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September 17, 2021 | 11 Tishrei 5782

Candlelighting 7:07 p.m. | Havdalah 8:04 p.m. | Vol. 64, No. 38 |

NOTEWORTHY LOCAL A corporate response to antisemitism

Jewish Pittsburghers ready to welcome guests to their sukkahs

American Eagle soars

Please see Federation, page 14

From Mt. Lebanon to Lollapalooza Page 4

LOCAL  Andy Reibach’s sukkah

Page 8


argaret Angel said she isn’t nervous about the pandemic when it comes to celebrating Sukkot, which she calls a “simcha of joy.” Angel, a member of Congregation Poale Zedeck, along with her husband, Shmuel, helps connect community members who build sukkahs with those who don’t — such as college students or apartment dwellers — allowing them to observe the mitzvah of eating in the temporary structure. Sukkot is a “beautiful holiday to be enjoyed outside,” she said — and people can always opt not to host guests if they are uncomfortable doing so because of COVID. Last year, as the pandemic raged and vaccines had not yet been introduced, those


Please see Sukkah, page 14

Meet Isaac Lewis

By David Rullo | Staff Writer

By David Rullo | Staff Writer

observing Sukkot were generally wary to invite guests for festive meals. “Sukkahs are enclosed much more than a typical outdoor setting,” cautioned Rabbi Dr. Aaron Glatt, chief of infectious diseases and hospital epidemiologist at Mount Sinai South Nassau on Long Island, in a message to his Orthodox community last year. At the time — October 2020 — doctors urged celebrants to follow the same precautions they were taking indoors: Wear a mask and maintain 6 feet of distance from others. This year, COVID restrictions have loosened — with masks optional in many stores, and restaurants open again for indoor dining — so many community members are more inclined to host guests in their sukkahs.


Temple David’s first rabbi, Jason Edelstein

Federation unveils new strategic plan at annual meeting new strategic plan, unveiled by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh at its annual meeting, is aimed to position the umbrella organization as a community convener and to grow its leadership role to “serve the global Jewish community and create a better Pittsburgh,” according to a statement released to the Chronicle. In prerecorded remarks during the Sept. 12 virtual meeting, Federation President & CEO Jeff Finkelstein said that after more than a century in existence, the organization needed to continue to adapt to the new realities of the 21st century. Central to the three-year strategic plan are new mission and vision statements. The new mission, to “cultivate resources, connect people and collaborate across the community to live and fulfill Jewish values,” was created by an ad hoc committee that included Jewish leaders from across the Pittsburgh area. Federation board and staff contributed to an updated vision: “A flourishing Jewish community where everyone feels included, supported and inspired.” The language of inclusion, Finkelstein said at the meeting, implies “that the only way to achieve a flourishing Jewish community is when everyone — every individual — feels supported and inspired.” To facilitate the new strategic plan, the Federation’s staff and volunteers, the various Jewish agencies it supports, and thought leaders across the Jewish community will focus on four goals, Finkelstein said. The first is to establish Federation as the leading convener of local Jewish organizations and to help drive initiatives that enable all members of the Jewish community to feel included, engaged, safe and supported. “This goal goes directly to the core, the

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Baruch dayen ha’emet


Photo by Andy Reibach

keep your eye on PittsburghJewishChronicle LOCAL

The Newcomer Crew of JFCS


Connecting with the divine


Easy, gluten-free pumpkin cake

Headlines Pittsburgh-based American Eagle Outfitters recognized for response to antisemitism — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


top Antisemitism, a nonprofit watchdog group, has recognized Pittsburgh-based American Eagles Outfitters as one of the top 25 national corporations for its response to antisemitism. In a report issued last month by the organization, American Eagle Outfitters and L’Oréal were the only corporations to receive an “A” rating. Those that received notably lower scores include Google and Unilever, which each received an “F” rating. Microsoft and Amazon each received a “D” rating and Apple and Nike each received a “C.” Stacy Siegal, American Eagle’s executive vice president and general counsel, said that a commitment to inclusivity and diversity rests at the heart of American Eagle’s operations. She noted that the corporation provides associates with opportunities to develop meaningful and educational bonds through its Network and Connection groups, such as its REAL Jewish Connection group, created to provide an opportunity for employees “to celebrate the Jewish culture through education and recognition of holiday rituals throughout the year,” according to the American Eagle website. Caren Ieraci helped establish the REAL Jewish Connection group in August 2020 so associates could share traditions. And since its founding, the group has joined together to dip apples in honey for Rosh Hashanah, spin dreidels for Hanukkah and commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Between American Eagle’s headquarters in Pittsburgh, its New York design office and San Francisco office, approximately 20 people

 Pittsburgh-based American Eagle Outfitters was recognized for its response to antisemitism.

belong to the REAL Jewish Connection group, which offers associates a way to develop an “additional sense of community,” Ieraci said. Siegal agreed, noting that not only was the REAL Jewish Connection group established to “strengthen associate connection and engagement at American Eagle,” but it’s also “influencing business decisions.” For example, Siegal said, members of American Eagle and Aerie’s (a sub-brand owned by American Eagle) product design teams asked members of the REAL Jewish Connection group to review the holiday gift guide last year to ensure the collections were both inclusive and representative of different cultures. That effort, Siegal said, “demonstrates

our core value of teamwork and just how important American Eagle’s Networks and Connections have become in contributing to our diverse culture, which provides opportunities for our associates to learn and grow.” Ieraci said she appreciates having a sense of community at work, as the REAL Jewish Connection group both allows associates to mark observances with fellow Jewish team members, and provides an avenue to introduce non-Jewish colleagues to Jewish cultural practices. Associates of all backgrounds, she said, can gain a “deeper understanding of what makes us all unique.” Such awareness is critical, Siegal said, citing American Eagle’s various inclusion and diversity initiatives, including a $5

Photo by SweetBabeeJay via iStock

million scholarship for full- and part-time associates who are “actively driving antiracism, equality and social justice initiatives.” American Eagle’s efforts to promote inclusion and diversity are central to the organization’s success, according to Jay Schottenstein, American Eagle’s executive chairman and CEO. “Together, we are making real — and lasting — change to build an even stronger, more diverse workplace that provides opportunities for our associates to continue to develop and grow within our AEO family,” he said in a prepared statement.  PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@

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Headlines Young immigrants adapt to life in U.S. thanks to JFCS Newcomers Crew

 Newcomers crew

— LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


harles Kachale and his family landed at the Pittsburgh International Airport on Jan. 20, 2020. Awaiting their arrival were representatives from Jewish Family and Community Services. After

Photo courtesy of Joy Givens

they exchanged greetings, JFCS sprang into action and helped the non-English speakers set up their new household in Crafton. “They provided me with all the basic necessities,” said Kachale, a 44-year-old Congolese native. Everything, from the roof over their heads to the beds they slept on — even flatware and cooking utensils — was ready to make the family’s transition as smooth as

 The Kachale family’s first night in the U.S.

possible, Kachale said. Having lived in the Democratic Republic of the Congo their entire lives, Kachale and his family were set to begin the process of adapting to a new environment. The hope, JFCS representatives said, was that their efforts would help Kachale’s four sons, who now range in age from 6 to 20, ease into their new lives. But when the pandemic struck less than

Photo courtesy of JFCS

two months later, the Kachale boys were forced to adapt once again as their new schools moved online and in-person social interactions were paused. Their struggle mirrored that of millions of children nationwide, but was compounded by the fact that they were new to the United States. While the pandemic had a negative Please see JFCS, page 15

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Headlines From Pittsburgh to Lollapalooza: Local musician Isaac Lewis finds success on his own terms where the family is affiliated with Beth El Congregation of the South Hills. He said he chose “Lewis” as his stage name because “it just rolls off the tongue.” From an early age, Lewis knew he wanted to be a musician. “I never had my sights on anything other than doing music,” he said. According to his mother, Lewis first showed an interest in music while riding in the family’s car. “He would listen to songs on the radio, probably around 4 or 5, and go home and play it on the piano,” she remembered. “He has a wonderful ear.” Lewis recalled his first musical influences were centered around his parents’ tastes — mostly classic rock, artists like Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen and the Grateful Dead. “Nowadays, my influences are all over the place,” he said. “I’m inspired by a lot of hip hop and modern, indie alternative music. I’ve also gone back to late 60s and 70s — music like West Coast rock music, you know, Joni Mitchell and Crosby Stills & Nash and the whole Laurel Canyon movement that was happening.” Lewis added to his budding piano skills, learning how to play guitar around the age

— LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer


or many musicians, playing Lollapalooza would be the highlight of their careers. For Isaac Lewis, it’s only the beginning. On July 29, Lewis, 24, joined electronic/ dance artist Sebastian Paul, playing guitar before thousands at Chicago’s Grant Park as part of the annual Lollapalooza music festival. “I’ve never played for a fraction of the amount of people in that crowd,” Lewis said, reflecting on the 8 p.m. performance on the corner of the main stage — adjacent to the spot where feature artists like Miley Cyrus, Tyler the Creator and Foo Fighters performed. Lewis’ father, Bob Silverman, said it was amazing to watch. “I thought that maybe he’d be on a smaller stage before a couple hundred people,” Silverman said. “I turned around and looked back into the crowd and saw all these people. It was really nice. We’d seen him tour in decent-size venues, but this was nothing like that.” Lewis grew up Isaac Silverman, the son Oticon Man Down_Eartique 4/27/21 ofJCBob and hisLooking wife, Julie, in Mt. Lebanon,

9:49 AM Page 1 on stage  Isaac Lewis

Please see Lewis, page 15

Photo by Bob Silverman

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Brit Bennett is the author of the critically acclaimed #1 New York Times bestseller The Vanishing Half, a riveting, expansive, and emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing — provocative, compassionate, and wise.

The author of four books and numerous television scripts, Charles Yu won the 2020 National Book Award for Interior Chinatown, an ambitious satire about race, pop culture, immigration, assimilation, and escaping roles we are forced to play.

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Pulitzer Prize-winning author Lawrence Wright whose best-selling novel The End of the October all but predicted our current pandemic, brings his momentous account of COVID-19: its origins, its repercussions, and the fight to contain it.

The winner of the 2020 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction, Maggie O’Farrell’s Hamnet is a luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of the impact of grief, and a tender re-imagining of a forgotten boy whose name lives on.

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Yaa Gyasi's follow-up to her acclaimed, bestselling Homegoing is powerful, raw, and intimate. Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a Ghanaian immigrant family ravaged by depression and addiction—a searing novel of faith, science, and love.

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From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Disgraced, comes Homeland Elegies blending fact and fiction to tell the story of longing and dispossession in the world that 9/11 made — of an immigrant father, an American son, and the country they both call home.

Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo, George Saunders offers iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol to present a literary master class on what makes great stories and how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible.

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Robin Wall Kimmerer is a trained botanist and a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. Braiding Sweetgrass poetically weaves her two worldviews: ecological consciousness requires our reciprocal relationship with the rest of the living world.

In her ground-breaking book Caste, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Warmth of Other Suns, Isabel Wilkerson, explores how America — today and throughout its history — is shaped by a hidden caste system, a rigid hierarchy of human rankings.

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Calendar Submit calendar items on the Chronicle’s website, pittsburghjewishchronicle. org. Submissions also will 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


Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Volunteer Center and help decorate the sukkah at Solomon House, a Squirrel Hill Community Living Arrangement that is home to three young men with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. Project will occur outside and be limited to 10. Masks that fully cover nose and mouth are required, regardless of vaccination status. 11 a.m. event/voom-sukkah-decorations-with-jrs q SUNDAYS, SEPT. 19, 26;

OCT. 3, 10, 17

Join a lay-led Online Parashah Study Group to discuss the week’s Torah portion. No Hebrew knowledge is needed. The goal is to build community while deepening understanding of the text. 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit

q SUNDAYS, SEPT. 19, 26;

OCT. 3, 10, 17, 31

Gather on Zoom with the Briya Project, for moments of ritual and writing in the 8-week writing course “Sh’ma - Hear Your Inner Voice.” Each session will include a communal ritual and creative prompt to help you hear your inner artistic voice. 6 p.m. $200. briyaproject/564066 q MONDAYS, SEPT. 20, 27;

OCT. 4, 11, 18

Join Congregation Beth Shalom for a weekly Talmud study. 9:15 a.m. For more information, visit  q WEDNESDAYS, SEPT. 22, 29;

OCT. 6, 13, 20

Bring the parashah alive and make it personally relevant and meaningful. Study the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman. 12:15 p.m. q


In cooperation with Tali Nates, founder and director of the Johannesburg Genocide & Holocaust Centre, Classrooms Without

Borders begins a new Museums and Memorial series. Alongside CWB scholars, travel with museum historians, experts and contemporary witnesses to 10 different regions to explore the history behind the exhibits, discuss the nature of memory and memorials, and discover how the world remembers the Shoah and honors the lives we lost. 2 p.m. For more information and to register, visit classroomswithoutborders. org/holocaust_museums_and_memorials_ around_the_globe. Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Young Adult Division, Congregation Beth Shalom and Moishe House for an evening of wine and wisdom in the sukkah. Representatives of Chosen Wine, located in Dormont, will be sharing wisdom about great kosher wines. Preregistration required. 8 p.m. jewishpgh. org/event/yad-wine-wisdom q


