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January 22, 2021 | 9 Shevat 5781

Candlelighting 5:09 p.m. | Havdalah 6:11 p.m. | Vol. 64, No. 4 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org

Vaccination day at the JAA



Experts talk about implications of social media crackdown

LOCAL Three decades of care Rabbi Larry Heimer retires from pastoral role Page 4

By Toby Tabachnick | Editor



family members received shots to prevent polio, but said the two periods of historic vaccination couldn’t be compared. “It’s like apples and bananas and oranges,” said the nonagenarian. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine, though, was exciting, continued Goldman, because it represents hope for the future and the ability to see friends and family in person again. For residents and staff, after such “an incredibly difficult and challenging year,” there is a “sense of optimism that the end is in sight with this virus,” said Deborah WinnHorvitz, JAA’s president and CEO. “It’s been so long since we have had something really to celebrate and to feel very positive about.” Long-term care facilities in Allegheny County have been devastated by COVID19. According to Pennsylvania’s Department of Health, 155 facilities have had COVID-positive cases resulting in more than 700 deaths. Although the JAA successfully managed to avoid COVID-19’s initial waves, its facilities fell prey to the virus in early August when six Charles M. Morris Nursing &

he man who stormed the Tree of Life synagogue building on Oct. 27, 2018, murdering 11 congregants in the midst of Shabbat prayer, was an active user of the social media site Gab. His Gab bio said that “jews are the children of satan,” and his banner image was an unambiguous reference to a white supremacist meme. His final post, just prior to the massacre, read: “Screw your optics, I’m going in.” In the weeks and months following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, many pundits urged social media sites to tamp down on racist, violent and anti-Semitic accounts. The Anti-Defamation League implored social media companies to clarify their terms of service to address hateful content — or at least make it harder to find online — and to not allow hateful content to be monetized for profit. “There are 24/7 rallies online,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO and national director of the ADL told the Chronicle one year following the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. “With just a few clicks you can literally find what was previously unspeakable. Social media has become a breeding ground for bigotry. Some of these businesses, like Facebook, have taken some steps … YouTube has adopted some important measures, but they need to do much, much more.” Following the Jan. 6 Capitol riots, which left five people dead, the social media giants took serious steps against thousands of accounts they deemed to be potentially dangerous. Twitter suspended more than 70,000 accounts linked to the QAnon conspiracy theory, whose followers believe Donald Trump is secretly saving the world from a cabal of Satanic pedophiles and cannibals, and who traffic in anti-Semitic tropes. Adherents to QAnon were among the

Please see Vaccination, page 20

Please see Social Media, page 14

Connecting at Concordia

Jewish life for South Hills seniors Page 6


 Cheryl Thompson, a 34-year veteran of the JAA, was the organization’s first staff member to receive the Pfizer vaccine. Photo courtesy of the Jewish Association on Aging By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer

Mrs. Maisel’s marvelous accessories

Pittsburgh South Side shop keeps star in style Page 16


t isn’t typical for guitar riffs to blast through the halls of the Jewish Association on Aging, or to find staff and residents celebrating with pomp in the midst of a pandemic, but Jan. 12 wasn’t a typical day. After 10 months of COVID19-related lockdown — a period when window visits between loved ones became the norm — representatives of CVS Health began administering the Pfizer vaccine on JAA premises. Around 11 a.m. last Tuesday morning, a line of socially distanced residents and staff formed in the Beechwood unit at Charles M. Morris Nursing Home & Rehabilitation Center. Cheryl Thompson, a 34-year JAA veteran and licensed practical nurse, was the organization’s first staff member to receive vaccination, which she said felt no different than a regular flu shot. Kenneth M. Goldman, a 98-year-old metallurgist, agreed. “I could hardly feel it,” he said. Goldman, the first JAA resident to receive vaccination, recalled how, 65 years earlier,

keep your eye on PittsburghJewishChronicle LOCAL

Hamsah says ‘farewell’


Holocaust ed at Canon-Mac


Salad for Tu B’Shevat

Headlines Beth El welcomes trailblazing Ugandan rabbinic student to virtual program — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer


hoshana Nambi has found a second, virtual home in the South Hills of Pittsburgh. Nambi, the first Ugandan female rabbinic student at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, is a member of the Abayudaya Jewish community in Uganda. She spoke virtually at Temple Emanuel of South Hills in November and appeared at a special “First Mondays with Rabbi Alex” program commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 18 at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills. During the hour-long talk, the future rabbi told the story of the Abayudaya and its struggles, both for survival and legitimacy as a Jewish community. It was a tale familiar to many of the close to 100 Zoom attendees who heard Rabbi Gershom Sizomu recount the details of the Abayudaya and their conversion to Judaism when he visited Beth El in 2016. The community was founded by Semei Kakungulu, a Ugandan statesman, in 1917, after studying a copy of the Old Testament, Nambi said. When Kakungulu died in 1928, the community almost fell apart as members fell away or converted to Christianity. It stabilized when Sizomu’s grandfather became one of its leaders. After seizing power in a coup in 1971, Ugandan President Idi Amin outlawed most religions, including Judaism. Today, when the Abayudaya celebrate Passover, they mark their liberation not only from the Egyptian pharaoh but the brutal reign of Amin as well, Nambi said. When a Brown University student studying

in Kenya in the mid-’90s learned about the Abayudaya and contacted the Kulanu organization — whose mission is to support isolated, emerging and returning Jewish communities around the globe — their story began to be told in newspapers around the world. In 2005, five rabbis from the Conservative and Reform movements organized a beit din and formally converted the community en masse. “Some people wanted an Orthodox conversion but I’m glad it worked out the way it did because I am here now studying to become a rabbi and I don’t think that would be the case if it went the other way,” Nambi said. She credited Sizomu with opening the community to the possibility of female leadership. Before he returned from his own ordination in America, women were not permitted to read from the Torah in the Abayudaya community. After Sizomu became a rabbi, he explained that he had been taught by female rabbis and encouraged women to read Hebrew and celebrate bat mitzvahs. There are currently about 2,000 members of the Abayudaya community, Nambi said. Its religious leaders include Sizomu, a Conservative rabbi; an Orthodox rabbi; and a Jewish Renewal rabbinic student. Nambi is currently in her third year of study at the Reform movement’s New York campus and expects to graduate in 2023. She intends to go back to Uganda with her daughter after she is ordained. Although the Abayudaya community has gained international recognition, it continues to maintain an uneasy relationship with Israel. In 2018, young people from the community embarked on an organized Birthright trip to the Jewish state. However, in the same year, Israel’s Interior Ministry refused to recognize a member of the Abayudaya community as

learning about the community, the synagogue began raising money to assist with their needs, mostly through Kulanu. In 2015, Spungen learned that the community needed a Torah and arranged for Beth El to donate one of theirs. They were able to deliver it in person in 2016 when Sizomu came to Pittsburgh as part of Torah Weekend, a joint program between Beth El and Temple Emanuel.  Rabbinic student Shoshana Nambi spoke at Beth El In 2017 Spungen spoke via Zoom during a special Martin Luther King Jr. Day “First Monday With Rabbi Alex.”  Screenshot by David Rullo with Sizomu and learned of hardships in the community. Jewish for purpose of citizenship. The case is “He told me that things were not good, still in being considered by Israel’s High Court. that there was a famine and people were Nambi said that despite their struggles, dying,” Spungen said. “I brought this up at the Abayudaya have found stability. She our annual meeting. We began a fundraising pointed to an annual conference hosted by campaign that reached across the country the community each January and a music with Temple Emanuel helping us. We festival where Jewish people from different contacted people from all over the country communities come together. and raised over $10,000.” “It’s such a beautiful celebration of Spungen thinks it’s important that older, different cultures within the Jewish more established Jewish communities help community itself,” she said. emerging and returning Jewish communities. Bernice Natelson, who organized the “We have a very mature Jewish community,” Beth El talk along with Sharon Moskowitz, he said. “We’ve been fortunate that we’ve grown thought Nambi would be a good fit for a in a country that has been open to Judaism. We Martin Luther King Jr. Day program. received help when we were getting started and “Especially as the mother of daughters, I it’s important for us to give help to other folks. was so inspired by Shoshana’s life story, and We take our religion for granted. These are I realized I would be hard-pressed to find folks that are seeing it as something new and a more meaningful event to hold on MLK exciting. And, you know, that offers something Day,” Natelson said. to us, too, doesn’t it?”  PJC Beth El’s support for the Abayudaya community goes back to 2004, according David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ to past president Cliff Spungen. After pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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2  JANUARY 22, 2021



Headlines Goodbye, grape leaves: Hamsah Mediterranean Grill closes

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Foundation presents

d r i b w Sno Event ONLINE

 Shortly after opening in 2019, Nissim Assouline holds food prepared at Hamsah. Photo by Adam Reinherz

— LOCAL — Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


affa fans are going to have to find another source for their flatbread, because on Jan. 11 Hamsah Mediterranean Grill closed up shop. Nearly 18 months after opening, the Greenfield-based kosher eatery, whose sandwiches included shawarma, schnitzel, falafel and beef shish kabob, shuttered with little notice.

At 11 a.m. on Jan. 11, representatives of the restaurant, which was located at 4371 Murray Ave., posted on Facebook: “Hi everyone unfortunately Hamsah Mediterranean Grill will be open today for the last day ... We will serve from 4:00 - 8:00 p.m. tonight and then the doors close. If you want to take advantage of it we will thank you! Thank you everyone for understanding and your support!” Follow-up posts expressed gratitude for the community’s support and encouraged

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 10, 2021 5:00 PM | ONLINE (Link Provided at Registration) RSVP: February 1, 2021 | Couvert: $10/person

Please see Hamsah, page 15


Classrooms Without Borders welcomes new educator


lassrooms Without Borders has hired Ellen Resnek as its new education programs and outreach manager. Resnek comes to CWB with 20 years of experience as an educator. She taught in her native Massachusetts and Vermont before relocating to Chester County, Pennsylvania, 17 years ago where she taught social studies in the Downington Area School District. “I love classroom teaching,” Resnek said, “but I’ve also felt like I could do more. In my role in the classroom, I can probably reach 145 students a year. There are so many more students and educators that we need to engage in really careful conversation about teaching social justice issues.” She has been the recipient of several teaching awards, including the 2018 Transatlantic Outreach Fellow of the Year award at the National Council of Social Studies conference. She also serves as a member of the teacher advisory board for the National Constitution Center and is a founding member of the National Council on History Education’s Teacher Advisory Group. “We are so excited to have Ellen join our PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  

team,” said Tsipy Gur, CWB’s executive director. “She is an amazing educator and now we will be able to build on her skills and knowledge to impact not only the students in her  Ellen Resnek classroom over the  Photo provided years, but students in schools and districts across the region.” Resnek, who will start work with CWB on Jan. 25, said her new position is a dream come true. “CWB has amplified their outreach,” Resnek said. “I think their last virtual meeting had participants from 32 countries and close to 500 participants. That’s incredible. I am ever impressed with Tsipy and her ability to navigate difficult situations that are creative and useful for educators. She makes sure that what we do is relevant to our classroom at all times.”  PJC

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Learn more at

FOUNDATION.JEWISHPGH.ORG/SNOWBIRD or contact Patti Dziekan at pdziekan@jfedpgh.org or 412-992-5221. Minimum $500 commitment to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s 2021 Community Campaign.


