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The Je wis hChron icle . n e t

A DAY IN…mount lebanon


Jewish Pittsburgh Living


Mah jongg The “other” JewishChinese Connection

PEOPLE YOU MIGHT KNOW... BUT HAVE NEVER MET Dan Rothschild, Laura Karet, Cary Klein, Leslie Davis, and Norman Childs


JCC Big Night Hillel JUC Campus Superstars JAA Eight over Eighty


Pittsburgh, Jonas Salk & the End of Polio


Faces & Places Recipes & Reservations & More

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Barbara Befferman, CEO David Caoin, Publisher MAGAZINE STAFF Roberta Brody, Editor Audrey Brown, Art Director Holly Rudoy, Writer Raviv Cohen, Photographer SALES STAFF Susan Mangel, Sr. Sales Rep. Roberta Letwin, Sales Rep. Donna Mink, Sales Rep. Debra Levy, Associate Sales Rep. BUSINESS STAFF Jennifer Barill, Comptroller Josh Reisner, Office Manager Marcy Kronzek, Receptionist BOARD OF TRUSTEES Davida Fromm, President Richard Kitay, Vice President Cindy Goodman-Leib, Secretary Lou Weiss, Treasurer Lynn Cullen, Past President Carolyn Hess Abraham Brian Balk Daniel Berkowitz Stephen Fienberg Malke Steinfeld Frank Stanley Greenfield David Grubman Thomas Hollander Larry Honig Evan Indianer David Levine Judy Palkovitz Amy W. Platt Jane Rollman Benjamin Rosenthal Dodie Roskies Charles Saul Andrew Schaer Ilana Schwarcz Jonathan Wander Volume 1, Number 3 J is published four times a year by the Pittsburgh Jewish Publication and Education Foundation, 5915 Beacon Street, 3rd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15217, 412-6871000 (phone), 412-521-0154 (fax). The information presented is from varied sources considered to be reliable, but its accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Opinions expressed are those of the indentified subjects and do not reflect the views of J magazine or the Pittsburgh Jewish Publication and Education Foundation. Letters and editorial solicitations should be sent to: J Magazine, Publisher, 5915 Beacon Street, 3r Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Unsolicited manuscripts, photography, artwork or other materials will not be accepted, and unless accompanied by return postage, J magazine is not responsible for their disposition.

J Magazine Zol Zayn Mit Mazel, Barbara!


fter 27 years, the queen bee (and CEO) of The Jewish Chronicle, and J Magazine...Barbara clearing her office, packing her bags and moving to Tucson, Arizona. A native of Pittsburgh (Squirrel Hill no less), Barbara’s is a classic story of determination, stamina and force-ofwill overcoming the odds, the economy and (often) the community. Starting out as Office Manager in 1984, Barbara learned the newspaper business from the inside out, creating a publication renown for its quality journalism, family work environment, and voice for good. Diminutive in stature, Barbara was the embodiment of Mark Twain’s maxim, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight; it’s the size of the fight in the dog”; she never shied from stirring things up when needed, but her genuine love for the community always shined through. We wish her well...and will miss her guidance, grace under fire and humor greatly.

spring 2011 Issue Volume 1, Number 3

4 FIVE PEOPLE YOU MIGHT KNOW...BUT NEVER MET Meet Norman Childs, Leslie Davis, Laura Karet, Cary Klein and Dan Rothschild. 17 THE BIG SHOT Pittsburgh…Jonas Salk…and the Shot Felt ‘Round the World.

38 RECIPES & RESERVATIONS... BISTRO 19 Rooted in hospitality, graciousness and a commitment to local ingredients.

22 STARS & SUPERSTAR Springtime in Pittsburgh brings out the stars–and not just the celestial variety. 25 ONE BAM, TWO CRACKS, THREE DOTS Mah Jongg—the “other” Jewish-Chinese connection. 29 A DAY IN…MOUNT LEBANON One of America’s coolest suburbs and Pittsburghers’ favorite destinations. 33 FACES & PLACES People, Occasions, Events.

On the Cover:

Dan Rothschild, Laura Karet, Cary Klein, Leslie Davis and Norman Childs...the people behind some of Pittsburgh’s best known icons. Photography by Raviv Cohen.

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5 people you might but have Leslie Davis Magee-Womens Hospital of upmc


e could have chosen 50, but we could only choose five. They are Pittsburgh Jews who orchestrate some of our community’s most

successful and recognizable mainstays. From business to health care to fashion, food and art, these five people who you might know--but have never really met--are professionally brilliant in their chosen fields and personally charitable as well. Read here to really meet Norman Childs, Leslie Davis, Laura Karet, Cary Klein and Dan Rothschild.


J Magazine

Norman Childs Eyetique

Dan Rothschild Rothschild doyno collaborative

know... never met By Holly Rudoy Photography by Raviv Cohen

Laura Karet Giant eagle

Cary Klein big burrito restaurant group

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the Comforts of Home point. “People like to see them; they enjoy them…that’s what it is,” he states.