The Alan Papernick Educational Institute Endowment Fund presents Continuing Legal Education, a six-part CLE series taught by Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff. Earn up to 12 CLE credits. Each session is a stand-alone unit; you can take one class or all six. 8:30 a.m. With CLE

credit: $30/session or $150 all sessions; Without CLE credit: $25/session or $125 all sessions. For a complete list of dates and topics, visit continuing-legal-education. q


Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for a special online event to kick off a new year of adult learning and to honor the establishment of the Elaine Belle Krasik Fund for Adult Education. Pittsburgh Jewish Community Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff will present “Start Worrying — Details to Follow,” an up-to-date analysis of current Jewish realities. 10:30 a.m. foundation-learning-inaugural-event  q


Learn more about the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Mega Mission over Zoom. The mission will take place in Israel June 13-21, 2022. This is your chance to hear the details and ask all your pressing questions. RSVP required to receive Zoom link. 6 p.m. PJC

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6 SEPTEMBER 17, 2021



Headlines Connecting with the divine: A new book by Rabbi Elaine Zecher — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


abbi Elaine Zecher has been struggling with the question of how to talk about God for quite some time. Years ago, Zecher and some of her colleagues had been working on “Mishkan T’filah,” the daily prayer book of the Reform Movement, when the conversation turned to God. Zecher, who grew up in Monroeville and now serves as senior rabbi at Temple Israel in Boston, Massachusetts, and her fellow editors discussed how best to articulate the divine. Within Judaism, God is described in many ways — royal, sovereign, hierarchical — but central to any description is experience, Zecher told the Chronicle, speaking from her New England home. It’s hard to know how to speak about God without understanding your relationship to the divine, she said, comparing the challenge to that of describing appreciation for a fine meal. “You can talk a lot about food, but when you actually experience it — when you taste it — you come to know the food on many different levels,” she said. As Zecher and her fellow editors continued to work on the prayer book, she began to use

 Rabbi Elaine Zecher

Photo courtesy of Temple Israel of Boston

a phrase she’s clung to for the past decade: “integrated theology.” She said the term was inspired by the work of her husband, Dr. David M. Eisenberg, a physician and researcher who focuses on

integrative medicine at the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health. Zecher explained that just as integrative medicine incorporates evidence-based practices with other therapeutic approaches for

wellness and healing, integrated theology fuses various relationships with the divine. The fact that God can be experienced in Please see Zecher, page 15


NEW WRINKLES IN ESTATE PLANNING AND ELDER LAW This is one in a series of articles about Elder Law by Michael H. Marks., Esq. Michael H. Marks is an elder law attorney with offices in Squirrel Hill and Monroeville. Send questions to or visit The old saying that ‘the one constant in life is change’, applies to the fields of elder law and estate planning too. Here’s a collection of brief comments about changes in estate planning and elder law practice in recent years.


Power of Attorney is a crucial basic planning document in which you can authorize someone else to help you when you need help. New requirements were imposed on Financial Powers of Attorney effective in 2015. The person signing a power of attorney (the “principal”) and two independent witnesses must sign before a Notary. In addition, before your Agent can act to help you under your power of attorney, they must sign a page in which they acknowledge their legal responsibilities to act properly on your behalf. Also, a formal Notice about the risks and other legal aspects of Powers of Attorney must be offered to the principal to sign. As with all legal documents, it remains true that you must have the mental capacity to understand the meaning of the document and must voluntarily decide to sign.


Bar Association and Allegheny County Medical Society are jointly working on an updated version of a suggested form for this document. Many of the changes involve additional explanation about the provisions of the document and the choices to be made.


LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT: Since the passage last year of a new Pennsylvania law allowing and regulating how fiduciaries (Executors, Agents under Power of Attorney, Trustees and Guardians) can access “digital assets,” (online and electronic data, accounts, emails, social media profiles, financial accounts, etc.), many practitioners have included updated language in Wills (and in other planning documents) to incorporate the measures of the new statute into the documents that you sign. INHERITED IRAS: Until recently, if you inherited an IRA, you could stretch out the benefit of tax-deferred growth for almost the whole rest of your life. You could put off paying income tax on withdrawals from inherited IRAs as long as possible, to minimize tax cost and maximize its value. However, under the Secure Act of 2019, beneficiaries of IRAs have to take the money out and pay income tax on it much sooner - causing the value to shrink - usually within 10 years. Special exceptions exist for “eligible designated beneficiaries,” who can generally still follow the old rules: disabled or chronically ill individuals, beneficiaries not more than 10 years younger (e.g. siblings), spouses (under special spousal rules), and minor children of the deceased IRA owner (for whom the 10-year-old begins to run at age 18). TRUSTS: Pennsylvania law concerning trusts used to be scattered among a multitude of court decisions and separate statutes. Since 2006, the Pennsylvania Uniform Trust Act has organized and collected the law concerning trusts in Pennsylvania into a single, unified set of rules. It covers all aspects of trusts, using consistent terms and concepts, including trust formation, validity, modification or termination, creditor relations, trustee appointments, liability, duties and powers, notices and reports, and more, all in a more coherent manner than previously.


Medicaid pays for most nursing home care in this country. Many people, instead, prefer care in their own homes, rather than in expensive care facilities. Medicaid can pay for a certain level of home care, but eligibility is hindered by a “hard income cap:” Income over a certain level absolutely disqualified you from receiving benefits. Recently, the Commonwealth has allowed more flexibility, and excess income of up to $500 more can be sheltered using special trust arrangements, to receive Medicaid-paid home and community-based care and services.


marriages are abolished in Pennsylvania (though preexisting common law marriages are still legal).


proper planning, long term care patients and their families still get much better bottom line

financial results with elder law asset protection strategies, and end up saving lots of money. Start the planning process early when you can and don’t wait for an emergency on the doorstep of the nursing home – but also remember that it’s never too late to try, either.


ESTATE TAX: Right now, Federal estate tax only applies to multi-multimillionaires. Beginning in 2026, the threshold for the tax to begin to apply is reduced to a lower level. If you are fortunate enough to have a significant estate, you may become subject to this tax for individuals worth about $5 ½ million dollars or more, or married couples worth about $11 million or more. Planning techniques and advice can help avoid or reduce taxes.

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 and your family.

helping you plan for what matters the most

With the increasing costs of long-term care, having the help of a legal professional when planning for your family’s future can help you make better decisions that can result in keeping more of your money. We help families understand the strategies, the benefits, and risks involved with elder law, disability and estate planning.



Michael H. Marks, Esq. member, national academy of elder law attorneys

4231 Murray Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15217

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 7

Headlines Rabbi Jason Z. Edelstein, first full-time rabbi at Temple David, has died at 91 — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle


abbi Jason Z. Edelstein, a respected intellectual and spiritual leader who led his Monroeville congregation for 35 years, died Sept. 4. He was 91. Edelstein became Temple David’s first fulltime rabbi 60 years ago and served on the bima for four decades. He also taught religious courses for many years — and spearheaded a course on Catholic-Jewish dialogue — at the Benedictine Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, which named a chair in his honor in 2015. “He was a very erudite man who was deeply religious,” said Rabbi Barbara Symons, who today leads Temple David, its third full-time rabbi. “He believed Reform Judaism should have standards and he wanted a synagogue … that supported having those standards.” “He certainly served the congregation beautifully for many years and was always available and helpful to people who needed him,” said Rabbi Walter Jacob, a peer who led the Reform congregation Rodef Shalom during Edelstein’s time at Temple David. “He dealt with people openly and frankly — which isn’t always easy for a rabbi.” Edelstein was born Jan. 31, 1930, in Massachusetts, worked briefly as a psychologist and lived with his wife, Eva, in Williamsburg, Virginia, and Cincinnati, Ohio, before attending Hebrew Union College. He was ordained as a rabbi in June 1958, and came to the Pittsburgh suburbs in 1960 after working as a lieutenant and chaplain in the U.S. Naval Reserve in Honolulu, Hawaii.

p Rabbi Jason Edelstein 

Photo courtesy of St. Vincent College

On Dec. 7, 1959, Edelstein officiated the dedication of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor, and later hosted a luncheon in Pearl Harbor with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith dialogue was important to Edelstein. He was invited to teach at Saint Vincent in 1968 by his friend, Father Campion Gavaler, then the chair of the college’s theology department, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council and its emphasis on healing relationships between Catholics and Jews, school officials there said. He went on to become a respected instructor and pastoral leader, teaching Jewish theology and history, the Holocaust, and Catholic-Jewish dialogue. He taught at the school for more than 50 years, through 2020. “Teaching well into his ninth decade, Rabbi Edelstein was a joyful, tireless and engaging teacher, who brought his tremendous intellectual acumen, his pastoral training and his good sense to the classroom every day, and generations of Saint Vincent students and seminarians have been blessed because of him,” said Christopher McMahon, the current

chairman of the theology department. The result of inviting the rabbi to teach at Saint Vincent’s “was a commitment to mutual enrichment between Rabbi Edelstein and the students of Saint Vincent, where both came to know their respective faiths in a different and brighter light,” McMahon added. Edelstein — a father of three who had several grandchildren and was predeceased by his wife, Eva, in 2019 — was a dedicated leader to his congregation in Monroeville. Many who prayed alongside him in his early years pored over reminiscences of the rabbi last week. “I am a charter member of Temple David with tremendous respect for Rabbi Edelstein — he was a decent and moral man,” Beverly Pollock wrote to the Chronicle. “Even though I moved away, he called every year at Rosh Hashanah. He inspired our children to learn and to question. When my daughter told him that she thought the Bible was just a book of fairy tales, he told her something she never forgot: that we need to look to the Bible for truths, not just facts.” “Rabbi Edelstein confronted the real and difficult questions that face Jews in the modern world,” said Mindy Norman, who joined Temple David in 1985, 10 years before Edelstein transitioned to rabbi emeritus. “He helped us to unfold the meaning of Torah. Rabbi Edelstein embraced modernity and yet kept many traditions. His sermons were so powerful that I still remember them.” “As a superb teacher, role model, and man with a very warm heart, I’ll miss him more than I can say — Baruch Dayan HaEmet,” wrote Susan Grossberger Bortz. JoAnn White met Edelstein in 1961. He left quite an impression. “He was always a very formidable person,”

White told the Chronicle. “He was always somebody who was very kind and softspoken. But he commanded respect.” When White’s fiancé was converting to Judaism, the couple took part in a civil wedding ceremony and moved together to North Carolina, where Edelstein had introduced them — in the days before the internet, mind you — to a local rabbi. About five months later, after the conversion process was complete, White and her husband, Mark, came back to Temple David for a proper wedding ceremony. “Even when he retired and became rabbi emeritus, I’d still get a call, ‘JoAnn, how are you doing?’” White recalled. “It was that kind of relationship. We thought he’d always be there.” Rabbi Symons said Edelstein was an extraordinary rabbi emeritus, in part because he cared for the congregation, but also because he allowed her space to lead. “He was very clear he’d never interfere and he’d assist me in any way he could,” Symons told the Chronicle. “When I had a challenge about how to approach an issue, though, he’d make time instantly, always focusing on my perspective of it, even if it was a rule, a bylaw, that was created when he was the rabbi. “It really was a gift through the years,” she added. Rabbi Jacob, who is Edelstein’s age, was saddened last week by the news of his peer’s passing. “We were good friends,” he told the Chronicle, “and we talked quite often.” But “At 91,” he said, “one cannot complain.”  PJC Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

Local teen chosen for national feminist fellowship — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle


Squirrel Hill teen has become the first Pittsburgher to take part in Kol Koleinu, a national feminist fellowship. Orelle Magnani, a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School, was named one of the 2021-2022 Kol Koleinu Teen Fellows. Now in its fourth year, the Kol Koleinu fellowship is an initiative of the nonprofit Moving Traditions and is supported by the Reform movement’s youth program, NFTY, and the Conservative movement’s United Synagogue Youth. The fellowship allows 56 Jewish teens to explore and deepen their knowledge of feminism, channel their voices to share their beliefs and use skills to create tangible change in their communities. Magnani, 17, got involved with Moving Traditions — whose mission is to support the emotional wellbeing of Jewish teens — when she was in the seventh grade, through its Rosh Hodesh girls program, then heard about the fellowship from family and friends

8 SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

because of COVID-19 — to learn about feminism and social change, officials said. The fellows then use what they learn to create projects to teach their peers and advance positive change in their communities. Past participants in Kol Koleinu — which means “all our voices” — have committed to projects on a broad range of issues, including body image, voting rights, the need for gender equality within their schools and inclusive sex education. Magnani’s project is still up in the air, though her application cited the massacre at the Tree of Life building as transformative for the teen, who p Orelle Magnani  Photo provided by Rachael Perice attends Congregation Beth Shalom. “Orelle really came alive in her application,” said Jennifer who have participated. Anolik, the fellowship’s curriculum “I think it’s a great opportunity to imple- manager. “[The shooting] drew her to want to make a change.” ment social change,” she said. Subjects tackled in the fellows’ projects, Open to Jewish 10th-through-12th Anolik said, “are really all across the specgraders of all genders throughout the trum, ” but typically revolve around Jewish U.S., the yearlong fellowship brings teens concepts of tzedek, or justice; shelemut, or together — mostly virtually right now

wholeness; and chesed, or kindness. “People are really excited to learn about feminism and how it connects to all parts of their life,” Anolik said. Magnani, who is active with Amnesty International, told the Chronicle she is interested in how social and political issues on a global scale intertwine with feminism — particularly in terms of social justice and equity. “Feminism is about equality for women,” she said. “When you have equality for all people, you have equality for women.” Moving Traditions expects this year’s diverse cohort to tackle a variety of social challenges. “Incoming Kol Koleinu fellows are ready to channel their energy toward meaningful social change, especially as they emerge from the pandemic,” said Moving Traditions Founder and CEO Deborah S. Meyer. “In their applications, the fellows told us that they want to fight antisemitism, sexism and racial injustice — and they want to work with their peers to advance feminism, reproductive rights and positive body image, among other issues.”



