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July 13, 2018 | 1 Av 5778


Candlelighting 8:32 p.m. | Havdalah 9:38 p.m. | Vol. 61, No. 28 |

NOTEWORTHY LOCAL Furries find purr-fect ‘home’ in Pittsburgh

Oakland billboard decries infant circumcision

Jerusalem’s ‘Beit Karen’ to honor memory of Pittsburgh philanthropist By Toby Tabachnick | Senior Staff Writer


Annual Anthrocon event draws costumed set, although they’re 20 percent of the movement.

Magee-Women’s Hospital, with the aim of catching the attention of pregnant women headed to the facility. It’s also a “high-traffic area,” Hartley acknowledged. It also happens to be a short distance from the offices of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh on McKee Place, but Hartley said that he was unaware of the Federation’s location and that it had no bearing on the choice of the billboard’s placement. About half the funding for the billboard came from Hartley, who lives in Franklin Park, along with another donor living near Pittsburgh whose identity Hartley declined to reveal. The remainder of the funding came from an online fundraising campaign, with 31 supporters donating a total of $1,500. Your Whole Baby is “not against circumcision,” Hartley said. Instead, he frames the group’s stance as being “pro-genital integrity.” Infants, he said, should not be circumcised

aren Shapira, who passed away in 2005, always dreamed of having a home in Israel. And prior to her death from breast cancer at the age of 60, she expressed her wishes to be buried there. Although her family wanted her closer to them in Pittsburgh, which is where she rests, she will nonetheless soon have an enduring presence in Jerusalem with the construction of Beit Karen, the new home of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. A ceremonial groundbreaking for the new building was held last month, with Karen’s family and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Sallai Meridor in attendance. The Pardes Institute is a pluralistic, co-ed Jewish learning community based in Jerusalem that also hosts various programs worldwide. Shapira served on the board of Pardes, having become familiar with the institution when her daughter, Deborah, spent two years studying there. When Shapira participated in a leadership learning seminar at Pardes herself, she quickly became an active supporter. “She was a lover of being Jewish,” said her son, Jeremy Shapira. After their children had all left for college, he said, both his mother and his father, Giant Eagle, Inc.’s chairman, David Shapira, “started being much more interested in learning about being Jewish and getting much more involved in the Jewish community.” Karen Shapira took the responsibilities of leadership and volunteerism seriously. Among many other roles, she served as the president of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh (now the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh) and as the executive secretary for the New York-based United Jewish Communities (now, the Jewish Federations of North America).

Please see Circumcision, page 16

Please see Pardes, page 16

Page 2 LOCAL Percussionist branches out Ian David Rosenbaum in town for concert series. Page 4

LOCAL Women say yes, they can

 A billboard claiming circumcision causes “harm” that was installed on Boulevard of the Allies at Bates Street will remain there for one month.

Photo by Toby Tabachnick

By Toby Tabachnick | Senior Staff Writer

A Toastmasters club raises confidence one voice at a time. Page 6


nti-circumcision activists — or “intactivists,” as some prefer to be called — have erected a billboard in Oakland denouncing the practice for infants, claiming it causes “harm.” The billboard depicts a man holding a baby with the words “Love ALL of him. Circumcision harms.” It was installed on July 2 on Boulevard of the Allies at Bates Street, and will remain there for one month, according to a press release from Your Whole Baby, the Texas-based non-profit behind the project. Pittsburgh is not the first city that the organization has targeted with a billboard, according to Greg Hartley, the state director of Your Whole Baby of PA. Other billboards have been displayed in Detroit and Owensboro, Ky. The Oakland location was chosen, Hartley said, because of its proximity to

keep your eye on PittsburghJewishChronicle NATIONAL

Parkinson’s Jewish ties


Lettuce wraps a cool treat


Ice cream an even cooler one

Headlines Pittsburgh is purr-fect place for Anthrocon — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


ike the penguins who return annually to their same South American burrows, more than 7,000 anthropomorphically enthused participants migrated back to David L. Lawrence Convention Center last weekend for Anthrocon, “Pittsburgh’s premiere furry convention” for those who like to dress in anthropomorphic costume. Such gatherers, who flock from nearby areas and states as well as international locales, have descended on Pittsburgh for the past 13 years.

Joining the herd was Brian Harris, a Jewish Virginian who has been a part of Anthrocon since its start. “I’m one of a small group of people who helped put together Anthrocon back in 1997 when it started in Albany, N.Y., as the result of a house party that got too large for someone’s basement,” he said. “It moved to a hotel and has grown into what it is today, moving from Albany to outside Philadelphia to inside Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, which is currently its very beloved home at this point.” Harris serves as Anthrocon’s director of fundraising and charity work, a position that he has held “from the very beginning.” “I enjoy doing this because it’s such a fulfilling thing to do,” he noted.

p Attendees of all ages come to Anthrocon to attend workshops and seminars, buy and sell artwork, exhibit costumes and socialize.

p While they may be the most recognizable part of the convention, only 20 percent of Anthrocon’s attendees wear costumes. Photos by Karl “Xydexx” Jorgensen


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2 JULY 13, 2018


Over the years, through auctions, raffles and other methods, Anthrocon has raised more than $310,000 dollars for various charities, said Karl “Xydexx” Jorgensen, the organization’s overseer of publications. In years past, the convention has partnered with the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, the Western PA Humane Society and the National Aviary. This year, Anthrocon supported South Hills Pet Rescue, a largely volunteer run space committed to “rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming dogs of all breeds, with all needs, since 2013.”

The charities are typically animal related “because that dovetails most appropriately with our event and what people are fans of here,” said Harris. Individuals unfamiliar with Anthrocon often mistake it as a congress of costume wearers, but it is actually a “sci-fi fantasy convention focusing on cartoon animals,” explained the director. Though these cartoons may not necessarily be the ones that appear on television, “it’s easier to say than anthropomorphic animals,” he added. Please see Anthrocon, page 17

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Headlines Power outages affect area businesses — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


ast week’s storms wreaked havoc on several Squirrel Hill establishment. At Murray Avenue Kosher, the grocery and deli retained lighting but lost its “220 power,” leaving it unable to run its large appliances for a good portion of Thursday, July 5, said Beth Markovic, owner of the local store. “All of our refrigerator cases did not have any power and were not being kept cold,” she said. Items ruined at Murray Avenue Kosher included meat, ice cream and dairy products. As of July 10, an exact value as to the damage was still being determined.

Across the street at Giant Eagle, staff had similar concerns. “Overnight we lost a lot of stuff, a lot of dairy items, milk, cheese, yogurt — almost all of our dairy items had to be tossed,” said Marcus Carneiro, a customer service clerk. “We got our power back by about 5 to 6 a.m., but by then most of the damage had been done.” Carneiro was not certain as to how much money was lost because of the outage, but said, “I can only guess, but I would say tens of thousands of dollars, and not to mention the money that would be lost because we are closed during this time.” Though many shelves were bare, Murray Avenue Kosher and Giant Eagle reopened later on July 5. “We’re working on resupplying and getting new product in as quickly as possible,” said Markovic.

“ We got our power back by about 5 to 6 a.m., but by then most of the

damage had been done.


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p Murray Avenue Kosher needed to rent a dumpster to collect all of the perished items. Photo by Adam Reinherz

Power outages also affected the Jewish Association on Aging, Tinsy Labrie said in an email. “We can confirm that power did go out at Weinberg Terrace last evening. Our residents were being monitored by staff throughout the night,” said Labrie, the agency’s director of marketing. “We were in the midst of preparing evacuation plans for residents needing extra care when power was restored earlier this morning.” At the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, power outages slightly altered activities. “There were no cancellations of any

programs. The only thing that didn’t happen was early spin classes because of the power,” said Cathy Samuels, the center’s senior director of development and communications. Regarding food, Samuels said that “the only food loss was 150 cartons of 1-percent milk.” Brian Schreiber, the JCC’s president and CEO, added in an email Thursday afternoon, “We’re up and running. Back to full schedule. Early childhood operated as usual, informing parents of the situation.”  PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz


When Families Fight: Challenging a Will in Court

Law by Michael H. Marks., Esq.

Michael H. Marks is an elder law attorney practicing at Marks Elder Law with offices in Squirrel Hill and Monroeville. Send questions to or visit After their mom died, Alan, Daniel, and Ruth weren’t speaking to each other. Even though their parents had always said they would leave everything to the three kids in equal shares, their mom’s Will left the lion’s share to Ruth and much smaller bequests to Daniel and Alan. The boys were livid and accused Ruth of manipulating their mom and taking what belonged to them. Ruth was just as mad and swore it was what their mom wanted and not the result of any foul play. The new Will left the big house and most of everything else to Ruth, and only a little to the boys, who both had families of their own and lived out of town. Ruth was the baby. She had had a successful career but never married and lived nearby. After their dad died, and mom started to fade, she moved back in with mom and was her primary caregiver. The Will was signed about a year before mom passed, and two years after she had been diagnosed with early dementia. The boys consulted their estate attorney about how they could challenge the will. Here’s what they found out:


Sometimes a will is a forgery, not really signed properly, or signed under duress and threats, or is a result of intentional fraud. Not here. “How can mom make a new will when she had dementia and wasn’t all there?”, they asked. They wanted to argue that mom lacked “testamentary capacity” or the ability to adequately know what she was doing to make a sound decision. Their lawyer explained that under the legal concept of “lucid moments,” even a person who isn’t completely mentally sound might still be lucid and capable sometimes. To win, they would have to prove that mom was not capable at the very moment that she signed – very difficult to do. A third option was for the brothers to claim “undue influence” by their sister: that over a period of time Ruth improperly manipulated and influenced their mom to change the Will to benefit herself.

The “presumption of undue influence” also shifted the “burden of proof ” to Ruth. Ruth now had the the responsibility to explain why there had not been undue influence. In her emotional rebuttal, Ruth showed that she had been mom’s caretaker, companion, constant attendant, and her best friend. Mom’s nurses and all involved verified that Ruth had been completely committed to mom, and had made sure mom received excellent care. Ruth swore that she never tried to influence mom; that mom changed her own mind and now wanted to thank and reward Ruth with the majority of her estate. Did the case go to trial and pit brothers against sister in a nasty battle that would have left them

forever angry and divided? Fortunately not. Like many such family disputes, and with the knowledgeable, moderating influence of their attorneys, they settled. Ruth shared more of the estate with her brothers. She treasured their family ties more than dollars, though she felt that her years of devotion to mom had to be properly acknowledged. Alan and Daniel saved face and felt vindicated – often a key factor in achieving a settlement. They all felt that the compromise honored their mom and her wishes. At Marks Elder Law, we help people every day with issues like these. I invite your questions and feedback. Please let me know how I can help you or your family.

The circumstances and facts were on their side to start with. They could prove that: a) mom was of “impaired intellect;” b) that Ruth and her mother were in a “confidential relationship”, mposing on Ruth a “fiduciary duty” to act fairly and not for her own benefit; c) that a change was made, namely, a new Will was signed; and d) that the change benefited Ruth. A challenge to a Will is subject to an elevated burden of proof, requiring the brother to prove their case by “clear and convincing evidence.” As all those statements were essentially true, the brothers showed there was undue influence by Ruth.



JULY 13, 2018 3

Headlines Visiting percussionist enjoys pushing boundaries — LOCAL — By Jonah Berger | Chronicle intern


or Ian David Rosenbaum, playing percussion for a living is a dream come true. Despite the long hours away from home and the relatively low compensation, Rosenbaum, 31, says he cherishes every minute of it. “I love what I do so much and I really couldn’t envision myself doing anything else, so in that way, my job is the most fun thing that I would ever do,” he said. “When I wake up in the morning, I get to go to a rehearsal or go practice.” “And that is an amazing gift,” he added. Each July, Rosenbaum and close to a dozen other musicians from around the country descend on the Steel City to take part in the Pittsburgh New Music Ensemble, a group devoted to performing modern classical music. The ensemble holds a series of weekend concerts throughout July, all at the City Theatre on the South Side. The small blackbox theater seats only 254, facilitating an intimate setting in which the divide between the audience members and stage nearly evaporates. Since 2001, PNME has seen huge growth — more than 600 percent — in attendance, and added more concerts to its schedule to accommodate the increased interest. In Rosenbaum’s view, the ensemble’s success can be attributed to its shift towards a more “theatrical” lens.

“Rather than just putting on these concert programs that many other folks do, we started to build these theatrical programs,” he said. “So we perform in a pure, sound design, and lighting design and what we try to do is sort of stitch together existing pieces into a connected, unbroken, theatrical evening … in such a way that it forms a kind of composed narrative over the course of the evening.” PNME was established in 1976 by the late composer and conductor David F. Stock, whose compositions were played by symphonies around the country. In 2001, Kevin Noe took over as executive director and began to take the ensemble in a new direction, facilitating the inclusion of more modern elements, such as video, to its concerts. Since its inception, the ensemble has commissioned hundreds of pieces, giving composers around the country a chance to showcase their works. PNME’s opening concert of the season last Friday, called the “Human Experience,” featured the world premieres of three pieces, the result of a nearly two-year-long competition to find the best original compositions in the country. More than 400 composers submitted their works, with David Biedenbender, Rufus Reid and Jun Yoon Wie emerging victorious. The performance incorporated visual elements, adding an interesting component to the largely somber and downtempo music. Rosenbaum provided a refreshing beat for Reid’s piece on the xylophone. Rosenbaum, who calls himself a “secular”

N.Y., performs and teaches with a myriad of different groups. In 2011, he founded a quartet called Standbox Percussion that performs around the world. “And then outside of that, I’m just sort of a freelance player,” he said. In addition to traditional percussion instruments, Rosenbaum has sought to expand the horizons of what is possible and acceptable. For instance, he pours water to different levels in a row of beer bottles for one piece. Blowing air into the bottles produces a “beautiful flute-like sound,” he said, similar to that of a wind instrument. “People are treating all kinds of things, all kinds of objects, that you wouldn’t normally think of as real instruments, they’re p Ian David Rosenbaum Photo courtesy of Ian Rosenbaum treating them as instruJew, is an up-and-coming star in the musical ments,” Rosenbaum said. “Whether it’s someworld. In 2012, he joined the Chamber Music thing that we think of as a real instrument, Society Two program at Lincoln Center in like what you might see in the symphony, or if New York as only the second percussionist it’s just an everyday object, like a piece of trash in its history. Alumni of the group include or a piece of junk-metal, that we can turn into pianist Lang Lang and violinist Hilary Hahn. an instrument, to fit that moment.”  PJC Rosenbaum also recently released his first solo album, called “Memory Palace.” Jonah Berger can be reached at jberger@ Rosenbaum, who resides in Brooklyn,

New album offers soundtrack to political upheaval — LOCAL — By Jonah Berger | Chronicle intern


eplete with electric guitar solos and resolute calls for political and social equity, “Social Justice Disco” was officially released on Sunday to a local audience in Millvale. The album, produced by local songwriters Phat Man Dee and Liz Berlin, features a wide range of songs, from original tunes to popular covers. The one constant throughout, though, is the artists’ belief that the nation continues to grapple with longstanding prejudices and stands unable to address them as long as its current leadership remains in office. The album showcases numerous Pittsburgh artists, including guitarist and songwriter Justin Sane of Anti-Flag, a Pittsburgh-based group known for its outspoken political activism on behalf of left-wing causes. Even before the release of their most recent album, Dee and Berlin had made their marks on the Pittsburgh music scene. Dee, who has been performing since 1996, was voted Best Jazz Performer in the Pittsburgh City Paper’s 2016 Readers’ Poll. Berlin co-founded Rusted Root in 1990, a band 4 JULY 13, 2018

formed in Pittsburgh but that achieved national notoriety, perhaps best known for its popular hit, “Send Me On My Way.” Here are a few of the tracks from the duo’s new album:

‘Ball of Confusion’

Despite borrowing a song title, a melody, and many lyrics from the Temptations’ 1970 classic, Dee and Berlin carve their own path, with unique verses, electric guitar solos and a more energetic, lively style. Unlike the Temptations’ slower, instrument-light hit, this rendition recalls a hard rock style taken straight from the 1980s. One key similarity, though, is in the makeup of the cast: Local trombonist Reggie Watkins recorded “Ball of Confusion” with the Temptations in 1970 and also plays the trombone part in “Social Justice Disco.” A notable addition to the original lyrics reflects the left-leaning perspective of the album as a whole. While the Temptations criticized politicians who claim “more taxes will solve ev’rything,” Dee and Berlin go after politicians who say “no regulation” is a cure for all of the nation’s ills.


Inspired by the police shooting of Philando Castile and Facebook’s subsequent decision to

pull a video of the shooting off of its platform, this number has the trappings of a fight song, calling on listeners to “resist,” while at the same time warning of a “1984”-style government. The song, composed by Dee and Berlin, also features spoken verses, brass solos and a catchy melody.

‘Jim Crow is Alive and Well’

Dee and Berlin don’t mince words in this dark, demoralizing hymn, lamenting the unjust treatment of African Americans by police and the criminal justice system at large. Highlighting the case of Troy Davis, a Georgia man executed for a murder many believe he did not commit, the duo confront what they see as excessive force used by police at the expense of law-abiding African Americans. In the process of arguing their case, Dee and Berlin ask: “How is this God’s plan?” Similar to other references to God throughout the album, they appear to be trying to reclaim the mantle of religious sanctity from those who they deem to be corrupting it and using religion for political gains.

‘I Can’t Breathe’

Adopting the refrain of protesters around the country, this song is an adapted version


of one by a group called The Peace Poets. The phrase refers to the events surrounding the death of Eric Garner in 2014 at the hands of New York City policemen, who put him in a headlock on the sidewalk as he repeated “I can’t breathe” multiple times. The song takes on the aura of spoken word poetry, with a soft choir in the background overshadowed by the poet’s voice. Original lyrics by local poets Christian Springer and Leslie Ezra Smith are sprinkled throughout the song, with Pastor Deryck Tines of The Lemington Gospel Choir featured as well.

‘Fourth Reich Arising’

Another gloomy, dispiriting original work from Dee and Berlin takes aim at what they view as dangerous figures from within. According to Dee, the song was inspired by the rise of President Donald Trump and those who flocked to his campaign. The song blames the rise of what they call the “Fourth Reich” on the ignorance and obedience of the “masses.” Though pessimistic, the song is at the same time rousing, punctuated by spirited verses calling for action and an extended guitar solo.  PJC Jonah Berger can be reached at jberger@


Headlines A family is a club where all the members are related — LOCAL — By Eric Lidji | Special to the Chronicle


he engraving on this gavel reads: “Spiegel’s Cousins’ Club.” All the members of the Club were related to Hazelwood merchant Herman “Harry” Spiegel and his sister Bertha Spiegel p Through much of the 20th century, many large Eastern European Jewish Lebovitz. These cousins started their club in families in America organized “kinship clubs” to preserve family ties. Although late 1957 and, through spouses and children the clubs had a formal appearance, their activities often resembled simple family gatherings. Photo courtesy of the Rauh Jewish History and grandchildren, drew members from Program & Archives a constellation of related clans: Feldman, Although his original study focused specifLebovitz, Rofey, Rosenbloom, Rosenthal, clubs,” and therefore this gavel is also an artifact of a fascinating sociological trend. ically on the Jewish kinship clubs of New Sittsamer, Smooke and Spiegel. The undisputed expert on the subject is York City, he found similar clubs in other The club elected officers. It had a president, American cities with a sizable population of William Mitchell, an anthropologist whose two vice presidents, a treasurer, a recording Eastern European Jews. He even explicitly listed 1978 book, “Mishpokhe: A Study of New secretary, a corresponding secretary, a Pittsburgh as a notable hub. When a local York City Jewish Family Clubs,” remains guardian, a monitor, a hostess chairman and anthropologist named Myrna Silverman the definitive account. He uses the umbrella a goodwill chairman. They often met at the conducted her study of multigenerational term “kinship club” to include two types of old Adath Israel synagogue on Ward Street. Jewish families here in Pittsburgh in the clubs. Under his definitions, a “family circle” Despite all this formal parliamentary strucmid-1970s, she found that half of the families unites all the descendants of one couple, ture, the club had a lot of fun. It hosted Purim masquerades, summer picnics, Chanukah while a “cousins club” brings together all the she interviewed were members of at least one parties and various social events ranging descendants of a generation of first cousins. kinship club, and some were members of two. If you look through the Jewish Criterion from movie nights to anniversary dinners. At Mitchell claims that kinship clubs are one legendary event, the elders of the family unique to American Jewish families of Eastern from the 1930s into the 1960s, you can find dressed up like mop-topped members of The European decent. They are not widely found reports from kinship clubs mixed among the among any other ethnic group in America, announcements from synagogues and Jewish Beatles. Their band name? The Shmiegels. If the Spiegel’s Cousins’ Club had been a and they developed organically in this country communal organizations. In the late 1950s, one-of-a-kind thing, then this gavel would be without direct Old World precedent. (He does, the Criterion even briefly ran a dedicated JCinteresting OticonZPower 2018_Eartique Page 1 draw a connection to landsmancolumn reporting on the activities of more an novelty item. But 7/10/18 the club9:37 wasAM however, than a dozen kinship clubs around the region. shaftn and other mutual aid societies.) one of hundreds of similar Jewish “kinship Name: Eartique Width: 5.0415 in Depth: 6.75 in Color: Black Ad Number: 10039504

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Over the past six months, the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives has received collections from three Jewish kinship clubs in Western Pennsylvania: the Spiegel’s Cousins’ Club, the KA-EL Club and the Weiss Family Club. In addition to this gavel, the recently donated materials include minutes, newsletters, scrapbooks and a time capsule. Beyond their immediate value as a genealogical resource, the records of these kinship clubs express something about the spirit of Jewish family life. Organizing a family like a nonprofit corporation — with members, officers, meetings, dues and newsletters — feels a little bit like children playing house: a game, but also a way of venerating the real thing. No single artifact of Jewish kinship clubs embodies both attitudes quite as succinctly as this gavel. As far as Robert’s Rules of Order is concerned, a gavel is an optional prop in the theater of parliamentary procedure. You can start and stop a meeting without its rap. But like all ceremonial objects, a gavel casts an aura of reverence around an otherwise mundane event. After all, a meeting is just a group of people talking. The rules of order, though sometimes silly, are one way of holding that group together in a unified “body.”  PJC Eric Lidji is the director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives at the Sen. John Heinz History Center. He can be reached at or 412-454-6406.

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Headlines Women-only Toastmasters club inspires support, confidence women that’s very special. And when it’s just women, that comes out more,” she said. “Life can steal your voice. … Come here, find your voice, your leadership. Make your mistakes here with women who will say, ‘Good for you for trying.’” The group is not officially recognized as a women-only group, since Toastmasters International said it could not restrict the group to one gender. They suggested that the group meet instead at a women-only facility. Because of this, Deray said it is impossible to know how many, or if any, other groups exist that are just for women. There are about 16,400 Toastmasters clubs in 141 countries, serving about 352,000 people, according to material from the international organization. For the members, the Woman 2 Woman group has created a strong network of friends and mentors that allows them to learn more than just public speaking skills at each meeting. “I think it makes it more supportive because if I have some question not related to Toastmasters, I can go up to almost everyone here and ask their opinion,” said Daria Katson, a member of the group who joined shortly after moving to Pittsburgh from Russia in order to improve her confidence as a non-native English speaker. “This group of women is really strong. They’re so supportive and so diverse. … The only thing I can do is admire them.” Each meeting consists of two or three speeches by members, ranging from quick “icebreaker” speeches introducing themselves to the group to long presentations complete with PowerPoint slides, diagrams or impromptu skits. Each speaker is evaluated by another member. The evaluation focuses on everything from volume to subject matter to body language to how often the speaker clicks her tongue, something many people aren’t aware they do until their first speech. Mara Kaplan, the outgoing president of the club, said the group is good at tailoring the evaluations to each presenter’s needs, a byproduct of the trusting environment that the women-centric group has created. “We are gentle with each other when we evaluate them. We allow people to

— LOCAL — By Lauren Rosenblatt | Digital content manager


tanding in front of a group of women, Chana Gittle Deray detailed what she thought was the scariest part of participating in Toastmasters, the international program designed to help people develop public speaking skills through a series of speeches and evaluations. “It’s the timer,” she told the group on a recent Monday night, referring to the role of using a stopwatch to keep track of how long people speak during each speech, choosing that over the perils of giving a 15-minute presentation in front of a crowd of a people, creating a speech off the cuff when necessary or vocally offering constructive criticism of other members’ speeches. “I know it sounds pathetic, but you’re looking at a woman who consistently burns dinner.” Met with laughter and applause, Deray returned to her seat after a brief explanation of her fears of the timing role. She was participating in “Table Topics,” a portion of the meeting where participants create an impromptu one to two-minute speech about a designated topic. On that evening, the topics revolved around each participant’s experience with Toastmasters, part of a celebratory meeting inducting new leadership and recognizing the club’s growth and accomplishments at the start of its fourth year. Deray was one of a group of women who started the Woman 2 Woman division of Toastmasters International. The group meets every Monday evening at the Center for Women — a National Council of Jewish Women project that offers training and mentorship to women — where members participate in a strict schedule of speeches, mentorship and evaluation. Because of its location at the Center for Women, the group is restricted to just women. Deray was inspired to start the group after participating in other Toastmasters programs in Western Pennsylvania and thinking about how the atmosphere would be different if it were just women. “Women have an ability to support

p Top: Daria Katson gives a speech on coaching skills during a Woman 2 Woman Toastmasters meeting. Above: Members of the club pose outside the Center for Women on Murray Avenue.

Photos by Lauren Rosenblatt

Please see Toastmasters, page 17

Hebrew Teacher Wanted BETH SAMUEL JEWISH CENTER in Ambridge

is hiring a Hebrew Teacher for our dynamic Religious School program. The position will teach Hebrew to students in K-7th grade, two Sunday mornings a month, Sept. through May. Please contact Barb at (724)266-5238 or to learn more about this opportunity. BETH SAMUEL JEWISH CENTER 810 Kennedy Drive • Ambridge, PA 15003 724-266-5238 •

6 JULY 13, 2018




Calendar q MONDAY, JULY 16 Beth Shalom’s Sisterhood Book Club will meet to discuss National Jewish Book Award winner “And After the Fire” by Lauren Belfer at 7:30 p.m. at Paula’s house. Contact the office for more information at 412-421-2288 or visit; there is no charge.

>> Submit calendar items on the Chronicle’s website, Submissions will also be included in print. Events will run in the print edition beginning one month prior to the date as space allows. The deadline for submissions is Friday, noon. q SATURDAY, JULY 14 Judith Robinson will be reading poetry and showing her art, along with her friend and poet Charlie Brice, who is launching his new book, “Mnemosyne’s Hand,” from 2 to 4 p.m. at C. C. Mellors Library, 1 Pennwood Ave. in Edgewood. Pittsburgh poet Scott Silsbe and Detroit poet M.L. Leiber will also be reading. q SUNDAY, JULY 15 Join the Moishe House Pool Party from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Bloomfield Pool, 408 Ella St. Contact for more information. q SUNDAYS, JULY 15 AND AUG. 12 Temple Emanuel’s Bereavement Support Group meetings will be at 10 a.m. The group, which is open to anyone who is experiencing grief following loss, is led by Jamie Del, LCSW and Naomi Pittle, LCSW, who both have experience in grief counseling. RSVP to Leon at if you plan to attend. The Bereavement Support Group welcomes previous and newly bereaved adults to attend. Meetings are held at Temple Emanuel, 1250 Bower Hill Road. q MONDAY-FRIDAY JULY 16-20 The Holocaust and the 21st Century: 2018 Summer Teachers’ Institute is a weeklong seminar that addresses a variety of topics to help educators gain the knowledge to teach about the Holocaust more effectively. Experts from around the country share the latest research and tools with participating educators. This year’s topics are: America’s Response to the Holocaust; International Perspectives on Remembrance; Anti-Semitism and White Supremacy; Multimedia Survivor Testimony; Working with Families of Survivors; and Propaganda and Media Literacy. The

cost to attend is $200. Visit summerinstitute2018 for more information.  q TUESDAY, JULY 17 The Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition annual meeting will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Wightman School, 5604 Solway St. The meeting is open to all neighbors and friends. Come learn about what your community organization has been up to this year and what are some goals for the next, and how you can be better involved with the community. Executive Director Robert Weimar of the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is the featured speaker. There is no charge. Visit for more information. The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, in partnership with the Heinz History Center, will host historian Rebecca Erbelding from 7 to 9 p.m. Erbelding is an expert on American responses to the Holocaust and the War Refugee Board. She has worked at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum as an archivist, curator and exhibition research historian for the past 14 years. Erbelding will discuss her new book, “Rescue Board: The Untold Story of America’s Efforts to Save the Jews of Europe,” as well as her work with the new exhibit at USHMM, “Americans and the Holocaust.” Admission is $10 (plus Eventbrite processing fee); it is free for students with valid ID and survivors. Visit america for more information.

opening/artists’ reception, free and open to the community, will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. A series of four Artist/Gallery talks and demonstrations, each one featuring participating artists, will begin at 1:15 p.m. on each Wednesday beginning July 25 and running through September 12. Some of the artists are, or have been students of Lila Hirsch Brody in her classes at the JCC. Contact Sybil Lieberman, 412-697-3514 or or Susan Sparks at 724-575-0210 or for more information. Jewish Residential Services and ACTIONHousing will hold a meeting for individuals with disabilities and their families who are interested in the rental units now under construction near the corner of Forward and Murray avenues, the Seymoure and Corrine Krause Commons, at 7 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation. Come to get an update on the project and ask questions, learn about tenant eligibility, application process, rental costs and tenant supports. Contact 412-325-0039 or for more information, to request accommodations or to RSVP. Chabad of the South Hills will present “A Peek at Prayer,” the deeper significance and relevance of prayers at 7:30 p.m. RSVP to or 412-344-2424. There is a charge. Visit for more information. q SUNDAY, JULY 22 A Tisha B’Av Break Fast, even if you were not fasting, will be held from 9 to 11 p.m. at Moishe House. Contact moishehousepgh@ for more information. q WEDNESDAY, JULY 25 Moishe House will meet at Market Square for yoga and dinner, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Breathe, stretch and flow with 100 of

Moishe House will hold a game night from 7 to 9 p.m. Feel free to bring your own games to teach everyone. Contact for more information. q THURSDAY, JULY 19 Pittsburgh 10 + Friends, an Art for a Cause Exhibit of new work by the Pittsburgh 10+ artists and guest will open and run through Friday, Sept. 21 at the Berger Gallery in the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, Robinson Building, 5738 Darlington Road, Squirrel Hill. The exhibit is free and open to the community during regular JCC summer hours. An

your closest friends (and the entire Moishe gang) for an hour of yoga with instructor Clair Baer, and then have dinner. Contact for more information. q FRIDAY, AUG. 3 Shalom Pittsburgh and the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will hold Family Friday at the Frick Shabbat from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Frick Art & Historical Center. Bring a picnic or enjoy the food trucks. Challah and grape juice will be provided. Look for the Shalom Pittsburgh station for giveaways and other fun. There is no charge. Contact Meryl Franzos at or 412-992-5204 for more information. q MONDAY, AUG. 6 First Mondays with Rabbi Alex Greenbaum, with lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., featuring guest George Savarese presenting “Russian Roulette,” Putin’s war on the United States. Savarese has served as the host of the World Affairs Council’s “Global Press Conference” on KQV radio and has worked for AP Radio and National Public Radio. There is a $6 charge. Visit for more information and call 412-561-1168 to make a reservation. q DEADLINE WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 7 The Jewish Women’s Foundation 2018 call for proposals is offering two programs: small grants up to $10,000 to fund innovative programs that impact women and girls; and start-up grants between $2,500 and $5,000 to fund pilot programs and small nonprofits working to improve the lives of women and girls. For more details, visit JWF’s website at; or contact Judy at jcohen@ or 412-727-1108. PJC.


JULY 28-29

The community is invited to the kick-off weekend of Congregation Beth Shalom’s Solar Initiative. Learn how Beth Shalom plans to save money and help the environment by adopting modern energy efficient practices, which would also work in a home. There is no charge. Visit bethshalompgh. org/events-upcoming for more information.

STORIES COME TO life HERE. Connect with Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

In your mailbox or all the time online at 5915 Beacon Street, 5th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  


JULY 13, 2018 7

Headlines Former PA governor announces Parkinson’s diagnosis; Jewish research subjects sought — NATIONAL — By Liz Spikol | Special to the Chronicle


d Rendell was Pennsylvania’s sitting governor in 2010 when he made national news by declaring the country “a nation of wusses.” Philadelphia’s former mayor and onetime DNC chair made the remark in response to the NFL’s decision to cancel an EaglesVikings matchup due to a weather forecast calling for snow. “If this was in China, do you think the Chinese would have called off the game?” an apoplectic Rendell said. The game’s cancellation, he added, was just another sign of the “wussification of America.” Two years later his viral rant turned into a book, “A Nation of Wusses: How America’s Leaders Lost the Guts to Make Us Great,” in which he wrote: “We must regain that American spirit, that boldness and courage, that willingness to take on challenges no matter how hard or how great the risk.” These days, Rendell, 74, seems to be taking his own advice. Two weeks ago, he held a press conference to announce he has Parkinson’s disease. “I was stunned,” he said of the diagnosis, which he received three and half years ago. “Like all of us, I thought I was indestructible.”

Parkinson’s disease, which was once marked by dour prognostications. “There really is a lot of reason for optimism and hope,” said Vanessa Arnedo, director of research partnerships for the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research. “There are more symptomatic therapies that are coming to market. In fact, the FDA is reviewing three of those now. And there are over 20 drugs in clinical testing with the hypothesis that they could slow or stop the progression of Parkinson’s disease in its tracks. It’s exciting.” The pipeline of development for better therapies, Arnedo added, “is really as robust as it ever has been.” To keep the progress going, the foundation is looking for Ashkenazi Jews, like Rendell, to participate in its landmark observational study, the Parkinson’s Progressive Markers Initiative. PPMI started in 2010 and is the foundation’s single largest investment to date, with 22 industry sponsors and 33 clinical sites worldwide. “The goal of PPMI is to identify better markers of Parkinson’s disease progression … an objective measure of the disease, whether a diagnosis or how the disease progresses,” she said. At the moment, there is no blood test for Parkinson’s, and no way for doctors to assess whether the disease is getting worse or better. “If we were able to have better objective measures of Parkinson’s disease and how it

“ It is possible that in the future, as researchers are learning more about the underlying disease and what the genetic factors and variants mean, we may actually identify that more of these cases are due to a genetic factor

than is currently known today.


Rendell was reluctant, initially, to speak out about the diagnosis. But he decided to come forward because he wants people to know how beneficial treatment can be. “My disease is stabilized, progression has stopped, some of the symptoms are better than they were three and a half years ago,” he said. “Ordinary folks who have these symptoms, who get in early, can get these same type of results. … Treatment is available to anybody who has a health care plan.” Rendell’s sunny outlook represents a change in the national conversation around 8 JULY 13, 2018

progresses,” she said, “that would actually help accelerate the therapeutic development of treatments that could potentially stop or slow the progression of disease.” While Parkinson’s is not considered a purely genetic disease, there is a genetic link in people of certain ethnic backgrounds. In the Ashkenazi Jewish community, a larger percentage of people who have Parkinson’s also have rare genetic mutations that are likely the cause of the disease. “The prevalence of Parkinson’s disease in general does not seem to be higher among

p Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell is seen at a doctor’s appointment in a screenshot from a video he made for Penn Medicine, where he is receiving treatment. The video is titled “Governor Ed Rendell: Living With Parkinson’s Disease.” Screenshot provided

individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent,” Arnedo explained. But the LRRK2 mutation, which is the greatest genetic indicator of Parkinson’s, is much more prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. The PPMI study is also looking at the GBA genetic mutation implicated in Gaucher disease, which has also been linked to Parkinson’s and is prevalent among Ashkenazi Jews. “When you actually know what’s causing the disease or you know why someone is at risk for Parkinson’s disease,” Arnedo said, “you really already understand a lot more about what’s underlying the biology of the disease. That’s the reason to want to study individuals who have the genetic mutations. Since we know that individuals of Ashkenazi Jewish descent are much more likely to carry the rare genetic mutations, it makes sense that that would be a community that we would want to encourage to get involved in this research.” Adrienne Berger, a Pennsylvanian active in promoting the arts, is a PPMI study participant. She was inspired to get involved after she saw how the disease affected both her late father and her brother, but when she learned the study required her to find out if she had specific genetic mutations, she got nervous. “I really was hesitant because I prefer not to know,” she said. When she asked the researchers if she could choose not to be informed whether she had the mutations, they said no, as that information would determine her ongoing participation. “I decided I really wanted to advance the cause, so I was willing to risk the discomfort,” she said. “It was just a cheek swab that I had to send in and I had to answer some questionnaires. … It didn’t demand that much of me. So how could I not do it?” It turned out that Berger did not have the mutations, which she was happy to know, given her family history. “It was a big relief to hear I didn’t have it, but the researcher explained that you could still get it when you don’t have them and you don’t have to get it when you do have them.” For a layperson, it can be hard to understand the connection between the mutations, the disease and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, which is why headlines like “Are Jews at


Risk For Parkinson’s Disease?” and “Is Parkinson’s a Jewish genetic disease?” appear in Jewish publications. The subject is further complicated by recent research that suggests links between Crohn’s and Parkinson’s in the Jewish population — again, through the LRRK2 mutation. But for now, Jewish genetic disease testing centers do not screen for LRRK2. “Our program is focused on reproductive carrier screening,” said Karen Arnovitz Grinzai, executive director of JScreen. “Gaucher disease (GBA) is on our carrier screening panel, but we do not test for LRRK2 mutations.” Dor Yeshorim does not test for it either, and it is not included in any list of Jewish genetic diseases. But people concerned about the LRRK2 mutation can find out if they have it through non-reproductive genetic testing services, such as 23andMe, which is how Sergey Brin, the Jewish co-founder of Google whose mother has Parkinson’s, learned that he carried the mutation. Or people can join the PPMI research study and find out that way, as Berger did. In time, such participation will likely lead to a clearer picture of how this all intersects. “It is possible that in the future,” said Arnedo, “as researchers are learning more about the underlying disease and what the genetic factors and variants mean, we may actually identify that more of these cases are due to a genetic factor than is currently known today.” Meanwhile, progress is being made, Rendell noted. “It’s not a death sentence,” he said. “It doesn’t have to affect the quality of your life. I was out of Philadelphia 15 days of 31. That’s not a sign of someone afflicted with disease. That’s someone who has a disease but is coping with it because of treatment, because of therapy. “It turns out that I wasn’t indestructible; none of us are,” he concluded. “But it turned out that I could be helped. All of us can be.” To get involved in the PPMI study, visit for more information.  PJC Liz Spikol writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.


Headlines An Israeli wrestler calls himself ‘The Chutzpah,’ and Europe loves to hate him — WORLD — By Cnaan Liphshiz | JTA


ike many Israelis visiting Europe, Lior Brooks is keenly aware of his compatriots’ reputation abroad for rudeness. The boorish stereotype is so well known that it has its own term there — “the ugly Israeli� — and has been the subject of many an awareness-raising campaign. There’s even an entire nonprofit, Good Will Ambassadors, devoted solely to educating Israelis to behave better abroad. But Brooks isn’t part of that effort. A professional wrestler who tours Europe regularly, he has taken the “ugly Israeli� to new levels, building around it an entire persona called “The Chutzpah.� The characteristics of The Chutzpah “are pretty straightforward,� the 28-year-old told the Israel Broadcasting Corp. on a recent interview. “An Israeli who doesn’t give a f--k, an a--hole who’d do anything to win. A classic villain.� Wearing his white-and-blue spandex costume emblazoned with a star of David, Brooks likes to deliver short, insulting introductions before his matches.

p Lior Brooks, left, during a match in Greece in 2017.