Norman Childs: A Vision for Retailing


orman Childs, founder and owner of the ever-expanding Eyetique optical stores, is not a shy guy, so he certainly could have used his own face to sell glasses. But he is a smart guy—smart enough to know that plastering recognizable local celebrities on billboards around town would be a good way to sell eyewear to a customer base that appreciates fashion. So in 1985, when his business was just six years old, Childs featured then-Steeler Delton Hall in the first of Eyetique’s Celebrities of Pittsburgh campaign. Twenty-six years and more than 700 faces later, the concept seems to be catching on. Whether you’ve lived in this town for one year or 51 years, you know the signature black and white headshots featuring museum directors, superstar athletes and local politicians who have been “iqued,” as in Magnifique (Mario Lemieux), Publique (Ted Pappas) and Filmique (Dawn Keezer). “I thought it would be great for people to identify with other people, so if they recognized someone by name or face in the ads, it may trigger an interest in our product,” he explains from “headquarters,” the same Murray Avenue storefront that he opened in 1985. And according to Childs, the campaign is just getting started. “During the campaign’s first year, we were spending a lot of money and didn’t see a lot of return for our investment. It was costly and we were a fairly new business, but I wanted to give it a year,” he recalls, adding, “You can’t just do it one time…and expect awareness. Within a year, Childs says, it started to click. “We wouldn’t stop it now for anything,” he exclaims, venturing that the ads are bigger than just advertising at this

It’s been a great run for Childs—the ads are effective—as the business is expanding to a total of eight locations. And he does get to rub shoulders with the most talented people to walk the streets of Pittsburgh in the last quarter century. But his favorite celebrity ads by far are the two featuring his sons, Jeremy (when he was about five) and Daniel (when he was about six months). “Those are clearly my favorites,” he says. In fact, it’s family that keeps the Eyetique machine running, and Childs wouldn’t have it any other way. His brother Brad, who is 17 years his junior, is Vice President and second in command. “He’s been with me 15 years,” Childs says with pride. “He started the day after he graduated college…packed his U-HAUL and drove to Pittsburgh.” Brother Scott just joined the business about a year ago after a successful career in Key West. Sherri Kramer, his wife Gail’s sister, is the manager of the South Hills Village Eyetique location.

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“I love having family in our business,” he says. “The more the better… they understand what it takes to take it to the next level. It helps set the tone for the company.” Should his sons choose to join the business, there will be plenty to do. The Norman Childs line of eyewear started 10 years ago, when Childs realized a niche for customizing client requests. The frames are handmade by four employees in California out of plastic that Childs picks out in Italy. Starting in June, a vintage collection will be available. There are also the Wiz Khalifa shades, which shut down the Eyetique website with 200,000 hits (84 pairs sold in 10 minutes), and the mini Cartier display in the Squirrel Hill store, which is one of the top two Cartier boutiques in the country. Pretty good for a Squirrel Hill kid who started out selling snow cones as a teenager and skipped college—something he does not recommend—to start a company on seven credit cards. “I was lucky, young and stupid,” he says. But at this point in the company’s growth, Childs, 53, claims that there’s no end in sight!

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time,” says Davis, who holds a master’s degree in health and social policy from 46 Fox Chapel 46 Road Fox Chapel Road PA 15238 � Pittsburgh, Harvard. On a professional level, she 412-781-3700 Pittsburgh, PA 15238 notes, she was looking for a change--and 412-781-3700 change is what she got. Catering Available Catering Available “It’s very stimulating, “says Davis of her Open 7 days lunch & Dinner Open 7 days lunch & Dinner position as President of Magee-Womens Hospital of UPMC. “Jeff Romoff (UPMC President and CEO) and the Board have a passion for doing new things. It’s a great environment for providing great care to Northwestern patients and developing new models,” she Financial Network says with pride.

Leslie Davis: A Welcome Addition to Magee Since 1911, Magee–Womens Hospital has welcomed some 500,000 new babies. Now, with Leslie Davis at the helm, Magee is once again giving birth–this time to a new wing of the hospital. With a recently approved two-story, 28-bed expansion, Magee is poised to head into the next decade as one of the leading hospitals for men’s health, cancer treatment and joint replacement, while still remaining the number one place to deliver a baby in the Pittsburgh region. Just seven years ago, Davis and her husband, Abe Leizerowski, were firmly ensconced in Philadelphia with their three kids. They had close friends, wonderful neighbors and family, and satisfying careers—she as CEO of Graduate Hospital, a part of Tenet Healthcare System, and he as a successful real estate lawyer. Then, UPMC and Magee-Womens Hospital came calling. UPMC and Magee were looking for a dynamic leader to help expand their services and reach as they neared Magee’s 100-year anniversary. While Davis had never before considered moving, she was savvy enough to recognize the opportunity of a lifetime and knew she could meet the challenge head-on. “If you had asked me six months before we left,” she ponders, ”…we had become very comfortable in our environment. Our oldest child (son Cary, now 23) was a junior in high school and our daughters (Tess, now 21 and Hannah, now 17) were just starting middle school and high school. “But we were completely blown away by UPMC. The integrated delivery system doesn’t exist in Philadelphia--or didn’t at the

One of those new models was to build on Magee’s expertise in women’s ob/gyn healthcare to include other women’s health services--in addition to men’s health needs. And her impact has been notable. In the seven years since Davis has been at Magee, the hospital has climbed from 17th to 6th in gynecological care on U.S. News and World Report’s Honor Roll of America’s Best Hospitals. The hospital now offers more full-service programs in urology, joint replacement, vascular medicine, neurology and cardiology. They have boosted the women’s cancer facility by adding more faculty and more sophisticated technology in addition to support programs and survivor groups. Improvements that patients notice–and appreciate--include private rooms, allday room service and valet parking, just to name a few. “We really try to extend ourselves, “she says of the patient-centered culture at Magee. One result is a growing number of male patients who may have been initially skeptical about coming to Magee for their own health care needs, but after the experience say they never want to go anywhere else. “There is so much passion for Magee,” she marvels. “From the female community, cancer survivors, people who‘ve had babies in the NICU, and the volunteers.”

