Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 3-1-24

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LOCAL

Israel is a murderous, apartheid, colonist state indiscriminately bombing and killing innocent women and children in furtherance of a genocide, according to nearly 50 people who spoke on Feb. 20 in the Green Room of the Allegheny County Courthouse during an Allegheny County Council meeting.

Those speaking against Israel in its war with Hamas — which breached a cease-fire to invade the world’s only Jewish state on Oct. 7 — came to support a cease-fire resolution that was rumored earlier to be introduced at the meeting. After learning no resolution was forthcoming, the anti-Israel speakers called for the resolution to be advanced at the council’s next meeting on March 5.

Most of the comments in favor of the ceasefire resolution included claims that Israel is guilty of war crimes, that the Jewish state is populated by those eager to push the Palestinian people out of Gaza, that Israel is motivated by racism and that it stole its land, to name just a few of the false claims, some echoing antisemitic tropes.

In fact, some, like Brookline resident Eyas Azzuni, voiced disbelief about the atrocities committed by Hamas.

“I have not seen beheaded babies or got names of raped women,” Azzuni said. “These are lies.”

North Side resident Theron Gilliland Jr. also questioned the allegations of Hamas terror.

“The lie that was halfway around the world before the truth had a chance to put on its pants,” Gilliland said, “in addition to the lie that there were 40 beheaded babies, which nobody seems to have seen, the lie is that history started on Oct. 7, 2023.”

While several speakers condemning Israel identified themselves as members of the Green Party, various socialist parties and labor unions, some said they were members of the Jewish community, including a handful associated with Jewish Voice for Peace.

Brighton Heights resident Aaron Kuhn identified himself as a member of the Pittsburgh Jewish community. He said Israel was committing an “ongoing genocide” and was guilty of “death marches,” “ethnic cleansing” and “famine.”

Bhavini Patel has called on political rival Rep. Summer Lee to return contributions from several donors whom Patel characterized as “Hamas sympathizers and antisemitic donors.”

Patel is challenging incumbent Lee for her seat in the state’s 12th Congressional District. Lee is a member of the “Squad,” an informal group of several House Democrats known for being among the most left-wing members of Congress, and who are calling for a cease-fire in Gaza.

Those who donated to Lee’s campaign in December 2023 include:

Some in favor of the resolution made cursory mention of the hostages being held in Gaza, claiming that only a cease-fire could provide the mechanism to return them safely to Israel, but widespread condemnation of Hamas’ terrorist attack was missing from the rhetoric of those speakers.

“I reject entirely the excuses that Israel uses to justify their indiscriminate bombing and slaughter of children and other innocents, saying that Hamas is using them as human shields and that they have to continue with this in order to free the hostages,” he said.

• Nehad Hammad Awad, the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR). Awad donated $1,000 to Lee’s campaign on Dec. 29. Awad characterized Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack as “self-defense,” saying, “I was happy to see people breaking the siege and throwing down the shackles of their own land and walk free into their land that they were not allowed to walk in,” during a November conference hosted by American Muslims for Palestine.

The White House distanced itself from CAIR in December after Awad’s speech.

NOTEWORTHY LOCAL
Et odictiumqui andae amusam quistium si de net voloritat Page X Area teens return from Federation trip to the South Page 2 HISTORY Yes, and ... Emily Harris connects community through improvisation Page 3 LOCAL A portrait of the artist
4 LOCAL
night of entertainment... and education
How "Benny Blindspots" sees the world
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14 Patel campaign calls on Summer Lee to return contributions from ‘antisemitic donors’
Yeshiva Girls School presents "Out of the Depths"
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 Rep. Summer Lee
Coming March 8 InsideCreativeHouse / Adobe Stock Financial Planning Allegheny County Council hears from public regarding proposed cease-fire resolution
Photo courtesy of summerlee.house.gov  Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh President and CEO Jeff Finkelstein addresses Allegheny County Council on Feb. 20 in opposition to a proposed cease-fire resolution.
Please see Lee
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Please see Council, page 8 March 1, 2024 | 21 Adar I 5784 Candlelighting 5:54 p.m. | Havdalah 6:54 p.m. | Vol. 67, No. 9 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org $2
Photo by David Rullo
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Headlines

Civil rights trip showcases history, delivers reminder of work remaining

Atrip south offered teens and adults a new understanding of modern U.S. history. Organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Feb. 18-20 study tour enabled 16 students from seven part-time schools to visit sites central to the Civil Rights Movement.

With a focus on Georgia and Alabama, the three-day visit featured stops at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Equal Justice Initiative’s Memorial to Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Southern Poverty Law Center Memorial in Montgomery, Rosa Parks Museum in Montgomery, Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and a tour of Selma, Alabama.

Titled, “Capstone Civil Rights Journey to the American South,” the trip was “made possible thanks to the very generous support of The Fine Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh,” according to Federation staffer Carolyn Linder.

Iris Anderson, 15, said that she learned about the Civil Rights Movement before the trip, but seeing renowned spaces and talking with activists was transformative.

“I know much more than I did going into it,” said the Mt. Lebanon teen who attends Temple Emanuel of South Hills. “And it’s very important to know about it because injustice is still going on today.”

Whether through racial inequality, poverty or police brutality, Anderson said, “there is still lots of racism in the world.”

Conversations with Rev. Dr. Calvin Wallace Woods Sr. and Joanne Blackmon Bland were especially moving, she added.

Woods is a civil rights activist who worked with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and advocated boycotts of Birmingham’s segregated buses. Bland is the co-founder and former director of the National Voting Rights Museum

in Selma and, by the age of 11, was arrested 13 times for demonstrating during the Civil Rights Movement.

“The biggest thing that this trip did for me was show how really intense it was,” Anderson said. “It was so hard to get to where we are now, even though we are so far from where we should be.”

Eliana Kaufman, 17, also said that conversations with Woods and Bland were highlights of the trip.

Kaufman, a student at State College Area High School, said that speaking with Bland was inspiring: “It made me feel like if you want

to make any sort of impact or difference in the world you have to believe that you can do it. And if you don’t think you are capable of doing it, it probably won’t happen.”

Each night, trip participants had the chance to reflect and talk about daily activities.

“I had learned about civil rights in a classroom, but this was really an immersive setting,” Kaufman said.

Though mere hours had elapsed between the Jewish teen’s return home and her conversation with the Chronicle, she said she already noticed an impact.

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“I want to start paying more attention to current events, to what’s going on in the world,, and feel more confident in myself,” she said.

Highland Park resident Marshall Dayan helped chaperone the trip. The Adat Shalom congregant said doing so was a natural extension of his professional duties. Dayan, 65, represents Pennsylvania death row inmates in federal habeas corpus proceedings and routinely teaches courses on capital punishment at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Please see Civil Rights, page 9

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p History came to life for Jewish teens during a meeting with Rev. Dr. Calvin Wallace Woods Sr. Photo courtesy of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh

Headlines

No joke: You don’t have to be funny to be funny.

Emily Harris, founder of Spirited Fun Improv, often begins her sessions with that message.

Removing pressure from participants is important, the Jewish Pittsburgher told the Chronicle: “I tell them to just imagine that for the next hour when you’re in this class, you can’t make a mistake. There’s nothing to prepare. There’s nothing to remember. All the games and scenes are one to two minutes; we’ll play them and then we’re done.”

Once their guard is lowered, people often discover how hilarious they actually are, Harris said.

Playing games that rely on wordplay or story-sharing generates laughs, but the real gift of improv is its connective ability. And that’s primarily achieved, Harris continued, by committing to a philosophy of “yes, and …”

Long billed as the bedrock of improv, “yes, and …” is more than a phrase, according to The Second City, a Chicago-based theater and troupe: “It is a state of mind that all of the performers adhere to.”

By accepting what other participants say and agreeing, “You are listening to someone else and getting out of your own head,” Harris said. “If you’re in your own head, if you’re considering what you’re going to say, you’re not listening to the other person.”

Subscribing to “yes, and …” furthers improvisational interactions, Harris said, but it also bolsters humanity.

“When we go out into the real world and we share that ‘yes, and …,’ that light and laughter, that sense of play, and we reach one person and they spread that to one more person, pretty soon, we’re going to tip the balance from cruelty to kindness,” she said.

Throughout her life, Harris, 74, has operated in creative spaces. After previously

working as a storyteller and costume designer, she founded Spirited Fun Improv in 2020. The group primarily serves older adults.

The demographic is ripe for improv, Harris said: “Being a senior myself, the memories are a little bit shaky sometimes, so it’s nice to know that you can’t make a mistake. You don’t need to remember anything. You don’t need to prepare anything.”

Researchers maintain that older adults can benefit from improv.

A 2023 study published in Experimental Aging Research tracked 45 participants in Israel-based retirement homes and day care centers and found that “short theater improvisation exercises could contribute to various indicators of healthy aging in

various settings.” The study indicated that “despite a normal decline in basic cognitive functioning among older adults, the beneficial effect of improvisation on cognitive flexibility might still occur through spontaneity, playfulness and flow.”

In 2021, researchers reviewed patientcentered outcomes post-improv training and noted that long-term care facilities “may want to consider offering improv training to positively improve the lives of older adult residents,” Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine reported.

Harris happily trumpets improv and hopes others discover its worth. For more than a year, she’s led improv classes at the 10.27 Healing Partnership.

The free sessions are open to all ages, religions and backgrounds.

“They’re always well attended,” Harris said, “and people go away with the ability to laugh, and they find that they are funny.”

Registering for a class or stepping on a stage can be wonderful experiences, but the gift of improv is even more easily attainable, according to Harris.

“Those two words, ‘yes, and …’ are a miracle,” she said. “They open up a whole new way of being.” PJC

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

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Emily Harris
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Headlines

Blind painter finds his way with partnership and creation

Benjamin Schwartz descended to his studio. He switched eyewear from opaque black to translucent yellow. Behind the artist were suspended canvases. There were dozens in his proximity, hundreds more in the subterranean space. Each painting was marked with feverish lines and vibrant colors. Some of the works had scribbled figures.

“It’s always my wife,” he said.

Schwartz’s atelier is in the basement of their Squirrel Hill home.

Getting downstairs, one passes several of the artist’s works.

“Those are me,” he said.

There’s also a mirror.

“That’s you,” he added.

Schwartz, 35, often jokes about sight. He’s legally blind.

It wasn’t always that way, he told the Chronicle.

Ten years ago Schwartz had full vision and a bright future. After attending Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh, he graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in psychology. He hoped to begin a doctoral program.

Schwartz researched neurodevelopmental disabilities. He worked in home health care and as support staff for adults with special needs. He and his wife lived in Coal Center, Pennsylvania. He often drove to Pittsburgh for employment,

but the hourlong commute on PA-43 grew taxing. He started feeling nauseous. Some days, he needed to pull over and vomit.

At work, he noticed a “floatiness,” he said. Schwartz experienced increased fatigue. He went to the UPMC Headache Center.

“They were great there, but I was more or less being treated for vestibular migraines,” he said.

“Nothing was working and all they knew was that I had very small bilateral lesions on the lower part of the medulla on the cerebellar peduncle. They’re tiny, but because they’re on the brainstem they’re vital and key to a lot.”

Schwartz’s symptoms persisted for six months. He’d sleep 8-20 hours a day. His sturdy

I’d like to introduce myself to the Squirrel Hill Jewish community as I expand my work in private practice psychiatry.

When I first came to Pittsburgh in 1993, Rabbi Abraham Twerski had asked me to interview at St. Francis Medical Center for the position of Chairman of Psychiatry. He was stepping down from this position so that he could take a new job.

Dr. Twerski’s passion was in addiction psychiatry and he had written 80 books on this subject. I was humbled to be asked by an internationally known scholar to interview for his position at a highly renowned institution. I also knew of the legendary family he was from.

Over my career, I have been the chief of psychiatry at three academic medical centers, including St. Francis, and at a progressive community mental health center. I was the recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist of the Year award given by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In 2021, I received the Psychiatric Leadership Award for my contributions to psychiatry given by the Pittsburgh Psychiatric Society. I am also a past president of the Pittsburgh Psychiatric Society. I developed Stress Inoculation Therapy. This program is now required pre-deployment

six-foot frame diminished until he weighed about 140 pounds.

“That was a nightmare,” he said.

One day, after waking, he noticed his vision was distorted. He removed his contacts but the problem remained. He drove from Coal Center to Pittsburgh to see his optometrist.

As Schwartz pressed his face against the phoropter, the optometrist asked, “Better or worse?”

“I was like, ‘No, no, no, no,’” Schwartz said.

The optometrist told Schwartz to see an ophthalmologist.

Schwartz returned to Coal Center and called his doctor.

“That’s sort of when I think it all pieced together for him,” Schwartz said.

The physician told Schwartz to get to the hospital immediately.

Schwartz agreed, but decided he was done driving. He phoned his wife.

“Before that, though, I poured a large glass of whiskey over ice — that’s just the honest truth,” he said. “It was crazy. I knew I was sick as hell. All the time. For six months. But I didn’t ever think something was going to happen to my vision.”

Schwartz didn’t have any eye pain, but overnight his sight decreased from 20/20 with glasses to 20/400, he said.

At the hospital he was diagnosed with neuromyelitis optica, an autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the optic nerve and spinal cord. An estimated 4,000 to 8,000 people in the U.S. have NMO. A visit to the Mayo Clinic confirmed the diagnosis.

Schwartz grew up religiously observant. After sickness set in, he continued practicing Judaism but his spirit declined. He started drinking heavily.

“My morality was going down more than I would care to recollect in terms of how I was treating other people,” he said. “I hit a point where I was like, ‘This disease and this critical loss of vision — central blind spots right smack in the middle of where you want to have vision — you can either let it destroy you, because it’s about to, or you can make something out of it.’”

