March 19, 2021 | 6 Nissan 5781
Candlelighting 7:13 p.m. | Havdalah 8:13 p.m. | Vol. 64, No. 12 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org
Some vaccinated Pittsburghers plan in-person seders
NOTEWORTHY LOCAL Is vaccine line jumping OK?
Jewish Pittsburgh gets over $1 million in state security grants By David Rullo | Staff Writer
Four rabbis weigh in
Judaism is exciting,” she said. Sheryl remains guarded about the future, though. She does not yet feel completely at ease in public settings and is still wearing a mask. “When someone you know has a serious illness, it doesn’t allow you to judge other people and their choices,” she said. “People are fragile. I err on the side of being really, really careful. We need to protect people in the community that need protection.” Rosalind Katz Ainsman and her husband spent 12 days in the hospital last July with COVID-19. Ainsman was in intensive care for four days. “I had double pneumonia and everything that went along with it,” she said. “We were lucky. I am lucky to be here. I had excellent care. We made it through.” The couple have been vaccinated and plan to share a seder with two of their three daughters and their families. Ainsman, a Morningside resident, is not sure if she or her daughter will host the seder. What is certain is that the eight guests
ineteen local Jewish organizations will receive a total of more than $1 million in security grants from the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. The grants are part of Act 83, passed by the Pennsylvania legislature in 2019, which provides up to $5 million in funds for security enhancements for nonprofits that were victims of hate crimes or hate crime threats, or serve a population susceptible to hate crimes. The total $1,052,692 for local Jewish institutions represents an almost 62% increase in funds awarded by the Commission in 2020. The individual grants range from $5,000 to $150,000, and were awarded on a sliding, matching scale. Any funding awarded up to $25,000 is an outright grant, without any matching required; grants between $25,000 and $75,000 require a 33% match; grants between $75,000 and $150,000 require a 50% match by the organization. The organizations in Jewish Pittsburgh that got grants are: The Aleph Institute; Beth El Congregation of the South Hills; Beth Hamedrash Hagadol-Beth Jacob Cemetery; Beth Samuel Jewish Center; Congregation Beth Shalom; B’nai Emunoh Chabad; Temple B’nai Israel; Chabad of the South Hills; The Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh; The Jewish Association on Aging; Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh; Lubavitch Center; National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section; The New Riverview; Temple Ohav Shalom; Congregation Poale Zedeck; Shaare Torah Congregation; Tree of Life Congregation; Tzohar Seminary; and Yeshivath Achei Tmimim of Pittsburgh (Yeshiva Schools). The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh worked with state Rep. Dan
Please see Passover, page 14
Please see Security, page 14
LOCAL A new ‘Concept’
Art gallery expands to Regent Square Theater space Page 3
Dee Weinberg’s seder last year included places for her, her husband and the “guest of honor,” her computer. Photo provided by Dee Weinberg By David Rullo | Staff Writer
LOCAL ‘The Catastrophist’ “Ethics”: Photo by Andrei Askirka/iStockphoto.com
Life of Jewish virologist showcased by City Theatre Page 17
heryl Weissberg Silverman and her husband, Michael, got their COVID-19 vaccinations a couple months ago. They are now looking forward to celebrating Passover in Florida with family. It will be a welcome return to normalcy in a year that has been anything but. The day before Pittsburgh entered lockdown, Michael was diagnosed with cancer. The Silvermans’ son celebrated his bar mitzvah during the quarantine over Zoom. Their family sat shiva online for Sheryl’s mother at the beginning of March 2021. Two of their children, living in different cities, contracted COVID-19. “For us, things have really moved to a better place,” said Sheryl, a South Hills resident. Michael has been declared cancer free and both children have recovered. The family is grateful for the opportunity to be together, Sheryl said. “The idea of just sharing some of the important parts of our family and our
keep your eye on PittsburghJewishChronicle LOCAL
Headlines Judaism demands waiting one’s turn for vaccine, say local rabbis — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle
resident Joe Biden announced last week that all Americans would be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine by May 1. In the meantime, states are following vaccination schedules that prioritize the most vulnerable, including the elderly and those with underlying conditions. But some people who do not yet qualify for the vaccine are finding ways to circumvent the rules, whether through personal connections, lying about their physical condition or through providers who are not checking eligibility. Is it ethical to “cut in line” ahead of elderly people or the immunocompromised in order to get a COVID-19 vaccination shot early? The answer is a resounding no, according to four local rabbis. “It seems pretty plain to me that when you have a conversation about ethics, about fairness and justice, that line jumping contravenes those standards of justice and what’s right,” said Rabbi Danny Schiff, Foundation Scholar for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “It’s very hard to see how anyone could make an argument this is ethical.” When Rabbi Alex Greenbaum of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills was asked about the topic, he provided notes on the Conservative movement’s “Vaccination and Ethical Questions Posed by COVID-19 Vaccines,” which received unanimous backing from the Rabbinic Assembly in early January. The Assembly’s stance on the importance of getting COVID-19 vaccines is clear. “The Torah commands us to ‘Be careful and watch yourselves,’ which is understood
Rabbi Danny Schiff
Rabbi Alex Greenbaum
Rabbi Dovid Small Photo provided by the JAA
Rabbi Doris Dyen
by the Talmud to mean that we should avoid danger whenever possible. Elsewhere in Deuteronomy, we find the mitzvah of placing a parapet, or guardrail, around one’s roof. This is understood to mean that we should actively take steps to protect ourselves and others,” Rabbi Micah Peltz writes in the
assembly’s findings. Greenbaum added he’s familiar with four moral principles to guide who gets vaccines and in what order: treating people fairly; favoring the worst-off on the basis of the “rule of rescue”; utilitarianism to maximize benefits; and promoting social usefulness,
such as vaccinating those on the front lines of fighting COVID-19. Favoring the worst-off would lead to prioritizing those who are most vulnerable, such as the elderly, the immunocompromised and minority groups who historically have been discriminated against in health care, Greenbaum said. Since October, Rabbi Dovid Small, a former hospital chaplain, has been working with the elderly and infirm as the director of pastoral care for the Jewish Association on Aging. “There’s a concept that if someone is in danger, they need to be tended to,” Small told the Chronicle. “And people who are elderly are in greater danger. So, there’s a certain understanding or sensitivity that needs to be heeded when we’re talking about [COVID-19] vaccinations.” “It’s important we look after each other,” he added. “That’s a basic principle of Judaism.” Rabbi Doris Dyen, a Reconstructionist rabbi, serves as a hospital chaplain at UPMC Magee-Women’s Hospital and as spiritual leader for the Makom HaLev minyan. She sees Jewish thought as a little bit at odds with Western consumer-driven thinking. “Our broader culture’s message is often ‘Every person for him- or herself,’ but Judaism is, at its core, a religion of community,” Dyen said. “It’s about the individual as part of a larger community.” She cites the phrase “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” “That’s a statement that we all have to live together,” she said. “We should want for our neighbors what we want for ourselves. And all of us should be thinking of this.” PJC Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.
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Headlines Concept Art Gallery expands into the future — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer
he possibility of working with more new and emerging artists excites Sam Berkovitz. Berkovitz and Alison Oehler are the co-owners of Concept Art Gallery on South Braddock Avenue in Regent Square. The pair recently purchased the Regent Square Theater, next door to the gallery, which has been closed since 2019. “We needed more space to do a lot of what we wanted to do,” Berkovitz said. The gallery’s current space, he explained, didn’t work well for showcasing new and existing artists because it was too large, and the preparation time required for the installations was more complicated. The former theater, though, will offer the opportunity to create two new project spaces for just this purpose. “Smaller galleries are more appropriate for
The Regent Square Theater
this,” Berkovitz said, “and they can be more like a pop-up exhibition.” “It will allow us to do more exhibitions than we’ve ever been able to when the only option was to take over the gallery space,” co-owner Oehler said. The enlarged footprint will also allow for additional offices, another exhibition space in the theater’s former lobby, more room for storage and a photo studio. Both the extra space and photo studio are important for the gallery’s auction business, which has thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic. The construction, which will include a pass-through connecting the two buildings, is expected to begin in about six months and take a year to complete, which means it will be ready as Concept Art Gallery celebrates its 50th anniversary. Launched on Forbes Avenue in 1972 by Berkovitz’s parents, Mel and Carolyn, the gallery has grown over the decades. “When it opened, it was more about Please see Gallery, page 15
Wishing everyone a Chag Pesach Sameach. Next year... Together!
Photo by Sam Pliszka/Concept Art Gallery
greenwifi.com | (412) 228-3000 fsaconsulting.us | (412) 228-3100 Concept Art Gallery on South Braddock Avenue in Regent Square recently purchased the Regent Square Theater, next door to the gallery, which has been closed since 2019. Photo by Daniel McCusker/Concept Art Gallery
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MARCH 19, 2021
Headlines New Torah mantle dedicated this month — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer
ewish communities have wrapped their Torah scrolls in embroidered velvet, silk brocade and luxurious fabrics for more than 500 years. As protectors of sacred parchment, Torah mantles reflect their era, makers and locale. Pittsburgh’s newest mantle, crafted by fiber artist Louise Silk and commissioned by Kohenet Keshira HaLev Fife, was dedicated on March 13. Along with incorporating personal effects — a wedding dress, deconstructed hats, a yarmulke and tuxedo — the piece gives meaning to the past year and the cyclical nature of Torah reading, explained Fife. Shortly before the pandemic began, Fife got a scroll from Rodef Shalom Congregation. The nearly century-old parchment, which came to Rodef Shalom by way of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation, had belonged to Torath Chaim, a congregation in Highland Park that closed in 2004. Fife, the spiritual leader of Kesher Pittsburgh, an independent post-denominational community, said she sought to use the Torah for instructive purposes, as working with the actual text would help children Please see Mantle, page 15
Above, the mantle closed. Below, detail
at Kesher Pittsburgh better prepare for upcoming bar and bat mitzvah celebrations. Once the pandemic began, however, the scroll got more use. Each Shabbat, Fife and a community of kohenet (ordained priestesses), students and loved ones across the country and in the UK and Australia gather online and read from the scroll during Saturday morning services. Kohenet Liviah Wessely, of Herndon, Virginia, serves as a “cyber-gabbai” to
Torah mantle unfolded
Photos courtesy of Louise Silk
from sorrow unto joy
from slavery unto freedom
from mourning unto festive gladness
from darkness unto light
ThE MaNtEl fAmIlY wIsHeS YoU A “pAwSiTiVeLy” pEaCeFuL PaSsOvEr.
Chag Pesach Sameach Lee and Lisa Oleinick 4 MARCH 19, 2021
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
Headlines Jewish judge runs for state Supreme Court
WITH ISRAEL BONDS
So what are Israel bonds?
Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin
— LOCAL — By Jessse Bernstein | Contributing Writer
he travel. That’s what Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Maria McLaughlin remembers from her last bid for statewide office, almost more than anything else: the interminable drives. In her last campaign, McLaughlin left straight from work on a Friday and didn’t return home to Philadelphia until Sunday night, driving for hours to every corner of the state. Lackawanna County, Luzerne County, wherever, if you had an audience for her speak to, she’d give them their hour. Now, as McLaughlin prepares for another statewide campaign, this time for a seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, she admitted that there’s at least a little bit of a silver lining to the travel and crowd restrictions. Such is the power of Zoom. “I can be in western Pennsylvania, and eastern Pennsylvania, in the same night,” she said. McLaughlin, 54, regrets that she won’t get to meet as many voters in person as in her previous campaigns, and sees the relationships she made during her in-person visits as integral to her upcoming effort. But it does make it a little easier for her to do her day job while she runs for office. Democrat McLaughlin announced in December that she would seek the open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The court is already weighted 5-2 with Democratic justices, and with Chief Justice Thomas Saylor, a Republican, set to retire at the end of the year, McLaughlin’s eleva-
Israel bonds make great Passover gifts
Photo by R.D. Gallego for Maria McLaughlin
tion would further enshrine a Democratic majority. Ultimately, what spurred McLaughlin to run was a combination of good timing and a little gumption. “When I was in college, I said, ‘Why not law school?’ When I was in law school, ‘Why not prosecutor?’ When I was a prosecutor, ‘Why not be the trial judge?’ When I was a trial judge, ‘Why not be the superior court judge?’ And now it’s no different,” McLaughlin said. “I never envisioned — I never dreamed, as a little girl — that I would be a Supreme Court justice.” McLaughlin grew up in Philadelphia, and attended West Catholic High School. After graduating from Delaware Law School-Widener University, she spent nearly 20 years as an assistant district attorney in Philadelphia, rising to chief of the Child Support Enforcement Unit. She ran for office for the first time in 2011, winning a seat on the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, and served there until 2017. That year, McLaughlin was the leading vote-getter among all nine candidates for the Superior Court. As McLaughlin prepares for her upcoming campaign, she said that her motivations for seeking higher office are the same as they were back in 2011, but to a greater degree: a sense of responsibility. “It’s their office,” McLaughlin said of the public. “It’s everyone’s office, it’s not mine. The black robe is mine. But it belongs to everyone in Pennsylvania, not just the ones who voted for me, not just the ones who got me elected. Everyone.”
or via the Israel Bonds app
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Please see Judge, page 15
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MARCH 19, 2021 5
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 MONDAYS, MARCH 15, 22, 29;
APRIL 5, 12, 19
Join Rabbi Jeremy Markiz in learning Masechet Rosh Hashanah, a tractate of the Talmud about the many new years that fill out the Jewish calendar at Monday Talmud study. 9:15 a.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. q FRIDAY, MARCH 19
Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Young Adult Division and OneTable for Virtual Shabbat Dinner and Game Night. 6:30 p.m. For more information, including how to receive a $10 Giant Eagle gift card for dinner, visit jewishpgh.org/event. q FRIDAY, MARCH 19-MARCH 22
Join the National Council of Jewish Women for their Thriftique Spring Designer Sale. 125 51st St. Hours: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m.-3 p.m. ncjwpgh.org q SUNDAYS, MARCH 21, 28;
APRIL 4, 11, 18
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. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. q SUNDAY, MARCH 21
J Street Cleveland and J Street Pittsburgh are co-hosting a Zoom discussion of the upcoming Israeli election at 10 a.m. The meeting will feature Nadav Tamir, former advisor to Shimon Peres, discussing the upcoming election of March 23. To register for the free Zoom event, visit http://bit.ly/JStCLEPitt. Westmoreland Jewish Community Council with the Rauh Jewish Archives presents “Who’s Cooking, What’s Cooking?” Eric Lidji will discuss the Rauh collection of cookbooks from Jewish women’s organizations in Western Pennsylvania with a demonstration of a Passover dessert. 11 a.m. Register at heinzhistorycenter.org/events. Repair the World kicks off their Spring Environmental Justice volunteer session by making mask lanyards with Day Owl. Help Repair the World keep masks from being littered and support the JED Foundation. Free. Recommended ages 7-10. 11 a.m. werepair. org/Pittsburgh Classrooms Without Borders presents Echoes and Reflections: Prewar Jewish Life with Sheryl Ochayon, an exploration of the prewar lives of six teenagers from different countries, expressed in their own words through diary entries and other primary and secondary source material. 2 p.m. classroomswithoutborders.org/ prewar-jewish-lesson
6 MARCH 19, 2021
q MONDAY, MARCH 22
q THURSDAY, MARCH 25
Start the holiday off with inspiration from Classrooms Without Borders guide and scholar, Rabbi Jonty Blackman, and Cantor Julie Newman. The session will discuss unusual elements of Pesach in Israel. 5 p.m. classroomswithoutborders.org/ holidays-with-jonty
Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for the final session in its four-part series Forward Focus, exploring religious diversity in Israel. 12 p.m. For more information and to register, visit jewishtogether.org/forwardfocus.
Join Moishe House for “Climate Action from the Jewish Perspective.” Local climate activist Anna Bailes will teach about the Jewish perspective on the climate crisis, and some tools we can use to fight it. 7 p.m. facebook.com/ moishehouse.pittsburgh The Women of Rodef Shalom present Beyond Safety: The Plight of Incarcerated Women and honor Marion Damick for her decades of service to incarcerated individuals. 7 p.m. Free. s02web. zoom.us/j/84181381332 In a time of chaos and uncertainty, join Temple Sinai to hear Rabbi Karyn Kedar speak on Finding Spiritual Depth in a Flattened World. 7 p.m. For more information and to register, visit templesinaipgh.org. q TUESDAYS, MARCH 23-JUNE 1
What is the point of Jewish living? What ideas, beliefs and practices are involved? Melton Course 1: Rhythms & Purposes of Jewish Living examines a variety of Jewish sources to discover the deeper meanings of Jewish holidays, lifecycle observances and Jewish practice. Cost: $300 per person, per year (25 sessions), includes all books and materials. For more information and to register, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org. q WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24
Classrooms Without Borders is honored to convene an interfaith panel discussion with Rabbi Aaron Bisno of Rodef Shalom Congregation, Rev. David Poecking of Archangel Gabriel Parish and Imam Chris Caras of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh. This discussion is in partnership with Rodef Shalom Congregation, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh. 4 p.m. classroomswithoutborders.org/interfaithdiscussion-freedom-and-renewal Join Jewish Residential Services via Zoom for “How the Organization, Hope Grows, Provides Care for the Caregiver,” a discussion with Lisa Story (founder and executive director of Hope Grows) to learn more about Hope Grows and stress management. 4:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit jrspgh.org/education. Join Shawn Brokos, Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh director of community security, and Maggie Feinstein, director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership, for “The Fine Line Between Resiliency and Fear.” Learn about how the brain works under fear and what we can do to make the safest possible decisions for ourselves and those around us. 6 p.m. For more information, visit jewishpgh.org/organizer/10-27healing-partnership.
The University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program presents the four-part series “Shazam! Jewish Biblical Texts Transformed by the Power of Pictures,” featuring artist-in-residence Ben Schachter. 7:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit jewishstudies.pitt.edu. q FRIDAY, MARCH 26
The JCC’s Center for Loving Kindness presents A Passover Dinner Party with Rabbi Ron Symons and Classrooms Without Borders’ Melissa Hiller. Joining the two will be several interfaith leaders. A lively dialogue will lead to welcoming Shabbat after watching a 30-minute prerecorded dinner party. All are welcome. Free 5 p.m. jccpgh.org/event/a-passover-dinner-party q TUESDAY, MARCH 30
Classrooms Without Borders in partnership with Rodef Shalom Congregation and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage welcomes Wendy Lower author of the book, “Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields.” 4 p.m. For more information and to register, classroomswithoutborders.org/wendy-lower. q WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31
Learn more about how you can find healing and happiness right where you are and what holds you captive today from both a medical and spiritual standpoint when the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh presents What Are You a Slave To? A Conversation Around Addiction in the Context of Passover. 7:30 p.m. jewishpgh.org/event/ what-are-you-a-slave-to q THURSDAY, APRIL 1
The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s Education Outreach Associate, Emily Bernstein, interviews the 2020-’21 Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s “Holocaust Educator of the Year” James Lucot, Jr. Free. 3 p.m. For more information and to register, visit https://hcofpgh.org/events. q FRIDAY, APRIL 2
Join Repair the World for “Who Is at the Table? Immigration and Refugee Justice in Pittsburgh,” a Shabbat dinner unpacking and addressing immigration justice in Pittsburgh. Hear from local organizations working to fight for immigration justice and discuss how immigration connects to the Jewish holiday of Passover. Panelists include Gisele Fetterman, Aweys Mwaliya, Ben Gustchow, and Rachel Vinciguerra. Free. 6 p.m. rpr.world/Pesach q MONDAY, APRIL 5
Join Beth El Congregation of the South Hills for First Mondays via Zoom. Rabbi Alex Greenbaum will discuss with Dr. Cyril Wecht his new book, “The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht: Memoirs
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
of America’s Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist.” 12 p.m. bethelcong.org q WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7
Join Temple Sinai for guest speaker Rabbi James Jacobson-Maisels. Free and open the public. 1 p.m. For more information and to register, visit templesinaipgh.org. The Women of Temple Sinai invite you to their April cooking class. The guest cook is Lynn Magid Lazar. 6:30 p.m. Free and open to the public. Register at templesinaipgh.org for Zoom link. Beth Shalom Congregation’s Derekh Speaker Series welcomes Talia Carner. Carner will discuss “The Third Daughter: A Novel.” 7:30 p.m. Free. For more information and to register for the Zoom event, visit bethshalompgh.org/ speakerseries. Congregation Emanu-El Israel and the Seton Hill Holocaust Center invite you to attend their Yom HaShoah Memorial Program. This year, the program will remember Shulamit Bastacky, a Holocaust survivor who recently passed away and was active in Holocaust education in Western Pennsylvania. 7:30 p.m. For more information and to register, visit ceigreensburg.org. q SUNDAY, APRIL 18
The Jewish National Fund welcomes stars of the Netflix series “Fauda” to its annual Breakfast for Israel. 10:30 a.m. Register for the free event at jnf.org/bfi. q MONDAY, APRIL 19-MAY 31
Join Temple Sinai for “Making Our Days Count with Rabbi Karyn Kedar (via Zoom).” Rabbi Kedar will discuss the period between Passover and Shavuot, called Omer. She will teach seven spiritual principles for the seven weeks of the Omer: decide, discern, choose, hope, imagine, courage, pray. These principles can offer a path from enslavement to freedom, darkness to light, constriction to expanse. 7 p.m. templesinaipgh.org q TUESDAY, APRIL 20
The Jewish Pittsburgh History Series, sponsored by Rodef Shalom Congregation, will feature a presentation by Bob Rosenthal at 7 p.m. Rosenthal will discuss Rodef Shalom’s Building: Construction, Behind the Scenes, Oddities and What Was Where. 7 p.m. rodefshalom.org q THURSDAYS, MAY 6; JUNE 17
Jews have never desisted from addressing tough problems. In this year’s CLE series, Rabbi Danny Schiff will dive into “Tense Topics of Jewish Law.” Each topic raises significant concerns in our contemporary lives. With CLE/ CEU credit: $30/session or $150 all sessions; without CLE/CEU credit: $25/session or $125 all sessions. 8:30 a.m. For more information, including a complete list of topics, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org/continuing-legaleducation. PJC
Headlines Experts discuss Passover strategies — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer
Image by Liudmila Chernetska via iStock
s increasing numbers of people get vaccinated, pre-pandemic behavior is becoming more common. Still, Passover will be challenging for some this year, whether because they haven’t been vaccinated, they’re unable to travel or they’ll be separated from family and friends. Amy Gold, a social worker and information and referral specialist at AgeWell at the JCC, has been talking to s e n i or s a b out Passover strategies. Along with encouraging people to contact their doctors about personal health concerns and review CDC guidelines, Gold promotes pre-holiday communication. “Every individual and family has their own comfort level,” she said. Questions concerning mask wearing, hugging and distancing can be addressed well before breaking the middle matzah.