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Laura Karet: Growing a Family Business and a Family For Laura Karet, the daughter of Giant Eagle President and CEO David Shapira, it was very important to make her own way and not be seen as the boss’s kid. Not that she needed his help. She spent seven years working at Proctor & Gamble and three at Sara Lee, all the while turning down numerous job offers from her father. But everything changed in 2000, when she met and fell in love with her husband, Tom Karet. Her father had offered him a job that he really wanted, so the couple packed up and headed to Pittsburgh to start their new jobs, get married and move in, all within three weeks. “It was the right time to be back in Pittsburgh and back with family, “says Karet, who is now more than happy to be Senior Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer for Giant Eagle.

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J Magazine

As for being related to the boss, she’s got plenty of company. One of the region’s largest employers, Giant Eagle truly is one big family, according to Karet. “I happen to be fourth generation, “ she says. “There are people who have met their spouses here. People’s best friends work here—it’s a wonderful network of immediate and extended families.” Karet, a remarkably fresh-faced 42-yearold, is an instrumental player in the region’s largest grocer. In her role, she is in charge of the long- and short-term strategies for the company, balancing day-to-day decisions with long-term goals. She also oversees the Executive Committee, the decision-making body for the company. In the cutthroat

J LivingBoatREV_EARtique 10/26/10 3:39 PM Page 1


world of the grocery business, it’s work that keeps her really occupied. “It’s highly competitive,“ Karet says of the industry. “Now everyone and their mother wants to sell food,” she says, referring to warehouse clubs, drug stores and mini marts. “It makes it quite difficult, so we focus on differentiating ourselves,” she explains. They do this by concentrating on customer service, offering free in-store services such as the Eagle’s Nest child care service for busy parents shopping with children. And they incorporate three important components to their success: respect for people, starting with their own team members; the best in fresh foods; and the wildly successful Fuelperks/Foodperks program. Fuelperks, devised by Karet and her team in 2004, is just one example of how the nimble company has diversified in order to stay healthy in the food business.

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“We knew that Kroger had built gas stations on some of their lots, and we thought it was interesting, so we built a couple. The Fuelperks program came from a real desire to leverage the gas stations,“ she explains of the rewards program that offers fuel discounts to grocery customers. “When we got hot on Fuelperks and realized how powerful it was, we started building fuel stations as fast as we could,” she adds. She allows that the company has “grown dramatically in the past 10 years. Our DNA is about reinvention; that’s what we do. We are always improving and trying to figure out what’s next,” she explains, adding that the company plans a continued reinvestment in the supermarket/ convenience store model over the next three to five years. While Karet manages the company’s goals on a daily basis, she also finds time to serve on the boards of several local nonprofits including the Carnegie Museums, ITxM (parent company of the Central Blood Bank) and the Fox Chapel Country Day School. The mom of three children (ages five, seven and eight) also finds spare time to garden, show horses competitively, read, write and “do lots of yoga!” “I am busy,” she allows, “but it’s a good busy.” issue 3




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hile lucky Pittsburgh diners are savoring their Kristy’s Big Sister’s Red Velvet Burritos at Mad Mex, slurping their Thai Corn Chowder at Soba, or sampling their Kumamoto Oysters at Eleven, they may not realize that behind the sometimes cheeky, but always fantastic, foods at big Burrito is a well-run business. And no one is more business than Shadyside resident Cary Klein, the Squirrel Hill native who has been the CEO of big Burrito Restaurant Group since 2001. Klein, 54, is responsible for “strategic planning, marketing and finance. The only thing I don’t do is run the restaurant shift,” he offers somewhat modestly. When Klein joined the big Burrito group, he brought a lot to the table, but not in the way of the food itself. Instead, he offered a proven track record in running a successful business, rue21, a discount clothing retailer that had grown to 200 stores when Klein left the business, taking with him a noncompete agreement “to do anything I knew how to do,” he says. Turns out that his non-compete was one of the best things that ever happened to Klein—and to big Burrito.

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J Magazine

“big Burrito was looking for capital and management help, and it was a good fit at the time,” he explains, adding that he intended to take a passive role in the company. But Klein didn’t settle into that passive role as planned; instead, among other things, he helped launch the

CARY KLEIN expansion of big Burrito’s first and most recognized restaurant brand, Mad Mex. Mad Mex alone has seven locations in the Pittsburgh area, including the newest, a neighborhood showcase on Highland Avenue in Shadyside that incorporates several Mad Mex firsts like valet parking, an enclosed party room, and bi-fold doors that open the space onto the street. Mad Mex locations have now expanded into Columbus, State College and Philadelphia, with plans for more growth. But Klein, the father of three kids (ages 25, 23 and 21), notes that it’s not all about Mad Mex for him when it comes to big Burrito’s ventures (Kaya, Soba, Umi, Casbah, Eleven). “I love them all; they’re all my kids!” he exclaims. Klein and his wife, Kathy, who is from Chicago, travel the country often. “We get to go to some pretty big markets. We’ll go out to dinner and I’ll get an idea,” he says, letting us in on the genesis of a potential new eatery. Klein noted the statistic that 50 percent of all restaurants fail after three years. “It’s hard to do right; it takes a lot,” he says. In big Burrito’s case, Klein indicates, “Each restaurant is well-positioned. They each have great execution, great people and great management.” Kosher catering has become another aspect of big Burrito’s growth. “The people in the catering department knew I was Jewish, and they didn’t understand the kosher market,” he explains. The kosher business has grown, Klein says, and he estimates that about half of their kosher clients are families celebrating life cycle events and another half are businesses with kosher catering needs. So, when can local diners dig into another fresh big Burrito restaurant? For now, Klein will only hint that he has a few ideas brewing but “none ready to be executed.” Whether it’s fine cuisine, ethnic specialties, microbrews or brunch, you can find a big Burrito restaurant in this city that’s doing it right. As for me, I’ll be succumbing to another round of the aforementioned margaritas (with some grilled fish tacos to wash it down) at my local Mad Mex. Cheers!