JANUARY 22, 2021  3

Headlines After three decades, Rabbi Larry Heimer retires from pastoral work — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle


abbi Larry Heimer started as a hospital chaplain in Connecticut in 1981. Though he led sermons from the dais of a small shul outside New Haven for a few years, it was his chaplaincy career that blossomed and he joined UPMC’s staff in 1991. The rest, as they say, is history. “The rabbis in the pulpit have a whole lot of … responsibilities and in chaplaincy, for me, I find some similar things,” Heimer told the Chronicle. “But my responsibilities extend into the medical setting. And I do a lot of teaching, in different ways.” Heimer retired from his post as manager of pastoral care at UPMC Presbyterian and UPMC Montefiore on Jan. 15. Heimer is modest about his accomplishments but said he remains proud of his ability to install in several UPMC hospitals “Shabbat cabinets,” which offer the comforts of familiar rituals to Jewish patients and their families during difficult times in their lives. The project — for which Heimer collaborated with colleagues in facilities management and elsewhere — has led to cabinets being installed in at least six UPMC

 Rabbi Larry Heimer

Photo provided by UPMC

hospitals, including UPMC East, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital and UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. Heimer also was instrumental in expanding the eruv to make it easier for Orthodox Jews to travel to health facilities as far-flung as Oakland and Lawrenceville on Shabbat, according to Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel, who serves as executive director of the Aleph Institute and is secretary of the Vaad

Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh, which is the halachic authority for Pittsburgh’s chevra kadisha, mikvah and eruv. “Rabbi Heimer really put in the hours to work on the expansion” of the eruv, Vogel said. “It’s something he deserves a lot of credit for.” Vogel stressed that Heimer also deserves accolades for the endless kindness and service he has shown to strangers — namely, Jewish patients who pass through UPMC facilities, and their families. “People come from all over the world to get treated here,” said Vogel, “and Rabbi Heimer has been a tremendous asset to them all.” Heimer also received praise in his closing days from a longtime peer, Rev. Gaea Thompson, who will succeed him as the head of UPMC’s pastoral care. “Rabbi Heimer has been a chaplain colleague of mine for many years. His commitment to excellent, consistent spiritual care at the hospital is admirable,” Thompson said. The two both trained with Rev. Charles Starr in clinical pastoral education supervisory work. “Little did we know 12 years ago that those weekly Tuesday afternoon sessions at Shadyside would evolve into teaching together the last three years and then to being part of this leadership transition,”

Thompson said. “It is humbling to be trusted with such a vital pastoral care program. The web of relationships that Larry built over the years connected the community and the hospital. I promise to honor the faith-based heritage of this work.” Heimer also will be succeeded in part by Rabbi Eli Seidman, the retired Jewish Association on Aging chaplain who now will be working for UPMC about five hours each week. Seidman had nothing but praise for his fellow chaplain. “Rabbi Heimer always quoted, ‘Service to others is the rent we pay for living on Earth.’ That quote fits his style and personality,” Seidman said. “Rabbi Larry loves and respects all God’s beloved children and listens to them. He serves others with empathy and is a great example of what a person should be.” Heimer said he plans to continue to live in Pittsburgh but hasn’t planned much beyond that. “I’m taking some time for a breather,” he laughed. But one thing is certain. “I’ve had a wonderful career here,” Heimer told the Chronicle. “I’ve been very blessed and very fortunate.”  PJC Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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

The need for CARE does not stop during times of Crisis THE SAFEST PLACE TO BE IS IN YOUR OWN HOME We help our clients stay safe at home. We have implemented protocols to mitigate exposure to COVID-19.

Jan. 22, 1979 — Munich mastermind is killed

Ali Hassan Salameh, the chief of operations for terrorist organization Black September, is killed by a Mossad car bomb in Beirut in revenge for the killings of 11 Israeli athletes and coaches at the Munich Olympics in 1972.

Jan. 23, 1950 — Knesset declares Jerusalem the capital

The Knesset votes 60-2 to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel. The left-wing Mapam and the right-wing Herut abstain. Two Communists vote no because they prefer an international status for Jerusalem.

Jan. 24, 1941 — Nobel laureate Dan Shechtman is born Proud Collaborative Partner with the Jewish Association on Aging

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Dan Shechtman is born in Tel Aviv. He discovers that some crystals grow without a repeating pattern. Despite initial criticism of his findings on “quasicrystals,” he wins Israel’s 10th Nobel Prize, in chemistry, in 2011.


Jan. 25, 1904 — Herzl meets with pope

Two days after meeting with Italy’s King Victor Emanuel III, Theodor Herzl discusses Zionism with Pope Pius X, who says, “We cannot prevent the Jews from going to Jerusalem, but we could never sanction it.”

Jan. 26, 2006 — Hamas wins parliamentary elections

Hamas wins 76 of the 132 seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council during elections in which 77% of eligible voters cast ballots. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah earns 43 seats.

Jan. 27, 2001 — Israeli-Palestinian summit ends

Peace talks in Taba, Egypt, conclude after a week of progress under the Clinton Parameters. But the initiative dies after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak loses an election to Ariel Sharon 10 days later.

Jan. 28, 1996 — Dumping of Ethiopian blood sparks riots

About 10,000 Ethiopian Jews demonstrate outside Prime Minister Shimon Peres’ office to protest the government’s discarding of blood donations from Ethiopian Israelis for fear of spreading HIV.  PJC


Headlines ‘More than a history lesson’: Holocaust survivor makes big impact at Canon-McMillan High School removed from school for being Jewish, as was his older brother. Their family was later forced from their apartment and relocated By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer to a smaller residence before being transported to a ghetto. In 1943, Grunwald and ach term, at the culmination of his family were taken on a two-day train trip her Holocaust-related course at — without food or water — to Auschwitz. Canon-McMillan High School, Meg After arriving at the concentration and Pankiewicz welcomes a Holocaust survivor extermination camp, Grunwald and his into class. Pankiewicz, 42, feels so strongly brother worked outside its crematoria. about exposing students to firsthand “People were being killed in gas chambers survivor testimony that in years past she every day, almost every day,” Grunwald told personally drove survivors from Squirrel the students. “Sometimes the gas chambers Hill to Washington County and back. With were running 24 hours a day and so were COVID-19 forcing activities online, though, the crematoria. There were periods of time Pankiewicz faced new challenges. Not only when my brother and I worked outside … did the literature teacher need to find a the heavy smoke and the ashes from the survivor who was willing to speak, but one chimneys were literally covering our bodies, who’d be comfortable doing so virtually. our hair, our shoes. Everything was covered Pankiewicz turned to Tsipy by human ash if the wind Gur, founder and execuwas coming directly from the tive director of Classrooms crematoria into our direction. Without Borders, for help. “So, very often, not only did The two educators have we smell the burning of the known each other for years — human flesh, we were literally Pankiewicz traveled to Poland covered by the ashes from the with Gur and CWB on a study burning of the corpses.” seminar nearly a decade ago. Grunwald recalled how he Gur connected Pankiewicz and his brother were gathered with Frank Grunwald, an  with almost 300 other children Frank Grunwald Indianapolis, Indiana, resident and his mother for selection. Dr. Josef Mengele, and nationally known survivor, Vilma Grunwald often referred to as the “Angel Photo courtesy of artist and musician, whose of Death,” directed children to Meg Pankiewicz story was recorded in the 2012 the right or the left. Grunwald documentary “Misa’s Fugue.” and his brother, who had a Born September 1932, Grunwald was 6 limp, were sent to the left. when Germany invaded Czechoslovakia. Several minutes after selection — with From that moment on, Grunwald’s child- Mengele standing no more than 30 feet hood was filled with persecution and fear, away — Willy Brachmann, a fellow prishe told Pankiewicz’s students via Google oner, grabbed Grunwald and shoved Meet on Jan. 13: “We were shocked by the him to the right. anti-Semitism that quickly started showing Then Brachmann disappeared. its ugly head in Prague.” “I realized at this point that Willy just Jews were restricted from entering saved my life,” said Grunwald. “It all came libraries, restaurants or department stores. together. I just realized that I was on the “Everywhere were these signs, ‘Jews not wrong side of the table, that my brother was allowed,’” said Grunwald. Please see Canon-McMillan, page 15 At the start of second grade, Grunwald was

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 Holocaust survivor Frank Grunwald addresses Canon-McMillan High School students on Jan. 13. Screenshot by Adam Reinherz



JANUARY 22, 2021  5

Headlines Despite pandemic, Jews at Concordia find community in Jew-‘ish’ residence — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer


ewish life is what you make of it at Concordia of the South Hills. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the Jewish residents of the senior retirement community in Mt. Lebanon have found ways to embrace their Jewish roots while building relationships with those of different faiths. Concordia is owned by Lutheran Ministries, but the facility on Bower Hill Road, formerly known as The Covenant at South Hills, was built by B’nai B’rith and opened in 2002. Concordia has independent living apartments, assisted living units, memory-support beds and skilled nursing beds. The project was B’nai B’rith’s first foray into the private senior housing market. After seven years of mismanagement, B’nai B’rith filed for bankruptcy in 2009, and the facility, which cost the Jewish organization $60 million to build, was purchased by Concordia for $15 million at a court-ordered auction. The facility remains a home to many Jewish residents. “I tell people it’s like a big family here,” said Corinne Mazerov, a member

 Batya Rosenblum and her daughters visit Lin Toder at Concordia for Sukkot pre-pandemic. Photo provided by Batya Rosenblum

of Temple Emanuel of South Hills who serves on Concordia’s welcoming committee. Her friend, Beth El Congregation member Lin Toder agreed: “All the people here are very nice and friendly.” Both Temple Emanuel of South Hills and Chabad of the South Hills have worked to bring Judaism to those Jews living in the Christian facility. For the last 13 years, Temple Emanuel’s Melinda Freed led Shabbat services at Concordia twice a month. Services were paused in March last year due to COVID-19 concerns but Freed began leading them again in August. Prior to the pandemic, Freed would walk through the dining room pre-Shabbat, chatting and building

relationships with both Jewish and non-Jewish residents. These chats also served as a reminder to those residents observing a yahrzeit that Shabbat services were available, even if they were not regular attendees. In spite of the need to socially distance, new residents have joined Freed’s Shabbat services, which she conducts on a large screen rather than using siddurs during the pandemic. For Chanukah, Temple Emanuel Rabbi Aaron Meyer shared a recorded daily video of the menorah lighting along with the accompanying blessings. Batya Rosenblum, co-director of Chabad of the South Hills, also has worked to foster Jewish life at Concordia. Her activities there pre-coronavirus, though, were very different from what she is able to do now. “I used to have a monthly program [called] ‘A Taste of … ,’” she said. “‘A Taste of the High Holidays,’ ‘A Taste of Chanukah,’ ‘A Taste of Shabbat.’ I would bring in visuals and we would have an interactive discussion. I always liked to hear their memories.” The program was typically capped by refreshments that reflected the theme of the discussion. Rosenblum would also visit residents in their rooms, bringing “the joy of Judaism to their room, whatever they needed,” she Please see Concordia, page 15