Please see Teen, page 9

Headlines The Jewish Marine who went viral cradling a baby got his start keeping kids happy at a JCC — WORLD — By Ron Kampeas | JTA


eryl Jaffe says she’s like any Jewish parent keeping track of her kids on social media, except it can be terrifying. When she heard President Joe Biden deployed 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan, she had a gut feeling that her son Matt — she calls him Matthew — was among them. Her family was tracking the U.S. Marine Corps on social media to verify their suspicions. “Matthew’s sister, Rebecca, saw it on one of the Marine websites that she follows on Instagram. And she said, ‘I think this is Matthew.’ We enlarged the picture,” Meryl Jaffe, a New York City resident, said in an interview. “And I’m like, ‘That’s him.’ So it was just the first time we had seen his face in days and days and days. So it was like a relief to see him.” The photo was of Matt Jaffe, a 27-year-old sergeant, cradling a baby in Afghanistan on Aug. 20. The soldier’s smile, and the story behind the photo, helped make it go viral. Matt Jaffe connected with the infant after another Marine handed the baby to him, according to news reports based on a Marines news release. The child was later reunited with its father. “I’m just a Marine, same as the men and women I serve besides, doing a job to try and help people and protect people,” Matt Jaffe, who is based at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, said in a statement attributed in the media to the Marines. “It’s pretty grim out here and sad. I had an opportunity to show some humility and do something that was good for the soul.” Meryl Jaffe said in an interview that the smile was her son through and through. “Matthew has a great smile,” she said. “He has a really good heart. He’s a good soul.” She was not surprised to see him bond with a child: Matt Jaffe had spent five years coaching kids at the JCC Manhattan. There was one family whose boys especially adored him. “He was their go-to babysitter,” mom recalled, saying both parents were professionals with unpredictable work schedules. Matt Jaffe would agree to babysit at a moment’s notice. “The boys loved him because he was fun to play with.” Meryl Jaffe, the stage manager at WABC,

Teen: Continued from page 8

The Hadassah Foundation, Vector Group Consulting, The Women of Reform Judaism, NFTY/Union for Reform Judaism and many individual donors also provided support to Moving Traditions to create and expand Kol Koleinu. Moving Traditions officials say they embolden Jewish youth by fostering PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  

p Matt Jaffe smiles at a baby at the Kabul airport in Afghanistan in a photo that went viral.

Photo courtesy of U.S. Central Command Sgt. Isaiah Campbell/U.S. Marine Corps via JTA

the New York ABC affiliate, said she and her husband did not anticipate a military career for their son. “Matthew was a kid that the only weapon he had was a very small water pistol in the playground, he was not allowed to have a Super Soaker,” she said. “We would not buy a Super Soaker for him.” Matt Jaffe got work as a bouncer when he was studying criminology at the University of Maryland. He had made friends with other bouncers, some of whom were former Marines. He enlisted his senior year and was off to boot camp within days of obtaining his degree. He signed on for six years and is due for discharge in May, when he plans to

pursue graduate studies. “We were very, very, very concerned,” Meryl Jaffe said. “I mean, it’s not what we had expected. But we knew we needed to support him and get behind him. And that’s what we’ve done. We had to — we’re his parents, we love him.” Still, it’s not an easy ride. Meryl Jaffe knew her son was in Kuwait when Biden deployed Marines to Afghanistan to help wind down operations. “It’s almost like summer camp, where you’re trying to find your kid” in photos, she said. When Biden warned just before the last troops left Afghanistan that a second deadly

attack could be imminent, she was beside herself, saying it was “very frightening.” Meryl Jaffe had spoken to the media about her son’s photo before then, but she decided to decline interviews. “I just didn’t want to say a word,” she said. Mother and son have spoken since then, and she has provided the dates of the High Holidays starting Monday night. Matt Jaffe has tried to observe Jewish holidays in the Marines, fasting on Yom Kippur, but it can be hard. A particular challenge was avoiding leavened bread during Passover. “Matthew was not that kid who loved going to Hebrew school,” Meryl Jaffe said. “But he does have a Jewish identity.”  PJC

self-discovery, empowering resistance to limiting messages about gender and identity and building connection to Jewish life and learning through their B-Mitzvah Family Education Program, teen groups from eighth grade through high school — Rosh Hodesh for girls, Shevet for boys and Tzelem for transgender, gender diverse and LGBTQ+ Jewish youth — and Kol Koleinu. “They come up with a project and they’re placed with a mentor who can help guide and shape and resize the project they want to do,”

said Moving Traditions’ vice president and chief of program strategy, Rabbi Tamara Cohen. Cohen said she hasn’t seen the pandemic slow down the intensity of the program. “Last year, especially, it was a hard year,” Cohen told the Chronicle. “And it was amazing and inspiring to see how many great ideas they had. Even just staying home, they made a difference.” “And I learn from them,” she added, “because in many ways they are at the cutting edge of feminist change and

Jewish innovation.” Since 2005, Moving Traditions has engaged more than 27,000 teens and preteens, trained more than 2,200 adults as Moving Traditions B-Mitzvah Family Education program leaders and teen group mentors, and partnered with more than 500 congregations, JCCs, camps, day schools and other Jewish entities across North America.  PJC


Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh. SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 9

Headlines — WORLD — From JTA reports

Six Palestinian terrorists escape maximum security Israeli prison

Six Palestinian men imprisoned on terrorism charges escaped from their high-security Israeli jail, apparently through a crawl space, JTA reported. Five Islamic Jihad militants and a Fatah operative — Zakaria Zubeidi, one of the best-known Palestinians convicted in Israel for terrorism — were the subject of a massive manhunt. Four so far have been recaptured. The escapees belonged to two separate prison cells. Guards discovered a hole that led to a crawl space under the floor tiles in one cell. Through that space, the prisoners appear to have moved under the building and beyond its walls. They hammered their way above ground once they passed the prison perimeter, Ynet reported. The Israeli General Security Service, or Shin Bet, believes the men have made it to the West Bank, where they were born and their families live.

One in every seven returning Israeli pilgrims to Uman tests positive for COVID-19

About 14.3% of returning pilgrims from Uman, Ukraine, tested positive for COVID19, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing Magen David Adom. Israel’s national emergency services provider

said 2,000 of those returning from Uman tested positive in its rapid-testing facilities in that city and in the Kiev airport terminal. About 25,000 Israelis traveled to Uman for Rosh Hashanah to celebrate at the graveside of the founder of the Breslov Chasidic group, according to the Population and Immigration Authority. The Population Authority said that those testing positive were infected in Ukraine, adding that it received information showing that several dozen infected pilgrims boarded flights to Israel.

ADL apologizes for its post-9/11 Islamic center opposition

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt wrote an op-ed published on CNN that apologizes for the organization’s 2010 opposition to an Islamic center planned in Lower Manhattan near the World Trade Center site. “We were wrong, plain and simple,” Greenblatt wrote. Greenblatt said the ADL had offered a compromise by supporting the ideas behind Cordoba House — described by its leaders as a prayer space that would facilitate healing and cross-cultural understanding — but recommending that it not be located near Ground Zero. He said the compromise hurt Muslims, ultimately contributing to a project that yielded a condo building with little from the original proposal still in place. “We can’t change the past,” he wrote. “But

we accept responsibility for our unwise stance on Cordoba House, apologize without caveat and commit to doing our utmost going forward to use our expertise to fight anti-Muslim bias as allies.”

Birthright Israel to resume trips in October

Birthright Israel announced that it will resume trips to Israel after a month of cancellations over Israeli COVID-19 quarantine rules, JTA reported. Those who were fully vaccinated in the past six months won’t have to quarantine on arrival for the trips, which are likely to resume on Oct. 3. However, they will still be required to take PCR and serological tests upon arrival and wait for the PCR results before starting the trip. That’s in contrast with the current policy for United States travelers to Israel, who are required to enter quarantine upon arrival. Birthright previously resumed its trips in May — the first since the pandemic began in March 2020.

Afghanistan’s last Jew leaves the country

Zebulon Simantov, the last remaining Jew in Afghanistan, left the country because he feared persecution by the Taliban, JTA reported, citing an Israeli television channel. Simantov, 62, who is the former keeper of Kabul’s lone remaining synagogue, left for the United States in recent days with several other exiles, Israel’s Kan broadcaster reported. That report was based on information

provided by Moti Kahana, an Israeli-American businessman who said he was involved in the extraction, along with New York Jewish philanthropist Moshe Margaretten. “Moshe Margaretten please take me to New York with God’s help,” Simantov said in a video.

More than 100 headstones smashed at Jewish cemetery in Argentina

More than 100 headstones were smashed at a Jewish cemetery in Argentina that had seen similar damage in 2009. The vandalism at the Tablada Cemetery in the Buenos Aires area was discovered last week, the Jewish news site Visavis reported. The headstones were between the cemetery’s older section and the new one, which also contains the remains of dozens of victims from the 1994 terrorist bombing at the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires. AMIA, the umbrella of Argentine Jewish communities, condemned the vandalism and lamented the “neglect and lack of control” by law enforcement around the cemetery in La Matanza, an eastern district of the Argentine capital. Police are investigating, AMIA said in a statement. It did not say whether there are indications of the vandalism being an antisemitic hate crime. There are no suspects. In 2009, unidentified individuals defaced more than 60 headstones, including victims of the 1994 bombing. That vandalism also happened shortly before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. AMIA did call that vandalism antisemitic.  PJC

This week in Israeli history Items provided by the Center for Israel Education (, where you can find more details.

love interest Esther in the 1959 remake of “Ben-Hur,” is born in Haifa. She appears in Israeli, Italian, U.S. and British films from 1955 to 1964.

September 17, 1948 — Lehi assassinates UN envoy Bernadotte

September 21, 2010 — International law scholar Shabtai Rosenne dies


In the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer,

We Remember Them.

Count Folke Bernadotte, a Swedish mediator who negotiated a one-month Arab-Israeli cease-fire in June, is assassinated in Jerusalem by members of Lehi (the Stern Gang) over his peace plan.

September 18, 1918 — Swimmer Judith Deutsch is born

Champion swimmer Judith Deutsch is born in Vienna, Austria. She joins fellow Austrian swimmers Ruth Langer and Lucie Goldner in refusing to go to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, then makes aliyah.

September 19, 2014 — Filmmaker Avraham Heffner dies

Filmmaker Avraham Heffner dies at 79 in Tel Aviv. He first acted in 1964’s “Hole in the Moon.” He wrote and directed “But Where Is Daniel Wax?” — considered Israel’s greatest film by some scholars.

Lee & Lisa Oleinick 10 SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

September 20, 1931 — Actress Haya Harareet is born

Diplomat and legal scholar Shabtai Rosenne, a Bar-Ilan professor, dies of a heart attack at 92. He contributed to the law of treaties and law of the sea and formulated Israel’s 1949 armistice agreements.

September 22, 1943 — Musician Ariel Zilber is born

Singer-songwriter Ariel Zilber is born in Tel Aviv. In the 1970s and 1980s he establishes an eclectic sound, leads multiple rock bands, then has a successful solo career. He spans rock, pop and hip-hop.