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J Magazine

Dan Rothschild: A Man with Designs on Pittsburgh

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Well, aren’t we the lucky ones! In the ensuing years, Rothschild and his coworkers at Rothschild Doyno Collaborative have been the architect and design gurus for dozens of structures in the region and beyond. But most notable in the Jewish community are Rothschild’s distinctive and meaningful architectural contributions to countless Jewish houses of worship and community gatherings. From new construction, like the Hillel JUC and the South Hills JCC, to additions and renovations at Anathan House, Emma Kaufmann Camp and Tree of Life Congregation, Rothschild’s work is infused with deep religious meaning and beauty. As Rothschild, 53, explains, the firm has five guiding principles, including a mandate to create meaningful design solutions, not just pretty buildings. In Rothschild’s case, the mandate resulted in his combining insights from his regular weekly Torah study with his design talents to create beautiful spaces. “In the Jewish community projects, I can delve into my understanding of Torah. It allows for a deeper, more meaningful solution. I’ve been involved in Torah study for 13 years now, and as I go through the cycle again and again, it gains a deeper meaning over time. One of the pleasures

J Magazine May Issue_Layout 1 5/23/2011 2:57 PM Page 1

DAN ROTHSCHILD of working with the Jewish community is that I get to apply my own knowledge and outlook on Judaism. It’s one of the reasons why it’s such a good fit,” he offers. Rothschild incorporates so much thought, symbolism and meaning into his projects that he often writes an essay detailing the meaning of the physical form of his work, like an artist’s interpretation. “Some of the stuff can get pretty deep,” he explains. For example, curious visitors and members at Temple Emanuel are welcome to a nine-page description of the biblical references in the structure and the details that represent light and the sanctity of time. Some buildings such as the Hillel JUC boast a plaque explaining various design aspects to help visitors appreciate the work. But much of the meaning is there for the community to enjoy on first glance. For example, Rothschild conceptualized the sculpture on the front of the Hillel JUC building, linking it to a pillar of cloud and fire to represent G-d giving guidance to the Israelites, much as Hillel gives guidance to young adults away from home and family for the first time.

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The round dome centerpiece and supporting pillars of the South Hills JCC are based on a tent, to represent “the concept of hospitality and welcoming to the community,” Rothschild explains. Similarly, the 613 colored glass pebbles dotting an outside wall of Temple Emanuel represent the number of mitzvot. “It’s common for teachers at Temple to show this to their classes—so they can see the physical representation of the number 613,” he explains. Rothschild’s designs for Jewish spaces also incorporate the relationship between light and time, based on the belief that, “light is a metaphor for goodness…it relates to essential concepts of Judaism to do stronger and stronger good deeds over time,” he explains. Another guiding principle for Rothschild Doyno Collaborative is to make the world a better place, or, as we Jews know it---Tikkun Olam. To that end, much of their work outside of the Jewish community takes place in disadvantaged neighborhoods all over the globe, from Pittsburgh to Newark to the Virgin Islands. issue 3


Photos Courtesy of the University of Pittsburgh

By Roberta Brody






Pittsburgh… Jonas Salk… and The Shot That Changed the World


torytelling is an important aspect of Jewish tradition. It is how we keep track of our long history and share the lore of our families through the generations. Sometimes, there are stories in our own community that have never been told in great detail. One of those is the amazing story of Jonas Salk and his discovery of the polio vaccine–right here in Pittsburgh! Enter Carl Kurlander, a writer, producer and Pittsburgh native who returned here from Los Angeles several years ago to make a difference in his hometown. His documentary, My Tale of Two Cities, chronicles the process that led to his decision to return home.

The film, The Shot Felt ‘Round the World, inspired an innovative educational program in our community, called Take a Shot at Changing the World. Its goal was to challenge middle and high school students to make their own videos connecting the development of the Salk Polio Vaccine 60 years ago to current eradication efforts around the world. Sue Kelly, District Governor Elect, Rotary 7300; Cindy Sakala, District Governor, Rotary 7300; Rachel Shepherd, Project Coordinator, Steeltown Entertainment Project; Jon Burnett, KDKA anchor; Denny Crawford, Foundation Chair, Rotary 7300; Carl Kurlander, Executive Producer, Steeltown Entertainment Project; Tyler Anderson, Grand-Prize Winner of “Take a Shot at Changing the World,” Mt. Lebanon High School (aspiring senior). The middle school winners were (left to right) Adam Bettinger, Sam Berman, Adam Barsouk and Sammy Binkin, all from Community Day School.

