Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 1-14-22

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January 14, 2022 | 12 Shevat 5782

NOTEWORTHY LOCAL Checking in with CheckMates Volunteers help seniors remain independent. Page 3

Candlelighting 4:59 p.m. | Havdalah 6:02 p.m. | Vol. 65, No. 2 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org


Congregations navigate surging Pittsburgh’s COVID cases female rabbis reflect on 50th anniversary of women in the rabbinate By Toby Tabachnick | Editor


LOCAL Closing time

 Congregations throughout the area are grappling with the challenges posed by the recent surge of COVID cases. Temple David in Monroeville posted this sign last spring when it first reopened for in-person services. Photo by Barbara Fisher

Two diners leave Squirrel Hill. Page 7

LOCAL A merger to bolster immersion

Onward Israel and Birthright join forces. Page 9

By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


uring Shabbat services last week, Rabbi Jeremy Weisblatt shared a thought with members of Temple Ohav Shalom about the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases: It is OK to “feel down,” he said, adding that expressing that sentiment was actually aligned with the weekly Torah portion. One of the lessons of Parshat Bo is that, despite hardship, a better tomorrow eventually arrives. As the ancient Israelites learned, following the horrific pain of Egypt there was a triumphant exodus. Likewise, although no one knows when this pandemic will end, there will be a “time to come out of it,” Weisblatt said. Before concluding his message — which was delivered virtually — Weisblatt reminded his congregants that “we need to be safe and smart and move forward as a community.” How to “move forward” — and whether that will occur strictly online — is a question Pittsburgh’s non-Orthodox rabbis and congregations are navigating in light of the newest COVID surge. On Jan. 5, Allegheny County reported 3,392 new infections, marking an all-time high.

At Ohav Shalom, a COVID task force meets each Sunday evening to evaluate whether the upcoming week’s activities should occur in person or not, Weisblatt said. As of Jan. 4, the congregation’s preschool was still meeting in person, and an administrator was still working in the office. But the Shabbat morning services on Jan. 8 were only held on Zoom. At Temple David in Monroeville, “we are continuing as before: in person and on Zoom,” Rabbi Barbara Symons said. While the congregation still gathers in person, Temple David leaders are “monitoring the surge carefully,” Symons added. On Jan. 2, members of the Reopening/ COVID committee at Temple Sinai in Squirrel Hill recommended to the executive committee that the congregation return to virtual services, meetings and programs through Jan. 23. The executive committee approved that recommendation, according to Drew Barkley, Temple Sinai’s executive director. “Our goal is to protect everyone as best we can during the omicron surge, with the

022 marks 50 years since Sally Priesand became the first woman in the United States ordained by a rabbinical seminary. The year was 1972 — the height of the women’s liberation movement and the year that President Richard Nixon signed Title IX of the Education Amendments into law, thereby prohibiting sex discrimination in any educational program receiving federal financial aid. Priesand, then 25, was ordained by the Reform movement’s Rabbi Alfred Gottschalk, president of the Hebrew Union College‐Jewish Institute of Religion. Two years later, Sandy Eisenberg Sasso became the first woman ordained by the Reconstructionist movement, and in 1985, the Conservative movement ordained its first female rabbi, Amy Eilberg. Since 1972, more than 1,000 female rabbis have been ordained by the Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative movements. There are about a half dozen Orthodox women serving as spiritual leaders in modern Orthodox congregations — a practice which remains controversial in the wider Orthodox community — and are often given the title of rabba, maharat or rabbanit. The Chronicle asked local female rabbis to share their reflections on the occasion of 50 years since Priesand forged the path leading to their own ordinations.

Rabbi Amy Bardack, director of Jewish Life and Learning for Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

It has been 25 years since my ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1997. I remember my first encounter with a

Please see COVID, page 14

Please see Rabbis, page 14

keep your eye on PittsburghJewishChronicle LOCAL

Day schools and omicron


Survivor Fanny Gelernter dies


A ‘legend’ retires

Headlines COVID continues to strike Pittsburgh’s day schools — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle


spike in COVID-19 cases has hit a third Jewish day school in Pittsburgh. Between Dec. 27 and Jan. 6 — a month after a COVID outbreak hit Hillel Academy and Yeshiva Schools — Community Day School reported 17 positive COVID cases among its faculty, staff and students. Students at CDS were required to return to the Squirrel Hill-based school after their winter break with a negative COVID test; that screening caught the bulk of the 17 cases, spokesperson Jennifer Bails said. Pooled testing after the break caught only one case. “We are continuing to rely heavily on our daily health screenings and keeping everyone with a symptom out of school,” Bails said. “We adjusted our isolation and quarantine policy to align with the CDC and Allegheny County Health Department guidelines, with the advice of our medical advisers, and also a layer of antigen testing.” Bails declined to comment on how many of the 17 cases occurred in the school’s

p Community Day School

early childhood education program, where students under age 5 have yet to receive clearance to receive COVID vaccinations. Earlier in December, outbreaks forced classroom closures at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s Early Childhood Development Center. Hillel Academy also reported most of its cases in early December occurred among children under 5. Hillel Academy has about 24 to 26 cases in

Photo by David Rullo

a shifting, 14-day snapshot of student health, according to Rabbi Sam Weinberg, the school’s principal. Hillel did close for the day on Jan. 7, but Weinberg said that was due to staffing and the snow accumulation. Yeshiva Schools closed the same day for similar reasons. “At this stage of the pandemic, we’re really mindful of the mental health of the staff and students and we’re trying to stay open,” Weinberg said. “But it’s also understanding

the risk of omicron. It’s complicated. These are real-life issues we’re dealing with here.” At Yeshiva Schools there are between five and 10 COVID cases, according to Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum, who heads the school. “There’s definitely omicron issues to combat but we’ve been able to keep school open,” Rosenblum said. “I don’t know what next week will bring. It seems like [the new variant] is burning through everything.” One parent volunteer said she was pleased with how CDS leaders were handling the school’s outbreak of COVID. “Seventeen sounds concerning but I know the school is doing everything above and beyond what’s being suggested by the CDC and their medical advisers,” said Bryna Finer, who heads CDS’ parent-teacher organization. “School is the safest place for my son to be right now.” There have been 198,751 COVID infections among Allegheny County residents since 2020, according to the county’s dashboard on Jan. 10. There were 10,610 hospitalizations among those infections and 2,712 deaths.  PJC Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

JCC offering COVID-19 vaccines in Squirrel Hill and South Hills


he Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh is offering a COVID-19 vaccination clinic for all ages, with a focus on pediatric vaccination, on Saturday, Jan. 15, from 9 a.m. to noon at its South Hills branch. The clinic is being held in partnership with American Healthcare Group, LLC and Pathways Wellness Program.

Other vaccinations to be made available at the South Hills clinic include influenza, pneumonia, shingles and Tdap. Vaccination clinics at the JCC in Squirrel Hill will be held on a walk-in basis in the Robinson Gym, 5738 Darlington Road, on Jan. 14, 21 and 28, and Feb. 4, 11, 18 and 25, from 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Throughout the pandemic, the JCC has provided pandemic-related services to the community at large, including COVID vaccine clinics in partnership with the Squirrel Hill Health Center at the JCC in Squirrel Hill. The clinics support the JCC’s vaccine policy, which requires anyone entering its facilities age 12 and older to provide one-time proof of

their COVID vaccination. Beginning Feb. 7, members and guests ages 5-11 also will need to provide one-time proof of COVID vaccination to enter the JCC’s buildings. Masks are required inside JCC facilities, including for the vaccine clinics.  PJC — Toby Tabachnick

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Headlines CheckMates helps seniors connect and remain independent instance, if someone is short on milk, it is not the caller’s responsibility to take care of the shopping; rather, they are charged with passing along information. By freeing the caller from the role of troubleshooter, the relationship between volunteers and recipients develops in a unique and meaningful way, Schwartz said, noting there are people on her list she’s called for years. “I have two people I call who are in their 90s,” Schwartz said. “They walk, they drive. I think it’s just fantastic and it gives me inspiration. “I don’t like to sit and twiddle my thumbs,” she continued “I feel good when I make other people feel good. That’s the benefit of volunteer work.” CheckMates caller and Squirrel Hill resident Dan Stead agreed, saying “it’s phenomenal in a way that I did not expect.” When Stead decided to volunteer six months ago, he imagined he’d simply be phoning older adults, asking about their needs and passing the information along. “I never expected to receive what I have received from my clients,” Stead, 76, said. “I discovered that each of my clients has given me an understanding of the aging process and given me more courage to face the aging process. I see it’s possible to remain

— LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


ith a pen and paper beside her, Shirley Holtzman Schwartz makes phone calls to the same seven people each week. The conversations, she explained, are an exercise in listening and note taking. After saying hello, Schwartz, 85, begins writing, recording whether the person on the other end of the line visited with family, saw their doctor or even what memories have been surfacing for them lately. When the conversation ends, Schwartz compiles her notes into a report and sends it to Amy Gold, a Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh staffer who oversees CheckMates, a program of AgeWell at the JCC. For the past 17 years, CheckMates has helped Allegheny County residents — like those on Schwartz’s list — remain independent and in their own homes by relying on trained volunteers who make calls to learn what additional support and community resources might be needed. The volunteers then share that information with Gold. “Amy does a good job connecting people if they need something,” Schwartz said. Volunteers are not responsible for solving problems or locating resources. For

 Shirley Holtzman Schwartz

Photo courtesy of Shirley Holtzman Schwartz

s ’ y s s u G

Please see Checkmates, page 15


Chef Scott Walton, former Executive Chef/Partner of Shadyside’s Acorn Restaurant, has recently opened Gussy’s Bagels and Deli at 3606 Fifth Avenue in Oakland. Pittsburgh’s newest bagel shop and deli is driven by Chef Walton’s commitment to high-quality ingredients paired with expert culinary techniques.

Chef Walton approaches his deli meats and salads with the same expertise and care as Gussy’s bagels. Pastrami, turkey pastrami, salmon and whitefish are all smoked in-house. Gussy’s salmon is imported from Loch Duart in Northwest Scotland, and cured in-house for Gussy’s Gravlox and Pastrami Lox. Chef Walton uses locally-sourced, hormone-free chicken to make his amazing Amish Chicken Salad.

Bagels Made the Old-Fashioned Way

No Sugar Unbleached Flour Long Fermentation Process (48 hour minimum) Kettle-Boiled Baked on Cedar Boards Wrapped in Burlap









Catering, Ordering & Delivery Gussy’s Bagels & Deli offers online ordering, delivery, and catering services. Open 7 Days a Week!



Bagel Flavors include plain, sesame, poppyseed, cinnamon raisin, egg and sea salt, and everything. Schmears are sold by the half-pound in a variety of flavors, including plain, caper, wild berry, honey walnut, scallion, chocolate hazelnut and peanut butter.

All meats, fish and salads are sold by the quarter-pound, half-pound and pound.




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JANUARY 14, 2022  3

Headlines Educator and Holocaust survivor Fanny Gelernter dies at 89 — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer


ourage. Bravery. Strength. Hope. Those four words summarize the life of Fanny “Francine” Gelernter, who died Dec. 24, according to her daughter-in-law, Jacki Gelernter. Born in 1932 to a wealthy family that owned chocolate, cigarette and lingerie factories, Fanny Gelernter’s early years were lived as an aristocrat in Kovno, Lithuania, her son Steve Gelernter said. Those idyllic years, spent in her hometown and the beach community of Palanga, Lithuania, where she vacationed with her mother, father and sister, were short-lived. Kovno’s peace was shattered in 1941 with an invasion by the Soviet Union. The army sent Fanny Gelernter’s father to Siberia, where he would die without ever being reunited with his family. The Red Army was pushed east by the Nazis who captured the town in 1942, creating the Kovno Ghetto. Gelernter lived in the Jewish ghetto until July 1944, when she was sent to the Stutthof Concentration Camp in Stutthof, Poland, with her mother. In September 1944 Fanny Gelernter experienced one of her darkest moments of the war, according to her daughter-in-law. “They put her on a train to go to Auschwitz on Rosh Hashanah, during the first four days of September,” Jacki Gelernter said. “She was put on a train with others, packed in. They got down there four days later with a bucket in the corner, which gives you a real feel for how little there was for accommodations. Auschwitz was full, so they sent her back in the same train car. For four more days she went back, amongst things that you and I can’t even imagine.” Fanny Gelernter lived in Bavaria with her mother after being liberated from the camp in 1945, her son Steve said. The pair then reconnected with family members and even managed to recapture some of their wealth. In 1950, the 18-year-old Fanny Gelernter and her mother immigrated to the United States. Steve Gelernter said his mother was a trendsetter in America, with an independent streak that influenced the balance of her life. He pointed to her decision to marry his father, Simon. “Her mother was adamant, saying, ‘He’s a poor Polack, you’re an aristocrat.’ She did not want my father and mother to be married but my mom didn’t care,” Steve Gelernter said. Jacki Gelernter said her mother-in-law was “an innovator,” noting she worked as a teacher beginning in the 1950s. “She chose her husband, who had a low-level job, and she wanted to marry him so she ended up teaching and hiring someone to take care of the kids,” Jacki Gelernter said. Fanny Gelernter spent the next 45 years teaching at the Hebrew Institute, Temple David, Temple Sinai, Parkway Jewish Center and Rodef Shalom, while Simon Gelernter had a 47-year career with Arthur Moser Associates. 4  JANUARY 14, 2022

p Emmai Alaquiva photographed Fanny Gelernter for the “OpticVoices: Roots” exhibit at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. Photo courtesy of Emmai Alaquiva

Steve Gelernter said he and his sister Maureen enjoyed a typical childhood. “Two kids in the back of a station wagon, Ocean City every year for vacation with a friend,” he recalled. “They gave us an ideal upbringing.” His mother, he said, displayed the same strength she needed to survive the Holocaust when another of her children, David Bruce, died before his first birthday. Her husband died in 1997 while skiing in Colorado. “That was one of the terrible moments for her,” Steve Gelernter said, “because they built their life from nothing, and he was taken from her. She had no way to say goodbye to him.” Fanny Gelernter was able to weather the dark times, Jacki Gelernter said, because “she had a strength about her. She was tough but at the same time, she was kind.” Steve Gelernter remembered his mother as strong and fair, recalling his time as one of her students. “I had to call her Mrs. Gelernter,” he said. “I answered one time, saying ‘Mom.’ She said, ‘You’re right Steven, but it’s Mrs. Gelernter.’ There was no preferential treatment.”

