June 11, 2021 | 1 Tammuz 5781
Candlelighting 8:33 p.m. | Havdalah 9:41 p.m. | Vol. 64, No. 24 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org
Yeshiva Schools set to acquire St. Rosalia site in Greenfield
NOTEWORTHY LOCAL Keeping connected
Pittsburgh stands in solidarity against antisemitism By David Rullo | Staff Writer
school students, Rosenblum said. The plan is to move the boys high school to Greenfield in fall 2021 and the boys elementary school there a year later. The availability of the St. Rosalia site couldn’t have come at a better time given Yeshiva’s space constraints during the past several years, said Yeshiva’s president, Dr. Chaim Oster. With students “bursting at the seams” at Yeshiva’s Squirrel Hill locations, the move was necessary and reflects Yeshiva’s “goal for growth,” as laid out in the school’s five-year strategic plan, he said. Adopted one year ago, the strategic plan calls for students to achieve academic excellence through partnerships facilitated by parents, staff and administrators. Chaim Davidson, a parent of five current
midst the rhythm of a Tuesday afternoon rush hour, about 400 Pittsburghers gathered on June 1, at 6 p.m. on the steps of the City-County Building downtown for a rally dubbed “Stand Against Antisemitism.” Organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the rally was a response to the recent 400% uptick in antisemitic incidents around the globe, including violent attacks in California, Florida and New York. Leaders from the broader community, including elected officials, addressed the crowd in solidarity with the Jewish community. Jewish Federation President and CEO Jeff Finkelstein opened the rally, calling antisemitism “the oldest form of hate.” He presented stark statistics, including the fact that Jews make up about 2% of the United States population yet are the victims of 60% of religion-based hate crimes. After recalling the attack at the Tree of Life building, Finkelstein said the Jewish community must work with its allies to crush both antisemitism and all other forms of hate and bigotry. U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb (D-District 17) spoke of the recent surge of antisemitism, stressing that “violent acts of antisemites cannot be disguised as a form of activism.” “Let me be absolutely clear,” Lamb told the applauding crowd, “Israel is a friend of the United States. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. The existence of Israel is a fact that is non-negotiable.” Nate Nevala, district chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-District 14), spoke on behalf of the congressman, who was unable to attend the rally, saying the rise in violent antisemitic incidents and rhetoric
Please see Yeshiva, page 14
Please see Rally, page 14
Virtual Senior Academy’s popularity swells Page 2
LOCAL Creativity nurtured in New Castle
Siblings shine in television, film and literature Page 3 St. Rosalia School
LOCAL ‘It’s Not a Burden’
By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer
Y Local Lapiduss family featured in documentary Page 17
eshiva Schools is expanding south. The Squirrel Hill-based Jewish day school is under contract to purchase the St. Rosalia site at 411 Greenfield Ave., in Pittsburgh’s Greenfield neighborhood. The nearly 70,000-square-foot property includes two former school buildings. Yeshiva is set to close on the site later this month, with students relocating to Greenfield during the next two years. Acquiring the site and making it the future home of Yeshiva’s Boys School is “linked to the broader strategic plan,” said Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum, Yeshiva’s CEO. With one of the two Greenfield buildings being almost 50,000 square feet in size, there is ample space to educate the nearly 200 boys in its elementary and high schools, and to house between 50 and 60 out-of-town high
Photo courtesy of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh
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A chuppah’s journey
Headlines Virtual Senior Academy doubles participation over past year — LOCAL — By Dionna Dash | Contributing Writer
hile most people have been confined at home for the past 14 months, scores of Pittsburgh seniors have been going on culinary tours of Italy, hiking through France and exploring art museums — all virtually, of course. The Virtual Senior Academy, run by AgeWell at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, has been providing free online classes for people 50 and older since July 2020, and has grown even more popular during the stay-at-home mandates over the past year. “It’s been really important as a way to keep people connected,” said Madeline Barnes, a VSA program coordinator. “Even before the pandemic, social isolation was already affecting many seniors who were homebound.” The VSA was originally created by the Jewish Healthcare Foundation in 2017, but was entrusted to the JCC in early March of last year. Since then, the platform’s membership has increased by 42%, with about 1,400 active users in total. “It was kind of perfect timing considering [the JCC] had just closed our doors,” Barnes said, referring to the transfer of stewardship. “It gave us some leverage to help people when we really needed it.” All of the program’s classes are run by volunteer facilitators, and it offers courses on a variety of subjects. Several local organizations offer specialty classes, such as an art exploration seminar with the Andy Warhol Museum and a chess series from Venture Outdoors. Other offerings include book
p Filomena Varvaro
Photo by Paul Fanelli
clubs, health lectures, music lessons and a popular computer literacy workshop. While the academy was intended for Pittsburgh-area seniors, people of all ages from all locales are welcome to participate. Recently, there has been an uptick in participants from across the U.S., and one facilitator even had a person from the United Kingdom in their class. “It’s almost become an international program,” Barnes said. “It’s wonderful to see that it’s having such a mass appeal.” For Joe Brosky, that appeal started back in 2017 after he retired from a 45-year career in law enforcement, banking and steel. Brosky had returned to his hometown of Pittsburgh to be with family and to see old friends. He was just beginning to rebuild his social network when COVID struck and the
stay-at-home mandate was imposed. “The first thing I did was jump on Coffee Connect,” a semi-monthly morning class where participants chat casually about various topics, “and it was a lot of fun and a nice group of people,” Brosky said. He soon found he was missing the group during the off-weeks, and so, encouraged by his fellow members, he started Cupa Joe, a similar course, for the in-between weeks. During Cupa Joe, Brosky, an avid hiker, often shows photos and maps from his explorations, including a 108-mile hike on the Trans Mont Blanc trail in France that he completed with his wife. The participants discuss their own experiences touring national parks and encountering wildlife. “It just tickles me — it’s so fun to see how conversations and friendships develop,”
Brosky said. “We’re all Zooming, there’s no physical contact, we’re not actually having a cup of coffee together, but everyone’s always so happy to see each other.” Besides hosting Cupa Joe, Brosky enjoys taking art history classes run by the Carnegie Museum and a dance course from Attack Theater. The VSA has given him a sense of agency during the pandemic. “Socialization is what I miss the most, and I wanted to do something to give back to the community,” he said. “It’s been really good for me because I feel like I’m helping others, and at the same time, they’re helping me. It’s gratifying.” Filomena Varvaro, another facilitator and participant, shares that sentiment. Varvaro got involved with the VSA in late 2017 and was teaching her first class by January 2018. A former medical-surgical nurse and professor with the Duquesne University School of Nursing, Varvaro’s courses focus on physical, emotional and social health, including a class on controlling blood pressure and another about expressing gratitude. While her professional interests are in healthcare, Varvaro’s favorite classes to participate in are art courses. “I never had an opportunity to take art and music and theater in school because I was always taking professional classes,” she said, adding that she recently enrolled in a painting class from the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust as well as an acting seminar. “Probably the best class I ever took was about how to make greeting cards,” Varvaro said. “Over the holidays, I hand-made 176 cards and sent them all across the country to everybody that I knew since I couldn’t visit them. It was so relaxing.” PJC Dionna Dash is a writer living in Pittsburgh.
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Headlines For New Castle siblings, creativity runs in the family harder to find. “I was one of a thousand handsome young guys trying to parlay my charisma into By David Rullo | Staff Writer Hollywood gold,” he said. When that didn’t happen, Kanan went he escape provided by a dark back to the drawing board, studying his craft movie theater had a lasting and taking acting lessons. impact on Sean Kanan. “I did quite a bit of theater and then I “Film had a profound effect on me,” started working again,” he said. “It was like the actor, writer, personal coach and going into the cocoon and coming out as a motivational speaker remembered. “It new butterfly.” was very moving.” If there’s one person that would underKanan grew up with his stand Kanan’s cocoon metaphor, sister, Robyn, and parents Dale it’s his sister, Robyn Bernstein. and Michele Perelman 50 miles The Duke University graduate northwest of Pittsburgh in believed she might find a career New Castle, Pennsylvania. He in music. Instead, Bernstein attended Mercersburg Academy is celebrating the publication — a college-prep school — of her first book, “Songs from before heading to Boston the Other Side.” Years ago, she University and the University submitted a story to Seventeen of California, Los Angeles, to Magazine, earning an honorstudy political science. able mention, although it was “I used to love going to the not published. movies by myself,” Kanan said. “I tucked that away,” “Clint Eastwood as the Outlaw Robyn Bernstein Bernstein said. “I liked writing Photo provided by and I liked the commentary Josey Wales, Alec Guinness as Robyn Bernstein Obi-Wan Kenobi, Bruce Lee in I got. The fact that it wasn’t ‘’Enter the Dragon” — those published didn’t bother me. guys were my earliest mentors.” I really liked the quietness of After graduating from college, having my own story.” Kanan was able to turn his love Bernstein calls “Songs from of movies into a career. He was the Other Side” a coming-of-age cast as Mike Barnes in “The story that deals with grief and Karate Kid III” before joining loss. “Essentially, though, it’s an the Fox series “The Outsiders.” uplifting story,” she said. He then went on to play A.J. Bernstein said creativity runs Quartermaine in the ABC