Please see Artist, page 9

training for all branches of the US military. I attended medical school at Harvard Medical School and did my psychiatric residency at the Johns Hopkins Hospital.

I have lived in the South Hills of Pittsburgh for the last 30 years and now that I practice in Squirrel Hill, I want to acquaint myself with its thriving Jewish community. I recently joined a local private practice, collaborating with Dr. Rahul Vasireddy. He is an outstanding psychiatrist and person. He is highly knowledgeable about administration, allowing me to focus solely on providing the highest quality clinical psychiatric care for the people I see.

My practice has grown in the last few months, but I have few Jewish patients. My wife and I consider our Jewish heritage and activities to be a gratifying and an important part of our lives.

My background allows me to diagnose and treat diverse psychiatric disorders. It also allows me to discuss many identity issues that American Jews, post-October 7, are concerned about.

I am highly trained in and provide psychotherapy as well as having a deep knowledge of psychiatric medications and the newest forms of approved psychiatric treatments. Dr. Vasireddy and I accept BCBS (including Highmark) and UPMC commercial health plans. We do not accept Medicare or Medicaid at this time. We provide both in-office and telepsychiatry visits.

I hope that members of our Jewish community will be comfortable being followed by me and will appreciate the personal service I provide as a psychiatric caregiver.

Distinguished Life Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association www.cibolapsych.com. (online intake for new patients) 412-212-6637 (voicemail for new patients)

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p Benjamin Schwartz sits inside his studio. Photo by Adam Reinherz Dr. Burt Singerman, M.D.
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Headlines

Secretary of the Commonwealth discusses efforts to help Jews during Passover primary

April 8 is the last day to register to vote in the state’s primary. April 16 is the last day to apply for a mail ballot. April 23 is primary Election Day, with polls open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. And April 23 at 8 p.m. is the deadline for your county election office to receive your mail ballot.

As Jews already know, April 23 is also the first full day of Passover. Therefore, halachically observant Jews cannot go to the polls to vote that day. The situation also may impact Jewish institutions that serve as polling places and Jewish poll workers.

Pennsylvania is the only state with an election on April 23. Delaware, Rhode Island and Maryland moved their primaries that were originally scheduled for that date.

Pennsylvania’s Jewish governor, Josh Shapiro, supported moving the election. Democrats and Republicans in the Pennsylvania General Assembly did the same. Yet the bill never moved.

Democrats in the House tried to add election reforms such as increasing the number of canvassing days for political candidates. Republicans in the Senate just tried to pass a bill that would have changed the date. Shapiro did not take a position on either side’s proposals.

So now, the administration is trying to help affected Jews as best it can. Secretary of the Commonwealth Al Schmidt explained how it would do so.

Polling places

Jewish community centers, synagogues and other institutions are “sometimes used as polling places on election day,” Schmidt said.

Schmidt used the Germantown Jewish Centre in Mount Airy near Philadelphia as a hypothetical.

“Let’s say it’s not available on Election Day. That coordination is done by the county. In advance of Election Day, the county would find an alternative location that is wheelchair accessible,” he said. “It would send a mailing to every voter letting them know that their polling place has moved. It would also post at the former location to let them know that their polling location has moved.”

Polling places change for “all sorts of reasons,” Schmidt said. Maybe there’s a water main break on the road, construction or a parking lot that needs repaving.

“Every election, you have polling places that have to be moved for one reason or another,” Schmidt said. “It is a routine process where every polling place is contacted in advance of every election to make sure they can be used.”

uniformly because you don’t know if there are poll workers in some part of a county that may not be able to work due to a religious conflict,” Schmidt said. “There’s no universe of Jewish poll workers.”

That’s why the administration is going to use traditional media and social media to get the word out, according to Schmidt. The state will put out graphics on social media that others can share and advertisements in print and digital media. It will also use federations, synagogues and other Jewish networks to spread the word.

Voters

Schmidt wants to make sure that voters are aware of the “options available to them.” For halachically observant Jews, the option is to visit vote.pa.gov/apply-mailballot. Then fill out the mail-in request application and get your ballot in by the deadline.

“It’s frustrating the legislature never settled on a date that’s not in conflict,” Schmidt said. “The governor is determined to do all we can to make sure Jewish voters and all voters can make their voices heard on election day.”

The administration will use a similar approach involving social media, traditional media and word of mouth for voters as it will for poll workers, according to Schmidt. The Department of State also offers a phone number, 1-877-VOTESPA, for anyone with questions. PJC

Jarrad Saffren writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared.

East End Tot Shabbats

Spring into Shabbat with your tot at three Pittsburgh’s East End Synagogues

UPCOMING DATES:

FRIDAY, MARCH 1, 2024

FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2024

FRIDAY, MAY 3, 2024

Shabbat With You

First Fridays of the Month at 4:30 p.m.

Families with young children are invited to join Cantor Toby Glaser and Family Center Director, Ellie Feibus for a pre-Shabbat playdate, service, and dinner to celebrate Shabbat together!

$5 per family RodefShalom.org/ShabbatWithYou

Shababababa Second Fridays of the Month at 4:30 p.m.

Beth Shalom's musical service for Pittsburgh families with kids under age 8 led by Rabbi Seth Adelson. After the service, stay for a kidfriendly dinner and dessert.

$10 per child, $22 per adult and $48 per family. BethShalomPgh.org/Shababababa

UPCOMING DATES:

FRIDAY, MARCH 15, 2024

FRIDAY, APRIL 19, 2024

FRIDAY, MAY 17, 2024

UPCOMING DATES:

FRIDAY, MARCH 8, 2024

FRIDAY, APRIL 12, 2024

FRIDAY, MAY 10, 2024

Tot Shabbat Third Fridays of the Month at 5:00 p.m.

Are you looking for an informal, inviting way to teach your little ones about Shabbat and connect with other families? Join Cantor David Reinwald, Rabbi Daniel Fellman, and Danie Oberman for this exciting service.

No charge; includes kid-friendly dinner. TempleSinaiPGH.org/TotShabbat

PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE MARCH 1, 2024 5
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 Al Schmidt Photo courtesy of the PA Department of State

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 SATURDAY, MARCH 2

Join Congregation Beth Shalom for Sisterhood Shabbat. This year’s honorees are Shoshana Barnett, Tammy Hepps and Beth Jacobs. 9:30 a.m. Contact Helen Feder at hrfeder@gmail.com

q SUNDAY, MARCH 3

Join Chabad of Squirrel Hill for a Women’s Mini Retreat, a day of exciting workshops, crafts and words of inspiration exploring the topic of “choosing joy.” 11 a.m. $54. 1700 Beechwood Blvd. chabadpgh. com/retreat.

Join Chabad of the South Hills for its annual Jewish Comedy Night, featuring comedian Chris Monty and opening act David Kaye. Enjoy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar. 7:30 p.m. Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St., Carnegie, 15106. $54. chabadsh.com/comedy.

q SUNDAYS, MARCH 3–DEC. 29

Join a lay-led online parshah study group to discuss the week’s Torah portion. No Hebrew knowledge needed. The goal is to build community while deepening understanding of the text. 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org.

q MONDAY, MARCH 4

Join Beth El Congregation of the South Hills as they welcome Richard Daffner for First Monday. Daffner will discuss the lives and times of some of the Bible’s best-known villains and the background histories contributing to their actions and legacies of infamy. 11:30 a.m. To register, visit bethelcong.org/form/ 2024-first-mondays-march.html.

Experience “Perseverance,” the play that brought a powerful memoir of healing and renewal to the stage. Meet author Lee Kikel, playwright L.E. McCullough and director Art DeConciliis, with a post-show discussion about the play and the Holocaust. 7 p.m. $17-$27. 6 Allegheny Square East, 15212. primestage.com/event.

q MONDAYS, MARCH 4, 18; APRIL 1

Join the 10.27 Healing Partnership and practitioner Shawn Fertitta on the first and third Monday for Reikiinfused Sound Bathing. Immerse yourself in the soothing tones of crystal and Tibetan singing bowls. His experience is tailored to calm your mind, body and soul, promoting optimal healing. 10 a.m. South Hills JCC. 1027healingpartnership.org/reiki-infusedsound-bathing.

q MONDAYS, MARCH 4–MAY 13

H. Arnold and Adrien B. Gefsky Community Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff presents Torah 2. Understanding the Torah and what it asks of us is perhaps one of the most important things that a Jew can learn. In Torah 2, Schiff will explore the second half of Leviticus and all of Numbers and Deuteronomy. 9:30 a.m. $225. Zoom. jewishpgh.org/event/ torah-2-2/2023-10-09.

q MONDAYS, MARCH 4–DEC. 28

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

q TUESDAYS, MARCH 5–MAY 14

Understanding and explaining Israel’s current position requires knowledge of history. In the 10-part course, A History of The Arab-Israel-Iran Conflict: All You Need to Know, Rabbi Danny Schiff will provide a full overview of the regional conflict that Israel has experienced over the last century. The cost of taking a course is never a barrier to participation. If price is an issue, please contact the organizer of this course so that we can make the cost comfortable for you. $145. 8 p.m. jewishpgh.org/series/history-of-thearab-israel-iran-conflict.

q WEDNESDAY, MARCH 6

Enjoy an hour of nourishment for the mind, body, and soul and explore words of wisdom for the month of Adar 2 at a Ladies’ Lunch and Learn with Chabad of Squirrel Hill. Noon. $18. chabadpgh.com/lunch.

Chabad of the South Hills presents a new six-week course from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, Advice for Life: The Rebbe’s Advice for Leading a More Purposeful Life, a journey through the Rebbe’s practical wisdom on work, family, health and well-being. 7:30 p.m. Chabad of the South Hills, 1701 McFarland Road. chabadsh.com.

q WEDNESDAYS, MARCH 6–MAY 15

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh virtually presents two Melton courses back-to-back: “Ethics” and Crossroads.” In “Ethics,” learn how Jewish teachings shed light on Jewish issues. “Crossroads” will present an emphasis on reclaiming the richness of Jewish history. 7 p.m. $300 for this 25-session series (book included). jewishpgh.org/series/meltonethics-crossroads.

q WEDNESDAYS, MARCH 6–DEC. 18

Bring the parashah alive and make it personally relevant and meaningful with Rabbi Mark Goodman in this weekly Parashah Discussion: Life & Text 12:15 p.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh. org/life-text.

Temple Sinai’s Rabbi Daniel Fellman presents a weekly Parshat/Torah portion class on site and online. Call 412-421-9715 for more information and the Zoom link.

q THURSDAY, MARCH 7

Facilitated by local clergy from Jewish and Christian backgrounds, the Jewish Christian Dialogue is a monthly discussion that explores topics of similarities and differences. Noon. 4905 Fifth Ave. rodefshalom.org.

Want to learn about the “The 3 Keys to Achieving Financial Freedom Forever”? Jfunds is hosting a free masterclass with Shay Port, CPA and financial coach, where she will introduce a complete system for money management, including offering practical steps to implement so you can easily stay on track and accomplish your goals. Virtual event with advanced registration required. 7 p.m. Jfundspgh.org.

q THURSDAYS, MARCH 7–DEC. 5

Join Beth El Congregation of the South Hills for Hope & Healing on Zoom the first Thursday of each month, a 30-minute program led by Rabbi Amy Greenbaum. Chant, breathe, pray for healing and seek peace. Call Beth El at 412-561-1168 to receive the Zoom link. 5:30 p.m. bethelcong.org.

q SATURDAY, MARCH 9

Tree of life Congregation is happy to announce the premiere of The Torah Studio The first special guest is Rector Jonathan Jensen of Calvary Episcopal Church. Jensen will engage with Rabbi Jeffrey Myers in a discussion of this week’s Torah portion. 9:45 a.m. 4905 Fifth Ave. treeoflifepgh.org.

Join Tree of Life Congregation at Rodef Shalom Congregation to create your own tie-dye T-shirt for our “Woodstock” Purim shpiel. Bring your own clean white T-shirt or purchase one for $5. 4905 Fifth Ave. treeoflifepgh.org.

q THURSDAY, MARCH 14

Join the 10.27 Healing Partnership for a free Legal Appeals Process Educational Program focused on the next phase of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter trial. Professor David Harris, from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law, will explain what appeals are and the function they serve, and what we should expect to see in the case moving forward. Free. 6-8 p.m. In-person or on Zoom. Room 202 of the Squirrel Hill JCC. Registration required at jewishpgh.org/event/legal-appeals-processeducational-program.

q THURSDAYS, MARCH 14–28; APRIL 11–18

Join Rabbi Amy Bardack and Dor Hadash member Charlie White for a morning Shabbat service study, a nine-session, in-depth study of the structure and content of the siddur, with a focus on the prayers of Shabbat morning. 7:30 p.m. Free for members; $120 suggested donation for non-members. In-person with a virtual option. congregationdorhadash.shulcloud.com/event/ class-on-shabbat-morning-services.html.

q FRIDAY, MARCH 15

Attend Allegheny County Youth Voting Huddle, a half-day summit for area high school students interested in learning about voting and civic engagement. Lunch, travel assistance, if needed, swag, gift certificates will be provided. Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey and Pittsburgh Public Schools Superintendent Walters plan to attend. 11:30 a.m. Free and open to all area high school students. Carnegie Library, 4400 Forbes Ave. lwvpgh.org/ resource_library.

q SUNDAY, MARCH 17

Join Jewish Studies at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University for Mizrahi Music, Feminist Perspectives: An Afternoon of Performance and Discussion. The event will include contemporary performances of Mizrahi women’s music, as well as scholarly discussions of the diverse musical styles of Jewish women from the Middle East and North Africa. Join us for lunch, wonderful music and conversation. Noon. Frick Fine Arts Auditorium, 650 Schenley Drive, 15260.

Get into the Purim spirit with Kids in the Kitchen and make festive hamantaschen to take home and share, plus enjoy a special magic show. 1 p.m. $10. Chabad of Squirrel Hill, 1700 Beechwood Blvd. chabadpgh.com/ kidscooking.

q MONDAY, MARCH 18

Join Chabad of Squirrel Hill for an evening of music, merriment, wine and desserts at their Women’s Drum Circle 7 p.m. $18. Chabad of Squirrel Hill. chabadpgh.com/drum.

q TUESDAY, MARCH 19

Join Chabad of the Souths Hills for a pre-Purim seniors lunch including hamantaschen and a presentation by Comfort Keepers on the importance of stimulating the mind. 1 p.m. $5 suggested donation. Wheelchair accessible. Chabad of the South Hills. chabadsh.com.

q WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20

Join the Squirrel Hill AARP for its monthly meeting. The speaker will be Mary Bach. Refreshments will be provided. For further information, contact Marcia Kramer at 412-656-5903. 1 p.m. Rodef Shalom Congregation, Falk Library, 4905 Fifth Ave.

Join AgeWell for the Intergenerational Family Dynamics Discussion Group at JCC South Hills every third Wednesday of each month. Led by intergenerational specialist/presenter and educator Audree Schall. The group is geared toward anyone who has children, grandchildren, a spouse, siblings or parents. Whether you have family harmony or strife, these discussions are going to be thought- provoking, with tools to help build strong relationships and family unity. Free. 12:30 p.m.

q WEDNESDAYS, MARCH 20, APRIL 10

Join Congregation Beth Shalom, Rodef Shalom Congregation and Temple Sinai for their Israel Speaker Series, a collaborative series with different points of view. Check the website for speakers, location and topics. $18 for all speakers; $10 for one session. 7:30 p.m. bethshalompgh.org/israelspeaker-series-first-session-is-monday-february-5.

q SATURDAY, MARCH 23

Join Tree of Life and Rodef Shalom and celebrate A Woodstock Purim. Purim fun will include a Purim service and shpiel with hamantashen immediately following. 7:30 p.m. 4905 Fifth Ave. treeoflifepgh.org.

Join Chabad of Squirrel Hill for Havdalah followed by a Megillah reading and light refreshments. 8:30 p.m. 1700 Beechwood Blvd. chabadpgh.com.

q SUNDAY, MARCH 24

Chabad of Monroeville invites you to attend their annual Purim celebration in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in Israel. Megillah reading, Israeli music, charity for Israel, your picture at the “Kotel,” orange juice squeezing, caricature artist, letters to Israel, Israeli wines, Israel-themed crafts, interactive Israeli games and full Israeli breakfast buffet. 10:30 a.m. $18 adult/$12 child. Courtyard by Marriott, 3962 William Penn Highway, 15146. jewishmonroeville.com/purimisrael.

Join Chabad of the South Hills for Purim in the Shuk. Featuring a Megillah reading, candy shuk, henna artist, face paint, make your own spice blends, hamantaschen, Israeli-style dinner, Hebrew name bracelets, and more. Adults, $18; children, $12; family maximum, $54. chabadsh.com/purim.

q THURSDAYS, MARCH 28–

APRIL 18

Bring your lunch and join Rabbi Jessica Locketz for Lunch Time Torah: Spring Holiday edition. Learn about the spring holidays — Purim and Passover. The March session will focus on Purim: its eclectic cast of characters, Hollywood-worthy plot and the diverse ways it is celebrated today. Offered in person and online. 1 p.m. 4905 Fifth Ave. $54 for non-members. rodefshalom.org/lunch.

q SATURDAYS, THURSDAYS APRIL 6–

MAY 9

The Healing with Nature Mosaic Project is designed to respond to the human experience of grief and loss through the healing power of nature and of creative expression. The six-week, 10 session program facilitated by mosaic artist, Laura Jean McLaughlin, will guide participants in the collective creation of a community mosaic mural, gathering shattered pieces together to tell a story of community healing and resilience. Saturdays, 1-3 p.m. Thursdays 4-6 p.m. Frick Environmental Center, 2005 Beechwood Blvd. Registration required. 1027healingpartnership.org/healing-with-naturemosaic-project. PJC

6 MARCH 1, 2024 PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
We Prepare & E-File Your Federal, State & Local Tax Returns: taxpreparationpittsburgh.com stevec@keystonebydesign.com In-Person or Virtual 412-421-3999 • Individuals • Estates • Partnerships • Self-Employed • Cryptocurrency • PA Rent/Property Tax Rebate Stephen Cohen Keystone By Design PROFESSIONAL INCOME TAX PREPARATION SERVICE

Headlines

Victims of antisemitism give much more to charity, survey finds Jews who experienced antisemitism give significantly more to charity than those who have not, according to one of the largest surveys of Jewish household giving ever conducted, JTA.org reported.

The survey of American Jewish donations in 2022 found that some three-quarters of American Jewish households gave to charity that year, donating an average of more than $10,000. One-quarter of American Jewish households donated to Israeli or Israelfocused organizations, giving an average of nearly $2,500.

The survey of more than 3,000 households, two-thirds of which were Jewish, is being published following an outpouring of American Jewish donations to Israel in the wake of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack and the ensuing war in Gaza. The war has been accompanied by a spike in reports of antisemitic incidents in the United States.

Especially striking to the survey’s authors was the impact of antisemitism on Jewish philanthropy. The survey reports that Jews who experienced antisemitism donated 10 times more, on average, than those who did not. Jews who reported being concerned about antisemitism also gave more than those who were not.

The median donation from Jews who experienced antisemitism, $2,290, was nearly double that of Jews who did not, $1,150.

Poll: 63% of Israeli Jews oppose Palestinian statehood

Sixty-three percent of Israeli Jews oppose the establishment of a Palestinian state, and most believe that terrorism will either stay the same (27.5%) or increase (44%) should one be created, according to the Israel Democracy Institute’s eleventh War in Gaza survey, published on Feb. 21, JNS.org reported.

The survey puts the majority of Israeli Jews at odds with the Biden administration, the European Union and other international players pushing for Palestinian statehood in the aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre.

It also underscores the differences between Israel’s Arab and Jewish populations; 73% of Israeli Arabs support a Palestinian state. The figure is even higher among Israeli Jews on the left at 77%, while 48% in the center and 78% on the right oppose such a state.

Furthermore, the most common view (44%) among Israel Jews regarding terrorism is that it will intensify should a Palestinian state be realized, with 27.5% saying it will stay the same, 21% answering that it will weaken but not cease and 7% not knowing. None of the respondents believed terrorism would stop completely. In contrast, a plurality (41%) of Israeli Arabs believe that terrorism will cease upon the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Israel bars Brazilian president after Lula Compares Gaza war to the Holocaust

A major rift between Brazil and Israel has opened up after Brazil’s president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, likened Israel’s war in Gaza to the

Today in Israeli History

details.

March 1, 1922 — Yitzhak Rabin is born

Yitzhak Rabin is born in Jerusalem. He leads the defense of the city during the War of Independence, is the military chief of staff during the June 1967 war, becomes a diplomat and twice serves as prime minister.

March 2, 1983 — Doctors begin 4-month strike

The Israel Medical Association launches a lengthy strike to protest the government’s refusal to grant doctors a substantial pay raise. Before a settlement June 26, the labor action escalates to a hunger strike.

March 3, 1939 — Mufti rejects majority-Arab state

Opposing any permanent Jewish presence in Palestine, the mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, rejects a British proposal to severely limit Jewish immigration while establishing a majority-Arab state.

March 4, 1996 — Hamas suicide bomber strikes

Tel Aviv

A Palestinian from Ramallah detonates a 45-pound bomb packed with nails outside Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Center on the eve of Purim, killing the Hamas bomber and 13 Israelis, five of whom are age 13 or younger.

March 5, 1934 — Nobel laureate Kahneman is born

Daniel Kahneman is born in Tel Aviv. With cognitive psychologist Amos Tversky, Kahneman in 1979 writes the foundational text of prospect theory, earning him the 2002 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics.

March 6, 1948 — Clifford opposes State Dept. on Israel

Truman adviser Clark Clifford writes two detailed memoranda in which he argues for U.S. support of the partition of Palestine and founding of Israel, setting him in opposition to the staff and leadership of the State Department.

March 7, 1977 — Rabin, Carter clash in initial meeting

Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and President Jimmy Carter meet in Washington. Rabin suggests that Israel could pursue peace with Egypt and perhaps Jordan; Carter prefers a comprehensive approach to regional peace. PJC

Holocaust, JTA.org reported.

Ties between the two countries became strained last year when da Silva, a left-wing politician known as Lula who has long been a critic of Israel, narrowly defeated Jair Bolsanaro, a right-wing ally of Israel, to regain the presidency. Lula was previously president from 2003 to 2010, a period that included the first trip by a Brazilian head of state to Jerusalem since 1876.

Now, Israel has banned Lula from visiting and Brazil has recalled its ambassador amid the fallout over the president’s comments, made during the 37th African Union Summit in Ethiopia on Feb. 18.

“What is happening in the Gaza Strip with the Palestinian people has no parallel in other historical moments. In fact, it did exist when Hitler decided to kill the Jews,” Lula said while speaking to reporters. “It’s not a war of soldiers against soldiers. It’s a war between a highly prepared army and women and children.”

Judea and Samaria: 350% rise in terrorist attacks

Judea and Samaria saw a dramatic rise in terrorist attacks in 2023 compared to the previous year, with shootings reaching their highest level since the Second Intifada of 2000-05, Israel Defense Forces data shows, JNS.org reported.

Over the year, there were 608 explosives, ramming, shooting and stabbing attacks versus 170 in 2022, representing a 350% increase. The 300 shooting attacks are the most since the bloody Palestinian terror wave of the early 2000s.

More than 50 of the 2023 shooting attacks emanated from the terrorist hotspot of Jenin in

northern Samaria. The IDF undertook a major operation to root out terrorists and terror infrastructure there over the summer. It was preceded the month before by the first Israeli drone strike in Judea and Samaria since 2006.

The violence has escalated in the months since Hamas started a war on Oct. 7. Forty-one Israeli airstrikes have been carried out in Judea and Samaria since the start of the war, as well as more than 200 counterterror operations in Palestinian camps. More than 3,150 wanted suspects in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley have been arrested, of whom more than 1,350 are Hamas operatives.

DeSantis invite for students to transfer to Florida yields five applicants

New data shows that an effort by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to respond to antisemitism in higher education has led to nominal results so far, JNS.org reported.

In January, DeSantis announced an “emergency measure” during Florida’s State of the State address that would allow Jewish students and others experiencing religious discrimination to potentially receive in-state tuition, with application fees waived, as part of the process.

He said of the measure that “the pro-Hamas activities and rampant antisemitism we’ve witnessed throughout the country on these campuses has exposed the intellectual rot that has developed on so many university campuses over the years.”

According to state records, at least five individuals have expressed interest in transferring. It’s not clear if any or all are Jewish. PJC

— Compiled by Andy Gotlieb

PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE MARCH 1, 2024 7
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p Yitzhak Rabin served as Israel’s prime minister in the 1970s and 1990s and was assassinated in Tel Aviv in November 1995.

Headlines

Council:

Continued from page 1

While most of the nearly four hours of public comments came from those speaking in favor of an unconditional cease-fire, more than a dozen people urged the council to reject any such resolution.

Squirrel Hill resident and StandWithUs Mid-Atlantic Regional Director Julie Paris noted the double standard Israel is held to in the international community, as well as some of the antisemitism that has occurred locally since Oct. 7.

“I’ve seen antisemitic graffiti cover our city, Jewish students on campus accosted and harassed, ‘Stand with Israel’ signs defaced, stolen and burned, Jewish businesses vandalized, antisemitic flyers left on the doorsteps of Squirrel Hill families, and yesterday, two Jewish teenagers were accosted and sworn at and told that they themselves were killing Palestinian babies,” Paris said.

Beverly Block, who told of the suffering and murder her family endured during the Holocaust, said that introducing and passing a cease-fire resolution would not make Allegheny County Jewish citizens safer.

“We tried to get an Uber and the driver turned us away because he doesn’t drive Jews,” she said. “My son was told in his biology class at Allderdice that Jewish people drink the blood of Muslims. My husband received a text message from a ‘social justice warrior’ telling him that he is a capitalist and the people that Martin Luther King warned her about.”

Pittsburgh synagogue shooting survivor Audrey Glickman pushed back against some of the claims made during the meeting while explaining that Israel was simply defending itself.

“This is not colonialism as the current propaganda suggests. It is certainly not lighter-skinned people subordinating darkerskinned people,” she said, before suggesting the council’s time would be better spent exploring why Westmoreland County is better at recycling

Lee:

Continued from page 1

The American Defamation League has said that key CAIR leaders often traffic in antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric. Awad, the ADL said, has claimed “that Zionist organizations make up the core of the Islamophobia network in the United States. He has also alleged that pro-Israel groups have ‘corrupted’ the U.S. government and that Israel’s existence has no legitimacy.”

• Hatem Bazian, co-founder of Students for Justice in Palestine and founder of the American Muslims for Palestine (AMP). Bazian donated $2,500 to Lee’s campaign on Dec. 29.

According to the ADL, Bazian has accused Israel of having a policy of organ harvesting. The ADL calls AMP “the leading organization” for anti-Zionist training and education to students and Muslim community organizations in the country. It promotes “extreme anti-Israel views and has at times provided a platform for anti-Semitism under the guise of educating Americans about ‘the just cause of Palestine and the rights to self-determination,’” according to ADL.

Students for Justice in Palestine chapters were suspended at several campuses including Brandeis University, Columbia University,

than Allegheny County instead of debating a cease-fire resolution in the Middle East.

JCC President and CEO Jason Kunzman noted the hypocrisy of the council selectively considering whether to condemn Israel for defending itself against Hamas while ignoring the more than 100 other armed conflicts around the world.

“This discriminating focus not only undermines the credibility and the impartiality of the council, but it also perpetrates a narrative that scrutinizes and condemns certain conflicts while ignoring others,” he said.

Tree of Life rabbi and Pittsburgh synagogue shooting survivor Jeffrey Myers spoke to the fear felt by his congregants.

“This past Chanukah people were afraid to put menorahs in their window,” he said. “Swatting has become a regular feature at our institutions, as well as bomb threats, as well as other attacks upon Jewish institutions and Jewish-owned businesses. That’s not what we should be about in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County.”

And while several of these incidents were covered by the media, some of those in attendance seemed to doubt the rabbi’s claims. One unidentified woman seated in the audience whispered to another, “Wouldn’t that be reported on the news?”

So far in 2024, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has logged 36 antisemitic incidents locally.

Shaare Torah Rabbi Chaim Genack also recounted antisemitic incidents suffered by the community.

“My son has a friend who has a friend walking home about 6 o’clock in the evening. He was accosted and attacked on the street, on the sidewalk near his home because he’s a Jewish boy walking home from school,” Genack said.

Tammy Hepps, a former leader in the Jewish organization Bend the Arc, said she was speaking as someone with deep familiarity with progressive spaces and causes.

“Let’s not delude ourselves,” she said. “A county council resolution is not actually about making any real contributions to resolving the Israeli/ Palestinian conflict.”

George Washington University and Rutgers University. In October, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis directed state universities to deactivate their SJP chapters. In Pittsburgh, the organization has organized or been a part of several anti-Israel rallies that included antisemitic and anti-Zionist rhetoric.

• Zahra Billoo, the executive director of CAIR California, gave $350 to the campaign on Dec. 8.

In a Nov. 27, 2021, speech at a pro-Palestinian conference in Chicago, Billoo told attendees they should focus on “polite Zionists.” She included in that group, the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federations, Hillel and “Zionist synagogues,” according to an article in the Times of Israel.

In a July 2014 tweet, Billoo wrote “Blaming Hamas for firing rockets at (Apartheid) Israel is like blaming a woman for punching her rapist.”

After her tweets surfaced, Billoo was voted off the board of the Women’s March only days after being appointed to the role.

• Osama Abu Irshaid, executive director of AMP, donated $500 on Dec. 29.

Irshaid has called Israel “a parasite living off the American body” and in 2018, embraced the antisemitic Khazar theory, which espouses that Khazars were a group of non-Jewish Eastern Europeans who converted to Judaism.

Hepps explained that there had been a ceasefire on Oct. 6, violated by Hamas.

The mandate of this group,” Hepps said, “is to improve life in Allegheny County. A foreign policy debate that goes against the official policy of the United States, instead, deliberately tears at the already-fragile multicultural fabric of our community. It won’t quell violence overseas; it incites violence at home.”

Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh President and CEO Jeff Finkelstein also noted that a unilateral cease-fire resolution would be divisive and hypocritical, given the other armed conflicts around the world.

He pointed to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s definition of antisemitism, adopted by 35 of 50 states and 43 countries, that lists examples of antisemitism, including applying double standards that require Israel to behave in ways not expected of other democratic nations.

“I witnessed the impact of the barbarism of Hamas,” he said of his recent trip to Israel. “I met with the families of hostages. I visited some of the 200,000 internally displaced Israelis.”

Those at the meeting were largely respectful, although Council President Patrick Catena had to stop proceedings several times to ask for clapping and finger-snapping to stop. In one contentious exchange, he threatened to have people removed for disrupting the proceedings.

Councilmembers weren’t immune to criticism. Several people alleged that Paul Klein, who represents the Squirrel Hill neighborhood, told them that he would support a cease-fire resolution, then changed his mind, seemingly after receiving calls and emails from Allegheny County residents who oppose it.

Klein told the Chronicle he met with several people in favor of a cease-fire resolution. He said that he may have inadvertently given them false hope.

“What I did say was that I had no sense of the degree of interest and possible support this might have in County Council but I that I would go back and talk about his,” he recounted.

According to the ADL, some antisemites believe modern Jews are descended from those Jews, rather than the ancient Israelites. Abu Irshaid has claimed that the overwhelming majority of Jews are Khazars. In 2016, he repeated the trope that Zionist figures have “double loyalty, where they put the Israeli agenda and the Israeli interest ahead of the American agenda.”

Temple Sinai Rabbi Daniel Fellman was one of 40 Jewish clergy members who signed an open letter to Lee in October “concerning her continuing inability to support Israel in its war against Hamas.”

“Hate has no home in Pittsburgh and Summer Lee’s decision to accept contributions from directors of an organization whose leaders amplify antisemitic tropes is an affront to the progressive movement,” Fellman said in a prepared statement last week. “Lee must immediately return this money and apologize for her decision to associate with these dangerous individuals.”

Students at both Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh are circulating a petition asking Lee to return contributions from these individuals. They plan to deliver the document to her office by week’s end.

In a news release, Patel called on Lee to “follow President Joe Biden’s lead and distance herself from these hateful, dangerous individuals by returning their tainted contributions.”

Klein said those he met with provided him with some suggested language for the resolution. When he looked at the language several days later, it concerned him, he said.

“I made a decision at that point that it was maybe best to hold off before pushing any further down the path of a resolution, but I told them they could come to our council meeting on the 20th,” he said.

Councilmember Dan Grzybek, who represents much of the South Hills, home to the second largest Jewish community in Allegheny County, told the Chronicle that he spoke with a member of Jewish Voice for Peace about a possible cease-fire resolution and they provided him with suggested language.

Grzybek said that he supports a cease-fire resolution in theory but is concerned about the language. If such a resolution were introduced, he would like it to include language calling for the release of the Israeli hostages, as well.

Neither Grzybek nor Klein knew if a ceasefire resolution would be introduced on March 5, although both said they wouldn’t be the councilperson introducing it.

One speaker at the meeting referenced a councilmember who seemingly celebrated the Hamas attack.

Councilmember Bethany Hallam reposted a tweet on Oct. 7 that featured a poem about breaking down walls and a celebratory video of Hamas breaking down a security gate on their way to murder, rape and kidnap Israeli civilians, including children.

Those wishing to make comments at the March 5 Allegheny County Council meeting must register at: alleghenycounty. us/Government/Departments-and-Offices/ County-Council/Council-Meetings/Requestto-Comment. Registration closes 24 hours before the meeting.

A call to Councilmember Bethany Hallam was not returned before this story was published. PJC

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

“Taking money from antisemites who celebrate terrorist attacks and encourage their followers to monitor synagogues is abhorrent behavior from the elected official who purports to represent the Tree of Life community in Congress,” she said.

Last month, Patel’s fundraising became an issue in the Pittsburgh City Paper when a reporter from the alternative newsweekly joined a call the candidate hosted with Mihir Meghani, a board member and co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation.

The City Paper said the call was notable for “the number of callers who mentioned residing outside Pittsburgh; attendees’ vociferous praise of Israel; their interest in defeating progressive Democrats and ‘Squad’ members, including Patel’s opponent, incumbent U.S. Rep. Summer Lee; and Hindu nationalist rhetoric.”

According to FEC filings, the majority of Lee’s funders reside outside of Pittsburgh.

Lee was scheduled to speak at a CAIR event on March 2, alongside “several speakers who have made antisemitic and homophobic comments,” including author and former professional basketball player Ibrahim Jaaber, Jewish Insider reported on Feb. 26. On Feb. 27, Lee announced that she had canceled her appearance at the

Please see Lee, page 9

8 MARCH 1, 2024 PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Headlines

Civil Rights:

Continued from page 2

He grew up in the South and said his earliest memory of moving to Georgia at age 8 was arriving at a gas station and asking his mother why it had three bathrooms.

“She had to explain why. And even to this day, I have never been able to tell this story without getting choked up,” he said.

Whether it’s relating to students what it felt like seeing separate restrooms for white men, white women and Black people, or describing his experiences representing “indigent people and learning how racist our criminal legal system is in this country,” Dayan said there are aspects of U.S. history young people must learn.

“We like to focus on the cheery stuff, the stuff that we feel makes us a special country in terms of our democracy, in terms of our diversity, but it’s not an unblemished history,” he said. “It’s critically important for us to be fully aware

Artist:

and conscious.”

At several points during the trip, Dayan said, he shared the contributions of Jewish lawyers and advocates of the Civil Rights Movement.

A 2023 post from the Department of Justice recognizing Jewish American Heritage Month recalled the “important support” provided by Jewish Americans: “Fully half of the young

Continued from page 4

Schwartz attended Alcoholics Anonymous.

The messages reminded him of grade school teachings, he said: “They talk about surrender, but they’re talking about bittul.”

In English, bittul means insignificant or nullification.

The idea, Schwartz said, was “nullify yourself. Stop. You’re not in control. You’re not planning the f---ing universe. Just be.”

It was a “wake-up call,” the artist continued, but so was a conversation with a friend.

About five years ago, Schwartz attended an engagement party. He ran into an acquaintance who asked how he was holding up.

Schwartz replied that he wasn’t, and shared feelings of monotony and disinterest.

The friend said, “If you’re bored, create, create, create.”

That conversation “impacted me,” Schwartz said. “I thought about it from the sort of Torah perspective in terms of being created — that we’re all created b’ezelem Elokim (in the image of God) — and I started to recognize why I was feeling dead inside. I felt like I was on a roller coaster. I wanted to get off but I was already locked in.”

Schwartz thought about the conversation, about his wife, about their child.

“It gave me that spark to probably stop drinking,” he said.

In grade school, Schwartz often doodled. Worksheets, notebooks and even margins of his Talmudic tracts were filled with drawings. He never painted.

His friend told him to paint.

Schwartz left the party, went home and noticed

Lee:

Continued from page 8

CAIR event, after public criticism from Patel, Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro, Sen. Bob Casey, senatorial candidate David McCormick, Pennsylvania state Rep. Dan Frankel and the Anti-Defamation League, among others.

In an Oct. 17 Facebook post about the bombing of a Gazan hospital, Jaaber wrote: “This is the best lies these demons could come up with to cover their horns?” invoking antisemitic tropes.

In the same post, he accused Israel of wanting “GENOCIDE” and said the media was

his son was sleeping. He retrieved a small metal statue of a cellist. He found paper and pastels, and remembered there was a lit candle at the party.

The glow “made the whole table disappear,” he said.

Schwartz began painting the cellist and candle.

He committed himself, he said, to “capturing and manipulating what I see in front of me.”

That perspective “saved the way I was looking at life,” he added. “I was stuck in my own head, especially at the beginning, and I just felt like every time I opened my eyes I was reminded that I was sick. When I started painting after that night, it was like, OK, I can actually take something from what I see every day and consciously or unconsciously put that on canvas and play with it.”

Initially, Schwartz worked in his dining room. The mess he created, however, prompted him to relocate. He found an unheated garage without plumbing. The distance, though, required his wife or mother to drive him there. Schwartz kept painting. He sold a few images and teamed up with ArtLifting.

The Boston-based company promotes artists affected by disabilities and housing insecurity by

“Chucking and Jiving for their Zionist masters.”

Stand-up comedian Nadirah Pierre is also scheduled to speak at the March 2 event.

On Oct. 7 she posted on X, formerly Twitter, “May Allah destroy them even worse than they have tried to destroy others.”

The event’s keynote speaker, Yasir Fahmy, has called Zionism a “sick, sadistic cult,” according to Jewish Insider, and has spoken out against members of the LGBTQ+ community, calling their lifestyle “destructive.”

Lee also was also scheduled to join a Feb. 27 event sponsored by Women for Palestine, along with Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Jamaal Bowman.

Tlaib has been criticized for posting videos

people who flooded into Mississippi during the Freedom Summer of 1964 were Jewish. Among them were Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered along with African American activist James Chaney because of their efforts to register Black voters. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel served as an advisor to Dr. King and marched

selling their work. Artists earn 55% of the profits, and the company earns 44%, with 1% of sales directed to a fund that provides supplies to art groups nationwide.

Thanks to ArtLifting, Schwartz said, Bank of America recently bought 50 of his prints.

Thousands of people will see his work.

“The fact that it’s pleasing to people is very gratifying to me, and also very amusing and confusing,” he said. “I can’t see the same as other people. I don’t see the color palette the same, so we never see the same painting.”

Schwartz’s attitude exhibits hints of Roland Barthes’ literary theory. According to the French philosopher, the meaning of the text is not determined by its author but by the reader; in this way, the author dies upon the creation of the work.

“Death is a good way to put it,” Schwartz said. “I, as the author of this painting, when I back up seven feet, I can hardly see the painting at all, so it’s already gone. It’s only there when I’m up close to it. And that’s my whole life. It’s almost like the thing only exists if it’s right in front of me. I do like to make sure that the painting is pleasing to me up close, and then from a few feet back, but

on X of pro-Palestinian rallies and writing, “Joe Biden supported the genocide of the Palestinian people.”

She has also said that the chant “From the river to the sea” is an “aspirational call for freedom,” a claim rejected by mainstream Jewish leaders.

In January, J Street pulled its funding for Bowman over his anti-Israeli rhetoric since Oct. 7, according to The Times of Israel. In 2018, the organization pulled its endorsement from Tlaib after she refused to support a two-state solution and “other core principles” to which the organization is dedicated. J Street has not pulled its endorsement of Lee.

Patel’s call for Lee to return contributions

with him from Montgomery to Selma in 1964. That year, 17 rabbis were arrested with Dr. King in St. Augustine, Florida, after a challenge to racial segregation in public accommodations.”

Traveling south, seeing historic sites and speaking with activists and researchers, is a reminder of the biblical imperative regarding interpersonal relations, Dayan said.

“We have been commanded 36 times in the Torah to treat the stranger among us as one of our own because we were strangers in Egypt,” the lawyer recalled. “We have to constantly remember that human beings sometimes look different, speak different, dress different, worship different, but are all created b’tzelem Elokim (in the image of God). We are all commanded to be partners in that creation, and we have lots of work to do.” PJC

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

after that, it’s for the people.”

There’s a sort of odd generosity in the process, Schwartz continued: “It’s like the most giving art of all because I can’t even see what the hell I did.”

More than an hour has passed since Schwartz descended the stairs to his studio. His fingers are blue — less from the chill of a Pittsburgh cellar in February than from an unfinished work.

Five years after that conversation with his friend, three years since moving into this space, and 10 years since the initial diagnosis, Schwartz still has chronic pain. Daily painting has netted modest financial returns and an understanding of partnerships.

“My wife works very, very hard, but it’s a single income. I get occasional bits from ArtLifting,” he said.

Next to the stairs is a railing that Schwartz erected. Friends helped finish the studio’s remaining space.

“There are delusions of greatness, that eventually you’ll be taken care of, and that a partnership with Hashem will make everything successful,” he said.

The artist, who goes by “Benny Blindspots,” required years to perceive life in a new way. Now that he does, he can’t unsee it.

Dealing with this diagnosis was “a tall ask, a tall order,” he said. “This is a serious thing. It’s not going away; it’s not a death sentence — it’s a life sentence. I was able to start to formulate those strategies and have some acceptance but that was once I started building, creating, becoming a builder and a creator.” PJC

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

from “Hamas sympathizers” comes on the heels of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee voting to endorse Lee in the race. The Democratic primary is on Tuesday, April 23.

In addition to Lee and Patel, Center for Victims CEO and President Laurie MacDonald is in the race for the District 12 Democratic nomination. MacDonald’s nomination petition is facing a court challenge (see story on Page 21).

Lee did not respond to the Chronicle’s requests for an interview. PJC

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

PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE MARCH 1, 2024 9
p Benjamin Schwartz inspects a painting. Photo by Adam Reinherz p Jewish teens walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. Photo courtesy of Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh p Painting by Benjamin Schwartz Photo by Adam Reinherz

Allegheny County Council should reject a cease-fire resolution

Vitriol targeting the world’s sole Jewish state was on flagrant display last week in Pittsburgh’s City-County building, as our Allegheny County Council opened up public discussion regarding a potential resolution calling for Israel to cease its defensive operation in Gaza.

As we report in this issue on Page 1, about 50 Allegheny County residents spoke for three minutes each, charging Israel with genocide, colonialism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and the intentional murders of women and children. The effort to condemn Israel en masse appeared to be coordinated and well organized. And it was painful to watch.

While a handful of those maligning Israel suggested that a cease-fire would help to bring the hostages home, none urged the council to demand Hamas release the estimated 134 hostages held in Gaza since Oct. 7. None mentioned the 1200 people — mostly civilians and including children — brutally murdered by Hamas on Oct. 7. None mentioned the sexual assault suffered by women on that day, and afterward, at the hands of the terrorists — except to deny that it happened.

None mentioned that there was a cease-fire in place on Oct. 7 when Hamas launched its deadly invasion of Israel. None mentioned that there was a negotiated cease-fire in November that Hamas broke. None mentioned that Israel — along with other countries, including

the United States — has been trying desperately for months to negotiate an end to this war that includes the release of the hostages.

And none acknowledged the surge of antisemitism in the wake of Oct. 7 — assaults

Hamas is removed from power in Gaza.

Moreover, there are 1.2 million residents of Allegheny County. The fact that 50 activists organized to dominate a council meeting should hold little sway.

An Allegheny County Council resolution demanding a cease-fire will do nothing to resolve the conflict between Israel and Hamas. It may, however, succeed in fomenting more resentment against the county’s Jewish citizens.

and vandalism that have instilled fear in our community, including in our schoolchildren and our college students.

Only about a dozen residents implored the council to reject a cease-fire resolution.

While those calling for a cease-fire greatly outnumbered those arguing against it, those numbers do not reflect American sentiment.

A Harvard CAPS-Harris poll, published the week of Jan. 24, of over 2,300 registered U.S. voters found overwhelming support for Israel over Hamas in the ongoing war. In the poll, 74% of respondents said Hamas’ attack was genocidal; 75% of all respondents said the assault could not be justified by Palestinian grievances; and 67% said a cease-fire should only happen if the hostages are released and

It is unclear whether the council will consider a motion for a cease-fire resolution, but it appears that it will allow additional public comment on the issue at its March 5 meeting. We hope that if that happens, those who view the calls for an unconditional cease-fire as dangerous or immoral will show up to let our Allegheny County Council know.

Several local governmental councils around the country are debating resolutions calling for a cease-fire. Some have been passed, including one last week by the Erie City Council. We believe these local resolutions are ill-advised, at best, and potentially threaten the safety and security of Jewish citizens.

There are more than 110 armed conflicts

Fighting antisemitism: A view from campus

In the face of heightened tensions following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, there has been a disturbing increase of anti-Israel activism on the University of Pittsburgh’s campus.

Students for Justice in Palestine has emerged as a loud voice at Pitt, triggering an urgent need for change within our community. As a deeply involved Jewish student and president of Zachor (Holocaust Education and Awareness Club) at Pitt, I feel a responsibility to address the challenge of creating a more inclusive and informed campus environment.

Since the beginning of the war, many Jewish students have felt uneasy at Pitt. Some students do not feel safe attending events hosted by Jewish groups as antisemitism rises across the country. According to alarming statistics from the Anti-Defamation League, antisemitic incidents have surged 360% since the start of the war, reaching 3,283 incidents in the United States between Oct. 7 and Jan. 7.

One particularly distressing incident occurred on Jan. 24. Student Coalition for Israel at Pitt brought Yadin Gellman, an Israeli actor and former soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, to the Hillel Jewish University Center. This move by SCIP triggered strong reactions,

with approximately 200 protesters from SJP marching from the Cathedral of Learning to Hillel’s building on Forbes Avenue just before the event commenced.

Along with a few friends, I watched the protest at the Cathedral of Learning from the side, documenting the unfolding scene on video. My friends and I stood strong, wearing our kippot and waving Israeli flags as symbols of our Jewish pride. The air was filled with

never be dismissed or tolerated. That moment was a painful reminder that there was an immediate need to address and combat antisemitism through open and constructive conversations.

SJP’s involvement extends beyond protests to educational and social events, exemplified by the “Shabbat dinner for Palestine” that was held in collaboration with MENASA (Middle Eastern & North African Student Association)

Israel is our Jewish homeland. More than ever before, we must stand united as one people fighting for freedom and justice.

chants of “Free Palestine” and “From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be Free.” Beneath those slogans are antisemitic undertones that call for the destruction of my people. These slogans are associated with the idea of eliminating the Jewish state rather than advocating for a peaceful coexistence of Israel and a future Palestinian state.

As SJP started marching to the Hillel building, an elderly man at the protest looked at me and shouted, “You dirty, Zionist Jew. Keep taking a video of me.” I stood there stunned for a moment, and then laughed. I did not find his antisemitic comment funny but rather attempted to maintain a sense of resilience in the face of such hatred. Antisemitism should

on Friday, Feb. 16. This event was the definition of cultural appropriation, as it distorted the significance of Shabbat for the Jewish people. While SJP and MENASA stated they would only serve kosher food, they catered largely from Shah’s, a halal restaurant in Pittsburgh, with Pigeon Bagels, a kosher bakery in Pittsburgh, providing only challah.

While it is possible that the inclusion of halal options was motivated by a desire for non-Jewish students to feel welcome, kosher food also fits the requirements of halal food, making that point moot. An event that misrepresents its intentions and inclusivity has no place on our campus. If this event was fueled by ignorance, we must do everything in our power

worldwide. Why should Allegheny County single out Israel? Why not call for Russia to lay down its arms against Ukraine, or Syria to cease battling its rebel groups, or for the Taliban to stop its aggression in Afghanistan?

Moreover, why is the Allegheny County Council taking up foreign affairs? Its charge is to approve and amend legislation relating to the governance of our county, to adopt balanced budgets and to confirm or reject appointments for county agencies and authorities — not to weigh in on Middle East politics.

Wouldn’t the council’s time be better spent focusing on issues such as homelessness and public safety?

An Allegheny County Council resolution demanding a cease-fire will do nothing to resolve the conflict between Israel and Hamas. It may, however, succeed in fomenting more resentment against the county’s Jewish citizens, a concern it should be particularly sensitive to in the shadow of the antisemitic massacre that occurred here just five years ago.

We are heartbroken by the death toll of this war, and mourn all the innocent lives lost as a result, including the lives of innocent Gazans. We pray for a swift end to the fighting, for the safe return and healing of the remaining hostages, and for a negotiated and lasting peace.

But we are confident an Allegheny County Council resolution calling for a cease-fire will not bring about any of those things. PJC

to change that.

Jewish groups on campus like Hillel and Chabad must build coalitions with non-Jewish student organizations to promote dialogue and understanding. By fostering alliances with various student groups on campus, we can create platforms for open conversations, cultural exchanges and educational initiatives. Building bridges between different communities fosters a sense of shared responsibility in combating hate. It is imperative that everyone understands the rhetorical and physical manifestations of antisemitism that exist today, including within the media.

Grassroots activism plays a pivotal role in effecting meaningful change on campuses and in society. For example, we must use strategies such as putting up flyers of the hostages in Gaza, tabling on campus and leading rallies in support of Israel. We must call our elected officials, thank them for supporting Israel and implore them to advocate to bring the hostages home.

Israel is our Jewish homeland. More than ever before, we must stand united as one people fighting for freedom and justice. Only together do we have the power to support our brothers and sisters in Israel and combat antisemitism. I stand with Israel now and forever, and I pray that you do, too. Am Yisrael Chai! PJC

Matthew Garber is a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, studying psychology and LCJS (Law, Criminal Justice, and Society). He is from Allentown, Pennsylvania.

10 MARCH 1, 2024 PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG Opinion
EDITORIAL
Guest

Chronicle poll results: Keeping a kosher home

Last week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “Do you keep a kosher home?” Of the 344 people who responded, 62% said no, and 38% said yes. Comments were submitted by 74 people. A few follow.

We keep kosher in our own way. We buy kosher meat because we believe in responsibly raising and shechting the animals, and then we put a slice of cheese on our sandwiches. Pork: no. Seafood: yes.

Meat-free for many years so keeping kosher is a lot easier.

It’s a law and tradition that is specified in the Torah but is also a factor that has helped in our continuity as a people. It offers additional cultural benefits and physical protections in some instances.

As a compromise to tradition, we don’t eat pork.

I was not always kosher. I find this mitzvah draws me closer to being Jewish. I love

Do you keep a kosher home?

cooking and it elevates my food preparation to a more spiritual level.

It is harder and harder to keep a kosher home. Groceries are super-expensive and local meat quality is not good.

I try to keep kosher, but I live in Albuquerque,New Mexico, and it’s tough to

Summer Lee is not the best choice for the Jewish community

Is Summer Lee really the best choice for Jews (“Summer Lee is ‘the best person to support the Jewish community,’” Feb. 9.)? Somehow, I think that Honey Rosenbloom is trying to fool me into believing an untruth. Because I have eyes and ears, I can determine for myself, and I see clearly that this can’t possibly be the case. Just this week I learned that Summer Lee has been invited to give an address to CAIR, the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ Philadelphia chapter at its fundraising dinner on March 2.

Just as Lee has the wherewithal to choose to give a speech wherever she wants, we as voters are free to note the fact that CAIR is an enemy of the American Jewish community.

The Washington Free Beacon reports that CAIR is known for its anti-Israel views and was labeled an “unindicted co-conspirator” of Hamas front groups during the Holy Land Foundation terrorism investigation in 2007. CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad said in November that he was “happy” that Hamas attacked Israel on Oct. 7. He also said that Israel “does not have that right to self-defense.” The White House condemned Awad’s remarks as antisemitic. Awad contributed $1,000 to Lee’s primary campaign on Dec. 29, according to campaign finance records.

No doubt, Lee is well funded. She is supported by the Democratic National Committee and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries from their large cash reserves and wealthy donors. In stark contrast is Bhavini Patel, who is pilloried by Lee’s supporters for alleged ties to Indian nationalist interests, whatever that means. These are just code words meant to suggest something sinister about her character and motives. If Indian Americans support Patel, is there something wrong with that or is it only if they are Hindus?

These baseless taunts are all a piece of the rest of the identity politics we see from the so-called progressive end of the Democratic Party. Is the issue that Patel is the wrong minority? I believe there is nothing to attack Patel on except her support for Israel’s moral self-defense and disdain for racial essentialism. I for one am sick of skin color tests. Let’s look at what these candidates do and stand for. I know what CAIR is and has done. I know their leaders and positions.

Given ample evidence in her record and her bullying, divisive tactics, I am far from convinced Summer Lee is the best candidate for the Jewish community.

Spare me the lies.

Annette Kolski-Andreaco Pittsburgh

keep kashrut here.

I don’t consume any shellfish, meat or dairy. I do however purchase grains, nuts, seeds and legumes that are not kosher-certified.

Kashrut is necessary for the future of the Jewish people.

I kept a kosher home for 48 years until moving to Hilton Head, South Carolina. Now I keep a kosher-style home because acquiring kosher food is difficult.

What I eat, how I prepare it and where I buy it are not intrinsic to my sense of being Jewish.

Vegan is the new kosher.

I buy kosher meat but have one set of dishes.

My parents did, but my husband’s family didn’t. It was easier to side with them.

Keeping kosher is an extraordinary

financial hardship for poorer families. In addition, kosher slaughter of meat says nothing about ethical treatment of the animals while they are alive.

We do not eat pork or shellfish but otherwise are not kosher.

I have two sets of dishes and pots, no pork or shellfish and no mixing milk and meat, but I do not buy kosher meats. I rarely eat meat.

Even if one eats out, kashrut in our homes exacerbates a connection to our historical identity and attitude, not to mention halacha. It’s a happy and meaningful connection to our people and our foundations. PJC

— Compiled by Toby Tabachnick

Chronicle weekly poll question: Should local city and county councils consider resolutions calling for a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war? Go to pittsburghjewishchronicle.org to respond. PJC

Surprising omission in ‘Blazing Saddles’ article I began to read, with interest, the article by Stephen Silver about the movie “Blazing Saddles” (“‘Blazing Saddles’ marks a half-century of hilarity — and controversy,” reprinted from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Feb. 16). I ended up with some degree of surprise/shock that Norman Steinberg was not even mentioned.

Norman co-wrote “Blazing Saddles” with Mel Brooks. He attended Taylor Allderdice High School in the 1950s before his family moved to Maryland. He then came back and graduated from Pitt Law School in 1964 with me. Although I went to law school with Norman, I did not stay in touch with him, but there were a number of Pittsburghers who did maintain a relationship with him over all those years. He died in 2023 and his obituaries all mention his “Blazing Saddles” and Pittsburgh connections. That a Pittsburgh Jewish community newspaper did not is incredible.

Hamas started the war, not Israel

Maya Fischhoff is incorrect to state that it is Israel’s “war on Gaza” (“Looking for more nuanced perspective,” Feb. 16). It is Hamas’ war on Israel, currently prosecuted in Gaza by Israel, which cannot live next to the genocidal terrorist organization Hamas. When Maya understands that Hamas started the war, all the rest of her complaints about a Jewish newspaper supporting a Jewish country, and Netanyahu’s failings, fade away.

It is true that Israelis want another prime minister. They also want a new military head and a new head of intelligence. They will get these when the war is over, but first the war must be won. Remember 9/11? Many thought that George W. Bush was incompetent, but all Americans rallied behind him because, incompetent or not, he was our president and it was wartime.

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invite you to submit letters for publication. Letters must include name, address and daytime phone number; addresses and phone numbers will not be published. Letters may not exceed 500 words and may be edited for length and clarity; they cannot be returned. Send letters to: letters@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org or Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, 5915 Beacon St., 5th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 We regret
owing to the volume of correspondence, we cannot reply to every letter. 62% No
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Life & Culture

Yeshiva Girls School’s biennial production ‘Out of the Depths’ teaches

girls leadership, new skills

When most people are getting home from work and settling in on a Tuesday evening, the students at Yeshiva Girls School are steadily streaming back into their school in a raucous chorus of giggles, conversation and questions about their job for the day.

These moments happen regularly now as the girls practice for the school’s biennial theatrical production, which the girls direct, produce and perform.

This year, they are presenting an adaptation of “Out of the Depths,” a book by Rabbi Marcus Lehmann.

The story follows a married couple, Edward and Minna, as they navigate their Jewish faith in mid-19th-century Germany. Edward is not very observant, but he promises to change when he marries the pious Minna.

Leah Feller is overseeing the production under the guidance of principal Batsheva Deren,

The girls have prepared for their March performances since December, but for production heads Rivka Presman, Shayna Backman, Fraidy Rosenblum and Esther Rosenblum, the work began much earlier.

About six months ago, the four debated over what story to tell. It was Rosenblum’s mother who suggested “Out of the Depths,” a production the school put on more than two decades ago, written by Terri Naiditch.

Initially, the production heads were unsure about the script, but seeing it performed changed their minds.

“We were able to find a VHS of the production, and so we all watched it together and, just watching that production, we all became obsessed with it,” Backman, 18, said.

The costumes were part of the draw. As the story is set in the 19th century, the students responsible for costuming are getting creative.

The three costume heads, Rivky Tebeka,

Aviva Taibe and Hadassah Rothman, are leading the creation of the wardrobe from scratch. Although Taibe and Rothman didn’t know how to sew when they began, they now man the sewing machines twice a day as they make clothing for the production.

“It’s just using your hands to create something. It’s a lot of fun, and then seeing it — like your creation, your thoughts — out on a person and it looks good, is just a lot of fun,” Rothman, 17, said.

They researched the time period, and drew inspiration from shows set in the 19th century. While most of the outfits are original pieces for the production, they also have thrifted clothing that could fit the setting.

That spirit of ingenuity runs throughout the entire school as the girls prepare. Cousins and prop heads Bracha Shkedi and Batsheva Shkedi emphasized that they always keep a vigilant eye out for potential props as their team practiced moving props on and off stage — the stage itself an extension of that innovation.

The girls will perform at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall, equipped with a large stage and row after row of seats, a big change from the gym the girls are practicing in.

To account for the change, they taped the dimensions of the music hall stage onto the floor of the gym for practice.

The girls will combine dance, singing and

acting to tell the story of Edward’s struggle with wealth and devotion in his marriage. While the girls take the story seriously, it’s not without levity. At one point, Edward finds himself face-to-face with swashbuckling, dancing pirates.

It’s clear that the girls don’t shy away from their imaginations, with the production heads even writing some of their scenes to get the script closer to the book.

“This production lets my creativity flow,” said Leah Rochel Taub, 13, who plays Edward’s sister, as well as a dancer and singer.

The production gives the girls the opportunity to pick up new skills and, for those acting, experience the world from another’s perspective.

“It’s cool to, like, get into that character’s eyes,” said 14-year-old Mariasha Rosenblum, who plays Edward. “I’m so in tune with my character. I’m like, ‘Oh, what would Edward do?’ It’s just a really cool thing to be able to play another person.”

Throughout the hectic night of practice, many of the girls emphasized that working on the production has helped them discover new talents and taught them teamwork, flexibility, problem-solving and leadership skills. Around 50 girls from seventh to 12th grade are involved in production, with girls from 10th to 12th grade in leadership roles. Some highlighted the significance of those connections.

“It’s important to have good communication and flexibility and teamwork,” Gabriella Balyasny, 17, who handles PR for the production alongside acting. “It’s like a big unifying experience because you could be working with and under people that, like, you don’t usually talk with or work with.”

“You get to be involved with people who you’re not necessarily in classes with,” drama choir head Chaya Gurevitz, 17, said. “You get to know seventh and eighth graders, you get to know girls who you’re not in class with and spend time with them in a different way that’s not academically focused.”

Almost every girl shared the same message nearly verbatim: Buy a ticket and come to one of the performances.

“You’re not only going to like it; you’re going to love it,” Esther Rosenblum said.

The girls will perform on March 4 and 5 at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library and Music Hall in Carnegie. The performance is for women and girls only. Doors open at 6:15 p.m. and the performances begin at 7 p.m. There will also be a raffle where attendees can enter for the chance to win a self-care, family or couple’s basket.

In-person and livestream tickets can be bought at linktr.ee/production5784. PJC

Abigail Hakas is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

South Hills concert celebrates life of local Holocaust survivor

Howard Chandler was just a child, an 11-year-old boy, living in Poland when the Nazis invaded on Sept. 1, 1939 — and next week, music inspired by his life story will be heard in Pittsburgh’s South Hills.

After the invasion, Chandler quickly became acquainted with the Third Reich’s brutality as he and his family were forced into a ghetto with up to 5,000 other Jews. Three years later, Chandler saw much of his family for the last time; trains shipped them, one by one, to Treblinka, where they were murdered. Chandler endured.

After working for two more years in a slavelabor camp in Wierzbnik, Poland, Chandler, too, was taken to a concentration camp. But, there, he reunited with his brother and father.

The fate of Chandler’s father is unclear.

Though he was presumed murdered in Birkenau, his son recently discovered evidence that suggested the elder Chandler was instead sent to the German camp at

Stutthof, where he died.

Chandler returned to his Polish hometown in the late 1980s. Since 2011, he has made an annual pilgrimage with the Pittsburgh-based group Classrooms Without Borders to share his survivor testimony.

Next week, Chandler’s life and his struggles will be set to music as the Bay Chamber Players perform a “Spring Is Near” concert — a tribute to Chandler and those who survived the atrocities of World War II.

The performance, scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. on March 3 at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Brentwood, will feature compositions by Saint- Saens Dauber, Bruch, Boulanger,

Beethoven and Massenet, event organizers said.

The afternoon’s centerpiece, however, will be a musical performance featuring new work by Gilbert Bigenho, a Pittsburgh-based musician inspired by Chandler’s experiences. The pieces include “Broken Wings,” an evocative work written for piano, violin, and voice, as well as the three movements of “Holocaust Remembrances,” which memorializes millions like Chandler who lived or were felled during the war.

Zipora “Tsipy” Gur, the founder and executive director of Classrooms Without Borders, has taken students and educators annually to Europe for years now. (There are still a few openings for this summer’s slated trips.)

Chandler’s stories, shared as the group winds down roads where concentration camps once stood, make the history resonate, Gur said. It also helps illustrate why that history is rather timely in 2024 — as antisemitism has spiked around the world and, some say, the Jewish state is waging war in Gaza over its right to exist.

“There is no better time to teach about the Holocaust than now,” Gur said.

“What I see is so many teachers we’ve worked with over the years, it’s their chance

now to be the upstanders,” she added.

Bigenho, who joined Chandler on one of the Classrooms Without Borders tours, will play his violin on March 3 alongside vocalist Barbara Winters, a native of Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, and pianist Will Phifer.

Gur, for one, feels people will be moved by the event.

“Music is a language that surpasses boundaries and resonates with our shared humanity,” she said. “In honoring the survivors and victims of the Holocaust through music, we ensure that their stories endure, and we affirm our commitment to never forget.”

The event is open to everyone. A donation of $15 is suggested and will be taken at the door.

Originally a string trio, the Bay Chamber Players evolved into an ensemble featuring piano, violin and clarinet trio, Bigenho said. The group tours extensively throughout the eastern United States, enjoying a wide variety of styles and a combination of players.

For more information, email Info@ stpetersbrentwood.org. PJC

Justin Vellucci is a

writer living in Pittsburgh.

14 MARCH 1, 2024 PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
— THEATER —
freelance
p From left: Production heads Fraidy Rosenblum, Rivka Presman, Shayna Backman, and Esther Rosenblum pose for a photo inside Yeshiva Girls School on a rehearsal night. Photo by Abigail Hakas p From left: Sarah Huber, 14, who plays Minna, acts out a scene with Minna’s best friend, Pennina, played by Aliza Markel, 16. Photo by Abigail Hakas
— MUSIC —
p Holocaust survivor Howard Chandler places a stone on a grave in Poland. Photo courtesy of Zipora Gur

Life & Culture

Prime Stage Theatre remembers Anne Frank March 1-10

John Neiman credits Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, with helping him decide to become a priest.

“In 1979, we were talking and he stopped me midsentence and said, ‘It’s wonderful that you love my family and want to honor their memory and all those who died, but if you want really want to honor their memory, you should do what Anne wanted to do with her life, and that is do good for other people,’” the retired priest remembered.

Otto Frank died during Neiman’s first day of seminary, “So, I always felt that he was there with me,” he said.

Neiman came to the priesthood late in life — he was 29 before making the decision. His interest in Anne Frank, though, started early.

He first read Anne Frank’s diary, “The Diary of a Young Girl,” when he was in fifth grade. He next watched the television movie — getting special permission from his mother to stay up late. The future priest spent the next several years learning as much about the Netherlands and the Holocaust as he could.

In 1974, Neiman wrote Otto Frank a letter telling him how his daughter’s diary had impacted his life. To his surprise, Frank wrote back and explained that he received hundreds of letters and couldn’t keep a regular correspondence with anyone. Neiman assured him that wouldn’t be an issue.

“I wrote back and said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll write you. You don’t have to write back.’ But, of course, he did, and we became very good friends through the mail,” Neiman recalled.

Neiman even visited Frank several times throughout Frank’s life.

“He was such a kind, loving, good person,” Neiman said. “We became very close and spent hours talking about everything. The only thing he wouldn’t discuss was the betrayal,” he said. (Anne Frank and her family were betrayed to the Nazis by an unknown person.)

Neiman has spent a large portion of his life collecting things relating to the Holocaust, the Frank family and their experiences, often at his own expense.

He will talk about his experiences and his relationship with Otto Frank on Saturday, March 2, after a Prime Stage Theatre production of “And Then They Came for Me:

Remembering the World of Anne Frank.”

Directed by Art DeConciliis, the play is based on the recollections of Holocaust survivors Ed Silverberg and Eva Schloss, teenage friends of Anne Frank in the early 1940s.

It was through the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh — with whom Neiman has been in contact since moving to the area from his native Los Angeles after retiring — that the priest was introduced to Prime Stage Theatre’s Artistic Director Wayne Brinda.

Brinda, Neiman said, asked him to speak to the cast before the play started, which he did in February.

“I was very impressed by the cast I met that night,” Neiman said. “They seemed like very good, dedicated people.”

Stacey Rosleck is one of the actors Neiman met. She plays two roles in the production: “Ed’s Mother” and “Mutti.” This is the fourth play she’s done with Prime Stage Theatre.

A Christian, Rosleck said she was drawn to the play because she believes the Holocaust is a story that needs to be told.

“We can’t forget and, for me, I mean, to see humans go through such horror, we owe it to them to tell their story,” she said. “It’s just about being someone who keeps their memory alive, who honors them, who reminds people that these families were ripped apart. It’s not guaranteed that it couldn’t happen again.”

A veteran of the stage, Rosleck has acted since 2001 but took a long break until 2010 when she started to work in community theater regularly.

She likes working with Prime Stage, she said, because its mission is about bringing literacy to life.

“We’re there to serve a story and to make people feel something,” she said. “This isn’t the first story they’ve told about the Holocaust.

I think there’s something especially significant about being on their stage.”

This is the third work about the Holocaust that director Art DeConciliis has done with Prime Stage.

He recalled watching “Cabaret” as a young child and remembered being struck by the impending oppression and the horrible atmosphere that was percolating in Germany at the time in which the musical is set.

“Then, as I learned more about the Holocaust, there’s a moral imperative about what’s right and wrong and if we don’t talk about it, that’s a problem,” he said. “Through my artwork, I’m hoping to influence younger generations of people.”

DeConciliis has directed nearly 200 shows, including works that are part of Prime Stage’s enGAGE Program, which partners with the

Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh to engage the world in education, understanding and action against the atrocities of genocide.

He said that when he works on a piece about the Holocaust, he addresses the cast.

“I tell them this can’t just be another Holocaust piece. I say that because I think we naturally became numb to things as a defense mechanism. And I think sometimes people become numb to the entire scenario of the Holocaust and I want to make sure each time the audience sees the piece that I work on, they take back something fresh from it,” he said.

The director said that his work with Prime Stage has taught him more about the Holocaust.

“I think that has made me a better citizen. Each piece has touched me differently,” he said.

A special showing of the Holocaust-themed “Perseverance” will take place on March 4 at 7 p.m., during Prime Stage’s run of “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank.” The play had its world premiere as part of the enGAGE program. It is an adaptation of Lee Goldman Kikel’s 2019 memoir chronicling her father Melvin Goldman’s postwar journey of healing and renewal in Pittsburgh during the 1950s and 60s.

“And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank” will be staged March 1-10 at the New Hazlett Theater. For more information, visit primestage.com/events/ remembering-anne-frank. PJC

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

SBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE MARCH 1, 2024 15
— THEATER —
p John Neiman, a retired Catholic priest, has spent his life collecting information about Anne Frank. Photo by David Rullo p John Neiman stands next to photos of his friend Otto Frank. Photo by David Rullo

Life & Culture

Caesar salad with garlic crostini

For the Caesar salad:

3-4 heads romaine lettuce, washed and dried

For the first time in almost 20 years, I am making dinner for two most nights of the week. I have struggled to make this transition, but I’m finally building the skill of cooking smaller portions. Mealtimes have gone from family time to a relaxed but more grown-up experience for me, and it feels nice to put a little extra effort into a dinner just for my husband and me.

Many people take the mayo shortcut for Caesar salad, but it only takes a few minutes to get the authentic taste at home. Although mayonnaise is one of my top-rated condiments (I won’t give it up, no matter what the doctor advises) it only takes a few minutes to mix a fresh Caesar dressing, which is essentially homemade mayonnaise, seasoned and mixed with a healthier olive oil.

I really like making my own salad dressings — having control of the oil and sugar and forgoing extra ingredients or preservatives. If you’re concerned about the use of raw egg yolk, then buy pasteurized eggs to put your mind at ease.

Ingredients

For the garlic crostini:

½ a baguette

1½ tablespoons olive oil

1 minced clove garlic Kosher salt

2 egg yolks at room temperature

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

3 whole anchovies or 1 tablespoon of anchovy paste

½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

½ cup good quality olive oil

¾ cup Parmesan cheese (grated), or ½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

There are three tips for making the best Caesar salad at home. The first is that the romaine leaves must be washed and allowed to air dry completely before preparing the salad. The second is using a good homemade dressing and the third is to dress the salad immediately before serving. Not 10 minutes before, or even

5. For crunchy, fresh-tasting lettuce, you need to throw it all together just before dinner.

Wash and dry 3-4 heads of romaine lettuce. Place a tea towel on the table and allow the lettuce to air dry for a few hours, turning once to allow any excess water to drip off. Once dry, hand tear the lettuce leaves into bite-size pieces. To prepare the crostini, pour 1½ tablespoons of olive oil into a small bowl and add 1 minced clove of garlic. Let the oil and garlic rest for 5 minutes before use to allow the garlic flavor to infuse the oil.

but the bread must have enough give to be sliced into small pieces. If it totally crumbles, choose a different bread. You can also get creative and make crostini with rye or multigrain bread.

Slice 8 pieces of bread about 1-inch thick. Place the slices on a baking sheet and brush each lightly with the olive oil using a pastry brush. Don’t worry about getting the minced garlic onto the bread; just let that sink to the bottom of the bowl — the flavor is in the oil. Bake for about 8 minutes or until the bread is golden brown around the edges.

You can make the crostini a few hours ahead of time, but store it in an airtight container if they’re going to be out longer than a few hours to prevent them from getting too hard.

I suggest using an immersion blender to mix the dressing, but you can emulsify the dressing by hand with a whisk and a bit of elbow grease. If using an immersion blender, put the room-temperature egg yolks, lemon juice, anchovy and Worcestershire sauce in a tall mixing glass and blend on high until everything is smooth and mixed together. It will take a little bit longer if you’re using whole anchovy filets as opposed to anchovy paste.

If you’re mixing by hand, whisk the eggs well before mixing the other ingredients. It will be

easier to use anchovy paste unless you want to grind the anchovies into a paste with a mortar and pestle. Either way, once the egg mixture is well combined, mix in the Dijon mustard, then slowly drizzle in the olive oil while whisking/ blending constantly.

Blend/whisk until the mixture is emulsified, meaning that the oil does not separate and the dressing stays in its blended form while resting. If you’re using grated Parmesan cheese, stir it in by hand at this point. If you are using cheese shavings, use a vegetable peeler to shave about ½ cup of cheese off your brick of Parmesan and set aside. Cover tightly and store in the fridge until you’re ready to mix the salad. I keep this dressing on hand for 2 to 3 days.

Toss the romaine lettuce with about half of the prepared dressing.

Arrange the garlic crostini and sprinkle with shaved Parmesan, if applicable.

I love to add anchovy filets to Caesar salad, so I typically buy a 4-ounce jar of filets in olive oil, use some for the dressing and the rest for the salad. If whole anchovies are not appealing to you, omit them, but they are imperative in seasoning the dressing.

Add freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

16 MARCH 1, 2024 PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
3473 Butler Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15201 412.586.4347 sentirestaurant.com Free off street parking after 6:00PM — FOOD —
 Caesar salad with garlic crostini Photo by Jessica Grann
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Torah Celebrations

Bar Mitzvah

Clifford Jacob (CJ) Keough (Chaim Yaacov), son of Arin and Ryan Keough, was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024, by Rabbi Barbara Symons at Temple David in Monroeville. CJ is the brother of Gabrielle and Natalie Keough and the grandson of Patricia Cluss and Jeffrey Herman, Elizabeth and Clifford Keough, and Norman (z”l) and Bonnie Levine. He is a seventh grader at Franklin Regional Middle School. His passions are playing video games with friends, basketball, lacrosse and flag football, and hanging out with his family and dog Millie.

Debbi and Tom Samakow of Boca Raton, Florida, formerly of Pittsburgh, are proud to announce the engagement of their son, Jesse Barrett, to Evangeline Aurora Adana, daughter of Asia Grey Adana and Aaron Adana of San Francisco, California. Jesse’s grandparents are the late Norman and Gloria Wedner and the late Malcolm and Marion Samakow. Eva’s grandparents are Jo Lyndon and Gery Grey, and Suzanne and the late Jim Matthews. Jesse received his undergraduate degree in business and computer sciences in 2013 from Miami University of Ohio and is currently employed with Salesforce in Denver, Colorado. Eva graduated with a double major from the Dominican University of California with a BS in biology and music performance in 2020. Eva received a Master of Science in global health and chemistry from University of California, San Francisco, in 2021. Eva is currently working for a genetic clinical trial aiding in cancer research detection in Denver. A 2025 wedding is planned.  PJC

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Rabbi

Parshat

Why?

This is the key question in Jewish education. Why should I do this? Why should I like it? Why should it be part of my life? The “whys” are endless. This is good. Asking why helps us understand the power and meaning Judaism can have in our lives.

it doesn’t have to be that. We create holiness ourselves, all the time. We set things and times apart to be distinct and separate all the time. Rosh Hashanah is holy when we set the time aside. Baking hamantaschen can be holy, too, when we set the time aside to do something special (and for a mitzvah, to boot).

One of my favorite ways to create my own sense of holiness is to make a challah. Nothing says “time set aside for a special purpose” like the smell of fresh challah. My tip is using a bread machine. (Given the cost of a loaf of challah, a basic bread machine will return the investment in just over half a year.) I use the dough setting to let the machine do all the work. In 90 minutes, I have the dough ready. I cut it

Nothing says “time set aside for a special purpose” like the smell of fresh challah.

Asking why might seem like a novelty because for millennia Judaism was such a default position that Jews either didn’t feel the need to ask or have any other option. However, we’ve been in a new reality for some time. Many Jews — for example those who read divrei Torah in their local Jewish newspaper — are “in” and intuitively understand the “why” of Judaism, but more Jews are “out,” not connected with formal expressions of Jewish living either through home customs or institutions. They may ask why they should bother with Jewish life.

For those of us in education, these are the questions that drive us, that shape our plans and efforts. We know that we can’t rely on “because” or other default answers.

In an odd way, parshat Ki Tissa can show us one answer. In Exodus chapter 30, the Levites are told how to create the anointing oil. We read a recipe to make it in bulk followed by instructions describing how it will be used to make all sorts of things in the mishkan holy. We are instructed to take a variety of ingredients, mix them up, and in so doing we can declare the infused concoction “holy.” We have made something holy. And then we use that to make other things holy. We, ancient Jews, made a thing that we declared holy. Sure, God instructed it but there is nothing supernatural written about it. The oil is infused with spices, not lightning bolts, not manna from heaven, nothing miraculous. It’s just oil and spices. We accept it as holy and we use it to create holiness.

Holy means separate, distinct, set aside. Holiness may have echoes of divinity, may have connotations of something heavenward, but

into three strips, braid ‘em up, slide into the oven and voila, fresh challah.

Why do we do Jewish things? Because it allows us to push back from the demands of the world, set aside some space and time and indulge in a little holiness. Back in the Torah’s day, anointing oil was the thing. Today, the smell of fresh challah tells everyone that holiness is just about to arrive, that time is about to be set aside and we can enjoy our lives as we wish.

Here’s my super simple recipe for the bread machine. Let me know how it comes out.

Challah

Bake at 350 F to 375 F for 20-30 minutes, depending on how moist or dry you like your bread.

Add in the following order:

1 egg, in a measuring cup, then add water to equal 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons of liquid and egg

1 1/2 tablespoons margarine

3 cups flour

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons yeast PJC

Rabbi Larry Freedman is the director of the Joint Jewish Education Program. This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish Clergy Association.

18 MARCH 1, 2024 PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
Larry Freedman
Ki Tissa
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Obituaries

CAPLAN: Lorraine S. Caplan left this world on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024. Lorraine was preceded in death by her parents, Ruby and Morris “Red” Caplan, and her daughter, Elizabeth (Robert) Einloth. Loving mother of Matthew Speamer (LaToinae Anderson) and Morgan Speamer. Sister of Clifford Caplan (Lisa McDonough), and aunt of Heather and Cecilia McDonough-Caplan. Grandmother of Samantha Einloth (Elias Broniecki), Danielle Jones (Edward Jones), Adam Einloth, Elliana Anderson and MaKenna Anderson Speamer, as well as a cousin to many. Lorraine was a seeker of knowledge, a passionate educator, and a friend to all who knew her. Service was held at D’Alessandro Funeral Home. Interment at Kether Torah Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to American Lung Association, COPD Foundation, or National Breast Cancer Foundation. D’Alessandro Funeral & Crematory Ltd., Lawrenceville.

ROSENTHAL: Myrna “Joy”

Rosenthal passed peacefully surrounded by loved ones on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. Beloved wife of Eliezer “Elie” Rosenthal for over 66 years. Beloved daughter of the late Herman and Rebecca Fineberg and Marcus and Ida Rosenthal. Cherished mother of Diane Rosenthal (Michael Hirt), Michele Rosenthal (Robert Kennedy), and the late Cecil and David Rosenthal — “The Boys.”

Adored Bubbie of Jennifer and Li Wen Hirt. Sister to Florita Sonnenklar (the late Arthur Sonnenklar). In addition, Joy will be greatly missed by loving nieces, nephews, cousins and many friends. Joy was born in Pittsburgh and was a graduate of Peabody High School and completed two years at the University of Pittsburgh. Joy loved to laugh and enjoyed life to the fullest. She was committed to her family and her circle of friends. She doted on her two granddaughters. She was an ardent Pittsburgh Steelers fan. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Tree of Life Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests friends and loved ones consider making a contribution to the Tree of Life, Inc. — Remember.Rebuild.Renew. Campaign, 107 Woodland Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15232 (rememberrebuildrenew.org/donate) or to Achieva — the Cecil and David Rosenthal Memorial Fund, 711 Bingham St., Pittsburgh, PA 15203 (Achieva.info/loveliketheboys).  schugar.com

WOLK: Dennis Wolk, born in Pittsburgh on Dec. 10, 1940, to the late Myrna and Henry Wolk, died on Saturday, Feb. 24, 2024. Beloved husband of Marcia Wolk and father of Michael (H. Cho) Wolk. Also survived by brothers Sheldon, Brent and Brad Wolk, and by numerous nieces, nephews and cousins. He was predeceased by his sister, Barbara Landay. Dennis was a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh and co-owner of London Dock for over 50 years. Services will remain private. Contributions in his memory may be made to The Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration (theaftd.org/get-involved/ways-to-give) or a charity of one’s choice. Professional services trusted to D’Alessandro Funeral & Crematory Ltd., Lawrenceville. dalessandroltd.com

Jewish Association on Aging gratefully acknowledges contributions from the following:

A gift from ... In memory of...