In 2011, at 79, Fanny Gelernter celebrated her bat mitzvah, which she felt was stolen from her by the Nazis and the Holocaust. Jacki Gelernter said that Fanny Gelernter surprised those in attendance when, during the service, she announced that she was taking part in the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh’s twinning program. “She said, without any of us knowing, that she’s twinning today with Lubba. She said, ‘Lubba was my friend in the ghetto. We played together, Lubba and I spent time together. When’s Lubba’s brother was sent to the left and Lubba was sent to the right, she went with her brother. I twin today with my friend, Lubba.’” In 2017, Jacki Gelernter helped create the Walk to Remember at Community Day School’s Gary and Nancy Tuckfelt Keeping Tabs: A Holocaust Sculpture to honor Gelernter, other Holocaust survivors and the 6 million Jews killed by the Nazis. The program continued through 2019. It was discontinued in spring 2020 due to the pandemic. After her bat mitzvah, Fanny Gelernter traveled to Europe with her son, daughter-in-law and grandsons, Max and Eli, visiting her hometown and the concentration


camp she didn’t think she would survive. Fanny Gelernter’s son said that despite living a long and fulfilling life, there were times the memories of the Holocaust haunted her. The family matriarch privately recounted disturbing images and stories, finding it impossible to shake the memory of a Nazi soldier who ripped a baby from his mother’s arms in the Kovno Ghetto, throwing the infant and allowing a German Shepard dog to grab it out of the air, and the image of a hanged person in Stutthof, left for days as a warning. “She didn’t like waiting in lines,” Steve Gelernter said. “We had a real problem taking her through airport security, with all the TSA security people. Even Giant Eagle could be a problem.” “Separating from family was an issue when the TSA wanted to screen someone,” Jacki Gelernter said. “There were times she was glazed over and wasn’t present.” Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh Director Lauren Apter Bairnsfather said Fanny Gelernter helped her learn how to be trauma-informed in the center’s programming. “For many Holocaust survivors, certain things are triggers and reminders of that trauma,” Bairnsfather said. “So, we knew that we had to be careful in how we did our programs. That may seem like something we should have been aware of; we really weren’t. So, we knew if we were having police in uniform, we needed to tell the survivors. So, she was a teacher for many years, even when she was not formally a teacher.” Fanny Gelernter was photographed by Emmai Alaquiva for the exhibit “OpticVoices: Roots,” displayed at the Holocaust Center in 2019. Alaquiva said Fanny Gelernter possessed a level of peace he’s only seen in survivors. “The impression that Miss Fanny left on me was that regardless of what we go through in life’s kerfuffles, there is always light to be found,” he said. Stories are bridges that connect us to the world, Alaquiva continued. “They either make or break us. Fanny, and so many survivors, helped to make me who I am as an artist. I shall continue to capture these bridges. Thank you, Miss Fanny for showing me a reflection of myself through your journey. May the universe be occupied by the alluring wind of your beautiful soul.” Jacki Gelernter said that Fanny Gelernter celebrated life in many simple ways. “She loved to make sure pets had enough water when you went by, she loved butterflies, she was a huge fan of carnations,” Jacki Gelernter said. “For how heavy she was in her heart, she had a real light airiness about her.” The words courage, bravery, strength and hope summarized the way Fanny Gelernter faced life, Jacki Gelernter said. “You need courage to do it, bravery to go through with it, strength to get through it and hope for a reason,” she said. The family is planning a spring celebration in honor of Fanny Gelernter’s life at a time and place to be determined. Email celebratefannyg@gmail for information about the ceremony or to share memories of her.  PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Headlines Matriarch, community builder Marla Perlman dies at 84 — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle


embers of the Sisterhood of Rodef Shalom gathered Sunday on Zoom to memorialize Marla Perlman — a teacher, community organizer, social worker and Shadyside volunteer known for her Rodef Shalom movie nights and adult Purim services. Perlman died Dec. 21. She was 84. “She was a strong person,” member Terry Starrett offered. “She was always so strong and ‘This is who I am!’” “Her events were very inclusive,” said member Caroline Liston, who treks from Penn Hills to attend services at Rodef Shalom in Shadyside. “You had people coming from all over the city to see those movies. For some, it was their first time at Rodef Shalom. But they kept coming back and coming back and coming back.” “Headstrong, determined,” laughed member Marilyn Asimov, who’s volunteered for the Sisterhood for 18 or 19 years. “I mean, she was a bit of a pit bull at times.” Perlman grew up in Wisconsin but spent most of her adult life in Pittsburgh. She received a bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Wisconsin and a master’s in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. She was a teacher in her early adult life and later served as a volunteer coordinator at Woodville

Shadyside. She also volunteered and was influential in staging the Pittsburgh Jewish Film Festival. Perlman started the Pittsburgh chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Club and, along with Barbara Shore, started the support group Single Women in Mid-Life. She participated in Osher adult learning classes and taught a cooking class. (A cookbook, “Cooking With Marla,” is often referenced by friends as a key item in their kitchens.) She frequently vacationed with her family at the Chautauqua Institution in p Marla Perlman with her five grandchildren Photo courtesy of Abigail Hoffman New York — which became a popular place for family reunions — and started the Friday night Kabbalat Shabbat State Hospital, a now-shuttered facility in service there. Collier Township. She even responded to a Pittsburgh Public “She grew up in Milwaukee and I think this idea Schools strike in 1976 by opening a small school of community building comes from her parents, herself in a Unitarian church near her home. who were involved in their Jewish community,” “To this day, I don’t know how she did it,” said her son, Rabbi Jonathan Perlman, who leads friend Carole Cohen said. “I do know that my New Light Congregation in Squirrel Hill. “In sons loved the little school and that it operated those days, it was very important to make money beautifully until the Pittsburgh Public Schools and live well. But, if you wanted status, you’d also reopened. I do know that, thanks to Marla’s volunteer and get involved in the Jewish commuexcellent organizational skills, our kids didn’t nity. My grandparents didn’t have much but they miss a beat. And I didn’t lose my job.” were always involved.” Perlman served on the board of the Perlman attended the 1984 national American Jewish Committee and worked Democratic Party Convention in San Francisco, tirelessly to drum up voter engagement as the where the party nominated Walter Mondale to chairperson of the Democratic Committee challenge Ronald Reagan. She also was a fierce for Pittsburgh’s Seventh Ward, which includes advocate for local politicians, vocally supporting

the likes of Pittsburgh Mayors Richard Caliguiri and Tom Murphy. (Murphy, as a candidate, even attended the wedding of one of her daughters.) Perlman was predeceased by her husband, Dr. Lawrence Perlman, and raised three children in Pittsburgh as a single mother. “She became even more of an independent spirit after he passed,” said Abigail “Abby” Hoffman, Perlman’s middle child, who was 8 when she lost her father. “She was like that before — but she came out determined to forge her own path.” “I think I took for granted that this is just what parents did — they raised their children and took the lead in their communities,” Jonathan Perlman told the Chronicle. “I didn’t know how she did it all … and after her children left, her volunteerism soared. She had a schedule for every single day. She just wanted to be very, very involved.” Jonathan Perlman remembers holding up a sign outside a polling place in the rain for presidential candidate George McGovern in 1972. Susannah Perlman, his younger sister, was 3 at the time. “Believe me,” Susannah Perlman said, “if I could’ve walked, she would’ve given me a sign, too.” The interest in politics continued into the next generation. Perlman introduced her granddaughter, Tova, to President Bill Clinton during Please see Perlman, page 20


ARE YOU CRAZY? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE “CAPACITY” TO SIGN LEGAL DOCUMENTS. This is one in a series of articles about Elder Law by Michael H. Marks., Esq. Michael H. Marks is an elder law attorney with offices in Squirrel Hill and Monroeville. Send questions to michael@marks-law.com or visit www.marks-law.com. To sign a legal document, you must have the capacity or ability to do so in a legally effective and binding manner. For example, to sign a new Will, Power of Attorney, Trust, deed, or other legal document, you must have the cognitive or mental ability to do so. If you are not competent, your actions may be challenged or overturned. You also must have the capacity to make other decisions with legal implications, such as healthcare decisions, making a gift, or deciding to marry. To sign such documents when properly prepared, your signature will also be witnessed and notarized. The witnesses who sign verify that they saw you sign and that you knew what you were doing. The notarization is a way of pre-verifying or pre-authenticating everyone’s signatures before the document is to be used later (and the notary is also implicitly confirming your competence, since they ordinarily would not notarize if they did not think you were capable). Why is this important? It’s important to know that the document will accomplish the intended result. It’s important that your action and the signed document are later accepted and followed, and not subject to challenge or dispute over their legitimacy later. There are various legal standards that define when someone has capacity to sign each different kind of document. These legal rules are generally not clearly stated in a statute law, but instead are the result of


various judges’ rulings in specific cases regarding specific documents. Such standards are most often determined by “common law,” that is, the history of case rulings by the Pennsylvania Superior and Supreme Courts, on the topic. For example, the classic three-part standard for capacity to sign a Will in Pennsylvania: you have to be 18 years or older and of “sound mind,” as interpreted by the courts to mean, in my words: • •

Knowing what you have to leave behind; Knowing the “natural objects of your bounty” (usually, your closest family members or others, who are most likely to be named as beneficiary); and Understanding what you want to do with your property when you are gone, and who you do want to inherit from you.

There are other somewhat similar standards for legal capacity to sign Powers of Attorney and trusts. For example. I would say that generally you need to be able to make a knowing, intelligent and voluntary decision. Everyone over age 18 is presumed to have capacity to act, and you don’t have to understand all the legal details to be legally able to make a decision. When might someone lack capacity? Someone may lack capacity who has dementia or permanent cognitive impairment; or in temporary delirium when acutely ill or confined in a care facility; or if serious mental illness interferes with their thinking. Memory loss in itself does not mean lack of capacity. Impairment that displays as confusion and an inability to think clearly, is more likely to cause a lack of capacity, than decline that is manifested by memory loss. If someone can understand clearly what they are doing in the moment, it may not be important that they can’t

remember past events well.

signed, they didn’t know what they were doing.

How is a document like a Will challenged? The opponent or challenger brings a case in court asking the Judge to nullify or set aside a Will or trust, or to set aside and vacate the underlying transactions (such as a gift) made by the alleged incapacitated person, or actions undertaken later by an Agent under Power of Attorney, Executor or Trustee, acting under authority of the document.

In addition, under the doctrine of “lucid interval,” even someone who is not generally sensible and able, may have a lucid moment in which they do have understanding and capacity, as an exception to their general state. Therefore, even medical evidence of general disability may not overcome testimony from those who were present that the person knew what they were doing at the moment they signed.

My clients are sometimes concerned about whether their Will can be challenged and overturned later. I usually reassure them that it is often difficult for the objecting party to win such a challenge. It’s hard to win a Will contest by alleging that the person who signed the Last Will and Testament lacked capacity. You have to prove - by “clear and convincing evidence,” a heightened burden of proof or evidentiary requirement – that at that very moment that they

Note however that proving that the person had capacity to sign, doesn’t mean that a Will might not be overturned on other grounds, such as undue influence, fraud, coercion, or even forgery. At Marks Elder Law, we help people every day with issues like these. I invite your questions and feedback. Please let me know how I can help you and your family.

helping you plan for what matters the most

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




Michael H. Marks, Esq. michael@marks-law.com member, national academy of elder law attorneys

4231 Murray Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15217

JANUARY 14, 2022  5

Calendar Submit calendar items on the Chronicle’s website, pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. Submissions also will be included in print. Events will run in the print edition beginning one month prior to the date as space allows. The deadline for submissions is Friday, noon. q FRIDAY, JAN. 14

Join Moishe House for a take-out Shabbat dinner. Candles will be lit. We will be socially distanced and masked up, and then take home a Shabbat meal to remember. RSVP at bit.ly/moho-011422 and they will be in touch with the final details via email. 6 p.m. q SATURDAY, JAN. 15

New Light Congregation welcomes Eric Lidji, director of the Rauh Jewish History Program and Archives at the Heinz History Center, for a celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday. Lidji will discuss the interracial theater group, The Curtaineers. The Curtaineeers was a project of the Irene Kaufmann Settlement Center on Centre Avenue in the Hill District in 1941. Services begin at 9:30 a.m., lecture at 11:30 a.m. A kiddush celebrating King’s birth and Tu B’shvat will follow. 5915 Beacon Street. q SUNDAY, JAN. 16

In the Briva Project’s weekly writing course, Sh’ma-Hear Your Inner Voice, students will reflect and write, moving through Chanukah to Tu B’Shvat. Each class will begin with a communal ritual and creative prompt. 6 p.m. $200 for all eight sessions. tickettailor.com/ events/briyaproject/604183. Join the Yeshiva Schools for an evening of cheese and wine and a live raffle drawing to benefit their arts and music program. 7:30 p.m. 403 Greenfield Ave. yeshivaschools.com/annual-raffle.

q SUNDAYS, JAN. 16-FEB. 13

Join a lay-led Online Parashah Study Group to discuss the week’s Torah portion. No Hebrew knowledge is needed. The goal is to build community while deepening understanding of the text. 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. q MONDAY, JAN. 17

Join Classrooms Without Borders and the Maltz Jewish Heritage Museum for Hear Our Voices: MLK Day of Learning, an all-day celebration including free museum admission, virtual family activities and special online programs. For questions or to make requests for special accommodations contact melissa@classroomswithoutborders. org. classroomswithoutborders.org/january17-2022-hear-our-voices-mlk-day-learningmaltz-jewish-heritage-museum. q MONDAYS, JAN. 17-FEB. 14

Join Congregation Beth Shalom for a weekly Talmud study. 9:15 a.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. q TUESDAY, JAN. 18

Join Cara Ciminillo, executive director of Trying Together, and Anna Hartman, director of early childhood excellence at the Jewish United Fund and director of the Paradigm Project, for a virtual discussion about President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better framework and what universal childhood education might mean for the Jewish community. 7 p.m. Free. jfedpgh.org/ universal-education. q TUESDAY, JAN. 18, FEB. 22

Join Jewish National Fund-USA for a series of interviews, panel discussions and more — all meant to facilitate a dialogue

Join the Chronicle Book Club: ‘The Lost Shtetl’


he Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle invites you to join the Chronicle Book Club’s Jan. 30 meeting, when we will discuss “The Lost Shtetl” by Max Gross, winner of the National Jewish Book Award for 2020 and the Jewish Fiction Award. The author will join us for part of the meeting. From Amazon.com: “What if there was a town that history missed? For decades, the tiny Jewish shtetl of Kreskol existed in happy isolation, virtually untouched and unchanged. Spared by the Holocaust and the Cold War, its residents enjoyed remarkable peace. It missed out on cars, and electricity, and the internet, and indoor plumbing. But when a marriage dispute spins out of control, the whole town comes crashing into the twenty-first century.”

Your Hosts

How It Works

We will meet on Zoom on Sunday, Jan. 30, at noon to discuss the book. As you read it, we invite you to share comments and join discussions in our Facebook group, Chronicle Connects: Jewish PGH. We invite you to join now if you are not already a member of the group.

What To Do

Buy: “The Lost Shtetl.” It is available from online retailers. Email: Contact us at drullo@pittsburghjewish chronicle.org, and write “Chronicle Book Club” in the subject line. We will send you a Zoom link for the meeting. See you later this month! PJC

and expose the beautiful and diverse facets of modern Zionism, and its positive impact on many aspects of our lives, no matter where we are on the globe. The Jan. 18 episode features Scott Shay, a leading businessman, thought leader and author in conversation with Jewish National FundUSA’s CEO.7:30 p.m. jnf.org/events-landingpages/conversations-on-zionism. q TUESDAYS, JAN. 18-MAY 24

Sign up now for Melton Core 2, Ethics and Crossroads of Jewish Living. Discover the central ideas and texts that inform our daily, weekly and annual rituals, as well as life cycle observances and essential Jewish theological concepts and ideas as they unfold in the Bible, the Talmud and other sacred texts. $300. 9:30 a.m. foundation. jewishpgh.org/melton-2. q WEDNESDAYS, JAN. 19-JAN. 26

In The Jewish Moral Virtues, Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff will explore Jewish teaching on critical moral virtues. Based on the qualities listed in the 13th century “Sefer Maalot Hamiddot” (“The Book of the Choicest Virtues”), Rabbi Schiff will explore the contemporary application of these moral virtues to our 21st century lives. $65 for all 13 Zoom sessions. 9:30 a.m. foundation. jewishpgh.org/jewishmoral-virtues. q WEDNESDAY, JAN. 19

The Squirrel Hill AARP meeting is open to all seniors. Come and welcome the beginning of 2022 together. The meeting, in the Falk Library of Rodef Shalom, will feature Pittsburgh Police Zone Community Officer David Shifren, who will discuss home safety practices. All are welcome to learn precautions that will help safeguard you, your family, your home, your neighbors, your vehicle and your bank account. Shifren is also a well-known writer. Proof of vaccinations and masks are required. 1 p.m. Any questions, please contact our president, Marcia Kramer, at 412-656-5803. Stop by the Moishe House porch to check in with a resident and pick up some craft supplies. From cross-stitch to crochet, there will be a craft for everyone. RSVP at https:// bit.ly/moho-011922 6 p.m. Classrooms Without Borders presents Using Holocaust Films in the Classroom, with Holocaust film scholar and author Rich Brownstein in conversation with Dr. Michael Berenbaum. Explore the greatest narrative Holocaust film ever made while discovering the impact of Holocaust genre films. 4 p.m. classroomswithoutborders.org/holocaustcinema-complete-rich-brownstein. q WEDNESDAYS, JAN. 19-FEB. 16

Bring the parshah alive and make it personally relevant and meaningful. Study the weekly Torah portion with Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman. 12:15 p.m. bethshalompgh. org/life-text.