“All my life I didn’t understand why my grandfather left Prague to [go to] Israel,� he said at a recent match in the Czech Republic. “But now that I’m here, I can fully understand why he did that move: Your country stinks! Your president is corrupt, he’s a drunk!� he hollered as the audience booed, many of them smiling. “Everybody here tonight can kiss my ass!�

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During the choreographed fight — a match that involves real blows, enormous exertion and plenty of theatrics — Brooks delivers what he calls a “krav maga kick� to his Hungarian adversary’s groin. As the rival lies on the mat feigning unconsciousness, Brooks ceremoniously puts on a kippah and shouts out in Hebrew: “Blessed

are You, Lord our God, king of the universe, amen!� as he lands his so-called “chosen people elbow blow� on the prostrate athlete. The crowd chants “f--k you Lior� as Brooks flips them the finger. “I was looking for the boos,� Brooks, a 6-foot-1-inch 220-pound redhead, told the Israeli film crew in Prague in January, as he was squeezing sweat out of his ponytail. “I’m not here to be a crowd-pleaser.� Soft spoken, polite and eloquent in English and Hebrew, his real-life demeanor seems the opposite of the loud-mouthed, trash talking brute he portrays on stage. “Most fans nowadays know that professional wrestling is in fact theatrical sport and not a competitive competition, so you mainly work on their emotion with your skills in and out of the ring,� Brooks said. “I guess it’s sort of like a stand-up comedy or a movie, just that you wear tights and your stage is the ring,� he added. But ultimately, it “is all about putting smiles on people’s faces.� Brooks, a video editor and personal trainer from Netanya, is currently pursuing a stand-up comedy career. He is a popular performer among wrestling promoters in Europe. They book him for matches on a Please see Wrestler, page 17

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JULY 13, 2018 9

Headlines — WORLD — From JTA reports

South Africa will not reinstate ambassador to Israel South Africa will not reinstate its ambassador to Israel, despite pressure from Jewish groups in the country. In May, South Africa recalled its ambassador, Sisa Ngombane, “until further notice� after Israeli troops killed more than 50 Palestinian protesters and wounded hundreds during protests at the Israel-Gaza border, part of the so-called Great March of Return that has been ongoing since mid-March. The violence reached a peak on May 14 with the dedication of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem. “I’m very glad that I recalled the ambassador because we could have not been in the situation that we are at now,� International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu told the local media last week during a briefing in Pretoria, SABC news reported. “It’s been a violation that has been going on for a long time, and we can’t be looking away. We are holding back on our ambassador until we are certain that we are making headway. For us this is an unacceptable situation, completely unacceptable.� Ngombane has served as ambassador to Israel since early 2013. The ruling African National Congress

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party recently called for the downgrading of the South African Embassy in Israel, which is located in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan, due to what it said was the “lack of commitment from Israel on Palestine.�

Thousands of acres of farming land and natural forest have been consumed in the flames sparked by the flying firebombs. At least 17 fires were sparked on Sunday alone from the kites and balloons.

Israel to close main crossing with Gaza over flying firebombs

Muslim Democratic congressional candidate calls Israel ‘apartheid regime’

Israel will close the main crossing between Israel and Gaza in response to repeated arson attacks from incendiary kites and balloons coming from the coastal strip. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the decision announced Monday to close the Kerem Shalom crossing was taken in agreement with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman. Kerem Shalom is the only crossing for commercial goods and the main crossing for humanitarian aid between Israel and Gaza. On Monday, Netanyahu called the closing “a significant step.� “There will be additional steps,� he told the Knesset. “I will not go into details.� Humanitarian aid, especially food and medicine, would still be allowed into Gaza through the crossing, but will require special permission. Palestinian protesters and rioters have been gathering at the border with Israel since mid-March as part of the so-called March of Return. The use of incendiary objects as a tactic began with the border protests.

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A Somali-American congressional candidate running for the Democratic nomination in Minnesota called Israel “the apartheid Israeli regime.� Ilhan Omar’s tweet came in response to accusations that a tweet she wrote in 2012, accusing Israel of “evil doings,� amounts to anti-Semitism. In an interview with ABC News for a segment titled “Progressive Democrats increasingly criticize Israel, and could reap political rewards,� Omar rejected accusations of anti-Semitism by conservative critics. “These accusations are without merit,� the Minnesota state representative said. “They are rooted in bigotry toward a belief about what Muslims are stereotyped to believe.� Earlier she had tweeted a response to a critic who had accused her of antiSemitism: “Drawing attention to the apartheid Israeli regime is far from hating Jews. You are a hateful sad man, I pray to Allah you get the help you need and find happiness.� She added, sarcastically: “Well you

know, if a Muslim says something negative about Israeli government, they must hate Jews. Didn’t you get that memo.� Minnesota’s primary election is Aug. 14. Omar, who is among several Muslim women in the U.S. running for Congress, wrote in a tweet in November 2012 that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel. #Gaza #Palestine #Israel� The tweet came two days after the Israeli army began an operation in Gaza triggered by the launching of 100 rockets at Israel from the strip over a 24-hour period. Omar has neither apologized for nor retracted the tweet. She is running to succeed Democratic Rep. Keith Ellison, who was the first Muslim elected to the Congress. Ellison is running for attorney general in Minnesota and is not seeking re-election. Omar has received some pushback on social media in recent weeks. A tweet from a Twitter user with the handle @shabbosgoy called her a “proud Jew hater� after she made a brief appearance in the music video of the pop group Maroon 5’s song “Girls Like You.� The ABC News segment noted the recent upset primary victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York, calling her one of several progressives whose willingness to criticize Israel’s actions have paid off politically.  PJC

This week in Israeli history July 16, 1927 — Israeli philanthropist Stef Wertheimer is born in Germany

— WORLD — Items provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.

July 13, 1978 — Egyptian President Sadat says agreement with Israel urgently needed

Six months after his historic visit to Jerusalem, Egyptian President Anwar Sadat invites Israel’s Foreign Minister Ezer Weizmann to meet with him in Salzburg, Austria.

July 14, 1555 — Pope Paul IV orders Jews of Rome into a ghetto

Pope Paul IV issues the papal decree Cum Nimis Absurdum, which subjects Jews under his dominion to a myriad of restrictions and humiliations, most notably forcing them to live in ghettos.

July 15, 1908 — American Jewish leader Max Fisher is born in Pittsburgh

Max Fisher is born in Pittsburgh to Russian Jewish immigrants. He dedicates much of his life to the Jewish state, raising hundreds of millions of dollars through his career as a leader in nearly every Jewish organization in North America.


Born in Kippenheim, Germany, in 1926, Stef Wertheimer immigrates to Mandatory Palestine in 1937. A philanthropist and ardent peace activist, Wertheimer has dedicated more than $100 million of his own money to build industrial parks in the Galilee.

July 17, 1895 — Nobel prize-winning author Shmuel Yosef Agnon is born Born in 1888 in Buczacz, Galicia (later part of Ukraine), Shmuel Agnon is the first Israeli to win a Nobel Prize and remains the only Hebrew writer to receive this award in literature.

July 18, 1290 — Jews expelled from England

Following decades of exploitation and persecution that included heavy taxation and attempts at forced conversion, King Edward I of England issues an expulsion order for the Jews of England.

July 19, 1940 — Zionist leader Max Bodenheimer passes away

A close associate of Theodore Herzl, Max Bodenheimer is the first president of the Zionist Federation of Germany and is a leader in the establishment of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). He dies in Jerusalem.  PJC


Headlines Does Netanyahu welcoming authoritarians make Israel safer? and that Israel is on the wrong side of a history that has usually worked against the interests and well-being of the world’s Jews. “[It’s] amazing that anti-Semite Viktor Orbán is going to visit Israel on the Prime Minister’s invitation, but @ArielElyseGold has been deported with a valid visa,” tweeted the Forward’s Batya Ungar-Sargon, referencing Israel’s deportation last week of Ariel

“While Israel’s unique security and other requirements understandably impel it to develop as wide a network of relationships as it can,” he said, “I think it will want to avoid finding its own democratic identity tarnished by, of its own choosing, aligning less with the club of democracies and more with this very different coalition.” Chemi Shalev, a correspondent for the

Schanzer notes the Jewish state’s history of forming self-interested relations with unpalatable regimes. By Charles Dunst | JTA “The outreach to the African nations is a good example of how none of this is new,” he t has become a staple of his stump said. “In the early years after the founding of speeches to audiences in Israel and the state, Israeli diplomats labored to reach abroad: Far from being isolated politout to the African states. Israel took Africa ically, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin for granted. Now Netanyahu has rekindled Netanyahu argues, Israel is some of those relationships. forming new and stronger So, no, I don’t think this is alliances with a host of counNetanyahu-specific.” tries around the world. Tsilla Hershco, a senior In recent years, Netanyahu research associate at Bar-Ilan has either visited or hosted University’s Begin-Sadat President Vladimir Putin Center for Strategic Studies, of Russia, Prime Minister says Netanyahu’s critics are Viktor Orbán of Hungary setting up a false choice and President Ilham Aliyev between authoritarian and of Azerbaijan, among democratic regimes. others. Netanyahu plans “Netanyahu is pursuing to host Orbán in July and legitimate objectives of Filipino strongman Rodrigo expanding support in Europe Duterte in September. and elsewhere for IsraNetanyahu touts the el’s position on vital secusupport for Israel from these rity issues,” Hershco said. leaders in international “Despite obvious disagreeforums. But critics say he is ments relating to the Israecozying up to authoritarian li-Palestinian conflict, governments and turning Netanyahu’s recent tour to a blind eye to some efforts Germany, Britain and particby their regimes at Holoularly to France reflects the caust revisionism and antiimportance he attaches to Semitic dog whistling. their positions toward Israel’s That criticism is being security concerns.” heard again as the Foreign Elliot Abrams, senior Ministry of Israel confirmed fellow for Middle Eastern this week that Netanyahu p Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban hold a joint studies at the Council on will host Orban from July news conference at the Parliament building in Budapest, Hungary, in 2017. Foreign Relations, pushed Photo by Haim Zach/Israeli Government Press Office back against the insinuation 18 to 20. Numerous Israeli lawmakers have urged Netanyahu not Gold, an American activist with the boycott, Israeli daily Haaretz, has been particularly that Netanyahu is pursuing an authoritarian to do so, citing among other reasons the divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement pointed in his criticism of Netanyahu. charm offensive — intentionally and specifright-wing Hungarian leader’s campaign who is also the national co-director of Code He acknowledges that the European Union ically courting authoritarians in the pursuit against the Hungarian-American philan- Pink. “What a tragic state of affairs.” is often critical of Israel, and that part of of a new sphere of alliances. Instead, Abrams thropist George Soros that many considered Daniel Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Netanyahu’s motivation in courting Hungary suggested, Israel is intent on — and increasobliquely anti-Semitic. Israel from 2011 to 2017, largely rebuked and Poland is to counter that tendency. And ingly successful in — cultivating allies where Tamara Cofman Wittes of the Brookings Netanyahu’s decision-making. Shapiro said Netanyahu’s affinity for Trump has paid it can, even among unsavory regimes. Institution criticized the upcoming visits on rolling out the red carpet for authoritarians off for him with the revocation of the Iran “Israel remains isolated by many of its Twitter, writing that the Israeli government is an ill-advised attempt to adapt to a diplo- nuclear deal and the relocation of the U.S. neighbors in the Middle East and is the is “hosting Orbán and now maybe Duterte? matic reality promoted by President Donald Embassy to Jerusalem. subject of endless attacks in every U.N. Sad company to keep.” Trump in which relations with Russia, China But Shalev suggests that Netanyahu’s rela- agency. Moreover, it is the target of a Netanyahu’s defenders say he is willing to and Hungary are prized, while those with tionship with Orbán is more than tactical. well-financed BDS movement, especially extend diplomatic overtures to both democ- Germany, the United Kingdom and France “Both strive for ethnocentric illiberalism. in Europe,” Abrams said. “It has been the racies and authoritarian regimes in what are diminished. Both share a disdain for liberal values, goal of every Israeli government to break he sees as a necessary pursuit to ensure the “Israel has long, and justifiably, consid- especially those admired and cultivated the isolation, and Netanyahu has had more state’s survival. ered itself part of the club of democracies, by the vast majority of American Jews. success than any predecessor.” “Israel often has no choice but to maintain as an expression of its self-identification as Both agitate against immigrants. Both are Abrams lauded Netanyahu’s ability to ties with unsavory or authoritarian regimes,” a Jewish and democratic state,” Shapiro said. sworn enemies of the free press. Both feel manage simultaneous relationships with the Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president at the “Today, as a wave of illiberalism challenges an affinity with Russian strongman Vlad- United States and Russia, as well as China Foundation for Defense of Democracies, said. the democratic world — from America imir Putin and both have tied their coun- and India, the latter of which he dubs “the “As a country that has found itself isolated to Europe to Israel itself — there may be try’s fates to Donald Trump,” he wrote. world’s most populous democracy,” although by its neighbors and sometimes shunned by temptations in aligning with those who “Needless to say, Netanyahu has pointedly writers in Foreign Affairs, The New Yorker Western Europe, Israel has been forced to try seem to be on the rise: Trump, Putin, Orbán refrained from criticizing Trump for any and The Economist have criticized Indian and find friends in unlikely places.” [and] Duterte. of his questionable statements on racists Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent “This outreach [to unsavory regimes],” “Trump’s own distancing from democratic and Jews, including his post-Charlottes- “authoritarian streak.” Schanzer clarified, “should not be conflated allies and expressed sympathy for autocrats ville equation of neo-Nazis with anti-racist “In my view, Netanyahu’s successful effort with the alliance that it shares with the undoubtedly encourage this trend.” demonstrators.” to improve Israel’s global ties should not be United States that is based on values.” Dismissing claims of Israeli necessity, Schanzer disputes such insinuations, criticized as an ‘authoritarian charm offenCritics of the outreach say it is coming at Shapiro said that Netanyahu should resist heard often on the Israeli left, that Netanyahu sive,’” Abrams said. a time of resurgent right-wing nationalism, following Trump’s lead. feels a personal affinity for far-right regimes. “Yes, Orban visits, but so does Modi.”  PJC





JULY 13, 2018 11

Opinion Giving ammunition to BDS — EDITORIAL —


fter being turned away from BenGurion airport by authorities and put on a plane back to the United States, Ariel Gold, a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel, mused on Israel’s i24 News that she might consider making aliyah in order to be able to enter the country. Under Israel’s Law of Return, Gold, who happens to be co-director of the left-wing group Code Pink, would be eligible for citizenship by virtue of being Jewish. As a media-savvy and strident proponent of Palestinian rights and opponent of Israel’s presence in the West Bank — accusing Israel of apartheid and calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “war criminal” — Gold is trying to make the most of Israel’s blacklist of 20 pro-BDS groups. Six are U.S. groups: In addition to Code Pink, there’s Jewish Voice for Peace, American Friends Service Committee, American Muslims for Palestine, National Students for Justice in Palestine and the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights. Her denial by Israel provided her with fodder for a stream of critical posts on social media.

p Code Pink national co-director Ariel Gold was denied entry into Israel on July 2 for her group’s ties to the BDS movement. Photo courtesy of Facebook.

Gold’s public outcry over her removal from Israel is in lockstep with the patent hypocrisy of other BDS proponents: working to silence those who would defend the Jewish state while protesting when their own voices are silenced. Gold’s idea of making aliyah is likely a rhetorical ploy, but her personal story puts her squarely in the Jewish communal tent. Gold is a mother of two and a member of

a Reform congregation in Ithaca, N.Y. Her children have been bar and bat mitzvahed and have attended Reform movement summer camps. Last summer, her son toured Israel with the NFTY youth group. Gold was in Israel last summer, as well. When she left, she was told to get a visa if she wanted to return. She flew to Israel last month, having obtained a visa from the

Israeli consulate in New York. That’s when she was denied entry. “We prevented Ariel Gold, an extreme boycott activist, from entering the country,” Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan tweeted. “Our policy is clear: Those who campaign towards boycotting Israel and come here in order to cause harm — won’t be allowed to enter the country. The rules have changed, and Israel will not show restraint towards those who try to hurt it.” We oppose the BDS movement, as do all but a thin slice of the organized Jewish community. But we also question the efficacy of Israel’s BDS blacklist. While Israel certainly has the right to do whatever she deems appropriate to protect the security of her citizens, announcing such a blacklist has backfired in its public relations war. And there is a difference between boycotts and hostile rhetoric on the one hand, and missiles, tanks and violent, life threatening attacks, on the other. Wars of words, contrarian thinking and debate are nothing new to a robust democracy like Israel. In denying Gold entry, the Israeli government stumbled into a trap of its own making, giving Gold ammunition for her objectionable criticism.  PJC

Remembering Claude Lanzmann Guest Columnist Gerard Leval


ith the death of Claude Lanzmann, France and the world have lost an eloquent spokesman for the angst and pain of the 20th century. Lanzmann, who created and is best known for the monumental film “Shoah,” a documentary about the Holocaust, bore witness to the complexity of one of the most violent and turbulent epochs in modern human history. Lanzmann was a professional philosopher. He was a thinker of great thoughts who moved in circles filled with such personalities. As a young man, he could be found among the post-World War II existentialists of Paris’ Left Bank. As he grew older, he became a student of the horrors that had befallen France and his Jewish brethren during his lifetime. When the history of the Holocaust began to emerge and the witnesses, both victims and perpetrators, became more inclined to speak about their experiences, Lanzmann plunged into the daunting task of documenting their stories. He recorded hundreds of hours of interviews and ultimately pieced together a brilliant documentary of nine and one-half hours that stands as a very definitive retelling of the essence of the Holocaust. During the course of his more than 90 years, Lanzmann made a number of films, 12 JULY 13, 2018

notably about the Holocaust and Israel, and he wrote many articles and a number of books on diverse topics, each with a serious philosophical bent. He joined the ranks of France’s great contemporary thinkers — individuals who spend their time weaving profound thoughts heavily focused on their society and their ruminations about the ebb and flow of history. Interestingly, a very large proportion of those philosophers are Jews. Lanzmann fit very nicely into that group. He did more than that. In many ways, Lanzmann was a symbol of the post-World War II Parisian world, an active participant in that world and an eloquent witness to an era that has evolved out of existence. His proximity to some of the greatest personalities of that time was second to none. For seven years, he even shared a mistress with the greatest philosopher of that era, Jean-Paul Sartre.

I had occasion to meet and engage with Lanzmann a number of years ago. In my role as a lawyer, it was my task to negotiate a commercial agreement with him. On several occasions I went to his apartment on Rue Boulard in Paris’ Montparnasse neighborhood. It was a small apartment, sparsely furnished, but, as would be expected for a philosopher, filled from floor to ceiling with books, with magazines and newspapers scattered about, and with an abundance of memorabilia of Lanzmann’s encounters with the leaders of our time. Most of all, it was filled with his powerful personality and intellect. During a couple of my meetings with Lanzmann, we sat together in this environment and talked and negotiated, or more accurately, I sat and listened to him, while he reminisced and gave me instructions.

He belonged to that small and special group of brilliant individuals who give their lives over to thought and contemplation and who contribute to helping us understand who we are, where we have been and where we may be going. PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE

It was, of course, rather overwhelming to find myself sitting with one of the great philosophers of the time, in his residence. Nonetheless, we carried on our somewhat mundane business and ultimately concluded our transaction. Lanzmann was more interested in the philosophy of the transaction we were negotiating than in its details. In fact, he seemed rather indifferent to the commercial aspects, noting that, as a prominent thinker, he was not really subject to the rules that applied to mere ordinary mortals. It was not easy to engage in negotiations with someone who seemed so disinterested in the customary rules of day-to-day business and who was even disdainful of them. Ultimately, when our matter was resolved, I came to recognize that, indeed, Lanzmann operated under a different standard from those of us who toil in less elevated spheres than professional thinkers. He belonged to that small and special group of brilliant individuals who give their lives over to thought and contemplation and who contribute to helping us understand who we are, where we have been and where we may be going. Claude Lanzmann rendered an immense service to the cause of Holocaust remembrance. His personal thoughts and foibles are mere background. It is for his extraordinary work for the preservation of history and for its accurate and comprehensive retelling that Lanzmann will be remembered and honored, as he very much should be.  PJC Gerard Leval is a partner in a Washington, D.C., law firm. He writes and lectures on topics of French and Jewish interest.


Opinion An open letter to the participants who left their Birthright trip Guest Columnist Liel Asulin

In spite of my frustration with the absurdity of this incident,

Editor’s note: Last week, several members of a Birthright Israel trip protested their itinerary for not including a visit with Palestinians by leaving the trip and joining up with Breaking the Silence. ’m conflicted. On the one hand, I am hesitant to engage with you because a response would give your rhetoric a degree of legitimacy. On the other hand, your rhetoric is so presumptive and your intentions for participating on this trip are so disingenuous that I feel compelled to speak out. Ironically, the guiding principle that has ultimately led me to pen a response is Hillel’s famous adage in Pirkei Avot: If not now, when? I am sure you are familiar with it. After reading your tweets and Facebook posts, a few things stood out to me that I feel we need to discuss. The first is the purpose of Birthright. Taglit-Birthright has never purported to be the forum for young Jews to engage in-depth with the Israeli-Arab conflict. One glance at the Birthright Israel website should be enough to understand that. Instead, Birthright was born out of a sentiment that you yourselves expressed — that Jews no longer feel connected to their Judaism. The goal of the program was, in part, to succeed where Jewish communal institutions in the United States had failed, and to provide young Jews some kind of connection to their heritage, their spiritual identities and their

I still welcome and accept you as part of my Jewish community,


as it is written, “Love your fellow as yourself.” Jewish community. To be sure, the institution’s work is also motivated by a desire to give participants a connection to Israel, but connection does not mean an unwavering support of the Israeli government. It means that you begin to form a relationship with the land and with the people. So they took you to Jerusalem to see how religious Jews pray and to Tel Aviv to show you how secular Jews party. They took you to the desert to see how Jewish pioneers feed a country and to Safed to see how Jewish artists create mystical works. They do not do this because of an ethnocentric supremacist ideology they want to force on you. They do it to show you that for the first time in 2,000 years, Jews of all varieties are free to be what they want to be in the land of their genesis. It’s a celebration of the good for a group of 40 participants who may have never seen the good of being Jewish in their lives. But you knew that, and still, you went in

An editorial and a letter to the editor, which both supported the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court upholding the Trump administration’s travel ban, don’t even rise to the level of being specious (“A narrow, important ruling,” “‘Muslim ban’ might not go far enough,” July 6). The letter asserts that the view expressed by the representative of pirates in 1786 is the same as that of all Muslims today. And the editorial argues that the narrow majority of the court was correct in saying the president could ban Muslims because “the commanderin-chief is responsible for protecting U.S. borders.” First of all, there is no serious scholar of international relations, terrorism or national security who thinks banning Muslims will enhance U.S. security. Second, the president, along with a host of other officials and military officers, takes an oath to support and defend the Constitution, and not to protect every American from every threat. More people in this country die every day from opioid overdoses than have been killed by international terrorists since 9/11, so what is the president doing about that? Third, is presidential power to be wielded on the basis of whatever whim or electoral strategy dictates from one day to the next without restraint? Here’s a little thought experiment for you. Take the Supreme Court’s majority opinion and every time the word Muslim appears, replace it with “Jew.” Now tell me you still support no limits on the power of the commander-in-chief if he offers an obviously false excuse for exercising it. Dennis Jett Squirrel Hill


Liel Asulin works for CAMERA on Campus. This article was distributed by

Degas a great artist but horrible man

— LETTERS — Banning Muslims will not enhance security

order to promote the agenda of an organization whose narrative you seem to have accepted without question. If you wanted to participate on a trip to Israel that allowed you to meet with Palestinians and Israelis, and engage with the conflict on a deeper level, I know of at least five organizations that offer such trips. Finding them is as simple as Googling “Israel-Palestine educational trips.” But again, you chose to feign ignorance for 10 full days, take advantage of the free trip provided by those “far-right Jewish billionaires” you fear so much and tweet IfNotNow talking points as though they were your own. Moreover, your one-to-one equation of a social justice ethos with Jewish values is deeply troubling, especially considering that at multiple points in your magnum opus you express clearly that you have never felt particularly close to your Jewish identity. How can you simultaneously be distant from

your community and its values, and speak with authority on what the community’s values are and what they are not? What is most disappointing is that, for all your talk of wanting to critically engage with a complex issue, the path you have chosen — disparaging an organization, disrupting the experience of 35 other participants, being dishonest about your reason for taking part in the trip — was the least critical, most predictable path you could have taken. Solving complex issues requires patience and critical examination of the individuals and ideas that created the problem. There are scholars, politicians, lawyers and activists who have devoted their entire lives to trying to make sense of the conflict and improve the lives of both Israelis and Palestinians dealing with its consequences. It would be embarrassing to say you made your minds up after 10 days. How upsetting it is to see that you made your minds up before you even set foot on the plane to Israel. In spite of my frustration with the absurdity of this incident, I still welcome and accept you as part of my Jewish community, as it is written, “Love your fellow as yourself.” I also recognize my own limitations as a student of this conflict. As members of a shared Jewish community, I invite you to join me in studying the history, learning from diverse texts and sharing our insights with one another. I believe this is how we make progress and how we in the American Jewish community can positively contribute to building a better world.  PJC

I like art and don’t concern myself with an artist’s biography (“Uncovering Jewish stories at the ‘Van Gogh, Monet, Degas’ exhibition,” June 22). That said, it should be pointed out that Degas was an outspoken anti-Semite — before, during and after the Dreyfus affair. He publicly broke off relations with former Jewish friends and fellow artists, and wouldn’t use Jewish models. His painting, “Portraits at the Stock Exchange” is regarded as an anti-Semitic caricature. He was an anti-Semite till the day he died. Degas could be cruel, and was considered, in his time, a misanthropic bachelor, a reputation he quite enjoyed. His art is brilliant. One doesn’t have to like the artist as a person to love his or her art. Robert H. Swedarsky Squirrel Hill

Legislation focuses on the children

I am dismayed by the article accusing U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-District 14) of co-sponsoring a bill that would defund military aid to Israel (“U.S. Rep. Mike Doyle co-sponsors bill that would limit defense funding to Israel,” June 19). H.R. 4391, the Promoting Human Rights by Ending Israeli Military Detention of Palestinian Children Act, is a human rights bill trying to constrain mistreatment of Palestinian children by the Israeli government. If there are human rights violations on the Hamas side, it is really not relevant; Hamas does not get U.S. aid. The act proposes to prevent U.S. tax dollars being spent to promote human rights violations. Your article lists many organizations that support this bill. They are organizations that care about human rights, regardless of where they are violated. If they also support the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, it is not relevant and does not mean that they care any less about the welfare of children. As a Holocaust survivor, I feel very strongly about human rights and am surprised that your paper does not share my views. Edith Bell Pittsburgh


JULY 13, 2018 13

Life & Culture Hoisin chicken lettuce wraps — FOOD — By Keri White | Special to the Chronicle


ulled chicken is one of my go-to dishes for a crowd. It is economical, tender, versatile, popular among kids and adults alike, and requires minimal effort. It also can be done ahead of time and freezes well. Having recently served both the traditional barbecue version and Mexican pulled chicken, I was ready for some variety. I also wanted to lighten it up a bit; the chunky rolls associated with the Southern sandwiches tend to make me chunky, and the Mexican version with the tortillas, cheese, guacamole, chips, well, you see my dilemma. Lettuce wraps and Asian spices beckoned me, and I heeded their call. Hoisin sauce has a distinct sweetness to it, so it generally appeals to kids. If you want to kick this dish up a notch, you can add chili oil, crushed red pepper or any other spice that tempts you.

Hoisin Chicken Lettuce Wraps Serves 10

I served t h is w it h zucchini slaw. Zucchini is coming into season now, so it is fresh and local, not to mention relatively inexpensive. The slaw can be piled on top of the chicken wrap or served as a side dish. It keeps for several days, so feel free to double 14JULY 13, 2018

5 pounds boneless chicken 2 tablespoons vegetable oil ½ cup chicken stock 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2-inch piece ginger, grated 2 tablespoons chopped garlic ¼ cup soy sauce ¼ cup hoisin sauce 1 teaspoon Sriracha (more/less depending on your desire for heat)

Place the chicken in an ovenproof pot with a lid. Cover the chicken with the remaining ingredients. Place the pot into a 275 degree oven for three hours, or longer. Baste and turn the meat over once or twice during cooking. The meat is done when it is easily pulled apart with forks.


Serve with thoroughly washed and dried strong, large lettuce leaves and cooked sticky rice. Fill the lettuce leaves like a taco. Romaine, red leaf or green leaf work well. Avoid butter lettuce and bibb varieties as they tend to be smaller and rather delicate. Sticky rice, also known as glutinous rice, is a short-grain rice indigenous to Southeast Asia. It tends to clump together and, for that reason, works well with the lettuce wraps since it is less likely to fall out and fall apart. If you are unable to find sticky rice, any rice will do. It just might be a bit messier. Zucchini Slaw Serves 10

This is best made several hours ahead to allow the flavors to meld. It can be served at room temperature or chilled. 6 cups shredded zucchini (use a Veggetti, Cuisinart or box grater) ½ cup chopped red onion ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro 1 cup grated carrots Juice of 2 limes 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 teaspoon rice vinegar Cayenne pepper to taste ½ teaspoon sugar 2 tablespoons canola oil (or other mild-flavored oil such as grapeseed or vegetable)

Place the zucchini in a colander to drain for about 30 minutes. Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. PJC Keri White writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.


Photos courtesy of / ASIFE / freeskyline

it and have it do a second shift alongside grilled meat or fish, or as a sandwich topping. A note on the chicken: I have friends who claim that braised boneless chicken is a sacrilege — that the bones and skin are where the flavor lies. They have a point, I’ll warrant, but wrestling with skin and bones to pull the meat kind of defeats the purpose of this low-maintenance dish. If you wish to use bone-in chicken, increase the weight to about eight pounds. You can also substitute water for the chicken stock since the skin and bones will provide plenty of chicken flavor. Be sure to remove all bones and skin when you pull the meat. As far as dessert goes, this meal is all about simple. Stick with the Asian profile and serve ginger snaps and mango sorbet. Or offer sliced watermelon sprinkled with lime juice and Chinese five-spice powder. Cool, summery and delicious.

Life & Culture From avocado to standard chocolate, which frozen treats taste best — FOOD — By Toby Tabachnick | Senior Staff Writer


s temperatures outside rise, so can cravings for a refreshing scoop of frozen deliciousness. Those who give in to the temptation and head to their local supermarket to buy a pint may be wise to do a bit of strategizing prior to the trip — or else plan on settling in and spending some time surveying an almost overwhelming variety of flavors, fat content and ingredients in cartons crowding the shelves of the freezer section. Hoping to narrow the selection a bit, the Chronicle staff tasted five varieties of traditional ice cream, three non-dairy frozen desserts, one gelato, one sorbet and one mochi. Granted, we were not exactly comparing apples to oranges, so to speak, but it did make for a pretty sweet afternoon. Here’s what we found.

would have been disgusting. I didn’t think the mint and the avocado went well together.” Ben & Jerry’s,

Americone Dream (kosher, dairy)

Now, you’re talking. Not only is this creamy confection — which boasts vanilla ice cream with fudge-covered cone pieces and a caramel swirl — traditionally tasty but proceeds from its sale go to the Stephen Colbert AmeriCone Dream Fund, which supports charities such as food and medical assistance for disadvantaged children.

the cashew base. I don’t think the cinnamon is overwhelming.” • “It tasted good. It tasted a lot like a snickerdoodle.” • “Inedible.” Ciao Bella Sorbeto, fat free,

Blueberry Passion Fruit (kosher, pareve)

With only 100 calories per serving, this flavorful sorbet is a dieter’s dream. The verdict was not unanimous, but several tasters described this iced treat as “refreshing.”

Photo by Jim Busis

Avocado Mint Chip (certified vegan)

Made with coconut milk, this ice pop was poised to be a crowd-pleaser amongst the Chronicle crowd, most of us being coconut fans. Uh, not so much. Six testers together could not even finish one pop, although one outlier seemed to like it. What our tasters said: • “This one is interesting. It shouldn’t work, but somehow it does. It’s really unusual and different, and you won’t think it’s just plain vanilla ice cream, that’s for sure.” • “Gross.” • “If it wasn’t cold and it wasn’t sweet, it

Mint Chocolate Chip (kosher, dairy)

Sweetened with monk fruit and erythritol, which are all-natural, zero calorie sweeteners, this ice cream is made from skim milk and has only 80 calories per serving. Its creamy texture makes it hard to distinguish from full-fat. What our tasters said: • “It’s really surprisingly good for a low-cal ice cream, and the chocolate chips have a surprisingly good flavor.” • “Tastes like full-fat mint chip ice cream.” • “I liked it; it was fine.” Graeter’s,

Green Tea Flavor (kosher, dairy)

Chill pop, frozen fruit pops,


Buckeye Blitz (kosher, dairy)

Bubbies Mochi, Premium Ice Cream Wrapped in Sweet Rice Dough,

The name “Bubbies” may conjure images of your grandma’s kitchen, but these bite-sized treats are a far cry from anything my bubbie ever made. These Hawaiian-made ice cream disks are wrapped in gluten-free rice dough and sweetened with natural ingredients. They come in a variety of flavors, including blueberry, chocolate coconut and mango. We chose to sample the green tea flavor. What our tasters said: • “I was prepared to hate it, but I would possibly try it again because I like the dough and the ice cream together. It would be better without the green tea.” • “Fabulous! A subtle, perfect combination, where the slight tartness of the green tea balances the slight sweetness of the ice cream, all enveloped by the rice.” • “Green tea has no place in ice cream.”

forced to have pareve.” • “If you’re hungry for cold oats, this is it.”

What our tasters said: • “Creamy, rich, chocolate, crunchy — pretty much everything you’d want in an ice cream.” • “I don’t like vanilla ice cream, but I liked everything else about it, especially the fudge-covered waffle cones.” • “Pretty, pretty good.”

What our tasters said: • “Intense blueberry and passionfruit flavor; it’s delicious.” • “Nice change from ice cream.” • “There was a tartness which I typically enjoy when eating sorbet.”

Klein’s “Select K,”

This rich ice cream has been made in small batches on Murray Avenue in Greenfield, by two local guys — Phil and Bill — since 2014. The Shayna is hazelnut coffee ice cream with chunks of cookie dough batter. What our tasters said: • “I really liked it. The ice cream tasted really fresh with bright flavors.” • “Creamy and rich. The cookie dough batter adds a nice twist to the deep coffee flavor.” • “I didn’t like it; I don’t like coffee.”

Chocol’e (kosher, chalav yisrael)

This “premium chocolate ice cream,” is part of a brand that is family-owned and churned in Brooklyn. If you’re looking for chalav yisrael ice cream, this may be your go-to, but not all of our tasters were impressed. What our tasters said: • “Average.” • “Chalky.” • “I thought it was delicious! It tasted like a Fudgesicle.” So Delicious, Cashewmilk non-dairy frozen dessert,

Snickerdoodle (kosher, pareve)

Filled with tiny bits of gluten-free snickerdoodle cookie dough, this cinnamon-flavored cashew-based confection drew mixed reviews from our tasters, some appreciating the bold flavors, with others finding the cinnamon a bit too strong. What our tasters said: • “This texturally resembles real ice cream. It’s nutty, and you can definitely taste


Phil and Bill’s Ice Cream,

The Shayna (kosher, chalav yisrael)

Halo Top,

Oatmeal Cookie (kosher, dairy equipment)

You can eat the whole pint of this dairy-free frozen dessert and only rack up 280 calories, but I’m not sure you’d want to. Made with coconut milk, many of Halo Top’s flavors are outstanding — such as Pancakes and Waffles — but the Oatmeal Cookie variety scored mostly a “meh” from our group. What our tasters said: • “This tastes like Play-Do smells.” • “This is acceptable only if you are


This small-batch ice cream is hand-packed by a Cincinnati-based company and seems to have a bit of a cult following. Buckeye Blitz is a tribute to Ohio’s famous buckeye candy, and the ice cream features a blend of peanut butter, cocoa, peanut butter cookie dough and bittersweet chocolate chips. What our tasters said: • “I could totally binge on this. The peanut butter is outstanding.” • “Graeter’s is great.” • “I loved it, but I have a soft spot for buckeyes.” Talenti gelato,

Sicilian Pistachio (kosher, dairy)

Talenti gelato had its roots in Argentina in the 1990s, where its creator learned his craft before bringing it back to the States. The flavor of this intense gelato is created using roasted Sicilian pistachios, and blended with pistachio butter and fresh milk, sugar and cream. This gelato fetched mixed reviews among our tasters, some of whom were more enamored with the reusable carton than the dessert itself. What our tasters said: • “It’s sublime, and unlike some of the other ice creams we tasted, it’s not ungapatchka.” • “I love the packaging, and the understated pistachio flavor is divine.” • “Not a fan, but great packaging.” A quick poll, admittedly tainted by brain freeze and a sugar rush, revealed the following results: Three of our six tasters picked the Graeter’s Buckeye Blitz as their favorite (one of those three said that the Graeter’s tied with the Ciao Bella Sorbeto); two chose the Talenti gelato; and our token dairy adverse staffer cast his ballot for the So Delicious, Cashewmilk Snickerdoodle.  PJC Toby Tabachnick can be reached at JULY 13, 2018 15

Headlines Circumcision: Continued from page 1

because they do not have the capacity to make that choice for themselves. It is improper for a Jewish parent to impose that decision on an infant because “freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. A child might not want to be that religion,” and should not be forced to undergo a body-altering procedure to satisfy the “religious desires of the parents. A child shouldn’t be subjected to that.” Jews are not the only religious group that requires circumcision of newborn male children. Islamic male circumcision is similar to the Jewish practice, and Islam is the largest religious group worldwide in which the practice is followed. In addition to religion, there are other factors that influence parents’ decisions on whether to circumcise their sons, including health benefits. “The American Academy of Pediatrics clearly states there is a benefit to doing circumcisions,” said Dr. Mark Diamond, a local pediatrician and a trained mohel. “It’s a healthier practice to do them than not to do them.” The most recent AAP statement regarding newborn circumcision was released in

2012. It concluded that “after a comprehensive review of the scientific evidence … the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks, but the benefits are not great enough to recommend universal newborn circumcision.” The policy goes on to state that “the final decision should still be left to parents to make in the context of their religious, ethical and cultural beliefs.” Although circumcision is a surgical procedure, Diamond said, “there is not a huge number of problems associated with it. But it has been shown that uncircumcised men are more likely to carry sexually transmitted diseases, and there is evidence that an uncircumcised boy is more likely to get urinary tract infections.” Medical studies also have shown that circumcision reduces the risk of HIV infection by about 60 percent. While the circumcision debate has been going on for years, Diamond said, “the medical evidence that it is beneficial to do it has been overwhelming.” If a circumcision is done properly, “it’s a very safe procedure with very limited side effects,” he said. “The risks are very small,” and any pain associated with a circumcision can be “totally eliminated” with certain local anesthetics “that are religiously acceptable.” Hartley refuted the claims that circumci-

sion is medically beneficial, saying that the studies showing those outcomes are either flawed or the statistical health advantage is too small to justify the procedure, and argued that sexual sensation is diminished in men who are circumcised. He compared the loss of penile sensation without a foreskin to “trying to read Braille with your elbow.” “We need to protect children from bodily alteration,” Hartley argued. “It’s not the parents’ penis. They don’t own the penis, and they are not allowed ethically to make bodily alterations. You don’t cut healthy body parts.” Josh Sayles, director of the Jewish Federation’s Community Relations Council, described Your Whole Baby as appearing to be “a fringe group of activists trying to persuade Jews, Muslims and anyone who will listen against the act of circumcision.” Your Whole Baby devotes an entire section on its website to Jews, suggesting alternate brit ceremonies that do not involve circumcision. “Cutting off your foreskin does not make you Jewish,” Hartley said. Another section on the organization’s website is devoted to Islam, with passages suggesting that circumcision is not prescribed by Islamic law. Wasi Mohamed, executive director of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh, said that the

Pardes: Continued from page 1

With an emphasis on community and philanthropy, Jeremy Shapira said, his parents realized that “one of the most important ways they could help the Jewish community was by making sure that people of all ages — but especially young people — could learn about their roots, and the important role that plays in helping people feel more connected to the Jewish community.” Pardes, he said, presents those opportunities in a way that resonates with his family. “The really wonderful thing about Pardes is it is totally serious about Jewish education, but it is also an extremely welcoming environment for all different kinds of people at all different levels of their own Jewish education,” the son said. “It’s for people who are serious about learning, but it isn’t intimidating to people who may not know that much yet.” The concept of Beit Karen was born on a trip to Israel shortly after his mother’s death, during which members of the Shapira family visited the places and people in the Jewish state that were meaningful to her. While visiting Pardes, its leaders introduced the idea of building Beit Karen, Jeremy Shapira said. That was 13 years ago, and it has taken more than a decade to work through Jerusalem’s zoning process, but now the building is slated to begin in the next few months, according to Ayala Young, director of communications for the Pardes Institute. “It’s definitely a moment of celebration,” said Deborah Shapira, board chair for the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, North America. “Our hope is that the building will be completed in five years.” Naming the new building for her mother 16 JULY 13, 2018

p Deborah Shapira is chair of the North American board of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies.

p The Shapira family from left to right: Daugher Laura Shapira Karet, son-inlaw David Gilinsky, son Jeremy Shapira, daughter Deborah Shapira, wife Photos courtesy of Pardes Institute Cynthia Shapira and David Shapira


billboard could be seen as an attempt to marginalize minorities. “While I’m sure that the sign was well-intentioned, it is highly inappropriate to assume that parents who circumcise their children do not love them,” Mohamed said in an email. “It is dishonest to say that this procedure is harmful and that the parents of circumcised children are guilty of child endangerment in any way. I see this as just another attempt to paint particular religions and cultures that are not mainstream as barbaric with misinformation.” Sayles said that he would classify Your Whole Baby’s work alongside that of “antikashrut and anti-halel” campaigns: to make Jews and Muslims feel uncomfortable in their own community. “The best-case scenario regarding this billboard is that it is unintentionally anti-Semitic and Islamophobic, and, if successful, will make Jews and Muslims feel less welcome,” said Sayles. But he stressed that he did not think Your Whole Baby would gain much traction in Pittsburgh. “I don’t think we have anything to worry about,” he said.  PJC Toby Tabachnick can be reached at

is a departure from her family’s typical avoidance of “naming gifts,” she said. “If my mom were alive, there is no chance this would be a naming gift. But being associated with this particular building would have made her overjoyed. To really have something physical representing her in Jerusalem would have been really meaningful to her.” The mission of Pardes was important to Karen Shapira, said her daughter, as it is a place where all Jews, regardless of their background, could come and have “a seat at the table and learn about traditional Jewish values and Jewish texts, and to learn with Jews who are different from them.” The new building will bring to Pardes a larger, “more appropriate” space in which it can effect its mission, she noted. “Pardes has really needed a new space for a long time,” and the new building will be able to accommodate more students, visiting groups, and will house an auditorium fit to host “top-level” guest speakers. “We are delighted to have broken ground on the site where Pardes’ new home, Beit Karen, will soon stand,” Rabbi Leon Morris, president of the Pardes Institute, said in an email. “In their support of Pardes, David Shapira and the entire Shapira family have invested in the future of a Jewish life anchored by rigorous and relevant study of our classic texts in ways that celebrate the diversity of the Jewish people. “We are incredibly grateful for their commitment to our mission. May this new home be a lasting tribute to Karen’s memory, and may the learning that takes place within its walls perpetuate her values for years to come.”  PJC Toby Tabachnick can be reached at


Headlines Anthrocon: Continued from page 2

Anthropomorphism, which Harris described as “a hybrid of animals with human traits or humans with animal traits,” appears “in all sorts of media” from television to literature throughout history. “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness,” an animated tale following Po the Dragon Warrior and his friends, was billed as the “top anthropomorphic animal TV series” by IMDb, a site self-described as “the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content,” and even nominated for a 2013 primetime Emmy award. Similarly, “Animal Farm,” George Orwell’s allegory, was selected by Time as one of the 100 best English-language novels published since 1923. Even as far back as the Egyptians, one can find meritorious carvings and fascinations with anthropomorphism, noted Harris. The Egyptian god Anubis is commonly depicted as a man with a jackal head or simply as a canine, and the Egyptian god Horus typically appears as a royal man with the head of a hawk or falcon. Anthropomorphism in all its manifesta-

tions is truly of interest to the thousands of “fans, writers, artists and imaginative people” who frequent Anthrocon, said the director. And while fur suiters “may be the most recognizable part of the convention, only 20 percent of Anthrocon’s attendees wear costumes,” echoed Jorgensen. The anthropomorphic adoring culture can really be divided, explained Harris. “There’s a segment of the community who tends to, for example, wear their ears and tails out in public, brings artwork and such and puts it up in their cubicles and offices or otherwise internalizes their enjoyment of the community and the social network we have here into their everyday life, and that’s mostly the external culture and such, but the internal culture is very internet-based. “There used to be multiuser groups or chat rooms where you could create environments and such of various connected chat rooms, which were themed and people could go online and create a character for themselves and basically do a chat room but act as their characters,” he added. “That developed over time into various things like Second Life and other much more technological ways of communicating with each other.” What Anthrocon represents to many

p Anthrocon has raised more than $300,000 for charities since 1997.

members of the community is an opportunity to connect in person after having met online. The real life refuge provides a venue much like a designated space would for those who gather to play certain games or for others who coalesce for shared interests, such as sports or movies, explained the director. “Attendees of all ages come to Anthrocon from as far away as Germany, Australia and Japan to attend workshops and seminars, buy and sell

Toastmasters: Continued from page 6

feel comfortable telling very personal stories [and] we also push each other,” she said. “We’re very good at telling where each person is. “When people come to a first meeting, I hope that they walk away with that this is a very welcoming group. This is a safe space,” Kaplan continued. “Then when they’re members, I hope they take away a sense of confidence.” When signing up for the program, each participant takes a survey to determine what her goal is and what the best path is for her to follow, Kaplan said. The program costs about $7.50 per month to participate, as well as a $20 new member fee. After 10 speeches, participants have completed the first round and after 40, they become a “distinguished Toastmaster.” Although the average membership lasts about one year, each participant is different, and some people start over right away after they complete their track.

Wrestler: Continued from page 9

monthly and sometimes weekly basis. That’s no small feat in a field that’s saturated with hundreds of performer-athletes, each plugging their own shtick in the hope of landing gigs. There are hundreds of wrestling leagues with varying degrees of professionalism, Brooks said. “The competition is nuts, you have hundreds upon hundreds of different wrestlers and you have to find a unique niche to find an audience,” he said. Brooks began wrestling in 2012 under a different persona, or gimmick, as they are known in the field. A former wrestler told

p Members of the Woman 2 Woman Toastmasters club evaluate a speech. Sonia McKoy, right, keeps track of the speaker’s grammar and use of “umm,” while Emily Harris, left, holds a green sign to indicate the speaker has reached the intended time limit of her speech. Photos by Lauren Rosenblatt

“There’s always more to learn and Toastmasters is the kind of place where you grow,” said Sonia McKoy, the incoming president of Woman 2 Woman. McKoy, like many people, joined after

coming to the Center for Women. In the three years that she has been participating in Toastmasters, she said the program gave her the confidence to start her own business as an image consultant for

him in 2015 that he should create an Israeli character. Initially, Brooks expected his persona to appeal to Jews. But he also ended up a favorite of sorts among non-Jewish audiences who respond to his act because it’s provocative, at times funny, unique and stereotypical. Backstage, Brooks drops his act and chats amicably with a German colleague whose stage name is Robert Kaiser and whose wrestling character is a neo-Nazi. Sharing a name with a prominent member of Adolf Hitler’s inner circle, he wears black shirts and boots while wielding a baseball bat on stage. Chuckling, Brooks suggests to Kaiser that they team up for a stage rivalry known as a feud: “The Jew boy fights the neo-Nazi.” Kaiser smiles and shrugs. Brooks asks what

makes Kaiser’s get-up neo-Nazi. “Well, it’s typical German neo-Nazi gear, called Pegida,” says Kaiser, naming the anti-immigration movement in Germany. (Its leaders deny any connection to or affinity with neo-Nazis.) Kaiser, a 35-year-old semi-professional wrestler since 2011, likes to speak about his “grandfather’s legacy” ahead of matches in countries, like the Czech Republic, that Germany occupied during World War II. He often rants on stage about “foreigners.” But off stage, he is trained by two Muslims: Ahmed Chaer and Ali Aslan — themselves professional wrestlers. As for Brooks, his persona receives the most responses in Greece, he said. “The Greek fans were the most loud



Photo by Karl “Xydexx” Jorgensen

artwork, exhibit costumes and socialize with their fellow fans,” said Harris. What people should realize is that “the community is not a closed insular click,” he added. “We are open to anybody who thinks any of this stuff might be interesting, might be cool. … We’re everybody who is interested in this.”  PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz women. “Sometimes you hear stories of what people experienced and think if they can do it, I can do it,” McKoy said of her time in the club. During her term as president, McKoy hopes to encourage women to speak as much as possible and to remember the reason they joined — so they can most effectively and efficiently complete their goals. For Tricia Nagel, 29, her goals involve not only becoming a strong public speaker and forming bonds with the women in the group, but also becoming an advocate for people with chronic illness. In her first speech, Nagel talked about her experience with Crohn’s disease, one of her first times talking about her illness in a public setting. She joined Toastmasters, she said, in order to speak for fellow sick people. “I need to give myself a voice,” she told the women, who instantly responded with applause and praise for the newest member.  PJC Lauren Rosenblatt can be reached at crowd I have encountered, and surprisingly I became a fan favorite over there,” he added. During a tournament last month in Ipswich near London, he suddenly found himself being cheered during the Pro Wrestling World Cup, before losing to a local challenger in the quarterfinals. “I guess in some parts of the United Kingdom, locals are on the Israeli side? Can’t say any fans came up to me and claimed they were Jews,” Brooks said. Back home, Brooks has a fan in his father, a professional wrestling enthusiast who introduced his son to the game. “My mom on the other hand,” Brooks said, “she doesn’t care for it but sometimes likes to watch, less for the physical side of things and more for the entertainment value.”  PJC JULY 13, 2018 17



Interim rabbi takes the Aaron offers a model of pulpit at Temple Emanuel baseless love



abbi Donald Rossoff has joined Temple Emanuel of South Hills as its interim rabbi. He follows Rabbi Mark Joel Mahler, who retired after serving the congregation for 38 years. Rossoff, who began his year-long tenure at Temple Emanuel on July 1, has served most recently as interim rabbi at Barnert Temple in Franklin Lakes, N.J. He has also held interim rabbinic positions at Temple Beth Am in Framingham, Mass., and the Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation in Evanston, Ill. Prior to his work as an interim rabbi, he served as senior rabbi of Temple B’Nai Or in Morristown, N.J., from 1990 to 2015, and is now the emeritus rabbi of that congregation. He is the author of the children’s book, “A Perfect Prayer.” “Rabbi Rossoff will serve as a bridge for

our congregation, from the strong foundation that Rabbi Mahler helped build to a future where we can continue to flourish,” said David Weisberg, president of Rabbi Donald Temple Emanuel’s board. Rossoff “I am excited to be serving in such a warm, inclusive, and Jewishly rich congregation,” Rossoff said. “I look forward to sharing the transitional journey with Rabbi [Jessica] Locketz, the leadership, staff, and Temple members as we build upon Rabbi Mahler’s great legacy and set the stage for the vibrant future which surely lies ahead for Temple Emanuel.” Rossoff will assist the congregation as it undergoes its search for a permanent rabbi. He is now living in the South Hills with his wife Fran, a registered nurse. The couple has four adult children.  PJC — Toby Tabachnick

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restaurant that

readers see on the

Rabbi Yisroel Altein Parshat Matot-Massei Numbers 30:2-36:13


n this week’s parshah, the Torah recounts the death of Aaron the High Priest, Moses’ brother. Although we just read about this a couple of weeks ago, the Torah finds it necessary to repeat the story and to add a unique detail: the date of his passing, Rosh Chodesh, the first day of Menachem Av. While our sages tell us the date of the passing of some of the other biblical figures, Aaron is the only one whose date of death the Torah states clearly. Another distinctive aspect of this recounting is the time when we read it. The events that we read about in the Torah rarely align with the time of year when they occurred. For example, we spend the winter reading the Torah portions about the exile and redemption of Egypt, but we celebrate the holiday of Passover in the spring. This week’s Torah portion, however, describing Aaron’s passing on Rosh Chodesh Menacham Av, is always read the week of or the week prior to his yahrzeit. The Mishnah in Pirkei Avot teaches, “Hillel would say: Be of the disciples of Aaron — a lover of peace, a pursuer of peace, one who loves the creatures and draws them close to Torah.” What did Aaron do to be known as a lover of and pursuer of peace? Avot D’rebi Natan describes two powerful behaviors of Aaron. When Aaron saw two people involved in a quarrel, he would say to each of them, without the knowledge of the other, “My child, your friend is berating himself with remorse because of what he did to you. He asked me to approach you to seek your forgiveness.” When the two would meet, their quarrel would disappear and they would embrace. Also, when Aaron would pass a wicked man, he would greet him warmly. The next

day, when the wicked man would want to engage in sin, he would think to himself, “Woe is to me! How will I be able to look upon Aaron tomorrow when he greets me with love?” Others would think, “If Aaron only knew the hidden things of my heart and the evil of my deeds, he would not allow himself to look at me, let alone speak to me. Yet he considers me to be a fine person — let me therefore make his words and thoughts true by changing my ways.” It is no coincidence that on Aaron’s yahrzeit we begin the “Nine Days” of mourning the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem. Our sages have famously said that the cause for the destruction of the Temple was “baseless hatred.” Perhaps the repetition of Aaron’s passing, with the exact date of his death, is a lesson for each of us. In the laws of mourning for personal loss, Maimonides writes, “One should examine his deeds and repent.” Certainly, the mourning period of the destruction of the Temple is a time to consider how we can bring about the rebuilding of the Temple. If the cause of the destruction is baseless hatred, then it would seem that the way to fix it is with baseless love. We have good reason to love and mingle with people who think the way we do, share our values, have similar personalities and agree with our views. “Baseless love” requires us to think and act differently. The next time we meet a person who has ideological, theological or political views diametrically opposed to ours, let us genuinely greet her or him warmly, extend an invitation for a Shabbat dinner and spend time together. As an extra benefit we may find that we have more in common with each other than we thought; even if not, a little “baseless love” will certainly not hurt.  PJC Rabbi Yisroel Altein is the spiritual leader of Chabad of Squirrel Hill. This column is a service of Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.

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Obituaries BLUMENFELD: Neil Blumenfeld, on Tuesday, July 3, 2018. Beloved husband of Thelma, former husband of Zahava, father of Tal (Inbal) and Rona Blumenfeld. Stepfather of Charles (Amy) Tashbook, Linda Tashbook, Judy Tashbook-Safern, and Susie Stern. Grandfather of Omer, Geffen, Eshed, Karni, David, Rachael, Noah, Sarah, Jonah, Ellie, Jacob, Caleb, and Anna. Neil’s parents were Bernhardt and Marian Blumenfeld. Neil was born and raised in Pittsburgh, working as a teenager in his father’s small grocery store in Braddock. He attended Linden School and the Valley Forge Military Academy and went on to serve in the U.S. Navy. He fell in love with Israel and with Zahava when he traveled to Kibbutz Sha’ar HaGolan for what was supposed to be a six-month visit. He married Zahava and they raised their two children on the kibbutz. In midlife, he returned to Pittsburgh and married Thelma (a.k.a. Tammy) Nathan Tashbook. At this point in his life, he was a manager at the Food Gallery grocery store. He and Tammy soon opened a knish factory called Knish & Tell, which they operated for six years. He then went to work in the front office at Carrick High School until retirement. Wherever he went, Neil made friends very easily and could be relied upon to help in any way that he was needed. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Agudath Achim Cemetery, Forest Hills. CASPER: Lillian B. Casper on Sunday, July 1, 2018. Beloved wife of Hugh M. Casper; loving mother of Sharon (Peter Croghan) Casper, Hilary (the late Yariv) Herstein and Stephanie (Paul) Goodman; grandmother of Ian Mendler, Jack and Mason Goodman; daughter of the late Dr. Henry and Mae Black; sister of the late Shiela Black. Lillian worked for over 30 years for the Allegheny Intermediate unit as a reading specialist. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Homewood Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the New Light Congregation, 5898 Wilkins Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 or Hadassah, 1824 Murray Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217.

LEHMAN: Sally Perelman Lehman, on Friday, July 6, 2018, beloved wife of Fred Lehman and the late David Perelman. Cherished mother of Arlene (Richard) Weisman, Brad (Joanne) Perelman and Gregg (Susie) Perelman. Grandmother of Scott (Robin) Weisman, Maggie (David) Shapiro, Jordan (Rebecca) Ness, Golda (Mendy) Schreiber, Malka (Gershon) Akerman, Dovid (Chavi) Perelman, Elie Perelman, Sara Perelman, Danielle Perelman, and Emma Perelman. She was also blessed with 16 great-grandchildren. As the youngest of 10 children, she was predeceased by her two sisters and seven brothers. She is also survived by Fred’s daughter Maxine (Larry) Myer and her family. Sally had a zest for life, and early talent for singing, and in her later life for business. She will be remembered for her vivacity and strength of spirit, and the passion she brought to all that life had to offer her. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment B’nai Israel Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the Jewish Community Center, 5738 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 or Sivitz Jewish Hospice, 200 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. SISKIND: Harriet L. Siskind, 69, of Media, Pa., died at her home on Friday, June 29, 2018. Born in Pittsburgh on February 12, 1949, she was the daughter of the late Herbert Speiser. Mrs. Siskind was a benefits authorizer for the Social Security Administration. She is survived by her husband, Arnold Siskind and by her mother, Yetta Blatt Speiser. Services were held in the Hunter Funeral Home, Inc. Interment followed in the New Gemilas Chesed Cemetery, White Oak, Pa.

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THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS — Sunday July 15: Matel Cooper, Rae Danovitz, Charles Goldberg, Louis Harris, Anna Levenson, Harry Levine, Nathan Lewis, Harry W. Liebman, Sol Rosenblum, Abe E. Rosenfield, Ruth Rebecca Sherman, Elizabeth Young Monday July 16: Samuel Fargotstein, Celia Flansbaum, Hilda Goldstein, David Lee Greenfield, Martin M. Kramer, Jessie W. Levenson, Ruth Grinberg Lincoff, Dorothy S. Pollock, William S. Winer Tuesday July 17: Rose Cramer, Bessie Rini Glass, Dr. Abraham D. Goldblum, Sophia Goldstein, Morris L. Kaufman, Helen S. Luptak, Gertrude Mitchel, Alvin J. Moldovan, Benjamin Olender, Eli Racusin, Harry Rapoport, Rae Rosenthal, Rose Smith, Ida Volkovitz Wednesday July 18: Harry Adler, Mollie R. Bennett, Marvin B. Bernstein, Hannah Bromberg, Ida Cantor, Robert Congress, Dorothy Crutch, Sophia Freedman, Helen Handelsman, Dora Kaufman, Sarah Kleinerman, Gizella Krause, David Levine, Anna G. Rosenthal, John Schwartz, Leonard Skirboll, Irene Weitzman Thursday July 19: Lt. Richard Stanley Ackerman, Jack Neville Berkman, Albert Edelstein, James J. Gluck, Rebecca Goisner, Leonard Klevan, Samuel Maysels, Rose Paul, Ethel R. Perer, Bernard A. Price, Molly Schwartz, Leah Shapiro, Max L. Siegle Friday July 20: Juda Birnbaum, Lillian Brody, Pauline Davis, Nathan Fishman, Lawrence M. Grossman, Helen N. Lehman, Anne Levine, Ethel Linder, Ida Mandel, Maurice L. Moritz, Bernard Murstein, Judith Ashinsky Rosen, Martha Schwortz, Jacob Sheffler, Jack Sherman, Sidney Siegman, Harold Leighton Winkler Saturday July 21: Fryma Maete Berenstein, Herbert Cohen, Beatrice Galler, Julius Hemmelstein, Irwin Levinson, Eva Corn Makler, Sophia Weinerman Sands, Eleanor J. Slinger, Harry Weisberg

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JULY 13, 2018 19

Headlines Filipino guest workers come to Israel — and decide to embrace Judaism — WORLD — By Ben Sales | JTA


EL AVIV — One of the biggest days of the year for Ronaldo and Bernadette Lopez is Christmas. They open up their Filipino restaurant in South Tel Aviv, and their friends bring their families, crowd the place and eat embutido, a rolled pork dish from their shared home country. But this year may be different because the Lopez family no longer celebrates Christmas. In April, they converted to Judaism. And as of May, they still hadn’t told their Filipino friends about the decision, which followed a year-and-a-half of study and an oral exam they had to pass. “Not yet,” Ronaldo said, laughing as he prepared chicken in their restaurant last month. “I’m keeping it as a secret for us. Until now I am still in the cloud nine. I don’t believe that I passed everything. They will be shocked. They will not believe that I already converted to Judaism.” Like many of the approximately 25,000 Filipinos working in Israel, the Lopezes came for jobs as caregivers to the elderly, arriving in 2003. But with the conversion, they have taken a major step that most of their fellow expatriates have not: While many Filipinos come to Israel for a few years to make money in a developed economy, they tend to remain culturally separate from Israelis. Many communicate with their employers in English, with a few Hebrew words mixed in. They largely retain their Catholic religion. Because Filipinos live with their clients for most of the week, they have a much smaller footprint on the everyday life of Tel Aviv than neighboring African asylum seekers, who may face racism and cultural resentment. (Relations between Israel and the Philippines are also improving. Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial Filipino president, is slated to visit later this year.) But the Lopezes have sought out connec-

p Ronaldo and Bernadette Lopez, who arrived in Israel in 2003, now run a Filipino restaurant and converted to Judaism in April. Photo by Ben Sales

tions with Israelis. They have lived here for 15 years. This is the only country their two sons, aged 9 and 13, have known. Israel’s government gave them a license to run their restaurant. And Bernadette says Israelis have been supportive of their integration. “I like the way the Israelis teach us how to be independent because we don’t have any family here,” she said. “It’s better for us to tell everything to Israelis because they’re everyone who can teach, who can tell us what is good, what is not good.” Ronaldo dismisses the idea of a return to his home country. “What will I do in the Philippines?” he asked. Speaking of the conversion, Ronaldo said the couple did it not for themselves but for their children. “What can I do? They are already comfortable here,” he said. “They don’t want to go to the Philippines.” Bernadette began selling Filipino food in a nearby park, and their restaurant license came through 11 years ago. Now they spend their days in the kitchen cooking specialties from home. The square room, with its rectangular tables lined up in rows, fills up

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on Sundays, which many Filipinos take off. The Lopezes chose the diverse, poor immigrant neighborhood of Neve Shaanan for the restaurant because many Filipinos live there. “We only came here to work, not to make anything else,” Ronaldo said. “To stay here longer, you have to be a good person here — not like you’re the owner of the country.” But while the couple are soft-spoken and polite — friendly and accommodating, for example, as an American journalist peppered them with questions in their hot, small kitchen — they grin and radiate joy as they discuss their conversion. Bernadette finds Passover and Yom Kippur particularly meaningful. Earlier this year, their son became a bar mitzvah, and they hope to obtain Israeli citizenship. “Yom Kippur, this is the day we really like because you should think what you did bad, what you didn’t do good to others,” said Bernadette, who has adopted the Hebrew name Shir-El (God’s song). She doesn’t even mind the daylong fast that accompanies the repentance. “Since it’s in your heart, in your mind that you have to do this, it’s your mitzvah,” she said. “It’s really good. You will not die in one day.” But Ronaldo has struggled with Judaism’s theological aspects. After an education in

Catholic schools and a lifetime of worshipping Jesus, it was not easy to switch to rejecting the New Testament and believing that everything he had learned was wrong. “The hardest part is how to take away what I used to do,” said Ronaldo, who took the name Aharon. In the past, he said, “I go to the church every Sunday, I pray to that. When I converted Jewish, they tell me that’s not true. … Now I understand what is the truth or not the truth. I’m in the middle, but I believe what Judaism tells us is true. I’m sure right now because I already studied for a year-and-a-half.” Bernadette, for her part, is more concerned about what will happen if their boys serve in the Israeli army for three years in the country’s mandatory draft. “When I think about it, and my friends told me their son is there, I start to cry,” she said. Some details of the Lopezes’ story were not verifiable. The Israeli Chief Rabbinate, which conducts all recognized, Orthodox conversions in the country, does not provide records of its conversions by nationality. And because study can be done with a private rabbi before the official oral exam, Chief Rabbinate spokesman Kobi Alter could not confirm the name of the teacher that the Lopezes mentioned. “Every conversion is evaluated for itself based on the couple that wants to convert,” Alter said. The Lopezes said that eventually they will tell their Filipino friends about their new religion. But they are worried about what it will do to those relationships, as their friends may not understand the choice. “Filipinos are Christians, OK?” Ronaldo said. “They will not accept us because before I was a Christian. Now we already converted to another religion. I don’t want to debate about our religion.” And in the meantime, they’re not changing the restaurant menu. (A majority of Tel Aviv’s restaurants are not certified kosher.) “Maybe someday,” he said. “Right now I’m thinking about it because my customers are all Filipino. Not everything is kosher.”  PJC


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20 JULY 13, 2018



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JULY 13, 201821

Community Squirrel Hill AARP The Squirrel Hill AARP Chapter #3354 held its annual luncheon honoring past officers and swearing in new ones. The incoming officers are Marcia Kramer, president; Marsha Stern, vice president; Hilda Golhamer, corresponding secretary; Gerry Linder, financial secretary; Andrea DiBello, recording secretary; and Marilyn Honigsberg, treasurer.

u Hilda Golhamer is pictured receiving an AARP award. Photo by Barry Werber

JFED Shalom Pittsburgh Some 30 young Jewish professionals from different career backgrounds spent the evening of June 27 networking while sipping on cider and mead at Threadbare Ciderhouse & Meadery, North Side. The evening was planned by Matthew Feinman, Jessica Budik and Meredith Wilf in partnership with Shalom Pittsburgh, a Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh program that connects young adults ages 22 to 45.

t Leah Cullen, Alex Lehman (center) and Mike Roth were attendees at the event, which was a project developed by the 2018 graduates of the Wechsler Leadership Development Institute course. The institute, a 10-month course for young adults, is funded through the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh.

Photo courtesy of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Camp Gan Shalom The 4- and 5-year-olds at Camp Gan Shalom at the Beth Shalom Early Learning Center are exploring art materials in the center’s Valinsky Art Studio. Children 3 years and older enjoy the studio on a daily basis with art specialist Julie Lewinter, who visits the children with her amazing art cart. Photos courtesy of Jennifer Slattery

22 JULY 13, 2018



Community EKC Lake Time

p At Emma Kaufmann Camp, the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s residential camp near Morgantown, W.Va., a camper enjoys floating on Cheat Lake.

p Cooling off in the EKC pool

OneTable Shabbat

Temple Sinai cooks French

Photos courtesy of Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Bryon Miller hosted a Shabbat dinner on Friday, June 29 with the support of OneTable, an organization that empowers people who don’t yet have a Shabbat dinner practice to build one that feels authentic, sustainable and valuable. The OneTable community is made up of people who are in their 20s and 30s, not in college and without children, looking to find and share this experience.

p The Women of Temple Sinai’s June cooking class featured a Frenchinspired menu created by Executive Director Drew Barkley. From left: Matthew Schwarz, Lynn Naman, Ellen Katzen, Lynn Rubenson and Susan Blackman Photo courtesy of Temple Sinai

United Synagogue Youth on Wheels t Max Rosen and Amalia Rascoe, BSUSY president, delivered cake to visiting USY teens during their stop at the Congregation Beth Shalom Youth Department. The teens came from across the United States and Canada, and will travel the country, stopping at synagogues to pray, eat and join with kehillahs. This stop was the first for the USY on Wheels bus on June 26.

p Shabbat dinner guests played games after Shabbat dinner.

p Host Bryon Miller (left) with Rachel Goffman and Ross Kressel

Photos courtesy of One Table guests


p USY teens from across the United States and Canada gathered at Congregation Beth Shalom. Photos by Marissa Tait


JULY 13, 2018 23

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24 JULY 13, 2018




Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 7/13/2018  

Digital Edition

Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 7/13/2018  

Digital Edition