Kurlander, best known for writing the screenplay for St. Elmo’s Fire and producing TV sitcom Saved by the Bell, said the idea to tell Jonas Salk’s story hit him in 2005, around the 50th anniversary of the vaccine’s discovery. It started as a trailer in his film class at Pitt, and was eventually made into a film at the urging of philanthropist and Hillman Foundation cofounder Elsie Hillman, and others. That was the inception of The Shot Felt ’Round the World. Salk was born in New York in 1914 to Russian Jewish immigrants. He moved to Pittsburgh in 1947, when he accepted an appointment to the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, where he subsequently discovered the polio vaccine.

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The photo above was taken in the very building where Jonas Salk had first developed the first “safe and effective” polio vaccine with his team from the University of Pittsburgh.


Front row: next to the young man: Dr. Richard Wechsler, University of Pittsburgh medical school graduate 1947 who helped give the polio vaccine to Pitt students and employees in 1957, Rachel Shepherd, Project Manager, Steeltown Entertainment Project’s “Take A Shot At Changing The World” contest, Dr. Sidney Busis, Pitt physician who worked on the polio ward

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The film features interviews with Dr. Sidney and Sylvia Busis, who were involved in the treatment and care of polio victims in the ’50s, and Squirrel Hill resident Julius Youngner, the microbiologist who worked with Salk on the vaccine development. 11:43:39 AM

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“It’s a Pittsburgh story as well as a Jewish story,” said Kurlander. “How many other U.S. cities can claim that they conquered a disease?” he added. “From Jonas Salk to all of the local [Jewish] doctors who helped him, to the many local schoolchildren who lined up for the first shots, the discovery made in a laboratory on the Pitt campus changed the entire world for the better,” reflected Kurlander.



The Shot Felt ’Round the World took five years to make. It was produced on a very tight budget that included a gift from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the help of a lot of volunteers, including Kurlander’s nonprofit Steeltown Entertainment Project staff and many of his students.




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Additionally, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (committed to eradicating polio forever in all countries) loved the project and joined Steeltown Entertainment and Rotary International to sponsor a contest for local school students to create their own videos and “take a shot at changing the

at Municipal Hospital (what Salk Hall used to be called), Dr. Peter Salk, son of Jonas Salk, President of the Jonas Salk Legacy Foundation who worked alongside his father on an AIDS vaccine and was one of the first to get the then experimental Salk vaccine. Cindy Sakala, Rotary District Governor, 7300, Dr. Patricia Kroboth, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy And scores of young people from around Western PA who made some of the 79 videos which were submitted to this first year of “Take A Shot At Changing The World”

world.” The middle school prize winner was from Community Day School. The Pittsburgh Jewish community has a lot to be proud of for the part that it has played in the discovery of the Salk vaccine for the prevention of polio. It is a true testament to what a community can do... together.

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Interesting facts:


• Salk used a “killed” virus, as opposed to live virus to develop the vaccine. • Salk made not one penny on the vaccine; he said it belonged to the people. • Pittsburgh public school children were among the first to get the vaccine.

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• Funding came from dimes sent to the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis (founded by former President Franklin Delano Roosevelt), which eventually became the March of Dimes. • By the end of the ’50s, polio was eliminated… but now has re-appeared

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The Steeltown Entertainment Project ( was co-founded by native Pittsburghers Ellen Weiss Kander and Carl Kurlander. Its mission is to help foster a thriving and responsible

in four countries. • Salk eventually moved to La Jolla, California, where he established the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He died there in 1995. • Dr. Sidney Busis performed trachiotomies on iron lung patients in the polio ward of Municipal Hospital, three floors above where the Salk polio vaccine was being developed. • He and Peter Salk are both featured in The Shot Felt ‘Round The World. The film can be purchased by going to or calling the Steeltown Entertainment Project @ (412) 622-1325.

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entertainment industry in Southwestern Pennsylvania. The Shot Felt ‘Round the World is just one of its many worthwhile and notable projects. Visit their website to learn more.

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tsburgh t i P n i e se Springtim –and not just tho e stars h t t u o y. It is t s e i r a v bring l a lesti local y n a of the ce m n n whe o s a e s their e r o n o h also th s titution s n i h s i w Je y stars. t i n u m m own co

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s r a t s r e p su 5th held its r (JUC) te an n , e ll C a ic H rsity gie Mus features h Unive e is rn w a Je C l the Hille perstars at the petition, which ze n April, Su pri om Campus solo singing c eting for a top Annual p e k siness m li u o lb c o n Id how ents America a college stud as judged by s ear’s winner h are his y on w Pittsburg . The competiti dience votes. T u 0 a 0 of $5,0 als, as well as n CMU. io s m s o fe fr t ro r p e s s a s of the H lian activitie Center of d n a was Gil s ram ity the prog Jewish Univers benefit l s le il d e H e c n The pro e Berma and Ros , who Edward ity Pillars pus . n h u rg m u m b o C Pitts h cam d the 10 nt Jewis o honore hing the vibra hey were: ls a C l JU .T blis The Hille mental in esta Building ra Burstin, u h Stern a tr p s rb e s in a B Jo re we he id and v d in the a te D a ation, T r y J. , c d n n lo Berma le Fou center en g e s a H o E r. R t n D d an nd Gia Edward d Sylvia Busis, e Jean, Lillian a rris Charitable an rt, rles Mo ilies, Th Sidney w Stewa ler Fam Fund, The Cha s s e , Andre K y / il w m t o a n rl F e e P rn wm dred Ste in Endo Goldste Joseph and Mil r. e o Trust, Th nonymous don a e n o d n a


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One Bam, Two Cracks, Three Dots