Toby Tabachnick, editor of the Chronicle David Rullo, Chronicle staff writer

— Toby Tabachnick

6  JANUARY 14, 2022


Join Temple Sinai to study the weekly Torah portion in its hybrid class available on Zoom. Open to everyone. Noon. templesinaipgh. org/event/parashah/weekly-torah-portionclass-via-zoom11.html. q WEDNESDAYS, JAN. 19-FEB. 23

Chabad of the South Hills presents “Meditation from Sinai,” a new Jewish Learning Institute course that will discuss mindful awareness and divine spirituality to help you think, feel and live more deeply. $95. 7:30 p.m. 1701 McFarland Road or on Zoom. Call 412-512-3046 or email rabbi@ chabadsh.com for more information or to register. q THURSDAY, JAN. 20

Classrooms Without Borders, in coordination with Tali Nates, founder and director of the Johannesburg Genocide & Holocaust Centre, and in partnership with the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, Liberation 75 and the USC Shoah Foundation presents Holocaust Museums and Memorials Around the World, a new series highlighting different angles of complex memory. 1 p.m. classroomswithoutborders.org/ holocaust_museums_and_memorials_ around_the_world. q THURSDAYS, JAN. 20-JUNE 30

The Alan Papernick Educational Institute Endowment Fund presents Continuing Legal Education, a six-part CLE series taught by Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff. Earn up to 12 CLE credits. Each session is a stand-alone unit; you can take one class or all six. 8:30 a.m. With CLE credit: $30/session or $150 all sessions; without CLE credit: $25/session or $125 all sessions. For a complete list of dates and topics, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org/continuinglegal-education. q WEDNESDAY, JAN. 26

Join Moishe House Pittsburgh on Netflix Party to watch a movie together. Details and a link to connect will be sent out via email the day before. Goody bags of snacks will be available on our porch the day before and day of. 7 p.m. RSVP at bit.ly/moho-012622. q FRIDAY, JAN. 28

Join Moishe House for a take-out Shabbat dinner. Candles will be lit. We will be socially distanced and masked up, and then take home a Shabbat meal to remember. 6 p.m. RSVP at bit.ly/moho-012822. q SUNDAY, JAN. 30

The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle invites you to join the next Chronicle Book Club meeting. We will be discussing “The Lost Shtetl” by Max Gross, winner of the National Jewish Book Award for 2020 and the Jewish Fiction Award. The author will join us for part of the discussion. Noon. To register, email David Rullo at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. PJC


Headlines Squirrel Hill neighbors say goodbye to crepe pancakes and smiley cookies — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer


ongtime Murray Avenue mainstays Eat’n Park and Pamela’s Diner will turn off their grills and hang up their aprons for good. Late last month, Gail Klingensmith and Pam Cohen announced that they were closing Pamela Diner’s Squirrel Hill restaurant after 42 years. The pair blamed the pandemic and the loss of several employees to both death and retirement as reasons for their decision. In the announcement, Pamela’s owners said they intended to close the restaurant by the end of 2021 and host a customer appreciation day on Jan. 8-9. Several prospective customers waited in line outside Pamela’s on Friday morning, Dec. 31, but the restaurant didn’t open. Still, those expecting a final plate of crepe pancakes at the establishment didn’t let the locked doors dampen their memories. John Thompson said the restaurant was the reason he and his wife moved to Squirrel Hill seven years ago. “Our daughter moved here 12 years ago,” he said. “We came to visit her and fell in love with Pittsburgh. We fell in love with Squirrel

p Interior of Eat’n Park on Murray Avenue

Hill. We fell in love with Pamela’s.” While Thompson is sad to see the diner close, he said his spirits were buoyed knowing the chain’s other locations — in Oakland, Shadyside, the South Hills and the Strip District — would remain open. The Pamela’s chain gained national attention in 2008 when then-presidential candidate Barack Obama visited the Strip

Congregation Emanu-El Israel of Greensburg will be leading a Talmud Class starting in February. The free class will run on Thursday evenings, 7:30 p.m., online, for one hour each week.

Photo by Jim Busis

District location. In 2009, Klingensmith and Cohen were invited to cook a Memorial Day breakfast for the Obama family and 80 veterans at the White House. Edgewood resident Cindy Leone had frequented the diner since it opened in its original location on Forbes Avenue in 1980 before it moved to Murray Avenue. “I’m very surprised,” she said. “I’ve been to

the one in Oakland and I’ve been to the one in the Strip, but this is my favorite.” On the other side of the street, Eat’n Park announced it would close its popular Squirrel Hill location on Jan. 24. While no official reason was given, spokesperson Courtney Caprara expressed gratitude to Eat’n Park’s customers in a statement to the Chronicle. “Whether you started your day with us, ended your evening with us or visited anytime in between, we are grateful you chose Eat’n Park,” she wrote. All employees will be offered continuous employment within the Eat’n Park Hospitality Group, she added. For Haliel Selig, Eat’n Park’s Murray Avenue location is tied to memories of a youth spent traveling from Ligonier to Squirrel Hill for BBYO meetings. “For me, it’s like a piece of history,” Selig said. “Growing up, I lived in Ligonier and was part of BBYO, who had an office right across the street from Eat’n Park. We would go to board meetings and then afterward we would head over to the restaurant. You know, all these high school kids that were on the BBYO board. It’s very nostalgic.” Selig said the eatery was like a second Please see Goodbye, page 15

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Headlines A ‘legend’ retires: Mina Kavaler caps 24 years at Weinberg Terrace — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle


founding member of the Weinberg Terrace staff has retired. After 24 years of service, front desk receptionist Mina Kavaler retired on Dec. 31, capping a second career that made her a central fixture of the senior citizen living facility she helped open. “They say I’m a legend,” Kavaler laughed, in a recent interview with the Chronicle. “And I don’t know what else they call me!” A native Pittsburgher raised in Oakland, Kavaler taught in Pittsburgh Public Schools for some 30 years —first, among third-graders and, then, for a federally funded program for sixth- through eighth-graders. Later a Squirrel Hill resident, Kavaler retired from teaching at 65, shortly before her husband’s unexpected death. Vigdor Kavaler, who served as Rodef Shalom Congregation’s executive director for many years, was survived by his wife and the couple’s adult twin children. “‘The “angel of death” is going to visit each one of us — and when he comes for me, I will be ready because I have seen more, done more and accomplished more than I ever dreamed possible,’ Vig would say,” Kavaler

Kavaler has been highly active in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community throughout her life, serving organizations from Rodef Shalom to the National Council of Jewish Women to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. She also served the Ladies Hospital Aid Society, the Jewish Community Center of Pittsburgh, the NAACP and Israel Bonds, among others. Now that she has some time to herself, Kavaler plans to relocate to The Tradition, a senior living facility in Texas; her son and daughter-in-law live nearby. “It is wonderful care — and I certainly know about wonderful care from 24 years at Weinberg Terrace,” Kavaler said. “At 93, it’s time I find a little bit of what God is gonna give me.” Pearl Averbach started working at Weinberg Terrace late in Kavaler’s p Mina Kavaler at her retirement party at Weinberg tenure; her first day was in April Terrace Photo courtesy of the Jewish Association on Aging 2021. But she says it didn’t take much time to get to know Kavaler’s place. “My impression then and my impresrecalled. “I used to say, ‘Yes, that’s true.’ I never would’ve imagined what we accom- sion right now is of her extreme dedication plished. ‘I want more!’ That’s what I’d say to and service to this community [and] it is unmatched,” Averbach, the facility’s him. And God’s been good to me.”

executive director, said. “She was a mainstay here — people would say they built the facility around the front desk. She was wellknown and well-loved.” One resident who knows and loves Kavaler is Jeff Ruttenberg. The Providence, Rhode Island, native has lived at Weinberg Terrace for about four years. “Mina was very dedicated to her job,” he said. “She was the one to answer the questions. She was family. She was a part of this place — she’s an institution.” This being Pittsburgh, though, even a New Englander couldn’t help invoking the Pittsburgh Steelers. “It’s almost like Ben Roethlisberger, as a quarterback for the Steelers,” Ruttenberg said. “That’s how you think of Mina — she was Weinberg Terrace.” Kavaler welcomed the praise — a recent retirement party complete with stories and testimonials was a career highlight — but said she is focused, too, on bigger things. “I always had the feeling God put us on this Earth for a particular reason,” Kavaler said. “I believe he wants you to prove you can do things for another person. “He wants you to be giving.” 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.

Jan. 14, 2018 — Netanyahu visits India Author photo: The Tuesday Agency

Author photo: Martyn Pickersgill

Author photo: Dale Kakkak

Author photo: Zach Krahmer Author photo: Joe Henson

Available at pittsburghlectures.org

8  JANUARY 14, 2022

Spain becomes the last Western European nation to open formal diplomatic relations with Israel, a condition for Spain to join the European Community, the precursor to the European Union.

Jan. 18, 1906 — Bezalel Art school opens

Aiming to expand trade, Benjamin Netanyahu pays the first state visit to India by an Israeli prime minister in more than 15 years, reciprocating a trip to Israel by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2017.

Jan. 15, 2014 — Israel joins CERN as full member

A flag-raising ceremony at the Geneva headquarters of the European Organization for Nuclear Research marks Israel’s status as the 21st full member of CERN, known for the world’s largest particle accelerator.

Jan. 16, 1948 — Convoy of 35 Is slaughtered

Tickets to attend in person start at $15 Virtual passes are $15

Jan. 17, 1986 — Israel, Spain establish diplomatic ties

All 35 Haganah soldiers in a convoy bringing supplies to the blockaded Gush Etzion settlements are killed in fighting with Arab troops. The Convoy of 35 traveled by foot after motorized relief efforts failed.


Forty women, chosen from a pool of 400 applicants, begin studying painting, drawing and tapestry at the new Bezalel School of Arts and Crafts in Jerusalem. The school seeks a visual expression for Jewish independence.

Jan. 19, 1990 — Justice Goldberg dies

Arthur Goldberg, a former U.S. Supreme Court justice, dies in Washington at 81. As U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, he helped draft and push through Security Council Resolution 242 after the Six-Day War.

Jan. 20, 2014 — Israel, Kazakhstan sign defense pact

Israel signs a security cooperation accord with Kazakhstan, a former Soviet republic with a Sunni Muslim majority. The agreement builds on pacts covering telecommunications, technology and science.  PJC


Headlines Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project launches new platform — LOCAL — By Eric Lidji | Special to the Chronicle


istorians and genealogists of a certain age may recall the heroic patience required for conducting newspaper research in the analog age. Before digitization, every search involved hours flipping pageby-page through back issues or seated before the whizzing reels of a microfilm reader that always advanced too slowly or too quickly. With the arrival of the computer age, all that changed. High-resolution scanners, ever-improving optical character recognition software, and an advancing internet have made it possible to instantly discover single small references to a given subject among millions of pages from newspapers all over the world. Research projects that might have once taken years, and sometimes even decades, can now be completed in a few minutes. The Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project was launched in 2007 as part of this online revolution. After several expansions, the free website contains more than 9,000 digitized and searchable back issues from four local English-language Jewish newspapers: The Jewish Criterion (1895-1962), the American Jewish Outlook (1934-1962), The Jewish Chronicle (1962-2010) and the YM&WHA Weekly (1926-1976). Carnegie Mellon University Libraries created the website using resources from the Rauh Jewish Archives, Rodef Shalom Congregation, the Carnegie Library of

p Screenshot of new platform

Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. CMU migrated the project to a new online platform in 2012 and recently moved the project again, as part of a larger overhaul of its vast repository of digital materials containing more than 350,000 documents. The new platform can be found at digitalcollections.library.cmu.edu. The new system is built on software framework called Islandora. Islandora is meant for large repositories and is popular among libraries and archives all over the world. It is the same software used by the popular Historic Pittsburgh website. When using Islandora sites such as the new Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project website, it is helpful to think of “filtering” and “sorting,” rather than simply “searching.”

Screenshot by Eric Lidji

Filtering is a way of winnowing down a large set of information by applying a series of restrictions. A search term might bring back thousands of results, many of them irrelevant to your needs. Strategically filtering those results by date, and then by type, and then by subject can make the results more manageable and more useful, step-by-step. For example, when you enter a search term on the new website, you’re actually searching all 22 digital collections held by CMU. But if you click “Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project” in the left-hand margin, you’ll instantly limit the results to those from the four Jewish newspapers in the project. A second filter allows you to limit results to just one of these four newspapers. A third filter allows you to limit results to a range of

dates. By this point, you’ve probably reduced the search results to a manageable number. That’s where the “sorting” happens. You can sort in three ways. “Relevance” uses an algorithm to guess which results are most useful. As with any automates process, sometimes it works better than others. “Date” arranges the results chronological. “Order” sort allows you to “descend” from newest to oldest or to ascend from oldest to newest. A third sort allows you to decide how many results you want to see at once: 10, 25 or 100. In addition to filtering search results, you can use these tools to browse the newspapers. Know the exact issue you want to find? Just run through the sequence of filtering and sorting steps without entering any search term, and you can locate any issue. Clicking on any of these results brings up a browsing window. Zooming tools allow you to read online, or you can download a high-resolution JPG version of any page. Learning any new system can be both exciting and frustrating. It is delightful to discover useful new features and aggravating to encounter new obstacles. CMU is encouraging people to submit feedback, and they have promised to be responsive to any feedback they get, within the technical limitations of the software. Within the past month, they have already made several important changes based on feedback from users.  PJC Eric Lidji is the director of the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center. He can be reached at rjarchives@heinzhistorycenter. org or 412-454-6046.