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Headlines Pittsburgh faith community honored by new museum for its response to Oct. 2018 shooting — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle


he Pittsburgh faith community’s response to the deadly synagogue attack of Oct. 27, 2018, is continuing to garner national attention — this time from a budding national nonprofit dedicated to combating hate. The Museum of the Courageous, a New York-based 501(c)(3) that champions stories about individual and group responses to hate and injustice, on Monday announced its inaugural Courageous Class. Pittsburgh’s faith community, as a collective, was represented on the rolls. The announcement — which was timed, in part, with a “Stand Up To Hate” campaign and billboard placements in Times Square — came as the nation honored Martin Luther King Jr., as news outlets continued to  The “Stronger Than Hate” logo that adorns T-shirts, kippahs, lawn signs, hoodies, unfurl the fallout from a divisive presidential buttons and more. It has become synonymous with support for both Pittsburgh and the election, and as many in the United States Jewish community following the shooting at the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27, 2018.  Photo by Dave Rullo continue to witness a growing tide of hate. Honorees in the Courageous Class include “These stories are really offering us inspi“leaders who fought for LBGT, gender, racial threatened their communities,” according to and religious equity; activists who demanded the museum’s leadership. These stories show ration and a pathway forward,” said Teresa redress for past injustices; and everyday indi- that even small actions can change the course Vazquez, executive director and founding JC Symphony 2019_Eartique 3/19/19 1:17hate AM Page 1 trustee of the museum. “They’re the stories viduals who refused to stay silent when of history and influence others to stand up.

we need to hear as a country.” The inaugural Courageous Class includes Darnella Frazier, the 17-year-old who filmed the murder of George Floyd; Shahid Shafi, a Republican in Texas who refused to surrender his right to religious freedom when others tried to oust him due to his Muslim faith; a group of fourth-graders from California who demanded officials redress a government policy of mass discriminatory deportations against Mexican Americans in the 1930s; and others. Pittsburgh, Vazquez said, was an obvious addition to those honored. It is the only community designated as an honoree this year. “What I saw that was so special was that, at a moment of violence, a moment of terror — it could have divided a community — the Pittsburgh community came together to show that hate had no place there, and it was really across faiths,” Vazquez said. “The conversation of how a community can come together … felt like something to lift up.” Not all of those honored were pulled from the news of recent years. The Museum of the Courageous also is honoring Vernon Dahmer Sr., a Mississippi man who fought in the 1960s to ensure Black citizens could Please see Museum, page 15

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Calendar  WEDNESDAY, JAN. 27 Classrooms Without Borders invites all educators to learn from acclaimed writer and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi during a TEACH-IN for International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Levi was the author of several books, novels, short stories, essays and poems. classroomswithoutborders.org. Classrooms Without Borders presents the first in their four-part series, Ethical Implications of the Holocaust, presented by Dr. Michael Berenbaum. 4 p.m. classroomswithoutborders.org

JEWISH SPAIN VIRTUAL BUS TOUR SERIES Join usJAN. for a31;live and talk  SUNDAYS, FEB.Zoom 14, 21,walk 28; MARCH 7 uncovering the rich history of Jews in Spain. Conducted by Dani Rotstein, Founder of Jewish Majorca. Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for the virtual bus tour, “The Secret Jews of Dates and Course Titles, Sundays at 3:00 PM Majorca Island.” The series will include “Medieval Majorca,” “Crypto-Judaism,” “Chuetas,” “Rebirth & Renewal” and “Taste of January Spain.” 31 3 p.m. - Parthttps://tinyurl.com/jewish-spain One: Medieval Majorca — The Golden Age February 14 - Part Two: Crypto-Judaism — Keeping the Faith During the Inquisition February 21 - Part Three: Chuetas — A Segregated Society

knowledge isDay needed. goal is to build Submit calendar itemsFebruary on the Chronicle’s website, 28 - Part Four: Rebirth & Renewal — Modern JewishThe Revival community deepening pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. also March 7 Submissions - Part Five: Taste of Spain — Jewish Rootswhile in Today’s Cuisine understanding of the text. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. will be included in print. Events will run in the print more information anddate registration go to https://tinyurl.com/jewish-spain edition beginningFor one month prior to the as  SUNDAY, JAN. 24; space allows. The deadline for submissions is Sponsored by: MONDAYS, FEB. 8, 15, 22 Friday, noon.  FRIDAY, JAN. 22-MAR. 8 The Zionist Organization of America: Pittsburgh is accepting applications for its Israel Scholarship Program. Open to local Jewish teens in qualified programs who will be a junior or senior in high school in September 2021. Three $1,000 scholarships will be awarded. Applicants will be judged on their involvement in Jewish organizations, volunteerism and on an essay about Zionism and Israel. Applications accepted through Mar. 8. For information and applications, please contact ZOA executive director, Stuart Pavilack, at stuart. pavilack@zoa.org or 304-639-1758.  FRIDAY, JAN. 22; THURSDAY, FEB. 4 What are you doing in June 2022? The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh hopes that you will be in Israel with them and hundreds of others from Pittsburgh’s Jewish community. To learn more, join Federation for a Zoom info session on Jan. 22 at noon or Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. For more information and to register, visit jfedpgh.org.  SUNDAY, JAN. 24 Interested in learning more about a unique gap year program in Israel and Pittsburgh? While serving as a shinshinim you will have the opportunity to immerse yourself in Israeli life and culture, do tikkun olam in Karmiel Misgav, meet with other cohorts across the country, and more, all while having the experience of a lifetime. Open to anyone aged 18-20 in September. Learn more at the MASA Pittsburgh Shinshinim program information session. 11 a.m. jewishpgh.org/event Classrooms Without Borders invites you to attend Ghetto Fighter’s House “Talking Memory” international online lecture series for a special program in commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 60th anniversary of the Eichmann trial: “Between Eichmann and Demjanjuk: Two Holocaust Trials in Israel” — a conversation with Prof. Hannah Yablonka and Dr. Tamir Hod. 2 p.m. classroomswithoutborders.org  SUNDAYS, JAN. 24, 31; FEB. 7, 14, 21 Join a lay-led Online Parashah Study Group to discuss the week’s Torah portion. No Hebrew


JANUARY 22, 2021

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills presents its Winter Speaker Series. For a complete list of speakers, topics and times, and to register, visit bethelcong.org/events.  MONDAY, JAN. 25 Classrooms Without Borders, in partnership with the American Association of Teachers of German, the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York City, and Germany Close Up, invites you to screen the short film “Masel Tov Cocktail” and join us for a post-screening discussion with the filmmaker Arkadij Khaet. 12 p.m. classroomswithoutborders.org  MONDAYS, JAN. 25, MARCH 8; THURSDAY, FEB. 18 Beth El Congregation presents Oy Joy Labs 2021: L’Chaim, L’Chaim — To Life! Do you find yourself asking “Why?” and “How?” Are you eager to find a deeper meaning? Are you now the “go-to person” for family and extended family to be there for answers? Are you trying to put into words “the reasons and what to do” for your children or grandkids in a home where there is Judaism and perhaps another religion? Join Beth El for this threepart series. 7 p.m. For a complete list of guests and to register, visit bethelcong.org.  MONDAYS, JAN. 25; FEB. 1, 8, 15, 22 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.  TUESDAYS, JAN. 26 — 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.

In honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh presents a special, one-night program with Julie Kohner. Kohner will discuss her parents’ book, artifacts, and her mother’s landmark appearance on “This Is Your Life.” 7 p.m. hcofpgh.org/events  THURSDAYS, JAN. 28; FEB. 4, 11, 25; MARCH 4, 11 The Mishna, the Oral Law in written form, is one of the greatest works of the Jewish people. In this survey course, Jewish Community Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff will provide a comprehensive overview of this singular, foundational work. Co-sponsored with Derekh at Congregation Beth Shalom. 9:30 a.m. For more information and to register, visit foundation. jewishpgh.org/mishna.  THURSDAYS, JAN. 28-MARCH 18 Join the 10.27 Healing Partnership and Kohenet Keshira haLev Fife for Jewish Style R&R — Rachamim and Resilience. This series of weekly interactive workshops will be an opportunity to engage in classes that will build on Jewish values, core concepts of resiliency, and mindfulness tools as a way of expanding our resiliency toolbox in this next year. This program is being offered at no cost and is open to all ages. 7 p.m. For more information, visit 1027healingpartnership.org/events.  SUNDAYS, JAN. 31; FEB. 7, 14, 21, 28; MARCH 7, 14 What does Jewish tradition have to say about God, Torah, mitzvot, suffering, messiah, Israel? In this special course, Pittsburgh Rabbis on Jewish Belief, Jewish Community Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff will host 14 Pittsburgh rabbis, each teaching a session on fundamental aspects of Jewish belief. 10 a.m. For more information and to register, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org.  MONDAYS, FEB. 1, 8, 15, 22; MARCH 1, 8, 15 Most people associate the term “Haftarah” with opaque prophetic reading on Shabbat morning. This course, Haftarah, will attempt to make the opaque sparkle. Choosing selectively from the most interesting Haftarah portions, Jewish Community Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff will seek to imbue meaning in these powerful prophetic passages. 9:30 a.m. For more information and to register, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org.  TUESDAY, FEB. 2 The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh is honoring the life of Shulamit Bastacky by holding a shloshim in her honor. All who knew and loved Shulamit are welcome to submit a short video with your memories of your time with Shulamit or the wishes you would like to share with her family. As many of these as possible will be shared during the program. 12:30 p.m. hcofpgh.org/events  SATURDAY, FEB. 6

guests Todd DePastino, historian. $72 per person. Your ticket includes a flask of Wigle Whiskey, the makings for an Old-Fashioned cocktail, and a spirited romp down Whiskey Lane. 7 p.m. RSVP by 1/27. bethelcong.org Join New Light Congregation for “Sing a New Light Presents The Choral Torah: 5 Books in 4 Parts.” Guided by Josh Ehrlich, the music will take a Magic School Bus-style ride through the Bible, complete with musical detours presented by The Four Hermaneutics. 7 p.m. Free. bit.ly/choral-collective  TUESDAY, FEB. 9 Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for “Can I Support Israel but Disagree with Its Policies?” a fascinating webinar with Neil Lazarus as he discusses how to support Israel despite your views on its policies. 12 p.m. jewishpgh.org/event The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s education outreach associate, Emily Bernstein, interviews Dr. Joshua Andy, the 2016-’17 Holocaust Educator of the Year. Andy teaches at the Upper School at Winchester Thurston. 3 p.m. hcofpgh.org/events  TUESDAYS, FEB. 9, 16, 23; MARCH 2, 9 Treating Jewish jokes as text, From Sinai to Seinfeld invites students to analyze and interpret the evolving concerns, styles, rhythms, preoccupations and values of the Jewish people that lie buried deep in words that make us laugh as Jews, and that bond us as a people. $50 per person, includes all books and materials. For more information and to register, visit foundation. jewishpgh.org.  WEDNESDAY, FEB. 10 Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for the annual winter gathering of Pittsburghers. Log on with your fellow snowbirds for an engaging evening with New York Times columnist Bret Stephens. $10 and minimum $500 commitment to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s 2021 Community Campaign. 5 p.m. foundation.jewishpgh. org/snowbird Beth Shalom Congregation’s Derekh Speaker Series welcomes Neal Bascomb who will discuss “Faster: How a Jewish Driver, an American Heiress and a Legendary Cat Beat Hitler’s Best.” 7:30 p.m. Free. For more information, and to register for the Zoom event, visit bethshalompgh.org/speakerseries.  SUNDAY, FEB. 14 Bring your sweetie along and join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for Cooking2Gether: Let’s Make Kanafeh. Learn how to make this delicious Middle Eastern dessert in a Zoom session led by Israeli friends from Karmiel/ Misgav. 12 p.m. jewishpgh.org/event  SUNDAY, FEB. 21 In observation of Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, Temple Sinai is calling all storytellers to share your disAbility experience during a “Moth-like” event. The deadline to register to tell your story is Jan. 31. To sign up to be a storyteller or for more information, please contact lisaglederer@gmail.com.  THURSDAY, FEB. 25 The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh presents the next installment of its Conversations Series with guest Jon Prince. His relationship with Holocaust survivor Helen Bayer was forged a few years ago from a chance meeting in a parking lot, blossoming into a close friendship that lasted until her passing in late 2020. 3 p.m. hcofpgh.org/events PJC

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Headlines No current known threats against Pittsburgh Jewish community following Capitol riot — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer


here are no known threats currently directed against the Pittsburgh Jewish community, according to Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Neither are there current threats directed at the Greater Pittsburgh area, she said. The security update comes in the wake of the Jan. 6 violent riot at the Capitol building in Washington D.C., and despite news that the FBI is investigating several people from Southwestern Pennsylvania for their alleged roles in the incident. “There are folks from the Pittsburgh area that were at the Capitol and are potentially being investigated,� Brokos acknowledged, adding that local, state and federal law enforcement agencies are monitoring violent extremist groups with a focus on the leaders of those organizations. While several people were seen at the Capitol protest and subsequent riot wearing clothing with anti-Semitic symbols or words, Brokos doesn’t think anti-Semitic ideology is rising. White power and neo-Nazi symbols

ď ° The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

have been seen at rallies and protests over the last few years, she said. The difference is, at the Capitol riot, images of the relatively small number of people wearing the anti-Semitic and racist symbols were magnified by the media. “It garnered significant attention and it should because it’s absolutely repulsive,� Brokos said.