Some families may decide that another year of Zooming or outdoor visits is the best approach, continued Gold. “We just need to remember that our older adults are especially vulnerable and you have to weigh the risk and the benefit of being alone or gathering,” she said. Rabbi Dovid Small has been thinking about the impact of isolation this Passover. As director of pastoral care at the Jewish Ass o c i at i on on Aging, Small is organizing a model seder for residents and staff prior to the holiday’s start. He hopes to record the event so it’s accessible for later viewing. “One of the most important things is connection,” said Small. Whether it’s a phone call or delivery of a food item, “some sort of connection makes the holiday more meaningful.” Reaching out yields mutual benefits and reflects a theme of the holiday, he continued: “Passover is a time of personal freedom, and
“ Reach out and invite someone to sit on your porch with you. Maybe sing some seder
songs during the day. Nobody says that all
of those have to be done at night.
— STEFANIE SMALL With proper planning, popular holiday finding that personal freedom in your own life, leaving Egypt in your own life, I think it’s foods, like chocolate matzah, can be enjoyed special when we can share that with people by people outdoors together, especially now who are special in our own lives.” that the weather’s nicer. “We’re not in the Stefanie Small, director of clinical services middle of winter,” Small said. “We’re back at JFCS, said one of the pandemic’s silver in springtime.” linings has been discovering how technology So much of Passover is about hope and helps people connect, she said. But there freedom, said Small. “We’re still not past the are other ways, too, to bolster the holiday restrictions of the pandemic, but with all of experience. For instance, if someone locally the vaccinations and all of the knowledge — doesn’t have a place to celebrate Passover, the medical knowledge — we’ve gained, we offer a safe option. have hope for the future. We’re not in our “Reach out and invite someone to sit on normal situations, but this holiday can be a your porch with you,” said Small. “Maybe beacon of hope of what is yet to come.” PJC sing some seder songs during the day. Nobody says that all of those have to be Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ JC BrainHearing 6:27 PM Page 1 done at night.” DementiaFIN 2021_Eartique 3/15/21 pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
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MARCH 19, 2021 7
Headlines A house for the whole community — LOCAL — By Eric Lidji | Special to the Chronicle
ongregation Beth Shalom is often credited with building the first synagogue in Squirrel Hill. That claim is true, but it misses the essence of the Beacon Street building. The Archive recently received a copy of the first Beth Shalom yearbook, published before the High Holidays in 1924. The congregation had been around for seven years and dedicated the first section of its building a year prior, in September 1923. Today, that original structure is hidden amid a century of renovations. It sits in the middle of the complex, between the tall main sanctuary and the long educational wing. Early on, Beth Shalom explicitly did not call this building a “synagogue.” It was the “Community House.” It was purposefully set down the block because the congregation was saving the prominent corner lot for its synagogue, dedicated in 1931. The yearbook contains a description of the four-story Community House. The basement had a gymnasium, a kitchen and a boiler room. The main floor had an office and a reception area in front and a locker room in back. The second floor had six classrooms and an auditorium that initially served as the Beth
p The frontispiece of the 1924-1925 Beth Shalom yearbook included an illustration and a description of its new Community House. Image courtesy of Rauh Jewish Archives
Hamedrash. The third floor had a balcony overlooking the auditorium (presumably for women before the congregation allowed mixed seating). The 1931, 1970 and 1996 renovations essentially turned the Community House into a corridor connecting the newer wings on either
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side. Walking through the building today, it is hard to picture the layout of that original section. The Community House was visionary because it recognized two facts. First, the Jewish population of the 14th Ward was growing much faster than any other part of the city. The thousands of Jews who might someday support future construction would eventually arrive in Squirrel Hill, but they needed to see something worth supporting. Second, the Jews coming to Squirrel Hill were diverse. They claimed no single place of origin, nor any one denominational affiliation. A fair number had no interest in religion. The yearbook has greetings from local Orthodox, Conservative and Reform rabbis and Jewish educators, all endorsing Beth Shalom. We often talk about a Jewish migration from the Hill District to Squirrel Hill. But the Jewish population of Pittsburgh and its immediate vicinity in the 1920s was actually spread across about 20 neighborhoods and small towns. Consider the leaders of Beth Shalom at the time of the dedication. Where were they living a decade earlier? At least a third came from outside the Hill District — from Lawrenceville, the North Side, Oakland, East Liberty and Homestead. The Community House encouraged the consolidation we have today. The Community House had no strong ties to any other place in the city, any other region of the world or any specific approach
to Judaism. It was meant for everyone. Not until the arrival of the Hebrew Institute, the Squirrel Hill Boys Club and the Irene Kaufmann Center in the 1940s did Squirrel Hill have Jewish gyms, auditoriums or classrooms to rival Beth Shalom. Until then, the Community House held the center. In his remarks in the yearbook, Beth Shalom’s Rabbi Goodman A. Rose, on the job just three months, wrote, “We in this section are laying the foundations for a new Jewish community, distinctive, and in certain respects different from those from which we had come. We must organize our Judaism and mould our spiritual structures. What plans have we to follow? No set rules, no standard patterns, no fixed precedents are available for our guidance. We must think out our way step by step and act by act — this only being our unswerving principle, that not an iota of our Judaism is to be sacrificed.” By the time Beth Shalom dedicated its sanctuary in 1931, Squirrel Hill had two more congregations — Chofetz Chaim and Poale Zedeck. These Orthodox newcomers allowed Beth Shalom to move act-by-act toward Conservative Judaism and brought Squirrel Hill step-by-step closer to the full-spectrum of Judaism it came to represent. PJC Eric Lidji is the director of the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-454-6406.
This week in Israeli history — WORLD — Items provided by the Center for Israel Education (israeled.org), where you can find more details.
March 19, 2012 — ‘Photoshop Law’ passes
The Knesset adopts the “Photoshop Law,” setting a minimum body-mass index for adult fashion and commercial models and requiring clear notification of any alteration or digital manipulation of an image.
March 20, 1917 — Yigael Yadin is born
Yigael Yadin is born in Jerusalem. After becoming the second IDF chief of staff in 1949, he retires in 1952 and turns to archaeology. His excavations include Masada, Hatzor, Megiddo and the Dead Sea caves.
March 21, 2013 — Obama addresses Israeli people
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to 600 university students in Jerusalem and the state on TV and radio. He pleads for a two-state solution with the Palestinians while declaring that “Israel is not going anywhere.”
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March 22, 1988 — Homosexuality legalized in Israel
The Knesset repeals a British Mandate-era law banning sex between people of the same gender and thereby legalizes homosexuality in Israel. The repeal is the culmination of a 10-year legal struggle.
March 23, 1915 — Zion Mule Corps is created
A Jewish unit of the British army is formed in Egypt with about 500 volunteers, many of whom had been expelled from Palestine. What begins as the Assyrian Refugee Mule Corps becomes known as the Zion Mule Corps.
March 24, 1966 — Israeli TV goes on air
An instructional program in math targeting seventh- and ninth-graders in 32 schools becomes Israel’s first TV broadcast, 10 years after Jordan and six years after Egypt launch domestic television channels.
March 25, 1950 — Saudi: We’ll never recognize Israel
Saudi Deputy Foreign Minister Sheik Yusuf Yassin tells an American diplomat that Arab nations will never agree to any working relationship with Israel, and “we shall never admit a Jew in Saudi Arabia.” PJC
Headlines — WORLD — From JTA reports
‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ found at Capitol checkpoint
A Capitol Police officer has been suspended after a copy of “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an infamous anti-Semitic document, was found near his work area. The officer, part of the force that was overwhelmed during the Jan. 6 insurrection on the U.S. Capitol, is under investigation “after anti-Semitic reading material was discovered near his work area,” according to the Washington Post. Zach Fisch, chief of staff to Rep. Mondaire Jones, a Democratic congressman from New York, found the document, which was clipped together and tattered, on a table at the Capitol Police security checkpoint this week. He sent a photo of the document to the Washington Post. “As I left my office in Longworth yesterday, I discovered something that, as a Jew, horrified me,” Fisch tweeted Sunday night. “At the United States Capitol Police security checkpoint, someone had left vile anti-Semitic propaganda in plain sight.” The Protocols, first published in Russia in the early 20th century, is one of the most widespread anti-Semitic tracts of all time. It alleges a Jewish conspiracy to control the world. It has been published worldwide and was first
printed in the United States by Henry Ford. The Capitol Police have faced scrutiny since a mob of pro-Trump rioters succeeded in overwhelming most of its officers and breaking into the Capitol on Jan. 6 in an attempt to stop Congress from certifying the results of the presidential election. Some officers were seen being friendly with the rioters and encouraging them. One police officer, Brian Sicknick, died due to injuries sustained during the riot. Dozens more were injured. “This is both a national security problem and a workplace safety problem,” Fisch tweeted. “Our office is full of people — Black, brown, Jewish, queer — who have good reason to fear white supremacists. If the USCP is all that stands between us and the mob we saw on Jan. 6, how can we feel safe?”
Orthodox Jewish groups lobby for private school aid
After successful lobbying by Orthodox Jewish groups and others, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tucked $2.75 billion in aid for private schools into the $1.9 trillion pandemic rescue package. The move came over the objections of some public school advocates who have fought efforts to funnel federal money to private schools. The National Education Association expressed “strong disappointment” at what it called a “Betsy DeVos-era” policy, referring to former President Donald Trump’s education secretary.
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The funding did pick up a surprise endorsement from Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers and a frequent critic of government aid for sectarian schooling. She told The New York Times “it would be a ‘shonda’ if we didn’t actually provide the emotional support and nonreligious supports that all of our children need right now,” using the Yiddish word for “scandal.” Nathan Diament, public policy director at the Orthodox Union, thanked Schumer, a New York Democrat. “It’s still the case that 10 percent of America’s students are in nonpublic schools, and they are just as impacted by the crisis as the other 90 percent,” Diament told The Times. A previous coronavirus stimulus signed by Trump in December included $2.75 billion for private schools hit hard by the pandemic, a move backed by Orthodox and Roman Catholic groups. The current package directs governors to prioritize the private-school funding for schools serving disadvantaged students and private schools “most impacted” by the virus, according to Education Week.
Police raid church whose pastor prayed for another Holocaust
Federal police in Brazil raided the church whose pastor had prayed with congregants for another Holocaust. Last week’s raid in Rio de Janeiro was
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part of an operation titled “Shalom” by the federal police against Tupirani da Hora Lores, who heads the Pentecostal Generation Jesus Christ Church, Globo reported. Police confiscated literature there. Last year, da Hora Lores was filmed preaching and praying with his congregants, saying “Massacre the Jews, God, hit them with your sword, for they have left God, they have left the nations.” His congregants are heard repeating his words passionately. “They contrived, went with prostitutes, and when they were told to repent they said they’d do it but they lied,” the pastor said, possibly in reference to the forced conversions to Christianity during the Inquisition. “God, what you have done in World War II, you must do again, this is what we ask for in our prayers to you: Justice, justice, justice!” da Hora Lores shouted at his church, a small and radical evangelical congregation. Raniery Cavalcanti, a lawyer for Sinagoga Sem Fronteiras, a network of Jewish communities in Brazil, filed a complaint for incitement against da Hora Lores. The Jewish Federation of Rio de Janeiro and the CONIB National Jewish umbrella also took legal actions against da Hora Lores. The pastor “should have been detained,” Rabbi Gilberto Ventura, the Sao Paulobased founder of Sinagoga Sem Fronteiras, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “But the fact police raided his church is already a big development.” PJC
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MARCH 19, 2021 9
Opinion Jewish War Veterans at 125 — EDITORIAL —
t was on March 15, 1896, on a cold day in New York City, that 63 Jewish veterans of the Civil War gathered to address the then-popular canard that Jews were not patriotic enough to serve their country. These proud veterans and other Jews who had served honorably in the war were living proof that the demeaning accusation was an anti-Semitic lie. That day, those veterans founded the Hebrew Union Veterans Association. The SpanishAmerican War two years later and the wars of the 20th century created new Jewish military veterans, who formed their own groups. Eventually, the various groups merged and renamed their organization.
What we know today as the Jewish War Veterans of the USA traces its lineage back to that gathering in 1896 — 125 years ago — an anniversary we celebrate this week. But even today, the organization battles the myth that Jews don’t serve in the country’s armed forces. It also continues to fight discrimination against Jewish veterans and war dead. For example, in 2002, JWV pushed for the passage of the Leonard Kravitz Jewish War Veterans Act, which resulted in 24 service members being awarded the Medal of Honor after having been initially passed over because they were Jewish. And in a time when Jews felt less secure in this country than they do today, JWV took some unpopular yet principled positions that, as we look back, make us proud.
For example, in March 1933, after the Nazis came to power, more than 4,000 veterans marched on City Hall in New York to call for an economic boycott of Germany. And after World War II, JWV supported the Japanese American community’s efforts to seek redress for internment during the war. In 1963, JWV was a proud participant in Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s march on Washington. And, in 1971, after initially supporting American involvement in Vietnam, JWV became the first veterans service organization to call for bringing the troops home. JWV operates the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in Washington. The organization’s posts commemorate Memorial Day and Veterans Day annually, including gatherings at
the JWV memorial outside the Bender Jewish Community Center of Greater Washington in Rockville. And JWV staunchly defends the record: When Israeli Minister Tzipi Hotovely said in 2017 that American Jews “never send their children to fight … serving as soldiers, going to the Marines, going to Afghanistan, or to Iraq,” JWV set her straight, and she apologized. Last week, JWV released a video chronicling the organization’s 125-year history. It is a tribute worth watching. Although we pray that we will be able to avoid further war, we are grateful to all who have served our country, including, of course, our Jewish veterans. We celebrate JWV’s 125th birthday, and wish JWV continued success. PJC
questions is yes (and has been yes for quite some time). Everyone is willing to talk, but that isn’t leading us anywhere or providing a roadmap. Instead, let us “Think Yavneh,” with human-centered design thinking. If we are really ready for a new future, then we’re willing to take risks and engage in design-thinking. Instead of “Are there too many buildings?,” we might ask, “Where do people need to practice and explore their Judaism as a community?” Instead of “Are there too many institutions?,” we might ask, “What does an institution for Pittsburgh’s Jewish future need to do?” Instead of “Should we collaborate?,” we might ask, “What could communal collaboration look like?” It also might mean asking more specific questions like, “What do people want or need from their Judaism?,” “What does one look for when one chooses to join a community here in Pittsburgh?” or “What might our community look like to serve the next generation?” At Temple Ohav Shalom we are using such thinking to guide our steps into the future. We asked our teens what they wanted, and it wasn’t denominationalism; it was help finding their path. We created a teen board that encourages and creates opportunities for interdenominational and intercommunal programs and relationship building. We’ve done it with
the multiple virtual collaborative programs along with many organizations in Pittsburgh, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. We’ve done it by rethinking our religious school programming. Pre-COVID, we shifted to a Sunday and Saturday model that brought the entire family to the synagogue. Not every idea we tried has worked, but our design-thinking approach has produced results that have been well worth the effort. We make the best decisions when we act out of hope and not out of fear. Now is an eit la’asot, “a time to act” for the future of our Jewish community. We are blessed with such incredible lay and professional leaders in our Pittsburgh community. And, with only a 19% affiliation rate, the sky truly is the limit for the future of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. Now is the time to take that exciting step to think differently, to build on the incredible foundations of our ancestors, and ask the right questions. I am willing to throw my kippah into the ring and be an active participant in that worthwhile conversation that leads to action. It is not up to us to complete the task, but now is the time to do our part. Kulanu Kadimah, forward together my friends. PJC
Let’s ask the right questions Guest Columnist Rabbi Jeremy Weisblatt
hile I believe that the essence of last week’s article “More collaboration, fewer buildings? Jewish Pittsburgh post-COVID” is correct — that we are overbuilt and it would be worthwhile to think about collaborating — I think that we are starting with the wrong premise. First, while the 2017 Greater Pittsburgh Jewish Community Study showed that over 50% of our community is still within Squirrel Hill and adjacent neighborhoods, over 40% (and growing) of Pittsburgh’s Jews live in the surrounding suburban areas. Without bringing these leaders and communities into the conversation, we run the risk of failing to learn from our entire community. If we do not engage almost half of the Jewish population, we will draw wrong conclusions from the data, which will inevitably lead us to choose the wrong solutions for the community. It is essential that all voices, as much as is humanly possible, are included in the conversation of the future of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community.
In February 2020, I wrote a piece for The Times of Israel titled “A New Judaism: A Response to Dr. Windmueller,” in which I shared that we are heading in the wrong direction because we keep asking reactive questions. In other words, our solutions to finding answers for the future have been found by looking to the past and by asking what is it that we used to do. For the most part, we have not been engaging in a process that begins with asking, “What is our goal?” as well as being led by vision- and missiondriven questions. I concluded that such thinking could be termed “Thinking Yavneh.” What is “Thinking Yavneh”? It means that we should be risk-taking and forwardthinking like our ancestors. When our sages were looking at the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E., they stopped looking backward and to the past that now lay in ruin. Instead, they decided to go forward and create a new Judaism — the same Judaism that has sustained us for nearly 2,000 years. I believe that choosing to “Think Yavneh,” and asking the right questions, will lead us down a better path. What does this look like for our community? Are there too many buildings? Are there too many institutions? Are too many spread too far and wide? Should we collaborate? We already know the answers to these
Rabbi Jeremy Weisblatt is rabbi at Temple Ohav Shalom.
Dusty drawers or decisive wars: Israel’s new victory doctrine Guest Columnist Gregg Roman
pon choosing a successor to Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot in 2018, then-Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said that he wanted someone who spoke “in terms of decisiveness and victory.” This might seem like an obvious
10 MARCH 19, 2021
qualification for a commander-in-chief of an army, but these are principles that for many years had become all too lacking in the Israeli military, left in dusty drawers far away from any type of implementation. Lieberman was suitably impressed with Aviv Kochavi, who demonstrated his fealty to a new conception during his swearing-in ceremony, by declaring that the IDF “is all about victory.” Two years on, and this type of talk has become de rigueur for Kochavi, who touts a conception of victory as “lethal, efficient
and innovative” during his many speeches. But it is more than just talking. Kochavi has tried to weave a new victory imprint across the military apparatus. Only months after assuming office, the General Staff of the IDF dedicated four days to a “Victory Seminar” convened by Kochavi. According to media reports, “the question was, and is, what is victory and who defines it.” Evolving out of these types of discussions came the “Victory Doctrine,” which has been subsequently adopted by the IDF. The new
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doctrine has, according to military commentators, changed the very definition of victory: “The maximum number of enemy capabilities destroyed in the shortest period of time and with the smallest possible number of casualties. The closer a result is to these parameters, the more decisive the victory,” explains JNS staff writer Yaakov Lappin, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. In other words, victory involves the defeat of one’s enemies — not the restoration of a Please see Roman, page 11
Opinion What a difference a year makes Guest Columnist Deborah Winn-Horvitz
Things will never be the same at the JAA after coronavirus. However, like the Jewish
riday, March 13, 2020. I remember that day well. Since early January, we at the Jewish Association on Aging had been keeping close tabs on a new “coronavirus” that had significantly affected a senior care facility in Washington state, and was slowly spreading among other western states. Beginning in February, we had already made changes to our screening process, and, appropriately, on that Friday the 13th, we received the official notice that we needed to close our doors to visitors immediately. JAA’s senior managers gathered in our boardroom to discuss the new protocols we were putting in place. Little did we know this group would continue to meet daily for the next year, becoming our Incident Command Team. In the months that followed, this management team worked seven days a week and too many hours to count. Updates with our physician medical directors occurred daily as well. Hundreds of new policies and protocols
Roman: Continued from page 10
ceasefire or routine paring of adversaries’ capabilities (“mowing the lawn,” in Israeli parlance), but the resounding destruction of their ability and will to fight. Victory is no longer just a conceptual goal; it is the operational mission of the Israeli army. Now it must receive the backing of the political leadership. In any democracy, it is elected officials who define and decide policy, and they have wider considerations than military officials. They have to look at expense, national morale, diplomatic consequences and political
people have always done, we persevere and we move forward. were put in place with a moment’s notice, all in an effort to implement best practices as soon as we heard about them, or to keep up with changing regulations. As the world around us changed, so too did our ability to adapt to new ways of providing care and keeping connections. Telemedicine visits with PCPs, psychiatrists and other specialists became the norm. We became a tele-provider of physical therapy services. Activities and programming became virtual, including an online seder and Shabbat services, and art classes via Zoom. Family visits became virtual as well, with our residents looking forward to family FaceTime
or Skype visits, or “window visits” through plexiglass barriers. Not ideal at a time when residents were already feeling so isolated from the ones they loved and each other. Our staff grew even closer to our residents as they were their only human connection, even though donning PPE with face masks and shields was our routine. This past year has shown us at the JAA great tragedy with loss of life; great spirit by staff who continued to come in day after day to fight as hard as they could against this invisible enemy, putting themselves and their families at risk; great sadness at the closing of our five-star nursing facility, Charles Morris;
considerations, especially in Israel, where elections have become so frequent. It is for these and myriad other reasons that the IDF has not been able to achieve a major knock-out blow to any enemy that it has faced in recent decades. Because of this military hesitancy, Israel’s opponents have become more emboldened and better equipped than ever. They are chomping at the bit to inflict attacks against Israel and its civilian population centers because they do not face the prospect of decisive military defeat if push comes to shove. It is time for Israel to put the new doctrine into action, not by seeking war, but by ensuring that any war forced upon it ends with a decisive victory.
For this to happen, Israel needs resolute leadership — one that, while understanding that Israel has allies who call for “restraint” and “proportionality,” is resolved to show its enemies neither, if it leaves them with the ability to rearm and threaten the Jewish state again. Very little has been heard during Israel’s current election campaign about issues of war and peace, and that is perhaps understandable in a year blighted by a pandemic and economic woes. But Israel still has many enemies on multiple fronts, and unfortunately, it is only a matter of time before one or more of them decide to reignite hostilities. A conflict is coming, whether emanating from
— LETTERS — Headline misrepresents intention of innovative groups
This letter is in response to “Don’t call them ‘fringe’: Innovative groups seek respect from the mainstream” (online, Feb. 19, 2021). While the article itself did a wonderful job lifting up the work of Sid Schwarz and Kenissa, it seems to me that the headline of this article is not only inaccurate, it also undermines the article itself. The article primarily focuses on Kenissa, demonstrating that its network of 400-plus “fringe” organizations is having a significant impact on many parts of the Jewish community across the country. As a member of the Kenissa network, I can attest that there are some on the fringe who are working toward strengthening relationships, or collaborations, with legacy institutions. However, there are also plenty who recognize that being on the fringe sometimes requires a willingness to lead without the respect or validation from those in the seat of power. In fact, some would even say that until the legacy institutions are willing to forgo the paternalism that holds old structures in place, it’s almost guaranteed that any tight association will suffocate any effort of fringe organizations to be innovative. The recent announcement of the Jewish Community Response and Impact grant fund invites innovative ideas which can transform the future of Judaism — it explicitly invites proposals to support new and innovative projects. At the same time, legacy institution leaders are asking those of us on the fringe for insights and ideas of what might be next. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
great resilience by our residents, most of whom really helped to keep us going; great collaboration with so many local and national agencies that helped us in our fight; great support from our board and community; and now, finally, great hope, as we move forward in a new “post-vaccine” world. What a difference a year makes. This year on March 13, were happily working on reopening plans, including reuniting families with loved ones in person. We breathe an ever-so-slight sigh of relief that we had early access to the vaccine for our residents and staff. We have extended our contact with Jewish residents in other nursing facilities. We are beginning to work on plans to repurpose the former Charles Morris space for the benefit of the community, as part of a larger re-envisioning of “JAA 2.0.” Things will never be the same at the JAA after coronavirus. However, like the Jewish people have always done, we persevere and we move forward. We take the lessons we have learned and embed them into our future plans. Working together as a team and as a community, we galvanize our strengths and look forward to a tomorrow that is brighter. A new beginning … exciting and promising. PJC Deborah Winn-Horvitz is president and CEO of The Jewish Association on Aging.
Hezbollah, Hamas or other Palestinian factions, perhaps involving Iranian proxies on the Golan Heights, or possibly in some face-to-face conflict with parts of the Islamic Republic itself. On March 23, Israelis must choose leaders who are determined, when that conflict comes, to give the IDF a green light to put its new victory doctrine into action. It must never again be put back into dusty drawers. PJC Gregg Roman is director of the Middle East Forum. He served as director of the Community Relations Council for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh from 2012-2015.
Nowhere in the article do I see organizations on the fringe seeking the respect of the mainstream; to the contrary, I see an argument for why legacy institutions might look to innovative groups and individuals for inspiration and vision. The headline as written inverts the intention of the movement and plays into old power structures that are precisely what many fringe groups have been founded in response to. A more apt headline would have been “Don’t call them ‘fringe’: The mainstream seeks inspiration from innovative groups.” Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife Kesher Pittsburgh
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Headlines Passover: Continued from page 1
will represent a smaller number than the 25 or 30 Ainsman typically hosted at her sister’s residence pre-COVID. Despite having had the virus, and having been vaccinated, Ainsman is not ready to fully head back into the world — although she is hoping to celebrate her grandson’s bar mitzvah next year in person. Mt. Lebanon resident Stu Chaban is planning to host a hybrid seder with as many as 13 people at his home, 10 of whom will be vaccinated before the holiday. The guest list is limited to family members. The group plans to follow post-vaccine CDC guidelines, meaning they will not wear masks while together, although Chaban is slightly apprehensive about his son, niece and niece’s husband, who have not been vaccinated. “We worry about them because we don’t want them to get sick,” he said, “but they’re young and they all live in small bubbles.” Chaban and his wife, Sandy, will Zoom with other family members who have not yet been vaccinated. “If I wasn’t vaccinated, we wouldn’t be
doing this,” Chaban said. “Being vaccinated has opened up the world to me. Before, I would not go anywhere. I just didn’t do it. I have a compromised immune system, so I was afraid to get it.” Chaban plans to visit one of his sons in California in May. He is not giving up his mask just yet, though. “That’s no problem,” he said. “It is my habit. I’ve been doing it for the last year. It’s only temporary — we just don’t know how temporary. There are still a lot of people that haven’t been vaccinated yet.” Charlese Liptz Farkas and her family will have two seders, neither of which will be at her home. She and her husband have been vaccinated and plan to attend at least one celebration at her middle daughter’s house in Ross Township. The guest list is currently at six, including one non-family member who celebrates Passover with them each year. The final count may grow by two, adding Farkas’ third child and wife. “We have to decide whether they’ll be willing to eat inside or not,” she said. “We’re hopeful.” But Farkas doesn’t see Passover as the start of regular visits to friends and acquaintances. “I think I’m still going to limit it for now,”
she said. “I think the tipping point will be when my children are comfortable with me being with them and a few friends. I’m letting them guide this because they’re who I most want to be with.” The two seders Farkas attends will be a welcome return to form. Last year, she had two untypical seders. The first was limited to just Farkas, her husband and a family friend. The second was on Zoom. “It was shocking,” she said, explaining that her seders typically include at least 20 guests. “That’s what I miss most — having those people with me.” Dee Weinberg and her husband celebrated Passover last year with a Zoom seder that included her daughter’s family in England. This year, they’ll have an in-person seder with her daughter who has moved back to the States and lives nearby in Squirrel Hill. “It’s interesting, I was just looking at my photos from last year,” Weinberg said. “My dining room table had two lonely place settings — my husband, myself and our guest of honor, the computer screen.” An event planner, Weinberg said her life will not return to pre-pandemic normalcy after Passover. “None of my friends are ready to go into a
restaurant yet,” she said. “I think the fact that we have been homebound for one year, to all of a sudden lift that is hard. It creates a lot of anxiety and ‘what ifs’ and ‘what should’ and there really are no guidelines. Everything you read is different. I’m comfortable with my bubble, probably through the spring and early summer, and then I probably will venture out a little bit.” Rikki Rabbin, on the other hand, is eager to begin living life again. The 36-year-old was looking forward to a pre-Passover, postvaccination haircut. Rabbin works in the health care field and was fully vaccinated in February. She will share a seder with her parents, her sister and her sister’s fiancé, all of whom will have had at least one shot by Passover. But Rabbin’s parents have requested she not see her old friends beforehand “because they’ll only be one vaccination deep.” In addition to family Passover there is something else Rabbin is excited about now that she’s vaccinated. “I’m going to go to Dobra Tea and just sit there and enjoy it,” she said. “I’ll have my book and just enjoy life.” PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
Security: Continued from page 1
Frankel (District 23) and state Sen. Jay Costa (District 43) after the massacre at the Tree of Life building to develop the grant program, said Shawn Brokos, the Federation’s director of community security. “We’re really grateful to the elected officials who pushed this through and made it happen,” she said. The Federation assisted the local nonprofits with security assessments, grant writing workshops and seminars, keeping the February application deadline on their radar, Brokos said. Rabbi Mendel Rosenblum, of Chabad of the South Hills, participated in a Federation program that enabled him to hire a professional grant writer to assist with the application. The assistance paid off. Last year, Chabad of the South Hills was denied funding, but this year it was awarded a nonmatching grant for security upgrades related to a specific project. The rabbi intends to continue to apply for grants during the life of the program. “Each year we’ll hopefully do some sort of security enhancement,” Rosenblum said. The Jewish Association on Aging received two grants — one for The New Riverview apartments, and one for its other facilities. The JAA appreciates the support given by the Federation and appreciates the PCCD for providing the funds, said Deborah Winn-Horvitz, the JAA’s president and CEO. “All of the JAA’s residents and on-site clients will benefit from this, including residents of The New Riverview, Ahava Memory Care, Weinberg Terrace, Weinberg Village, as well as our outpatient therapy and Anathan Club members,” she said. The JAA intends to use a major portion of the funds to upgrade its 24-hour-a-day monitored security systems. 14 MARCH 19, 2021
p Act 83, established after the shooting at the Tree of Life building, provides $5 million in security grants for five years for nonprofit organizations in Pennsylvania vulnerable to hate crimes. Photo by James Busis
“This will give us an additional very basic but important tool in our arsenal to maintain campus safety,” Winn-Horvitz said. Tree of Life has plans to renovate its facility on the corner of Wilkins and Shady avenues, the site of the worst anti-Semitic attack in American history. The new funding will be used for security needs as part of the rebuild, according to Barb Feige, the congregation’s executive director. “It’s part of a larger project to make the building a prayerful place again and for making it something more than a prayerful place,” she said. “What we’re going to be doing at the site is more than just a simple return. It’s a response to 10/27. It’s a vision to be a place of hope and remembrance and education. In the nitty gritty, you apply for these grants. That’s the way you make hope
and remembrance and education happen.” State grants were also awarded to many local non-Jewish organizations, Brokos noted. Statewide, more than $5 million in funds was awarded to 130 institutions. Last year, pre-COVID, the Federation invited other faith-based nonprofits for a workshop, Brokos said. Unable to meet in person this year, the Federation provided written guidance and suggestions to the organizations, as well as encouragement to apply for the grants. The fight against hate is “a communitywide effort,” she said. Costa, in a prepared statement, stressed that “hate in all its forms is wrong and dangerous,” and said he is pleased to see the funding coming to Allegheny County for “important programs.” Frankel agreed.
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“The people of Pittsburgh should be able to socialize, worship and build community without worrying about their safety,” Frankel said in a prepared statement. “The grants help give our friends and neighbors a sense of security while we fight to strengthen this state’s antiquated laws relating to crimes targeting vulnerable groups.” The funding provided by the PCCD grants can be used for a variety of security enhancements, including security planning, equipment, training, threat assessment and trained canines. For a complete list of organizations awarded grants, and amounts awarded, visit pccd.pa.gov. PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
Headlines Gallery: Continued from page 3
decoration for the home,” he said. By the mid-’80s, the space had moved to its current location and its focus shifted to the corporate art market. The gallery began doing auctions when a managing partner at one of the gallery’s corporate clients grew unhappy with its art collection, and Berkovitz offered to help auction it off. Augmenting the gallery’s sales of established local, national and international artists, the auction business has grown
Mantle: Continued from page 4
ensure a technically sound and meaningful Shabbat experience. Once the pandemic began, however, the scroll got more use. Each Shabbat, Fife and a community of kohenet (ordained priestesses), students and loved ones across the country and in the UK and Australia gather online and read from the scroll during Saturday morning services. Kohenet Liviah Wessely, of Herndon,
Judge: Continued from page 5
In early conversations with voters, McLaughlin has found that they’re asking the same questions of her that she’s always been asked, with the added aspect of COVID. During the pandemic, she assumed the role of liaison between the Pennsylvania Bar Association and the
over the last few decades and has helped during the pandemic. “We were very fortunate because our business, especially our auction business, converted to more and more digital sales and that was really augmented last year,” Berkovitz said “We really held our own.” Now, Berkovitz and Oehler are looking for ward to welcoming patrons on more than their current “by-appointment-only” schedule. “We haven’t been able to have any openings during the pandemic,” Berkovitz said, “but people are still absolutely interested. That’s part of the excitement over the project
spaces that we’re hoping to stimulate, you know, to get new and exciting talent in front of people’s eyes.” The work of selecting the artists shown in the expanded galleries will fall to Oehler, who started with the gallery as an intern in 2013. “I’m envisioning all sort of interesting projects,” she said. The gallery is currently accepting opencall submissions for “Full Circle,” an exhibit opening this summer. “It’s a response to the notion of the circle as a shape and a metaphor,” Oehler explained, adding she hopes it will serve as an introduction to the gallery for new artists.
Virginia, serves as a “cyber-gabbai” to ensure a technically sound and meaningful Shabbat experience. “The kohenet community has really saved me this year,” she said, noting that Shabbat has taken on greater meaning as a separator between periods of isolation. The group of digital participants communicate outside of Shabbat as well, providing comfort, virtual shiva calls and even financial assistance when needed. “This year of community building has been a big part of how all of us have gotten through this pandemic,” said Wessely. “I am now new friends with people I never would have met.”
For Fife, the mantle dedication was a chance to recognize a year of communal growth and hardship. Her own struggles have included a recent separation from her father due to health issues; the inability to enjoy a loved one’s touch is unfortunately something many people better understand now, said Fife. The mantle is a connection to her father, though: Several of the fabrics in the piece come from his wardrobe. The Torah cover also has pieces of a yarmulke from Fife’s husband’s bar mitzvah and cuttings from Fife’s wedding dress. The remnants help bind the mantle, as do scraps from hats once worn by Silk’s uncle, who died recently.