soap through her family, pointing opera “General Hospital.” to her father. Kanan’s most recent project, “My dad was a businessman,” the Amazon Prime Video show Sean Kanan she said. “He worked long hours Photo provided by “Studio City,” has already been and very hard. At the end of the Sean Kanan nominated for two Daytime evening, he was there for time Emmy Awards and he’s hoping for more with us. But when we went to bed, he would nods when the rest of the nominations are go into the guest room and he would write.” announced June 28. The actor also recently Kanan said his father worked in the filmed two movies with Bruce Willis. family business, the popular King’s Jewelry As if that’s not enough to keep him busy, chain. The patriarch is no longer involved Kanan recently published his third book, a in the business, but the chain remains motivational work titled “The Way of the in the family, owned by Kanan’s and COBRA” (an acronym for character opti- Bernstein’s cousin David. mization, balance, respect and abundance), Their dad was also involved in the that the author said contains “battle tested now-closed Temple Hadar Israel, where strategies I’ve used to achieve success in my both siblings celebrated their respective life.” (Not coincidentally, Kanan’s character b’nai mitzvah. in “The Karate Kid III” is a student at the When not working on “Studio City” Cobra Kai dojo.) with his wife, Michele, Kanan is excited to While it might seem that success came easy promote “The Way of the COBRA,” and to to Kanan, as a child he was undisciplined hear from those who have used it to find and found structure in martial arts, he said. success in their own lives. “I was a little wild,” he said. “I needed “I’ve been getting emails from people something to give me guidance and some all over the world telling me how it’s been parameters and discipline.” affecting them in a positive way,” he said. The sport has become a passion for Both Kanan and Bernstein are anxious to Kanan, who has studied karate and kick- begin new projects. Bernstein has started a boxing. He recently penned the story, “Your second novel, this time about four sisters, Karate’s a Joke!” for Black Belt Magazine and Kanan is busy launching an interactive after spending a week training with Adam website, WayOfTheCobra.com. McKinley, a martial artist Kanan discov“It’s been an incredible year so far,” Kanan ered doing what the actor called “the most said. “I’m very humbled.” PJC unbelievable kicks” on TikTok. David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ After his time on “General Hospital” ended, Kanan said acting roles became pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
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JUNE 11, 2021 3
Headlines Wedding canopy threads together generations and communities PRES
— LOCAL —
By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer
24, 2 , june y a d s hur
Drive-In Concert on the Big Screen Heinz Field Gold Parking Lot #1 Thursday, June 24, Lot Opens 6 PM
he only “something new” Dr. Marissa Elana Baron Mahan wore for her May 30 wedding was a pair of shoes. On her wrist was a gold cuff belonging to her grandmother Sauny Baron. On her ears were pearls with diamonds that her mother, Deborah Baron, sported as a bride 31 years ago. And the long white gown she wore as she walked down the aisle at Stonewall Resort in Roanoke, West Virginia, was a nod to the past, too — both her mother and her aunt, Lisa Young, wore that dress decades earlier on their own wedding days. In addition to these precious hand-medowns, Mahan was similarly surrounded by familiar and cherished articles, including an aged cloth canopy. Yellowed and tattered, and carefully erected above the wooden dance floor in Roanoke, the chuppah not only represented the home Mahan and her
husband, Sidney, were set to create, but served as a bridge between generations and communities. Mahan, 28, who goes by “Mari,” was named for her maternal great-grandfather, Morris Stein. Born Feb. 12, 1910, in Russia, Stein eventually came to Pittsburgh and became a beloved member and officer of the Homestead Hebrew Congregation. “My father had been such a part of that synagogue when he was alive,” said Stein’s daughter Iris Nahemow, 83. Said his granddaughter, Deborah Baron, 58, “He used to drive around and pick up people to help make a minyan.” As a child, Baron often attended the “Homestead shul” with Stein. She recalled the building’s layout, its balcony from where women would pray, the pews where she and her grandfather sat, and the congregation’s final years before its 1993 closure. Leading up to her 1988 wedding, Baron wished for the ceremony to take place at her Please see Canopy, page 15
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p Dr. Mari and Sidney Mahan stand beneath the chuppah. Photo courtesy of Joe Appel Photography
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p Deborah and David Baron beneath the same chuppah at their wedding. Photo courtesy of Deborah Baron
6/7/21 10:48 AM
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Ralph Schugar Funeral Chapel prepared for indoor services
fter being closed for in-person services on its premises since the start of the pandemic, Ralph Schugar Funeral Chapel is prepared to be “fully open” for families wishing to hold funeral services indoors, said Sharon Ryave Brody, owner and president of Schugar’s. Schugar’s has been closed to indoor funeral services since the COVID-19 pandemic forced it and other businesses to temporarily shutter their doors, Brody explained. “The priority has always been to keep my staff safe, to keep the Chevra Kadisha safe and the public that we serve safe,” she said. Brody has begun thinking about reopening Schugar’s chapel, but no one has requested indoor services yet. Ralph Schugar Funeral Home “We are definitely prepared to be fully p Photo by Adam Reinherz open,” she said. “We’re also aware that not everyone may be ready for that. We want sanitizer. “We have a full-time staff that takes to meet people where they are with their care of disinfecting,” Brody said. comfort level.” While Brody is aware that other funeral Families are still requesting small, grave- homes have already reopened their chapels side gatherings, Brody said, and Schugar’s to the public, she doesn’t regret being closed has begun offering a hybrid service — because of the pandemic. allowing families to gather at the funeral “But I do feel that it’s time to meet people home and travel in procession to a cemetery. at their comfort level,” she said. “We’re Schugar’s has put safety measures in place definitely up for that.” PJC for families’ safety, including requiring social JC TurnUpLife2020_Eartique 9:42 hand AM Page 1 distancing and masks, and 6/8/20 providing — David Rullo
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Calendar Submit calendar items on the Chronicle’s website, pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. Submissions also will be included in print. Events will run in the print edition beginning one month prior to the date as space allows. The deadline for submissions is Friday, noon.
q FRIDAY, JUNE 11 Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Young Adult Division and One Table for their first inperson Game Night Shabbat event since the start of the pandemic. 6:30 p.m. jewishpgh.org/event
q SATURDAY, JUNE 12 Celebrate Shabbos at Raccoon Park with Moishe House Pittsburgh and enjoy a hike out in nature. The Park is about 45 minutes away, so let Moishe House know if you need a ride or if you’re able to drive others. If it’s warm enough, folks who want to may even be able to swim. If you prefer some solo time to reflect in nature, there will be an option for that, too. 11 a.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/ moishehouse.pittsburgh.
q SUNDAY, JUNE 13
q SUNDAYS, JUNE 13, 20, 27
q WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16
Join a lay-led Online Parashah Study Group to discuss the week’s Torah portion. No Hebrew knowledge is needed. The goal is to build community while deepening understanding of the text. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org.
The Pittsburgh chapter of Hadassah and Hadassah Greater Detroit Wellness Wednesday presents “A Delicious Therapeutic Experience” with Julie Ohana, culinary art therapist at 11 a.m. Register by Monday, June 14. hadassahmidwest.org/GDWW2021.
q MONDAY, JUNE 14
Join Moishe House Pittsburgh for Outdoor Game Night. Learn a new social deduction game called “Insider.” Imagine 20 Questions meets Werewolf/ Mafia. It’s easy to learn and a lot of fun. It’s also socially distanced and quick to play. Drop into the game whenever, or just stay and chat. Drinks and snacks provided. 6 p.m. facebook.com/ moishehouse.pittsburgh
Throughout our history, Jews have never shrunk from a good argument, and we have had plenty of them — from the moment we got out of Egypt until today. In the course Top Ten Disputes, Rabbi Danny Schiff will take a close look at the top 10 disputes of Jewish history. How did they start? What made them so contentious? And how were they ultimately resolved? Five sessions for $25. 9:30 a.m. For more information and to register, visitfoundation.jewishpgh.org/top-ten-disputes. Join Moishe House and volunteer at the Sheridan Avenue Orchard and Garden. All the food grown is donated to East End Cooperative Ministries. Help with projects like weeding, trash cleanup, planting and caring for plants. 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/moishehouse.pittsburgh.
Eleanor Roosevelt Hadassah presents “An Afternoon of Broadway Entertainment.” Broadway stars Nick Cartell and Jennifer Dinoia will entertain online by performing their favorite songs and sharing stories from and about their careers, followed by a question-and-answer session. 4 p.m. $36 general admission, $54 mezzanine, $72 orchestra. hadassahmidwest.org/RooseveltBroadway
q MONDAYS, JUNE 14, 21, 28
Join Moishe House Pittsburgh for a backyard BBQ featuring beer, a bonfire, kosher meat, along with vegetarian options. Attendance is capped at 15 people. 6 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/ moishehouse.pittsburgh.
Rodef Shalom’s Jewish Pittsburgh History Series will feature a presentation by Jeff Suzik, director of the Falk Laboratory School. His topic will be “Falk Laboratory School and the Falk Family’s Transformative Commitment to Progressive Education in Pittsburgh.” 7 p.m. Free. rodefshalom.org/jewish-history-series
6 JUNE 11, 2021
Join Congregation Beth Shalom for a weekly Talmud study. 9:15 a.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org.
q TUESDAY, JUNE 15
q THURSDAY, JUNE 17 Jews have never desisted from addressing tough problems. In this year’s CLE series, Rabbi Danny Schiff will dive into Tense Topics of Jewish Law. Each topic raises significant concerns in our contemporary lives. With CLE/CEU credit: $30/session or $150 all sessions; without CLE/CEU credit: $25/session or $125 all sessions. 8:30 a.m. For more information, including a complete list of topics, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org/ continuing-legal-education.