Photo by Adam Reinherz

Although law enforcement is working to minimize threats from extremist groups, the danger of a lone wolf attack always exists, Brokos said. Because of that, the community is urged to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious. “I cannot stress enough the importance of seeing something and saying something,� Brokos said, “and if it is something

threatening, please immediately call 911.� The 911 system, which formerly was used to only report emergencies, has morphed into the primary reporting mechanism, she said. If someone is unsure whether they should call 911, Brokos, a former FBI agent, recommended reaching out to her and the Jewish Federation for guidance. If a threat to the Pittsburgh Jewish community does arise, the Federation has a mechanism to contact the heads of all the local Jewish institutions, said Brokos. Those leaders would then reach out to their members, alerting them to the danger. In the absence of any active threats, Brokos said, the community should continue to go about business as usual “and not let fear guide us.� “Continue to engage in your daily activities,� she said. “Whether you’re attending virtual services or going to services, whether it’s going to our day schools or taking kids to our early learning centers or going to the JCC, we have a right to continue to live and worship. If we start changing our behavior out of fear, then we are no longer empowered.�  PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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Opinion We must do more to protect our essential workers Guest Columnist Dorit Sasson

Our government needs a better understanding of essential workers — from retail to medical


ith the threat of a renewed coronavirus outbreak, essential workers are now needed more than ever on the front lines, and every day our essential employees risk their lives to protect ours. Our nation has a responsibility to protect the health and financial stability of these heroes and their families. As the wife of an essential worker, I deeply understand the risks that these essential workers face every day. They are trapped in what clinical social worker Rachel Rosen refers to as a “psychological malaise” — a condition stemming from fear of exposure. They are asking themselves, “Have I already been exposed to the disease? Will I need to take a COVID test? Is it possible that I could die from complications? What will this mean for my family? For my job?” Because it’s difficult to adequately measure the risks, especially in grocery store environments, it’s even more necessary to require close monitoring. Establishing a “good neighbor policy” triage system of checking in on each other is what’s needed right now to

establishments, and particularly those in customer-facing roles — and the risks they face. increased social support and of being in this together may help limit increases in loneliness.” I look forward to what future studies of those companies who decide to implement such “good neighbor policies” might reveal. Our government needs a better understanding of essential workers — from retail to medical establishments, and particularly those in customer-facing roles — and the risks they face. Emerging research shows that these workers are five times as likely to test positive as their colleagues in other positions which raises the question of whether essential workers potentially exposed to COVID-19 can manage coronavirus-related health impacts in their own lives. Already, many of them are at an economic disadvantage, generally earning lower wages and carrying less health-related insurance. Because of their high risk of exposure, our

create a sense of community. This cost-effective, easy-to-implement strategy begins with management asking their employees daily, “Are you okay? Is there anything you need?” Embracing the notion we’re all in this together will, I hope, create a stronger sense of community, especially in retail and medical environments where workers may be trapped in their feelings of loneliness due to the stress and fear of potentially being exposed to the disease. But all too often, these vulnerable workers end up “playing it safe” for fear of losing their jobs. Establishing an “I’ve got your back” communitywide system could be great news for mental health, as statistics documenting the second wave of rising mental health issues suggest that we are not handling stay-at-home orders well. A recent case study at the Florida State University School of Medicine found that “the feeling of

country should regard COVID-19 essential workers similar to trained military professionals and offer a benefits package that represents their obligations and risks. There are those essential workers who strongly feel that at the end of the day, all companies really only care about is increased efficiency and revenue. But as we’re hoping for favorable outcomes with the vaccine rollout, our human supply chain is breaking and crumbling. We are not talking about keeping up with the supply chain of toilet paper or wipes. If anything, after a renewed coronavirus outbreak globally with more than 1 million reported deaths worldwide, this pandemic will have exposed the fragility of the human supply chain system. Our essential workers are the heart of our global economy and ecosystem and without them, our retail, grocery and hospital systems would not exist. Since our essential workers risk their lives every day to protect ours, the right thing for our nation and individual companies to do is to speak up for them and show how much we care about them right now.  PJC Dorit Sasson is the author of the upcoming memoir “Sand and Steel: A Memoir of Longing and Coming Home,” and an SEO/author branding strategist for Micro Publishing Media. She lives in Pittsburgh.

A Biden appointee who carries the Jewish story itself Guest Columnist Mark Hetfield


resident Joe Biden announced Alejandro Mayorkas as his nominee for secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. If confirmed, Mayorkas will be the first Latino to head the department responsible for implementing U.S. immigration policy. Meaningful to myself as the leader of HIAS — the American Jewish community’s global refugee agency — he will also be the first DHS secretary to have been a refugee and child of a refugees. Better known as Ali, Mayorkas is my longtime friend and colleague, who served last year on the HIAS board of directors. Ali’s family fled Cuba for the United States when he was not yet a year old; his mother arrived in Cuba years earlier as a child fleeing the Holocaust. As America works to recover and rebuild from four years of vicious, xenophobic antiimmigrant policies, it’s hard to overstate the importance of having an empathetic person with Ali’s skills and background potaking the reins at DHS. His years as a U.S. attorney in California, his time as director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (ISCIS) and as DHS deputy secretary under President Obama, and his work as a primary architect of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals 12  JANUARY 22, 2021

“ We know that ‘never again’ must evolve from being an aspiration to being a reality, not just for the Jewish people, but for all

persecuted people.

— MARK HETFIELD program all make him exceptionally wellsuited to meet the enormity of the task before him. But more than that, he carries within him the story that so many immigrants carry — and the Jewish story itself. One hundred and forty years ago when HIAS was founded, our original mission was to help rescue and meet the needs of Jewish refugees arriving in New York. At the time, wave after wave of Jews were fleeing the pogroms of the Russian Empire. We have since helped to evacuate and resettle Jews escaping the Third Reich, the Soviet Union, Egypt, Ethiopia and Cuba. In the 1970s, in response to the Indochina refugee crisis, our mission expanded to include the resettlement of non-Jews as well. We began by helping refugees because they were Jewish; now we help because we are Jewish. Ali and his family represent so much of the Jewish narrative in that arc.

His mother’s Romanian family was caught up in the Nazi onslaught and fled their home for parts entirely unknown. Ali’s father, a Cuban Jew of Sephardic origin, met and married the European refugee. The two of them started a family, melding different worlds of Jewish culture. Then that young family was forced to flee yet again and Ali left Cuba and grew up in Los Angeles, eventually working as a leader in the Obama administration and, most recently, with us to rescue, resettle and welcome other refugees. There are few communities that have survived the kind of upheaval that has met the Jewish people at every stage of our history, generations upon generations, centuries upon centuries. We carry within us unfathomable loss and terrible scars — but we also carry fortitude, resilience, and the lessons that such a painful history teaches. We know how vital it is to protect the


right of persecuted people to seek and enjoy asylum; we know the right to refuge is universal and must be fought for resolutely; and we know that “never again” must evolve from being an aspiration to being a reality, not just for the Jewish people, but for all persecuted people. To see someone who shares that history and those lessons nominated to lead the implementation of America’s immigration policy speaks volumes, not just about the significance of immigration to this nation’s character, but about the role of the Jewish community in the American story. Our community’s place in that story began, in the words of poet — and former HIAS caseworker Emma Lazarus — as the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, yearning to breathe free. Like Ali, the American Jewish community owes its very existence to those times when America opened its doors to refugees and immigrants. Ali is not only a strong and highly respected leader, he also, quite simply, knows the heart of the stranger. As a Latino, the child of a Holocaust survivor, a refugee and immigrant himself, Ali is uniquely suited to restore respect for human rights to the Department of Homeland Security, not least because as he knows, as HIAS does, that America is at its greatest when we build not walls, but bridges.  PJC Mark Hetfield is the president and CEO of HIAS. This piece was originally published by The New York Jewish Week. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Opinion Can America inoculate against the dire threat of ‘us vs. them’? Guest Columnist Kenneth S. Stern


ur country seems like it’s falling apart as millions are convinced Donald Trump was elected and our democracy subverted. The Capitol insurrection on Jan. 6 was a warning shot and political violence will likely become more frequent. We need new thinking — a “Manhattan Project” — to figure out how to stitch our country back together, and perhaps make it even stronger. On a much smaller scale, 26 years ago, human rights experts from around the U.S. gathered in Washington State to compare notes about the militia movement. The militias were grounded in white supremacy, wrapped in distorted trappings of patriotism, and fueled by conspiracy theories. The movement was arming against and threatening government, and growing exponentially. How was it spreading so quickly? Part of the answer, we discovered, was technology. Fax machines and, especially, early online bulletin boards and newsgroups had supplanted mailed newsletters as preferred means of communication. It was much easier, quicker and cheaper to spread rumors this way, and also to create a community that believed zealously in an alternative “truth.” Some local sheriffs, legislators, and even a member of Congress or two gave this movement steam. There was a “them” (federal and other officials) coming for “us” (white people, gun owners) to take our rights away. Fighting back, with threats of violence and violence itself, was not only condoned, it was marketed as patriotic. What we collectively learned resulted in a public warning that this movement was increasingly paranoid, increasingly violent, and likely to attack, particularly on April 19, 1995, the two-year anniversary of the deadly government attack on the Branch Davidian cult at Waco, Texas, a sacred symbol for the militias. The warnings went unheeded, the Oklahoma City Federal Building was blown

up, and only then did the federal government finally take these fringe groups seriously. I’m haunted by this reflection: What if the movement hadn’t been fringe, but had millions of followers and sympathizers, or at least millions who believed in one of the militias’ foundational alternative “truths?” What if, instead of fax machines and bulletin boards, people were building community while sharing rumors, strong beliefs, and conspiracy theories on social media, always connected through their phones? What if instead of a minor public figure here or there spouting militia-speak, it was the president of the United States? What if, after the Oklahoma City bombing, politicians said the conspiracies were true instead of denying there were secret government plots to take away people’s rights? What if the “sacred symbol” wasn’t tied to a particular date, but was an ongoing condition, like a belief that the presidential election was “stolen,” not stolen from Trump so much as from “us?” That’s the situation as Joe Biden begins his presidency. Trump and his minions will continue to deny his defeat, tell Americans that their democracy was stolen and that it is patriotic, essential, to fight to get it back, against people who may look like our elected leaders, but are traitors. Yes, there will now be disclaimers about being “peaceable,” but the big lie will still inspire mobs and lone wolves to violence. For zealots who see the world this way, the attack on the Capitol is not a cautionary tale but an inspiration, an example of a first step that almost worked, setting the foundation for future actions. What if a legislator or the vice president had been kidnapped or killed, as was evidently the goal of some of those who breached the Capitol? Imagine the increased focus on their movement if there had been even more bloodshed. And this fantasy will continue to be stoked as Trump’s role in the insurrection will remain front-page news, not only from the impeachment hearings and from his inevitable pronouncements, but also from possible state and other prosecutions of him and his family once he leaves office, and as hundreds of his supporters are prosecuted for their role in the insurrection in criminal cases around the country, portrayed