Superior Court, which has made her a go-to for those with questions about the practice of law in lockdown. McLaughlin, who is married to former Philadelphia controller Jonathan Saidel and converted to Judaism in 2011, said that she draws on her Jewish identity in her work. In 2017, she told the Chronicle that this was the case because Judaism “is based on laws. It’s the laws that govern our society, the laws that are the foundation of our
national conscience. So that in and of itself makes Judaism have an impact on what I do on a daily basis.” As her engagement with Judaism has deepened, she’s proud to sit down to Shabbat dinner each week and to feel love for Israel. At a time when Judaism has often been “a target,” McLaughlin said, she’s never hidden the fact of her faith, and has no plans to do so. With the May 18 primary approaching,
Berkovitz is pleased about the expansion. “It’s great because what is allows us to do as a gallery is follow that passion and for all of us to make a living from it and do something more than selling widgets,” he said. “We’re selling things we have strong feelings about. It’s an affirmation of our taste, so it’s really very exciting. “The major changes the gallery has gone through and the evolution of it — it’s nothing I envisioned in terms of the way things would gravitate,” he added. “It’s a big surprise.” PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org “He was my father’s brother and was the last of a generation,” Silk said. The mantle, like the Torah itself, “bridges time,” said Fife. “It holds memories and holds experiences that have been carried across generations.” The Shabbat mantle dedication marked a year of the pandemic and the communal binds that have formed. “Although each of us finds our own way connecting to the Torah,” Fife said, “the Torah connects us to one another.” PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. McLaughlin is amazed at the opportunity before her. “The difference that I can make, the fact that I even had the opportunity to run in this kind of an election, let alone be a justice on our Supreme Court, it’s just amazing,” she said. “It’s not an opportunity that I ever thought I would have.” PJC Jesse Bernstein is a writer for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication.
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MARCH 19, 2021 15
Life & Culture A pavlova for Passover — FOOD — By Jessica Grann | Special to the Chronicle
Photo credits: Pavlova, Jessica Grann / Eggs, Mimadeo / Berries, Okea / Mixer, Thammasak_Chuenchom / iStockphoto.com
pavlova dessert is a perfect choice to serve after your Passover seder. It is very light, not overly sweet, and a lovely way to end an evening following a very good meal. This recipe is matzah-free and gluten-free. A pavlova consists of layers: first the baked meringue, made of egg whites and sugar, then the cream of your choice, topped with fresh fruit. In spring, I prefer to use fresh berries, but you can use mango, kiwi, pineapple or whichever mixture of fresh fruit that you like best. In-season fruit always tastes better. You can make dairy or pareve whipped cream very easily at home, or even purchase whipped cream to add to the top if you’re short on time. This is a recipe that I make year-round, even for birthdays. If you double the recipe, you can make two meringues that you can then fill and top with fruit and berries, creating a layered cake appearance.
Passover pavlova For the pavlova base: 4 egg whites, room temperature. (This is important: Place the eggs on the counter a few hours in advance.) ¾ cup, plus 1 extra tablespoon white sugar 2 tablespoons potato starch, sifted 2 teaspoons white vinegar 1 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat your oven to 250 F, and place the baking rack on the middle shelf. Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites on medium for 4 minutes, until they start to appear creamy. Add ¾ cup of the sugar, one spoonful at a time. Turn the mixer to high and let it mix for 4-5 more minutes, until the mixture creates stiff peaks. You can test this by dipping a spoon into the mixture and pulling it straight up. If the mixture stands straight and stiff like a mountain peak, it’s ready to go. If it collapses, mix for a few more minutes on high. It is important to mix thoroughly on high speed to keep the egg whites from separating later. In a small bowl, mix the remaining 1 tablespoon of sugar with the potato starch. Using a rubber spatula, fold the potato starch and sugar mixture into the egg whites by hand. Once mixed in, fold in the vinegar and vanilla by hand.
16 MARCH 19, 2021
Cover a baking sheet with lightly greased parchment paper. Use the rubber spatula to turn the meringue onto the baking sheet, spreading it into a circle with a well in the center and a rim around the edge. Don’t worry about making it perfect, just spread the meringue as evenly as possible. Bake for 1 hour and 20 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Turn off the oven and let cool in a closed oven for an additional hour, then remove from the oven and let cool 1 more hour before adding the whipped cream topping of your choice. Whipped cream 2 cups heavy cream or a pareve substitute, like Rich’s Whip 2 tablespoons white sugar
If your kitchen is very warm, I suggest putting the metal mixing bowl and whisk attachment into the freezer for at least half an hour before preparing. Using the same stand mixer and whisk attachment, place the cream into the metal bowl and whip on medium speed for a few minutes. When it starts to thicken, add the sugar and raise the speed to high until stiff peaks form. It usually takes 7-8 minutes for the cream to come together. Because the base is sweeter, I prefer to use a little less sugar in the cream. You can add more sugar to taste, 1 tablespoon at a time,
to get it to your preferred taste. Using a rubber spatula, spread the whipped cream over the top of the meringue, with more whipped cream in the center, spreading out to the rim at the side. Add 3 cups of fresh fruit to the top. If your fruit is still dripping from washing it, don’t add it until it has dried.
I hope you enjoy making and eating this pavlova and I wish you and your families a happy Passover! PJC Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.
You can make the meringue bottom one day in advance, and keep in a dry, warm place. When I do this, I do not cover with plastic wrap. I often will put it into a cupboard to keep it clean and out of the way. You can also make the whipped cream up to 1 day in advance — just cover it and keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to put the pavlova together. I don’t suggest putting the cream on the pavlova a day in advance because it can make the meringue a little soft, and the crispy edges are one of the best parts. It truly only takes 5 minutes to add the cream and berries. You can do it minutes before serving.
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Life & Culture ‘The Catastrophist’ showcases life of Jewish virologist in one-man show — THEATER — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle
ity Theatre in Pittsburgh kicked off its virtual spring season March 15 with the world theatrical premiere of California-based dramatist Lauren Gunderson’s “The Catastrophist.” The timejumping one-man show chronicles the life and work of virologist Nathan Wolfe, Gunderson’s husband and one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People for his work tracking Ebola and swine flu. The show touches on themes of both science and Jewish faith, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the concept of tikkun olam. In a call from San Francisco, Gunderson told the Chronicle she found herself peeling apart the layers of her husband’s life as she would any of the other multidimensional and vulnerable characters in her plays. “To have these conversations as if I didn’t know him was really great, and it was a great part of a marriage that’s been going for — what? — 10 years,” Gunderson said. “A lot of it was the nuances I hadn’t fleshed out before: ‘What does it actually feel like to be in a lab and see these kinds of results come in?’” Wolfe battled viruses and planned for international catastrophes long before the coronavirus, both in the laboratory and in the wider world, sometimes in places as far-flung as Cameroon. Gunderson also learned a lot about Wolfe through his Jewish family, particularly his father, Chuck, who died shortly before the couple’s first child was born. The idea of righting the world, or tikkun olam, came first from Chuck “but Nathan embraced it in his journey to becoming a scientist,” Gunderson said. The intimacy of the play, whose first draft Gunderson completed last summer, is a reflection of pandemic times, when the facades of daily life have come crumbling down. There are also, however, lighter moments. “There was the joke with [Wolfe’s] grandmother, when he became Dr. Nathan Wolfe [and she said], ‘Yeah, I’ll wait till you become a real doctor,’” Gunderson laughed. “Of course they’re incredibly proud of him, but you’ve got to joke.” Wolfe saw sketches of the show early on but was wowed by actor William DeMeritt’s depiction of his life. He was particularly touched by how DeMeritt, who also is Jewish, painted a portrait of contemporary Judaism and Jewish thought that was miles away from “Fiddler on the Roof ” stereotypes, Gunderson said. “I was writing what I saw and knew to be true and [Wolfe] felt very struck by it and that’s the biggest compliment I could get from him,” she said. “I know I got the
p William DeMeritt (Nathan) in “The Catastrophist,” produced by Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre.
Photo courtesy of Marin Theatre Company and Round House Theatre.
science right. But he was like, ‘I never would have written the play like this. I’m pleasantly surprised.’” City Theatre’s managing director, James McNeel, said he is excited to bring virtual performances to the crowds that used to flock to the Bingham Street theater on Pittsburgh’s South Side. “The artistic staff have curated a collection of original content featuring local artists as
well as partnerships with peers from around the country,” McNeel said. “While nothing can replace the feeling of live performance, this is the safe and responsible approach to help ensure the pandemic is soon behind us.” “The Catastrophist” will be available to stream until April 4. Other spring season offerings from City Theatre include the film adaptation of the play “Room,” based on the writings of
Virginia Woolf, and “Homegrown Stories 2,” which challenges five local playwrights to create 10-minute plays “responding to the current moment,” according to a City Theatre spokesperson. The theater will round out its spring lineup with short digital solo vocal performances dubbed “Spotlight.” PJC Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.
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MARCH 19, 2021 17
Richmond’s JewFro restaurant inspired by George Floyd protest movement
Vayikra: Where to start?