Mah Jongg and the “other” Jewish-Chinese Connection By Holly Rudoy Photography by Raviv Cohen


t’s happening everywhere…in Mt. Lebanon’s Galleria Mall and in Squirrel Hill living rooms, at Green Oaks Country Club and on Fox Chapel patios. It was featured as an exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City and is now a traveling exhibit. It comes from the hills of China and pulses through wireless connections around the globe. It’s Mah Jongg…and it’s back in a big way! Though according to plenty of “seasoned” players we interviewed, it never really went away. “We’ve been playing for 40 or 50 years,” states Sally Lupovitz from her seat at the table for four in the Galleria Mall’s sunny upper concourse, where she and her friends have been playing for the past eight years. “Well, we did stop when our kids were young,” offers her friend Cookie Landman. “Not me,” counters fellow player Marsha Rubinstein, who says she never stopped playing and always made time for Mahj. Today, this group of youthful 70-somethings is now free to play more often— sometimes two to three days a week. Theories abound as to why a game played by Chinese men has been a cult phenomenon among Jewish women for decades. Could it be our fondness for things Chinese, like the cuisine we crave? Not likely. There’s got to be more to the story, and according to the museum exhibit, Project Mah Jongg, there is. Most research points to American Joseph P. Babcock as the first importer of Mah Jongg sets to this country in the 1920s. The ivorytiled sets were originally available through Abercrombie & Fitch, with Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley joining in to make the game available and affordable to the masses. And while Babcock may be responsible for introducing the game, that certainly can’t account for its popularity among Jewish women. issue 3


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Ruth Unger, President of the National Mah Jongg League, theorizes that so many Jewish women support the game because historically, synagogue sisterhoods, Hadassah and other Jewish women’s groups have sold the game card—a new one is released each spring— as an annual fundraiser. They have had to teach the game to their members to perpetuate it and guarantee a successful fundraising campaign.

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Another theory offered by a group of historians suggests that Jews fleeing what was to become Nazi Europe and settling in Shanghai adopted the game as they assimilated into the culture. When they later immigrated to the United States, they brought the game with them.

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Building on that idea, Anita Luu and Christi Cavallero, authors of Mah-jongg: From Shanghai to Miami Beach, figure that the game increased in popularity throughout World War II because women found it to be an easy, affordable form of communal entertainment while their husbands were at war. Since the standard form of the game requires four players, it was only a matter of time before mothers involved daughters, sisters taught sisters, and neighbors showed neighbors, guaranteeing a quick spread of the game in the tight-knit urban setting of mid-century New York.

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Whatever the case may be, it’s nearly 100 years later and Pittsburgh’s Jewish women continue the tradition of sharing their lives with their friends…and Mahj still seems to offer the perfect venue. Patti Shensa, of Squirrel Hill, learned how to play Mahj in the 1960s, when she had small children at home. “A lot of the women I play with now are from that group. Some I went to college or high school [Allderdice] with or even grade school,” she marvels. Shensa’s group includes about 14 women, with eight to 10 of them playing regularly at Bravo or Mitchell’s in the Waterfront, taking over a few tables from about 11:30 a.m.3:30 p.m. with a lunch break in the middle. The game truly is for everyone, and in Shensa’s case, that even included her late mother, Mae Greenberger, who joined in the group about eight years ago and continued to play until she passed away last year. “Even if I wasn’t playing that day, they always called her to play and drove out to

pick her up.” Like Shensa’s group, the Galleria clan of Rubinstein, Landman, Lupovitz and their fourth player that day, Diane Kalinsky, have been playing for decades. They are serious players, who tote their Mahj change purses along with their official Mahj cases and cards, and spend hours betting on their hands. According to Rubinstein, it’s nearing standing room only at the Galleria on Monday afternoons. Today, there are legions of women in newly formed groups, having learned from more experienced players. They are mostly moms who are looking for a great night out with friends. They don’t “play for money” because their constant chattering, laughing and snacking could then come at a steep price. Beth Ellis, 42, of Upper St. Clair, started playing when a friend invited her to a “learn to play Mahj” party and admits that she is in it for the schmoozing as much as the strategizing. “The reason I play is, I think, the reason a lot of women play,” she offers. “I play because of the social aspect as much as the game. You don’t need a ton of people to play; you can easily play and converse.”

The Game

Like the Jewish women and the Chinese men who play it, mah jongg is a game of contrasts. It is intricate, yet fairly easy to learn. Highly ritualistic, yet adaptable for all playing styles, including the Internet. Mah Jongg is a game played with 152 tiles. There are three “suits”—Bamboos (Bams), Cracks and Dots—in addition to Winds, Dragons, Flowers and Jokers. Each of the four players is dealt 13 tiles. Using a $7card that is supplied annually by the National Mah Jongg League (I’m not kidding—you can even join them on their yearly cruise), players try to match their hand to one of 52 hands on the card. Through an intricate series of passing (Charleston) and picking tiles, someone eventually lands a “MAH JONGG!” Unless of course, they have inadvertently made a mistake, a situation that one local mahj group has dubbed a “faux mahj”—how embarrassing!

Where to Learn

temple sisterhood, Hadassah, or the Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh. For more information, contact The National Mah Jongg League at (212) 246-3052 or visit their website at

Project Mah Jongg The Project Mah Jongg exhibit was on view from May 4, 2010 through February 27, 2011 at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Lower Manhattan. Beginning in the fall, the exhibit will make its way to the Oregon Jewish Museum in Portland, Oregon; the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, Ohio; the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles and the Jewish Museum of Florida in Miami Beach. For more information, visit projectmahjongg. com

Many local groups offer mah jongg sessions throughout the year for new and experienced players. Check your

Ellis also enjoys the link to our past. “Many of our mothers played, and I think the memory of them enjoying it sticks in our minds.” No matter the age of the player, we play to connect—to each other, and possibly to our heritage. And while the exact origin of the Mahj may elude us, we know that it’s alive and well in Pittsburgh. And we can bet that our Mahj sets will be passed down for generations to come.