— LETTERS — Honey works better than vinegar

In Andrew Neft’s Jan. 15 letter to the editor, he says we should “reduce” intermarriage because it is hastening the decline of the liberal Jewish movements. He cites as an example a fellow employee who did not know what a yeshiva was even though he was “half-Jewish.” It is disappointing that someone with Jewish DNA does not even know what a yeshiva is, but Mr. Neft does not realize that it is the same attitude that he espouses which caused that to happen. We were not told how old the employee is, but that man’s parents probably were married 25 to 40 years ago. Back then, no rabbi in Pittsburgh would marry an interfaith couple. More importantly, only the Reform congregations would accept that couple as members. Unfortunately, even that acceptance was more like tolerance in exchange for the dues and the opportunity to salvage the children from that marriage. People tend to avoid situations where they are not welcome. Human nature is funny that way. Perhaps that would explain the employee’s ignorance of anything Jewish. My wife is a devout Catholic, but for 38 years she has attended Friday night Shabbat services with me, and she knows the Hebrew prayers. She enjoys making a Passover seder just as much as she enjoys making Holy Night supper. We were married once at Holy Ghost Byzantine Catholic Church in McKees Rocks at 4 p.m., and a second time under the chuppah PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  

by some as martyrs. Not every future act of political violence will be at a (now) fortified target like the Capitol or statehouses. Trump spent four years calling the press “the enemy of the people.” One can imagine attacks on newspapers, cable news providers and journalists. And given the anti-Semites in the movement and the role anti-Semitism inevitably plays in conspiratorial thinking, the possibility of attacks on Jewish targets, such as synagogues and Jewish Community Centers, let alone Jewish members of Congress, is a real concern.

How do we rebuild our republic?

So, what should our political leadership do in the coming weeks, beyond investigating the Capitol breach, upping security and arresting and prosecuting those who participated in the riot? One hope is that more Republicans and conservative media will debunk the “big lie,” and acknowledge that Biden was truly elected president. Even though many hard-liners would see such an acknowledgment as further evidence of a “deep state conspiracy” against Trump and them, it would be a positive step. Having a president like Biden who expresses empathy, and who refuses to fuel the “us” versus “them” instinct, is also a start. But it is not enough. And there are no simple answers. What’s needed more than anything is better thinking on what’s needed. We need a Presidential or Congressional commission to examine all aspects of our predicament, not only how we got to the present moment and how we minimize the risk of further political violence, but also how we rebuild our republic as the vibrant democracy it needs to be, because as the strength of democratic institutions erodes, the conditions for hate on an even a broader scale emerge. We need to start with the basics: mine everything we know about how, as humans, we are seduced by the instinct to see an “us” and “them,” and dehumanize or demonize that “them” in order to understand our world. Various components of the emerging field of hate studies shed light on this – when our identity is welded to an issue of perceived social justice or injustice, our thinking changes. We

crave certainty, see things in black and white, substitute “easy” answers instead of wrestling with difficult questions. As social psychologist Jonathan Haidt notes, morality both blinds and binds (and both sides of this crisis see things in starkly moral terms). We need to understand better how politicians can so easily tap into hateful instincts, and what works to reduce their success. There are many urgent questions. How we communicate. How our communities are defined. How we strengthen our democratic institutions and uphold our democratic principles like free speech and equal protection under the law. We need to rediscover old ways, and find new ones, that allow people to express and address grievances without succumbing to the seduction of the too-easy answer that “our” problems are simple to understand: it’s a plot by “them.” Love isn’t the antidote for hate, empathy and the imagination and experience to empathize are. How do we re-enforce these societal instincts? For all the problems of the Trump era, Operation Warp Speed produced vaccines in less than a year. Hate is a more complex and long-established part of the human condition than Covid 19. It has also killed many more. And there is no simple shot-in-the-arm cure. We think about it, study it, wrestle with it too little at our peril. Bromides like “more education” or “better policing,” aren’t enough anymore, if they ever were. Our political leadership must bring together the brightest minds to figure out what we – as individuals, as communities, as academics, as business people, as politicians, as citizens – can, and must do to rebuild a social fabric to which everyone belongs, and within which even fundamental disagreements are less likely to lead to political violence, terror, intimidation and further erosion of our democracy.  PJC Kenneth S. Stern is the director of the Bard Center for the Study of Hate, and the author most recently of “The Conflict over The Conflict: The Israel/Palestine Campus Debate.” For 25 years, he was the American Jewish Committee’s expert on anti-Semitism. This piece was first published by The Times of Israel.

by Rabbi Sydney Berkowitz from Rodef Sholom in Youngstown, Ohio, at 6:30 p.m. We joined Temple Emanuel of the South Hills even though neither rabbi would marry us at that time. Immediately, some of the congregants were very welcoming, and that number grew. You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Lee Feldman Dormont

We invite you to submit letters for publication. Letters must include name, address and daytime phone number; addresses and phone numbers will not be published. Letters may not exceed 500 words and may be edited for length and clarity; they cannot be returned. Mail, fax or email letters to:

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JANUARY 22, 2021  13

Social Media: Continued from page 1

pro-Trump mob that stormed the Capitol. Trump was permanently suspended from Twitter “due to the risk of further incitement of violence,” Twitter announced after the riot. Other social media platforms, including Facebook and Instagram, also suspended Trump’s accounts, as well as the accounts of some pro-Trump attorneys and other associates. In the wake of the suspensions from mainstream social media, many conservative and far-right voices moved to the platform Parler — which calls itself a pro-free speech alternative — where scores of extremists lurk as well. Then, Apple, Google and Amazon removed Parler from their platforms. According to a 2019 study by New York University researchers, cities with a higher incidence of a certain kind of racist tweets reported more hate crimes related to race, ethnicity and national origin. “This trend across different types of cities (for example, urban, rural, large, and small) confirms the need to more specifically study how different types of discriminatory speech online may contribute to consequences in the physical world,” said Rumi Chunara, the assistant professor of computer science and engineering at NYU who led the research.


Shutting down social media accounts and sites, though, does not halt the spread of violent rhetoric, anti-Semitism or other hateful ideologies, according to law enforcement experts. In fact, the removal of these accounts from popular platforms — or the platforms themselves — is problematic. “When you limit these types of accounts, what happens is the folks who are using these various platforms to communicate will simply jump to another platform,” said Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “We see that all the time in law enforcement.” While the movement from one platform to another “doesn’t hamper investigative abilities,” she said, “it certainly makes it more challenging.” She analogized tracking extremists moving from one online platform to another to a game of “whack-a-mole.” “But that’s what law enforcement has to do,” she said. “They have to pick up from one area and go to the other area. But they do it and they do it well.” From a security perspective, there is no benefit to removing extremists from social media, according to Brokos. “Absolutely not,” she said. “There is no amount of limiting or shutting social media down that will stop the anti-Semitic ideology that is out there. And some would argue that limiting it feeds exactly into that anti-government, anti-authority and anti-Semitic ideology.” Kathleen Blee, a professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh who has conducted in-depth studies on white supremacism, and who is a member of Dor Hadash Congregation — one the three congregations attacked during the shooting at the Tree of Life building — agreed there are “downsides” to moving people off sites that are relatively 14  JANUARY 22, 2021

easy to monitor and where people understand that they are being monitored, which can have some moderating effect. “It’s moving people into these end-to-end encrypted — and really the cesspool of the internet —sites that are just vehicles for the most horrific white supremacist, violent, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant views,” Blee said. “So, that’s a problem, obviously. And it’s hard to monitor what individuals are doing on them — it’s not hard to monitor them in the aggregate, but it is hard to pin anything to an individual user.” As of last week, usership of apps favored by extremists had skyrocketed, Blee said. Users on Signal had increased 677% and Telegram was up 146%. “That’s a problem,” Blee said. “These places are slippery. And Telegram and Signal are very much open to hosting these kinds of very violent, white supremacist conversations. So there are some downsides.” On the other hand, Blee said, when more open sites, like Parler, close down, there is usually some attrition. “For one thing, some people will not want to gravitate from the level of what was being expressed on Facebook or even Parler, to the next step toward violence,” she said. “And you are also going to lose some people because, as you get into some of these, they become more and more difficult to access and require more technological knowledge.” Some extremists silenced on mainstream social media will gravitate to the darknet, a part of the internet hosted within an encrypted network and accessible only through specialized anonymity-providing tools, said Brokos. “A lot of the darknet is used for criminal purposes: the sale of drugs, the sale of illegal goods, the sale of weapons,” Brokos said. “And if you look at any one of those ‘marketplaces,’ you will find all sorts of anti-government, anti-authority type ideology. In my opinion, from a security perspective, it goes far beyond Twitter and Facebook and these clearnet platforms.”

Anti-government groups linked to anti-Semitism emboldened

Another downside to moving users off mainstream platforms is that it “empowers these anti-government extremists and furthers their cause that the Zionist government is out to get them,” Brokos said. “For these racially motivated violent extremists, there is this inherent belief that there is a Zionist government that is trying to control everybody and that the Jews are behind a lot of that. That ideology does exist.” In fact, that ideology may have motivated the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter. “What seems to have happened with him very much fits the pattern we see in other

kinds of racially motivated violence,” said Blee, who stressed she has no information about the shooter beyond what has been reported by the media. That pattern consists of three stages: identification of a threat; identification of a target responsible for that threat; and a sense of urgency. “First, there’s a sense of some enormous existential threat out there,” Blee explained. “If you think of the 1980s and ’90s, when the white supremacists became significant in this country, the existential threat was banking and farm foreclosures — it was the beginning of the militia movement and really the resurgence of anti-Semitism in a very public way. That was the existential threat: Jews held a stranglehold over the economy and were ruining the lives of white farmers was kind of the message there.” These days, the existential threat is more commonly posed as white genocide or “the Great Replacement Theory — that whites will become the minority and lose power,” Blee said. After an existential threat is perceived, the next precursor to racially motivated violence is identifying the person or group responsible for that threat, she continued. “In the Pittsburgh shooting, the threat was white genocide and the target was George Soros — so there you have an amplification by politicians of the same message that’s being spread on Gab and by other white supremacists online.” To white supremacists, “George Soros” signifies “Jews,” Blee said, “and they all understand that. George Soros is to white supremacists what Rothschild was a couple decades ago. Probably most of these people couldn’t tell you who George Soros is — just an image that stands in for Jews writ large, Jewish control.” After identifying the threat and the target, the third stage is a “sense of urgency,” Blee said. “That’s the final trigger. You can’t just wait around and mobilize yourself for the threat, you have to act now. That’s the message, and so that’s why that message of invasion, that people are about to come over the border, that is a dangerous thing.” “It’s pernicious in any form,” Blee said. “When it’s happening on the internet all over the place, when it’s amplified in public, when there is an echoing of what’s happening on places like Gab and what’s showing on TV, that’s particularly dangerous.”

Silencing Trump

While shutting down extremist voices from mainstream social media will do little to shore up security, shutting down Trump’s use of social media “as a megaphone” in the days after the Jan. 6 riots and before the inauguration was important, Blee said. “I think in the short run, that outweighs everything,” she said. “He was clearly providing an accelerant to these conversations and actions.” The Anti-Defamation League also condoned Trump’s ban from social media after the Capitol riots, and in fact, called for Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants to permanently remove Trump from their platforms the afternoon of Jan. 6. Those seeking to “spread fraudulent or completely debunked claims that undermine our democracy, and encourage mobs of


people to overrun an election and to storm our nation’s Capitol, have no right to do so on social platforms,” James Pasch, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Cleveland office, which serves Pittsburgh, told the Chronicle. “I would argue that social platforms not only have no obligation to amplify those voices, they actually have a moral and ethical obligation — and in some cases a legal obligation — to stop such incitement to violence,” Pasch said. “A full ban on Trump’s social media accounts have an immediate effect of preventing him from spreading misinformation to Americans. And in turn, it prevents him from inciting further damage to our democracy and the process that needs to be in place for a peaceful transition for our country.” While the ADL feels strongly that everyone should have the right to express themselves, Pasch added, “incitement of violence is not a protected right anyway. And freedom of speech does not mean freedom of incitement to violence. So we view it as a step in the right direction.”

Lies v. incitement

But there is a distinction between posting lies on social media and posts that incite violence, said Bruce Ledewitz, a professor of Constitutional law at Duquesne University School of Law. And it is dangerous, he said, when powerful private companies become the arbiters of speech. “Progressives think it’s great when the NFL threatens Texas and North Carolina over a transgender bill that doesn’t protect transgender rights, but one day, the NFL will threaten California and New York if they don’t lower their corporate income tax,” said Ledewitz. “It’s too much power in the hands of private companies and I don’t trust private businesses. I don’t want them deciding speech issues. I don’t want companies to withdraw investment because they don’t like somebody’s politics. “In the end, that’s got to hurt marginal people,” Ledewitz continued. “Power is power. There is just too much power in the hands of private companies like Twitter and Facebook. And that’s more of an anti-trust issue, but the fact that they have so much influence on how Americans communicate is not a good thing.” The other problem Ledewitz has with social media regulating speech is the broader issue of suppression. “In Europe, it’s a crime to deny the Holocaust,” Ledewitz said. “In America, it is protected speech. So where does the Holocaust get denied? Europe. In other words, suppressing ideas generally doesn’t work. The law tries to distinguish between suppressing ideas, which is unconstitutional under the First Amendment, and punishing actual incitement to violence. I think it’s a good distinction. A lot of what the [Pittsburgh synagogue] shooter was reacting to was actual incitements to violence, and that is criminal and has always been criminal, and remains criminal under the First Amendment. But what we’re talking about now is the propagation of lies. And I don’t think the way you deal with that is by suppression. I think you expose it.”  PJC Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Screenshot from Twitter


Headlines Hamsah: Continued from page 3

individuals with outstanding gift cards to contact Nissim Assouline, who, along with his wife Sigalit, owned and operated Hamsah. When reached by phone, Nissim Assouline reiterated the sentiments shared on Facebook.

Canon-McMillan: Continued from page 5

on the wrong side of the table, that the other 200 or 300 kids were on the wrong side of the table, and that I was the lucky one because Willy just saved my life.” Grunwald’s mother chose to accompany his brother. Five days later, both were killed. But that was not the end of the story, Grunwald told students. About an hour before his mother was scheduled to be gassed, she discovered a piece of paper and a pencil. Fully aware of her own fate, Vilma Grunwald drafted a letter to her husband, Kurt Grunwald, a physician who was forced to work inside the camp. Vilma Grunwald recorded both the strict conditions she and others endured, and her wishes for the future. “We are locked in [sic] in our block, waiting for the dark,” she wrote. “We at first thought of hiding, which we did, but then we dropped the idea on the assumption it would be hopeless. The infamous trucks have arrived and we are waiting for it to begin ... You, my one and only, my dearest, do not blame yourself in the least; it was our fate. We did what we could do. Remain in good health and remember my words that

Concordia: Continued from page 6

said. “Whether it was a song, a story, a good Shabbos. Many times, I would bring cards from kids.” Rosenblum’s husband, Rabbi Mendel Rosenblum, also would visit the Jews at Concordia prior to the pandemic. For the High Holidays, he trekked three miles from his home to the facility to blow the shofar for the residents. “Since the pandemic, we haven’t been able to set foot in there,” Batya Rosenblum said. Chabad of the South Hills, though, has been able to drop off cards made by

Museum: Continued from page 7

vote freely and died defending his family from a white supremacist attack; and Pauli Murray, whose vision and dedication in 1950s Washington, D.C., helped topple the doctrine of separate but equal and carved a path for women’s rights. Maggie Feinstein, who heads the 10.27 PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  

“It was a pleasure meeting so many people who came to the restaurant,” he told the Chronicle. “All the people who came from outside the Pittsburgh area, all of the business people, it was a pleasure meeting them as well. I really appreciate it, but right now I’m taking off.” Assouline didn’t indicate where he was going or what his future plans may be, but said eager eaters shouldn’t expect to see him

or his shakshuka anytime soon. Given the exhaustion he faced, it was time to close the restaurant, he said. “It’s a hard business,” he said. “I’ve been working like a dog.” Assouline, who turns 59 next month, said his age crept up on him and made work more difficult. With Hamsah’s closing, Pittsburgh’s kosher consumers face even more limited dine-in

“ I guarantee that what you said today is going to have a profound and lasting impact. I believe that many of these kids are going to carry this moment with them the

rest of their life.


restaurant options. Familiar staples Milky Way and Cafe 18 remain open. Multiple catering options also exist; Assouline said he will not be joining them. “No catering,” he said. “I’m done with the food business, but thank you for the support.”  PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. a single mention of any kind of threat against the Nazis, or against anyone, which I think is absolutely fantastic.” The letter is now on permanent display at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Hearing Grunwald’s story was lifechanging, said Canon-McMillan High School Principal Ken Crowley, a former social studies teacher. “I have been learning about history my entire life, it’s my passion, and I’ve never been able to have the experience that I had today,” said Crowley. Crowley thanked the survivor for his empathy and passion. “I guarantee that what you said today is going to have a profound and lasting impact,” said Crowley. “I believe that many of these kids are going to carry this moment with them the rest of their life.” Pankiewicz, who in addition to teaching at Canon-McMillan is a doctoral candidate in Holocaust and genocide studies at Gratz College, agreed. “Holocaust education is more than a history lesson,” she said. “I have seen firsthand how it completely changes the way [students] live.”  PJC

time heals everything — if not completely, then at least in some measure. Take care of that little golden boy — and don’t spoil him with all your love. May you both remain in very good health, my two dear golden ones ... Live well; we have to get on board. Into eternity, Your Vilma.” Frank Grunwald told students his mother was an excellent judge of character and found an older German guard, “not an SS man, just a German military guard,” and asked him to deliver the letter to Auschwitz’s medical camp. “Sure enough, the next day the guard gave this note to my father,” said Grunwald, “and

my father basically kept this note with him through his Holocaust journey.” Years later, Grunwald discovered the letter in his father’s bedroom in New York. “He never showed it to me,” said Grunwald. “I almost didn’t want to read it. And then, when I read it, of course it was very, very emotional and very, very touching. What’s wonderful about the letter is that there is not a single hint of anger ... there is not a single feeling, or expression of remorse, or anger, or sadness, or feeling of her being a victim in any way.” This was a woman who knew death was imminent and merely wished to say goodbye, continued Grunwald. “There is not

local children as well as Shabbat packages which include kosher food items and some extras, like flowers. Concordia does not provide kosher food, although it offers holiday-themed meals for its Jewish residents. For many residents, it is location rather religion that attracted them to the senior community. Both Mazerov and Toder lived across the street on Bower Hill Road when the facility was still known as the Covenant at South Hills. They decided to move into Concordia to stay in their own neighborhood rather than relocate to Squirrel Hill to a facility where Jewish life might be richer. While religious and social options are limited because of COVID-19, the pandemic

has created opportunities that might not have existed previously. Toder Zooms Shabbat services at Beth El, and Mazerov said that while there were no High Holiday services at the residence, they were able to access services online wherever they chose. Prior to the pandemic, Temple Emanuel’s Early Childhood Development Center would bring students to Concordia as part of its “Grandfriends” program, which Mazerov described as “very, very dear.” Those in-person visits were suspended last March, but they have continued online. Residents of Concordia are not able to visit each other’s apartments during the pandemic, but they still have the ability to get together. “Some people play cards together; others

have coffee seven feet apart,” Toder said. Mazerov passes much of her time watching movies or reading books from the residence’s library. Before the pandemic she belonged to a book club. For Toder, the resumption of the Yiddish Club will bring a welcome return to routine. Of course, when that routine will return is anyone’s guess. Concordia is waiting for the state to announce when its residents will receive the vaccine. Until then, Mazerov said, “We’re walking the halls and if it’s nice out, we’re walking outside.”  PJC

Healing Partnership in Pittsburgh, said the museum honor is an extension of the Jewish tradition of telling a deceased person’s story to ensure their memory is a blessing. Feinstein, who was interviewed for a story the museum is sharing about the Pittsburgh faith community, also said the honor speaks volumes about what it means to be a Pittsburgher. “I am just so honored that Pittsburgh can say, in a moment of crisis, there were big acts of courage that helped us through,”

Feinstein told the Chronicle. “What we can do is realize you don’t have to be a leader [to be courageous]. You can conduct acts of courage in your everyday life.” “You can see in the inaugural class a lot about freedom of religion, as well as welcoming the stranger — and those were two strong themes here,” Feinstein added. The Museum of the Courageous is building what it touts as “the largest collection of stories about individuals standing up

to acts of hate based on race, color, religion, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity and ability.” Formed in 2019, the organization eventually hopes to house these stories in a physical space, amplifying untold and under-told examples of courage to continuously bend American citizens and society toward justice.  PJC


Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghhewishchronicle.org.

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh. JANUARY 22, 2021  15

Life & Culture Where is Mrs. Maisel getting those marvelous accessories? Look no further than Pittsburgh’s South Side.

 Items that Scott Johnson sent to “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” to be used in Season 4

— LOCAL — By Hilary Daninhirsch | Special to the Chronicle


cott Johnson did not set out to be a resource for Hollywood costume designers when he opened his shop, Three Rivers Vintage, seven years ago. But after getting a call from the Pittsburghbased Netflix crime thriller “Mindhunter” to provide ’70s and ’80s apparel, word spread about his 1,200-square-foot store, located on South Side’s Carson Street, and it’s now on the radar of other film and TV crews. So when “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” came calling, Johnson knew he could come through. The period comedy-drama on Amazon Prime stars Rachel Brosnahan as a late ’50s/ early ’60s Jewish divorcee and up-andcoming comedian. The series has won multiple Emmy awards, including a win for Outstanding Period Costumes in 2019.

In addition to her irreverent humor and snappy dialogue, the main character, Midge Maisel, is known for her style — from her shift dresses to her classic black dresses with fun details, such as bows or ruffles, to her matching purses and accessories, to her coats of many colors. Three Rivers Vintage carries clothes and accessories from the 1860s to the 1980s. Johnson said his inventory is “comprehensive.” “I do everything fashion-related: hats, canes, purses, shoes, umbrellas, estate jewelry,” he said, adding that he also features a maternity and kids’ section. Johnson sources the vast majority of his stock — currently numbering 4,000 pieces — from private buys. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” is the fourth or fifth major production he’s worked on. “‘Mrs. Maisel’ found me through other costumers out in Los Angeles who have shot here in the city,” he said. Johnson has been told that it’s widely known in the

Photos by Scott Johnson

entertainment industry to source items from Three Rivers Vintage if shooting on the East Coast. “That was kind of a ‘wow’ moment for me,” he said. Johnson also worked on “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” and “I’m Your Woman,” both shot and filmed in Pittsburgh, the latter also starring Brosnahan. The “Mrs. Maisel” crew reached out to Johnson last March, just days before the world shut down, which ultimately affected the show’s production. The show is back in production as of a few weeks ago, said Johnson, so its crew contacted him again, sending him emails and texts of their vision boards depicting how they wanted their characters to dress. “I use those as a guide and pull what is appropriate,” said Johnson. “I know the vibe and the style they try to put her in, so that made it easier, having the knowledge of the show, so when I pull things, I can say, ‘Hey, this will be amazing,’” he said. Johnson provided over 100 pairs of gloves,


22 vintage hats in a rainbow of colors and styles, and several matching shoes-and-purse combinations — including a pair of late ’50s glitter floral shoes as well as a paisley blue, black and gold shoe and purse combo that viewers will be able to spot once Season 4 of the hit show is released. He is also working on fulfilling a second order for the show. Although his original intention was not to costume Hollywood, Johnson gets a kick out of watching shows in which actors are wearing pieces that came from his shop. But Johnson doesn’t make purchases with any particular show in mind. “I buy what I like, and what is appropriate for the store and in good condition,” he said. Still, perhaps the collection of ’50s designer party dresses he just purchased will find its way to Midge Maisel’s wardrobe — only time will tell.  PJC Hilary Daninhirsch is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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and all the time online @pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. For home delivery, call 410.902.2308.

16  JANUARY 22, 2021



Life & Culture Pear and pomegranate salad for Tu B’Shevat — FOOD — By Jessica Grann | Special to the Chronicle


t’s a beautiful custom on Tu B’Shevat to share and serve foods with all sorts of tree fruits and tree nuts. Often for this holiday, we tend to see dried fruit platters, but here is a recipe that I think is fresh and interesting. This yummy salad pairs peppery arugula, fresh pear and apple, and tart pomegranate seeds with creamy goat cheese. You can make this salad, including the homemade ginger dressing and candied pecan topping, in under 15 minutes. It looks and tastes like a masterpiece, with beautiful colors and textures. To save time, you can make the pecans and dressing a day ahead, and quickly throw it together before serving your meal. I often take this to brunch when asked to bring a salad to a friend’s home. Tu B’Shevat falls this year on Jan. 28.


Photo by Jessica Grann

For the salad

ginger pods. I keep these stocked in the freezer cup good quality olive oil tablespoons apple cider vinegar tablespoons honey teaspoon Dijon mustard teaspoon salt teaspoon black pepper

1 5 - or 6-ounce bag arugula lettuce, or a combination of arugula and spring mix 2 ounces plain goat cheese, or more if you like 2 pears 1 apple, your choice of variety ½ cup pomegranate seeds

¼ 2 2 1 ¼ ⅛

For the dressing

For the candied pecans

2 teaspoons fresh ginger or two frozen

1 cup pecan halves

1½ tablespoons brown sugar 1½ tablespoons water A pinch of coarse kosher salt 1 small dash of vanilla extract

For the dressing, place all of the ingredients in a Ball jar, put the lid on and shake until emulsified. Do not use dried ginger for this recipe. I love the packages with frozen ginger for ease, but if you have fresh ginger, it does help to place it in the freezer for about

10 minutes before grating it. Toast the pecans over medium heat in a sauté pan for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Mix the brown sugar, water, salt and vanilla together. After the pecans seem to be toasting nicely, drizzle the sugar mixture over the pecans. Stir with a spatula for about a minute until the pecans are coated. Remove from heat, and turn the pecans out onto parchment paper to cool. This gives the sugar coating a chance to adhere. Slice the pears and apple in half. Leave the skin on for color. Core, and thinly slice each half of the fruit. Arrange the arugula on a platter. You can use a bowl, but I prefer a platter for the presentation. Arrange the pear and apple slices, taking several pieces and fanning them out. Place some with skin up and some with skin down. Crumble the goat cheese over the salad, then follow with the pomegranate seeds and candied pecans. The ginger dressing adds a nice, bright zing. Lightly spoon the dressing over the salad and serve immediately. This salad pairs beautifully with salmon. Enjoy!  PJC Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

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Bat mitzvah

God’s hand can be seen within the miracles of nature

Daphne Macedonia is the daughter of Jaclyn Moldovan and Michael Macedonia, and the granddaughter of Renée Ramo and the late Bert Moldovan; Adeline and Jeff Weissert; and Dave Macedonia. In the seventh grade at The Ellis School, Daphne is a baker extraordinaire and makes lots of delicious treats for her friends and “framily.” She also enjoys musical theater. Daphne will celebrate becoming a bat mitzvah at Congregation Beth Shalom on Jan. 23, 2021.

Engagement Dr. Louis and Susan Leff are thrilled to announce the engagement of their daughter Mara to Dr. Matthew Koperwas, son of Dr. Eric and Janet Koperwas of River Edge, New Jersey. Mara is the granddaughter of Nancy and Robert Averback of Churchill and Dr. Bernard and Rita Leff of Highland Park. Matt is a geriatrician with Allegheny Health Network and Mara is an adjunct faculty member of the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and an independent innovative healthcare solutions consultant. Mara and Matt met in Pittsburgh and live in Shadyside with their puppy Zelda. They will be wed in spring 2022.  PJC

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Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld Parshat Bo | Exodus 10:1 - 13:16


he Exodus is a part of the long history of the Jewish people, yet no story has ever been discussed as much as this one. There is no other story in the history of the Jewish people that demands so much focus. There are so many stories in our history — why do we focus so much on the miracles of leaving Egypt? The miracles of the Exodus, such as the 10 plagues and the splitting of the sea, were miracles of a magnitude that clearly and openly proclaimed to all who sought to know that God is in control of the world. It is He who has final authority over nature. Yet we don’t seem to experience these miracles of biblical proportion anymore.

God performing miracles on a daily basis is another way to define nature. In a sense, this is a stronger show of His hand than performing open miracles, because while overruling nature shows that one has the power to veto the opposition, manipulation of nature shows that one has no opposition at all. It is for this reason that God chooses to relate to us today through the laws of nature. However, there is a crucial role open miracles play. They set the tone that it is God who is the one that manipulates nature. In other words, by showing us that He is able to veto nature should He want to, He opens us up to the understanding that when he is not flexing his veto power, it is because He is already in control. That is why we spend so much time and focus on the story of the open miracles of the Exodus — to remind us that even today, though we do not see the “veto power” of

Miracles that take place within the realms of nature allow us to see God’s hand in everything we do. There’s a reason for that. When God performs a miracle that supersedes the laws of nature, He is letting us know that nature is not an obstacle to Him getting what he wants. However, the very fact that God must overrule nature seems to indicate that nature is a force to be reckoned with, albeit no match for God. Then there are times when God’s hand is clearly visible within the daily functions of nature — when He orchestrates and manipulates nature to perform His will within nature’s own laws. It is then that we can discover that not only does nature not pose an obstacle to him, but nature is His tool. We understand that nature is not a force to reckon with outside of God. Rather, nature is God’s force dictating the routine operations of this world.

God, he remains very much in control. This past week there have been lots of developments as we continue to overcome the coronavirus pandemic. Often, in a world filled with chaos and confusion, it is easy to overlook the tremendous miracles that are unfolding in plain sight. Miracles that take place within the realms of nature allow us to see God’s hand in everything we do. Let’s not undersell the magnitude of the miracle we are witnessing as we emerge from this pandemic stronger than before. PJC Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld is rabbi of the Lubavitch Center and executive director of Chabad of Western Pennsylvania. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.


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18  JANUARY 22, 2021



Obituaries BLUESTONE: Charlotte Goldfarb Bluestone, age 99, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. Loving wife of the late Max L. Bluestone, devoted mother of Joan (Andy) Landorf, Buzzy (Gloria) Bluestone, and Stuart (Judy Naumburg) Bluestone. Beloved grandmother of David (Marcie), Michael (Melissa Bender) and Darren Bluestone, Gregory and Alissa Landorf (Mark Davenport), and Tahlia Naumburg Sayers (Troy). Adored great-grandmother of Emery, Brayden, and Skylar Sayers, and Max, Taylor, and Jonny Bluestone. Sister of Eleanor Hirsh, and the late Howard Goldfarb. She was an active member of the Jewish community for many years, having served on the boards of the United Jewish Federation Women’s Division, the Montefiore Hospital and the Ladies Auxiliary of Montefiore. She was a loyal member of Rodef Shalom Congregation. Due to COVID-19, private family burial will be held at Beth Shalom Cemetery. Contributions in her memory may be made to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, 2000 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219, Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 Fifth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213, or a charity of your choice. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com KLEIN: Burton Klein, 94, of Fox Chapel, formerly of White Oak, died Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. He was born Aug. 31, 1926, in McKeesport and was the son of Isadore and Esther (Angerman) Klein. He was preceded in death by his older brother, Alvin Klein. Burt was a graduate of the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science Degree. He was the co-owner of the former Vienna Bakery in McKeesport, and was later employed in the marketing department of Equitable Resources in Pittsburgh. Burt was a former member of Tree of Life Sfard and was a WWII Army veteran. After celebrating 69 years of marriage, Burt is survived by his

wife, Miriam Klein, as well as his three sons, Jeffrey (Harriet) Klein of New York City, Michael (Janene) Klein of Wexford, and David (Sharon) Klein of Kalamazoo, Michigan, and his grandchildren Elizabeth, Jacob, Julian, Anna and Andrew Klein. As all of his friends knew, Burt had a passion for baking. You were truly fortunate if you were one of the few to receive one of Burt’s challahs for the High Holidays. His flourless chocolate torte was legendary. His baking will be sorely missed. Private graveside service took place Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2021, in the Tree of Life, Elrod Cemetery, Versailles. Memorial contributions may be made to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank at 412-460-3663. Arrangements are by Gilbert Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., 1638 Lincoln Way, White Oak, 412-6726322, Troy J. Gilbert, director. Condolences may be made at Gilbertfuneral homeandcrematory.com.

in obstetrics and gynecology. He was a veteran, having served as an officer on a destroyer mine-sweeper in the South Pacific during WWII. He practiced obstetrics and gynecology in the McKeesport area. Richard was honored with the distinction of being the head of the department of obstetrics and gynecology at McKeesport Hospital for 20 years and served a term as president of the Pittsburgh Obstetrics and Gynecology Society. He was also a very accomplished musician. Services and interment private. Contributions may be made to Temple B’nai Israel Music Fund, 2025 Cypress Drive, White Oak, PA 15131. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com