— NATIONAL — By Sean Durns | JTA
ike many Americans, Ari Augenbaum, Trey Owens and Narine Hovnanian closely watched the protest movement that followed the death of George Floyd during the summer of 2020. Floyd’s death sparked familiar discussions among the friends about the history of race and oppression in the United States. The three restaurateurs, who run a popular Virginia eatery called Soul Taco, figured they would use food to serve up healing, history and, they hope, a unique dining experience. During a late-night conversation at their Richmond restaurant, they decided to launch JewFro, a pop-up-style spot that fuses Jewish and African cuisines. (Richmond restaurants are open for in-person dining, although JewFro offers takeout service as well.) JewFro, Augenbaum said, “was born out of a conversation that I’m sure many Americans were having about the Black Lives Matter protests.” Augenbaum, Owens and Hovnanian already had experience melding cuisines: Soul Taco combines Latin American flavors and Southern food. Since its October 2018 opening, Soul Taco has enjoyed a meteoric rise, including being featured on a January 2020 episode of Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.” JewFro by day is a Jewish deli that specializes in house-cured meats and artisanal sandwiches with African spices. By night, the eatery offers up classic Jewish and Israeli dishes with African flair, as well as modern takes on African dishes with Jewish flavors: grilled chicken marinated in South African Peri-Peri sauce over Israeli couscous, or Zigni (an Eritrean beef stew) brisket over matzah polenta with braised kale and stewed tomatoes. A recent Sunday brunch featured fresh
Rabbi Aaron Bisno Parshat Vayikra | Leviticus 1:1-5:26
baked challah with house cured gravlax and Dukkah, the Egyptian nut and space blend. Diners could wash it down with a harissa mimosa, flavored with the Tunisian hot chile pepper paste. While creating the menu, the three friends made an interesting discovery. “When we started researching some of the dishes for this concept, we realized that a lot of the ingredients and cooking methods were almost identical,” Augenbaum said. In fact, “the similarities were more prominent than the differences.” Augenbaum, a Jew from Maryland, credits Owens, an African-American from Richmond, with the idea that eventually gave birth to JewFro. “Trey proposed that we pay homage to both of our cultures as a show of unity through food,” Augenbaum recalled. He and Hovnanian, an Armenian American, instantly thought it was a great idea. The similarities, they agreed, went beyond cuisine. “While two-thirds of our ownership is white, all three of us come from a place where our people were persecuted,” Augenbaum said. They all have years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry. Hovnanian, whose parents were born and raised in Iraq and Jordan, is no stranger to Middle Eastern cuisine. From her parents she inherited a love for labneh, halvah and hummus, and she credits her Southern California upbringing with exposing her to various cuisines. In addition to her work as CEO at JewFro and Soul Taco, she runs two other restaurants and has both real estate investment and event production companies. Owens, JewFro’s director of operations, points to his work on both naval supply ships and international cruise lines in fostering an interest in other cultures. He has spent the past 15 years working in the restaurant Please see JewFro, page 20
his year, we enter the season of spring (March 20-June 20, 2021) on Shabbat Vayikra. This year, we move from winter into springtime just as we emerge from our quarantine cocoons and, after nesting for a year, begin anew the third book of the Torah: Leviticus, or in Hebrew, Vayikra, which means “and God Called.” Significantly, as we take our first tentative steps into a future beyond pandemic,
What to do? Where to start? Jewish tradition suggests the words, rhythms and themes of the Book of Leviticus are a good place to begin. The sacrifices’ purity, in the minds of the Rabbis, was intrinsic to their ability to facilitate communication with God. Insofar as the sacrifices are known in Hebrew as korbonote, a word which suggests proximity and drawing close, joining together in a common enterprise seems a reasonable place to take up our work. After all, just as young children need to be reassured their peers share not just their trepidation and fear, but their trust in the future as well, so too it is with us. Consider: Just as the sacrifices described
This year, with a similar innocence and purity as possessed by children, we too re-enter a new world of discovery. we look to the first words of this book of Levitical law much as did the young school children who began their studies in the classic cheder (one-room Jewish schoolhouse) of Eastern Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries with just this Torah text, the first words of Leviticus. That innocent school children would be introduced to a lifetime of Jewish study by way of learning the technical rules of priestly service (as opposed to the engaging tales of Genesis) seems an odd juxtaposition. After all, the details of the sacrificial cult aren’t the most engaging of material. But as Rabbi Assi teaches in the Midrash, “The sacrifices are pure just as our children are pure. Let those who are pure occupy themselves with the same.” This year, with a similar innocence and purity as possessed by children, we too re-enter a new world of discovery. The postCOVID world, we may well find, is at once familiar and altogether different. In the words of presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan, “human habit[s] have been broken” and, to function going forward, we will have to learn both new habits and novel ways of being together.
in Vayikra were once the means by which Jews felt bonded as a community and connected to God, so shall our bonds of connection be strengthened by our revisiting the rules dedicated to communal Jewish service once more. After all, our tradition is: When faced with new beginnings, we do our best when we unite in common cause and focus on korbonote — pulling together for greater outcomes. And so, as together we begin to step out from our pandemic isolation, and as together we enter these first days of spring 2021, let us at once acknowledge the uncertainty and the possibilities with which we live and, too, let us affirm the call of Vayikra. Truly, it is time for the Jews of our community to embrace and to hold one another close. And now, as eager classmates all, together let us learn and discover what that means… PJC Rabbi Aaron Bisno is senior rabbi at Rodef Shalom Congregation. This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Rabbinic Association.
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Obituaries ISAACSON: Harriet Alpert Isaacson, on Feb. 24, 2021, age 94. Beloved wife of the late Benjamin A. Isaacson. Cherished mother of Ruthellen (Jerry) Schwartz of Annapolis, Maryland; Tom (Andrea) Isaacson of St. Cloud, Florida; and Sam (Nancy) Isaacson of Winnetka, Illinois. Grandmother of five and great-grandmother of five. Adored aunt of Roberta (John) Lisi, Richard Isaacson, William Isaacson (all of Pittsburgh) and Robert Alpert. Harriet and Ben raised their family in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, where she taught special needs students for many years. Following Ben’s death in 1988, Harriet relocated to Pittsburgh to be near her sister and best friend, Lillian (Stanford) Isaacson, and her brothers Leonard Alpert and Charles Alpert of Weirton, West Virginia. Harriet was the last surviving sibling. Harriet’s family would like to thank Dr. Sarah A. Tilstra, Dr. Shachi Tyagi and caregiver Pat Messman for their extraordinary care. Contributions may be made to Sivitz Hospice & Palliative Care, 200 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com KESSLER: Marion J. Kessler, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Marion J. Kessler passed away peacefully surrounded by her loving family. Beloved wife of the late Bernard I. Kessler. Beloved mother of Stuart (Susan) Kessler of Hillsborough, New Jersey, and Helene (Thomas) Burke of Pittsburgh. Loving bubbe to Aaron (Kim) Kessler, Ashley (Matthew) Giordano, Justin (Stephanie) Kessler, Brian Burke and Lauren Burke. Beloved greatbubbe to Lyla and Ari Kessler, Bennett Giordano and Jordyn Kessler. Loving aunt and great-aunt to her nieces and nephews. Family and Jewish traditions meant everything to Marion. She exuded love and caring and was everyone’s “mom” when she worked in the Pittsburgh Public Schools and to her children’s friends, some who even referred to her as “Mom Kessler.” She was bubbe to all of her grandchildren’s friends, always there to be their sounding board and confidant. Graveside services and interment were private. Charitable donations may be made to the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry, 828 Hazelwood Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15217, or to a charity of choice. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com LEDERER: Dr. Howard Mitchell Lederer died on March 11, 2021, at the age of 50. Howard was the beloved husband of Lisa (Herman) Lederer and father of Elyse and Brian. His family lived in Cleveland, Ohio, Minnetonka, Minnesota, and currently reside in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Howard also leaves behind his mother, Carol, in Squirrel Hill, his brother, Joel (Claudia Rincón), in New York City, his brother, David (Serena Strulovitch), in Montreal, his sister, Pamela (Michael Helman) in Seattle, his mother-in-law Susan PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
Herman in Cleveland, his father-in-law Stan Herman in Minneapolis, his brother-in-law Bobby Herman (Rachel Fried) in Atlanta, as well as nieces and nephews, Sophie, Eytan, Tali, Bella, Billy, Dylan, Matan, Hannah and Sarah. Other family in Pittsburgh, who Howard loved very much, include Uncle Jeffrey and Aunt Ilene Lederer, and their sons Joshua and Ira. Howard was a graduate of Taylor Allderdice High School, the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Pennsylvania Medical School. He did his surgical residency at Case Western Reserve, and his bariatric fellowship at University of Minnesota where he was the first bariatric surgeon trained, and was a teacher and leader in his field. He was an accomplished pianist, studied a variety of martial arts, and was a passionate golfer. Howard called his mother, Carol Lederer, every Friday to wish her a good Shabbos without fail. He loved a good joke and time with family and friends. He was a skilled practitioner of the art of napping and employed this well-honed skill often. He loved his family and friends, was a caring, gifted and compassionate doctor who saved many, many lives over the years, and he loved his dog, Yogi, who he rejoins now, hopefully on the 18th hole. He is also reunited with his father, Dr. William H. Lederer, who passed away in 1984. Howard touched the lives of many people, and he will be greatly missed. He was loved very, very much. Contributions can be made in his name to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. LEVINE: Leona Levine, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. Born Jan. 7, 1921, in Braddock, Pennsylvania, to Julius and Bertha Rosenfeld, Leona lived a full 100-year life. Predeceased by her husband of 50 years, Arthur, her sisters Ella, Rose, Florence and Julia, and her brothers Ted and Albert. Survived by her loving children, Gerald (partner Janet), Arnold (Linda) and Linda (George), who was her primary caregiver and comforter in her declining years; grandchildren Jeffrey, Jill (Keith), and Aaron (Nicole); and great-grandchildren, Evander, Ella and Morgan. Also survived by her dear nieces and nephews, George Kohut (Geri), Sandi Oliver (Bob), Allan Levine (Jan), Susan Antis and Jack Sussman (Marsha); and by Mona Levine and always-caring Ruth Levine. She personified the adage that a Yiddishe momma — no matter how old or successful her children might be — never stops worrying about them. Through her advanced years she retained a sharp mind, a sometimes sharp and non-PC tongue, and the ability to take a joke, even at her own expense. Her extraordinary life spanned the Roaring 20s, the Great Depression, WWII, the turbulent 60s, lunar exploration and the internet age. She was not going to depart it until she reached triple digits…and could vote in the November 2020 elections. Services and interment were held at Ahavath Achim Cemetery, Forest Hills. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com
Jewish Association on Aging gratefully acknowledges contributions from the following: A gift from …
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Beverly Blatt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sadie Blatt Randy Malt . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Lilly Malt Mrs. Alvin Mundel . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . B.J. Mundel Joel and Judy Smalley. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rosalind Solomon
THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS — Sunday March 21: Sol Bennett, Bernard Berry, Samuel L. Case, Ralph Herny, Mollie Liff, David A. Myer, Leah J. Rosenberg, Rose Rosenthal, Max Rotter, Louis A. Schwartz, Allan Robert Shine, Sam Stein, Samuel J. Weiss, Gary Zinman Monday March 22: Harry Balber, Julia Baroff, Morris Cohen, Eva Cooper, Harry Fisher, M.D., David Frank, Steven David Harris, Jean Katzman, Larry J. Klein, Anna Leff, David Levy, Pearl Baskind Sadowsky, Rody S. Verk, Ida L. Weinthal Tuesday March 23: Milton Alderman, Benjamin Geduldig, Dora Himmel, Dorothy Leah Katz, Anne R. Levy, Betty Pearl, Israel Pick, Adele Prizant, Fannie Serbin, Ida Shrut, Sidney A. Uram Wednesday March 24: Helen Harris Berman, Louis Cohen, Eva Diamond, Mervin B. Feldman, Florence Glick, Gertrude N. Hoffman, Nathan H. Isaacs, Sophia E. Israel, Dora Jacobson, David Kalson, Louis Meyer, Marlene Pearl Rosen, Morris Schwartz, Nettie Silverberg Thursday March 25: Steven Beck, Goldie R. Broida, Irving Cowen, Nathan A. Davis, Abraham Glanz, Ruben Heller, George Lurie, Jr., Ruth G. Martin, Hyman Miller, Roberta Morrison, Catherine Neiman, Louis Plesset, Rose Lieberman Solomon, Jennie Volkin Friday March 26: Freda Berkovitz, Dr. Albert B. Berkowitz, Ida Cohen, Philip Ellovich, Freda Gordon, Milton Kelsky, Rosa Klawansky, Esther Kramer, Rosalind Light Kraus, Isadore M. Pollock, Ruth Rosenstein, Julius A. Rudolph, Jacob Segal, Leonard Herbert Shiner, Mel Weinberg, Meyer Young, Helen Zeff Saturday March 27: George Apple, Sam Astrov, Morris A. Berman, Gerda Bloch, Nathan Breakstone, Dorothy L. Fisher, Bennie Ginsburg, David Philip Gold, Morris H. Goldenson, Saul Katz, Louis K. Landau, Sara Gluck Lewinter, Abe Mallinger, Jan Steuer Mandell, Eva Perlow, Charles E. Rosenthall, Bella Rosenzweig, William Wolf Shamberg, Ida R. Thompson