Anonymous Carl Katz

Marc Bilder . Dr Herman Meyers

Ellen Blum Edgar Danovitz

Lois S Crone

.Benjamin B Crone

Bernard Dickter Sara Esther Dickter

Ellen & Bob Garvin Ralph Silverman

Rhoda & Jay Gefsky .Hyland L Gefsky

Marlene Goldstein .Herb Rudick

Jean Horne Alfred Cohen

Linda Levine . Julius Rosenfeld

Linda Levine .Leona Levine

Linda & Jeffrey Reisner & Family .Joanne Brodell Alpern

Audrey Silverman . Ralph Silverman

Joel Smalley .Isadore Smalley

Sunday March 3: Fay Seiner Cohen, Robert Davis, Edna Foster, Herman Frank, Hyland Gefsky, Mollie Gutkind, Carl Katz, Lena Brodie Lebovitz, Dora Leiber, Gershen Liepack, Harold Meyers, T/Sgt Sherwyn W Meyers, Paula Ruth Mitchel, Esther Rider, Isaac Rosenberg, A Max Schmuckler, Lena G Schwartz, Jack Isadore Slomoff, Paul Tabor

Monday March 4: Joanne Brodell Alpern, Marvin Berman, Matilda Helfgott Brand, Benjamin B Crone, Rabbi Abraham Feinberg, Jennie Fisher, Esther Gottlieb, Joseph Harris, Yolan Katz, Sadie Klein, Kathryn Levenson, Lena Levinson, Dr Herman Meyers, Mischa Mueller, Oscar Paris, William Rosen, Sarah Rothstein, Jennie Schoen, Frank Shapiro, Eugene Silverman, Isadore Smalley, Sarah Verbin, Esther Wolovitz

Tuesday March 5: Gertrude Alpern, Grace Bahm, Samuel Barres, Fannie Friedman, Mary Gordon, Audrey Brown Green, Edward J Levine, Matthew Marcus, Herbert Meyers, Emanuel Morris, Herbert Rothman, Bernard Beryl Sirota, Rosalind C Solomon, Dora D Wilson, Harry Ziff

Wednesday March 6: Freda Benowitz, Alfred Cohen, Allen Cohen, Sonia Fogel, Verner William Friedman, Esther Glick, Max Glick, Joy Ellen Levin Leff, Leona Levine, Leo Abraham Levine, MD, William J Lewinter, Frank Mandel, Julius Rosenfeld, Rose Lieberman Solomon

Thursday March 7: Harry Birnkrant, Sara Esther Dickter, Joseph Eisenberg, Nathan Handelman, Mayer Handley, Oscar K Light, Belle G Meyers, Samuel Ostfield, Rowena M Rosenthal, Mary W Roth, Isadore Herbert Rudick, Moses J Sadowsky, Milton Schwartz, Bertha C Talenfeld, Ida L Weinthal, Ethel Zamsky

Friday March 8: Henry Dentel, Rita Serrins Glazer, Morris Harris, Hannah Hershman, Joseph Kleinerman, Edward Kornstein, Bella Lencer, Morris R Mandelblatt, Gussie Marcus, Helen R .B Sand, Samuel Schwartz, Ralph Silverman, Jacob M Stone

Saturday March 9: Eleanor P Backer, Louis H Broudy, Sam Cartiff, Adele Cherkosly, Edgar Danovitz, Libbie Broida Hirsh, Sara Louise Leff, Max Loefsky, Michael Loffer, Evelyn Selkovits Marcus, Archie Steinberg, Anna Sarah Waldman

Please see Obituaries, page 20

Dustin

on free burial in Chesed Shel Emeth for those who are indigent, please contact us at the information provided below.

PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE MARCH 1, 2024 19
Contact the Development department at 412-586-2690 or development@jaapgh.org for more information. THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS — JCBA’s expanded vision is made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Foundation For more information about JCBA cemeteries, to volunteer, to read our complete histories and/or to make a contribution, please visit our website at www.JCBApgh.org, email us at o ice@jcbapgh.org, or call the JCBA o ice at 412-553-6469 New Chesed Shel Eme th Cemetery is eld of graves, established in 1913 in Shaler Township when Old Chesed Shel Emeth ran out of space, demonstrates our sacred mission to bury the indigent. In addition, four separate burials of damaged prayer books and other sacred texts, a service provided to the community by the JCBA, were held in 2007, 2013, 2018, and 2021. If you would like more information
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ZIKER: (Sept. 28, 1925–Feb. 14, 2024) Norma Ziker passed away peacefully on Feb. 14 in Seattle, Washington, at the age of 98. Norma was born in Braddock and lived in Pittsburgh until June 2020, when she moved to Seattle to be closer to her son and his family. She was the beloved wife of Melvin Ziker, who passed in 1998. Norma is survived by her daughter, Barbara Ziker and son Barry Ziker (wife Margaret Chillingworth). Norma was an avid reader, loved to travel, especially to Paris, and enjoyed doing The New York Times crossword puzzles. She was a loving and proud “Bubbie” to her grandchildren Emma, Sarah and Alika Ziker, and “Granny” to Thomas and Daniel Wurmseder. Norma has three wonderful great-grandchildren, Ethan Crevits, Marlon and Milan Wurmseder, who brought her so much joy. Her nieces and nephews will also miss her cheerful disposition, beautiful smile, generosity and positive outlook on life. Norma always had a smile and a friendly hello for anyone she met. She was a role model for her family and friends and will be deeply missed by all who knew her. PJC

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Life & Culture

Join the Chronicle Book Club!

The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle invites you to join the Chronicle Book Club for its April 14 discussion of “Golda Meir: Israel’s Matriarch,” by Deborah Lipstadt. From The Times of Israel: “In this examination of the pioneering Israeli leader, Lipstadt succeeds in painting a visceral portrait of Golda Meir as a gifted orator and blunt negotiator, a pragmatic, single-minded and often inflexible leader who was wholeheartedly devoted to the Zionist mission.”

Your Hosts:

Toby Tabachnick, editor of the Chronicle

David Rullo, Chronicle senior staff writer

How and When:

We will meet on Zoom on Sunday, April 14, at noon.

What To Do

Buy: “Golda Meir: Israel’s Matriarch.” It is available at area Barnes & Noble stores and from online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It also has limited availability in the Carnegie Library system.

Email: Contact us at drullo@pittsburgh jewishchronicle.org, and write “Chronicle

Book Club” in the subject line. We will send you a Zoom link for the discussion meeting. Registration closes on April 12.

Happy reading! PJC

— Toby Tabachnick

Laurie MacDonald’s District 12 candidacy challenged in court

Laurie MacDonald’s candidacy in the District 12 Congressional primary faces a legal challenge.

An objection petition was filed in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania seeking to remove MacDonald from the April 23 primary, alleging “defects, other irregularities, and outright pattern of impropriety” in her nomination petitions.

The objection petition was filed by four Democratic voters who live in District 12.

MacDonald announced her candidacy in January. If she remains in the primary, she will face Democrats Rep. Summer Lee and Bhavini Patel.

The objection petition alleges that “there are numerous defective signatures, illegible signatures, signatures of unregistered voters, duplicate signatures, signatures of voters not registered in the Democratic Party, and signatures of individuals not registered at the address listed.”

If those allegedly defective signatures are rejected by the court, MacDonald will not have 1,000 valid signatures which are required to qualify for the primary, the objection petition asserts.

that none of the three people identified as circulating the petitions for MacDonald were registered as a voter at the addresses they provided.

MacDonald told the Chronicle that she has enough valid signatures to secure a place on the ballot.

“We are very confident that we have at least 1,000 good signatures, probably more,” she said. “The challenges are not even correct,” she added. “So, you know, it’s just busy work. But we will get it done and we will be on the ballot.”

A hearing on the objection petition is scheduled for Monday, March 4 at the CityCounty Building. PJC

— Toby Tabachnick

PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE MARCH 1, 2024 21
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Real Estate
 Laurie MacDonald Photo by Maureen Kelly Busis

Life & Culture

Jewish philanthropist donates $1 billion to Bronx med school, eliminating all future tuition

The Bronx’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine will be tuition-free for the indefinite future thanks to a $1 billion donation from a Jewish philanthropist.

The massive gift from Dr. Ruth Gottesman, an emerita faculty member, will be “transformational” in drawing students to the medical school in the city’s poorest borough. And by eliminating up to hundreds of thousands in student debt, the donation aims to make Einstein accessible to a broader range of candidates, the college said in a statement on Monday.

“This donation radically revolutionizes our ability to continue attracting students who are committed to our mission, not just those who can afford it,” Dr. Yaron Tomer, Einstein’s dean, said in the statement. “Additionally, it will free up and lift our students, enabling them to pursue projects and ideas that might otherwise be prohibitive.”

The college was founded by Yeshiva University in 1955, at a time when Jews faced discriminatory quotas in university admissions. In 2015, Y.U. transferred ownership of the medical college to New York City’s Montefiore Medical Center, though the two institutions remain affiliated.

Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, the president of Y.U., called Gottesman’s donation to the medical college “monumental.”

“We congratulate the Gottesman family for their visionary leadership in significantly advancing Einstein’s founding mission to expand access for all students to top tier medical education,” Berman told the New York Jewish Week.

Einstein’s statement called the donation “the largest made to any medical school in the country.” It shared footage online of students leaping out of their seats and cheering for more than 30 seconds as Gottesman announced that tuition will be free starting in August.

Gottesman, 93, said the donation will help students attain expertise “to find new ways to prevent diseases and provide the finest health care to communities here in the Bronx and all over the world.”

“l feel blessed to be given the great privilege of making this gift to such a worthy cause,” she said in a statement.

Gottesman, a former professor at the college, has a long history with the institution. In 1968, she joined the college’s Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center where she developed screening and treatment methods for children. In 1992, she launched the college’s Adult Literacy Program. She serves as the chair of the college’s board of trustees, a role she also held a decade ago.

Gottesman is the widow of the wealthy financier David Gottesman, a prominent Jewish philanthropist who died in 2022 at the age of 96. Known as Sandy, he connected with billionaire investor Warren Buffett when the two attended Harvard Business School. David Gottesman became an early backer of Buffett’s firm, Berkshire Hathaway, earning massive returns on his investment. In 2022, Forbes estimated Gottesman’s wealth at $3 billion.

The Gottesmans launched a family philanthropic foundation, the Gottesman Fund, in 1965, continuing a long tradition of Jewish philanthropy in the family.

In 2021, the most recent year for which tax documents are available, the Gottesman Fund disbursed more than $24 million to dozens of groups and institutions, many of them Jewish, including multiple Jewish day schools. The largest grant — more than $8.4 million — went to the P.E.F. Israel Endowment Fund, a New York-based nonprofit that allocates funding to charities in Israel. (The fund also previously supported the digitization of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency’s archive.)

The fund also donated in 2021 to non-Jewish causes including mental health treatment, aid for homeless people and the New York Public Library.

Ruth Gottesman told The New York Times that when her husband died, he left her a portfolio of Berkshire Hathaway stock to disburse at her discretion. She decided to direct the funds to the medical college, where tuition currently costs more than $59,000 per year, leaving many students with large debts upon graduation.

Gottesman stipulated that the college not change its name despite the massive donation, the Times said. The only other medical school in the city to offer tuition-free admission to all students is New York University’s. Einstein has 737 medical students enrolled for this academic year, in addition to hundreds of PhD students and postdoctoral researchers. It ranks 42nd in best medical schools for research, according to U.S. News and World Report. PJC

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p The front of the Belfer, Forchheimer and Ullmann buildings of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine Photo by Chriscobar via Wikimedia Commons
— NATIONAL —

Community

Bring Them Home

Community members gathered on the corner of Darlington Road and Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill to demand the release of an estimated 134 hostages held by Hamas terrorists since Oct. 7. The Feb. 25 demonstration attracted local politicians, who joined community members in articulating the need for hostages to be returned home safely.

goodbye to yesterday

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Sweet grand opening Jennifer and Nicholas Palashoff celebrated the grand opening of their new business Nothing Bundt Cakes at East Liberty Place South in Pittsburgh on Feb. 24. Owners of the kosher bakery presented a check to East End Cooperative Ministry, the chosen beneficiary of the business’s grand opening fundraiser. p From left: Sophia Carpenter, The Community Builders; Councilman Khari Mosley, District 9, City of Pittsburgh; Rev. Darnell Leonard, CEO of East End Cooperative Ministry; owners Jennifer and Nicholas Palashoff with daughter Piper and son Nicholas and Lori Moran, president of the East Liberty Chamber of Commerce Photo courtesy of The Community Builders Students at Temple David Weiger Religious School learned an “alphabet of values.” The p Photo courtesy of Rabbi Barbara Symons p Allegheny County Council members Bob Macey and Sam DeMarco, alongside Photo by Jim Busis p Caleb Knoll offers a young person’s perspective on the hostage crisis. Photo by Jonthan Dvir Say Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh Girls High School basketball team celebrated Senior Night and completed its season with a nail-biting 30-29 win against The Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf. p Photo by Adam Reinherz Enjoying kugel in shulgel Women of Temple Sinai hosted a Kugel Cook Off on Feb. 25. Judges were professional chef (and Temple Sinai member) Adam Lemieux and Bobby Wasserman, owner of Food for Thought. Both the judges and participants chose Anita Gordon as the winner. p Photo by Mara Kaplan
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