Onward Israel merges with Birthright to magnify reach and increase impact — LOCAL — By Toby Tabachnick | Editor Faygie Holt | JNS


wo organizations that provide Israel experiences for Jewish young adults, Birthright Israel and Onward Israel, announced their merger last week with the goal of strengthening the relationship between Diaspora Jews worldwide and the Jewish state. “Since its inception, Birthright has evolved from solely the traditional 10-day trip to cater to the growing needs and interests of our participants, such as specialized trips for professional development opportunities, those with disabilities, the LGBTQ community and much more,” Birthright Israel CEO Gidi Mark said. “As a result of the merger, Birthright Israel, which will include Onward, will continue investing time and effort in developing programming that appeals to different audiences of this generation.” Birthright Israel has brought some 750,000 Jewish young adults from some 70 countries, on free trips Israel. As part of the merger, Onward Israel will become a program within Birthright with its CEO, Ilan Wagner, becoming vice president


 Some participants of Onward Israel last summer in Karmiel, Israel Photo courtesy of Josh Ackerman

of Onward programming at Birthright. Mark remains in his post at Birthright. Onward Israel was launched in 2012 — the brainchild of Pittsburgher Cindy Shapira —as a project of the Jewish Agency for Israel. The idea for Onward came to Shapira when her children were in college and their classmates were considering summer internships, including international summer internships. “It just dawned on me, why not enable them to do that in Israel,” she said. Onward offers programs for young adults to come to Israel for six to 10 weeks to live, work and study. Its goal has been to inspire

and strengthen participants’ Jewish identity. When Onward was first established, it had local partners in seven U.S. cities, but it has expanded over the years to have a presence “basically almost anywhere where there is a Jewish population of any size,” Shapira said. Local partners include Hillel campus chapters, Jewish Federations, Chabad and NOAM Olami. Leadership at Onward discussed the possibility of a merger with Birthright for about a year, Shapira said. “Merging with Birthright gives our program a much larger platform, access to all of the


advantages that a larger infrastructure can bring in terms of marketing and staff and education,” said Shapira, who along with her husband, David Shapira, have remained deeply involved with Onward since its inception. The most significant benefit of the merger she said, is that it brings “an opportunity to change the paradigm for immersive experiences in Israel for young Jewish people in the United States and all over the world, and to really be able to send many more to Israel and to be able to affect their engagement with Israel and their Jewishness.” Instead of two separate programs — which had been cooperating at some level for years — “now there’s a platform where you can take one experience or the other and make it a joint experience,” Shapira said. So, a student can participate on 10-day Birthright trip, and then “go on and have an eight-week program where you live in Israel, and get the real feel for what it’s like to live there and who the people are — an unvarnished opportunity to look at and talk about the issues, the pros and cons of what Israel is. That’s a whole new way of looking at immersive experiences.” The Shapiras are taking active leadership roles in the newly merged organization; David is on the Birthright Foundation and Cindy is Please see Onward, page 15

JANUARY 14, 2022  9

Headlines Mobile Museum artifacts are tools for telling stories then that although his thousands of physical materials narrated a powerful story, it was the visitors to his museum, and listeners to his lectures, that carried the true weight of his mission. “It’s not just looking at artifacts but actually creating a space where discussion is an expectation of experience,” he said. El-Hakim said he’s been working harder on partnering with others to share stories, working toward common goals and addressing some of the ills plaguing society today. Whether the topic is race, racism or antisemitism, engaging in meaningful dialogue can open space for understanding, he said. It’s important to “have honest conversations about the misconceptions that we have about each other,” he added. A particular error that el-Hakim has worked on correcting is the mistaken belief that all Jewish people share a similar white racial background. He mentioned friends and family raised with both authentic Jewish and Black experiences. “If you’re in a bubble, you might not understand that,” he said. El-Hakim shared his own story. While he had long thought that his African American father was not Jewish until he converted, during a recent conversation with his white Canadian Jewish stepmother, el-Hakim learned that wasn’t the case. “My great-great-grandmother was from Portugal and she was Jewish, as was my great-grandmother,” el-Hakim said. “My grandmother was a spiritual person, but she didn’t practice Judaism.” So when his father married his stepmother, although he converted, Judaism had already been “part of the family line for four generations.” As a young boy, el-Hakim celebrated the High Holidays with his father. “I went to synagogue with my father and my stepmother at a young age, from 5 to maybe 13. I have vivid memories of those experiences,” he said. “I grew up with Judaism being part of my lived experience.”

El-Hakim said his mother was Christian, and that in college he was introduced to Islam, which he now practices. By having rich experiences with the three Abrahamic faiths, he was exposed to different understandings of religion, he said. El-Hakim also understands some of the painful failures of faith-based communities, he said. “We follow these certain tenets, and we have a certain belief, and are grounded in religious traditions, so we should be the best representation in terms of how we envision a world of righteousness and justice and equality, [but] all of our communities have fallen short of that in my opinion,” el-Hakim said. “The Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths are failing miserably, miserably, when it comes to issues of race in America and the world. So I think we have a lot of work to do. I think we need to roll up our sleeves and get to work.” Ellen Resneck, educational programs and outreach manager at Classrooms Without Borders, said el-Hakim’s project will help society “get to work,” and that the wealth of artifacts he has curated “bring light to a complex story of race and racism.” Tsipy Gur, founder and executive director at Classrooms Without Borders, agreed, saying the George Floyd marches, and Black Lives Matter placards in people’s yards, drew considerable attention, but the “work” el-Hakim speaks of will be effectuated by fellow educators and students, who, like him, are creating space for dialogue. “It is crucial to understand the other,” Gur said. “Not just to have signs and nice words, but to get to know each other.” True dialogue between teachers and students will enable people to “meet the other and see the similarities. And it’s when you see the other that you can work together, you can argue respectfully. But you can only see the other when you’re not afraid.”  PJC

were investigating long before the shooting — donors contributed to Goldstein’s synagogue, then got most of the money back, enabling the donor to claim a tax deduction. Goldstein retired from the Chabad synagogue in November 2019.

Jews, and that both are “attacking the reproductive systems of women” and eroding natural immunity.

Jon Stewart calls ‘Harry Potter’ gremlins antisemitic, then backtracks

Utah tech boss quits after writing email blaming Jews for COVID

At least 90,000 descendants of Sephardic Jews have become Portuguese or Spanish citizens since 2015, when those countries passed laws offering a naturalization process for applicants. The laws were meant to atone for the Inquisition, a campaign of religious persecution unleashed at the end of the 15th century on the Jews who inhabited the Iberian Peninsula. Spain has received at least 153,000 applications for citizenship, while Portugal has received at least 86,000. Spain has granted citizenship to 36,000 people, or about 23% of applicants. Portugal has granted citizenship to 63%, or more than 54,000 people. Thousands of applications are pending in both countries.

— LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


halid el-Hakim didn’t begin his museum with 10,000 artifacts depicting the vast Black experience in America. El-Hakim’s collection grew as his interests matured. Twenty-six years ago, when the former Detroit Public Schools teacher created the Black History 101 Mobile Museum, he started with items relating to Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations, Diana Ross and The Supremes. Initially, the music-first approach made sense to el-Hakim, as he grew up in Detroit and had a predilection for Motown. He quickly realized, however, that his project’s success depended on expansion. “I understood that I had to be inclusive of voices that were representative of a wider spectrum of people,” he said. Without pieces detailing a larger story, he continued, his mobile museum would repeat mistakes that had been made by other institutions — namely, omitting important minority stories. El-Hakim started collecting materials detailing women’s experiences and relics from the Jim Crow era and placing them alongside artifacts related to Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Muhammad Ali. As he studied for a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Illinois at UrbanaChampaign, el-Hakim continued to find deficiencies in his collection and attempted to bolster the significance of his work. Black history in America isn’t a simple linear tale, el-Hakim said, so he scoured flea markets and antique shops, estate sales and auctions, to add nuance to his collection. As time went on, he amassed thousands of items ranging from newspaper covers, cassette tapes and iconic photographs to ephemera, shackles and even a slave bill of sale. It quickly became impossible for el-Hakim

— WORLD — From JTA Reports

Poway Rabbi injured in shooting sentenced to 14 months for fraud

A judge sentenced Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, who lost a finger in the 2019 antisemitic shooting attack in Poway, California, to 14 months in prison for his role in a fraud scheme. The prosecution and the defense had agreed that Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein should receive only home confinement. “You not only committed this offense yourself but you took a lot of people with you,” U.S. District Court Judge Cynthia Bashant told Goldstein. “It’s important to send a message to the community, and it’s important to send a message to you.” Goldstein pleaded guilty to tax fraud in 2020. His co-conspirators must pay $2.8 million in restitution. Under the scheme — which federal agents 10  JANUARY 14, 2022

 Khalid el-Hakim lectures. Photo courtesy of the Black History 101 Mobile Museum

to transport his collection, so in creating an exhibit or delivering a lecture — he’s doing the latter for Pittsburgh’s Classrooms Without Borders on Jan. 17, Martin Luther King Day — el-Hakim began selecting a smaller portion of items related to a particular theme. One theme he’s worked on this year is “The Signature Series,” which includes material signed by politicians, athletes, musicians, artists and intellectuals. The collection boasts items signed by Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. Du Bois, Marcus Garvey, George Washington Carver, Colin Kaepernick and others. Tangible items are useful in teaching about race and racism in significant ways, el-Hakim said: There’s an aesthetic value to grouping items together, but there’s also an energy that’s experienced when being around so much history. Transmitting that feeling became an initial challenge during the early days of the pandemic, however, as el-Hakim, like other educators, needed to quickly pivot from public spaces to virtual forums. He realized

The board of directors of the Utahbased property management software firm Entrata asked Chairman Dave Bateman to resign after he sent an email accusing Jews of planning “genocide” through COVID and its vaccine. “Dave agreed and is no longer a member of the Entrata board, effective immediately,” the company said in a statement. “To be absolutely clear, we at Entrata firmly condemn antisemitism in any and all forms.” Bateman sent an email to associates, including Utah Gov. Spencer Cox and Utah Jazz owner Ryan Smith, with the subject line “Genocide.” The email suggested that COVID-19 and its vaccines are the work of

Spain, Portugal naturalize 90K-plus Sephardic Jewish descendants since 2015


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

Following a podcast in which he suggested that goblin characters in the “Harry Potter” series resembled antisemitic caricatures, Jewish comedian Jon Stewart posted a follow-up video to Twitter on Jan. 5 saying that he didn’t mean to accuse series author J.K. Rowling of antisemitism. “Let me just say this, super clearly, as clearly as I can … I do not think J.K. Rowling is antisemitic,” Stewart said. In his earlier podcast, Stewart talked about the series’ goblins, who run the wizarding world’s bank and covet gold. Stewart compared the goblins’ movie version to stereotypes found in the infamous antisemitic tract “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Stewart said his initial comments were made in jest. “There is no reasonable person that could’ve watched it [the podcast] and not seen it as a lighthearted conversation,” he said.  PJC PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG


ille, acres in Monroev • Located on 100 from central stops nd a to ed er off n bus transportatio nd around the East E sicle offered daily op p a nd a ks ac sn • Hot lunch, two ice of camp included in the pr Red Crosstaught by American s on ss le im w s or pool ly • Dai lympic-size outdo O ur o in s or ct ru st certified in 8, week in grades Ker p rs pe m ca 0 25 • Approximately n 10-15 children group size betwee se, pes challenge cour ro w lo nd a gh hi e oop, • Activities includ ning and chicken c de ar , g ng ki oo c a, arts, dram more! music, nature and 3:30-6 pm for an om fr ly ai d ed er off • After care additional fee


• Located at the JCC Sou th


Hills in Scott Township

• Hot lunch, two snacks and a popsicle offered d aily included in the price of c amp • Daily swim lessons tau ght by American Red Cr osscertified instructors in ou r indoor pool • Approximately 120 c ampers per week, group s ize between 10-15 children • Activities include arts, drama, cooking, gardenin g, music, nature and more! • After care offered da ily from 3:30-6 pm for a n additional fee Rachael Speck J&R Day Camp Director 412-697-3537 rspeck@jccpgh.org


Emma Litwak JCC South Hills Day Camp Director 412-278-1782 elitwak@jccpgh.org





F UN JANUARY 14, 2022  11

Opinion New Year’s resolutions that go beyond ourselves Guest Columnist Dan Schnur


enjamin Disraeli wrote: “I am prepared for the worst, but hope for the best.” Mel Brooks sang: “Hope for the best, expect the worst.” In slightly different ways and from very different platforms, both the statesman and the comedian identified the same precarious mix of optimism and pessimism inherent in their shared Jewish faith. Since one of the foundations of Judaism is a trust in God, it’s understandable that we would find these conflicting impulses within ourselves, recognizing the challenges of adversity while maintaining positive beliefs about the ultimate outcome. We’ve come to expect misfortune over the millennia, but we’ve also learned to rely on our faith to get us through. This combination of discordant attitudes is not unique to Jews but is characteristic of peoples who have suffered subjugation. African-American poet Maya Angelou addressed the same apparent

contradiction when she said, “If I insist on being pessimistic, there is always tomorrow.” As did Irish author George Bernard Shaw, who observed: “Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the aeroplane, the pessimist the parachute.” When a historically oppressed group perseveres, it’s because that blend of optimism, determination and hope keeps us going. That’s why recent polls showing a sizable drop in the number of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution for 2022 are so disconcerting. A New Year’s resolution is a sign of personal optimism, reflecting an individual commitment to self-improvement. And even for those who are less hopeful about future prospects for their community, their country or their world, a resolution to improve an aspect of one’s own life suggests a belief that it’s worth the effort to achieve that progress. But a CBS News poll taken last week shows that only 29% of Americans planned to make a New Year’s resolution this year, down from the 43% who made that commitment at the end of 2020. A similar survey taken by The Economist and YouGov demonstrated that

those who are more optimistic about the future are more likely to make resolutions. It appears that a growing number of us simply believe that it is no longer necessary to demonstrate such resolve — even to ourselves. Even those who rely on the Almighty to help us overcome difficult obstacles also understand that God helps those who help themselves. So, the lack of motivation to make a New Year’s resolution may indicate a loss not only of optimism but a loss of hope as well. Most of us are not able to eliminate COVID, remake the American political landscape in a manner more to our liking or magically resolve long-festering crises in the Middle East and other global hot spots. But individual initiative and determination can be the first steps toward broader change. Even though we’re two weeks into January, even a belated New Years’ resolution can signify an important step toward the type of progress we desire. So here’s hoping that at least some who have read this far will still consider that type of personal commitment. In addition to the more standard promises to lose weight, read more, change jobs, etc., there are other types of outward-facing resolutions that can make a difference in the lives

of others, should we care to attempt them. Participating in a neighborhood park cleanup won’t solve climate change. Mentoring an at-risk youth won’t eliminate income inequality. Writing a small check to a worthwhile community group won’t end homelessness. And having coffee with someone from the other political party won’t heal the intense polarization that has infected our politics. But such individual efforts can add up to larger change, and small steps forward can make the bigger challenges seem a little less overwhelming. For most of the year, we’ll spend our time discussing problems of national and global import. These conversations are necessary, but they can also make us feel somewhat helpless … and pessimistic. But a New Year’s resolution could make a difference in someone else’s life — and help restore a sense of optimism to ours.  PJC

of providing unlimited medical coverage to battle the endless complications which afflicted our chronically ill firstborn. And that calculus was further complicated by the autism of our two sons (numbers three and five), whose behavioral aberrations are somewhat modified by some very expensive drugs. With all those special needs, it was hard to get around to the regular needs of our “normal” son and daughter, who are ultimately the backbone and salvation of our family. Their spousal and lifestyle choices are unquestionably our greatest source of pride, essentially validating what had been their Orthodox lot in life as part of a very unorthodox family. There is no way to overstate how good fortune and great choices have made all the difference as they have crafted their family lives and given us the five grandchildren who are our generational lifeline (two of them named after Mikey). Our son Mikey told me two weeks before he died, “Abba, I’m not afraid to die, but I love life!” That, after months on a respirator, rounds of horrific chemo, scalding radiation and zillions of needles. Our computer whiz, whom Steven Spielberg and General Norman Schwarzkopf picked to teach the president and vice president of the United States on national TV how to work their $60 million Starbright computer network that interconnected all of North America’s children’s hospitals. And who could summon up his own lung X-rays on his laptop after successfully hacking into the hospital system with only one functioning eye. Our professional-level drummer, who sat in with the band everywhere we went, and actually played in a sold-out concert at the Met in NYC (Go to YouTube and punch in Mikey Butler). Our Yeshiva University graduate (and student body VP) who always planned to survive, and figured he would

need an education to accomplish all the things he wanted to accomplish. And YU was there for him in so many ways. So, how did we get through it? What prevented our family from becoming casualties of Mikey’s disease? We didn’t do it by circling the wagons. We opened the doors instead. That basic Jewish tradition, the Sabbath, became the anchor and the focus of our lives. It was our social life. It was our recreational life. It was our family life. And we always invited others be part of it. Every Shabbat. Whether in or out of the hospital. So that, with a unified family purpose, even our autistic kids achieve a level of serenity and control in deference to Shabbat, the company, or maybe just the effort they see us putting into it week after week. And from that effort came the reality of our lives. Lives which became enriched by the variety of experiences we had, and by the guests who shared them with us. We don’t have any fancy philosophies. We believe Mikey is gone. From here. We believe that he has moved on to his next great adventure. Maybe you don’t believe that. Maybe you believe that we’re all just a seething mass of chemicals. I won’t argue with you. But we don’t believe that. There is a little boy who lives next door. His name is Mikey. He’s beautiful in every way. Like his mother. He has that mischievous spark in his eye. Like his father. And his Uncle Mikey. We’ve experienced magic. Sparks of beauty. Flashes of spirituality. The adventure of love. The reassurance of friendship as we’ve supported each other and as our community has supported us, seeing that we were never alone. Would chemicals do that? I don’t think so. Mikey didn’t think so either.  PJC

Dan Schnur teaches political communications at UC Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine. He hosts the weekly webinar “Politics in the Time of Coronavirus” for the Los Angeles World Affairs Council & Town Hall. This article appeared in JNS via the Jewish Journal.