q SUNDAY, JUNE 20 Celebrate the longest day of the year crafting with Moishe House Pittsburgh. They’ll have materials for drawing and sculpting, as well as drinks and snacks. 4 p.m. facebook.com/moishehouse.pittsburgh
q WEDNESDAY, JUNE 23 The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh welcomes Professor Laurence Glasco. Glasco will present The Story and Modern Contextualization of Juneteenth, a discussion on the history of Juneteenth and its relevance
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and celebration today. The event is moderated by Josiah Gilliam and is in collaboration with Mission Continues. 7:30 p.m. Free. jewishpgh.org/event/reshaping-american
q THURSDAY, JUNE 24 Hadassah Chicago-North Shore invites you to a virtual summer concert, “Let Us Find Peace,” presented by Lori Ann Powrozek. 11:30 a.m. Register by June 22 for this free online event at hadassahmidwest. org/CNSconcert. In collaboration with the Warsaw JCC, Partnership2Gether Pittsburgh-Karmiel/Misgav-Warsaw has invited Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett for Cooking2Gether: The Soup That Travelled 1000 Miles. Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is an author and curator for the POLIN Museum. She will share her reinterpretation of her mother’s split pea soup. Maria Kos, the educator at the Warsaw JCC, will be cooking while she chats with Barbara. 12 p.m. jewishpgh.org/ event/cooking2gether-virtual-cooking-class-3 Join the Jewish Association on Aging for Broadway Under the Stars Drive-In, a live, virtual concert by Mandy Gonzalez, Broadway star of “Hamilton” and “In the Heights.” Safe-distance parking. Bring your own lawn chairs. Drive-in style food, soft drinks and dessert served (dietary laws observed). 21 and older, BYOB (per PLCB). Drive in or view at home. Proceeds benefit the care and services provided by JAA to our community’s seniors. Lot opens at 6 p.m.; program begins at 7 p.m. jaapgh.org/events
q FRIDAY, JUNE 25-SATURDAY, JUNE 26 Join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Mayor’s Office, and Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, for a two-day service event at Westinghouse Park in honor of the Juneteenth holiday. Registration is required as we will be providing lunch. If you plan to volunteer both days, please sign up for both events. 9 a.m. jewishpgh.org/event/juneteenth-westinghousepark-service-project PJC
Headlines Boxing rabbi heading back into the ring — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle
world champion boxer-turned-rabbi is returning to the squared circle on a comeback mission this month. Yuri Foreman, after winning 27 of his first 28 pro fights, won the World Boxing Association’s super welterweight championship title in 2009 in the Las Vegas desert. But his life story began in Gomel, Belarus, then part of the Soviet Union, where he was born and started boxing after getting bullied in elementary school. On June 6 he spoke via Zoom to roughly 100 supporters of the Jewish state during an Israel Bonds program hosted by Chabad houses across the country, including those in Pittsburgh. The event featured the talk with Foreman, followed by a virtual training session for those who purchased at least one $36 Israel Bond. Foreman, who did not hesitate to break the mold of the stone-faced fighter, laughed when recalling the much-promoted fight between Mike Tyson and Donovan “Razor” Ruddock — the first of two times the heavyweights squared off that year — which he saw shortly before moving to Israel in May 1991. “I was growing up with Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris, all action stars, martial artists,” he
Harold Marcus chats with Rabbi Yuri Foreman
said. “When I saw Mike Tyson [fight], I was just blown away. After that fight, I realized I wanted to go to the United States. I wanted to be a world champion.” In his new home in Haifa, Israel, Foreman continued to develop his nascent boxing skills at gyms in an Arab village where Russian immigrants would serve as trainers and mentors. During his nine years in Israel as an amateur, Foreman participated in 50 fights and some national tournaments, and took home the Israeli national championship three times. “But, growing up on ‘Rocky’ movies, I always wanted to try my best in America,” Foreman said. He moved to Brooklyn in 1999 and started training at the iconic Gleason’s Gym in Brooklyn, where he estimated about 130 world champions had trained during the
Screenshot by Justin Vellucci
establishment’s 84-year history. “The American dream — it sounds really good, but the reality is you have to work a lot, you really have to have faith in yourself,” Foreman said. “In sports, it’s not just your physical self. It’s not, ‘How big are your muscles?’ It’s also the soul, it’s the spirit … and that’s what pushes you over obstacles,” he added. “I realized boxing is not all physical [and] that’s when I started looking into my spiritual self — my Jewish roots, so to speak.” Foreman eventually connected with a synagogue and, under the mentorship of Rabbi DovBer Pinson, started studying Judaism. In 2014, he was ordained a rabbi. Foreman racked up a 75-5 record as an amateur boxer in New York. After turning pro, on Nov. 14, 2009, he defeated Daniel Santos in a 12-round decision to become a WBA champ — the first hailing from Israel.
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Yuri Foreman in 2008 Photo by Adam Ritter, CC BY-SA 3.0 creativecommons.org licenses by-sa 3.0
He lost the belt a year later in a fight with Miguel Cotto, the first fight to take place at the new Yankee Stadium in Bronx, New York. J. Russell Peltz, the Philadelphia-based boxing promoter who gave audiences a history of Jews in boxing before speaking Sunday with the Israeli pugilist, asked Foreman, who is a vegan, about the impact of winning the belt. He admitted he occasionally wondered if Please see Boxing, page 15
NCJW Pittsburgh’s 20212022 Board of Directors VODWHLQGLFDWHGE\
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Jody Rabhan &KHLI3ROLF\2IĆFHURI NCJW National
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
JUNE 11, 2021 7
Headlines — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer
he news that Pennsylvania’s COVID-19 restrictions would begin to be loosened in May was met with enthusiasm by many state residents. As more people were vaccinated, businesses were allowed to move from 50% to 75% occupancy, then finally to 100% on Memorial Day. Several businesses, including some grocery and department stores, began allowing vaccinated customers to shop without masks. But while many Jewish Pittsburghers were thrilled at the prospect of attending synagogue again or picking up a challah for Shabbat without a mask, others were filled with anxiety over the idea of walking tight grocery aisles sans face coverings, and encountering other shoppers that may — or may not — have been vaccinated. “I do still wear a mask when I go to the store,” said Kathy Ginsburg, who was vaccinated in March. “Being indoors, amongst people that you have no idea whether they’re vaccinated or not is still uncomfortable for me.” Concern for her children, both of whom have completed their first round of
vaccination, and her mother and mother-in-law, are motivating factors for Ginsburg. Still, the South Hills resident said that despite continuing to be cautious for herself and her family, she doesn’t have an issue with others not wearing a mask in public. “I can’t fault others for following the CDC guidelines,” she said. And yet, Ginsburg noted, there is value to the normalization of donning masks in public settings. “I think wearing masks is a great solution — if you’re sick, you want to prevent others from getting what you have,” she said. “It’s just common courtesy.” Cantor Rena Shapiro was fully vaccinated by the end of February but she didn’t rush to join those in line at the post office or head to the mall. “I didn’t start going back into the stores for quite a bit,” she said. While she has become more comfortable venturing out, Shapiro said she isn’t ready to ditch her mask, despite new store policies. “I know some stores are saying if you’re comfortable without a mask, you don’t have to wear one,” she said. “I’m still wearing mine in all indoor settings.” What Shapiro has been willing to give up are the plastic gloves she used to wear while shopping, but she still carries disinfectant
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June 11, 2013 — Google buys Waze
Google agrees to pay roughly $1 billion for Israel-based social-mapping service Waze, which came from a program called FreeMap Israel that launched in 2006.
June 12, 2014 — 3 teens are abducted, killed
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David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
This week in Israeli history
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wipes and hand sanitizer with her. Shapiro, the spiritual leader at Beth Samuel Jewish Center in Ambridge, also continues to wear a mask in restaurants whenever she isn’t eating. Being cautious, she said, is part of her nature. Both Ginsburg and Shapiro said they have given up wearing masks outside, as long they aren’t in large groups of people. But the Three Rivers Arts Festival is an example of an outdoor event where Shapiro said she might still wear a face covering. “You don’t know who hasn’t been vaccinated yet,” she said. “Yeah, if I’m in a crowd
outside I will probably still wear one.” Leora Goldberg, 16, is also unwilling to attend large group events without a mask unless she’s sure that everyone else there has been vaccinated. Goldberg, who got her second shot two weeks ago — after recovering from COVID 19 — said she still wears a mask when she goes to the grocery store, even though most supermarkets have relaxed their regulations. “My risk is very, very low and now that I’ve had my second shot, I’m hopeful that I’ve gotten through the worst of it,” she said. Squirrel Hill resident Lenny Plotkin is “way past the two-week period” since he received his second shot, he said. He stopped wearing a mask as soon as it was permissible and doesn’t experience anxiety in public without it. Plotkin also doesn’t mind seeing others without masks. “The fact is that I’m vaccinated,” he said. “If people that aren’t vaccinated decide to go without a mask, they do so at their own risk and if they do so, that’s their business.” Asked where he might still feel the urge to wear a mask, Plotkin joked, “at an anti-vaxxers convention.” PJC
Three Israelis ages 16 to 19 are abducted while hitchhiking near Alon Shvut in the West Bank and are shot dead. The two attackers are believed to be Hamas members. The bodies are found 18 days later.
June 13, 1947 — Diplomat and Judge Elyakim Rubinstein is born
Elyakim Rubinstein is born in Tel Aviv. He participates in Egyptian peace talks in the 1970s, chairs the delegation to the Madrid peace conference and
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
to Jordanian peace talks, and serves on the Supreme Court from 2004 to 2017.
June 14, 1985 — TWA flight 847 is hijacked
Two Lebanese men hijack TWA Flight 847 between Athens and Rome and force the 727 to fly to Beirut. The terrorists kill a U.S. Navy diver and separate out suspected Jewish hostages.
June 15, 1970 — Refuseniks are arrested before stealing plane
A plot to steal a 12-seat commercial aircraft to escape the Soviet Union is foiled when 12 dissidents are arrested at a Leningrad airport. The case draws attention to refuseniks, Jews blocked from emigrating.
June 16, 1933 — Jewish Agency official Haim Arlosoroff is killed
Two men fatally shoot the Jewish Agency’s Haim Arlosoroff, just back from arranging Jewish emigration from Germany, on the beach in Tel Aviv. The crime is never solved.
June 17, 1939 — St. Louis returns to Europe
The SS St. Louis completes its recrossing of the Atlantic to Europe after all but 28 of the 938 Jewish refugees on board are denied admission to Cuba or the United States. PJC
Photo by Dima Berlin via iStockphoto.com
Mandates have been relaxed, but some Pittsburghers still masking up
Headlines Anti-Israel message painted on Fence at CMU — LOCAL — By Sarah Abrams | Staff Writer
he “Fence,” which sits in the middle of Carnegie Mellon University’s Oakland campus, has served as a rotating billboard of sorts for decades. It is most often used to advertise student organizations, parties and even marriage proposals. But on May 10, CMU’s Muslim Student Association painted the message, “Israel is an Apartheid State. Save Sheik Jarrah” on its walls. Students need not seek approval from CMU to paint the Fence. Images of the Fence with the anti-Israel message were posted that day on the Instagram account, @cmufence, which is student run and unaffiliated with the university. Comments on the post ranged from “am yisrael chai, Israel will never be defeated” and Israeli flag emojis, to arguments between Zionist and anti-Zionist students debating the meaning of the word “apartheid.” The Muslim Student Association “had been privately discussing the events in Palestine and decided to paint the Fence,” the organization’s president, Aidan Place, told the Chronicle. “It was something [MSA] wanted to do for a while but it felt taboo,” added Ali El-Sadany, a member of the MSA who helped organize the fence painting. “[They] decided now was the time to start a conversation.”