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A Day in... mount lebanon By Roberta Brody Photography by Raviv Cohen


nce upon a time in Pittsburgh, if you lived in the East End, where most of the city’s Jews resided, it took nothing short of a miracle to get you to cross a bridge and go through a tunnel to eat, shop or visit anyone in a suburb known as Mt. Lebanon. And living there was pretty much out of the question. Although housing prices in the South Hills were quite attractive to young Jewish families, many neighborhoods weren’t exactly welcoming to Jews. Fast forward several decades and, lo and behold, Jews are living happily there with several synagogues (Beth El Congregation of the South Hills and Temple Emanuel of South Hills, as well as the neighboring Beth Israel Center and Congregation Ahavath Achim), a Chabad, and even an outpost of the JCC. Amazing what a few decades can do! Today, the Mt. Lebanon area boasts close to 1,600 Jewish households and is still growing. Recently, Travel & Leisure Magazine named Mt. Lebanon one of “America’s Coolest Suburbs,” saying that “part of this town’s allure is the friendly vibe and proximity to downtown Pittsburgh six miles away. It’s also on the light-rail line, better known as the T. Social life bustles along Washington Road, where you’ll find the requisite boutiques and bistro-style dining options as well as specialty purveyors...” With that in mind, J Magazine decided it was time to venture across the Fort Pitt Bridge, through the tunnels of the same name, and take the Banksville Road exit to showcase the buzz. There are several business districts in the Mt. Lebanon area, including the Galleria and Beverly Road, but we chose to focus this visit on the “uptown” area of Washington Road. (Note: There are so many businesses in the Mt. Lebanon area that we can only offer you a small sampling of what awaits you.) If you’re a Pamela’s fan, you’ll be happy to know you can begin your day in Mt. Lebanon with a pancake breakfast at their location on Washington Road. Whether it’s custom jewelry, pottery, or hand-built furniture, stop in at Handworks Gallery for a look at their great selection. If you’re in the market for fine fabrics, add a visit to The Fabric Place, which specializes in bridal and custom fabrics, imported laces and trims, Swarovski crystals, and rhinestones.

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The world is yours – to protect, improve, explore, and enjoy. And every student at Chatham knows it. We deliver a unique learning experience that allows you to define what you want out of your education – whether you’re an undergraduate, graduate, or continuing education student. With small class sizes, a dedicated faculty, distinctive programs, and unusual opportunities, Chatham encourages you to get involved, get ready, and get what you want out of life. Think of the possibilities.

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More Than Words offers a beautiful array of invitations, papers and unusual gifts. Looking for that perfect baby gift? L’Enfant Elegant has it all: baby clothes, books and gifts for infants and toddlers. Maybe a pampering morning is more to your liking. Some time well spent at La Pomponneé Salon and Spa will help you relax.

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Follow that treat with a delicious lunch at Il Pizzaiolo or Little Tokyo. From pizza to piri kara, you’ll enjoy an afternoon of savory exploration. Ona Boutique has apparel for every woman’s fashion sense, and Koolkat Designs offers an array of locally made jewelry and accessories, as well as jewelrymaking classes. Those of you who fondly recall the old Rollier’s Hardware from Shadyside will be delighted to wander through the huge, amazing Rollier’s of Mt. Lebanon, where you can find everything under the sun for your home. If you’re looking for a place to pick up some food items before heading back to the city, Eden’s Market is part Whole Foods healthy, part 7-Eleven convenient. And, they even offer gluten-free challah! Should you decide to stay in Mt. Lebanon for dinner, you can’t go wrong with a delicious meal at Bistro 19 (see “Recipes and Reservations” for more details). However you choose to spend your day, Mt. Lebanon offers a wealth of shopping and dining options that makes the trek across the Mon River well worth it!

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If you’ve had an event that you would like to share, please e-mail a high-resolution – preferably candid -- photo to us at: Your submission grants us permission to use your photo. Photos used as space permits.

ISRAEL INDEPENDENCE DAY CELEBRATION Thousands attended the annual Yom Ha’atzmaut Celebration sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. The event featured live music, Israeli dancing, arts and crafts, a petting zoo and other activities. Hannah Busis joins Israeli teens during a break in the action. The Israelis are members of the Spirit of Israel Teen Delegation, a troupe of teens from Pittsburgh’s Partnership 2000 sister communities, Karmiel and Misgav, who come to Pittsburgh to perform on Israel Memorial Day, Israel Independence Day and in the Pittsburgh Folk Music Festival. Manning a booth at the celebration are Zeesha Braslawsce and Eli Gelerter, participants in the Diller Teen Fellows Program, an intensive leadership training program that engages Pittsburgh teens and a group of their peers from Karmiel/Misgav in learning, community service projects and educational visits to one another’s communities. Arts & crafts was a favorite activity at the celebration, where these girls strung beads into necklaces.

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SPRING EVENT OF THE JEWISH COMMUNITY FOUNDATION More than 200 people gathered at the Spring Event of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Foundation for the public launch of the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, an endowment within the Foundation established to create transformative change in our community. More than $14.5 million has been raised to date, to ensure a strong, vibrant Jewish community for the future by funding Jewish learning and engagement opportunities ranging from Jewish preschools, synagogue schools and day schools, to Jewish summer camp and Israel travel programs.

Honored at the Foundation event were the founders of the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future: Barbara and David Burstin; Philip Chosky Charitable Foundation; Adrienne and H. Arnold Gefsky; The Giant Eagle Foundation; Dr. Solomon and Sarah Goldberg Endowment Fund; Jean, Lillian and Dr. Henry J. Goldstein Endowment Fund; Linda and Edward Goldston; The Perlow Family; The Plung/Resnick Family; The Rudolph Family; Cynthia and David Shapira; and Sandy and Edgar Snyder. Shown, from left are Linda and Ed Goldston; Chuck Porter, representing the Giant Eagle Foundation; David Burstin; Meryl Ainsman, representing the Chosky Foundation; Arnie Gefsky; Jane Yahr and Barbara Goldberg, representing the Goldberg Endowment Fund; Lou and Lori Plung; Debbie Resnick; Bill Rudolph; Edgar and Sandy Snyder; and Cindy and David Shapira.

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The Foundation Spring Program featured remarks by renowned speaker and author, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin. Shown, from left: Jeff Finkelstein, President/CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh; David and Cindy Shapira, Co-Chairs of the Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation and the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future; Rabbi Telushkin; and Bill Rudolph, Federation Chair of the Board.

Enjoying the program, from left: Carol and Ted Goldberg, Sarita and Milt Eisner, and Nancy Ostrow.

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PAJC Honors Community Leader On June 1st, the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee honored Suzy Broadhurst, Director of Corporate Giving at Eat’n Park with the 2011 Community Impact Award for her support of the PAJC. The event was held at the Carnegie Museum of Pittsburgh. Jamie Dixon, men’s basketball head coach at the University of Pittsburgh, emceed the event. Also honored was Manjot Singh, a recent graduate of Gateway High School, who won the PAJC Caplan-Lieber Human Relations Award for her efforts to recognize and celebrate diversity at her school. “The religious and racial diversity of our 300 attendees was a real testament to the impact of the PAJC and the bridges that we have built between the Jewish community and our neighbors.” said Deborah Fidel, Executive Director of the PAJC.

University of Pittsburgh Men’s Basketball Head Coach, Jamie Dixon and Deborah Fidel, Executive Director of the PAJC

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Jill Zarin, of “The Real Housewives of New York,” was a guest speaker at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Natalie Novick Women’s Philanthropy Spring Event, along with her sister, radio host Lisa Wexler, and her mother, Gloria Kamen. The three are co-authors of “Secrets of a Jewish Mother.” Here, Jill is flanked by event Co-Chairs Robin Gordon, left, and Sheryl Silverman. Community leader Judy Wein received the Natalie Novick Woman of Philanthropy Award at the event. The award was presented by Mary Novick.

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bistro 19 711 Washington Rd. Mt. Lebanon 412-306-1919 Mention J Magazine and receive One Complimentary Lemon Pepper Calamari Appetizer per table July 1-15.


fter reading “A Day in Mt. Lebanon,” you might want to hop in the car, turn on the GPS, and head to Bistro 19 for lunch or dinner. Everything that owner Richard Fuchs and Managing Partner B DeFrancis do is rooted in hospitality and graciousness.

Executive Chef Jessica Gibson is committed to using local produce and other ingredients from local purveyors. A Pittsburgh native, Jessica attended Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and spent time at The Boca Raton Resort & Club, learning every aspect of the culinary world. She returned home to Pittsburgh and eventually brought her experience to the helm of Bistro 19. Most recently, the restaurant was voted the Best American Restaurant in the Pittsburgh Magazine 2010-2011 Readers’ Poll. Jessica’s appreciation for fine food fuels her passion to cook and create menus. She kindly offered to share the Bistro’s recipe for Chilean Sea bass with J readers.

Chilean Sea bass with Orie ntal Vinaig rette

Marinade 1 cup oyster sauce (see ww w.oukosher.o 1/2 cup rice vi rg for kosher negar substitutes) 1 tsp wasabi powder Crust 1/4 cup fresh horseradish ch opped in food 1 cup panko processor crumbs Vinaigrette 1/4 cup rice vi negar 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard 1/4 cup suga r 1 Tbsp. Marin ade (see abov e) 1/2 cup sesa me oil 1 cup vegeta ble oil Combine first four ingredie nts then slow ly whisk in oi l. 4 pieces of Ch ilean Sea Bass or other white fish Dip fish in marin ade, sprinkle with crumbs, place on bake at 350 de lined baking shee grees 15-18 min utes. t and Serve with basm ati rice and napa slaw. 38

J Magazine



eArnIng AnoTher

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That’s my

Advantage. december 2010


this is no laughing Is that laughter I hear? Could well be, with hundreds of children now having lots of fun at summer camp. But Jewish camp is more than just fun. It’s one of the most effective tools for transmitting our culture and values — and giving children an enduring sense of Jewish peoplehood. That’s why… • 4 out of 5 kids who attend Jewish summer camp report increased Jewish identity • 41% feel a strong attachment to Israel The challenge to maintain a vibrant Jewish community is “no laughing matter.” The Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, an initiative of the Jewish Community Foundation, supports programs that will help ensure a thriving Pittsburgh Jewish Community, today and into the future. Learn more at or call 412.992.5224.

Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future

J Magazine issue 3  

J Magazine issue 3

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