September 23, 1920 — Shas Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is born

Rabbi Ovadia Yosef is born in Baghdad. He moves to Jerusalem at age 4. He is Israel’s chief Sephardi rabbi from 1973 to 1983, then serves as the spiritual leader of political party Shas.  PJC

Actress Haya Harareet, best known as Judah Ben-Hur’s



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SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 11

Opinion For new Israeli government, the true days of judgment will be in a year Guest Columnist Yohanan Plesner


he period between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is known in Jewish tradition as the Ten Days of Repentance, during which we contemplate our actions over the last year so as to do better in the year ahead. The Bennett-Lapid government was sworn in less than three months ago, and thus, looking back, its main accomplishment to date is the very fact that it was formed. In the coming weeks, the state budget is due to be passed by the Knesset (for the first time since 2018) and the government will continue to make appointments to a slew of senior positions in the public sector that have remained vacant in recent months and years. From this perspective, one of the government’s main achievements has been to restore stability and reduce the levels of incitement and hatred in public discourse. However, looking a year into the future, simply ending Israel’s political crisis will not be good enough. Passing the budget will also mark the beginning of the real tests facing the new government, as it will have to provide responses to the country’s many urgent challenges and needs. The extent to which it succeeds in this task will be subject to review during the Ten Days of Repentance

in a year’s time. When it comes to Israel’s security, the Bennett-Lapid government will be assessed in terms of how it handles the growing threat from Iran. Under its new leadership, Iran is continuing to advance toward military nuclear capability and is furthering its ambitions for regional hegemony. The Israeli government will need to develop a new strategy and garner support for its implementation from the Biden administration, which has made clear its lack of interest in military engagement in the Middle East. In addition, Israel will have to ensure that the Abraham Accords are bolstered with significant strategic and economic content, so that Iran and its allies are met with a strong and determined front led by Israel, the United States, and the more moderate Gulf states. Regarding the economy, there is no room to rest on the laurels of having passed a state budget. The continued skyrocketing of house prices, and now also of rental prices, will make homeownership an unattainable dream for more and more young Israelis. This is a socioeconomic time bomb that was left to tick during the 12 years of Netanyahu’s premiership. But in a year’s time, the public will no longer have patience for attempts to blame the previous governments. Instead, this government will have to formulate policies that will dramatically increase the supply of apartments. At the same time, this planning and construction revolution will also have to take into account the climate

crisis and avoid covering the country in burning-hot concrete and asphalt. In addition, given the current catastrophic state of public transport infrastructure, the public will need to be convinced that a major turning point has been reached: that Israel is embarking on a new course in which it will invest massively and effectively in the metro system and in other transport infrastructures, so as to enable citizens to commute and travel easily and efficiently without using private vehicles. On the social front, we will need to see a change in direction with regard to the two most significant challenges facing Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. The first relates to the successful integration of Arab citizens of Israel: For the first time in Israel’s history, the government coalition includes a party representing the country’s Arab minority, and the demands put forward by Ra’am (the United Arab List) do not go against the preferences of the majority of the Israeli public. For the Arab public, the success of this “experiment” of having a Muslim party in the coalition will depend on the government’s ability to quash organized crime in the Arab sector and to restore the security of Israel’s Arab citizens. This goal enjoys overwhelming support from the Jewish public, too. The second challenge relates to the successful integration of the ultra-Orthodox public: The decision to reduce the age of exemption from military service for yeshiva students opens up the possibility of increasing

the participation of ultra-Orthodox men in the workforce. It is an essential step, but by itself, it is not sufficient. There is now a political window of opportunity to pursue additional steps that will give new momentum to the integration of ultra-Orthodox citizens in higher education, employment and Israeli society in general. In the fall of 2022, we will be able to judge whether this golden opportunity was seized or missed. Finally, the severe political crisis we have endured in recent years has shown us just how fragile and vulnerable Israeli democracy is in the absence of a constitution. Thus, there is an urgent need to advance a Basic Law: Legislation that will safeguard the rules of the democratic game and protect them with a large Knesset majority. In this way, we can ensure that the political system in Israel does not find itself once more on the edge of the abyss. There is no doubt that the tests facing the new government in the coming year will be many and challenging, and will include various issues that will be difficult to face. Let us wish the people of Israel, the government of Israel, and its leaders a Shana Tova, a good new year, and one in which we are able to meet these challenges and tests with success.  PJC Yohanan Plesner is the president of the Israel Democracy Institute. He served as a Member of Knesset for the Kadima party from 2007-2013. He lives in Hod HaSharon with his wife and four daughters. This piece first appeared on Times of Israel.

The Lady in Beige: A true story of forgiveness Guest Columnist Esther Orenstein Lapian


everal years ago, toward the end of August, I returned to the States from Israel for what was meant to be a relaxed, uneventful trip — friends, family, a lecture or two. The last leg of the trip was a much-anticipated visit to friends in the Washington, D.C. area, along with a short shiur I was to give in their synagogue on Shabbat afternoon. For a New Yorker, visiting an American-Jewish suburban community is like going to a health resort. Everything is greener, calmer, less demanding. Having no special events to attend on this trip, I decided to play the Israeli underdresser card, and treat myself to a lightly packed suitcase. For an observant Jewish woman, that means no special Shabbat clothes, no Shabbat shoes, no hats. I assumed that the talk I was to give, slated for Shabbat afternoon, was intended for women, would be located in a small room off the main sanctuary, and would not be well attended. Shabbat afternoon in August. Who would come? I would borrow a beret. Wrong on every count. I was casually informed on Shabbat morning that my shiur would be held in the 12 SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

main sanctuary between mincha (afternoon prayers) and maariv (evening prayers). Thus, it would be well attended by a captive audience, made up mostly of men. I was beside myself. The Midrash I had chosen to teach was strongly woman-oriented and I did not have proper clothes for a shiur in the main sanctuary. You may wonder why I collate these two disparate entities — my outfit and my input? Teaching is a highly calibrated performance. The scenery is as important as the screenplay. I am the scenery. I arrived at shul that morning unnerved, angry at myself for not having inquired more thoroughly about the lecture conditions … and for not bringing proper clothes. Teaching in a main sanctuary demands respect and proper attire. Packing light may have been my first mistake, but it wasn’t my last. It was in this state of self-deprecation that I arrived in shul and found myself inside a big beautiful American sanctuary, complete with a deep-colored wooden ark and elevated bimah. Near the ark stood a beaming rabbi, alongside a lovely 12-year-old bat mitzvah, giving her first d’var Torah. The mood was festive and upbeat. So much of what I love and missed about America hit me when I experienced this scene, the grandness, the optimism, the live -and-let-live attitude toward religion. For 25 years, I had been praying in a suburban

synagogue that was too small, had uncomfortable seats, no space for a kiddush, women behind a heavy curtain and no bat mitzvah speeches in the sanctuary until after kiddush, so that the objectors could flee. I love the unpretentiousness of Israel, but simplicity has its limits. Year after year we discussed, petitioned, argued, applied and reapplied for a new synagogue, but it never happened. So, there I was, feeling deep synagogue deprivation, along with wretchedness over all my misjudgments. I took a seat next to a lady with a beige straw hat, and, of course, a matching beige suit, and matching highheeled shoes. I was in no mood for chit-chat or any other shul niceties. But then it began. “Are you a visitor?” Reluctantly, “Yes.” “Where from?” “I live in Israel.” Please, no more, I prayed. Just let me sit here sunk in my own uber-drama. “Whom are you visiting?” she asked. And then it came out. Just like that: “Why do you have to know?” The minute I said it, I regretted it. I tried immediately to make amends. “I’m visiting the Levi-Cohens.” But she would have none of it. She turned to me and said, “That was a conversation stopper.” I was struck by the fact that I had sinned.


The real deal sin. Not lighting candles too late, or eating dairy too soon after meat. This was sin in its essence. It was three weeks before the High Holidays. How could I even think of praying for forgiveness? Out of shame, and compassion for both of us, I moved to a far corner near no one. But I kept an eye on her intending to dash over after prayers and apologize. I was prepared to prostrate myself if needed. My clothes were a mess anyway. But then she was gone. Gone. I inquired from the woman who had sat next to her where the lady in beige had gone. “She left early. She has guests and went home early to prepare.” This was divine retribution. I wasn’t going to get to apologize, and to such a nice lady, who has friends and goes home early to prepare. I asked for the lady in beige’s address. “No need,” she said. “I’m going there for lunch. I can pass on your message.” Not wanting to detain my hosts, and frankly, not wanting to divulge my crime, I passed on the message, intending to call right after Shabbat. The shiur was indeed in the main sanctuary. I felt woefully under-appointed in open-toe sandals and a mismatched beret. And then there she was. The lady in beige. Along with her husband, she had come to attend my shiur. Within seconds, my mood changed. I was exhilarated to see her. Now, I Please see Lapian, page 13


Opinion Chronicle poll results: Optimistic or pessimistic?


ast week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the coming year?” Of the 215 people who responded, 36% said they were optimistic; 25% said they were pessimistic; and 37% said they were “meh, in the middle.” Seventy-one people submitted comments. A few follow. Judaism teaches us that we each have an obligation to do our part in repairing the world. We have to take an active role in bringing light, hope and goodness to others. Viewed this way, we are empowered to shape the future in some small (and hopefully big sometimes, too) ways. Knowing this should always fill us with hope and optimism. This is the new normal. The “pandemic” has become an “endemic.” There’s not going to be an “end” to this, it’s just going to continue in perpetuity. Just think of it as flu season

Lapian: Continued from page 12

could apologize in person. And if the shiur is really good, I thought, maybe she would even forgive me. I made a beeline to her immediately after the shiur, taking no chances that she would leave again. She was so gracious. She complimented the shiur, told me she had received

Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the coming year? 2.36% Not sure

24.53% Pessimistic

35.85% Optimistic

37.26% Meh in the middle

Things do not look good! There are continuing efforts among the reactionary minority to cripple or kill our democracy, to suppress voting rights, to place political considerations over public health, and to eliminate the right of women to have an abortion. It is a time of destabilizing hyper-partisanship which precludes Congress from enacting necessary legislation. There is little about which I can be optimistic. I always try to start every new year (both secular and Jewish) with optimism, even if things are looking bleak at the moment.

having gotten worse and accept the trajectory of society. When we do, we’ll all be better off.

I think the pandemic will only get worse with so many unvaccinated and unmasked people. So I expect more resistant to vaccine variants to spread. But I’m fine being at home and enjoy the new opportunities that

my message, and accepted my apology with no fuss. Only then could I return to the others to answer questions. From the corner of my eye, I spied her chatting with friends, not rushing to leave. So, I went back and thanked her for accepting my apology so graciously. “I don’t know how I could have faced the Yamin Noraim if you hadn’t come today.” “I know,” she replied. “That’s why I came.” “That’s why you came?! I asked.

“Yes,” she answered. “I gathered from my friend how upset you were, so I decided to come to your shiur. I knew that you would have a hard time with the Yamim Noraim if I didn’t come. I don’t usually come to the shiur on Shabbat afternoon.” I was speechless. Fifty years of hearing shiurim about t’shuva and s’licha, and here it was, the pure essence of forgiveness — the enabling of another person, a complete stranger who had hurt

— LETTERS — Writer made story unnecessarily political

I feel that the article by Ron Kampeas implying that only conservatives feel that Joe Biden lied regarding visiting Tree Of Life is divisive, misleading, and unfortunate (“Conservatives accuse Biden of lying about visiting the Tree of Life synagogue,” online, Sept. 3; in print this week, p. 18). Biden misspoke as he has done in the past and this is quite problematic. Unfortunately, Kampeas makes a nonpolitical occurrence into a political issue, adding to the perception of media bias, resulting in further polarization of our community. Peter Kaplan South Hills

have opened up with the world becoming more friendly to remote viewing. My pessimism is the result of the covid situation and people’s refusal to be vaccinated or wear masks and all the terrible division in the United States between people.  PJC

This week’s Chronicle poll question:

What do you think of the U.S. government’s decision to not seek the death penalty for the person who murdered a worshipper at a synagogue in Poway, California, in 2019?  PJC

you for no reason at all, to make amends. Gratefully, I thanked her for coming, for caring about my soul. I went home lighter, packing my suitcase with the present from the lady in beige.  PJC Esther Orenstein Lapian is a teacher educator who lectures at The Schechter Institute and the Kerem Institute of Jewish Humanistic Education. This first appeared on Times of Israel.

Nazis, a despicable affront to those of us who lost loved ones in the Holocaust. Requiring the wearing of a mask to protect others from a potentially lethal illness could not be more dissimilar to the actions taken by murderers to single out and destroy those of our faith. The Pennsylvania Department of Health finally stepped in to mandate masks, but its directive is being challenged in court, wasting time and public money. We find ourselves in a perilous position as this stubborn “epidemic of the unvaccinated” surges again. Infection rates, hospitalizations and deaths are now soaring to levels not seen since the height of the prior wave of the pandemic. Hospitals in some parts of the country are being overwhelmed and our health care provider heroes placed under inordinate and needless stress, strain and peril. I am gratified that our community has done its part to deal a blow to our modern-day plague of the coronavirus. Oren Spiegler Peters Township

Praise for the community in embracing vaccination

I was pleased to see in the Sept. 3 edition that our Jewish community is highly vaccinated against the coronavirus (“Chronicle poll results”) and the Chronicle referencing in an editorial (“Rosh Hashanah 5782”) the “stubborn refusal” of some to be inoculated. It is tragic that for the first time in the long history of vaccines, a political furor has erupted over the matter with documented evidence that Republicans are far less likely than Democrats to receive the vaccine. We have also seen that throughout the country, it is Republicans who are fighting tooth and nail to preclude public school students from having to wear masks. My wife and I contracted coronavirus in January of this year. It was a miserable experience, knocking me out for almost a week. Thankfully, Melanie’s symptoms were not as severe as mine. I experienced flu-like symptoms for almost two days after receiving both doses of the Pfizer vaccine in April and May, but this was preferable to being at risk for a second infection and potentially serious consequences — even death. In my school district, as in so many others, aggrieved parents devoting time and energy to preserve their children’s’ “freedom” have not only attended school board meetings to demand that no mask mandate be imposed, but have taunted and threatened board members and health care officials who have sought to require students to wear masks. As we have seen, ignorant people have sought to compare a health care safety protocol to actions taken by the



The new Torah at the Chabad Jewish Center of Monroeville (“Chabad of Monroeville welcomes new Torah in time for the High Holidays,” Sept. 3) was dedicated by the Rubin family in honor of wife/mother Leslie G. Rubin. That dedication is noted on the back of the Torah’s new cover and on the Torah’s keter (crown), and is in addition to the dedication in honor of Jennie Roet, grandmother to the Shunfenthal family.  PJC We invite you to submit letters for publication. Letters must include name, address and daytime phone number; addresses and phone numbers will not be published. Letters may not exceed 500 words and may be edited for length and clarity; they cannot be returned. Mail, fax or email letters to:

Letters to the editor via email:

Website address:

Address & Fax: Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 5915 Beacon St., 5th Flr., Pittsburgh, PA 15217 Fax 412-521-0154


SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 13

Headlines Federation: Continued from page 1

heart of our vision,” Finkelstein said, noting that it will allow Federation to strengthen organizations and invest more deeply in leadership development. The second goal, he said, is to position Federation as one of the foremost centers for “impactful philanthropy” in the region. “We have the opportunity to work together to transform Pittsburgh, our entire Pittsburgh community and Jewish communities around the world,” he said. This philanthropic goal, Finkelstein said, goes hand-in-hand with Federation’s third objective: addressing communitywide challenges to create a more equitable and livable Pittsburgh. “Our younger generations,” Finkelstein said, “expect that their Judaism will be reflected in making the world a better place.” To help accomplish the three goals, Finkelstein said, the Federation has a fourth priority — to modernize and invest in the organization’s infrastructure, making it more data- and results-driven. “Some things definitely won’t change,” he said. “We will continue to lead the fight against antisemitism, we will remain steadfast supporters of Israel. We will continue to support Jewish agencies, to provide Jewish community security and to represent our Jewish community in communitywide conversations.” Finkelstein acknowledged that the strategic goals presented during the meeting were broad, and many details have yet to be finalized. He invited to community to share input and voice concerns over the coming years.

Sukkah: Continued from page 1

Andrew Reibach, a member of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, built a sukkah in 2020, as he does most years, but celebrated only with his family. This year he plans to invite friends again. “I’m fortunate,” he said. “I’m at the age where all my friends’ kids are grown — there’s not a 6-year-old who isn’t immunized, so there’s no risk. I hang out with people that are immunized so it’s not a risk for us.” Reibach is confident in the COVID vaccine and its ability to keep people safe,

 Jeff Finkelstein at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s annual meeting

“Above all, the Jewish Federation represents you,” he said. David Sufrin, Federation’s board chair, opened the meeting by noting that last year, the Federation raised $52.5 million — marking the first time it surpassed $50 million in annual fundraising. Of that sum, almost $13.7 million came from the Community Campaign, and the remainder came from corporate, foundation, government and other supplemental funding. More than $9 million was distributed

for COVID relief, Sufrin said. Those funds primarily aided seniors, vulnerable populations, youth, young adults and families. Examples of how the funds were used included purchasing personal protective equipment for people working with seniors in long-term care facilities, which enabled the Jewish Association on Aging to realize better pandemic outcomes than 94% of U.S. nursing facilities. In total, Federation distributed more than $44.6 million to support the Jewish community, Sufrin said.

and his sense of security isn’t simply conjecture. He is an emergency room physician at St. Clair Hospital. “I’ve admitted a ton of people with COVID,” Reibach said. “Only two of them were immunized and of those, one was 86 and one was 94. The vaccine may not be perfect, but it is good enough to prevent you from ending up in the hospital if you’re young and healthy.” The South Hills resident said the vaccine has allowed him to get back to normal life — including celebrating Sukkot in a sukkah. Andrew Neft regularly attends services at Chabad of the South Hills. He and his wife contracted the virus in March 2020. He’s since been vaccinated.

“I don’t really trust the government for much, but in this instance, when it comes to approving drugs and medicine, they are usually on track,” he said. Last year, Neft built a sukkah and will do so again this year. “I do not see a need for people to run their lives around the minority that are at risk,” Neft said. “The CDC has said the survival rate is pretty good if you’re under 70 years old.” Like Reibach, Neft said most of his friends are in the low-risk category, and, regardless, he doesn’t allow fear to influence his decisions when it comes to performing mitzvot. Having a sukkah “is a necessary part of the

celebrations IN THE


Screenshot by David Rullo

Meyer “Skip” Grinberg was awarded the Emanuel Spector award, recognizing his lifelong service to the community. The Doris and Leonard H. Rudolph Jewish Communal Professional Award was presented to Aleph Institute Executive Director Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel. The annual meeting can be viewed at  PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@

holiday,” he said. “We need to have our meals in a sukkah. In Judaism there’s always a workaround, a fence around the Torah. You can always find ways to meet your obligation. But it doesn’t faze me, this is part of the holiday.” Angel, of Poale Zedeck, said it would be unfortunate if families didn’t observe the holiday because of the virus. “It would be a pity if people didn’t celebrate,” she said. “The kids are all in school together and they all know each other and we’re already sharing each other’s germs.”  PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@



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Headlines JFCS: Continued from page 3

effect on the academic growth of children throughout the country, it was particularly hard on students of color in public schools, according to a June 2021 report by the U.S. Department of Education — in part due to the impact of disparities in access to technology — and the abrupt shift to remote learning was an additional hardship for students like the Kachales, who were only just beginning to learn English. Well before COVID-19 uprooted daily life, Dana Gold, JFCS’ Chief Operating Officer, realized that JFCS’ younger clients in particular would need additional assistance. While the organization had multiple programs designed to ease an adult’s transition to a new environment, programs for children were lacking, she said. “We all know as adults and as parents that when things are going badly for our children, they kind of go badly for the household,” Gold said. “We recognized that we needed to do more.” So, nearly a year ago, as the pandemic raged on, JFCS created Newcomers Crew, a virtual space for children to connect, receive mentoring and practice language skills for about an hour at a time. At first, children from both Africa and South East Asia, ranging in age from 5-19, met in the same online room, according to Joy Givens, program coordinator of

Lewis: Continued from page 4

of 6 or 7, then picking up other instruments, including bass, drums and keyboards/ synthesizers, as well as singing. Mostly self-taught, Lewis said he had some formal education. “I definitely got something out of lessons,” he said. “But I found that I was always a lot more interested in just learning songs than I was in learning technique, which in a lot of ways, maybe didn’t serve as well, but in others, maybe helped me find my own style.” In fact, Julie Silverman said it was Pittsburgh guitar legend Joe Negri’s daughter Roberta , who gave her son his first piano lessons.

Zecher: Continued from page 7

so many different ways, she added, “could actually be the way that we experience God.” Zecher and her colleagues returned to the concept of integrated theology when preparing “Mishkan Hanefesh,” a High Holiday machzor for the Reform Movement. Published in 2016, “Mishkan Hanefesh” featured updated translations, readings and poetry pertaining to the Days of Awe. Though Zecher felt she had successfully shared her understanding of integrated theology in the daily prayer book and machzor, she wanted to reach even more readers. So, alongside fellow editor Rabbi PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  

p Kachale family at Awaken Home Project

Photo courtesy of Blaine Siegel

beginning to interact with other neighborhood children. He was particularly moved seeing a second-grader who “came out of her shell, blossomed and became the most talkative kid in the program.” Rokicki, who plans to volunteer again when the program restarts on Sept. 21, said Newcomers Crew plays a pivotal role in welcoming kids, and it’s clear the time and effort of volunteers and staff is appreciated. Rebecca Remson, JFCS’ director of development and communications, said Newcomers Crew, like many of JFCS’ programs, reflects the African proverb, “it takes a village to raise a child.” There is a lot that needs to transpire both academically and socially for a child to succeed, and JFCS is trying to provide these children and families with “the tools to be on the right footing,” Remson said. For Rokicki, JFCS couldn’t have developed Newcomers Crew at a better time; according to the United Nations, there are more than 82 million displaced people around the world. That figure represents the highest number of refugees since World War II, something that Rokicki said must be addressed. “It’s really important to make our refugee and immigrant communities feel like they are an extension of our family and our communities,” he said. “They’re kids at the end of the day, and they need our help and all the support they can get.”  PJC

Newcomers Crew. All the participants had arrived in Pittsburgh within the past two years, she said, and needed additional language learning support. But having such a wide age range and kids from diverse backgrounds in one room was challenging. And so, as the weeks went by, Givens and her colleagues changed the format to give the students an opportunity to mingle and join in some group activities, but then moving them into separate rooms online to meet with mentors. Bloomfield resident Joe Rokicki had been

volunteering with JFCS well before Newcomers Crew was developed last fall. Several factors influenced his decision to help out with the program, he said, including the amplification of political rhetoric that was creating a “hostile environment” for immigrants. “I’m the grandson of immigrants and I wanted to give back,” he said. Though most Newcomers Crew sessions occurred online, Rokicki also met in person with participants during gatherings at a park in Crafton Heights, and he was able to observe the kids he had worked with

When it was time for Lewis to map out his future, he decided to mix his artistic ambitions with a dose of realism. He attended Syracuse University, earning a degree in music business because, as he noted, the music industry can be difficult to navigate. He played shows around Syracuse’s campus, in basements, attics and various cafes. He also worked as a DJ, and said it was a time filled with the joy of simply making and playing music. Lewis graduated from Syracuse in May 2019, and moved to Los Angeles in 2020. While a cross-country move to pursue a career in music might be daunting to some, Lewis had more than just confidence in his abilities. He also had a friend waiting for him there: Jeremy Rosinger, also from Mt. Lebanon, was working in L.A. as a

music producer. “We’ve been producing music together for a long time,” Lewis said. “He bought me my first keyboard for my bar mitzvah. He taught me how to produce music and co-produces a lot of music with me. As far as collaborators go, he’s definitely one that I’ve collaborated with the most heavily.” Lewis’ music has been streamed more than 8 million times on Spotify, and it’s racked up similar statistics on other services, including Apple Music. With numbers like that, the musician isn’t concerned that the path he has taken deviates from the traditional route taken by many others in the music industry: landing a record deal with a large company. “Record deals aren’t really essential,” Lewis said. “It’s easy to get caught in a bad

record deal. I don’t want to get myself in that situation where I lose control of my work, and not getting the right level of compensation for my work. For me, it’s more about continuing to play shows and getting my own music out there.” And while some might consider the view from the Lollapalooza stage akin to one from atop a mountain, Lewis is taking it in stride and looking forward to building on his success. “Playing Lollapalooza was a benchmark for me,” he said. “It was an incredibly memorable experience. I feel like it was the first of many opportunities to do something like that.”  PJC

Edwin C. Goldberg, she reached out to 20 Jewish educators and spiritual leaders, asking them to share their own experiences with the divine. In response, Zecher received deeply personal accounts addressing aspects of life ranging from maintaining one’s health to making Jewish food, she said. Collectively, the writings helped form “Because My Soul Longs for You: Integrating Theology into our Lives,” a book published last month that invites readers to consider God’s presence in their daily lives. Whether it’s through illness, music, poetry, art or social justice, there are myriad ways people experience the divine, Zecher said. And it’s the totality of those means that readers should appreciate.

Instead of dwelling on God’s name or description, it’s important to focus on our experience with God, she said. That can be a difficult task, she said, but just like strengthening a muscle, it can be developed. “Sometimes we go along in life and we’re not paying attention to anything, and then when we start to pay attention we see some of the subtleties of the sacred that maybe we didn’t see before,” Zecher said. “I think that the practice of the possibility that God’s presence is in our lives, and that God’s presence can interact with us in some way, is available to us all.” Temple Israel Boston is the largest synagogue in New England, but she maintains a strong Pittsburgh connection. Before attending Brandeis University, and then Hebrew Union

College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Zecher was raised in Monroeville by Pittsburgh-born parents Albert and Rita Zecher. Albert, who died in 1999, was general manager of The Jewish Chronicle for 31 years, as well as a founder and past president of Temple David in Monroeville. Rita Zecher, who was also active at Temple David and other local Jewish organizations, still lives in Pittsburgh. Elaine Zecher said she tries to come back to Pittsburgh as often as she can, but even from afar, she appreciates Jewish life here. “I really value the kind of interconnectivity of the Pittsburgh Jewish community,” she said. “It’s inspirational.”  PJC


Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@

David Rullo can be reached at

Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 15

Life & Culture Gluten-free pumpkin cake for Sukkot — FOOD — By Jessica Grann | Special to the Chronicle


olidays are busy, so I’m happy to share my easy pumpkin cake recipe for Sukkot. Anything that I can mix up in one bowl in five minutes becomes a staple in my kitchen. This recipe also happens to be gluten-free and Passover-friendly without any substitutions. Gluten-free pumpkin cake Makes 12 servings

Ingredients: 3 1 1 ¼

1 ½ ½ ½ ¼ ¼ ¼

large eggs cup sugar 29-ounce can pure pumpkin puree cup potato or corn starch, dissolved in 2 ounces of cold water cup almond flour teaspoon salt teaspoon ginger teaspoon cinnamon teaspoon nutmeg teaspoon cardamom (optional) cup thinly sliced almonds to garnish cake

Place baking rack in middle of the oven and set to 350 F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, then add the sugar. Mix until well combined. Add in the dissolved starch, almond flour, spices and salt, and mix with a rubber spatula. (If you enjoy spice cake, I suggest adding in the cardamom as well.) Mix in the canned pumpkin.

 Gluten-free pumpkin cake

Pour into the prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour, or until the edges start to brown and pull away from the pan. If you wish, you can garnish the cake with sliced almonds before baking or dust it with

Photo by Jessica Grann

powdered sugar after the cake is fully cooled and just before serving. This is a light dessert and a perfect following to a heavy holiday meal, but it can also be used as a sweet side dish. Because regular flour is

not used, the consistency is dense and more puddinglike. Enjoy and bless your hands!  PJC Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

Peach caprese with mint a conscientious objector. But if the skin bothers you, feel free to remove it.

— FOOD — By Keri White | Special to the Chronicle


ith the bountiful crop of fresh peaches overflowing at every market, I am always on the hunt for tasty ways to use this seasonal treasure. This salad turns the traditional caprese on its head, swapping in peaches for tomatoes and mint for basil. I prefer to keep it simple and somewhat savory (aside from the sweetness of the peaches), but creative cooks are welcome to drizzle aged balsamic vinegar, chopped nuts, honey, sesame or chia seeds on this dish. Peach caprese with mint Serves 2

You know how I feel about peeling; I’m

2 ripe peaches, sliced into bite-sized wedges 1 lemon wedge 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut in bitesized chunks 2 tablespoons best-quality olive oil 6 fresh mint leaves, snipped into ribbons Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

Place the peaches in a shallow bowl and with the lemon to keep them from browning. Add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat. Serve at room temperature or chilled.  PJC Keri White writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared.

p A variation of a peach salad 


Photo by Povareshka via iStockPhotos

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Life & Culture Books: Progressives’ blind spot — BOOKS — By Sasha Rogelberg | Contributing Writer

“Jews Don’t Count” David Baddiel Harper Collins


avid Baddiel’s new book “Jews Don’t Count” wasn’t reviewed by The Guardian, Great Britain’s premier — and progressive — daily newspaper. The Times, The Independent and The Telegraph reviewed it (and reviewed it well, according to Baddiel), but The Guardian didn’t touch it. The British author and comedian believes the reason for this is simply that, to those left-of-center, Jews don’t count. Progressives, particularly white progressives, are quick to identify and confront other forms of discrimination — anti-Black racism, transphobia, homophobia, ableism — but ignore one form of discrimination that continues to pervade politics, society and Twitter: antisemitism. For The Guardian to ignore a book shedding light on the tendency of progressives to overlook antisemitism — well, it just illustrates Baddiel’s point. Though “Jews Don’t Count” made its British debut in February, Baddiel freshened it up for its United States release on Sept. 7, incorporating more U.S.-friendly examples and addressing the May flare-up of violence in Gaza. Baddiel builds his argument on the idea that antisemitism is racism. Though there’s

no place on the British (or U.S.) census categories of race or ethnicity to select “Jewish,” Judaism is more than just a religious identity, he argues. As an atheist, Baddiel is reluctant to call himself part of the Jewish religion, though he strongly thinks of himself as a Jew ethnically. Yet for white supremacists, who marched down the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, in August 2017 chanting “Jews will not replace us,” it’s clear that Jews are not accepted as white, despite many identifying as such, argues Baddiel. “Racists will always think that Jews are

subhuman vermin; that’s what racism is,” Baddiel said. “Whether or not there’s a notion of Jews as a race.” This argument is a hairy one, as it excludes Jews of color who experience racism in addition to antisemitism, and who encounter racism from within the Jewish community. Baddiel knows this and opts to avoid the topic almost completely, save for a footnote explaining his reasoning for excluding this demographic. “I have had a criticism of this, and I’m perfectly happy to acknowledge that criticism,’’ Baddiel said. “But at the end of the day, the book is a thesis and a polemic.” “Jews Don’t Count” is part of a Times Literary Supplement series of essay books. Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series, wrote the first in the series, and TLS asked Baddiel to write another. The book doesn’t include interdisciplinary research or the opinions of experts; at the most, he shares several tweets, some to which he’s angrily replied. Baddiel’s Twitter bio is even a bit tonguein-cheek. “Jew,” it reads. Baddiel had never tried to hide his Jewishness. “I don’t have shame, much, as an emotion because I’m a comedian,” Baddiel said. “And one of the first things I wanted to do was use my Jewishness in my comedy.” There aren’t many Jewish comedians in Britain who do this, Baddiel believes. He lists a few in the book, which he’s almost certain will be unknown to his American audience, but Baddiel’s point stands. Though Baddiel has never been ashamed of his Jewish identity, he has been threatened

for it, something that sets him apart from other Jews in Britain who are much quieter about their Jewish identities. Baddiel recalled a dinner party at a rabbi’s house that he attended about a decade ago. He and the guests began talking about antisemitism. Some said they had never encountered it. Baddiel was irked. “You know why? Because you’ve never come out publicly as Jewish. I’m the only person around this table, apart from the chief rabbi, who comes out and talks about being Jewish,” Baddiel said. After releasing “Jews Don’t Count,” Baddiel hopes the tides are slowly turning. The other week, Baddiel received a message from an 18-year-old college student who’s progressive and politically involved. For the past two years, the young man was afraid of bringing antisemitism into discussions around discrimination, fearing he wouldn’t be taken seriously. “Jews Don’t Count” changed that for him: “He then read the book and said, ‘Now I won’t do that. You’ve given me a way of talking about it.’” Despite so many Jews reading and reacting positively to the book, it wasn’t intended for them. Baddiel hopes that non-Jewish white progressives will read “Jews Don’t Count.” For those left-of-center, who stand in solidarity with other oppressed groups, Baddiel hopes they can make room for just one more.  PJC Sasha Rogelberg writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared.

Valuing relationships, imagination — BOOKS — By Eleanor Linafelt | Contributing Writer

“Real Estate” Deborah Levy Bloomsbury Publishing


n the first sentence of her autobiography “Real Estate,” out now from Bloomsbury, Deborah Levy buys a banana tree. What she really wants to buy is a house (hence the title of the book) but is unable to given her modest income as a writer, even a successful one who has published many other works of fiction, an autobiography and plays. The banana tree, growing in a pot in the bathroom of Levy’s “crumbling” London apartment, becomes a consistent figure throughout the book that otherwise wanders both geographically, as the writer travels to Mumbai, Paris, Berlin and Greece, and thematically, as she explores motherhood, love and feminism. When “Real Estate” opens, Levy, who was born in South Africa to a Jewish father and English mother, is approaching her 60th birthday, her youngest daughter is about to leave for university and she is reckoning with the idea of living alone in the apartment


that she started renting after the end of her long marriage. She dreams of “a grand old house” with “fountains and wells, remarkable circular stairways, mosaic floors, traces of the rituals of all who had lived there before me.” But, as Levy writes, “I could not place it geographically, nor did I know how to achieve such a spectacular house with my precarious income.” So she buys a banana tree, which her daughters lovingly refer to as Levy’s “third child,” as well as many other luxurious items that she hopes to use one day to fill her dream house. “Real Estate” is interested in the material world, but Levy manages to come across as unmaterialistic. Rather, the descriptions of her Afghan horse sculptures, silk sheets and sage green shoes are simply reminders of the worth of surrounding ourselves with beautiful things when we are able to. And finally, Levy is able to do so. Upon receiving a sexist comment from a male writer about the “lateness” of her professional success, Levy reflects on how long it took for her to be recognized for her writing because of all that she was up against as a young woman, and mother, in a patriarchal literary world. Spending her hard-earned money on things that she wants — even if she can’t buy a house — is a way Levy asserts

her independence. While she values her material objects, it is ultimately clear that relationships are the most important things of all to Levy. After she accidentally throws away the lovely presents she purchased for her friend’s birthday — a fountain pen, candied chestnuts and cicada-shaped soap — what matters most


is that she still showed up to the party. At a dinner, she is entranced by a friend’s emerald earrings, but even more so by their long, far-ranging conversation. She buys new plates and cutlery for her temporary apartment in Paris for the purpose of being able to share a meal with new friends. In the final paragraph of “Real Estate,” Levy writes, “I suppose what I most value are real human relations and imagination.” The house that Levy dreams of is only a figment of her imagination. As a writer, she can’t buy sprawling real estate. But what she can do is write about it, as she does in “The 18th,” a short story about buying a mansion in Paris included toward the end of “Real Estate.” “The 18th” illuminates just how much Levy has offered in her autobiography. The fictionalized story is filled with details from the writer’s real life that we became privy to throughout the book. “Real Estate” provides a rare look at not only how a writer lives — the objects she buys, the people she sees, the things she talks about — but also how that life makes its way into skillful, thoughtful work.  PJC Eleanor Linafelt is a contributing writer to the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared. SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 17



Conservatives accuse Biden The struggle is inherent in being human of lying about visiting Tree of Life synagogue Rabbi Howard Stein Parshat Ha’azinu Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52

— NATIONAL — By Ron Kampeas | JTA


t seemed like a perfect “gotcha” moment: President Joe Biden, speaking to rabbis on Zoom before Rosh Hashanah on Thursday, said he visited the Tree of Life synagogue building in Pittsburgh sometime after the 2018 massacre. Except he didn’t.

“President Biden kindly called me on my cell phone as I was sitting in Dulles Airport awaiting a return flight to Pittsburgh after I testified before Congress in July 2019,” he said. “In a heartfelt way, he extended his condolences and asked how we were doing. “We spoke about the challenges of antisemitism, and he made clear he would confront it with us as president,” he continued. “The conversation meant a great deal to me, and I will always be grateful for his kind words and

“ The conversation meant a great deal to me, and I will always be grateful for his kind words

and continued support of our community.


The New York Post, a conservative outlet, seized on the moment with a headline reading: “Tree of Life synagogue disputes Biden’s claim he visited after massacre.” It included a statement from the synagogue’s executive director saying Biden did not visit the synagogue. But Biden did not precisely say he visited the synagogue, because he never finished his sentence. He seemed to start out recalling visiting the synagogue, but mid-sentence changed his recollection to speaking with someone. “And [hate has] been given too much oxygen in the last four, five, seven, 10 years, and it has seen itself, whether it was — I remember spending time at the — you know, going to the — you know, the Tree of Life Synagogue, speaking with the — just — it just is amazing these things are happening — happening in America,” he said. In a statement to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, the White House said Biden was referring to a phone call he made after the shooting to Jeffrey Myers, the rabbi of the Conservative congregation, one of three in the Tree of Life building. “He was referring to a call he had with the Tree of Life rabbi in 2019,” a White House official said. Myers in a statement to JTA confirmed the call.

continued support of our community.” The October 2018 attack, the worst attack on Jews in U.S. history, claimed 11 lives. Former President Donald Trump visited the site after the attack, but received a hostile reception from some in the local Jewish community. The Pittsburgh shooter had on social media cited a conspiracy theory that Jewish billionaire George Soros was engineering a migrant “invasion” of the United States. Trump had separately peddled the same false theory. Biden’s tangled words on Thursday opened up the door to Republicans to turn the tables. “Joe Biden said he remembered spending time at the Tree of Life Synagogue after it was attacked in 2018,” said America Rising, a Republican opposition research outfit. “President Biden did not visit the synagogue. CNN fact checks the President’s comments.” The attached CNN report deemed Biden’s statement “false.” The Republican Jewish Coalition, which has come under repeat fire from Jewish Democrats for its backing of Trump, also savored the moment. “The ultimate irony: the person who actually did visit in 2018 with members of the Jewish community? His predecessor,” the group said on Twitter.  PJC


arshat Ha’azinu is largely comprised of the Song of Moses, a poetic message to the people of Israel as they prepare to enter the Land of Israel. Despite the opening in which Moses hopes that his words will fall like nourishing rain, the overall tone of the passage is quite bitter. Like many of the prophetic passages, it acknowledges God as perfect and as having given us all good things in the past. However, it also accuses us of having strayed far from the path God has laid out for us. God would abandon us except that the other nations would take credit for

words of Dylan Thomas — “rage against the dying of the light.” One element of great consequence in the Hebrew Bible is that the figures are imperfect humans. Moses is prone to impatience and fits of anger. Despite his flaws, though, he had the courage to stand up to Pharaoh and the presence to motivate the Israelites to follow him through the desert to the banks of the Jordan River. He was our teacher and lawgiver par excellence, the one who was able to experience God’s presence as nobody else could. Yet for all of that, he could not keep the people from straying. Our thoughts of sin, repentance and forgiveness are very much present as we have just completed our observance of Yom Kippur. But even that is not the end of the

We must be honest and firm with ourselves regarding what we must do better in the coming year. But we also must be gentle with ourselves and recognize that the struggle to stay on the path is inherent in being human. their own successes rather than acknowledge the supreme God’s presence in all things. It is significant to recognize that God does not maintain our special relationship because of the oaths and covenants previously established. Rather, God will smite our enemies so that the nations will praise us because there is no other nation willing to recognize God as such. The reading does not even end with a nechemta, a note of comfort; God reminds Moses that he will not enter the Land and tells him to ascend Mt. Nebo where he will die. Despite the coming great joy of the festival of Sukkot, there is a certain sense of discontent as the earth withers in advance of the coming winter. The book of Kohelet (Ecclesiastes), traditionally read on the Shabbat during Sukkot, has the bitter tone of another great figure nearing the end of his life, King Solomon. Despite the vast achievements of both Moses and Solomon, and their great rewards from God, they both — in the

season, as tradition holds that the gates of repentance remain open until Hoshanah Rabbah at the end of Sukkot. We must be honest and firm with ourselves regarding what we must do better in the coming year. But we also must be gentle with ourselves and recognize that the struggle to stay on the path is inherent in being human. We will make some wrong turns along the way — just like Moses, Aaron, Abraham and all of our revered ancestors. And we would expect to near the end of our lives with some bitterness and regret. Let us also be mindful of the need to be grateful to ourselves and to God for what we have accomplished, and the good that is present in each of us. Shabbat shalom and chag sameach.  PJC Rabbi Howie Stein is the rabbi of Temple B’nai Israel in White Oak. This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.

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Obituaries ADELKOFF: Stuart Adelkoff. On Aug. 28, 2021, at age 89, beloved husband, father and grandfather, Stuart Adelkoff, passed away in Boynton Beach, Florida. Stu was married for 67 years to the love of his life, Marilyn Berger Adelkoff. He fell in love with her during a Pittsburgh snowstorm and thought, both then and throughout his life, that she was the most beautiful girl in the world. He is also survived by his three children — Linda Adelkoff LeGrand (Overland Park, Kansas), Carol Adelkoff and Steven Adelkoff (Pittsburgh) — all of whom adored their father. Stu’s three granddaughters — Kaya LeGrand (Max), Daria LeGrand, and Eliana — will miss their Papa and treasure memories from all the wonderful family trips and visits over many years. Also mourning for Stu are his brother Allan (Arlene), brother-in-law George Berger, and many other family members, friends and associates. Stu was fiercely loyal to his family and loved each member unconditionally, beaming with pride at every success and never failing to offer an outstretched hand and comfort when needed. Stu always had time to listen, and he cherished opportunities to sit with a loved one and have a long, deep discussion, whether it be problem-solving on any issue or just talking about life. Everyone loved Stu. He was kind and charming and generous, a deep thinker with a brilliant mind for business and numbers. He was sought out by countless people for advice. He enjoyed golf and, while he was able, he jogged every morning. He loved to laugh, dance and sing. Son of the late Evelyn and Joseph, Stu grew up in Stamford, Connecticut, and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in business and real estate. He was commissioned in the Air Force from 1954-1957 at the rank of 1st Lieutenant at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas, and he was promoted to captain while in the reserves, during which time he served as training officer and

adjutant. For most of his professional career, Stu cherished his business partnership with Stanley Gumberg as an equity partner of J.J. Gumberg Company. Their areas of expertise were real estate development, management, financing and acquisitions, and they operated shopping centers, apartment buildings, industrial properties and office buildings. During his career, Stu acted as consultant in real estate matters to Prudential Insurance Co., New York Life Insurance Co., Pittsburgh National Bank, Union National Bank, the University of Pittsburgh and other major institutional organizations. For 12 years, Stu taught real estate courses at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Business. After retirement, Stu headed the development subsidiary of Mellon-Stuart Co. to restructure the firm and insure its future into the 21st century. Stu’s many other associations include: president of Westmoreland Country Club, Pittsburgh; Investment Committee for United Jewish Federation Endowments; first president of Hunters Run Golf & Racquet Club, Boynton Beach; advisory board for Florida National Bank (First Union); board of directors of Delray Medical Center; chairman of United Jewish Federation Campaign, Hunters Run; Boynton Beach 20/20 Visions Committee. A graveside ceremony was held for immediate family on Aug. 31, 2021, at Beth Israel Memorial Chapel in Delray Beach, Florida. A memorial service will be held when appropriate. Contributions as you wish may be made to the charity of your choice. DIAMONDSTONE: Robert C. Diamondstone, age 82, of King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, passed into eternal peace at home on Sept. 5, 2021. He was the son of the late Julius and Nathlyn Diamondstone, father of William (Patricia) Diamondstone of Malvern, Pennsylvania, and Janet (Steve) Gronsky of Bethel Park, Pennsylvania, and brother of Richard (Karen) Diamondstone of

Jeannette, Pennsylvania. Bob is survived by four grandsons, Matthew and Daniel Diamondstone, and Stephen and Michael Gronsky. He was the uncle of Michael and Jordan Diamondstone. Bob graduated from Taylor Allderdice High School in 1957 and from Franklin and Marshall College in 1961. He enjoyed a successful career helping people set up insurance, investment and retirement plans, retiring in 2007. In his 70s, he loved being a coach of his son’s adult baseball team and was adored by his teammates, as well as opposing players and umpires, for his good nature, humor and knowledge of the game. Bob’s father used to tell him that if he had one good friend in this world, he was a rich man. Based on that notion, Bob died very wealthy. EDELSTEIN: Jason Z. Edelstein. Jason Edelstein was born Jan. 31, 1930, in Newburyport, Massachusetts, and passed away peacefully in Pittsburgh at the age of 91, on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. He was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Eva B. Edelstein, in 2019. He was a loving father of Philip (Debbie) Edelstein, Sharon (Bradley) Simon and Joseph Edelstein (Lori Defilippi); He was a loving grandfather, “Zayde,” to Rebecca, Max, Jared, Tori and Jordan. He is also survived by his brother, David (Sandy) Edelstein of West Palm Beach, Florida. In his early years, Jason attended Newburyport High School and continued his studies at the University of New Hampshire where he earned a B.A. in psychology (1951) and an M.A. in clinical psychology (1953). In 1952, Jason married Eva, and over the next 67 years they lived in Williamsburg, Virginia (1952-1953); Cincinnati, Ohio (1953-1958); Honolulu, Hawaii (1958-1960); Monroeville (1960-2020) and Pittsburgh until his passing. After a brief career as a psychologist, Jason attended Hebrew Union College where he earned his M.A. and became an ordained rabbi in June of 1958. Jason was

a lieutenant and chaplain in the U.S. Naval Reserve and served in Pearl Harbor from 1958 until 1960. On Dec. 7, 1959, Jason officiated the dedication ceremony of the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor. He also hosted a luncheon with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when he traveled to Pearl Harbor to visit the site. Jason served as rabbi of Temple David in Monroeville, Pennsylvania, from 1960-1995 and rabbi emeritus from July 1995 till his death. From 1978 until 1995, Jason served as the coordinator for the Central Conference of American Rabbis Crisis Hotline, which served fellow rabbis and their families. For 51 years he taught in both the theology department and the seminary at Saint Vincent College from 1968 until 2020. With his close friend Father Campion Gavaler, he pioneered and co-taught a course in Catholic-Jewish Dialogue which gave way to a permanent chair in Catholic-Jewish Dialogue in his honor in 2015. He was awarded the Thoburn Excellence in Teaching award in November 2000. As recently as July, Jason continued to lecture on Jewish topics and led a discussion group on the Holocaust for his fellow residents at Lighthouse Pointe in Fox Chapel. Jason loved spending time with his children and grandchildren. He enjoyed good food and good conversation, and was never at a loss for a thoughtful word and prayer that fit every occasion. Services were held at Temple David. Interment Temple Sinai Memorial Park. Memorial donations can be made to the Jason Z. Edelstein Endowment Fund at Temple David, 4415 Northern Pike, Monroeville, PA. 15146. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc.

Please see Obituaries, page 20

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Sunday, September 26, 2021 • 11:00 am Tifereth Israel Cemetery Maple Drive • New Castle, PA Friends and Family Welcome

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SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 19

Obituaries Obituaries: Continued from page 19

MARKS: Mary Baker Marks. Born in the Lower Hill District of Pittsburgh on June 11, 1926, Mary Baker Marks was the daughter of Joseph and Sarah Baker of Lithuanian descent. Mary’s immigrant mother lost her spouse at a young age, leaving Sarah to raise seven children on her own, relying on perseverance, strength and belief in God — qualities that she passed on to Mary. Mary assisted her mom by working in a grocery store after school and weekends for $4 per week. Upon graduation from Fifth Avenue High School, Mary took a position with Cazen’s, a wholesale kosher food distributor, and at the same time, attended evening classes at the University of Pittsburgh. At 18, Mary wed the first love of her life, Karl Zlotnik, with whom she had two children, Joanne (the late Jeffrey Pobiner) and Stanley (Nikol). Tragedy struck their blissful life at an early stage and Karl, at age 27, passed away from rheumatic heart disease. Like her mom, Mary was widowed at a young age. With a 3-year-old daughter and 12-month-old son, Mary continued to work as a bookkeeper with Cazen’s and then with B & L Sour Cream. Well-appreciated and highly esteemed by her boss, he introduced her to his close friend, Herbert “Marky” Marks. In 1956, several years after Karl’s death, they married. Her third child, David (Dori), was born in 1958.

Mary then took an accounting job with Children’s Hospital, a position she held until Herbert’s health began to decline. At age 57, Mary retired and became a full-time caregiver for her husband. Four years later, twice widowed, she chose not to return to her professional career, but instead concentrated on her grandchildren and volunteer work. Well known for her wit, sense of humor and big heart, she devoted her time to Children’s Hospital and the Jewish Community Center, where she became a fixture. An early participant in the JCC Yiddish class, she was asked to assume teaching responsibilities for one year. One year turned into 25 years based on her enormous following. With attendance standing room only regularly, her classes always ended with an off-color Yiddish joke. Mary also volunteered with the JCC Friendship Line where she was tasked with calling on two or three senior citizens and wishing them a good Sabbath each Friday. In a short time, those two or three calls grew to over 300 weekly Sabbath calls. As a result, she became affectionately known as “Shabbos Mary” with people near and far hoping to make her call list. The recipient of several service awards, including the Lillian Goldstein Senior Volunteer Leadership Award, Jewish Association on Aging Eight Over Eighty, Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh’s Tribute for Three, and Technion Women’s Division Outstanding Dedication Award, Mary also was a life member of Hadassah, Na’amat, and Weinberg Ladies Auxiliary, where she coordinated their benevolent fund.

The longest-living tenant of the Maxon Towers, building management and her neighbors recognized her as the “Maxon Mayor,” along with neighbor and former Pittsburgh mayor, Sophie Masloff. A steadfast and trusted friend to many, she frequently coordinated dinners and entertainment outings with the Maxon Towers group called “Friends Forever.” Mary was a devoted sister to her lone surviving sibling, Rose Thompson, as well as her predeceased siblings, Sam Baker, Donald Baker, Esther Karpo, Sylvia Karpo and Sally Chudacoff. More than anything else, her calling was the role of mother and grandmother. She served this role with an unmatched excellence and distinction, an adoring and loving mother and then grandmother to her eight grandchildren, including Joshua Marks (Brooke), Jordan Marks (Zohar), Ben Marks, Dustin Marks, Adam Marks, Shawn Pobiner (Lisa), Todd Pobiner, and Dana Feldman (Michael). The matriarch of the family, she also was a doting great-grandmother to her four great-grandchildren, Jeffrey Pobiner, Sloan Marks, Jacob Feldman and Dylan Feldman. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Tiphereth Israel Cemetery. Contributions in Mary’s memory may be made to the JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, Chabad of Squirrel Hill, Western Pennsylvania Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and the Stanley M. Marks Endowed Research Fund at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. PEARLSTEIN: Betty Pearlstein, age 88, of

In memory of …

A gift from …

In memory of …

Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Frieda Gelman Margolis.

Ruth K. Goldman . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Jeanette Golanty Gross.

Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Morris Pattak.

Lynne Gottesman and Debra Ritt . . . . . . . Louis Wesoky.

Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .I.W. Pettler.

Mr. and Mrs. Dana Kaufman . .Marlene Rofey Kaufman.

Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Eleanor W. Pettler. Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sara Pollack. Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . David Pollack. Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Louis Zeiden.

SKEEGAN: Ruth Skeegan, in her 101st year, on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Beloved wife of the late Louis Skeegan. Beloved mother of Carol (late Michael) Kushkin, Bill (Joan) Skeegan and Samuel (Mary) Skeegan. Sister of Joseph (late Dorothy) Sporik, late Ann Miller and Larry Sporak. Also survived by 11 grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Graveside service and interment were held at Beth Shalom Cemetery. Contributions may be made to Weinberg Village, 300 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 or Jewish Community Center, 5738 Forbes Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated.  PJC


Jewish Association on Aging gratefully acknowledges contributions from the following: A gift from …

Shadyside, on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Dearly loved wife of the late Danny Pearlstein. Beloved mother of Rhonda Kaplan (Geoff) and Joanie Dunn. Adored grandmother “Mimi” of Jessica (Dan), Erica (Joe), Alex (Katie), Danielle (Kevin) and Elise. Great-grandmother of Charlie and Scarlett. Aunt of Ralph (Martha) Katz. Dog grandma of Olive. Born in Canton, Ohio, to the late Louis and Lillian Gold. Sister of the late Gloria Katz. Betty was one of a kind and someone who captured the heart of anyone who was fortunate to know her. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment private. Contributions may be made to Surgicorps International, 3392 Saxonburg Boulevard, Glenshaw, PA 15116, an organization that was dear to her. Condolences may be shared with the family at

Faye Nickel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sylvia Melnick Linda Rattner Nunn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rose Cohen Rattner. Debra Ritt and Lynne Gottesman . . . . . . . Louis Wesoky.