PERER: Beatrice Perer passed away on Jan. 13, 2021 in Boynton Beach, Florida. Bea, as she known, was 94 years of age. She was the daughter KOSSOWSKY: R am of the late Joseph and Sara Kossowsky passed away at home on Friday, Jan. Taper of Duquesne, Pennsylvania. Bea was a 15, 2021, at the age of 87. remarkable woman. Her husband, Leonard, He summed the secret passed away in 1964 leaving Bea, age 38, to living a good life by with a teenage son and daughter and a following a simple equa- newly-started wholesale optical business. tion: “Frustration = Expectation – Reality.” Bea, with help of long-time family friend and Ram will be deeply missed by his wife Hanita, accountant, John Karp, built a highly his children Nir (Bear), Tamar, and Yuval successful woman-owned business, which (Cátia), his grandchildren Natasha, Zoe and was a rarity at the time. Bea was a stunning Alessandra , and countless family and friends.  woman, who turned heads wherever she Those wishing to honor his memory are went, even when she was in her 90s. She was encouraged to make a donation to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank or Temple Sinai. MANN: Richard M. Mann, M.D., age 96, of White Oak, died on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021. He was the loving husband of Karen (Weyman) Mann. Father of Susan Mann of Denver, Colorado, and James Mann of Orlando, Florida. He was preceded in death by his parents Dr. Solomon and Fannie Mann and his brother Hartley J. Mann. He graduated from Penn State University and medical school at the University of Pittsburgh. He took a residency at Magee-Womens Hospital


always perfectly dressed and a consummate shopper. After working Monday through Friday, Saturdays were spent shopping at Kaufmann’s. To her last days, Bea was never without her makeup, jewelry and perfectly coordinated outfit. When she moved to Florida, she described it as paradise. She lived her last years with the second love of her life, Ed Early, who predeceased her. Together Bea and Ed enjoyed each and every day, whether golfing, or at their club or their home in Boca West. These were some of the happiest days of her life. But her greatest joy was spending time with son Alan (wife, Diane), her daughter Shelley Droz (husband, Gary), her granddaughters Lauren, Langley, Sara and Abby, and her great-grandchildren, Sid, Molly, Bowie, Sawyer and Dean. The family extends a special thank you to Bea’s caregivers, Nancy and Mirta who took such remarkable and loving care of her in her final days. Queen Bea was a force and her passing leaves a large hole in the family. Bei mir bist du schein. Services and interment will be private. Memorial donations to Jewish Family Services in Boca Raton or the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh are welcomed. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com

Please see Obituaries, page 20

Jewish Association on Aging gratefully acknowledges contributions from the following: A gift from … In memory of … Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Barbara Berenfield

A gift from … In memory of … Jan & Ed Korenman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Anna Kuperstoc

Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Louis Fishman

Jan & Ed Korenman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isadore Winerman

Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Frances Barniker

Jan & Ed Korenman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Evelyn Rebb

Gertrude Adams . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ruth Weinberger

Lynne S. Lehrer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sam Levine

Ms. Bender . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Samuel D. Levine

Mrs. David Lieberman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sara Lea Zinner

Dava Berkman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Esther Berkman

Mrs. David Lieberman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Joseph Zinner

Dava Berkman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Esther Berkman

Mrs. David Lieberman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Rebecca Rubin

Carol Cobb . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abe Zwang

Mrs. David Lieberman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Charlotte Rubin

Sherman J. Farbstein . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Julia P. Farbstein

Mrs. David Lieberman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Louis Rubin

Stephanie L. Glick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cliff Ruben

Larry Myer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Oscar Zeinstein

Stephanie L. Glick . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Bea Ruben

Rachel Richman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Hyman Richman

Edward M. Goldston. . . . . . . . . . . . Frumie Fraidel Brown

Leslie Ripp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Milton Ripp

Karen R. Jurgensmier . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isaac L. Rosenfeld

Ethel Sisselsky and Family . . . . . . . . . . . .Enoch Sisselsky

Amy R. Kamin. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Helen Honig

Cheryl Sober . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Rachel Sheffler Shuklansky

Sharon Knapp . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nettie Galanty

Jules and Bernice Spokane . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Louis Cohen

THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS — Sunday January 24: Joseph Baker, Rebecca Belkin, Helen Citron, Max Elinoff, Jennie Greenberger, Rachel Grinberg, Vivian S. Hyman, Minnie S. Kopman, Sylvan A. Mendlovitz, Wallace Norman, Ciril Perer, Manuel Regenstien, Anna Gross Rosen, Jacob Rosenberg, Jacob Rosenzweig, Pearl Sheckter, Morris Singer, Herman Smith, Eleanor Goldberg Toker Monday January 25: Ethel Graff Braun, Moses Brown, Anna C. Feigus, Minnie Feldman, Max Green, Meyer Grossman, William Gusky, Jesse L. Kann, Samuel Karp, Ida A. Leff, Fannie London, Samuel Robins, Ethel Ruben, Louis Samuels, Belle Sokolow, Louis B. Stein, Irvin H. Tapper, Phyllis Weiner Unger, Ida Winer, Morris Wolk

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Thursday January 28: Esther Berkman, Harry A. Cohan, James H. Darling, Ida S. Goldberg, Jacob J. Gordon, Sidney Hyde, Walter E. Katz, Carl Labovitz, Nathan Labe Land, Ludwig Landman, Mike Leebov, Sheldon G. Lindner, Philip Rosenthal, Harry Shapiro, Jennie Shrager, David Silverblatt, Minnie Rhea Silverblatt, Jennie Sobel, Dorothy Spolan, Annie Stearns, Julius Wolf

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Saturday January 30: Hyman Browarsky, Ethel Golanty, Morris D. Herwitt, Hyman Klahr, David Lundy, Isadore Lupovitz, Joseph Markovitz, Lew J. Miller, Isadore Pachtman, Milton Ripp, Eunice Roth, Lena G. Skirble, A. Leonard Winer, Ivan Lee Wolinsky


JANUARY 22, 2021  19

Obituaries Obituaries: Continued from page 19

WEINREB: Sam Weinreb, age 94, formerly of Pittsburgh, passed away peacefully at Hebrew SeniorLife Rehabilitation Center in Roslindale, Massachusetts, on Jan. 15, 2021. Sam was born in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, in 1926 to parents David and Freida Weinreb.

Vaccination: Continued from page 1

Rehabilitation Center residents, who tested positive for COVID-19, died, as did one Weinberg Terrace resident. When nearly 10 representatives of CVS Health arrived at the JAA on Jan. 12, it signaled a new chapter in the pandemic narrative, explained Winn-Horvitz. Months earlier, the JAA had registered for the Pharmacy Partnership for Long-Term Care Program, a CDC initiative that enables longterm care facilities to partner with pharmacies, including CVS and Walgreens, to provide on-site COVID-19 vaccination services.

Sam lost his immediate family in the Holocaust, but following the war, he reconnected with his childhood sweetheart Gloria (Goldie) Berger, also a survivor, whom he married and began a family with in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Throughout his life, Sam was deeply committed to his

family and his community. Beyond his work as a watchmaker and jeweler, Sam dedicated much of his life to speaking at schools, universities, religious organizations and other groups to share the story of his life and experience surviving the Holocaust. Through his storytelling, Sam reached thousands of individuals and left a lasting legacy of strength, resilience and empathy. He most enjoyed his opportunities to speak with young students.

He is survived by his two children, Stewart and Linda, and his granddaughter, Hannah. Sam will be remembered for his deep devotion to his family, his love of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers, and his desire to leave the world a kinder place than he found it. Memorial donations may be made to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raul Wallenberg Pl., SW, Washington, DC 20024. (https://donate.ushmm.org) PJC

As one of more than 75,000 facilities participating in the program, the JAA receives free “end-to-end management of the COVID-19 vaccination process, including cold chain management, on-site vaccinations and fulfillment of reporting requirements,” according to the CDC. JAA staff cleared logistical hurdles so that vaccination day could run successfully. Not only did employees create a clinic on site where colleagues and residents could safely gather prior to receiving injections from members of CVS’ vaccination team, but they also developed a plan to ensure individuals who were unable to travel to the Beechwood unit could also receive shots, explained Winn-Horvitz. The efforts paid off. Between injections

administered in the makeshift clinic and those delivered during individual room visits at Ahava Memory Care, Weinberg Terrace and Weinberg Village, more than 120 residents were vaccinated at the JAA on Jan. 12. And, one day later, CVS Health representatives returned and delivered nearly 260 more vaccinations. By the end of Jan. 13, more than 500 people, including residents and staff from Riverview Apartments, were vaccinated at the JAA, noted Tinsy Labrie, JAA’s director of marketing and public relations. As vaccination day — a period that technically spanned almost 48 hours — continued at the JAA, staff worked to foster enthusiasm and create an almost arena-like atmosphere:

Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” and Queen’s “We Are the Champions” played repeatedly; JAA staff proudly hoisted vaccine-related signage; and a ribboned medal, with the words “I’m a JAA vaccine champion,” was presented to each resident and staff member who received a jab. Yes, the mood was festive, but ultimately everything proceeded rather routinely, explained Goldman. When asked how he celebrated after receiving the shot, he replied, “I went back to my apartment and had lunch: tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.” PJC

Did You Know?

w Ligh t Ne

Workmen’s Circle Cemetery #975– Reserve Township


For more information about the JCBA, to inquire about plot purchases, to view full histories, to volunteer, and/or to make a contribution please visit our website at www.jcbapgh.org, email us at jcbapgh@gmail.com or call the JCBA at 412-553-6469.






re gat

Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

New Light Congregation

JCBA’s expanded vision is made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Foundation

congratulates our

Rabbi Jonathan Perlman

Workmen’s Circle had four branches in Pittsburgh. The organization supported Jewish and non-Jewish labor, including coal miners, to whom they distributed food during strikes in 1919, 1921, and 1923. The Circle worked closely with the region’s steelworkers as well. The original Workmen’s Circle #975 Cemetery was separated into two distinct sections, one for Communists and one for Socialists. This cemetery, in the early 1990’s, was one of the first to join the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association.

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JANUARY 22, 2021 21

Community Vaccination day at the JAA

With aid from representatives of CVS Health, the Jewish Association on Aging began vaccinating residents and staff on Jan. 12.

p JAA resident Larry receives the Pfizer vaccine.

p Kenneth M. Goldman, a 98-year old metallurgist, was the first JAA resident to receive a vaccine.

p Riverview resident Muriel rolls up her sleeve. t Riverview resident Mark receives the Pfizer vaccine. Photos courtesy of the Jewish Association on Aging

p Riverview resident Ms. W. closes her eyes during vaccination.

p 102-year-old Beatrice was the oldest JAA resident to receive a vaccine.

22  JANUARY 22, 2021

p JAA activities assistant Sam Siskind gets a vaccine.



Community Another step toward a COVID-free CDS

Some sticky situations are great

t Community Day School nurse Susie Kerr receives her first dose of the vaccine on Jan. 13. 

Photo courtesy of Community Day School

MLK Day at CDS u

Community Day School fourthgrader Brett Baron leads a virtual session as part of the school’s No Place for Hate committee on the sixth consecutive Martin Luther King Jr. Day “on” of learning, reflection and service at CDS. Brett and other student leaders worked with their peers in all grades to paint rocks with designs expressing ways to help address racial justice and inclusivity in our community. The rocks will be displayed together at CDS to symbolize the magnitude of change possible when we put our small actions together.

p Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh pre-K students use glue and paint to learn about dinosaurs. Photo courtesy of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh

Hour of restoration

p CDS kindergarten student Levi Madden holds up the rock he created as part of this project. Photos courtesy of Community Day School


p Rehabilitation and preservation work began on Jan. 11 for Tree of Life’s iconic stained glass windows. The almost 60-year-old windows will be removed, repaired and restored to their original look and positions during the year.


Photo courtesy of Tree of Life Congregation

JANUARY 22, 2021  23


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