D’Alessandro Funeral Home and Crematory Ltd. “Always A Higher Standard”
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Please see Obituaries, page 20
DEBORAH S. PRISE Licensed Jewish Funeral Director
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MARCH 19, 2021 19
Headlines Obituaries: Continued from page 19
NEBORAK: Judy Neborak, age 69, after a short but courageous battle with pancreatic cancer, on March 13, 2021. Mother of Helen Neborak; sister of Beverly (Jason) Manne, Linda Weiss and the late Marilyn (Lenny) Hendricks; daughter of the late Joseph and Ilona Weiss; and grandmother of Samantha Davis. Also survived by nieces and nephews. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Judy was a graduate of Allderdice High School. She went on to train as a business office specialist and nurse’s aide. She was a gentle
person who cared for her elderly mother for many years. Graveside services and interment were held at Shaare Torah Cemetery, Carrick, Pennsylvania. Contributions may be made to the Pittsburgh Jewish Community Center or UPMC Family Hospice. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com WEISSBERG: Lois Krasny Weissberg died in Cleveland on March 3, after 84 years of life. She had courageously battled with lung cancer over the last three years. Lois is survived and remembered with love by her daughters, Sheryl (Michael) Silverman of Pittsburgh and Susan
(Dr. Philip) Weiss of Solon; her brothers, Dr. Michael (Leslie) and Victor Krasny; her grandchildren, Wyatt, Korey, Henry, and Blake Silverman, Brooke, Maddie, Jonah and Kaley (Brian) Sweeny and Jonah Weiss, and Kaley (Brian) Sweeney, as well as her nieces, nephew, and other dear relatives. Lois was a devoted mother, in-law, grandmother, daughter, sister, aunt, and friend. She was vivacious and funny, and possessed a caring spirit, grace, and goodness that left a deep impression on those who were lucky enough to know her. She especially loved art, music, and literature, and shared that love with others. Over her years of life, she was an advocate for the aged, a Cleveland Yachting Club member, photographed and covered cultural events for the Plain Dealer, and was involved
JewFro: Continued from page 18
industry. Owens also serves on Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s COVID-19 restaurant task force. Along with his two business partners, he participated in Black Lives Matter marches last summer. Augenbaum was raised in an Orthodox Jewish household where his family kept kosher and he ate classic Ashkenazi fare like potato kugel and gefilte fish. A gig with a kosher caterer at the age of 13 eventually led to decades of work in the foodservice industry, including running restaurants for celebrity chef Bobby Flay and Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher. Along the way he picked up several awards from the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. Augenbaum serves as JewFro’s senior
From left: JewFro’s Trey Owens, Ari Augenbaum and Narine Hovnanian
Photo courtesy of JewFro via JTA
with many other charitable and cultural organizations. She maintained dear friendships of 70-plus years, and shared close friendship and love of reading with her book club of 35 years. Born 1936 in Cleveland to Hyman “Zaz” and Betty Krasny, she mainly resided and worked in Cleveland, but fondly remembered her years living in New York City, working for the IATA. She graduated from John Carroll University for both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. Her memory is a blessing, and she is already missed greatly. Donations are being made to the Cleveland Kosher Food Pantry, or the JFCS Food Pantry of Pittsburgh. Private services were held Sunday, March 7, 2021, at 1 p.m. at Mt. Olive Cemetery, 27855 Aurora Road, Solon. Arrangements by BerkowitzKumin-Bookatz Memorial Chapel. PJC culinary director, a position that allows him to indulge in his favorite pastime: experimenting with old cuisines and new recipes. He calls the decision to combine Jewish and African fare “bold.” The two cuisines, he says, are rarely fused. “We haven’t seen any other restaurants doing this. I think that the main reason for that is that African food is not very prominent in American cuisine overall,” said Augenbaum, who trained with Morou Outarra, an American chef who hails from the Ivory Coast. By contrast, “Jewish delis are popular and Israeli cuisine has become very popular in the last few years with Michael Solomonov at the forefront of that movement,” he said, referring to the award-winning Philadelphia chef who grew up in Pittsburgh. However, “when it comes to Jewish food on a refined fine dining level, outside of the kosher world, there really is a lot less.” PJC
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Jordana Zober Cutitta, Realtor, Associate Broker, MBA 412-657-3555 | Jordanazc@kw.com 20 MARCH 19, 2021
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Secluded, stunning, refined carriage house has never before been for sale. This totally unique property designed by the architect/owner showcases contemporary design with light-filled rooms which blend seamlessly to one another. The manicured private setting is minutes to shopping, schools, Oakland, Downtown. Shown by appointment with Etta Golomb. 412-725-6524
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 dining room, a raised library above a family 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.
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MARCH 19, 2021 21
Headlines Anti-Semitic graffiti found in Mt. Lebanon school
rawings of swastikas discovered in bathroom stalls at Jefferson Middle School in Mt. Lebanon are being investigated by police, according to letters sent to the school’s families from its principal, Sarah Shaw. “We are taking this incident very seriously,” read a letter dated March 2, after the first swastika was found. “An investigation began immediately, and the Mt. Lebanon Police Department is involved. The administration will take appropriate disciplinary action for those found responsible for this incident.” The letter also stressed there is “zero-tolerance for discriminatory behavior in our school.” On March 9, a second swastika drawing was discovered. “The inappropriateness of the use of this symbol will be discussed directly with students as part of our Tuesday Talk program tomorrow morning,” Shaw wrote to families in a March 9 letter. “This essential conversation and the continued education of our students is imperative as we are committed to creating a school and community that is welcoming and inclusive.” Shaw also shared resource links, including
Jefferson Middle School
one to the Anti-Defamation League, on how to talk to young children about bias and prejudice. “Sadly, we have seen a rise in anti-Semitic threats and incidents in our community,” said Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh.
Photo by RJ Tabachnick
“When you see an event like this at a school, it is a reminder of the importance of educating our young people on the impact that anti-Semitism and bigotry can have. Those images are painful reminders, and to see them displayed in a middle school is less likely due to hate or bias,
and more likely due to lack of awareness of their impact.” If the drawings were acts of hate or bias, Brokos added, “intervention at this age is critical. Community security is a collective effort. Certainly law enforcement is a large part of that, but we all have a role to play in raising awareness of bigotry of any kind and intervening to mitigate it.” Mt. Lebanon Deputy Chief of Police Jason Haberman confirmed that there is an active investigation but said there wasn’t much he could offer since the students are juveniles. “We want to ensure that the children are held accountable,” Haberman said, “but we also want them to learn from the experience and understand the effects of their behavior. We’re going to work with the school personnel and the parents to ensure that all involved are not only held accountable, but are also provided with the necessary guidance and assistance.” In 2017, “Kill the Jews!” was found spelled out in pine cones, along with a swastika, at a Mt. Lebanon intersection crossed daily by students on their way to and from school. PJC — Toby Tabachnick
J Street chapters to host pre-Israeli election discussion
Street Pittsburgh and J Street Cleveland will present J Street’s new Israel director, Nadav Tamir, to discuss the upcoming March 23 Israeli election and the Biden administration’s relationship with Israel, at a 10 a.m. March 21 Zoom event. Tamir will speak on party dynamics, the possible results and coalition building, as well as potential implications for the United States. Prior to his role at J Street, Tamir served multiple roles in the Israeli Foreign Ministry, including political officer at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C., and Israeli consul general to New England. Upon returning to Israel, he served in the policy
Photo via Wikimedia Commons licensed under CC-BY-SA-4.0
planning unit for the Israeli Foreign Ministry until he was named senior adviser to Shimon Peres, former president of Israel. “We are happy to co-host our first event with the new Cleveland chapter,” said Nancy Bernstein, co-chair of J Street Pittsburgh. “We hope to involve people in the entire Western Pennsylvania area in this and our other educational events.” “We are hoping Zoom will allow us to involve all Ohioans and Pennsylvanians who embrace J Street’s principles to engage in this event and to become involved with J Street CLE,” said Loree Resnik, chair of J Street Cleveland. “We continue to be active advocates with our legislators to promote
a secure, democratic and pluralistic Israel side by side with a homeland for the Palestinian people.” Tamir is also an adviser for international affairs at the Peres Center for Peace and Innovation and a member of the board of the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, a think tank to develop and promote a new, progressive foreign policy paradigm for Israel and to advance Israeli-Palestinian peace. He is also on the steering committee of the Geneva Initiative. To register for the free event, visit bit.ly/ JStCLEPitt. PJC — Becky Raspe, Cleveland Jewish News
JCC Community members named Mahloket Matters fellows
abbi Ron Symons, senior director of Jewish Life at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, and Suzanne Schreiber, a past president of Tree of Life Congregation, have joined the inaugural cohorts of the Mahloket Matters Fellowship, an in-depth study of what the program terms “the value of constructive disagreement,” according to a JCC press release. The three cohorts consist of 31 fellows; Symons joins the educational leadership cohort and Schreiber is a fellow in the volunteer leadership cohort. “We live in a moment of unprecedented
22 MARCH 19, 2021
breakdown in civil discourse,” according to the program statement. “Yet, our Jewish tradition upholds the principle that constructive disagreement for the sake of heaven (Mahloket L’Shem Shamayim) is not only imperative but the holy work needed to repair what can feel like irreconcilable differences that permeate within our Jewish communities.” The cohorts are composed of Jewish educators, rabbis and volunteers who will attend eight sessions to explore a “methodology of text study that delves into complex and contradictory narratives” and then apply that by creating programs “that increase the
desire and ability to understand and engage more constructively with conflicting political opinions today,” according to the JCC press release. The goal is to improve civil discourse. Mahloket Matters is a program of The Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. “I am very pleased to be in the fellowship because of the deep learning it offers and the relationships I am building with colleagues across the country,” Symons said. “The bottom line is that the more that we are able to speak with people in a civil way, the better our communities will be. Jewish values have so much to offer in the ways that we can
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
learn how to have these conversations.” “It is an honor to be a part of the first cohort of Pardes’ Mahloket Matters volunteer leadership fellows,” said Schreiber. “We are living in a moment of an unprecedented breakdown in civil discourse, and it is critical that we find pathways to re-engage with our communities in Mahloket L’Shem Shamayim (disagreement for the sake of heaven) so that we can more productively disagree, and still retain a sense of mutual respect for one another.” PJC — Toby Tabachnick
Community It’s sports-tacular
Good times in school and out t Hillel Academy pre-K student Chaya Leibowitz enjoys pre-Passover fun.
p Rachel Herskowitz, left, was greeted by ROC, the Pitt Panther, during a drive-through and Zoom program with Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh.
Photo courtesy of Friendship Circle of Pittsburgh
Pi Day is the sweetest
p Girls High School students demonstrate there’s no bad time for a bonfire. Photos courtesy of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Machers and Shakers p Sixth-grader Daniella Babichenko shows off her Pi Day (March 14) inspired nails.
Photo courtesy of Community Day School
From a distance
p Little hoopsters have fun at the Squirrel Hill JCC.
p Ben Pinkston received the University of Pittsburgh Center for Energy Swanson School of Engineering Award at the regional Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competition. Pinkston, a Community Day School eighth-grader, won for his project “Creating Energy Using a Wearable Device with Piezo Elements.” Pinkston received $100 and a plaque.
Photo courtesy of Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
p Sam Tarr received the Middle School Award from the Carnegie Mellon University Chapter of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society, at the regional Pennsylvania Junior Academy of Science competition. Tarr, a Community Day School eighth-grader, won for his project “Using Machine Learning to Predict the Stock Market.” Tarr received a framed certificate and gold Sigma Xi pin.
Photos courtesy of Community Day School
MARCH 19, 2021 23
Where else can you have this much fun?
We had such a great time last summer—we can’t wait for camp to start again!
n J&R Day Camp: age 4-grade 5 n Performing Arts Camp: grades 4-10 n Specialty Camps: grades 1-6 n Misgav and Ascend: grades 6-8
For information Rachael Speck firstname.lastname@example.org
n South Hills Day Camps: ages 3-grade 5
MARCH 19, 2021
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE