husband of Carol Hoffman, Ph.D., of Tel Aviv. Beloved son of the late Gertrude and Joseph Elias. Beloved brother of Norman (Sylvia) Elias. Devoted father of Craig (Thistle) Elias of Pittsburgh, Michael (Maya) Elias of Tel Aviv, Jed (Adi) Elias of Yesud Hama-ala, and Jonathan of Rosh Pinna. Cherished stepfather of Liat (Shlomi) Sharabi, Zohar Schwartz, and Meital Jones, all of Northern Israel. Proud grandfather of Jeremy, Jason, Rom, Hod, Hadar, Shai Li, Amit, Gefen, Noam, Danielle, Eden, Metai, Ariel, Eli, Liam, Emma and Zoey. Beloved Uncle Kenny of many nieces and nephews. Burial was in Israel.

IWLER: Florence lwler, 89, of Leetsdale, died Saturday, November 3, 2012 in her home surrounded by her loving family. She was born August 4, 1923, in McKees Rocks, Pa. and was the daughter of the late of Louis and Sarah Tulip Libson. She was a retired assistant superintendent for Moon Area School District and a member of the Beth Samuel Jewish Center, Ambridge. Florence received her B.S., Masters, and PhD degrees from the University of Pittsburgh. She was an elected member of the Quaker Valley School Board, Leetsdale Council Member, member of the Sewickley Public Library Board, and the Democratic National Committee. Her passions in life were travelling internationally having seen 5 continents, spending time with her family and enjoyed her time as a Brownie leader as her daughters grew up and community service. Preceding her in death in addition to her parents were her husband. Irvin H. Iwler on September 17, 2011 and an infant daughter at birth. Surviving are 3 daughters, Sandra (Barry) Moskowitz of Wayne, PA, Jonnie (Que) Bronson of Annapolis. MD. and Judith (Steve Budabin) lwler of Falls Church, VA, 4 grandchildren, 4 great grandchildren. and a sister, Harriet (Saul) Levin of Mt. Lebanon. A Funeral Service was held on Monday, Nov. 5th in the John Syka Funeral Home, Inc. 833 Kennedy Drive, Ambridge. Rabbi Stephanie Wolfe will officiate. Interment followed in Coraopolis Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions are suggested to the Leetsdale Garden Club, Attention: Judy Fulton or to the Fourth of July Committee, Attention: Mary Kay Dschuban, Leetsdale Boro Building 373 Beaver St. Leetsdale, PA 15056 or to The Beth Samuel Jewish Center, 810 Kennedy Drive, Ambridge, PA 15003.

FIRESTONE: Lillian Wolf Firestone. Formerly of Pittsburgh, Age 98, of Laguna Hills, CA. Passed away peacefully with her granddaughter, Randi by her side on Thursday, November 8, 2012; Beloved wife of the late Jack Wolf and John Firestone. Loving mother of Lonnie & Natalie Wolf and Barbara & Tito Braunstein. Cherished grandmother of Randi Berry, Michael, and Betsy Wolf, Richard and Karen Chotiner and Brad Chotiner. Loving Nana to Ryan, Zoe and Jillian Berry, Shira, Ilana, Jonah, and Adena Wolf, Jake, Brian and Matthew Chotiner. Devoted and loving companion of Nat Applebaum. Dear friend of Linda Stern. Loved by nieces and nephews. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Beth Shalom Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the Jewish Community Foundation for the Lillian Firestone Pace Endowment, 1 Federation Way, Suite 210, Irvine, CA 92603-0174 or Congregation Beth Shalom, 5915 Beacon Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. HARRIS: On Friday, November 9, 2012, Helene Harris; Beloved wife of Martin Harris. Beloved mother of Julie Harris, Jeffrey (Beverly) Harris and Lennard Harris. Grandmother of Timothy Jason and Margo Rose Harris. Also survived by nieces and nephews. Mrs. Harris was currently president of New Light Congregation. She was past president of B’nai Brith Women, Gabrielle Chapter. She was very proud of her college degree earning a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a volunteer at Chil-

LEITMAN: Sara Leitman of Pittsburgh; On Tuesday, November 6, 2012, Sister of David (late Janet) Leitman, the late Alex (late Barbara) Leitman and Samuel (late Erma) Leitman. Beloved aunt to several nieces, great nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Arrangements were handled by D’Alessandro’s Funeral Home. Donations can be made to a children’s charity of donor’s choice. MANN: Marjorie Iris Apter Mann, 83, of McKeesport, died Nov. 11, 2012. She was born in McKeesport and is the daughter of the late Charles and Cecile Zeugschmidt Apter. She is survived by children; Susan Jill Mann of Denver, CO., and James Mann of Orlando, FL; Siblings; Racelle (Dr. Morton) Goldstein of Pittsburgh and Dr. Lewis (Cynthia) Apter of Treasure Island, FL. Marjorie was a graduate of Penn Hall Academy and Pennsylvania State University. She enjoyed writing prose, teaching children, volunteer work, fashion, the arts, travel, and all things French. She will be remembered for her big heart and generosity. Prayers

by Rabbi Tuchman were held Wednesday at Striffler’s of White Oak Cremation & Mortuary Services, 1100 Lincoln Way, White Oak, 15131 (Sue Striffler Galaski, supervisor, 412-6786177). Burial was in Temple Cemetery. MEYERS: On Monday, November 5, 2012, Frances Reiner Meyers; Beloved wife of the late Herbert Meyers. Beloved mother of Marcia (Michael Tillman) Meyers Rosen and Carol (Richard) Rosenthal. Sister of Sandra (Roy) Schanfarber. Grandmother of Philip, Christy, Michael (Lauren) Rosenthal and Mindy and Heather Tillman. Aunt of Michael (Hayley) Taxay, William (Amy) Taxay, Marc (Jennifer) Taxay and Marc Schanfarber. Also much loved by great-nieces and great-nephews. Frances was a much beloved teacher for many years in the Pittsburgh Public Schools. She was also a Past President of B’nai Brith Women of Greater Pittsburgh. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Beth Shalom Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Temple Sinai, 5505 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. SCHWARTZ: Ann Plotkins Schwartz, Age 90, of Pittsburgh, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, November 7, 2012, surrounded by her loving family. Daughter of the late Betty and Louis Shapiro. Beloved wife of the late Morris Schwartz and the late Leo Jan Plotkins. Loving mother of Suzanne (Richard) Wagner, Marilyn Plotkins (Glenn Litton), Bob (Beth) Plotkins, Barbara (Herb) Shear, James (Judith) Schwartz and Eileen (Rick) Smith. Sister of the late Bernard Shapiro. Loving grandmother of Allyson (Coby) Sonenshine, Reid Wagner, Nina Litton, Leah Plotkins, Gerry Shear, John (Judith) Shear, Harrison, Andrew, and Alexander Smith. Loving great-grandmother of Solomon and Max Sonenshine, Lexie and Andrew Wagner, and Ori and Tali Shear. Loving aunt to all her nieces and nephews. The family extends its sincere and deepest gratitude to Linda Boston and her team of devoted caregivers. Ann dedicated her life to her family and friends and served as an inspiration to everyone she encountered. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment B’nai Israel Cemetery. Contributions may be made to Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, 5738 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA, 15217.

Unveilings GOLDSTONE: A monument in the loving memory of Robert Goldstone, formerly of McKeesport and Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., will be unveiled Sunday, Nov. 18th at 10 a.m. at Elrod Cemetery, Center St., Versailles Boro, PA 15132 (North Versailles/McKeesport). Family and friends are invited. WEIN: A monument in loving memory of Joseph Wein will be unveiled Sunday, Nov. 25, at 10:30 a.m. at the Beth Shalom Cemetery. Family and friends are invited.


Community A CLOSER LOOK Baking lesson

Politically active teens

Beth Shalom Preschool photo

The Beth Shalom Pre-K classes learned how yeast makes dough rise when they baked challa recently.

KMR/BBYO photo

Thirteen teens from Keystone Mountain Region of BBYO participated in BBYO’s “Voice Your Vote,” a Jewish teen issue summit on the 2012 election and civic responsibility, from Nov. 5 to 7 in Cleveland. They participated in educational sessions focused on issues such as Jewish values, Israel advocacy and the U.S./Israel relationship. The teens also role-played knocking on doors, talking to voters and practicing “Campaigning: 101” before actually canvassing precincts in Euclid and Shaker Heights. Some teens also made telephone calls to Ohioans, making sure they voted. Pictured here are KMR members Danielle Salisbury, Marissa Snyder and Kassidy Garcia.

We acknowledge with grateful appreciation contributions from the following: Donor

Musical celebration

ANNA F. CARLTON .........DR. FREDERICK CARLTON PHYLLIS COHEN ..............................ABE M. COHEN DENA ELLIS ................................JENNIE ISKOWICH MERRILYN FRANK ..........................MILDRED HAHN S. LILLIAN FREEDMAN...................MAX HOFFMAN MAX HELFAND .............................CLARA HELFAND ROSE B. KAPLAN............................HENRY KAPLAN MILDRED LEVIN ..................................JACK MYERS JEROME & HARRIETTE R. LIBENSON ............................LOUIS J. RUBENSTEIN MS. PHYLLIS L. PERRY ..................MORRIS LEVINE

Preschool at Yeshiva photo

Batya Rosenblum recently led a Musical Celebration and entertained the entire Preschool at Yeshiva with a musical review of the Tishrei holidays.