Annette Alper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Maurice Alper.

Simma & Lawrence Robbins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sam Nadler.

David and Judith Clovsky . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Irving Clovsky.

Howard & Rhea Troffkin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sally Brenner.

William Feldman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isadore Feldman.

Carole Wolsh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Estherita Cohen

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THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS — Sunday September 19: Mollie Brand Amsel, Ruth Haltman Caplan, Gerald C. Davidson, Thekla Zimmern Gordon, Jesse Levy, Esther Mandell, Samuel Maryn, Samuel G. Osgood, Michael Sattler, Morris Saxen, Jeanette Schutzman, Harry T. Weiner

DEBORAH S. PRISE Licensed Jewish Funeral Director

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Monday September 20: Joseph Bowytz, Freda K. Unikel Bregman, Leah Breman, Dora Brody, Sadie Colton, Bess R. Escott, Laura Fletcher, Helen Goldfeder, Leana M. Herman, Harold Martin Lewis, Ben Markowitz, Celia Miller, Mollie Osgood, Dr. Gerald L. Ostfield, Elizabeth L. Ostfield, Md, Israel Raphael, Clarence Rosenberg, Bessie Ruth Roth, Albert Solomon, Henry Ziskind Tuesday September 21: Beatrice Ash, Jacob Bennett, Max M. Bergad, Morris R. Cohn, William Y Conn, MD, Max Dine, Harry Dorsey, Jacob Florman, Bess Hansell, Millie Kanowitz, Morris Kempler, Selma Krouse, Pvt. Isadore Levy, Ernest Mannheimer, Katie Levine Marcus, Anna Mazer, Bella Olinsky, Esther Simon, Max Staman, Anna Stein, Nathaniel Steinberg, Barbara Ruth Weisenberg, Louis Wesoky, Louis Aaron White, Milton Wirtzman Wednesday September 22: Esther Aronovitz, Jack Bergad, Cecilia Weis Bluestone, Frances Sylvia Brown, Ann Colker, Annette Klee, Charles Kovacs, Bernard S. Labbie, Fannie Lieberman Lawrence, Sadie Moldovan, Joseph Moskovitz, Samuel H. Richman, Louis M. Sachs, Aaron Joel Schwartz Thursday September 23: Sylvia Auslander, Leo Berkowitz, Gilbert B. Cramer, Iris Cummings, Murray Feiler, Rose Fisher, Jack Hirsch, Joseph Louis Hochman, Rose Isaacson, Sophia Korsunsky, Sam Nadler, David Nathaniel Racusin, Walter Jacob Robins, Myer Shapiro, Ben Shrager Friday September 24: Ida M. Breman, Sam Chizeck, Judith Kochin Cohen, Lillie Levy, Shirley Watchman Loefsky, Selma Luterman, Selma Luterman, Esther Mallinger, Rose L. Miller, Sarah Mormanstein, Lena Newberg, Sadye Breman Novick, Rose Cohen Rattner, Mollie Robins, Joseph Scott Saturday September 25: Allen A. Broudy, Fannie Sulkes Cohen, Shachny Grinberg, Jeanette Gross, Rebecca Herman, Anita Lois Hirsch, Pauline Klein, Paul G. Lazear, Joseph Robert Lipsich*, Clara M. Oberfield, Harry Pearl, Melvin N. Rosenfield, William Sable, Tillie Scott, Jacob Soffer, Samuel Supowitz, Louis Zeiden

20 SEPTEMBER 17, 2021

Bernadette L. Rose-Tihey Funeral Director, Supervisor, Vice President

Same Staff, Same Location, Same Ownership, New Name Previously, “The Rapp Funeral Home.” 10940 Frankstown Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15235 412.241.5415






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WASHINGTONS LANDING • $649,000 Fabulous townhome on the water with a park-like setting! Enjoy a gourmet cooks kitchen that opens to the dining/living area with a beautiful gas fireplace, glass doors to a newer trex deck that has a remote controlled awning. 2nd floor master area has a dual vanity, two person jacuzzi, as well as a shower, and a water closet. The third floor has a great room that extends the length of the home and has a full bath … a multi purpose room for entertaining, as well as sleeping. Call for directions. FOX CHAPEL MEWS • $599,000 • NEW PRICE! Stunning, move in ready condo with every updated amenity! Just hang up your clothes! 3 BR, 3 BA, double patio, storage galore, and steps from the elevator. The Mews offers indoor pool, exercise room, outdoor tennis, and beautiful guest suites. Convenient location to all city areas, and walking distance for coffee or shopping. Shown by appointment with Etta Golomb. 412-725-6524 LAWRENCEVILLE • $599,000 • MCCLEARY SCHOOL CONDO Spectacular 3 bedroom 2 bath condo. McCleary School Condo. Great for a family. Mile high ceilings, 9.5 ft. island, sleek counter tops stainless appliances. 2 car covered parking. Bldg. amenities include roof top deck, exercise room, dog washing station. SHADYSIDE • THE HIGHWOOD CONDO • $169,000 Charming 2 bedroom with great windows and light, hard wood floors, roof top deck and assigned parking. These units rarely come on the market. Permitted to have 2 cats. SHADYSIDE • $185,000 DING Only a few doors from Walnut and Starbucks. PEN Adorable garden apartment with parking. Rarely one on market. Pets permitted. SHADYSIDE • $1,100,000 • 5000 FIFTH AVE. CONDO Special! 3 bedroom 3.5 bath condo with 3-car side-by-side garage. This unit has many living spaces including an expansive living Odining D room, a raised library above a family S L room, another den for the use of the bedrooms and a great eat in kitchen. This building includes a guest suite, exercise room, fabulous storage rooms, and a 24/7 attendant in the entry. JILL and MARK PORTLAND RE/MAX REALTY BROKERS 412.521.1000 EXT. 200

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Jordana Zober Cutitta, Realtor, Associate Broker, MBA 412-657-3555 | SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 21

Life & Culture Kenneth Feinberg helps 9/11 families find ‘Worth’ in Obama-produced Netflix movie — STREAMING — By Andrew Lapin | JTA


t a key moment in the new Netflix film “Worth,” Kenneth Feinberg, the real-life architect of the compensation fund for 9/11 victims, is shown overwhelmed by the monumental emotional toil of the job. At a town hall meeting for victims’ families Feinberg — whom Michael Keaton until this point has portrayed as an ultracompetent professional arbiter — is assailed by critics of the fund who see its calculations as too impersonal, its salve on their grief too pitiful. One stands up and angrily spits out that his fate is being decided by “some Jew lawyer.” That moment is as close as the film’s Jewish screenwriter Max Borenstein — making a sharp departure from his usual gig writing the new “Godzilla” movies — and director Sara Colangelo (who also helmed the American remake of the dark Israeli drama “The Kindergarten Teacher”) get to discussing Feinberg’s Judaism. It’s a notable oversight, given that Feinberg himself, placed in the role of a real-life Solomon, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency at the time that he had sought refuge from Jewish texts when putting the fund together. Yet the film’s depiction of the attorney, who is aware that he is making judgments way outside his depth for people who at times actively despise his presence, still rings true to his own account. Midway through interviewing families of victims to determine compensation, Feinberg told JTA that he was questioning the very nature of his own profession. “There is a problem in valuing life based on economic wherewithal,” he said at the time. Such levels of doubt and introspection are occasionally glimpsed but rarely ruminated on in “Worth.” This is a somber, monochromal movie timed to the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks. It keeps us at a safe remove from the actual horrors of 9/11 while still asking us to process them on an intellectual level — much like how it shows Feinberg, a seasoned arbiter of compensation cases, witnessing the World Trade Center wreckage through the window of his commuter train. Soon after the attacks, Feinberg is tapped

 Michael Keaton as Kenneth Feinberg and Stanley Tucci as Charles Wolf in the Netflix film “Worth”

to lead the fund by President George W. Bush’s attorney general, John Ashcroft, and is immediately ready for the challenge. He compiles an actuarial formula to objectively assign a dollar value to each life lost and devises a plan to get at least 80% of impacted families to agree to the fund. Feinberg is so confident in his mission that he insists he take on the work pro bono. He’s confident, that is, until the families start pushing back and the hardened lawyer sees the error of his thinking. And there are other bits that question the worthiness of the entire project: For example, we learn the fund itself only came into existence because Congress wanted to protect the airline industry from being sued into the ground. So what was Feinberg working toward? There are times watching “Worth,” even throughout the endless scenes of heartwrenching family testimony being collected, when you legitimately don’t know whether he sees his purpose as noble or cynical. Based on Feinberg’s own book, “What Is Life Worth?,” the movie is produced by Higher Ground, Barack and Michelle Obama’s production company. And whether

intentionally or not, it makes Feinberg out to be a kind of Jewish Obama: an intellectual Democrat handed an impossible task by Republicans who tries to reach diverse groups of people and is derided in public town halls. Also like Obama, Feinberg is accused of being aloof and unconnected to the struggles of real life; offers vague, noncommittal responses to direct questions; and must make no-win choices to reach imperfect compromises. Because this strangely familiar character type is shown operating in the period from 2001 to 2003, the end of the fund’s signing deadline, the film has the odd effect of using Feinberg to depict the Bush era through an Obama-like moral calculus. It avoids the ugly racism of post-9/11 America and never once mentions war — bitterly ironic for a film set during America’s invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and premiering days after the U.S. military pullout from the latter. In “Worth,” grief alone rules the decisions. The families that Feinberg hopes to turn into claimants often don’t even want money, only a compassionate ear to hear their story. By the end, Feinberg even gets to do

Photo by Monika Lek/Netflix via JTA

something that Obama often fantasized about but rarely achieved: work with one of his biggest critics to reach a victory. That would-be adversary is George Wolf (played by Stanley Tucci), who lost his wife in the attacks and organized an effort to “fix” the compensation fund before ultimately siding with Feinberg to declare “The fund is fixed.” In between, Feinberg and Wolf hold respectful disagreements and chat cordially when they bump into each other at the opera. It’s a vision of injured Americans coming together that, despite its basis in the historical record, can’t help but ring a little hollow 20 years on. Since 9/11, Feinberg has applied his considered, humanistic approach to victim compensation to many successive American tragedies, including the shooting at the Tree of Life building in Pittsburgh. It’s work that will continue to strike many of the affected as essential and others as superfluous, even damaging to victims’ memories. The central Talmudic question governing Feinberg’s life — “What is a life worth?” — remains an ongoing project. “Worth” is currently streaming on Netflix.  PJC

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Community JCC holds 126th Annual Meeting The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh held its 126th annual meeting on Sept. 1. Broadcast via Zoom, the program featured an organizational update and the presentation of several awards: Rogal-Ruslander Leadership Award: Merris Groff; Ida & Samuel Latterman Volunteer Mitzvah Award: Dr. Elizabeth Miller; S.J. Noven Koach Award: Cathy Reifer; Lillian Goldstein Senior Adult Volunteer Leadership Award: Shirley Holtzman Schwartz; Loving Kindness Award: Alan Mallinger; Presidential Citations: Project UPstanders and Volunteers; The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle — JCC Volunteer of the Year Award: Linda Simon; Caplan-Lieber Human Relations Award: Mitchell Howard

p Rabbi Ron Symons, Mayor Bill Peduto and Brian Schreiber

Photos courtesy of Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Macher and Shaker t Pittsburgh Business Times named Carole Bailey a winner of its 2021 Outstanding CEOs and Top Executives award. Bailey is president and CEO, East End Cooperative Ministry.

p Alan Mallinger accepts the Loving Kindness Award

Photo courtesy of EECM

Shofar so good Community Day School students blew the shofar during an outdoor Kabbalat Shabbat service.

p Dr. Elizabeth Miller accepts the Ida & Samuel Latterman Volunteer Mitzvah Award

p Shirley Holtzman Schwartz accepts the Lillian Goldstein Senior Adult Volunteer Leadership Award


p Merris Grof accepts the Rogal-Ruslander Leadership Award

p Second-grader Eitan Mezare p Fifth-grader Eitan Elhassid


Photos courtesy of Jennifer Bails via Community Day School

SEPTEMBER 17, 2021 23


• All-natural, corn-fed beef — steaks, roasts, ground beef and more • Variety of deli meats and franks • All-natural poultry — whole chickens, breasts, wings and more Available at select Giant Eagle stores. Visit for location information.

Alle Kosher 80% Lean Fresh Ground Beef


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Price effective Thursday, September 16 through Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Available at 24 SEPTEMBER 17, 2021



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Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 9-17-21  

Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 9-17-21  

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