Mikey’s 18th yahrzeit: To life! Guest Columnist Danny Butler


t astounds us, our friends and relatives that 18 years have passed since our son Mikey succumbed at age 24 to his fourth bout with lymphoma, which followed lung transplants necessitated by his cystic fibrosis. No matter what the support groups, the psychologists and the self-help books tell you, the pain is always there right under the surface — not really diminished, only sublimated, managed, restrained, submerged ... but there. I have spent the bulk of my working life immersed in the disputes found in our local family court. It can be emotionally draining, disturbing, vicious, depressing; but in this, my 45th year of marriage, I don’t think I’ve brought any of it home. Except for the tensions inherent in litigation deadlines, our home life has been immune from the ugly selfishness, greed and spite that are so much a part of my professional life. That is not to say that our home life has not been a whirlwind. For 24 years, our oldest son spent at least half of his life in the hospital. So did we. Everybody’s concept of normal is different. In retrospect, we managed to thrive in the face of endlessly recurrent medical incarcerations because of profound good fortune in certain key areas, such as living close to an incredible medical center. And, as a government employee — a condition I maintained in absolute terror of the probable consequences of change — we always had incredible medical coverage. When my conservative and medical friends whine about Obamacare bringing a disastrous end to Western civilization as we know

12  JANUARY 14, 2022

it, I have to bite my tongue not to personalize the argument by pointing out that the specter of pre-existing conditions and lifetime limits — definitively terminated in the new system — haunted our lives and informed every vocational choice. When, three weeks before Mikey died, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania reorganized the court system and closed the court where I had served three terms as a judge, we suddenly faced the terror of not being retail customers in a medical system where esoteric treatments and novel approaches were all too often dependent on the type and level of insurance the patient carried. I was unemployed for the first time, and it might have been a nightmare. But the reality was that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center was heavily invested in the complexity of Mikey’s condition and its ramifications for future transplant patients, especially since we, and Mikey, were willing to try almost anything. The reality was that Mikey’s doctor, Joel Weinberg, was also his protector, who unfailingly conjured up miracles on his behalf and left no doors, or windows, unopened and unexplored. The reality was that an unfailingly generous relative called to ask how much our monthly COBRA cost would be to maintain its temporary coverage, and then sent a check. The reality was that we had friends and relatives who watched our backs and stood ready to step in with whatever help we needed. After a professional lifetime as a government employee, a decision deliberately made in deference to the realities of that bygone medical system, my wife and I can’t be blamed for wondering how different our lives might be if my professional orientation had shifted from public service to private profit. But we have no regrets ... the trade-offs made at the time weighed overwhelmingly in favor


Dan Butler is a judge of the Allegheny County Magisterial District in Pennsylvania. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Opinion Pro-semitism: A new path Guest Columnist Gavriel Kaufman


f you were shocked by the alarming growth of anti-Israel sentiment after Israel’s spring 2021 engagement in Gaza, you haven’t been paying close enough attention. For years, America’s “finest” institutions have been promulgating an anti-Israel agenda. Many schools seem as committed to promoting the notion that Israel is a

colonizer as they are to their students’ post-graduation employment outcomes. I had the opportunity to witness this firsthand as an undergrad at the University of Pittsburgh, where a sociology professor assigned a book, “The Making of a Human Bomb,” that justified suicide bombings, claiming they were a rational response to having occupiers in your homeland. Although I’ve heard this rhetoric for many years, it still hurts to hear people demonize a country and a people that have done so much good in the world. Recently, much to my disappointment, Rutgers Law School — where I am currently a student — posted

22, minute-long videos about Palestine. Unsurprisingly, these videos slandered and demonized the Jewish state. In so doing, they ignored Israel’s many peace offers and gestures of good faith. Allow me to provide a couple examples of these gross distortions: In one video, its creators opine that “Israelis receive vaccinations ... that Palestinians typically do not get.” In fact, in June of this year, the Palestinian Authority rejected a deal in which Israel would have provided 1 million COVID vaccines to those living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinian Authority valued optics more than its citizenry.

Another video claims that “between 250,000-350,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes by Zionist paramilitaries” between November 1947, and May 1948. Although this number may be accurate, its purpose is to confuse, not clarify. In truth, Israel did its best to avoid conflict in the years before 1948; in 1937, when the Peel Commission announced that Israel would be provided with a tiny, discontinuous piece of land, the Jews quickly accepted the offer. The Arabs, who would not abide by a Jewish state of any size, categorically refused. Such Please see Kaufman, page 15

Chronicle poll results: COVID testing


ast week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “Have you been tested for COVID in the last month?” Of the 259 people who responded, 48% said no, they did not want to be tested, and 45% said they were tested and tested negative. Five percent said they had tested positive, and 2% said they wanted to be tested but couldn’t. Eighty-eight people submitted comments. Many of the comments noted that the answer options did not apply to them, and that another response choice should have been “I was not exposed and did not need to be tested.” Several other comments follow.

Have you been tested for COVID in the last month?


Yes, and I tested positive.


Yes, and I tested negative.


No. I wanted to get a test, but I couldn’t.


No. I didn’t want to get a test.

Gotta love my duck-billed N95 masks, as while those around me were catching COVID I kept testing negative. … And also little children laugh at me with delight. I am deeply ashamed of fellow Jews who have aligned with Republican and Evangelical Christians on issues surrounding the COVID pandemic. They have abandoned Jewish values that preserve life. They have adopted in their place the newest forms of American authoritarianism and death. We need to depoliticize vaccines and testing. Everyone should have both who possibly can.

I would have liked an option to say: I have been absolutely symptom-free and not out much. Thus, no wish to waste a valuable test. I’m staying out of crowds and trying to use good judgment. I have a home test kit I got at CVS which I can use if I think I have symptoms. No reason to get a test, not sick.

— LETTERS — A boon for Lawrenceville

The William Penn Tavern’s relocation is Shadyside’s loss, and it is a serious loss for sure; but it is Lawrenceville’s gain. Richard Rattner, the founder and owner of the William Penn Tavern, has fashioned in his business what so many would like a Shadyside establishment to be — a home away from home, a place where you can pop in, meet friends, catch good chow and quench your thirst. In England, they call it a pub. The William Penn Tavern is a people’s bar, a haven to many. Richard, his staff, his “helpers” (Heather, Nate, Jonah and Rose) will be dearly missed ... in Shadyside. Carol Hoffman Tel Aviv

Jewish calendar should stay intact

In response to “A Diaspora calendar to revive Jewish life” (Dec. 17): Since Hillel codified the Jewish calendar thousands of years ago, it remains perhaps the only Jewish practice or institution about which all Jews agree — on all of its details. Whether in Pittsburgh or in Petah Tivah or in Rome, Yom Kippur is observed on the 10th of Tishrei, regardless of the secular date. Whether observing two days of yom tov, or one day of yom tov (as in Israel), Passover begins, with certainty, on the 15th of Nisan. We experience Jewish leap years because that’s the way Hillel planned it, for us as a people. Given the multitude of disagreements among the Jewish people (unfortunately), why PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

What is the point of the test? If you have a virus, stay home until you’re well. Simple as that! I was happy to test positive — I’m immunized, so the illness was mild, and it came at a good time for me, and now I don’t have to worry about it. I have no symptoms of illness. So there is no current reason for me to be tested. I stay away from others. I always double-mask at stores and on the bus, and single-mask just to take out the trash in case anyone comes by. I would want to get tested if I got sick in any way. I’ve tested twice, once with an at-home test and once with the PCR test, both negative. We always wear N95 masks indoors and avoid large indoor gatherings. We’ve also done whatever it took to get recommended vaccinations as soon as possible. Why isn’t everyone this careful? It’s mystifying. I’m living like a vaccinated hermit, so no test needed, for now anyway. I didn’t need a COVID-19 test! I haven’t left my house for about six months, when I went

to the drugstore for my Moderna booster. It does not have to be this way. Everyone needs to get vaccinated, boosted and wear masks. Pittsburghers of all people should understand the importance of vaccination. So many of us in Squirrel Hill were in the Salk vaccine trials. Most anti-vaxxers have never seen polio, heard a baby with whooping cough (heartbreaking) or had measles or mumps. I haven’t had any symptoms, nor have I been around anyone who had or tested positive. I know several people who have had COVID, including people who have died. I wear a mask everywhere I go, even when other people don’t. Has COVID been testing me in the last month?  PJC — Toby Tabachnick

This week’s Chronicle poll question:

Have you grown frustrated with the continued closures, restrictions and diminished programming at Jewish institutions due to COVID? Go to our website pittsburgh jewishchronicle.org to respond.  PJC

pile onto that stack of issues by fabricating another in the name of supposed convenience? Microwaves are built for convenience. The Jewish calendar is our certified guide to Jewish life, as it was, as it is, and as it will be, G-d willing. This is one of the worst, out-of-the-box ideas to reinvigorate modern Jewish life that’s come down the turnpike in a very, very long time. Shlomo Perelman Silver Spring, Maryland


In the Jan. 7 article “Retired rabbis don’t fade away, they just continue to serve,” it was erroneously reported that Rabbi Sara Perman was in China during Shavuot. In fact, she was in the country during the holiday of Sukkot. The Chronicle regrets this error.  PJC We invite you to submit letters for publication. Letters must include name, address and daytime phone number; addresses and phone numbers will not be published. Letters may not exceed 500 words and may be edited for length and clarity; they cannot be returned. Mail, fax or email letters to:

Letters to the editor via email:

Website address:


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



JANUARY 14, 2022  13

Headlines COVID: Continued from page 1

hope of returning to an in-person/Zoom hybrid when we can,” Barkley said. “We have also decided to ask everyone entering the building, when we reopen, to provide proof of vaccination.” Congregation Beth Shalom in Squirrel Hill, which requires attendees of services and other in-person programs to show proof of vaccination upon entering the building, recently updated its COVID protocols in light of the recent surge of cases in Allegheny County. “Only those individuals who are eligible for vaccination (ages 5 and up) and have been fully vaccinated with booster, if eligible, are allowed to attend in-person gatherings

Rabbis: Continued from page 1

female rabbi when I was a child: an assistant rabbi at our Reform congregation in New York. As a college student at Columbia in the 1980s, I was aware that the Conservative Rabbi Amy movement up the street Bardack was beginning to ordain women. It became important to me to gain knowledge of the whole corpus of sacred texts that for many years were only accessible to men. Twenty-five years later, I am still studying Talmud and rabbinic literature, bringing my female-identified lived experience to this intergenerational conversation that spans centuries. Even in 1997, though, my classmates and I knew there were further frontiers to reach, where Jews of all gender identities and sexual orientations would have keys to the “kingdom.” As a parent of a transgender child, I am especially grateful that there are LGBTQ rabbis, including my classmate Rabbi Benay Lappe, founder and Rosh Yeshiva of SVARA, the vibrant queer yeshiva in Chicago. Torah and Jewish life are enriched by people of multiple identities that go well beyond the confines of the gender binary.

Rabbi Doris J. Dyen, rabbi for Makom HaLev and board-certified hospital chaplain

“Did you always want to be a rabbi?” Since ordination, I’ve often been asked that question. And my answer is: “No! When I was a child, the idea never occurred to me Rabbi Doris J. because there were no Dyen women rabbis.” Born in 1945 in Connecticut, I grew up in an era when Judaism did not encourage female religious leaders. When I attended religious school during the 1950s, even bat mitzvah was still uncommon. I became a bat mitzvah at age 42 through an adult b’nei mitzvah class — six women and one man — at Temple Sinai in Pittsburgh. That bat mitzvah experience shifted my relationship to Judaism. I wanted to know more, and I wanted to help other people deepen their 14  JANUARY 14, 2022

and services,” according to Kristin Zappone, Beth Shalom’s marketing and communications specialist. Those age 4 and under will not be permitted to attend in-person events. Beth Shalom’s COVID-19 task force also designated which types of masks are “acceptable” — N95, KN95, KF94 and/or a double mask of a surgical, medical or disposable mask covered by a cloth mask. Rodef Shalom Congregation in Shadyside also is encouraging attendees to wear N95 or KN95 masks. “We’re very concerned to keep everyone who spends time in the building as safe as possible,” said Anna Gitliz, Rodef Shalom’s marketing and communications manager. To that end, the congregation is providing “masks to congregants in need, although supply chain issues are making them increasingly difficult for everyone to find,” Gitliz

said. “Aside from that, our policies remain the same — that is, we are strongly urging congregants to be fully vaccinated if they attend services and other in-person events, and we require everyone to be masked.” Gitliz added that “all of Rodef Shalom’s employees are fully vaccinated, if not boosted.” As of Jan. 4, Adat Shalom Synagogue in Cheswick hadn’t changed its protocols for in-person gatherings: Attendees must be masked, vaccinated and sit in the sanctuary at an “appropriate social distance.” Nonetheless, the uptick in cases may require that decision to be revisited, Adat Shalom’s Rabbi Yaier Lehrer said. Many congregants at the suburban congregation have not yet returned to in-person services. And as the omicron variant continues to spread, Lehrer anticipates more members will opt to attend services online.

About a month ago, Temple Emanuel of South Hills moved to virtual Saturday morning services and Torah study. On Jan. 3, the congregation decided to move its religious school online as well, said Temple Emanuel’s executive director Leslie Hoffman. Despite transitioning many of its functions online, Temple Emanuel is continuing to host in-person Friday night services where masks are required, Hoffman said. Whether the in-person services will continue or shift online is “subject to change,” she added. The 3,392 new COVID cases reported in Allegheny County on Jan. 5 represent a dramatic increase from even a month ago. On Dec. 5, the 7-day average of new cases was 730.  PJC

understanding of Jewish traditions and heritage. In 1987, I joined Dor Hadash, a congregation affiliated with the Reconstructionist movement. Over the next 20 years, assisted by other congregants, I learned to leyn Torah, experimented with leading services and continued studying Hebrew. Although Dor Hadash had no rabbi, I met Reconstructionist rabbis, women and men, who led Shabbat services and Torah study as guests. I began to think, “Maybe I could do that.” In 2007 I entered the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College as the only student over 60. Almost half the students were women, and some faculty were as well. The training was rigorous and life-changing. In 2013, after commuting to Philadelphia for six years, I reentered Jewish Pittsburgh as a “young rabbi in an older body,” and a woman rabbi at that — in a kippah. A question I get asked now is: “Are women allowed to wear that?” Currently I serve as the rabbi for the chavurah Makom HaLev and as a board-certified hospital chaplain; I’m also active in social justice and interfaith work. It’s been a rewarding challenge to create my own niche.

they were correct, as I am married to another wonderful rabbi. For some women, this is a term of honor and I applaud it for those who cherish it. Hearing it used for me, though, felt like a negation of the six years of graduate studies I had just completed. For me, the proper term is rabbi. These past 50 years, female rabbis have served as role models for many of the women in our congregations, inspiring them to participate in all aspects of Jewish life as equals. Seeing women as rabbis provides hope to many that we will be inclusive and welcoming to all. I respect the myriad of ways in which women express their Judaism. I believe that I have a great deal to offer as a female rabbi. That is a part of my identity. I am a woman, a rabbi, a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend and a community member. Each of these roles inform and strengthen the others. I bring all of this to my rabbinate, and I believe, for me, it is different because I am a woman. I am grateful to Rabbi Priesand, Rabbi Eilberg, and all the women who made it possible for me to fulfill my dream of serving my people. I hope I can inspire and ease the journey of those who will travel the road after me.

today’s rabbis share the wisdom and perspective that comes from a vast variety of life experiences. Judaism is richer and more nuanced as a result, and I am proud to be among the dooropeners for all of today’s and future rabbis.

Rabbi Amy Greenbaum, associate rabbi and director of education at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills

When I became a bat mitzvah in the suburbs of Chicago in 1982, I knew that I wanted to become a rabbi. The way in which I connected with Judaism — the spirituality, the Rabbi Amy community, the history — Greenbaum was an undeniable part of who I was and who I am today. I didn’t realize until years later, when I was in rabbinical school, that at the time of my bat mitzvah I could not have become a rabbi because I was a woman in the Conservative movement. It was not until 1985 that the Conservative movement ordained its first female rabbi, Rabbi Amy Eilberg. I am indebted to those women who came before me who made my dream possible. It has been my great privilege to serve as a rabbi for almost 25 years. People’s reactions to me have changed during that time, and I have changed. I can remember my first few years as a rabbi — the first female rabbi many were meeting — when I was often called rebbetzin (a rabbi’s wife). Technically,

Rabbi Sharyn Henry, Rodef Shalom Congregation

In just 50 years, women rabbis have changed the way Jews engage in Judaism in exciting ways. The teachings that arise from our life experiences and through our eyes have enriched not Rabbi Sharyn only girls and women, but Henry all Jews. There is much to celebrate. However, because much has been written about the contributions of women to the Jewish world, I would like to use this space to reflect on the doors that have opened since Sally Priesand first walked into Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati in the late 1960s. Even after Sally was joined by other women who would become what we affectionately call vatikot (pioneers), most students (and 100% of professors) were men. By the time I began HUC in 1983, half my classmates were women. But all 40 of us were white. There was one person who was a Jew by choice, any LGBTQ students were not out, and there were no deaf or blind students. Thankfully, all that has changed, and


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

Rabbi Jessica Locketz, area rabbi and educator

As we prepare to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Rabbi Sally Priesand’s ordination, I am both amazed that it has already been 50 years, and surprised that it has been only 50 Rabbi Jessica years. As I reflected on Locketz this momentous occasion, I realized there has never been a time in my life when I thought women could not become rabbis. I always assumed that women were equal partners in Jewish life and ritual. That female clergy have been around for such a short period of time does not conceptually fit the Judaism I embrace and observe. As a teen involved in many facets of synagogue and Jewish communal life, I was always encouraged to follow my passion for Judaism, and to reach for my dreams of becoming a rabbi. I thank Sally and those who followed for that; she and the other “firsts” paved the way for me and my colleagues. Her struggles and her accomplishments truly gave me the opportunity to serve the Jewish community. I am forever grateful for that gift.

Rabbi Emily Meyer, educator and founder of Doodly Jew on Facebook

In a tradition that values pilpul and debate, ensuring that those at the pulpit reflect the diversity of the Jewish community strengthens our learning. Rabbi Sally Priesand and Rabbi Emily other trailblazers in the Meyer rabbinate helped to ensure a different set of life experiences, perspectives and opinions were heard and valued when interpreting, teaching and living Judaism. I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have been born into a world with women rabbis as they allowed me to see myself reflected in the leadership of Judaism from an early age. I Please see Rabbis, page 20


Headlines Checkmates: Continued from page 3

strong in spirit and fight the limitations that come with age.” The four people on Stead’s list range from 74-94. Stead said each call lasts at least 15 minutes. “I talk five minutes of the time and listen 95% of the time,” Stead said. “I have become so incredibly impressed with the people I’ve spoken with.” Stead said several of the people he calls are dealing with social isolation and loneliness — factors that pose a serious health risk in older adults, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In adults above 50, loneliness is associated with higher rates of depression, anxiety and suicide. Social isolation is associated with a nearly 50% increased risk of dementia, as well as increased risk of premature death from all causes — a risk rivaling that of

smoking, obesity and physical inactivity. The program was always intended to be strictly phone-based, but before the pandemic, CheckMate seniors were encouraged to come to the JCC, enjoy lunch at JCafe or take an exercise class. COVID has made it more difficult for people to connect, so the calls have taken on greater meaning, Gold said. For Stead, the weekly phone chats are about connecting people to the community. “These calls say we know you’re there, we want to know how you’re doing and we want to build relationships,” he said. North Baldwin resident Karen Smith began making calls in 2012. A decade later, she’s still calling two of the same people. “You become very close friends with them,” Smith said. “You get to know their families, you ask about their grandchildren or spouses … Some people are going through horrific illnesses, and you are a light in their life.” The unfortunate reality of a program

serving older adults, however, is that turnover is not uncommon. This past year, four of the people on Smith’s list died. “You can hear it in my voice, I’m still upset about the ones I lost,” Smith, 75, said. “It’s really hard when someone is young, or my age, but it will happen to all of us.” Smith has learned a lot in the 10 years she’s volunteered with the program. “It’s made me more aware of how older people are sometimes not given the time and respect they are due,” she said. Smith said she’s noticed instances when older adults repeat a story because they’ve forgotten they already shared it. But there are also instances when people reiterate a tale because it deeply mattered to them. Listening is instructive, Smith continued. Many of the recipients are people who “raised kids through pandemics and wars, and they survived.” In the 15 years since Gold has overseen CheckMates, she estimates that more than 500 independently housed seniors have received at least six calls in six weeks

Closing: Continued from page 7

home to her, recalling studying for a psychology exam there at 3 a.m. after she and her family had moved from an eastern suburb to Squirrel Hill. Her children, she said, don’t have the same sense of nostalgia for the restaurant but enjoy the smiley face cookies. Yafa Negrete also said the restaurant held a special place in the memories of her family. “When we moved to Pittsburgh from Mexico in 2016, we were looking for a place that wouldn’t be too expensive. The place we found was Eat’n Park,” she said. “It was quiet and people were friendly to our kids.” Negrete said that in addition to being a place where her kids could be kids,

Onward: Continued from page 9

on the Birthright Planning Committee. Seeing the success of Onward, amplified by its merger with Birthright, is “like a dream come true,” Cindy Shapira said. “How often do you have an idea, and it not only comes to fruition but in such a major way. I think it’s really cool.” Onward’s success, she said, is owed

Kaufman: Continued from page 13

refusals would become a recurring theme in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2001, after eight years of failed peace negotiations, President Bill Clinton met with Yasser Arafat, then chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization. Arafat praised Clinton and called him a great man; Clinton responded, “I’m a colossal failure, and you made me one.” After years of disappointments, Clinton likely realized that most of the Palestinians’ problems stem from corrupt, inept leadership. But for most anti-Israel activists, this realization has not come. It never will. They will PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

 Street view of Pamela’s

Photo by Jim Busis

from a volunteer. For both volunteers and those they call, that’s a significant number of people affected in an area known for its aging population. Among the nation’s 36 largest counties, Allegheny County has the second-greatest number of older adults, with 19% of its population above 65. Palm Beach County in Florida — which includes West Palm Beach, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton — holds the top slot, with 24% of its residents above 65, according to the April 2020 census. At this time of year, when people are trying to adopt resolutions or meaningful volunteer projects, Smith hopes community members will be cognizant of Pittsburgh’s demographics. “There are a lot of lonely people out there,” she said. “Giving five or 10 minutes of your time is going to make a difference in their life.”  PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. they are considering the chain’s Homestead location but that it was much busier. While many are sad to see the two locations close, some look forward to what’s to come. Dana Platt Blitstein hopes Murray Avenue will next attract an upscale brunch/dinner spot. She’d like to see acai bowls, avocado toasts and salads, coffee houses with amazing décor and good pastries. “Interesting, elevated food, destination spots,” she said. While she hopes her neighborhood attracts more trendy restaurants that bring in the foodies, she can’t escape the same wish held by many Jews throughout Squirrel Hill — the elusive Jewish deli, or as Blitstein calls it, “Pastrami dreams and corned beef nights.” PJC

sometimes running up and down the restaurant’s aisles, it offered healthy food like soups and a salad bar.

The restaurant’s closing has left Negrete and her husband Eduardo searching for another restaurant to frequent. The pair said

to a myriad of people and organizations committed to its purpose. Likewise, the merger of Onward with Birthright came to fruition through the efforts of many people and “several major Jewish foundations who gave significant intellectual capital and time to make it happen,” she said. “The entire professional and leadership team at Birthright has been phenomenally wonderful to work with. They are as excited about this for the Jewish people as we are. It was a real meeting of minds and strategic objectives of

how we can help the Jewish people.” While Birthright trips were on hiatus during the coronavirus pandemic, Birthright officials are hopeful that they will resume shortly for fully vaccinated and boosted young Jews. Some participants with Onward were able to travel to Israel in the last year because of the extended length of their programs. The merger isn’t the only new initiative Birthright is undertaking. “We recently launched Birthright Israel Labs, a new digital initiative, with the goal of

further engaging and connecting Birthright Israel alumni and the greater diaspora community,” said Mark. “Since its launch less than two weeks ago, our amazing Birthright Israel Labs digital content has already totaled nearly 2 million views. We will continue to leverage creative methods to personalize the connection that every Diaspora Jew feels with Israel both in-person and online.”  PJC

continue to demonize Israel and spew disinformation about the world’s only Jewish state. Hatred of Am Yisrael is not new; it has been with us for as long as our people have existed. My intention is to not depress or dishearten. My intention is only to point out that what we’ve done up until now has not reaped the rewards we hoped for. When we decry the horrors of antisemitism, we are met with only more hate, more vitriol. So, what’s a Yid to do? Should we just accept that people will always hate us and smear us? For many, the solution has been to spread awareness of antisemitism. We delude ourselves into thinking that if we teach our neighbors about enough pogroms and the Holocaust, perhaps they will start to support

Israel as staunchly as we do. Our efforts have not worked. After seeing the videos posted on Rutgers Law’s YouTube page, I contemplated sending the creators an email, explaining their videos were a false portrayal of what’s going on in Israel and Palestine. But then I would be falling into the trap that we always fall prey to: Maybe, just maybe, I can convince the person who hates me of the truth by using facts and logic. Instead, I think it’s time that Jewish people turn away from their emphasis on antisemitism and focus our attention elsewhere: on the beautiful inheritance we have, on the G-dly message we have for the world. If we are serious about combatting antisemitism and anti-Israel hatred — which are really the same thing — we ought to

launch a campaign of pro-Semitism. If we wear a Magen David around our neck, we should replace it with one that is twice the size; if we wear a kippah full-time, we should wear one that is larger and more colorful. If we are serious about combatting the hatred of those who seek to distort our truths, we must be proud and resolute. We’ve tried for years to combat our enemies with the realities of antisemitism and its dangers. It has not worked. Maybe it’s time for something new.  PJC


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

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, Gavriel Kaufman pursued Jewish studies at Mayanot Yeshiva, a Chabad yeshiva in Jerusalem. He is currently a student at Rutgers Law School. JANUARY 14, 2022  15

Life & Culture A resolution, culinarily speaking — FOOD — By Keri White | Contributing Writer


am not a great one for New Year’s resolutions. I still recall with a wry smile the past patterns of early January days when the gym would be crowded and, by MLK Day, it was back to normal. But turning a new food page is acceptable and, to that end, I hope to do the following this year: break tradition. By that, I mean that I plan to mix up typical flavor combinations and ingredients. I’ve attempted this with the salmon beurre rouge below. It was inspired by a recipe from a chef I met years ago, who soaked and baked the salmon in a cup of heavy cream, and then made the sauce with a pound of butter. I felt like I would need an EKG after eating that, so I knew I had to make some adjustments. His dish was far too rich for my blood, but his tradition-breaking approach using red wine with fish tempted me. I changed his recipe, lightened it up, and it was delicious. I hope to devise some other examples of this approach — maybe a hummus that integrates Chinese or Indian spices, a scalloped “potato” dish that uses turnips or butternut squash instead of spuds, a slaw that uses kale instead of cabbage … you get the picture. We served this with brown rice, which was lovely as a bed for the delicious sauce, and put a simple green salad on the table. Bread, quinoa, white rice or even mashed potatoes would be a nice addition to sop up the surplus sauce.

The sauce is pretty rich, so we skipped dessert. But if you have a sweet tooth, go for something light and contrasting — lime sorbet or lemon souffle, some spiced cookies, a small nibble of dark chocolate. I would steer clear of creamy or dairy-laden desserts to avoid conflicting with the sauce. Salmon Beurre Rouge Serves 2

This recipe uses both the white and green parts of the scallions. The white forms the base and aromatic for the sauce, while the green serves as an insulator and flavor infuser for the fish as it cooks. Because of the butter, kosher and kosherstyle diners would only use this sauce with fish. It is a fairly robust and hearty sauce, so matches best with a sturdy fish like the salmon used here. If salmon is not your jam, you can use another meaty fish like halibut, mackerel, mahi mahi or arctic char. Just avoid delicate types like flounder or sole, which can be overwhelmed by the sauce. Ingredients: 1 teaspoon canola or vegetable oil 1 bunch scallions 1½ cups dry red wine ½ stick butter 2 salmon fillets, about 5 ounces each Juice of ½ lemon Salt and pepper

Heat your oven to 300 F. Line a small pan with a piece of parchment that is large enough to fold over the fish into a lightly sealed packet. Place the salmon

p Salmon beurre rouge

fillets in the pan, and sprinkle them with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Chop the white part of the scallions, and leave the green part in long strands. Place the green strands over the fish, covering it on the top and sides, then fold the parchment over the fish loosely, and crimp it into a packet. Bake it in the oven for 25 minutes until done. While the fish cooks, make the sauce. Heat the oil in a skillet, and sauté the white parts of the scallions until they are fragrant and a bit soft. Add the wine and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, and simmer the wine until it reduces to a thick syrup, about 20 minutes.

Photos by Keri White

Turn off the heat. When the fish is done, remove it from the oven, and set it aside. Heat the sauce again, and add the butter, whisking it to form a silky sauce. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and pepper, if needed. Open the fish packets, and place the fillets in the sauce, spooning it over to coat the fish. Garnish the fish with fresh parsley, chives or raw scallions, if desired. Serve and enjoy.  PJC Keri White writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared.

JCC cancels in-person portion of Big Night


he Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh has announced that the in-person portion of its 16th annual Big Night fundraising event — “The Roaring 20s” — has been canceled due to the “unpredictable path of the COVID-19 pandemic and the current spike in active cases.” This year’s event, co-chaired by Marcie and Matthew Weinstein and Sam and Josh Klein, was planned for March 5. In lieu of in-person programming, the JCC will create a celebration to thank donors and will proceed with its auction and raffle. The decision to cancel the in-person event “reflects the JCC’s unwavering commitment throughout the past two years to support the health and well-being of our community, informed by CDC Guidelines and the guidance of medical experts and health authorities,” JCC officials said in a press release. “While we are deeply disappointed that conditions are not yet conducive for us to host our Big Night celebration in person, this does not mean we won’t have fun,” said Brian Schreiber, JCC’s president and CEO. “The JCC is profoundly thankful for sponsorships

16  JANUARY 14, 2022

and donations that we have received for Big Night. Since Big Night is first and foremost an opportunity to recognize the incredible support of our friends and community, we will find a path to acknowledge our donors and celebrate in a different way during this

challenging environment.” Big Night has been an important fundraiser for the JCC’s Annual Fund, which supports day-to-day operations and scholarships. “Big Night is especially critical this year in helping the JCC to rebuild from


the unprecedented financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Cathy Samuels, the JCC’s chief development officer. “The JCC needs and welcomes support.” Community members can still participate in Big Night “as a sponsor or donor, purchase raffle tickets and bid in the silent auction,” said Fara Marcus, the JCC’s director of development and marketing. “Sponsors will receive a unique hand-delivered gift in appreciation of their support in lieu of event admission. Now, all sponsors will receive ads in our ad book and recognition in gifts that will be distributed throughout our community, in print and digital advertising, and in JCC social media and publications. And we will have a livestreamed component for our auction and raffle on March 5.” Tickets are available now for the A&L Motor Sales Luxury Automobile Raffle. The Big Night Boom Time Auction of luxury items and experiences will be launched in February. Sponsorships, donations and raffle tickets can be purchased at bidpal.net/ bignight22. PJC — Toby Tabachnick PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Life & Culture A new museum tells the story of Singapore’s Jews, starting with their Baghdad roots — MUSEUM — By Jordyn Haime | JTA


ingapore’s Jewish history is palpable on its streets: There’s Manasseh Lane and Meyer Road, named for the hugely influential Manasseh Meyer, a Baghdadi Jew and early leader of the Jewish community who helped open two of its Sephardic synagogues. Along Middle Road, 19th-century buildings bearing Stars of David and the names of the Jewish businessmen who built them line the street, marking what used to be the Jewish “Mahallah,” or neighborhood, where 1,500 Jews lived during the middle of the 20th century. In fact, in the southeast Asian city of 5.7 million — mostly ethnic Chinese, Malay, and Indian migrants and only 2,500 Jews — countless roads and monuments in the city-state are named for influential Jews of the past and their achievements. But in their 200 years of rich history, the Jews of Singapore have never had a place of their own to show off the story of their people, until now. In the old Mahallah and on the ground floor of the Jacob Ballas community center — named for the Iraqi Jewish philanthropist who chaired the Singapore and Malaysia stock exchange in the 1960s — a new museum tells the full story of Southeast Asia’s oldest continuing Jewish community, beginning with the arrival of the first Jew in 1819. “It’s really important that Singaporeans know the part that the Jews have played in the 200 years of history, and it has been significant,” said Ben Benjamin, a member of Singapore’s Jewish Welfare Board who spearheaded the museum. “We wanted to demonstrate that not only about the Jewish people in Singapore, it’s about how ‘Singaporean’ Jews are.” The Jews of Singapore Museum captures the story of a community that has waxed and waned in size, even as Singapore has grown rapidly. For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, the local Jewish population was made up largely of emigres from Iraq and Europe who came to Singapore to evade antisemitism and pursue trade, including Benjamin’s family. By the mid-20th century, before World War II, the community grew to 1,500 Jews before beginning a steep decline; fewer than 200 lived there by the 1960s. Today, a record 2,500 Jews call Singapore home. But even as some of the old Baghdadi trading families remain — Benjamin is a fifth generation Iraqi-Singaporean Jew. The majority of local Jews now are a diverse mix of more recent Hebrew- or English-speaking arrivals who have come to invest in one of the world’s tech and financial hubs. The historic heart of Singapore’s Jewish community, though, “unfortunately, will continue to shrink,” Benjamin said, and the museum is an effort to preserve it. The museum highlights a time when some of Singapore’s most important figures were Jewish, such as David Marshall, who became the city-state’s first chief minister in 1955. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

p A screenshot from a virtual tour of the Jews of Singapore Museum

Guests can scan QR codes to hear the voices and speeches of Marshall and other figures, and view videos, photographs, and artifacts from the community’s rich past and present. “Some really interesting things were actually uncovered during the curatorial process,” Benjamin said. Curators found photographs of unknown Jewish properties like a resort far in Singapore’s west, far from the Mahallah. “It’s now been completely demolished to make way for what is Singapore’s industrial heartland,” he said. “We didn’t know this until this museum was put together.” Based on a book commissioned by the community and published in 2007, the museum is the product of three years of work and preparation only further delayed by the pandemic. Finally, on Dec. 2, the museum opened to the public. “We hope that the history of our forefathers, most of whom had fled persecution from Iraq to settle and thrive in Singapore, will be a reminder of the importance of welcoming strangers in our midst, and of strengthening unity and solidarity among adherents of different religions,” Nash Benjamin, president of the Jewish Welfare Board and uncle of Ben Benjamin, said at the opening. The exhibition is also available to all via a virtual tour on the museum’s website, where guests can walk through the museum and interact with the exhibit digitally. For non-Jewish Singaporean community members, a section of the museum is dedicated to illustrating Jewish festivals, culture and religion. This year was a tumultuous one for Singapore’s Jews. In March, the Jacob Ballas Center, now home to the museum, hosted a press conference to announce the arrest of a radicalized Singaporean soldier who had

Screenshot via JTA

p Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law K. Shanmugam tours the museum with Nash Benjamin, center, the president of Singapore’s Jewish Welfare Board, and the Chief Rabbi of Singapore Mordechai Abergel.

planned to kill at least three Jewish men as they left the Maghain Aboth synagogue. (The community is mostly divided between the two Sephardic Orthodox synagogues built more than 100 years ago, Maghain Aboth and Chesed-El, in addition to a smaller Reform congregation made up of mostly Ashkenazi Jews.) Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who revealed the planned attack nine months earlier, spoke at the museum’s opening event. “As minister for home affairs, I have said more than once to you, that the safety and security of all in Singapore, including the Jewish Community is a key priority,” he said. Singapore, known globally for harsh legislation, had “very high” levels of government restrictions on religion in 2019, according


Photo courtesy of Jewish Welfare Board of Singapore

to the global Government Restriction Index, despite its constitutional guarantee of religious freedom. In the same year, however, it had low levels of social hostility toward religion. Benjamin says the Jewish community has always felt safe, protected, and supported by the greater community and the government of Singapore, whose National Heritage Board granted up to 40% of the funding to the Jews of Singapore Museum. The planned attack earlier this year, he said, came as a shock to Singapore’s Jews. “Life carries on. We feel very safe, very supported in Singapore,” he said. “And I think we owe it to ourselves, to the community of 200 years to carry on trying to build and allowing this community to thrive.” Virtual visits to the Jews of Singapore Museum can be scheduled online.  PJC JANUARY 14, 2022  17



Bat Mitzvah

The journey toward faith

Nuala Ellen Cloonan will become a bat mitzvah on Jan. 15, 2022, at Rodef Shalom Congregation. Nuala is the daughter of Yona Cloonan and Julie Ricks, and Jennifer Cloonan. She attends middle school at Pittsburgh CAPA. Her concentration is production technology, which gives her the opportunity to learn about lighting, sound and set design that are integral to theatrical performances. Nuala enjoys art-related activities, including pottery, mosaics and stamp-making. She is a member of The Friendship Circle, where she participates in both rock climbing and cooking club. Nuala especially likes to bake cookies — her dairy-free Snickerdoodles are excellent! Nuala is a Girl Scout and enjoys camping with her troop. Nuala has chosen to build a Little Seed Library for her bat mitzvah project. This idea emerged when she helped harvest marigold and milkweed seeds from the garden at home. There were so many seeds that the family wanted to share them with neighbors. This was the spark for Nuala’s project.


Paula and Alan Dunn, with an abundance of happiness, announce the marriage of their son, Bary, to Heléne Yorke. Heléne is the daughter of Rhos and Andrea Dyke of Los Angeles. Bary, a Carnegie Mellon graduate, is CFO of ButterflyMX, a property technology company. Heléne, a graduate of the University of Michigan, is an actress. Surrounded by family and friends, Bary and Heléne were married on Sept. 3, in an urban chic setting at the Green Building in Brooklyn, where the couple resides.  PJC

Rabbi Yaier Lehrer Parshat Yitro | Exodus 18:1- 20:23


n the aftermath of the 10 plagues, the Pharaoh has “let” the people of Israel go. But when it’s time to leave, the people take a circuitous route out of Egypt. Instead of going straight to their destination, God directs them to follow a different path that will take them to the Sea of Reeds. God does this intentionally because a straight route would have had the Israelites run directly into the Philistines which may have brought about a war that would have sent the Israelites running back to Egypt. In the aftermath of hundreds of years of slavery, the faith of the Israelites is not rockhard. But on their path leading to the Sea of Reeds, they come face-to-face with a major test of their faith. In front of them is the Sea of Reeds and coming up behind them is the Egyptian army. There is a famous midrash about this moment in Israelite history. At God’s instruction, Moses tells the people of Israel to go forward toward and into the sea. No one wants to go first. They hesitate, waiting to see what happens when someone else goes in first. Finally, Nachshon ben Aminadav, seeing the deadlock needs to be broken, heads into the sea. As Nachshon moves forward where the water is getting deep and above his nostrils so that he will not be able to breathe, he has clearly demonstrated his faith. God instructs Moses to raise his staff, and the water famously parts creating dry land for the Israelites to cross. Nachshon was solid in his faith. He was sure of it, and should have been an example to those who were standing around waiting to see what happened before they walked into the sea. Yet it does not appear from the rest of the Torah that the Israelites learned this lesson. It is quite the opposite. The rest of the journey to Canaan includes many examples of a major lack of faith, from the 10 spies who report erroneously to the people about their scouting mission to Canaan, to the incident of the Golden Calf, and even to the unnamed man who goes out and collects wood on Shabbat immediately after learning of the commandment to observe the Shabbat. In fact, it is the lack of faith of the 10 spies that dooms the slave generation to die in the wilderness.

How is it that some people are so sure in their faith, while others struggle? The famed Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon, Rambam, was so sure in his faith in God and what God stood for that he codified that belief into 13 principles. As a prelude to each of the principles, he states that “I believe with a full belief.” His principles include a basic and firm belief in God and in God’s commitment to a future in which the dead are resurrected. Every time we sing the Yigdal prayer in the synagogue, we are singing a version of Rambam’s principles. But one has to wonder what would happen if each person was asked to write down a basic statement of faith. Could each of us be as certain as Rambam? Rambam does not say anything terribly controversial. The remarkable thing is his statement that he believes with an emunah shlayma, a complete and utter faith, like that of Nachshon. But for some, faith is not so certain and concrete. For some, the issue of faith is a struggle, much like the struggle of Jacob with the angel. It is, in fact, how Jacob got his name of Yisrael, one who has struggled with God. And inasmuch as we are the Children of Yisrael, we are the children, descendants, and inheritors of that same struggle. Perhaps that is why Judaism focuses itself much more on action than it does on questions or commandments of faith. While we might struggle with the concept of faith, our ability to consistently carry through on ritual practices and ethical directions connects us to God in profound ways. While the perfect faith of the Rambam, Nachshon and others like them is admirable, for many faith is a struggle. And just as importantly, it is a journey, one with no end point. It is a journey that through its continuous effort brings us closer to God even when we don’t feel it or know it’s happening. The journey toward God and faith has many paths and routes. Each of us has a path we can walk with God. As it says in the book of Micah 6:8. “He has told you O man what is good. And what the Lord requires of you. Only to do justice and to love goodness and walk modestly with the Lord your God.” The journey toward faith requires that we find the path where we can walk humbly with God, where we can get close to God. We don’t need to be Nachson. But we do need to be walking.  PJC Rabbi Yaier Lehrer is the rabbi of Adat Shalom Synagogue.

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Obituaries PENNER: Ruth Levine Penner, born on June 17, 1925, passed away on Jan. 4, 2022, at age 96. She was the beloved wife of the late Melvin H. Penner, mother of Meryl Jones, Roy Penner and the late Scott Pe n n e r, son-in-law Roger Jones and daughters-in-law Iva Penner and the late Barbara Penner; sister of Jack Levine and sister-in-law Beverly Levine; grandmother of Kristo and Marco Penner, Matthew and Jayme Penner and great-granddaughter Abigail. Also, at last count, she was aunt to 30 great- and greatgreat- nieces and nephews. Ruth was a cherished friend and treasured companion, admired and deeply loved. Ruth was adventurous. Later in life, she traveled around the world like a 20-year-old, embracing every escapade and new experience. Ruth was so talented, creative and very artistic. She always loved fashion and was a beautiful fashion illustrator from a very young age. In her 70s, she moved to New York City and enrolled at Fashion Institute of Technology. Ruth was born in Pittsburgh, spent her childhood in Oakland, and lived most of her life in Squirrel Hill with her husband and three children. She has lived in New York City for the past 22

years with her daughter Meryl and son-in-law Roger. Ruth loved old movies and could name all the early screen stars. But more than that, she loved the theatre. She wanted to see everything, and she practically did! Ruth loved her family and loved celebrating all good occasions with them. If our father were still alive, they would have been married 76 years, and Ruth loved sharing life’s adventures with him. He adored her. We are so proud she is our mother, and we will always be better for her example. We deeply mourn her loss. Graveside services and interment were held at Poale Zedeck Memorial Park Cemetery. Donations can be made in her honor to: The National Foundation of Swallowing Disorders swallowingdisorderfoundation.com/ or dysphagiaoutreach.org/foodbank. We have learned there are more than 15 million people, mostly seniors, suffering from this problem. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com SHAPIRO: Michael Allan Shapiro, Feb. 9, 1950 - Dec. 29, 2021. The family is saddened to announce Michael Shapiro, of Coral Gables, Florida, passed unexpectedly on Dec. 29, 2021, at the age of 71. Michael leaves behind his father, Robert; daughters, Ali McNamara (Ray) and Abbey Stewart (Jason); brother Daniel Shapiro (Sharon); sister Elynn Shapiro; two beautiful grandchildren, Bryce

Stewart and Aubrey Knight; nephews Cole Shapiro and Zane (Lisa) Shapiro; grandnephews Cash and Duke Shapiro; and his uncle Harold Shapiro. Michael was born in Pittsburgh to Robert Shapiro and the late Sophie (Zubroff) Shapiro on Feb. 9, 1950. He graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School, attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, and then received his law degree from the University of Miami School of Law, graduating on the Dean’s list in 1974. Michael practiced general law, trusts, estate planning, and real estate law for 47 years, first for the prestigious Gars, Dixon & Shapiro, and then Michael A. Shapiro Law Office. Michael was a devoted son, father, brother, grandfather, nephew, uncle and friend. He loved his family, gardening, sports and cooking, and was also generous with his time and money to environmental, political and ethical causes. Throughout his life his kindness and love touched and inspired many. He made the lives of those around him better, and his beautiful spirit remains part of us. Michael will truly be missed. Our celebration of his life will take place later this year. If desired, memorial donations in Michael’s honor may be made to the

Nicklaus Children’s Hospital Foundation, 3100 S.W. 62nd Ave, Miami, Fl 33155. STEIN: Barbara Shapiro Stein passed away on Jan. 3, 2022. Barbara was a beloved children’s librarian. She began her career at St. Edmund’s Academy, then as the young adult librarian at the Carnegie Library, Main, and finally at Chatham Elementary, in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, from which she retired in 2003. Born on Jan. 9, 1938, in Waukegan, Illinois, to Harry and Rose Shapiro, Barbara married Stanley Mayer Stein (deceased) in 1959. Barbara was a mah-jongg maven who loved to read mysteries and travel with her cherished mah-jongg friends. She adored her two children, Sally and David (Sheila), and her grandchildren, Sarah, Jesse and Jayne. She is also survived by her sister Linda Grayson (Sawyer), many dear nieces and nephews, cousins and friends. Services at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside, were on Wednesday, Jan. 5, at 2 p.m. Interment Torath Chaim Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Barbara’s memory to Animal Life Line Pittsburgh, 139 E. 8th Avenue, Homestead, PA, 15120. schugar.com  PJC


What I Learned from Getting COVID by James Lange, CPA/Attorney

It was December 5, 2021, and I was experiencing mild cold symptoms. My wife and I were expecting overnight company so, just to be safe, I did a COVID home test. To say I was shocked when I tested positive is an understatement. I’ve had two shots and the booster, but like the doc said, those keep you out of the hospital and reduce symptoms, but breakthrough cases still happen. Many sources mentioned that there were people who had mild symptoms and didn’t learn they had had COVID until much later. As a result, they exposed more people to the virus than they would have if they had known earlier. We purchased the only brand of home test kits that were available at the drugstore. Of course, we postponed our overnight visitor’s stay. But I wasn’t confident of the results until I got the results from the PCR test. Takeaway #1: Stock home test kits and test yourself and/or a loved one if one of you seems to be having cold symptoms — even if you think the chances are remote that you have COVID. Do a bit of research, find a test kit brand that has good reviews, and order them in advance to have on hand. My wife, Cindy tested negative with the home test kit, but also seemed to be having some symptoms. We immediately quarantined from each other and the rest of the world. Odd to be communicating via email with your spouse in the same house! She subsequently took a PCR test and tested negative again, but those results took three to

four days to come back. Cindy never developed COVID. Takeaway #2: The more accurate PCR test will not give you quick results. I have been very careful about staying safe from COVID. I likely got it from a colleague who was near me while helping with our webinars. Other than Cindy, he is the only person I’ve had a lot of contact with. He had a slight cough, and I made the huge mistake of not asking him to leave or at a minimum, requiring him to wear a mask. At the time, I was concerned about catching a cold from him. The fact that I have given away 50,000 masks to nonprofits, family, clients, and friends indicates the level of my concern for preventing transmission, but it didn’t help. All it takes is one misstep. Takeaway #3: The chain is only as strong as its weakest link. You can’t let up even once, even if you are fully vaccinated and have received the booster. From the research I’ve done over the course of the pandemic, it seemed that not only were monoclonal antibodies a good idea to get after a positive test result, but the faster you get them, the better. So, after the home kit results, I wanted to get monoclonal antibodies as soon as possible. While at the medical facility receiving treatment, I did ask for and received a PCR test. The results of my PCR test came back positive. So, I had the official diagnosis of COVID. Takeaway #4: There are reasons some people shouldn’t get monoclonal antibodies. Do your research, make your decision ahead of time,

and find a place where you can get them. My doctors recommended plenty of fluids, rest, and quarantine. But after that, recommendations differ. Some say to get exercise and spend time outside — alone. I decided to take it easy. Takeaway #5: Do your own research and decide if complete rest makes sense for you, or if some physical exercise is okay. Arm yourself with knowledge in advance so you don’t have to decide after you are sick. Doctors and other sources that I trust recommended adding C, D, and zinc. Other sources recommend adding more supplements including melatonin, quercetin, and fish oil. I erred on the side of taking too many supplements rather than too few. Takeaway #6: Decide ahead of time if you want to take supplements and have them on hand. I have to say, my immediate reaction after seeing the positive test was shock. After that, I realized how lucky I was to have contracted it now because 1) I am fully vaccinated and boosted, 2) monoclonal antibodies were available to me less than 24 hours after the positive test, and 3) our daughter, Erica, is safely in Boston, fully vaccinated and boosted. But luck only goes so far. After I drafted this article, we learned that a colleague of ours died recently from, we suspect, COVID. He was in the ICU and had to be intubated. He was an otherwise healthy man in his 4 0s, and we anticipated many more years of collaboration. We have had several older clients also succumb to COVID. We

have all read the statistics, but when it happens to someone you are close to, especially someone who is young and healthy, it hits home more than the statistics. At the risk of offending some because I am giving non-expert advice, I encourage you to get vaccinated if you have not already. If you are vaccinated, get your booster unless there is a compelling reason not to. The unvaccinated put their lives at risk and the lives of others. Getting vaccinated likely protects you from some of the more dire consequences of the disease. Among the vaccinated mostly mild breakthrough cases — like mine—are on the rise. As of now, I am completely symptom free. I expect that because I was fully vaccinated, had the booster, and I received the monoclonal antibodies, I will not suffer any long-term problems. I hope sharing my experience offers you some helpful information.

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The foregoing content from Lange Financial Group, LLC is for informational purposes only, subject to change, and should not be construed as investment or tax advice. Those seeking personalized guidance should seek a qualified professional.



JANUARY 14, 2022  19

Headlines Perlman: Continued from page 5

his 1996 reelection campaign. She was 1 at the time, so the elder Perlman collected photographs of the moment — a handshake — and wrote passages about the day, eventually gifting Tova a custom-made book on the encounter. “She was always very creative and thoughtful about her gifts,” said Tova Perlman, Jonathan Perlman’s daughter, who studied at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in Philadelphia. “She was always just looking around her and the community she was part of and thinking of how to make it better.”

Rabbis: Continued from page 14

hope we continue to follow in these pioneers’ footsteps, valuing a diverse group of leaders for the unique and important gifts they bring to the Jewish people.

Rabbi Sara Rae Perman, Congregation Emanu-El Israel in Greensburg (1986-2017)

I have spent a bit of time thinking about what I wanted to say on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the ordination of Rabbi Sally Priesand. I have to admit, I don’t recall much about how I felt when I heard she had been ordained, perhaps because I was busy with college and family issues. I will say part of

In Shadyside, Perlman advocated for the replacement of bars on Walnut Street with higher-class retail, which gives the neighborhood its unique flavor today. “She kind of changed the neighborhood around her,” Susannah Perlman said. “I think there was something about Pittsburgh she really loved. Her neighbors just lifted her up [and] she kept going up that hill, no matter what.” Alan Hoffman remembers meeting Perlman when he started dating Abby Hoffman, her middle child. “I thought she would’ve made a good Supreme Court justice — she asked a lot of questions,” he laughed. “After 20 minutes of

interrogation, she said, ‘I like you. You’re better than the last one!’” Family members and friends described Perlman as a strong-willed woman who was passionate about protecting — and loving — her kin. “We had a very, very, very close relationship,” said Abby Hoffman, who lives and works in Silver Spring, Maryland. “She was really, really good with children and just had a knack for working with all types of children, reaching them. She was the kind of grandparent who’d get on the floor and play with her grandchildren.” “No matter how busy we were, she also always wanted us to be home Friday night for

Shabbat dinner,” she added. “She was a person who had a really full zest for life … just all around, she was a person who wanted to get the most of life.” Perlman, above all else, “was really into bringing people together,” her grandson, Josh Hoffman, told the Chronicle, “whether that was her family, at events, or evening during the movies at Rodef Shalom.” “She was very family-oriented,” Allan Hoffman said. “And she was the glue that kept the Perlmans very close.”  PJC

me didn’t believe it would result in women’s ordination being so common. When I applied to rabbinical school, I wasn’t sure I would be accepted. In 1975, as part of the Rabbi Sara Rae first class that had a large Perman number of women (12 out of 60) as opposed to just one or two, my colleagues and I did not believe all the women would finish the program. I vividly remember standing on a street corner in Jerusalem with male and female colleagues, saying “She won’t make it…and she won’t make it.” That class with which I started clearly proved the school was committed to ordaining women. Just as there were some women who did not finish the program,

there were also some men who didn’t finish. Over the years, I have come to believe Sally was the perfect first woman rabbi to be ordained in this country. She is quietly but forcefully strong in a non-threatening way. My experience has been that she has always been supportive of the rest of us women. I am thrilled that she is able to celebrate 50 years as a rabbi and that her journey has led to so many other women rabbis being part of the Jewish world.

extends to the Jewish world. Rabbi Priesand opened a door and held it open for the rest of us. The ordination of women has led to a deepening of learning, wider incluRabbi siveness and magnificent Barbara AB creativity, not only within Symons the Reform movement but across Judaism. From female cantors to composers and liturgists, from the scholarship, insights and poetry of such volumes as “The Torah: A Women’s Commentary” (CCAR Press), to the gifts of individual female rabbis on and off the bimah, to female leadership across the denominations and beyond, that single doorway has given way to removable walls. I look at our daughter Ilana, a thirdyear rabbinical student, and I see a level of learning, creativity, empathy and commitment to social justice that I hope is the future of the rabbinate — and with it, Judaism in all its inspirational diversity. Thank you, Rabbi Sally J. Priesand, for opening the door.  PJC

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

In memory of...

A gift from ...

In memory of...

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

Ida Jean and Robert McCormley . .Benjamin Silberman

Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Sidney H. Green

The Love and Rutman Families . . . . . Joel David Cohen

Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William D. Orr Edward M. Goldston . . . . . . . . . . . . Frumie Fraidel Brown Amy R. Kamin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Helen Honig Judith and Falk Kantor . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Louis Kantor

Jay Silberblatt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Chaim Silberblatt

Rabbi Barbara AB Symons, Temple David

When I was in middle school I considered becoming a rabbi. I had never met a female rabbi, yet I was well aware that Rabbi Sally Priesand had been ordained only a few years before so I knew it was possible. Since my synagogue, Temple Gates of Heaven in Schenectady, New York, felt like a second home, I wanted to create that feeling for others and my European-ordained rabbi, Michael Szenes, fully encouraged me. My husband Ron and I (we met our first week at Hebrew Union College — Jewish Institute of Religion in Jerusalem) were ordained in 1994. Just over 100 female rabbis had preceded us. Now, 50 years after Rabbi Priesand’s ordination, I recognize it is a celebration that

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

Jay Silberblatt. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Pauline Silberblatt Brenda Winsberg . . . . . . . . . . . .Frances Winsberg Gusky

Maeola L. Kobacher . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Louis Rapport

Nancy Waldman Yuskovitz & Family . Lois C. Waldman

Stephanie & Alan Letzt . . . . . . . . . . . . . Gertrude Schugar

Nancy Waldman Yuskovitz & Family . .Newman Cohen



Kether Torah Cemetery • Reserve Township


Monday January 17: Esther Berkman, James H. Darling, Jacob J. Gordon, Nathan Labe Land Tuesday January 18: Jacob Adler, Enoch Sisselsky Wednesday January 19: Isadore Pachtman, Milton Ripp Thursday January 20: Max Halle, Ernest Metzger, Mildred Pechersky, Freda Z. Rosen, Rose Rosenfeld, Philip Solomon, Mabel Z. Swartz, Lois C. Waldman Friday January 21: Bertha Ackerman, Newman Cohen Saturday January 22: Celia Glantz, William D. Orr, Geraldine Tyson, Ruth Weinberger

A special meeting of the Hill District congregation Kether Torah was held in 1916 and each member was assessed $50 for the purchase of a cemetery on Hoffman Road in what was then Millvale. The congregation later purchased and expanded south onto a new hilltop section on Irwin Lane, and the cemeteries now total over 700 graves. Adath Israel, a shul in Oakland was granted a small portion of ground within the upper portion. Rabbi Ephraim Rosenblum was Kether Torah’s longstanding spiritual leader, and the congregation is now led by his son Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum. Kether Torah is the last remaining 19th century Pittsburgh congregation to pray in nusach sefard, a blend of Ashkenazi and Kabbalistic traditions. The founding families and early members stayed close. The Rice and Linder families were synonymous with Kether Torah. Harry Linder, known as “Aaron Dovid” served as President from the move off of the Hill to Squirrel Hill, passing away in 1973. Charles Rice served out Harry’s term … and then some. He stayed on for over forty years running the shul, and devotedly lit yahrzeit candles for members throughout the year in his home. His brother Frank Rice chaired the cemetery committee passing away in 2006. Duties were ably assumed by George Weiss. The JCBA is proud to assume the ownership, management, and maintenance of Kether Torah Cemetery in 2022. For more information about JCBA cemeteries, to volunteer, to read our complete histories and/or to make a contribution, please visit our website at www.JCBApgh.org, email us at jcbapgh@gmail.com, or call the JCBA office at 412-553-6469 JCBA’s expanded vision is made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Foundation

20  JANUARY 14, 2022



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Community Good times at Yeshiva Schools

p Students in Yeshiva’s first grade girls class celebrate pajama day.

p From left: Shneur Zalman Weinstein, Menachem Rosenfeld, principal Rabbi Eliezer Shusterman and David Grinberg have fun during a Shabbaton.

Fast feet for a good cause

p From left: Elisheva Weiss, Sulha Moritz, Chava Naiditch, Shaina Frankel and Menucha Shkedi enjoy a shmitah carnival. Photos courtesy of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgher Nathan Azagury joined 250 runners in Israel to highlight the importance of disability inclusion during ADI’s Race for Inclusion. The first annual event, which included

a 2.5K run, raised more than $14,000 to enhance ADI’s respiratory therapy and hydrotherapy programs. Located in Israel, ADI provides comprehensive rehabilitative solutions for children, adolescents and adults with severe disabilities and complex medical conditions.

p Nathan Azagury, center, finished second in the race.

p Participants, including Nathan Azagury (purple mask), celebrate.

Hands up

Creating some fun at Temple David

p Community Day School student Tomio Smuckler proves sticky fingers can sometimes be good. Photo courtesy of Community Day School

p During a recent Mishpachah Mornings program at Temple David, participants create Agam-like art. Photo courtesy of Temple David



Photos courtesy of ADI

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