Liz Berlin and husband Mike Speranzo are 2012 Jefferson Award recipients. Creative.Life.Support, their organization, was created 10 years ago with a mission “To bring advanced technologies and opportunities in media arts to the hands of aspiring artists and creative professionals, both youth and adult.” According the their website

In MeMory of

(, CLS identifies, retains and promotes the growth of powerful leaders who propel innovative cultural developments in western Pennsylvania, doing so by providing sustainable educational programs that produce consistent deliverables through print and virtual media, artists’ residencies and public engagements. Berlin and Speranzo manage the operations together. She is a member of the multiplatinum recording group Rusted Root and he is a producer, engineer, musician and band manager. Berlin is the daughter of Cantor Rick and Mary Berlin.


In MeMory of

FERNE ROGOW .........................ESTHER MORROW MARC ROSENSTEIN .......................LILLIAN COHEN MERLE SACHNOFF ......................LUCY SACHNOFF HARVEY SALKOVITZ ....................SAM SALKOVITZ DORIS SCHWARTZ ..............EDWARD E. STRAUSS MR. OWEN SIMON ............ETHEL SIMON COOPER YETTA SPEISER.....................................MAX BLATT JANICE STANDEL......................GRACE LEVENSON NANETTE V. TUCKER ................JACOB FIRESTONE VIRGINIA WOLF ..............................EDWARD WOLF





The Chronicle’s editorial staff received two review copies of wonderful cookbooks recently, so of course we had to try out some recipes. Both of these recipes are winners, and easy. (Angela Leibowicz can be reached at

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Peanut Butter Cake Nonstick baking spray with flour in the can 2 cups all-purpose flour 2 cups sugar 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 1 teaspoon baking soda 1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, cut into chunks 1 cup water ¼ cup reduced-fat creamy peanut butter 2 large eggs 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract ½ cup milk or ½ cup unsweetened soymilk 1 teaspoon lemon juice Peanut Butter Chocolate Glaze 4 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, chopped ¼ cup creamy peanut butter, can be reduced-fat 5 tablespoons water, divided 1 ½ cups confectioner’s sugar Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heavily spray a 10-inch bundt pan with nonstick baking spray. If yours doesn’t have flour in the can, shake a little flour into the pan and coat. Hold it over the sink, tapping the sides to get the flour into the crevices. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, salt and baking soda. Set aside. In a medium pot, over medium heat, bring the butter, water and peanut butter to a boil, stirring until smooth. Add to the flour mixture, stirring well with a silicone spatula, about 50-60

strokes, until well mixed and smooth. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla, milk and lemon juice. Stir this into the peanut butter mixture until you have a smooth batter. Pour into prepared pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until toothpick inserted in comes out clean or with moist crumbs attached. Remove from oven to cool. After 10 minutes, slide a small offset spatula around the sides of the cake to loosen it, as well as around the center of the pan. Hold a serving plate over the pan and invert the cake, shaking to loosen it. Set aside to cool. Prepare the glaze: Melt the chocolate, peanut butter, and 2 tablespoons water in a medium pot over medium heat. Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and stir in remaining 3 tablespoons water. Sift in the confectioner’s sugar. Keep stirring until a smooth glaze forms. Pour over the cake, allowing the glaze to run down the sides; use a spatula to spread it nicely. Susie Fishbein has a note at the top of the recipe: To really throw it over the top, for dairy use, freeze mini Reese’s Peanut Butter cups for about an hour, then cut each in half. Right after glazing the cake, stick the peanut butter cup halves all over the cake. “Kosher By Design Cooking Coach: Recipes, Tips and Techniques to Make Anyone a Better Cook.” Author Susie Fishbein. Artscroll Mesorah Publications/October 2012. Photography by John Uher.

ASIAN SLAW WITH CHOW MEIN NOODLES AND SESAME the sesame seeds and mix well. In a large salad bowl, combine all the slaw ingredients. Toss with the dressing and serve immediately. Serves 8-10.

Dressing 4 tablespoons oil 3 tablespoons sugar 3 tablespoons lite soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice vinegar 1 clove garlic, minced 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil ½ teaspoon fresh ginger, minced 2 tablespoons toasted black or white sesame seeds Slaw 1 package (16 ounces) coleslaw mix 3 scallions, thinly sliced ½ small red onion, thinly sliced 1 ½ cups Chinese chow mein noodles

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To prepare the dressing: In a small saucepan, combine the oil, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, sesame oil and ginger. Cook for several minutes over medium heat, stirring continuously until the sugar has dissolved, about 12 minutes. Allow to cool, then add

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Esther Deutsch’s note: The chow mein noodles add a great crunch factor to this slaw. Though the salad maintains its crunch longer than others, I prefer to serve this salad immediately after adding the dressing. If you wish, you can double or triple the dressing and keep it refrigerated in an airtight container for later. Then just toss with the slaw ingredients and it’s ready to serve. “CHIC Made Simple: Fresh. Fast. Fabulous. Kosher Cooking.” Author Esther Deutsch, published by Feldheim.

The Jewish Chronicle November 15, 2012  

The Jewish Chronicle November 15, 2012

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