An athletic student organization repainted the Fence two days later to advertise ultimate frisbee. The day after the message appeared, Jewish students received an email from CMU Hillel’s student president, Tahlia Altgold, addressing “the current conflict occurring in Jerusalem and the painting of The Fence.” “After outreach efforts, thankfully we can share that the students who painted the Fence did not have antisemitic intentions,” she wrote. “Many of us are hurting, due to both the ongoing tensions in Israel and the Fence’s message right on our campus. At the same time, we respect and acknowledge similar sentiments that others in the CMU community are experiencing. “The Jewish community is here to support you during this time, whatever you may need,” the email continued. “We urge you to reach out to us with any questions, concerns, or needs, even if you would simply like to talk. Especially as the current conflict in Israel continues on, we are here to support you through these times. Our hearts are in Jerusalem, as we pray for peace and security throughout Israel and the region.” Zachary Leventhal, president of AEPi, CMU’s Jewish fraternity, told the Chronicle that, prior to the ultimate frisbee group repainting the fence, Jewish student leaders “discussed reaching out to the Muslim Student Association to discuss a possible solution
A message on the CMU Fence on May 10, painted by the Muslim Student Association, read “Israel is an Apartheid state.” Screenshot from @cmufence
where both organizations could paint half the Fence together,” with messages side by side from each group. However, those Jewish leaders “were ultimately concerned that any effort to repaint the Fence could catalyze antisemitic harassment on campus.” While CMU officials have not released a public statement regarding the anti-Israel message on the Fence, some members of CMU’s Jewish community did receive support from the administration. “We very much appreciated the immediate and direct outreach from senior CMU administrators to Jewish students and Hillel JUC [Jewish University Center of Pittsburgh] to ensure that students were heard and supported,” said Dan Marcus, executive director and CEO of Hillel JUC in an email to the Chronicle. “Next semester we look forward to continuing to provide Jewish
and non-Jewish students with a diverse array of Israel education and travel opportunities.” Going forward, AEPi’s Leventhal said he “wants to see more of a dialogue between the Muslim Student Association and other Middle Eastern student groups and Jewish student organizations because it’s important for [everyone] to be able to have those conversations.” The Muslim Student Association “has worked with Hillel in the past, mostly on interfaith events,” MSA’s vice president, Mansour Elsharawy, told the Chronicle. “So as long as one side is not dominating the issue, [MSA] would be willing to participate in a balanced discussion in the future.” A CMU spokesperson could not be reached for comment prior to press time. PJC Sarah Abrams can be reached at sabrams@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
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PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
JUNE 11, 2021 9
Opinion Partners in the battle against antisemitism — EDITORIAL —
he announcement last week that Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) is leading a group of Jewish and Black senators in establishing a coalition to fight antisemitism and racism is welcome news. Booker is a good friend of the Jewish community, and we are pleased to see that he has already been joined by Sens. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Tim Scott (R-S. Car.). “The Black community understands the pain of discrimination that our Jewish friends have faced both here and abroad,” Scott said in a statement. “With anti-Semitism on the rise, it’s increasingly important that we stand united.”
We agree. Our community is strengthened by the support of allies. Coalitions among those in a position to support shared objectives are necessary in order to pass legislation and to effect change. We cannot do it alone. We rely on our allies and friends — just as our community has been present and supportive of others in times of need. The recent fighting between Hamas in Gaza and Israel coincided with a burst of hostilities against Jews in this country and abroad. As we noted in this space last week, the Secure Community Network reported an 80% increase in antisemitic attacks last month. And it’s getting worse. In just one week in May, the Anti-Defamation League found more than 17,000 tweets using variations of the phrase, “Hitler was right.” And
although that number lacks context — since we don’t know how many similar tweets there were in prior weeks — it is nonetheless disturbing. As Warnock put it, “We all have to hold the line against hate. We have to show up for one another. Coalitions certainly give us the power to do that.” The Senate Coalition comes two years after the establishment of a similar Congressional Caucus on Black-Jewish Relations in the House. That’s good. But now that the structure is there, we need more than words — we need action. We call on the Senate coalition to act quickly to set goals, establish an agenda and take firm steps toward implementation. That includes pressing President Biden to appoint a Jewish liaison to the White House as well as a State Department
ambassador-at-large to monitor and combat antisemitism. And it includes a concerted, bipartisan effort to pass the Prevent AntiSemitic Hate Crimes Act. Finally, while the initial members of the Senate Coalition deserve praise, we expect to see more Jewish members of the Senate join its ranks. The Senate’s three Black members are all on board. We call on every Jewish senator to join, as well. The only ideology that matters here is the firm, unwavering commitment to fight antisemitism and bigotry in all of its ugly forms. Any Jewish senator that doesn’t join will have a lot of explaining to do. Coalitions are formed because members believe that “we will support them, and at some point they will support us.” Our “some point” has arrived. PJC
How a ‘wokestorm’ is misleading a generation about Israel Guest Columnist Rabbi Avram Mlotek
ust a few weeks ago, the streets of New York City were filled with thousands of people shouting “intifada” while also claiming “Black Lives Matter.” In that same period, a violent pro-Palestinian mob attacked Jews on the streets of New York. Others violently assaulted Jews at a restaurant in Los Angeles, vandalized European synagogues and targeted Jews in Chicago and Montreal. Normally, unprovoked attacks against another group of people would be widely condemned and its perpetrators called out for what they are. But these attacks were “tied” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,
so many on the left defended them in the name of freedom of assembly and freedom of speech — or worse, by suggesting that the victims somehow deserved it. In light of the recent violence in Israel and Gaza, woke warriors today are rehashing their charges of “apartheid,” claiming Israel is a “white supremacist” society seeking to subvert and cleanse its Palestinian population. But something far more insidious is happening as well in Jewish communities all over the world: Jew haters are using the conflict in the Middle East as an excuse to unleash their unabashed hatred of Jews wherever they dwell. How can honest advocates for justice condone such violent attacks against a people? The answer is a simple one, though many refuse to accept it: Antisemitism is socially acceptable among the woke. Or to put in “boomers” terms, apparently Jewish blood is
still cheap. Nearly 80 years ago, Jewish children were burned in ovens under German state-sponsored terrorism while the world shrugged. The world is still shrugging as Israeli children go to sleep in bomb shelters, fearful for their lives and well-being. Israelis come in all colors and creeds. Look at Lod, Haifa and Acre, the multiethnic, multicultural cities of Arabs and Jews torn apart by rioting during last month’s conflict. It is because Israel strives to be a country “of all its inhabitants” — including 2 million Arab citizens — that the unrest is being treated as an internal crisis, and politicians have condemned Jewish vigilantes and Arab rioters. Israeli Jews are roughly divided between Ashkenazi Jews with roots in Europe and Sephardi or Mizrahi Jews with roots around the Mediterranean and the Middle East, who in turn were descendants of Jews from the
Holy Land going back hundreds and thousands of years. Claiming that Jews are white, European “colonizers of Israel” — as woke activists frequently do — is about as historically honest as saying Native Americans don’t have a right to live in the United States. Unfortunately, segments of the Jewish population are some of the most vocal supporters of this fraudulent ideology, trading our people for acceptance, forgetting our own history for the expediency of being politically correct. Jewish Currents magazine would have us believe that Israel still needs to perform “teshuva” (repentance) for providing safe haven to Jews in 1948 (forget that countless Arab countries expelled their Jews then). IfNotNow questions whether Zionism — the movement for Jewish self-determination, the movement Please see Mlotek, page 11
What a stand-up comic is learning about almost dying Guest Columnist Avi Liberman
was in a very serious car accident less than two weeks ago that required emergency brain surgery, and, as I am writing this, I have 32 staples in my skull and have partial paralysis on the left side of my face. I was 25 minutes away from dying — but let’s start off with the good news. As a standup comic, that’s what I’m supposed to do anyway. Some people thought this is way too early to reflect on what I’m going through, but it’s such a unique time, why not seize it? I can also finally stare at a screen without getting a big headache, so I might as well take advantage. No time like the present. As far as the positives: I can walk. I can see. And my recovery was described as, shall we say, “rare,” when it came to the speed of it, in terms of being able to balance, dizziness, and numerous other things. I try to exercise regularly and took some small pride when they started taking my vitals, and they kept
10 JUNE 11, 2021
asking, “Do you run or something?” Once I was standing, I was doing regular walking laps around the hallways of the hospital and I’d get some looks from the nurses, all positive. Emotionally, there were also positives that I would have never imagined. As I awoke from the surgery (I have no memory of getting hit by the truck), I remember seeing my parents walking in and my friend Rachel on the phone. Rachel was telling a nurse: “Yes, I’m his sister,” which she’s not. But Rachel is tough as nails, and clearly wasn’t going to put up with whatever technical rules they had as far as visitors. While I was in agony — since I had a tube down my throat and was now throwing up from it — the ICU nurse Kate, kept cleaning it up and fought to get it taken out. She called in a doctor and said my oxygen levels were fine and the doctor agreed, and cleared her to remove it. She told me she would still have to insert a tube down my nose and into my stomach and it was going to hurt so I should grab the hand of Rachel and squeeze. I did, and made it through. My sister (my actual sister, who is a nurse) came in from Massachusetts, and my brother from L.A. was right behind her. They both told me, “You’re aware there are a ton of
people worried about you and inquiring?” I honestly wasn’t, but it obviously gave me hope. I was beyond touched. It mattered to me more than anything that people reached out. My sister’s strength is her calm demeanor and level head (no pun intended with the head reference), and I remember thinking when she came in, “Thank God.” My brother’s strength is his intensity, and, when it came to gathering records, making sure the necessary medication was being prescribed and connecting with doctors I would need when I was released, he was all over it. My parents were a whole other level of caring, which I can’t even really describe, so I won’t. The friends, and some strangers, who were allowed into the hospital were also beyond helpful. It was amazing how much they cared. As a practicing Jew, as Friday night approached, I became worried. Visitors were not allowed after 8 p.m. and the Sabbath was rolling in right about that time. How was I going to recite or listen to the Kiddush? Before I knew it, out of nowhere, two young Chabad Jews walked into my room and took over. “How did you guys even get in here?” “We’re officially clergy!” they said. “We’re on the list and Rabbi Klein at the synagogue
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
in Aventura arranged it!” When they started reciting various blessings, I tried to join in, but absolutely broke down. I could barely get through it. A Chabad Hasid named Mendy Goren passed away a couple years ago, and I wrote an article about how much he and his family in Miami meant to me. It was no surprise that his family was instrumental in connecting my family to the hospital and letting others know where I was. His image popped into my head when they started the service as if he were telling me, “Did you really think I’d let you go without this? I have you taken care of, even from this world!” I had some other emotional moments. A friend, also named Avi, came to the hospital and recited the Havdalah, the closing service of the Sabbath. I also had a great visit where my friend Achicam, who was hurt in the accident with me (though he had some broken ribs, thank God, he did not require hospitalization and is on the full mend) came to visit, and we basically collapsed into each other’s arms, happy we were both alive. His choice of a Volvo basically saved my life and I’ll forever be grateful. While this all may sound inspirational and Please see Liberman, page 15
Opinion Which comes first, gay or Jewish? Guest Columnist Jeff Freedman
appy Pride Month everyone! I love this time of year. Along with many longtime LGBTQ community activists, I have worked hard for this month. I never thought it would happen in my lifetime, but I am most certainly glad for the rights and privileges that my community now enjoys. But beyond the politics, there is a conflict within myself. I’m wondering, perhaps, if others might have the same dilemma. Let me try to explain my conundrum: I am Jewish and I am gay. So, am I a “gay Jew?” Or
Mlotek: Continued from page 10
that gave birth to a country where more than 7 million fellow Jews now live — should be “a core part of our [Jewish] identity.” Jewish Voice for Peace considers Zionism “a false and failed answer” to centuries of murderous antisemitism. It seems that portions of our people have forgotten why Israel was established in the first place: to serve as a safe haven for Jews in our own ancestral homeland. Cleary that need is as vital today as it was in the 1930s and before. Instead, the Jewish woke equate tikkun olam with intifada and in so doing pervert Jewish values to a sickening extreme, aligning themselves not just with Palestinians with legitimate grievances and a vision for a shared future, but with people who seek the destruction of the Jewish people wherever they may live. (Note: Hamas doesn’t just
am I a “Jewish gay” guy? Which identity comes first? But most importantly, which comes last? I’ve thought about how to phrase my identity as a Jew and as a gay man many times. Semantically, I get it that this is a conflict of an identity adjective and an identity noun. But is it? If I identify myself as gay first, does that mean that I’m a Jew second? Judaism teaches that our faith always comes first; that our religion will guide us through our lives. If we put God first, then all else follows. We live our faith. Faith first. So does this mean that my faith is my identity adjective and comes first? If that were the case, then I’d be a Jewish gay man. There is the argument of birthright to consider. My mother was Jewish, so according to halacha, I am Jewish. I was born a Jew. But what about DNA? Each one of us is created in God’s image.
If there were a choice to be gay, then God made that decision for me. I can’t change my DNA makeup so therefore I am gay by birth, as well. I would consider this to be a draw — except there is a choice here. I choose to be a Jew. I don’t have to be Jewish. There are countless religions that I could be, but I remain a Jew by choice. My sexuality, however, doesn’t allow me that option. So here we have one of the many arguments for my identity noun to be “gay.” Let’s throw into the conversation the fact that many gay people feel alienated from Judaism. In religious school, I was taught that being gay and being Jewish were not compatible. This remains controversial today. Without getting into specifics about biblical interpretations, I heard a clear message as a gay man that there wasn’t a future for me in keeping the Jewish faith. I didn’t belong unless
I conformed into being someone that, in all my heart and soul, I was not. Isn’t it strange, though, that on the power of faith — and although I was told by my religion that I was an “abomination” — I still “kept the faith?” Working through the quandary, I have come to the conclusion that the only correct answer is that I am both a Jewish gay guy AND I’m a gay Jew. I am confused about many things, but I am sure of one thing: I am PROUD. I am proud to be Jewish and I am proud to be gay. I wish a happy Pride Month to everyone, no matter what your identity noun might be. PJC
want Israel Judenrein, but the whole world.) Of course, Jewish fanaticism is abhorrent. Like any democracy, Israel has its religious and political extremes. As a rabbi I have spoken against the prime minister’s inclusion of militant parties in his coalition and denounce bigotry and violence from wherever it may stem. The current anti-Zionist moment is not about that. It is about rejecting one people’s claims to a land in favor of another’s, a mirror image of the “apartheid” label they attach to Israel. Of course, Palestinian lives matter. Even Alan Dershowitz said that much before Bernie Sanders realized he could co-opt a woke slogan. How profoundly unfortunate it is that the Palestinian leadership continues to undermine its own people’s well-being, repeatedly rejecting peace accords with Israel, and most recently, refusing its own people democratic elections. Let’s remember that the Palestinian prime minister is still serving a four-year
term that started in 2006. The Israeli-Arab conflict is a decadeslong, complex one, but woke culture sees no nuance, only supremacist and victim. Many of the leading lights of the Democratic Party amplify this mess. If only Bernie could listen to Bernie from 2014 telling protesters that Hamas uses Gazan children as shields. Common sense isn’t what it used to be. And of course, Judaism advocates for a certain kind of “wokeness.” Judaism instructs us to pursue justice constantly. But the prophets of the Hebrew Bible were not only the most adamant in calling for a righteous society, but in creating a generous one, too. “Do justice, love kindness, walk humbly with your God,” the prophet Micah charged. It seems that today’s generation has forgotten Micah’s last sentiment. Woke culture is in desperate need of humility, admitting that truth does not dwell in Twitter nor the Messiah in a meme. If the “woke community” really sought to awaken, it would realize that Jew hatred is the
oldest of hatreds. Of all the countries in the world with egregious human rights records, how is it that the State of Israel, which has Arab members of Knesset and a LGBTQ parade in Jerusalem, is so often singled out by the United Nations for reprimand? Which other country on the planet would tolerate a daily barrage of missiles aimed at its civilian populations? How can one justify the assault on non-Israelis in cities worldwide in the name of ending the “occupation”? It is time for the world to “wake up” and recognize when defense of Palestinian rights becomes a one-sided, distorted, often violent assault against Jews, plain and simple. People of conscience and especially Jews ought to know better. PJC
— LETTERS — Praise for Braille Torah
Our daughter, Judith Horn, became a bat mitzvah in 1977 at our beloved B’nai Israel Synagogue. This would not have been remarkable except that she is totally blind and so the copy for her haftorah not only had to be in Braille, but in Hebrew Braille, in order for her to learn and chant it — which she did with great aplomb. JBI (formerly the Jewish Braille Institute) provided the material. She would have loved to chant her Torah portion as well, but it was not an option. It was the first-ever occasion of its kind at our synagogue and how thrilled we were to experience it. Reading about Rabbi Lenny Sarko and now the existence of a Torah in Braille (“Local rabbi creates Braille Torah for the visually impaired,” June 4), unimaginable at that time, can only be described as a most singular achievement. I am thrilled for future visually impaired b’nai mitzvah children and adults who are able to have a chance to read from this Torah and feel fully included in the congregational community.
Rally missed the point
Maxine Abrams Horn Pittsburgh
There was a notable line of speakers at the rally against anti-Semitism (“Pittsburgh stands in solidarity against antisemitism,” online June 3, and pg. 1 of this issue) that included representatives from both major political parties, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Rabbi Jeffrey Myers — as well as Ms. Marian Lien, board president at OCA-Asian Pacific Americans Advocates, and Rev. Tim Smith, founder of Center of Life community empowerment organization and pastor of the Keystone Church of Hazelwood. The timing of the rally was driven by two sets of recent events. The antisemitic terrorist organization Hamas launched more than 4,000 rockets at Israel; then, attacks on Jews in the PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
Jeff Freedman is the creator of QBurgh, a website for LGBTQ news and community resources in Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania.
Avram Mlotek is a rabbi, cantor, actor and writer. He is the author of “Why Jews Do That or 30 Questions Your Rabbi Never Answered” and “Passover in a Pandemic.” This piece originally appeared on The New York Jewish Week.
United States, when bands of thugs attacked any Jew they could find on the streets of our major cities. The thugs didn’t look for Israelis — they aggressively and violently targeted any and all Jews because, as Mayor Bill Peduto remarked, anti-Zionism is antisemitism. But instead of focusing exclusively on this most recent variant of the world’s oldest hatred — going back to the Biblical Egyptian pharaohs — the rally also featured the now-too-common political posturing and blame game that we’ve seen again and again since 2018. Rep. Dan Frankel said that we have been standing in solidarity with all groups that have been targeted and harmed by white supremacists, but the effort to destroy Israel through rocket attacks or to beat to death Jews on the streets of New York and Los Angeles while chanting “free Palestine,” and “from the River to the sea Palestine will be free,” is clearly not a problem of white supremacy. When students at Carnegie Mellon University paint “Israel is an apartheid state” on campus property, the problem is not anti-Asian hate, or racism or white supremacy. This lineup of speakers would have been perfect for a rally against discrimination or an anti-hate rally. But this was not the point of the gathering downtown or how it was advertised. Anat Talmy Squirrel Hill
Abby Wisse Schachter Regent Square
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Headlines Yeshiva: Continued from page 1
Yeshiva students and one Yeshiva graduate, participated in the strategic planning process and praised the purchase of the St. Rosalia site. “It is really a perfect addition to what Yeshiva has now,” said Davidson. “It gives the school so much more opportunity to eventually expand, add extra classes and extra services.” The site was listed for sale for $1,495,000, according to LoopNet, a digital marketplace for commercial property, and Yeshiva will be purchasing the property for $1,200,000, said Yeshiva representatives, with funding coming from an “upcoming capital campaign.” The St. Rosalia site includes a Romanesque style church built in 1923, as well as a space that housed St. Rosalia Academy, an elementary school formerly operated by the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh. In 2018, the school closed due to declining enrollment and financial burdens, according to TribLive. The Diocese did not respond to a request for comment about the transaction. Davidson lauded Yeshiva’s expansion and said it validates his own family’s 2004 decision
St. Rosalia School
Photo courtesy of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh
to relocate from Ontario, Canada, to live within Pittsburgh’s sizable Lubavitch community and to have access to a Jewish educational institution that could accommodate his children from preschool through high school. Yeshiva is continuing to grow, he said, and “it’s very exciting.” By expanding its footprint south of Squirrel
Hill, Yeshiva is responding to an increasing number of families moving to Greenfield. Given the revitalization of Bnai Emunoh Chabad, located at 4315 Murray Ave., and the fact that 20% of Yeshiva’s students live in that neighborhood, it’s clear “there’s already a budding Orthodox Jewish community in Greenfield,” said Rosenblum.
Rally: Continued from page 1
must not be tolerated. Pennsylvania State Rep. Dan Frankel (D-District 23), who represents Squirrel Hill, said there are “countless paths of hatred that paved the way to the devastating events on Oct. 27, 2018,” referring to the massacre at the Tree of Life building. “We’ve been standing in solidarity with all groups that have been targeted and harmed by white supremacists. Just as individuals stand against hatred, so too must our law.” In January, Frankel introduced a series of bills that would impose stiffer penalties on those convicted of hate crimes. Pittsburgh is “a special community,” said Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, “but we are less special when a group of people is targeted because of how they worship. Our community has no place for the hatred, the antisemitism, the bigotry and the domestic terrorism that occurs against people because of how they worship.” Recalling the events of Oct. 27, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said, “It’s unfortunate that this little part of the world is recognized as the scene with the most horrific attack of antisemitism in the United States.” “Anti-Zionism,” Peduto added as the crowd applauded, “is nothing more than antisemitism.” The Asian American community has also experienced a recent sharp increase in incidents of hate. Marian Lien, president of the Organization of Chinese Americans, a civil rights group dedicated to advancing the well-being of Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander descent, said there have been more than 6,600 cases of hate against Asian Americans in the United States in the year after the pandemic began. “The one community that immediately came to our aid and immediately stood up and said, ‘How can we help?’ was the Jewish 14 JUNE 11, 2021
p Close to 400 people attended the Stand Against Antisemitism Rally on June 1. Photo by Jim Busis
community,” she said. Tim Smith, CEO of Center of Life and pastor of Keystone Church of Hazelwood, spoke of the importance of education to help eliminate hate. The Squirrel Hill native recounted learning about the attack at the Tree of Life building while on a run, then immediately reaching out to the congregation to see how he could help. “I called them because we had a relationship,” he said. “I called them because our relationship is not based on misinformation, preconceived notions or stereotypes. I called them because we love each other.” Tree of Life Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers recalled the antisemitism he experienced as a child, including finding two swastikas in his driveway with the message “Jeffrey is a dirty Jew.” “That was my introduction to Holocaust education,” he said.
Myers, who was leading Shabbat services when the 2018 massacre occurred, said he was tired of being a victim of antisemitism and would no longer be one. He suggested the way to combat antisemitism is through more Jewish activity. “If you don’t light Shabbos candles at home, get a set of candles,” he said. “Light those candles this Friday night. Light those candles as an act of Jewish, as an act of defiance, as an act of saying we are still here.” Laura Cherner, director of the Federation’s Community Relations Council, closed the rally by reiterating the sharp rise in antisemitic incidents over the past few weeks, noting that the phrase “Hitler was right” was posted more than 17,000 times on social media over a one-week period. “Where were our friends?” she asked. “Why has it been so uncomfortable to name
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
When factoring in real estate prices, there’s a possibility the community in Greenfield can grow even larger, he said. An average home value in Greenfield is $222,039, according to Zillow, an online real estate marketplace company. In Squirrel Hill, the average home value is $398,013. Housing prices may influence buyers, but even with the decision to relocate 200 boys to Greenfield, Rosenblum doesn’t expect Squirrel Hill’s Lubavitch community to disappear. “Our two other facilities remain in Squirrel Hill,” he said. “I don’t think this will in any way downgrade Squirrel Hill. I think we’re just going to expand Squirrel Hill into Greenfield. Squirrel Hill will still remain strong and powerful, and a large part of our community will remain there.” After the move to Greenfield, the current boys building in Squirrel Hill will house part of Yeshiva’s girls school. The details of which grades will be located there, and when they’ll make the move, have not yet been determined according to a Yeshiva spokesperson. PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
it? Why has silence been politically correct?” She called for minority communities to support one another when attacked. “I’m prepared to stand with you if and when that happens,” Cherner said. “I hope you will do the same.” Squirrel Hill native Jeff Tate attended the rally while on a break from work in the Frick Building. Wearing a “Stronger Than Hate” T-shirt, Tate said he came to the event to show support for Israel and to stand against antisemitism. “I feel it’s an honor to be here,” he said. “As a nation, we need to be a voice because we can’t keep silent any longer. Never again means never again.” Others expressed concern about the possibility of antisemitic attacks in Pittsburgh. “If you had asked me a couple of years ago, I would have said ‘no,’ but I am [concerned], honestly,” said Maxine Kisilinsky. Shawn Brokos, the Federation’s director of security, said Pittsburgh has seen an uptick in antisemitic incidents recently, although none have been violent or direct threats against individuals or Jewish institutions. Pennsylvania State Rep. Ed Gainey (District 24), the Democratic nominee for Pittsburgh mayor, didn’t speak at the rally but was in attendance. “It’s important for me to be here, because this is what I talked about, ending hate,” Gainey said. “The Jewish community, African American community, Latino community, Asian community, we’ve all had to deal with hate. It’s senseless. It’s destructive. “Because of the fight we’ve had to fight,” he said. “It’s brought a lot of us together. We can’t negate love. It’s brought a lot of hate, but also a lot of love from people wanting to see a better day.” The rally was sponsored by more than 40 Jewish organizations, including the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
Headlines Canopy: Continued from page 4
grandfather’s synagogue. “I had these amazing memories of going to the Homestead shul and felt really connected there,” she said. Nahemow, Baron’s mother, was less enthused by the idea. The reception was supposed to occur at Tree of Life Congregation in Squirrel Hill, and the prospect of having people traveling between sites during a wedding was daunting. Additionally, the Homestead shul was barely functioning at that point. “They were really only having minyan once a week,” recalled Nahemow. Stein died in 1981, and by 1988 it had been decades since the Homestead shul had hosted a wedding, according to Homestead historian Tammy Hepps. Nonetheless, out of respect for Stein and their love for his family, the aged congregants cobbled together a
Boxing: Continued from page 7
the whole night had been a vivid dream. “It was amazing,” he said. “You have a long-time goal and then you achieve it.” But rather than looking back, Foreman is keeping his eyes set on his boxing future; he will be back in the ring later this month for a comeback match. “There’s more bouts out there,” the
Liberman: Continued from page 10
a giant pile of good feelings, what I learned is that every sob is not necessarily that. I wondered if I were even being honest. When I got back to Houston with my parents and brother, I broke down again, but this time I was angry and depressed. Did I even have a reason to feel that way? After all, numerous people said I was lucky to be alive. Was I being rational? Still, I began walking around the house screaming, “This isn’t me!! I’m supposed to
final hurrah. The synagogue was cleaned and its outdoor front steps were painted. Finally, Baron received a message that they would be able to put the finishing touches on her wedding. “I remember someone saying they found the chuppah,” she said. Stitched with biblical Hebrew words from Jeremiah translated as “the sound of mirth and gladness, the voice of bridegroom and bride,” the canopy served as a symbolic home for Baron and her husband, David, as they were married in a space she had so often frequented with her grandfather. Five years later, in 1993, Baron’s sister Lisa was preparing for her own wedding. The Homestead shul had recently closed but the family used the chuppah again. Prior to setting it up inside Tree of Life, Baron and Lisa’s father, Martin Nahemow, polished the chuppah’s poles and ensured the connected wiring and lights functioned properly. “My husband was a physicist,” said Iris
Nahemow. “He felt like working on the chuppah was a tribute to my dad.” After the ceremony, the chuppah was packed up and it would be another 28 years before it would be used again. Months prior to Mahan’s wedding, as preparations intensified, Baron began helping her daughter locate a chuppah. During a conversation with Ken Turkewitz, who was serving as Congregation Beth Shalom’s interim executive director, Baron asked about the old canopy, as many of the Homestead shul’s belongings had ended up at Beth Shalom. Turkewitz called her back and said that Beth Shalom’s events coordinator, Michelle Vines, had found the worn and discolored relic stashed away in a closet. Baron retrieved the chuppah and began a familiar process. As she pieced together the antique yellowed cloth and raised the poles, her husband, David, repaired the bent and broken light sockets. Finally, before their daughter’s wedding, they
dismantled it, placed it in the car and drove it to West Virginia. Hours before the May 30 ceremony, Baron’s sister Lisa oversaw the chuppah’s construction. “The theme for the wedding was ‘nothing new’ and the chuppah really came from that,” said Mahan. “I’m the sixth generation of my family to live in Pittsburgh. That connection to Pittsburgh and Homestead added a lot of magic to our already magical wedding.” Both Mahan’s grandmother and mother agreed. Seeing that old canopy and the young couple standing beneath it, “I felt my father’s presence, and my grandparents’ presence and my husband’s presence,” said Nahemow. “It just felt good. It felt right. It felt bashert,” echoed Baron. “It felt like a blessing from my grandfather. Like a blessing to the marriage.” PJC
40-year-old boxer told Peltz. “The fire is still burning. I still have this childhood dream to do my best and win it again … the fire in my chest burns as ever before.” The former champ was quick to point out to viewers, though, that not every day is happiness and sunshine for professional athletes. “I’ve been in boxing most of my waking life and [there were times] I looked up, I had no energy, I had no desire,” Foreman said. “I’m still having those days. Things you love
doing — you’re still going to have those days. And it’s healthy.” Harold Marcus, the June 6 event’s organizer and the executive director of the Development Corp. for Israel in Pennsylvania, compared Foreman’s battles in the ring to Israel’s battles with its neighbors. “When Yuri Foreman does battle in the ring, he’s fighting an opponent, not an enemy,” Marcus told the online audience. “The battle is 45 minutes and he knows it will begin and end with a handshake.
“Israelis fight a different fight and for 75 years they’ve been in this battle,” he added, promoting investment in the Jewish state. “Israelis have to live 24/7 with the possibility of a rocket being launched, with the possibility of having 15 seconds to get into a shelter. “I can tell you,” he said, “there is no handshake.” PJC
make people smile and now I can’t even do it myself!! I’m not some kind of pity case! I don’t want to be a professional victim! I’m the guy who bucks the odds, not the other way around!” When I finally relaxed, my dad was also crying, but not because he was sad. He simply said he was grateful I was still alive. He viewed it as a gift that his son was still here and said he was actually relieved I had finally broken down in depression. It showed my humanity — and of course he was right. The next day, two close friends who are comics, Dan and Ray, called me and said they had seen other comics who have had strokes go on stage, address it briefly, and then move
on. You only become a victim on stage if you present yourself that way, so… don’t. I know it’s only been a short time, but I’ll do the best I can as far as taking stock. What I have learned so far through this experience is I still have a lot to learn — and crying and getting depressed is OK. Let’s be brutally honest. I have a job to do, and aside from spreading joy, love, positivity, whatever you want to call it, part of that job is being a human being, with all the faults that accompany it. What has moved me the most is just how much family, friends — and, oddly enough, even total strangers — can get you through the hardest times. We definitely have our bad
JCC to participate in Summer Food Service Program
he Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh is participating in the Summer Food Service Program in Squirrel Hill and Monroeville to ensure children have access to nutritious meals and snacks when school is not in session, according to a press release. The program is federally funded and administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. It is open and available to children under 18, and will provide two meals on Tuesdays and three meals on Thursdays. Milk and afternoon snacks are also included.
Parents can pick up the meals, which are not to be consumed on site. To provide a COVID-safe environment, those picking up meals are required to wear masks and practice safe social distancing. In Squirrel Hill, kosher meals, under the supervision of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh, will be provided at the JCC from June 21-Aug. 20, 2021, from 11 a.m. - 1 p.m. In Monroeville, kosher-style meals will be provided at 261 Rosecrest Drive, from June 21-Aug. 20, 2021, from 11 a.m. — 1 p.m. PJC
Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.
days, but in the end we can do more than just survive. We can live. Let’s start there, and hopefully we can all learn as we go and live better, struggles and all. PJC Avi Liberman is a stand-up comic who was born in Israel, raised in Texas and now lives in Los Angeles. He founded Comedy for Koby, a bi-annual tour of Israel featuring some of America’s top stand-up comedians. He will be performing in a pre-recorded video at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s CELEBRATION event on June 10, along with comedian Craig Robinson. This piece first appeared on The Times of Israel. It has been edited for length.
What makes a great father? Celebrate yours in print
oes your dad deserve more than a tie this Father’s Day? If so, the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle wants to hear from you. Tell us, in 200 words or less, what makes your father special, and it may be included in our June 18 issue. Submissions should be sent to drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org and should include a picture of your dad along with the
name of the person who took the photo. Please type “Father’s Day” in the email subject line and include an attached Microsoft Word file — no handwritten submissions will be accepted. Include your name, your father’s name, your phone number and email address. All submissions must be received no later than June 13. PJC — David Rullo
— Sarah Abrams PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
JUNE 11, 2021 15
Life & Culture Hatzilim: A simple, fresh salad made from eggplant By Jessica Grann | Special to the Chronicle
nown as baba ghanoush across the Levant, hatzilim is what Israelis call this simple roasted eggplant salad that only has a handful of ingredients. Like hummus, most people buy it from the store — but with little effort, you can make it at home and have something that tastes rich and extra fresh and is free of preservatives. The most time-consuming part of making this dish is waiting for the eggplants to roast. Once those are peeled, you simply combine everything together in a food processor and mix it for a few minutes. This is a simple, go-to recipe that everyone can feel comfortable making. Hatzilim Serves 4-6 Ingredients: 2 large eggplants ⅓ cup tahina paste 2 garlic cloves, peeled 2 tablespoons good quality olive oil, plus more for drizzling Juice of one large lemon 1 teaspoon cumin 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
¼ teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes Lemon wedges, fresh parsley or cilantro to garnish
When choosing eggplants from the store, softer is better for this dish. If they are very firm, let them rest on your counter for a few days before using them in this recipe. The old-school way to prepare the eggplants is to roast them over a direct flame or directly on hot coals, but that method can be intimidating to many home cooks. The easy way is to lightly spray or rub the eggplants with oil (I choose avocado for its high smoke point) and broil them on a tray or pan that can withstand high temperatures. Using a sharp knife, slice 3 long slits down each eggplant vertically then lightly spray with oil. Choose the “high” broil option on your oven, which is usually 525 F, and place the oven rack toward the top. Broil the eggplants for about 30 minutes, turning once or twice. The eggplant will collapse and the skin will blacken. They are ready when a knife is easily inserted into the flesh. When in doubt, let them cook for a few extra minutes. Let the eggplants cool until you can comfortably touch them, then slice away the stem and peel the skin away from the flesh. If the skin does not peel away easily, cut them in half lengthwise and scoop them out with a spoon.
Photo by Jessica Grann
— FOOD —
Combine the eggplant and garlic cloves in a food processor and mix for 1 minute. Add the remaining ingredients and mix for 2-3 minutes more. I like to serve this on a plate or a platter. Simply spread the hatzilim out with a spatula creating some shallow indentations and lightly drizzle with olive oil. You can sprinkle cilantro, parsley and even a little more Aleppo pepper to add a bit of color. Serve with challah or fresh pita at a meal, or put out with pita chips at a party. Enjoy!
A quick note about tahina: Tahina is a raw paste that is used to create recipes. Tahini is the condiment made out of tahina. Some tahina is very thick, and others pour easily. The thick kind can give the hatzilim more of a whipped consistency. That is totally OK — it will taste wonderful, so don’t worry if yours comes out looking smoother or stiffer than the photo here. PJC Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.
16 JUNE 11, 2021
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
Life & Culture Pittsburgh’s Lapiduss family featured in film about caring for aging parents — FILM — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer
ans of Pittsburgh’s “queen of comedy,” as Esther Lapiduss was known, can now enjoy her closing act. Although Lapiduss — a Steel City icon who graced the stages of the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Civic Light Opera — died in 2016, she and her daughters, Sally and Maxine Lapiduss, can be seen in the streaming documentary, “It’s Not a Burden: The Humor and Heartache of Raising Elderly Parents.” Released June 1, and written, directed and produced by Emmy-nominated Michelle Boyaner, “It’s Not a Burden” offers viewers an intimate and humorous look at the
relationships between children and their aging parents. The film was featured last week on NBC’s “Today With Hoda & Jenna” and selected as the show’s documentary of the month. In touting the 86-minute film and its portrayal of intergenerational relationships, “Today” co-host Hoda Kotb said, “We often hear the burdens of it … but I also liked that this shows you the joys of aging parents.” Co-host Jenna Bush Hager praised the film’s use of humor. Delivering many of those laughs is the late Esther Lapiduss. A former Pittsburgh-based entertainer who formed the Ecumenical Trio alongside Bob McCully and Joe Negri, Lapiduss was also a television reporter at WIIC-TV (now WPXI) and a talented singer who opened for Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers, Henny Youngman
and Vic Damone. In the film, Lapiduss and her daughters help illustrate the experiences of many families nationwide. Speaking from her Los Angeles home, Sally Lapiduss described how, after growing up in Squirrel Hill and heading West decades ago, she and her sister, Maxine, experienced a shifting dynamic with their parents, Esther and Saul. For a while, the Lapiduss sisters returned to Pittsburgh to see their parents twice or three times a year. But as time passed, the nature and number of those visits changed, and they eventually helped relocate Saul and Esther to California. “As they declined and depended more on us, we spent a whole lot of time dealing with that decline and trying to make them
comfortable,” Sally Lapiduss, 64, told the Chronicle. The frequency of visits increased and “we just spent a lot more family time together. “Sometimes it was rough,” she added. “But a lot of the times it was really joyful and fun. And I think we almost made new relationships with them in the last 15 years of their lives.” Maxine Lapiduss, also speaking from her California home, said the documentary illustrates a “cycle” of evolving responsibilities. “What the film is about is, as we age, as our generation ages, we’re sort of forced to deal with this,” she said. “It’s coming to terms with our own issues of adulthood and what it Please see Aging, page 20
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Equality or equity? Korach v. Moshe
Samuel Morris Tobias will celebrate his bar mitzvah at Temple Sinai on June 12, 2021. Sammy is the son of Ilene and Adam Tobias, the older brother of Livia, and the grandson of Lyn and Alan Silverman, and Marsha Zuckerman and Mike Tobias. He is a seventhgrader at the Environmental Charter School. He enjoys performing arts, sailing, running cross-country and playing with his dog. For his mitzvah project, he spent the last three months beautifying Pittsburgh by collecting trash from the city’s streets.
Alaina Roth, daughter of Dana and Jeffrey Roth and sister of Andrew Roth, became a bat mitzvah on Saturday, May 22, virtually at Temple Ohav Shalom in Allison Park. Alaina is the granddaughter of Stephen and Sandra Roth and Daniel (Dora dec.) Marin of Pittsburgh. Alaina enjoys dance, gymnastics, art and spending time with her family and friends. PJC
Rabbi Yisroel Altein Parshat Korach | Numbers 16:1 - 18:32
he first recorded rebellion in the Torah takes place in this week’s Torah portion. Korach, when complaining to Moshe, states in Numbers 16:3: “Ki kol ha’aidah kulam kedoshim” (“The entire congregation is holy”). Rashi explains that Korach was referring to the fact that all Jews were at Sinai and heard God speak. That being so, he claimed, we are all equal and should therefore all have equal access to the Mishkan. To this Moshe responded, “Indeed, we are all holy; nevertheless, there is a need for clear delineation of which role each person has.” As the saying goes, “Good fences make good neighbors.” Similarly, clear roles make for good productivity. More importantly, each person is created by God for a unique purpose. Knowing what our roles are and living up to those roles allows us to fulfill the purpose for which we were created. Korach was arguing for a system of equality, for everyone to be treated the same and given equal access to the Mishkan. While it sounds ideal, it ignores the individual needs of each person and the ability to provide everyone with the unique set of tools required to achieve their personal mission. Worse, equal treatment does not lead to equality because it gives people too much or too little of the resources they need to succeed. Moshe, in contrast, was arguing for a system of equity. Not everyone has the same role, and therefore not everyone has to be given the same tools in order achieve their purpose; rather, everyone must be given the unique tools required to carry
out their unique mission. This leads to true equality, enabling every person to achieve their potential. This week will mark the 27th yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory. The Rebbe personified Moshe’s approach. While seeing the holiness that defines every person equally, he was still able to discern the unique needs of each individual, and he encouraged everyone to utilize their unique talents and circumstances to fulfill the purpose for which God put them on earth. Interestingly, at the end of Parshat Korach, the Torah tells the tribe of Levi (Numbers, 18:20), “Ani chelkecha vnachlatecha” (“I am your portion and your inheritance”). The Rebbe was very fond of the following commentary of Maimonides on this verse: “Not only the tribe of Levi, but any one of the inhabitants of the world whose spirit generously motivates him, and who understands with his wisdom to set himself aside and stand before God to serve Him and minister to Him and to know God, proceeding justly as God made him, removing from his neck the yoke of the many reckonings which people seek, is sanctified as holy of holies. God will be His portion and heritage forever and will provide what is sufficient for him in this world like He provides for the priests and the Levites. And thus David declared [Psalms 16:5]: ‘God is the lot of my portion; You are my cup, You support my lot.’” Every individual has the ability to reach the state of Aaron the High Priest, not by taking his job as Korach insisted, but by using their own circumstances and utilizing it completely for the service of God. PJC Rabbi Yisroel Altein is the spiritual leader of Chabad of Squirrel Hill. This column is a service of Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.
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Obituaries AVERBACK: Robert M. Averback, of Sharon, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh, died peacefully on June 1, 2021, surrounded by his beloved family: his wife, Nancy; daughters, Susan (Louis) Leff, Ann Averback (David Gault) and Lynn Averback; and his pride and joy, his grandchildren, Mara and Sam Leff. He is and will always be missed greatly. The family will hold a private memorial service. Donations may be made to the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association, P.O. Box 81863, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 or a charity of your choice. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com KOHANE: Sara Kohane, on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Beloved wife of the late Abraham Kohane (z”l); beloved mother of Rachel (Dr.
Martin) Greenstein of Massachusetts and Lila (Gordon) Fain of Connecticut; beloved sister of the late Liza (Joseph) Pruzan (z”l); also survived by five grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and many loving nieces and nephews. Friends were invited to meet at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., 5509 Center Avenue Shaydside on Thursday June 3, 2021, at 2 p.m. and proceed for 3 p.m. graveside services and interment at Chofeth Chaim Cemetery. Family requests attendance at services only. Contributions may be made to charity of donor’s choice. schugar.com NEWMAN: Dr. Gerald “Jerry” Newman, 86, on Tuesday June 1, 2021, of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, formerly of Swissvale, Swisshelm Park and Fox Chapel. He was the son of the late Sally and Bernard Newman.
Beloved husband of 65 years of Marilyn Heller Newman. Father of Dr. Bernard D. (late Alison) Newman and Dr. Lee A. Newman. Brother of Linda Newman Aronson (Marshall). Grandfather of Sari Newman Rothenberg (Alon) and Harrison Arthur Newman. Great-grandfather of Alison Rose Rothenberg and Parker Eli Rothenberg. Dr. Newman was a graduate of Swissvale High School, the University of Pittsburgh and Logan Chiropractic College. He maintained chiropractic offices in Western Pennsylvania for over 40 years, mostly in Swissvale and later in Shadyside. In addition to his chiropractic career, Dr. Jerry Newman was a
well-known, local stand-up comedian during the 1960s and 1970s, frequently entertaining at the Holiday House in Monroeville and at other venues with a Don Rickles-type of act. If you were in the audience and he knew you, you were in trouble. In addition to his regular nightclub act, he had a special ethnic routine for entertaining Jewish organizations. He maintained many professional memberships and used his show business notoriety to promote the chiropractic profession as it became mainstream during the 1970s. He always smoked his trademark cigar while on stage and believed that laughter is the best medicine. Graveside services and interment private at Ahavath Achim Cemetery/Forest Hills. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, family owned and operated. schugar.com PJC
Start Planning for a Higher Tax Environment by James Lange, CPA/Attorney (Reprinted with permission PICPA’s CPA Now)
Presidential elections are often important re-
evaluation moments for taxpayers. This is particularly true when the presidency shifts from one party to another. The strategies presented below work well with stable tax rates but can be life changing in times of rising income tax rates… and taxes are going up.
Going Up? President Joe Biden has said that there will be no income tax rate increases for married taxpayers making $400,000 or less. But even if his administration holds the line for couples making less than $400,000 during his first term, increases for all are on the horizon because of how Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) was structured. Sunset provisions are a part of the 2017 tax law, meaning income tax rate increases are scheduled for 2026 even if a new tax plan does not occur. To oversimplify, 2026 rates could be more like 2017 rates (adjusted for inflation). Also related to the TCJA, there could be changes to the standard deduction and the rules for itemized deductions. TCJA increased the standard deduction while slashing the deductibility of previously itemized deductions, such as state and local tax payments. For taxpayers who make more than $400,000 and are working, there could be an additional Social Security tax of 12.4%, their marginal rate could rise to 39.6%, and itemized deductions could be capped for a tax benefit of 28%. For those with income over $1 million, capital gains rates could be taxed at 39.6%. Potential tax increases are far more likely with a Democratic President, House, and Senate. Also,
Comparative Tax Rates for “Married Filing Jointly” 2021 $
0 - 19,900 19,901 - 81,050 81,051 - 172,750 172,751 - 329,850 329,851 - 418,850 418,851 - 628,300 628,301 and above
2017 (2026) x x x x x x x
10% 12% 22% 24% 32% 35% 37%
0 - 18,650 18,651 - 75,900 75,901 - 153,100 153,101 - 233,350 233,351 - 416,700 416,701 - 470,700 470,701 and above
our government holds enormous debt (about $3.3 trillion). You don’t have to be Nostradamus to foresee taxes are going up. What should you do? I believe it would be wise to transfer some of your wealth from the taxable world to the tax-free world. Taxable to Tax-Free Roth IRA conversions should be the first thing to think of when transferring from taxable to taxfree. Roth IRA conversions are generally favorable if a taxpayer has the funds to pay the taxes on the Roth IRA conversion from outside the IRA. There are other ways to move from the taxable to the tax-free. For example, taxable withdrawals from a standard IRA can be directed to a 529 plan for the education of grandchildren or in the form of gifts. Gifts can come in many tax-advantaged forms: • The beneficiary could be encouraged to contribute that money to their own Roth IRA.
x x x x x x x
10% 15% 25% 28% 33% 35% 39.6%
• Withdrawing a small amount, perhaps 1% of your IRA every year, paying income taxes on that withdrawal, and then using what is left to purchase a life insurance policy, a technique known as “pension rescue” that insurance professionals have advocated for decades. With the SECURE Act of 2019, a beneficiary (subject to exception) must withdraw an inherited IRA by Dec. 31 of the 10th year following the IRA owner’s death making the pension rescue technique more attractive. Gifts from Granny The sunset provisions of the TCJA revert the estate tax exclusion to $5 million (adjusted for inflation) in 2026. Many estates will likely grow into the zone of federal estate taxation over the next several years. For many taxpayers, making $15,000 gifts ($30,000 per couple) per beneficiary is a simple and effective strategy, assuming you don’t need the
money. If you combine the strategies of paying tax on IRA withdrawals with making gifts, you could reduce both income taxes and estate taxes. Life insurance as part of the gift could make sense, especially when combined with Roth IRA conversions, which reduce the size of an estate without reducing the value. Don’t Trip on the Step-Up It might be a mistake not to consider the implications of a likely increase in the capital gains tax for taxpayers with more than $1 million of income or the loss of step-up in basis that may apply to everyone. It is a good time to brush up on capital gains and capital loss harvesting. To be clear, we don’t have any assurances or projected dates for these potential changes but understanding they could be coming might motivate individuals to consider selling a portion of their highly appreciated assets, even if they must pay tax on the capital gain. Paying taxes at the current favorable capital gains rates could potentially be more advantageous than doing nothing and losing the favorable capital gains position.
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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.
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Headlines been programmed to kind of stick them away somewhere, and deal with them as little as possible.” But she doesn’t think that route reflects most families’ wishes. “Where I grew up and where I come from, everybody wants to kind of embrace their elders and keep them in the house or keep them living in their own home as long as possible,” she said, while acknowledging the cost of achieving that outcome can be a huge obstacle. “Where’s the money coming from, and how are most families supposed to raise children and still care for their elders at the same time?” she asked. In the same way that
people have begun discussing the considerable costs of childcare, there needs to be conversations about adult daycare, she said. And, in addition to finding the money to properly tend to the elderly, there’s also the issue of finding trustworthy, compassionate and trained caregivers. Sally Lapiduss said she hopes the film not only sparks conversation, but also reminds people to “take the time now, while they still have their parents around, to spend time with them, and be with them, and enjoy them.” PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsbughjewishchronicle.org.
helping you plan for what matters the most Maxine Lapiduss, Sally Lapiduss and Esther Lapiduss in “It’s Not a Burden.” Photo courtesy of Greenie Films
Aging: Continued from page 17
means to be a parent and a grown up.” When it came to caring for their parents, the Lapiduss sisters, who both have had successful careers in Hollywood, had to balance professional demands and familial responsibilities. Whether it was taking their parents to doctors appointments, finding specialists or quickly heading to a hospital, “these
are things that you hear about, but until you’re kind of confronted with all of this, you don’t realize the import, and the time and the resources [required],” said Maxine Lapiduss, 60, an executive producer of “It’s Not a Burden.” The film depicts the enormous support often required by aging parents, all while delivering laughs and nostalgia — but the Lapiduss sisters also hope the documentary sparks a dialogue. “Our country is not set up to care for our elders,” said Maxine Lapiduss. “We’ve
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JUNE 11, 2021 21
Community New homes for new crops
p The beds were built by a team of volunteers and led by designer/builder John Wade.
p Volunteers from the National Health Corps/Pittsburgh Health Corps and Temple Sinai built eight ADA-accessible raised garden beds for Temple Sinai’s vegetable garden on May 23.
p Jen Silver cleans up last year’s garden to make room for the new beds.
Photos courtesy of Rachel Kudrick
Mardi’s Urban Forest p Miranda Farley and Mary Herbert cut wood to use in the raised garden bed.
Community members dedicated the parklet at Beacon Street and Murray Avenue in honor of Squirrel Hill resident Mardi Isler on June 4. Isler has been a longtime advocate of Allegheny County’s children and environmental action. The communitywide event was organized by the Squirrel Hill Urban Coalition.
p Drew Barkley and Rachel Kudrick discuss location of the garden beds.
p Artist Alison Zapata, left, and Mardi Eisler
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PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
Photo by Jim Busis
Community Standing Against Antisemitism Nearly 400 community members and elected officials gathered outside the City-County Building downtown on June 1 for a rally dubbed “Stand Against Antisemitism.” Organized
by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the rally was a response to a rising number of antisemitc incidents worldwide. (See story on pg. 1.)
p Community members hold signs.
p Mayor Bill Peduto
p State Rep. Dan Frankel
p Listeners gather outside the steps of the City-County Building.
Photos by Jim Busis
Celebrate good times Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh graduates celebrated their high school graduation on June 6.
p Hat’s off to the Class of ‘21
p Reuven Kanal, left, and Natan Azagury are all smiles Photos courtesy of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
Machers and Shakers Middle schoolers Aviv Dobzinski and Ari Paris each received gold medals at the international JewQ competition. Administered by Chabad Children’s Network, the contest offers students in grades three to seven an introduction to various Jewish topics and a chance to demonstrate a mastery of material. More than 800 children from 93 locations worldwide participated. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
t Ari Paris receives a trophy from Rabbi Yisroel Altein. File photo courtesy of Julie Paris
u Rabbi Yisroel Altein presents a trophy to Aviv Dobzinski. File photo courtesy of Anat Talmy
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
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• All-natural poultry — whole chickens, breasts, wings and more
Empire Kosher Fresh Boneless Chicken Breasts
• All-natural, corn-fed beef — steaks, roasts, ground beef and more • Variety of deli meats and franks Available at select Giant Eagle stores. Visit gianteagle.com for location information.
Price effective Thursday, June 10 through Wednesday, June 16 2021
Available at 24 JUNE 11, 2021
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE