Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 4-19-24

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Iran’s attack draws Israel and

WASHINGTON — Unqualified public expressions of support for Israel from President Joe Biden. The United States and other nations scrambling to protect Israel from rockets. Congress accelerating defense assistance to Israel.

When Iran attacked Israel on Saturday, it pulled Israel out of the isolation it was sinking into due to its war with Hamas. But if Israel chooses to strike Iran, it could renew tensions: According to multiple sources, Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the United States would not support or participate in any retaliatory attack against Iran.

Still, when it became clear that Iran was set to launch hundreds of drones at Israel, Biden scrambled from his Delaware beach house to the White House on Saturday. The statement from the White House National Security Council spokeswoman, Adrienne Watson, was unequivocal:

“President Biden has been clear: our support for Israel’s security is ironclad,” Watson said. “The United States will stand with the people of Israel and support their defense against these threats from Iran.”

security staff. Toward the end of the evening, he and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke by phone.

They have spoken throughout the IsraelHamas war, but in recent months, Biden has only spoken to Netanyahu to berate him on Israel’s conduct in Gaza. Previously, Biden reportedly raised the possibility of conditioning aid to Israel — a step he had once ruled out.

This time, however, Biden was ready to shift into diplomatic overdrive to isolate Iran, according to the president’s statement summarizing his call with Netanyahu, which emphasized how close the relationship remains.

“Tomorrow, I will convene my fellow G7 leaders to coordinate a united diplomatic response to Iran’s brazen attack,” Biden said, referring to a group of seven major industrial powers. “My team will engage with their counterparts across the region. And we will stay in close touch with Israel’s leaders.”

Netanyahu, who has lashed out at Democrats and at the Biden administration for their criticism, expressed gratitude.

“We appreciate the U.S. standing alongside Israel, as well as the support of Britain,

While war in Israel causes divide, rabbis say Passover can bring peace at home

Unlike matzo, the conversation this Pesach won’t be stale. Whether recounting the exodus leads to discussing Israel, statehood or the Diaspora, seder celebrants have plenty on their plates this year.

More than six months into the Israel-Hamas war, local rabbis recognize the upcoming holiday will spark different reactions around the table.

Leaning into that sense is helpful, according to Temple David’s Rabbi Barbara Symons.

“I think inviting guests to each bring an item — whether edible or not — for the seder table to display, or taste, how they feel about the situation would be powerful,” she said.

Placing a basket of cherry tomatoes next to the shank bone may raise some eyebrows, but that’s the point.

“It would potentially open up conversation in a creative way,” Symons said.

Most of the missiles and drones fired by Iran were shot down. A young girl was seriously wounded but no one has been reported killed in the attack.

Biden met and consulted through the afternoon and the evening with his top national

For those seeking to talk about text, the rabbi pointed to the Haggadah’s final line:

Exploring that passage “before the end of the seder would allow it to have deeper meaning,” she said. “Is it about Jerusalem or Israel as it is?

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Et odictiumqui andae amusam quistium si de net voloritat Fodictiumqui aut entis andae asimuss
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Page 2 LOCAL The continuing kosher conundrum A history of fleishig restaurants in Pittsburgh Page 5 LOCAL A life filled with love and learning Page 7 FOOD A sweet treat for Passover Easy-to-make almond bars Page 17 April 19, 2024 | 11 Nissan 5784 Candlelighting 7:46 p.m. | Havdalah 8:48 p.m. | Vol. 67, No. 16 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org $2
Temple Ohav Shalom hires Rabbi Aaron Bisno
 President Joe Biden meets with his top Cabinet and National Security officials to discuss Iran’s attacks on Israel, at the White House on April 13. Photo courtesy of the White House
 The Haggadah offers keys for understanding.
HappyPassover HappyPassover
Photo by Israel_photo_gallery via Flickr at https://rb.gy/umcimk
2 APRIL 19, 2024 PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG PRODUCTION Jeni Mann Tough Production Manager Carl Weigel Art/Production Coordinator Subscriptions subscriptions@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org 412-687-1000, ext. 2 Published every Friday by the Pittsburgh Jewish Publication and Education Foundation 5915 Beacon St., 5th Floor Pittsburgh, PA 15217 Phone: 412-687-1000 POSTMASTER: Send address change to PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE, 5915 BEACON ST., 5TH FLOOR PITTSBURGH, PA 15217 (PERIODICAL RATE POSTAGE PAID AT PITTSBURGH, PA AND AT ADDITIONAL MAILING OFFICES) USPS 582-740 Manuscripts, letters, documents and photographs sent to the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle become the property of this publication, which is not responsible for the return or loss of such items. The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle does not endorse the goods or services advertised or covered in its pages and makes no representation to the kashrut of food products and services in said advertising or articles. The publisher is not liable for damages if, for any reason whatsoever, he fails to publish an advertisement or for any error in an advertisement. Acceptance of advertisers and of ad copy is subject to the publisher’s approval. The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle is not responsible if ads violate applicable laws and the advertiser will indemnify, hold harmless and defend the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle from all claims made by governmental agencies and consumers for any reason based on ads appearing in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle SUBSCRIPTIONS subscriptions@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org 412-687-1000, ext. 2 TO ADVERTISE advertising@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org 412-687-1000, ext. 1 EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT Email: newsdesk@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org BOARD OF TRUSTEES Evan H. Stein, Board Chair Gayle R. Kraut, Secretary Evan Indianer, Immediate Past Chair Gail Childs, Dan Droz, Malke Steinfeld Frank, Seth Glick, Tammy Hepps, Judith Kanal, Cátia Kossovsky, Charles Saul, Derek Smith GENERAL COUNSEL Stuart R. Kaplan, Esq. Jim Busis, CEO and Publisher 412-228-4690 jbusis@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org EDITORIAL Toby Tabachnick, Editor 412-228-4577 ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org Andy Gotlieb, Contributing Editor Adam Reinherz, Senior Staff Writer 412-687-1000 areinherz@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org David Rullo, Senior Staff Writer 412-687-1000 drullo@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org ADVERTISING Amy Weiss, Account Executive (412) 613-0697 aweiss@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org
p From left: Temple Ohav Shalom President Aaron Brauser stands with the congregation’s new permanent rabbi, Aaron Bisno, in front of the congregation’s ark. Photo by David Rullo


It’s not often that a business decides to lose money for the good of its customers.

That, though, is exactly what UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh did when it decided to increase its kosher and halal offerings for Jewish and Muslim patients and visitors, as well as its staff.

“UPMC Children’s is very understanding. They’re not making money on it,” said Evan Isenberg, the senior director of food and nutri tion at the hospital. He is employed by Compass Group-Morrison Healthcare, a third-party food service company.

Children’s, he said, is willing to settle for making 15 to 20 cents on food items, a low margin in the food service business, because profits haven’t been the motivating factor with the menu expansion.

“For most people, they’re already in the hospital,” he said, “so, providing some options and listening to the different populations, I think that’s the goal here.”

Creative Kosher, which had an existing relationship with the hospital, is expanding the kosher choices available. Halal items will be provided by Salem’s Market and Grill, which is something new for UPMC.

Isenberg said that the Strip District eatery was anxious to work with the hospital, even though the orders they place each week will likely be small.

“They want to keep expanding,” he said. “They’re going to come here and do a tasting event once the weather gets warm. I want to get Creative Kosher and Deena [Ross, owner of Creative Kosher] here, as well. We’ll turn our back café into a whole show.”

About 70-80% of the meals bought will be used for patients, with the remainder available in the grab-and-go coolers.

The two sets of dietary laws have different sensitivities, Isenberg explained.

Kosher meals will be double-wrapped by Creative Kosher, for example. While halal doesn’t require the same type of precautions, some facts are helpful to know. For instance, most Muslims break their Ramadan fasts with plain vanilla yogurt and dates.

“It sounds silly, but the number of people who have sent emails saying they’re so happy

that we got it in is amazing,” Isenberg said.

After the café closes each night, the front desk will provide the food to visitors at the hospital if needed.

Isenberg is working to offer the same service to the Jewish community.

“When it’s Passover, we’ll do the same with seder kits,” he said. “We’ll sell them in the cafe and make sure we have a few at the front desk for emergency purposes.”

For the food director, the expanded menu has been a learning experience — the need to have Kedem grape juice with a kosher hechsher on it, as opposed to other juice, for instance.

The hospital typically handles about 450 meal tickets a day, Isenberg said. In that period, there might only be three or four families who keep kosher. That means he gets to talk to each of them about their needs.

There are more consumers interested in eating the halal food than the kosher food, Isenberg said, noting that sometimes people with no dietary restrictions will buy it. And, rather than waste leftovers, he said, the hospital donates them to 412 Food Rescue.

Throughout the process, the hospital’s spiritual committee, including Nina Butler, has provided insight. Butler’s input has been “invaluable,” Isenberg said.

Butler said that the committee wanted to find a way to improve the experience for patients and families who observe kashrut and halal. Isenberg, she said, was open to the idea.

“He really wanted to make things better,” she said.

The improved menus began with simple ideas, like more child-friendly choices, Butler said.

“Instead of having only salmon, maybe we have chicken nuggets and things kids like, like

It was also important to expand choices in the cafeteria as well because parents can’t easily step outside of the hospital to find kosher

The hospital is even supplying refrigerators for patients to store kosher or halal offerings

Butler showed Isenberg the various kosher symbols and what they mean.

“By the end, he really knew what to look

In fact, Isenberg discovered that a product like Dannon Yogurt requires extra attention because some varieties have a hechsher

“There’s a learning curve, but he’s so eager to do it,” Butler said. “He’s so eager to do

He’s even worked with Butler to learn about Shabbat packages that he can make available to

Children’s Hospital, Butler said, has been a welcome partner, noting that other hospitals haven’t been as accommodating. All the more reason, she said, Isenberg and his staff have stood out.

“There’s a superstar in town,” Butler said, “who is making these things happen.” PJC

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

— LOCAL — Polling places normally housed in Jewish organizations/synagogues will be relocated. Polling Place Changes Know Before You Go! Primary Day is the First Day of Passover (April 23rd) sponsored by You will receive a postcard in the mail with your new polling location. There will be signs posted at your old polling place directing you to the new location. Your vote is your voice! See the list of these changes at www.lwvpgh.org/pollingplace If your polling place has moved... Amy Weiss aweiss@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org 412-613-0697 2 Publish Date: April 6 Ad space deadline: April 19 2024 Special Section: Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 5915 Beacon Street, 5th Floor Pittsburgh, PA 15217 Please join us to showcase your law firm on April 26, when the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle will publish its Legal A airs special section, highlighting the best law firms in Western Pennsylvania as well as new developments in the legal sector. We feature special advertising rates to help your firm reach our 20,000 readers. UPMC Children’s Hospital expands kosher, halal offerings p UPMC Children’s Hospital Senior Director of Food and Nutrition Evan Isenberg holds two items from the hospital’s expanded kosher and halal offerings.
David Rullo
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RAC-PA, CeaseFirePA team with two local congregations to promote ‘common sense’ gun laws

Josh Fleitman believes in the power of storytelling.

Fleitman is the campaign director for CeaseFirePA, an organization created in 2002 that is dedicated to ending gun violence in Pennsylvania.

May 7, he said, is the group’s annual advocacy day in Harrisburg, a culmination of the work done the previous year promoting gun violence prevention policies.

And while he’s proud of the work CeaseFirePA has done, he knows it’s the voters who can put direct pressure on the state’s politicians. To help promote the importance of what Fleitman calls “common sense” gun policies, the advocacy group has created the video “Deadly by Design,” featuring gun violence victims telling their stories, including Pittsburgh synagogue shooting survivor Dan Leger.

“ That’s what this storytelling project is all about,” Fleitman said, “shifting the narrative on what truly causes and prevents gun violence in order to help open up space for movement on policy at the political level and to shift the conversation and people’s ideas about gun violence in the first place.”

The film, he said, is about “lifting the voice” of the gun violence survivors and telling the human impact of the loss, trauma and pain behind the data, statistics and political analysis.

Fleitman called the last year “historic,” noting that three pieces of legislation were advanced by the state House: one for universal background

checks; another commonly referred to as a “red flag” law — or an extreme risk protection order — would temporarily block the sale of guns to those deemed a risk to themselves or others; and a third calling for “ghost guns” to be treated like any other firearm, requiring them to have a serial number and mandating background checks of those who buy them.

legislative record. It’s just not true.”

In fact, Fleitman said these policies are supported by most gun owners and will make the world safer while still respecting people’s ability to be responsible.

To help get the message out to Pennsylvania voters, CeaseFirePA has teamed with the Religious Action Committee’s Pennsylvania

Because gun violence isn’t strictly a Jewish value, Trauth said, the congregation has also participated in letter-writing events with local churches, including Church of the Redeemer, Sixth Presbyterian and Calvary Episcopal.

All three bills are languishing in the Senate, he said, and all three could help prevent the rise in gun violence.

“There are these false narratives out there that gun violence is inevitable or random or that it’s caused by video games or mental health or having too few armed guards in places like schools and grocery stores and malls,” he said.

“The data shows that gun violence is primarily caused by unfettered access to guns.”

Fleitman is clear: CeaseFirePA isn’t calling for a ban on the sale of guns or for laws requiring people to turn in firearms they may legally own.

Chapter and locally with Temple Emanuel of South Hills and Temple Sinai, which have spent April writing letters to politicians. Each Reform congregation is also screening “Deadly by Design” for its members and the community at large.

Ron Richards is a volunteer with RAC-PA and a member of Temple Emanuel. He said the congregation began writing letters in support of the three pieces of legislation earlier this year.

“Deadly By Design” will be screened at the temple on Saturday, April 20, at 2 p.m., Richards said, and RAC Pa’s State Organizer Rachel Beck will attend.

Richards believes gun violence is not on a path to “self-correct.”

take place and continue, and the state Senate should take up these bills,” he said. “To just put a stop to them and say, ‘We’re not even going to entertain discussion or debate or bring it to a vote,’ means they’re not representing the state of Pennsylvania, and I think that’s a problem.”

Jeanette Trauth is a RAC-PA volunteer at Temple Sinai. She said that the congregation started a letter-writing campaign in February.

“We engaged our congregants,” she said. “It was every Sunday in the month of February. We wrote letters to three key senators who control the movement of legislation out of committee and up for a vote. Those people are Lisa Baker, Joe Pittman and Kim Ward.”

Baker is the chair of the Senate’s Judiciary Committee, Pittman is the Senate majority leader and Ward is president pro tempore of the Senate.

Because gun violence isn’t strictly a Jewish value, Trauth said, the congregation has also participated in letter-writing events with local churches, including Church of the Redeemer, Sixth Presbyterian and Calvary Episcopal.

The campaign has involved more than 140 people, she said.

“We have the largest number of people engaged in this campaign and letter writing,” Trauth said. “That made me feel great.”

Temple Sinai has teamed with Rodef Shalom to promote its screening of “Deadly by Design” on April 28 at 1 p.m.

“These bills have bipartisan support and are sitting in the state Senate,” he said. “Anyone who is saying CeaseFirePA is trying to take away our guns, look at the facts, look at the

Those interested in learning more about “Deadly by Design” or viewing Leger’s clip can do so at deadlybydesign.org. PJC

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

“I think the dialogue and communication and debate within our political arenas needs to

p CeaseFirePA has teamed with Temple Emanuel of South Hills and Temple Sinai to screen “Deadly by Design.” Photo provided by CeaseFirePA

The Fleishig whirligig

Paul and Grete Freuthal were among the many Jews who settled in Western Pennsylvania in the 1930s, fleeing Nazi persecution in Central Europe. They became leaders in the local Friendship Club and were active at New Light Congregation. The social hall of New Light’s Beechwood Boulevard synagogue was named in their honor.

Grete quickly found work as a seamstress, but Paul encountered problem after problem. “For instance, I remember I once applied for a job in Bloomfield somewhere in a laundry, and the job was to count the dirty laundry which the truck brought in,” he said in a 1976 oral history with the Ethnic Fraternal Organizations Oral History Project Collection. “I applied. ‘Are you a citizen?’ The first question. So I didn’t get the job.”

Sometime in early 1945, Freuthal partnered with a local named Henry Feld on a new restaurant at 2113 Murray Ave. in Squirrel Hill. They called it F&F Delicatessen.

Recalling the sequence of events some 30 years later, Freuthal told the interviewer, “And about after two years, my partner left and I bought him out. And then I was approached by the rabbis here to

make it strictly kosher. And I agreed. And that was the beginning of my end because I lost almost all my money and I had to close in ‘49.”

The historic record inverts his chronology. F&F Delicatessen announced its grand opening in the American Jewish Outlook on Feb. 23, 1945. A few weeks later, in mid-March, the Rabbinical Council of Pittsburgh and the local Vaad Hakashrus (Board of Kosher Supervision) announced they were certifying F&F Delicatessen as “strictly kosher,” making it likely the first restaurant in Squirrel Hill to receive this designation.

It was the capstone of a broader campaign to increase the religious observance of the Squirrel Hill business district. Throughout early weeks of 1945, the Rabbinical Council went up and down Murray Avenue, actively encouraging Jewish business owners to close for Shabbat. The appeal briefly worked. For the first two weeks of March 1945, at least three-dozen Jewish-owned businesses voluntarily closed from Friday night through Saturday night. Participating were 14 grocers and fruit vendors and 18 other businesses, including 10 butcher shops, a tailor, a book store and a hardware store.

It’s hard to tell how long these Squirrel Hill businesses observed the Sabbath schedule, but it doesn’t appear to have been long. And available documentation suggests F&F Delicatessen may have

maintained its kosher certification for only a few months.

Feld moved to Chile around 1948. Freuthal closed the delicatessen sometime after. Going kosher may have challenged his business but doesn’t appear to have ended it.

The way he recalled the sequence of events, decades later, likely reflects his frustration at entering the choppy waters of the kosher marketplace, which has overturned many local entrepreneurs despite a strong communal yearning for their product.

It is hard to run a restaurant, even harder to run a kosher restaurant, harder still to run a fleishig (meat) kosher restaurant, and beyond hard to make it work in Pittsburgh.

Working alongside the Rabbinical Council on the 1945 campaign was a “committee of laymen.” It included Abe Dunn, Max Engelberg, J. D. Golding, Jack Goldman, Leon Gottlieb, Asher Isaacs and J. Siegel. They were all leaders in the local Orthodox community, representing different synagogues throughout Squirrel Hill. Dunn was an early supporter of Yeshiva Schools. Isaacs was the editor of the American Jewish Outlook and an important lay leader at Shaare Torah Congregation. Engelberg was a leader at Poale Zedeck

 An advertisement for F&F Delicatessen, sponsored by “several community leaders” in the April 13, 1945, edition of the local American Jewish Outlook, announces the kosher certification of the restaurant and lists menu items.

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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.


Join Rodef Shalom Cantor Toby Glaser for a 20-40 Kabbalat Shabbat. Get to know other Pittsburgh young Jewish professionals and close out the week with wine, refreshments and great company. Registration required. 9 p.m. 4905 Fifth Ave. rodefshalom.org.


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-nature-mosaic-project.


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.

 SUNDAYS MAY 12, 26; JUNE 9, 23; JULY 7, 21; AUG. 4, 18; SEPT. 1, 15, 29

Chabad of Monroeville invites you to BLT (Bagel, Lox, Tefillin), an in-person tefillin club followed by breakfast. No prior experience necessary. Tefillin available for use. 9 a.m. 2715 Mosside Blvd. RSVP appreciated at chabad@jewishmonroeville.com


Chabad of Monroeville invites you to celebrate Passover in the warm and inviting atmosphere of friends, family and community at their community Passover Seder. 7:45 p.m. 2715 Mosside Blvd., 15146. jewishmonroeville.com/seder.

Join Chabad of the South Hills for their Passover Seder. Enjoy gourmet Passover cuisine, handmade shmurah matzah and a meaningful and interactive seder. Adults $65; Children $25. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds. 7:30 p.m. 1701 McFarland Road. chabadsh.com/seder.

Celebrate the holiday of Passover with Chabad of Squirrel Hill at a community Passover Seder with the warm company of family and friends. 7:30 p.m. $25 adult/$15 child. 1700 Beechwood Blvd. chabadpgh.com/seder.


H. Arnold and Adrien B. Gefsky Community Scholar

Rabbi Danny Schi 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, Schi 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.


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


Join JFCS for SPACE Training: Rethinking Parenting Anxious Kids, a four-part virtual interactive workshop for parents. Learn the principles of SPACE (Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions), an evidence-based treatment developed at Yale University. Gain strategies for making simple shifts in your own behavior that can lead to significant changes in your children and create a more peaceful and cooperative household. This workshop is applicable for parents of kids in second through 12th grades. It is recommended that all parents/guardians attend the workshops together. Free. Noon. jfcspgh. org/spaceworkshop.


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 Schi 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-the-arab-israeliran-conflict.


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/ melton-ethics-crossroads.


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.

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.

 WEDNESDAYS, MAY 1, 15, 29; JUNE 26; JULY 10, 24; AUG. 7, 28; SEPT. 4, 28

Chabad of Monroeville invites you to spend an hour playing mahjong and other games. Play, shmooze, learn a word of the Torah, say a prayer for Israel and, of course, nosh on some yummy treats. Free. 7 p.m. RSVP is required: SusanEBurgess@gmail. com, or text or call 412-295-1838. 2715 Mosside Blvd. jewishmonroeville.com/mahjong.


Film Pittsburgh and The Arthur J. and Betty F. Diskin

Cultural Endowment Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh present JFilm Festival’s Opening Night screening of: “Left Alone Rhapsody: The Musical Memoir of Pianist John Bayless,” followed by a dessert reception, live performance by

John Bayless and question-and-answer with Bayless and director Stewart M. Schulman 7 p.m. Carnegie Musical Hall. $118. 4400 Forbes Ave. filmpittsburgh.org.


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.


Join Rodef Shalom Congregation as Payadora Tango performs award-winning music from “Silent Tears, The Last Yiddish Tango.” From inspiring songs about survival to mournful laments, this program, based on poems, testimonies and writings of women who survived the Holocaust, conveys a depth of emotion rarely sung about. $18. 2 p.m. rodefshalom.org/ SilentTears.


Join Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle senior writer David Rullo at Beth El Congregation of the South Hill’s First Monday as he discusses his book, “Gen X Pittsburgh: The Beehive and the 90s Scene.” Enjoy a lunch of Beehive favorites and co ee bar. 11:30 a.m. 1900 Cochran Road. bethelcong.org.

Join the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh for its annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration program honoring the victims of the Shoah, as well as survivors and their families, with readings, music and candle

lightings. 7 p.m. Campbell Memorial Chapel, Chapel Hill Road, 15232. hcofpgh.org/event/ 2024-yom-hashoah-commemoration.


Join the 10.27 Healing Partnership for Virtual Legal Appeals Process Educational Program Professor David Harris from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Law will explain what appeals are and the function they serve. Free. 6 p.m. Zoom only. 1027healingpartnership.org/ event/virtual-legal-appeals-processeducational-program.

 WEDNESDAYS, MAY 15; JUNE 19; JULY 17: AUG. 21; SEPT. 18; OCT. 16; NOV. 20; DEC. 18

Join AgeWell for the Intergenerational Family Dynamics Discussion Group at JCC South Hills the 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.


Join the entire Jewish community for the best adult Israel Independence Day party in the ‘Burgh. Enjoy hora music and dancing, Israeli kosher food, photo booth, DJ Israeli music, face painting and more. 7 p.m. $45; $25 for students. JCC Pittsburgh, Levinson Hall. 412friendsofzahal.org. PJC

The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle invites you to join the Chronicle Book Club for its June 16 discussion of “We Must Not Think of Ourselves,” by Lauren Grodstein. From Amazon.com: “Inspired by a little-known piece of history — the underground group that kept an archive to ensure that the lives of Jewish occupants of the Warsaw Ghetto in World War II were not lost to history — this is a heart-wrenching novel of love and defiance that People calls “gripping, emotional, and against all odds, hopeful.”

Your Hosts:

Toby Tabachnick, editor of the Chronicle

David Rullo, Chronicle senior staff writer

How and When:

We will meet on Zoom on Sunday, June 16, at 1 p.m.

What To Do

Buy: “We Must Not Think of Ourselves.” It is available at area Barnes & Noble stores and from online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It is also available through the Carnegie Library system.

Email: Contact us at drullo@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org, and write “Chronicle Book Club” in the subject line. We will send you a Zoom link for the discussion meeting. Registration closes on June 7.

Happy reading! PJC — Toby Tabachnick

Every Friday in the and all the time online @pittsburghj e wishchronicle.org. For home del ivery, call 412-687-1000,

Join the Chronicle Book Club!
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Beloved Hebrew tutor Susan Loether dies at 67

Susan Andrea Loether, a Hebrew teacher who tutored hundreds of Pittsburgh-area teens for their b’nei mitzvah during a 40-year career, passed away March 21 after a lengthy battle with cancer.

She was 67.

“What we all saw, what everyone saw, what was impossible not to see, was how much Susan Loether loved life,” said Rodef Shalom Rabbi Sharyn Henry, who met Loether after moving to Pittsburgh in 1991. “That love was all out there — freely expressed and out in the open — how much she adored her family, how she loved and supported her friends, that she cherished Judaism and was deeply committed to Jewish education, her students and the women of Reform Judaism.”

“It was clear to everyone that Susan brought goodness and kindness and no small measure of fun into this life,” Henry added. “She was amazing.”

Loether was born on Feb. 13, 1957, and grew up in Philadelphia before moving west to attend the University of Pittsburgh, her family said. On Aug. 30, 1981, Susan married Richard Loether, who served in the Navy in Vietnam and later worked with computers at Pitt. Three children followed: Joe in 1983, Zack in 1985 and Aaron in 1989.

Loether, who raised her family in West Deer Township and later in Pittsburgh’s North Hills, worked for years as a paralegal or estates and trusts administrator. She recently worked for Tener Van Kirk Wolf & Moore, and Eckert Seamans.

What scores of Pittsburghers remember, though, was Loether’s motherly levels of care in her Judaica work, which included tenures as a Sunday school teacher, a director of education and a youth adviser at both Temple Ohav Shalom and Rodef Shalom Congregation, her family said.

Loether prepared Tracey Brien for her bat mitzvah — and also Brien’s son, Cooper.

Brien moved from Bridgeville to the North Hills when she was in the third grade. The Pine-Richland High School alumna became a bat mitzvah at Ohav Shalom — with Loether’s guidance — in October 1995.

“She was kind of my home base at temple … and I wanted to raise my children in the temple that raised me,” said Brien, a LaRoche University alumna who lives in Cranberry Township and has run a photography business since 2007.

“I used to joke, when I had babies, ‘You’re going to tutor my kids someday!’ And she did!”

Cooper Brien, the oldest of Brien’s three children, became a bar mitzvah at Ohav Shalom on March 18, 2023, his mother said.

“I think that she was stern when she needed to be but also comforting when it was necessary,” Brien said of Loether. “She just made everyone feel comfortable.”

Loether prepared each of Cathy Lewis Long’s three children — Mathew, Evie and Chloe — for their b’nei mitzvah at Rodef Shalom.

“She really made them focus, but also made it very special by holding them to task in a way only Mrs. Loether could do,” said Lewis Long,

a Squirrel Hill resident who also became a bat mitzvah at Rodef Shalom. “She had a huge impact on them … She was stern and loving. And she met people where they were.”

“For me, what was really important was that they take it seriously,” she added. “I wanted it to be a moment of pride and joy, but also accomplishment. And she got it.”

Joe Loether, Susan’s oldest son, remembered his parents finding their home in Allison Park. They loved it, he said, because the living room, dining room and family room all lined up — perfect for lots of tables placed end to end.

The Loethers made the most of the space. At least 25 guests were expected to attend their family feasts each Thanksgiving. Joe Loether said he loved his mother’s brisket and her matzah ball soup.

In the 1990s, the Loethers had guests start signing a Thanksgiving tablecloth, making it a kind of living document of those who dined with them.

“The thing that everyone spoke of was how she made everyone into family,” Joe Loether said.

Susan Loether battled cancer — which doctors first predicted would take her life in less than a year — courageously for nearly 20 years.

“I would say one of her hobbies the last 18 years was kicking cancer’s (expletive),” Joe Loether said.

Early in her cancer journey, a doctor told Loether she’d have to move to avoid climbing steps. In a few years, she climbed both the Great Wall of China and Machu Picchu. (She loved to travel, her oldest son said, and was proud of shots of Alaskan wildlife she caught on one trip.)

“She really wanted to live,” Rabbi Henry said.

“She rode a motorcycle, traveled all over the world — she was always doing something,” Henry added. “She lived fiercely and she fought to live.”

The Loethers also understood tragedy.

During the last night of a family trip to Costa Rica in 2017, brothers Zack and Aaron Loether went into rough tides for a swim. A riptide pulled both men out to sea.

People nearby rescued Zack from the water. Aaron was found dead a few days later. He was 28.

The family processed their grief and established a memorial fund for University of Delaware students, like Aaron, who were pursuing degrees in physics. People looking to honor Loether’s memory are asked to

donate to the fund.

“Aaron was her baby,” Joe Loether said. “They were close. And it devastating.”

Aaron’s widow, Annie, later moved to North Carolina and remarried.

“She was my mom’s daughter,” Joe Loether said. “And she’s still my sister.”

During Susan Loether’s funeral service, several people spoke about the importance of family and faith. There was a reading of the Alden Solovy poem “An Amazing Life,” which includes the lines, “This is an amazing life/ A gift of moments/ Glorious and holy / Rich in

laughter, rich with tears.”

“What I like about the poem is that it acknowledges that life, all of it — the glorious and the devastating and everything in between — is worth fighting for, that there is beauty and holiness in everything,” Henry said in her eulogy. “Susan lived this truth.”

Henry also said she was touched by the hundreds of comments on Loether’s CaringBridge journal.

CaringBridge Inc., a nonprofit started in 1997, runs a website that allows people facing various medical conditions to communicate with their family and friends.

“Everyone’s message (on CaringBridge) included a proclamation of love,” Henry said. “In addition to strength, courage and determination, dozens of you said she was an inspiration. A few offered ‘hero.’ One used ‘warrior.’ I lost track of how many of you spoke of her positive approach to life, and her kindness, warmth and caring nature.

“It has been said that it is not how long or how far we journey in this world that ultimately determines our happiness — it is with whom we travel,” she concluded. “How blessed we are to have traveled this life alongside Susan Loether.”

A sheloshim gathering for Loether will be held Sunday, April 21, from 4:30 to 7 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation. PJC

Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh. p Susan Loether with husband Richard Loether Photo courtesy of Joe Loether


Continued from page 5

Congregation and an early supporter of Hillel Academy.

In the two years since the certification of F&F Delicatessen in 1945, there had been a burst of activity within the Orthodox community of Squirrel Hill. Shaare Torah, Shaare Zedeck and Shaaray Tefilah began relocating from the Hill District. Young Peoples Synagogue opened at the Hebrew Institute. Hillel Academy was chartered.

A kosher restaurant was seen as a key piece of communal infrastructure, just like the day schools, the synagogues and the new mikvah established in Oakland in 1942.

The committee reconvened in April 1947 to incorporate a new business called Kosher Catering Inc. The charter listed two new names: Max Balsam and Max Herrup.

Aside from the required public notice of its incorporation printed in the PostGazette, Kosher Catering Inc. made no public announcements until June 17, 1949. A small advertisement in that issue of the Jewish Criterion read, “We are about to establish a strictly kosher restaurant in Pittsburgh and are seeking an experienced restaurant operator, one who knows all details of a restaurant and can assume full charge.”

A little later that summer, Kosher Catering Inc. issued a press release. A small group of “public-spirited citizens” would soon be

St., just off Market Square downtown. The tri-state area around Pittsburgh was “one of the very few large cities which had not had such service” and had “regularly missed out on national conferences and conventions by Jewish organizations as a result.”

The group now included four more men: Abe Banchek, Morris Mazer, Harry Morris and Morris Schwartz. An associated rabbinic council included all the leading Orthodox and Conservative rabbis in Pittsburgh and nearby Homestead at the time. Kosher Catering Inc. struggled to raise

enough funds to open. The company announced a $50,000 stock offer in September 1949 and listed 35 initial stockholders. The local chapter of Hapoel Hamizrachi even purchased some shares. Over the next few months, though, the project stalled. A proposed Nov. 15 opening date came and went without any news. 23 Graeme St. opened in March 1950 as Sammy’s Steak House.

The dream of a kosher restaurant went dormant in the 1950s, although kosher catering became more prominent throughout the city. Webster Hall Hotel in Oakland and the Penn-Shady Hotel in East

Liberty both advertised kosher kitchens for big gatherings.

Abe Dunn revived the idea of a kosher restaurant in late 1962 when he purchased the former Cappy’s Restaurant at 1718 Murray Ave. He announced his new venture with a naming contest in the Jewish Criterion. The contest failed to ignite a wellspring of local creativity. The restaurant opened a week later under the name “The Kosher Restaurant.”

Although billed as “the only Kosher Restaurant in the Tri-State Area” and one of the few nationally, the Kosher Restaurant acted more like a community service initiative than a business. Advertisements describe the restaurant as an “achievement” benefiting “the entire community.” It even created a sponsorship program in early 1963 to improve cash flow. You could buy $25, $50 or $100 bonds to be redeemed for meals over time.

The Kosher Restaurant closed in February 1964, after a fire in a neighboring building damaged several properties along the block. Dunn announced plans to reopen soon after Passover but ultimately stayed closed. The Weiss family opened its Tel Aviv Self Service Kosher Meat Market at 1718 Murray the following year, and the two-decade campaign to develop a kosher restaurant as a communal institution came to an end. PJC

Eric Lidji is the director of the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center and can be reached at rjarchives@heinzhistorycenter. org or 412-454-6406.

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p A photograph from the Feb. 21, 1964, edition of the Jewish Chronicle, shows the aftermath of the fire that damaged The Kosher Restaurant. Photo courtesy of the Pittsburgh Jewish Newspaper Project

South Hills AgeWell helps new friends cruise along

Iduring a “Mahj Mania.”

The event offered new players a chance to learn the tile-based game.

Valenti knew little about mahjong and had just joined the JCC months earlier. Sember played the game for about a year before the pandemic and understood its rules well enough to “help guide” new players, she said.

About eight people attended “Mahj Mania.”

During the event, Sember, Valenti and Supinka sat at the same table. None of the three women knew each other.

“We kind of clicked,” Valenti said. “Our personalities got along really well.”

The women returned to the JCC to play. Week after week, they continued.

“Then we started having lunch together,” Supinka said. “And it just blossomed from there.”

Along with attending concerts together, the group met at the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon. Sember, Valenti and Supinka continued frequenting the JCC, playing mahjong, eating together and even adding Reikiinfused sound bathing classes to the mix.

About a year after the three women met, Sember pitched an idea: She said that she and her husband were going on a nine-day cruise to the Caribbean and invited Valenti and Supinka to join.

Valenti was intrigued and gauged Supinka’s interest. Meanwhile, Sember told her friends about the amenities.

“I was luring them in with all the things on the ship that I really like,” Sember said. “They have a thermal spa that’s gigantic and soft music plays. There’s big jets that you can

massage your back with. And then the best part about it is you go into the next room and you’re all damp, and you put a towel down, and they have ceramic lounges and you get on that thing — I call them the hot rocks — and the heat just comes right up from the bottom of this thing and it puts you to sleep in 30 seconds. I mean it’s just the most relaxing thing you ever did in your life.”

Once Supinka agreed to go on the cruise,

“We found a date and off we went, bon voyage,” Sember said.

Along with Sember’s husband, the women visited Curaçao and Aruba and experienced numerous amenities aboard the Holland America line. Having returned from the Caribbean more than a month ago, the women still talk about their time together.

Most of the conversations, they said, occur daily at the South Hills JCC.

“We all sit together and laugh and talk, and then we play mahj for a couple of hours,” Sember said.

“You’d think they’d known each other for decades — the way they interact and have a friendship,” Hayley Maher, program coordinator for AgeWell at the JCC South Hills, said.

“It would give the impression to someone that we have known each other for years, but we have not known each other long at all,” Valenti said. “We’re just very, very close, very good friends.”

When asked how people can develop such deep bonds later in life, Supinka said, “I don’t know. We just have similar interests — and we’re so taken by mahjong — that we just spend time together and learn more about each other, and that friendship deepens.”

Valenti said that she and her friends not only share a sense of humor, but that Supinka and Sember presented wonderful qualities during that first meeting: “They were compassionate people. They were interesting people. They were fun to be with. There were things that I felt like I learned from them.”

“Honestly, we happened to click, and

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Build relationships, don’t prove points this Pesach, say mental health experts

Passover is a time of questions. With Israel at war, political rifts at home and seemingly endless turmoil driving people apart, the biggest question may be: How do we sit together for a seder?

Holidays have a way of thrusting people into emotionally charged settings. Before entering these environments, however, it’s important to remember a few things, Stefanie Small, clinical director at JFCS, advised.

Whether it’s about Israel, the upcoming election or any other topic, “You don’t have to have the conversation,” Small said. “But if you do, you need to approach it from a place of love and not trying to convince anybody of anything. Data doesn’t actually help prove anything.”

Most people consider themselves rational. Despite such assessment, upon receiving new information human beings don’t necessarily change their views. Due to cognitive bias and the brain’s biology, people tend to reject opposing ideas, according to University of Connecticut researchers.

Still, humanity isn’t doomed to obstinacy. Mechanisms exist to “short-circuit these natural habits,” the researchers note. They suggest it’s important to “Try to form, and modify, your opinions based on evidence that is accurate,

Exercising one’s mind on Passover requires a tasteful approach. Small recommends not being a “kochleffel,” or pot-stirrer.

“If you do want to have the conversation, and there’s a good chance that you might argue, make sure it’s not for entertainment value,” she said. “It needs to be a conversation, which means that you’re not pontificating and you’re not letting them pontificate.”

Similarly, pay attention to tone, what’s said, and be a listener, Small continued.

“Listening means actually paying attention to what the person is saying. Hearing their point of view, hearing their perspective. And then acknowledging that,” she said. “Listening isn’t

biding your time until you get to say the next thing that you really, really want to say.”

Another important element is boundary setting. Maggie Feinstein, executive director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership, said: “You want to say what you do want, not what you don’t want.”

If the topic concerns the Israel-Hamas war, for example, before Passover one could say, “I’m really looking forward to being together for the holidays. And I am going to make a commitment to you that I am not going to try to convince you to see things my way as it comes to Israel and Gaza. But I am going to ask that you do the same for me,” Feinstein said.

Well-meaning parties can assemble, with all the right intentions, and problems may still arise.

“It’s so hard because we’ve all been in that situation,” Feinstein said. “If things start to spiral, check in with yourself, what options at that point you have to say. But in the end, really, I can’t emphasize enough that if you feel like you need to be right, or if you feel like somebody has to see it your way, then the conversation shouldn’t keep going — you should just let it end there.”

“At that moment, you have to stop,” Small said. “I don’t even care if it’s mid-sentence, mid-yelling, you stop in that moment because at that moment it went from a conversation to attacking, and that’s where harm comes in.”

Situations gone awry are unpleasant, but heated experiences are navigable.

Take a deep breath, count to 10 and tell the

person, if it’s appropriate, “‘I love you, and I really think it’s a good idea for us to stop.’ Because then you’re emphasizing the part that ‘I have a relationship with you totally separate from this conversation,’” Small said.

It’s always important to remember that “none of us want to cause harm to each other, and even if you can’t stop yourself before it happens, you can slam on the brakes while it’s happening,” she added.

“If you say something that might be hurtful, or more personal or cut deeper, then always apologize and get out,” Feinstein said. “You don’t have to say you’re sorry for your opinion, but, ‘I’m sorry for bringing that up right now. I didn’t mean to say that that way. And we can talk about this another time.’”

With everything happening in the world, “there’s no sense that the Pesach table has to be where we solve these problems,” she said. “Life is long. Fortunately, there’ll be a lot of holiday tables, and we want to make ritual, tradition, that’s meaningful. We don’t want it to be just based on what’s going on right now.”

The ultimate goal is to “come back next year knowing that we love each other,” Feinstein added. “These are relationships that matter, and being right, or trying to prove your point, isn’t going to help those relationships in the long run.” PJC

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

— LOCAL — from your friends and neighbors at Congregation Beth Shalom Paul Teplitz President Rabbi Seth Adelson Senior Rabbi Robert Gleiberman Executive Director Hag Pesah Sameah . . . Rabbi Mark Asher Goodman Associate Rabbi 5915 Beacon Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 412-421-2288 www.bethshalompgh.org ..
 Bring people together and build relationships on Pesach. Photo by shironosov via iStock

Police respond to several incidents targeting local Jewish institutions

Law enforcement responded to several incidents in the Pittsburgh Jewish community last week.

Police charged Michael George with criminal mischief and institutional vandalism after he allegedly let water run in a bathroom overnight at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh last month, causing significant damage.

George was a longtime employee of a third-party cleaning service.

The incident is not being investigated as a hate crime.

In a separate incident, police arrested William Murray on charges of ethnic intimidation, institutional vandalism and criminal mischief for allegedly carving a possible Ku Klux Klan symbol onto a door at Shaare Torah Congregation on Murray Avenue in Squirrel Hill.

The possible hate symbol is an upsidedown triangle inside a larger triangle that can be understood to represent the letters “KKK.”

Murray is known to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and its security team.

His preliminary hearing is scheduled for May 14.

Several local Jewish communal organizations also received bomb threat hoaxes on April 8, 11 and 13. Some were part of a statewide campaign that included Jewish institutions in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg and Philadelphia.

Shawn Brokos, Federation’s director of community security, said law enforcement is actively investigating the threats. She urged anyone who has received a threat to call 911 and report it to Federation. Community members can report all suspected antisemitic activity at jewishpgh.org/form/incident-report. PJC

— LOCAL — Jason Kunzman, JCC President & CEO Scott E. Seewald, JCC Board Chair Staff & Board of the JCC גח חספ חמש Passover HAPPY
the Jewish Community a Happy Passover
p Shaare Torah Congregation Photo by David Rullo



In a true Big Nosh miracle, food that was supposed to last for three days barely lasted for one. This overwhelming response in our first year has left us thrilled and eager to build on this success in the coming years!

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Donations to Israel since Oct. 7

top $1.4 billion, Israeli government report concludes

Organizations and individuals around the world have donated at least $1.4 billion toward Israel’s recovery from the attack of Oct. 7, according to a new report published by Israel’s Ministry of Diaspora Affairs, JTA.org reported.

The donations, coupled with widespread pro-Israel activism in the Diaspora and the arrival in Israel of tens of thousands of volunteers, represent “an unprecedented effort by Jewish communities around the world to support Israel,” the ministry said in the report. (When accounting for inflation, the total donated is more than what American Jews gave to Israel in response to the Six-Day War in 1967 but less than they gave six years later in the Yom Kippur War.)

The report represents the most complete published tally of wartime donations so far and includes fundraising by Jewish federations, crowdsourced campaigns, and “Friends Of” charities benefiting the Israel Defense Forces and Magen David Adom, the national emergency service. A previous tally, published by a university in December, put the total at $1 billion.

About half of the sum was raised by the Jewish Federations of North America and its 146 members. The committee distributing the money is so flush with donations that it has not had to turn down requests from Israeli charities if they meet certain criteria.

Union for Reform Judaism pledges to divest millions from fossil fuel industry

The organization representing the largest American Jewish denomination is pledging to divest from the fossil fuel industry as a response to the climate crisis, JTA.org reported.

Citing the biblical teaching of “till and tend the earth,” the Union for Reform Judaism announced on April 10 that it has committed to ensuring its investment and pension plans, as well as mutual funds, are free of direct ties to oil, gas and coal companies. It has also pledged to redirect investments toward renewable energy.

“Climate change’s impacts are being felt in communities worldwide,” Jennifer Brodkey Kaufman, chair of URJ’s North American board, said in a statement. “We have the ability and responsibility to use our dollars to make a positive difference on climate, rather than to continue funding investment in damaging fossil fuels.”

A spokesperson for the URJ said that up to 9% of the organization’s financial portfolio is invested in the fossil fuel industry but did not provide a dollar figure to quantify the planned divestment. The URJ reported about $83 million in investment assets in 2022, the most recent year for which it has released financial statements.

More than a third of American Jews identify with the Reform movement, making the URJ’s pledge one of the highest-profile actions ever taken within the Jewish community to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Germany to give Holocaust survivors in Israel an extra $238 each because of the war Holocaust survivors in Israel relived their

Today in Israeli History

April 19, 1956 — Writer Gadi Taub is born

Gadi Taub, a leading academic interpreter of modern Zionism, is born in Jerusalem. A Hebrew University instructor and newspaper columnist, he also writes novels and works on films and TV series.

April 20, 1965 — Shrine of the Book opens

The Shrine of the Book, built to house the Dead Sea Scrolls, opens as a wing of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. Its white domed roof is inspired by the lids of the jars that held the scrolls in Qumran.

April 21, 1947 — 2 Jewish militants kill themselves to avoid hanging

Moshe Barazani, 20, of Lehi (the Stern Gang) and Meir Feinstein, 19, of the Irgun kill themselves with a grenade smuggled into their prison cell to prevent the British from hanging them the next morning.

trauma on Oct. 7 when Hamas’ attack on their country was the deadliest day for Jews since the Nazis were defeated. Some were injured, hid for their lives and were displaced from their homes, in echoes of their experiences as children.

Now, they will get a lump-sum payment from the organization that negotiates reparations from Germany as a show of solidarity in the wake of the attack, JTA.org reported.

The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany announced on April 9 that it is allocating 25 million Euros in a one-time payment for survivors in Israel. The “Solidarity Fund for Israel” will yield about 220 Euros ($238) for each of the roughly 120,000 survivors in the country.

The payment follows a different one-time stipend given in December to Israeli survivors who were evacuated from their homes following the Oct. 7 attack. It also comes on top of the total amount that Germany agreed to pay survivors and related organizations this year — more than $1.4 billion, the most ever — in a reflection of the high costs of caring for elderly survivors.

First Jewish sheriff of Nottingham, office of Robin Hood fame, is sworn in Move over, Mel Brooks: A Jew is taking on the role of sheriff of Nottingham.

Nick Rubins was sworn in as the high sheriff of Nottinghamshire at his local synagogue on March 28, becoming the first Jew to inherit an ancient office that grew famous in the legends of Robin Hood, JTA.org reported.

The role of high sheriff is the oldest secular office under the British Crown, although today it is largely ceremonial. In his one-year,

unpaid appointment, Rubins will represent the monarchy on formal occasions and support the judiciary. He will also encourage his county’s charity sector, a stark departure from the literary Sheriff of Nottingham’s reputation as a scourge of the poor who fought Robin Hood’s vigilante efforts to redistribute wealth.

In real life, Rubins signed his Declaration of Office before 150 guests in a ceremony at the Nottingham Liberal Synagogue, where he is a longtime member. The 57-year-old businessman is a Nottinghamshire native.

Report: Indonesia to normalize relations with Israel

Israel is set to normalize relations with Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority country in the world, Ynet reported on April 11, according to JNS.org.

The move comes after three months of secret talks between Jerusalem and Jakarta. In exchange for establishing diplomatic ties with the Jewish state, Jerusalem will reportedly lift its opposition to Indonesia becoming the 39th member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

OECD Secretary-General Mathias Cormann sent a letter to Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz around two weeks ago, with Jakarta approving the wording.

“I am happy to announce that the Council has officially agreed to the early, clear and explicit condition that Indonesia maintain diplomatic relations with all members of the organization before any decision to accept [it in] the OECD,” the letter states. PJC

— Compiled by Andy Gotlieb

April 22, 2013 — Israel-Turkey reconciliation talks begin A high-level Israeli delegation visits Ankara, Turkey, for reconciliation talks mediated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Relations between Israel and Turkey broke down after the Mavi Marmara incident in 2010.

April 23, 2014 — Palestinian Authority, Hamas briefly reconcile Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, controlled by the Fatah-led PLO, announce an end to their seven-year rift. The reconciliation does not last but does stop U.S.-facilitated Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

April 24, 1924 — Hapoel Haifa soccer club is founded

Hapoel Haifa, a charter member of the Israel Football Association in 1928, is founded during Passover as the first labor-led soccer club in Mandatory Palestine. Its branches include worker movements and other sports.

April 25, 1920 — 1st Palestine high commissioner is named Herbert Samuel is asked to serve as Britain’s first high commissioner for Palestine the same day the San Remo Conference accepts the Balfour Declaration as part of the plan for the former Ottoman Empire. PJC

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p Gadi Taub argues that the settlement movement betrays the spirit of Zionism by denying selfdetermination to non-Jews.
By Elekes Andor, own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons p Hapoel Haifa players celebrate the club’s most recent Israel State Cup victory in 2018.
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‘Squad’ members comment on Iran attack days later, condemn both Israel and Iran

After more than a day of silence, some members of the so-called “Squad” in Congress commented on Iran’s attack on Israel. Reps. Summer Lee of Pennsylvania, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota and Jamaal Bowman of New York criticized both the Islamic Republic’s attack and the Jewish state.

“We must oppose all violent escalations right now,” Lee wrote on X, formerly Twitter, on April 14. “I condemn Iran’s retaliatory strikes on Israel & Israel’s strike on the Iranian consulate. I agree with President Biden’s immediate call for de-escalation & making clear to Netanyahu that we oppose any Israeli counterattacks.”

“For months, we’ve warned against the threat of regional escalation that could lead to another endless war in the Middle East,” Lee wrote. “Now a ceasefire — to bring home the hostages, save Palestinian lives & protect the lives of so many other innocent people in the region — must be a priority.”

Omar’s statement was similar.

“I condemn the attacks by the Iranian military on Israel, as well as Israel’s military attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria that further escalates tension in the region,” Omar stated. “As leaders in Washington jump to call for

war with Iran and rush additional offensive weapons to the Israeli military, we need to exercise restraint and use every diplomatic tool to de-escalate tensions,” Omar said. “Civilians in not only Gaza, Israel, the West Bank and Iran but also Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen are bearing the brunt of this escalation, and there must be a ceasefire on all sides.”

that sparked this dangerous escalation,” he added. “While there were no fatalities, shrapnel from an Iranian missile did severely injure Amina al-Hassouni, the 7-year old Bedouin girl, and I am praying for her swift recovery.”

Chronicle staff contributed to this report. —

“I am deeply concerned by those demanding military reprisal. That is why I stand in support of President Biden’s immediate call to de-esca-

“We must oppose all violent escalations right now. I condemn Iran’s retaliatory strikes on Israel & Israel’s strike on the Iranian consulate. I agree with President Biden’s immediate call for de-escalation & making clear to Netanyahu that we oppose any Israeli counterattacks.”


“I will continue to call for de-escalation, restraint and lasting peace,” she added.

Bowman stated that, “In this critical moment, we need to engage with peace, not weapons.”

“I unequivocally condemn the Iranian military’s attack on Israel, just as I condemn the Israeli military attack on the Iranian consulate in Syria ordered by Prime Minister Netanyahu

late this situation, and his actions to prevent the further spread of violence in the region,” he said.

A frequent and harsh critic of the Jewish state, Bowman accused Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu — who is part of a war cabinet that makes military decisions — of “warmongering” that “is putting the lives of millions of civilians at risk, including the Israeli people.”

“It is why even as I condemned Hamas’s horrific attacks on Oct. 7, I also called for immediate de-escalation and a ceasefire,” he said. “We cannot condemn violence on one hand and then condone it in the other.”

In his statement that came two days after Iran’s attack on Israel, Bowman also accused the Jewish state of “collective punishment” against Palestinians and of creating “a dangerous powder keg that threatens to become a regional war.”

“Netanyahu is willing to endanger the lives of millions just to draw the U.S. deeper into a conflict whose flame he fans,” he further charged. “Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are starving to death in Gaza right now, including tens of thousands of children. Millions across the region fear being drawn into a bloody conflict orchestrated by madmen.”

On Monday, Lee was one of only 11 representatives to vote against the “Iran-China Energy Sanctions Act,” which calls for placing sanctions on all Chinese financial institutions engaging in transactions with sanctioned Iranian financial institutions relating to the oil trade.

Lee also was one of only 11 members of Congress to vote against a bill to strip tax-exempt status from any group providing “material support or resources” to Hamas or other designated terrorist groups. PJC

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The number of antisemitic incidents more than doubled last year, shooting up particularly following Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s annual audit.

The ADL and other Jewish organizations, in addition to law enforcement agencies, have reported a spike in antisemitism after Oct. 7, as protests against Israel have taken place across the country.

But the ADL report found that antisemitic incidents were rising prior to Oct. 7, and that even after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, nearly half of the reported incidents did not directly involve Israel.

The report, published Tuesday, tabulated a total of 8,873 incidents over the course of 2023. Of those, more than half — 5,204 — occurred after Oct. 7.

By contrast, the group tallied 3,697 incidents over all of 2022. At the time, that was a record in the more than 40 years since the ADL began issuing the reports. It has since been shattered.

Last year’s tally includes increases in the number of antisemitic assaults (161), acts of vandalism (2,177) and harassment (6,535).

The number of swastikas reported, 1,117, represents a 41% increase from 2022. Ten percent of all anti-Jewish incidents, or 922, happened on college campuses.

Part of the increase in recent years is due to more robust reporting methods, such as including incidents reported by partner organizations, which started in 2021. Tuesday’s report also includes an update in the ADL’s methodology that classifies certain anti-Israel activities as antisemitic, which accounts for 15% of

the annual total.

The ADL has come under fire from leftwing activists for portraying pro-Palestinian activism as antisemitism, a charge the group denies. But even without its methodology update, according to the report, 2023 still would have seen more than 7,000 acts of antisemitism, far more than any previous year. And the report says that even if all Israel-related incidents were removed, antisemitism still would have risen 65%.

“Antisemitism is nothing short of a national emergency, a five-alarm fire that is still raging across the country and in our local communities and campuses,” the CEO of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement. “Jewish Americans are being targeted for who they are at school, at work, on the street, in Jewish institutions and even at home. This crisis demands immediate action from every sector of society and every state in the union.”

To combat the rise in hate, the ADL is calling on governors to implement strategies to counter antisemitism in statelevel programs analogous to the White House’s National Strategy to Counter Antisemitism released last year.

The report shows that even before Oct. 7, antisemitism was on the rise. From January to the beginning of October, there were 3,669 antisemitic incidents — close to the total for the entire previous year.

But the pace of incidents accelerated rapidly after Oct. 7. Just over half of them — 52% — directly concerned Israel. And the pace did not die down as the weeks passed following Oct. 7. The ADL found that there were 1,813 incidents in October, 1,575 in November and

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Please see Antisemitism, page 17
Photo by Luke Tress



Continued from page 16

1,938 in December.

The total number of post-Oct. 7 incidents, more than 5,200, is far higher than the 3,283 incidents tabulated during nearly the same period in a preliminary ADL report that was released in mid-January. The number of incidents grew much higher, an ADL spokesperson said, because law enforcement agencies and other groups that track hate take time to compile their own tallies.

The ADL altered its methodology after Oct. 7 to include in the tally “certain expressions of opposition to Zionism, as well as support for resistance against Israel or Zionists that could be perceived as supporting terrorism or attacks on Jews, Israelis or Zionists.”

One example of that, the group said, were images of hang gliders — which Hamas terrorists used to infiltrate Israel during the Oct. 7 massacre. Another was the slogan “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free,” a common chant at pro-Palestinian rallies that many Jewish groups see as a call for the destruction of Israel.

The updated methodology accounted for 1,350 incidents, around a quarter of the post-Oct. 7 total, including 1,180 rallies.

Over the course of the whole year, 3,162 incidents, or 36% of the total, involved references to Israel or Zionism. That was a steep increase over 2022, when 241 incidents, or 6.5%, included anti-Israel sentiment.

At anti-Israel protests, the researchers cited antisemitic tropes, including accusations that Jews control the media or U.S. government, that Jews were involved in the 9/11 attacks, and accusations that Israel “harvests” Palestinian organs or imagery showing Israelis drinking blood, which the researchers linked to historical blood libels.

Other speakers at protesters called Israelis and Zionists “bloodsuckers” or “parasites,” the report said.

Nearly 2,000 incidents targeted Jewish institutions including synagogues, Jewish community centers and schools, a spike of 237% over 2022. The increase was partly due to a surge in bomb threats, mostly targeting synagogues. There were 1 ,009 bomb threats, up from only 91 in 2022.

On c ampuses, antisemitic incidents skyrocketed from 219 in 2022 to 922 last year — most of which occurred post-Oct.

Nearly 2,000 incidents targeted Jewish institutions including synagogues, Jewish community centers and schools, a spike of 237% over 2022.

At least one high-profile incident of harm to a Jew did not make the report. While the report tallied 161 incidents of antisemitic assault, it did not include t he death of pro-Israel protester Paul Kessler because the circumstances are still under investigation.

Orthodox Jews, who tend to be more readily identifiable as Jewish, were targeted in 34% of assaults, despite, according to a 2021 Pew Research Center survey, making up around 9% of the Jewish population. Previous ADL reports have also found that Orthodox Jews are disproportionately victims of assault.

7. The updated methodology accounted for more than a third of that total. In non-Jewish K-12 schools, antisemitic incidents also more than doubled.

White supremacist propaganda also surged, with 1,160 instances last year, compared to 852 in 2022. Most of those incidents were distributing fliers with antisemitic messaging.  White supremacist groups also latched onto the Oct. 7 attack with propaganda that said “Death to Israel” and “End Jewish terror.” The most prominent of these groups was the Goyim Defense League, which was responsible for 529 instances of antisemitism.

C alifornia had the most recorded incidents, with 1,266, followed by New York, with 1,218, and New Jersey, with 830.

Th e report came a day after proPalestinian groups lashed out at Greenblatt and the ADL after he compared keffiyehs, or Palestinian headscarves, to Nazi a rmbands during an interview with MSNBC. More than 60 Muslim, Arab and Palestinian groups signed a letter calling the comments “hateful” and “dangerous.” The campaign echoes previous efforts urging civil rights groups to “Drop the ADL” as a partner.

The ADL, which has also faced criticism from the right in recent years, says it does not favor one side of the political spectrum over the other. It says it adheres to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance working definition of antisemitism, which has been endorsed by hundreds of countries, local governments, universities and corporations and has drawn criticism for classifying some Israel criticism as antisemitism.

AD L researchers compiled the data using information from victims, law enf orcement, the media and partner organizations. The incidents include both cr iminal and non-criminal acts in public and private settings, and online incidents of harassment in cases of direct messages a nd some social media settings. “Sprees,” such as multiple instances of antisemitism at a single event, were counted only once. PJC


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Continued from page 1

varying degrees for its military campaign in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis there.

Jordan’s role in shooting down what, according to reports, was dozens of drones headed to Israel stood out because of the chill in relations between the countries, which signed a peace treaty in 1994.

The kingdom has taken a leading role in seeking to bring relief to Gaza Palestinians and has lacerated Israel for obstructing the aid’s entry. Jordan also is partially responsible for administering the Muslim presence on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount, a site that is holy to Jews and Muslims, who revere it as the Noble Sanctuary. The site has attracted controversy as figures in Israel have sought to expand Jewish prayer on the mount. It is frequently cited as a pretext for terror attacks on Israel, including Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack.

But Jordan and other Sunni Arab nations see Iran, and its backing for regional violence and unrest, as the greater threat. Iran helped the Assad regime survive the Syrian civil war, a long conflict that created a massive refugee crisis for Jordan. The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, which signed normalization agreements with Israel in 2020, also seek to counter Iran.


Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official who specializes in Arab affairs, said the attacks were a wake-up call to the dangers posed by Iran.

“Where previously the Gaza war was creating tensions across the Middle East between Israel and its neighbors, and even created friction between Jerusalem and Washington, Iran’s attack has already increased coordination and warmed relations between Biden and Netanyahu,” he said in an email, “and even has reminded Arab nations of the constant threat that Iran continues to pose both to Israel and the stability of the region as a whole.”

Republicans and some Democrats pledged to accelerate a long delayed $14 billion emergency aid package Biden asked for after the war launched.

“In light of Iran’s unjustified attack on Israel, the House will move from its previously announced legislative schedule next week to instead consider legislation that supports our ally Israel and holds Iran and its terrorist proxies accountable,” Rep. Steve Scalise, the Louisiana Republican who is majority leader, said in a press release.

The Iranian attack came after Israel faced growing backlash from Democrats. Calls among Democrats to condition aid to Israel have intensified since what the Israeli military

says was a mistaken strike that killed seven aid workers with the World Central Kitchen two weeks ago.

Fifty-six Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives last week signed a letter spearheaded by Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan proposing a U.S.-led investigation into the World Central Kitchen killings and to withhold major arms transfers until it is completed. Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen has been outspoken in his calls to limit aid.

A coalition of liberal groups called last week for the Biden administration to condition the transfer of arms on Israel allowing in humanitarian assistance. The dozen signatories included the Center for American Progress, a think tank long seen as among the most supportive, among left-leaning institutions, of the U.S.-Israel relationship. The New York Times on Saturday called on the Biden administration to use aid as leverage to bring Netanyahu into line.

Some of those voices spoke up for Israel on Saturday. Van Hollen, on X, formerly Twitter, supported Israel’s right to self-defense.

“I condemn the Iranian attack on Israel and support Israel’s right to defend itself against this aggression,” he said. “I also stand with [Biden] in seeking to prevent an even wider conflict that engulfs the people of the entire region.”

Pocan, posting on X, said his concerns about Gaza had not abated. “Fortunately, the retaliatory strike by Iran on Israel was mostly intercepted. But these actions following the Israeli attack in Syria is what worried me—a broader conflict bringing in the U.S.,” he said. “Everyone must stop aggressions, including in Gaza, with a priority on human life, not war.”

Israel appeared ready to leverage the reinvigorated diplomatic support it was accruing. The United Nations Security Council agreed, at Israel’s request, to convene in an emergency session on Sunday to discuss Iran’s attack.

The comity will not necessarily last. American media quoted anonymous U.S. officials as saying that Biden was wary of the breadth of any Israeli retaliation. CNN and NBC both reported that Biden was telling associates that he did not want Netanyahu to draw the United States into a broader conflict.

David Makovsky, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank that is regularly briefed by top U.S. and Israeli officials, said Israel would do well to preserve the renewed spirit of cooperation and support.

“Israel will have to carefully weigh [the] utility of retaliation against Biden’s urging for [a] diplomatic approach going forward,” Makovksy said on X. The “crisis should end with Iran remaining isolated.” PJC

Continued from page 1

As it could be? As it was? What does ‘in’ mean? Is it literal? Is it a promise, a prayer, a hope, a text from bygone days when getting to Israel was nearly impossible for many?’”

Rabbi Seth Adelson of Congregation Beth Shalom likewise encourages tablebased dialogue.

“We want to have conversations, but we want to make sure that they are respectful,” he said. “So remember that you have two ears and one mouth. You have to listen. If you hear s omething that really upsets you, try to remember that your relationships with your family are ultimately more important than what might potentially divide us.”

“People disagree with each other about lots of things. And passions can run high, particularly about Israel,” he continued. “It’s important that we do not necessarily avoid the conversation, but also, when it comes to the Passover seders, to actually talk about our history and how we read that in our current context.”

Passover is definitionally an intergenerational experience.

During the seder, Haggadah readers are reminded: “In every generation, one must see themself as if they had personally left Egypt, as it is stated (Exodus 13:8): ‘And you shall tell your son on that day, saying, it is because of that which the Lord did to me when I went forth from Egypt.’ Not only our ancestors did the Holy One, blessed be He, redeem; He redeemed us too, with them, as it is stated (Deuteronomy 6:23): ‘And He took us out from there, in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He swore unto our fathers.’”

Although the narrative is among the holiday’s central themes, generational divides reflect disparate views on Israel and its war against Hamas.

A February survey of 12,693 U.S. adults by Pew Research Center found that 78% of respondents aged 65-plus consider Israel’s reasons for fighting Hamas valid; however,

18-29. Similarly, while 29% of adults 65-plus strongly favor U.S. military aid to Israel, only 7% of adults ages 18-29 agree.

Rabbi Aaron Meyer of Temple Emanuel of South Hills said that although members of the Jewish community are split over Israel and the war, the Haggadah prompts a path forward.

“Immediately following the statement that it’s ‘meritorious’ to discuss the exodus from Egypt late into the evening, we get that text about Rabbi Eliezer, Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Tarfon sitting at — what we presume to be — their seder discussing things so long that their students have to tell them it’s time to recite the Shema,” Meyer recalled.

Cloaked within the story is a modern lesson, he said. According to some scholars, the five rabbis weren’t actually discussing the exodus but the Bar Kokhba revolt.

“They were five influential figures of their time thinking through either joining with the rebellion — as they were all supporters of it — or the aftermath of its lack of success, depending on exactly when it is dated,” Meyer said.

Haggadah readers and seder-goers should see that story as proof that “there is a long history of discussing uncomfortable things that comes

with Passover,” Meyer said. “So, we’re not alone, even though it feels more pressing this year.”

The line between loneliness and individuality is a binding tie in Jewish thought, Rabbi Chananel Shapiro, executive director of the Kollel Jewish Learning Center, explained.

“We have to remember we are all human beings created in the image of Hashem and that a person’s right to exist is because Hashem created them, and not because of their political views or other views,” he said.

This year, a topic at many seder tables will likely be peace, but peace isn’t simply a slogan, Shapiro said.

“Peace or Shalom is actually one of Hashem’s names and is a description of Hashem. So if Hashem is peace, then we have to do that as well,” the rabbi explained. Practicing peace, or embodying that divine quality, “doesn’t mean we all have to think the same thing and agree — we are people not robots, people have their own opinions — peace means that if people have their own opinions that you still respect them as human beings.”

For Shapiro, classic Jewish texts demonstrate a tradition of seeing the greater good beyond fiery disagreement.

The Babylonian Talmud describes a dispute between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai regarding whether certain women and their offspring

were fit for marriage. Although each school of thought reached a fundamentally different conclusion, members of Beit Shammai did not refrain from marrying women from Beit Hillel, nor did Beit Hillel refrain from marrying women from Beit Shammai. According to the Talmud, “This serves to teach you that they practiced affection and camaraderie between them, to fulfill that which is stated (Zechariah 8:19): ‘Love truth and peace.’”

At the heart of Torah study is a commitment to finding truth and pursuing peace, Shapiro said.

People in a yeshiva, or study hall, will learn together and debate one another “day after day for years, and to an outsider it looks like they are mortal enemies. But it’s the opposite. These can be the best of friends because they are arguing for the truth, and that’s what we are trying to get at here.”

Rabbi Sharyn Henry of Rodef Shalom Congregation said she encountered a teaching from Rabbi David Wolpe, a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School, that proves instructive this holiday.

Synagogue-goers on Shabbat Chol HaMoed of Passover will hear an excerpt from Ezekiel 37 in which the prophet is divinely taught how to revive dry bones. The biblical text (Ezekiel 37:11) calls the scene a parable: “And I was told, ‘O mortal, these bones are the whole House of Israel.’ They say, ‘Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone; we are doomed.’”

The Hebrew phrase “avda tikva-teinu” (our hope is gone) is reappropriated millennia later within Israel’s national anthem, “Hatikvah,” to become “od lo avda tikva-teinu” (our hope is not yet lost), Henry said.

Transforming biblical despair into a national anthem lyric is not just wordplay but a call for patience and appreciating the unimaginable — especially this year — Henry said: “‘Od lo avda tikva-teinu’ inspires us that we can have peace, cooperation and understanding. It’s still possible.” PJC

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

Photo by monkeybusinessimages via iStock


USC cancels commencement speech from Muslim valedictorian after she shared link to anti-Israel website

As a University of Southern California undergraduate, Asna Tabassum co-founded a student group that distributed supplies from USC’s medical school to areas of need around the world — Ukraine when war broke out, Turkey and Syria when they were ravaged by earthquakes. Her community service, along with her GPA, won Tabassum recognition as the school’s class of 2024 valedictorian — and thus, the opportunity to speak at commencement.

But the school informed Tabassum on Monday it was canceling her commencement address, following pressure from pro-Israel groups who sought her removal for linking on her Instagram page to a website that called for the “complete abolishment” of Israel.

Andrew T. Guzman, USC’s provost and senior vice president for academic affairs — who had announced Tabassum’s selection only 10 days earlier — said in a campus-wide email Monday that the school made the decision out of safety concerns amid “an alarming tenor” of discussions related to her speech.

“The intensity of feelings, fueled by both social media and the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, has grown to include many voices outside of USC and has escalated to the point of creating substantial risks


Continued from page 9

I don’t believe it was by chance that we happened to be at the same place, at the same time, interested in the same thing. It’s more than that I believe,” she continued. “I believe people are put into your life for a particular reason. And I believe it’s really up to you, if you choose to follow that path.”

Valenti, 66, attended the JCC’s mahjong clinic in October 2022 — four months earlier, her husband died.

“After Jim passed away, one of the first things that I did was join a six-week bereavement group at our church.”

The space was “incredibly supportive” and offered somewhere to talk about a challenging period, Valenti said: “At the same time that I was dealing with my husband’s passing, my daughter had gotten engaged, and she was getting married, so I had extreme highs and lows going on for about a month, which was really difficult to deal with because on one day of the week you might be helping pick out a wedding dress. Two days later, you might be picking out your husband’s monument.”

When the bereavement meetings concluded, another session was starting.

“They were just going to do the same group again, same materials, and I thought, ‘It’s really not good for me to go into this again because I’m gonna get on the hamster wheel

But the decision rippled far beyond the quad, throwing USC back into a national spotlight it has rarely strayed from since Oct. 7.

commencement,” Guzman wrote.

“To be clear: this decision has nothing to do with freedom of speech,” he added. “There is no free-speech entitlement to speak at a commencement. The issue here is how best to maintain campus security and safety, period.”

Tabassum expressed skepticism of the university’s rationale in a statement Monday and said she had been shut down by a “campaign of racist hatred.”

“I am not surprised by those who attempt to propagate hatred,” she said. “I am surprised that my own university — my home for four years — has abandoned me.”

The website Tabassum linked to in her Instagram bio — her actual posts are private — is an explainer on the Israeli/Palestinian conflict that calls Zionism “a racist settler-colonial ideology.” It defines Palestine

as a country in the Middle East that “is being occupied by the state of Israel, a Jewish ethnostate established by Zionists in 1948.”

And it rejects the notion of a two-state solution (“it is merely another form of Zionism”) in favor of a one-state solution — “the complete abolishment of the state of Israel” — in which Jews and Palestinians could live together in peace.

It is unclear who created the site, which is written in the first person and appears to be a work in progress with several pages blank.

Jewish campus groups including Chabad and Trojans for Israel had called on USC to reconsider its choice for valedictorian in light of the link. And Muslim and proPalestinian campus organizations denounced Guzman’s decision Monday, accusing the school of deliberately silencing proPalestinian perspectives.

of just talking about grief,’” Valenti said. “I needed someplace to go. I needed something to do. I needed people to be around.”

The problem, though, was that “in doing things, or going places, people knew me as a couple,” she continued. “When I went to the JCC, and I met these people, it was like it started fresh right from the beginning. They only knew me as me. Now, over the course of time, they knew my story — that I lost my husband — because we shared all this stuff and we talked, and we cried, together. But it was easier for me I think to move forward in my healing with people knowing me just as me.”

Sember said that frequenting AgeWell is beneficial.

“I’m getting up there,” she said. “I’m

pushing 77. It gets harder to meet people, to find people, to find people of like interest, to find people that you can keep healthy with. AgeWell was the best thing that ever happened to me — I 100% mean it. I’m an only child, so we don’t have a whole lot of family. And I traveled with my work, so when I retired I was really sort of friendless because everybody I knew didn’t live in this area. When I started to go to the JCC, that was nice because you kind of saw people on and off if you went to the same classes all the time, but AgeWell has given you the opportunity to really get to know people in depth.”

AgeWell at the JCC South Hills operates Mondays and Fridays 9 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays 9

In the days following the Hamas attack, Palestinian solidarity protesters on campus were recorded chanting, “There is only one solution, Intifada revolution,” which some said evoked Hitler’s final solution. A Jewish USC student who had written an article for the school newspaper defending Israel was singled out for criticism in a subsequent pro-Palestinian protest. And over the weekend, a Jewish USC student said the mezuzah on the door to her dorm was ripped off.

The school is also facing a Title IV investigation over what a past student president said was its failure to protect her from antisemitic bullying due to her affiliation with pro-Israel student groups.

The Council of American Islamic Relations’ Hussam Ayloush called the school’s decision “cowardly” in a statement Monday; the pro-Israel group #EndJewHatred commended it.

“#EndJewHatred is grateful that USC recognized the danger posed by Jew-hatred and will not allow Ms. Tabassum to abuse her platform to spread it,” the organization said in a statement. PJC

This story originally appeared in the Forward. To get the Forward’s free email newsletters delivered to your inbox, go to forward.com/newsletter-signup.

a.m. to 2 p.m. Individuals 60 and older can register to participate.

The program is “about making those social connections, getting out of the house and doing those things that are good for you,” Maher said.

Supinka has little difficulty creating new ties, but said she still appreciates AgeWell.

“I’m a pretty active person. I do a lot of different things,” she said. “Even though I don’t think it’s hard for me to make friends, the JCC has kind of opened a lot of doors because we’ve made many friends there — and mahjong at the JCC has really been the catalyst.”

For Valenti, AgeWell and the relationships formed there have been invaluable.

“I will always miss my husband. I will always love him. I will always think of him. But I have been able to continue with a healthy, productive and happy life knowing that we had our time and we had our season and it was beautiful,” she said. “I will always be grateful for that. But that part of my life is over. And now I have to learn to move on. And that’s kind of what I met, and I have.”

Sember, Valenti and Supinka can be found most days enjoying each other’s company at the South Hills JCC. There’s a period when they won’t be there, though: February 2025. The new friends will be back on the seas. This time it’s for 12 days. PJC

Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. p Mahjong tiles Photo by Scott Schiller via Flickr at https://rb.gy/hyf9li
p The Doheny Library at the University of Southern California Photo by EEJCC, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
All who are hungry, come and eat

Guest Columnist

Jesse Sharrard

As the new director of the JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry, I was somewhat surprised to learn the extent of preparations that go into making sure the Jewish families we serve have the food they need for Passover.

Our staff started preparing in January to ensure we would have all the foods our clients need to celebrate the seder with their families, including reaching out to local rabbis to determine how many families in their congregations may need food for Passover.

As an outsider to Judaism, I discovered that the details of the preparations are much more involved than I imagined. The elimination of all chometz from a household and replacement of these items with unleavened alternatives is a massive undertaking: There’s the logistical task of searching for items containing chometz and removing them from one’s pantry but also the financial hardship that results for many Jewish families — to discard or give away foods that

they might otherwise have used after Passover.

This, of course, is a central idea of the celebration, a reminder of the hardships faced by oses and the Israelites as they fled Egypt — the stark realities of how quickly they had to prepare and the challenges they would face in the desert. But it is worth looking at what those hardships mean in today’s world, as well — and to think about what we can all do to ensure our friends, our neighbors and our family members have the food that should be recognized as a universal human right.

Families who rely on food pantry services have expressed a dizzying range of emotions to our staff over time. Their appreciation and joy for the food we provide is often tinged with sadness and even shame at the fact their families need to ask for food.

The darker emotions that people feel when they receive food are misplaced. The onus belongs to society for not making food more readily accessible to everyone. While food inflation has thankfully slowed from its peak in 2022 — when food prices increased by more than 10% — the fact of the matter is that the current level of inflation among many food items (1%-2%) is added to those already steep price hikes. We never came down off that cliff; we just kept climbing.

A sojourn in Israel, post Oct. 7

Guest Columnist

Lou Weiss

Twenty years ago I took a class from Rabbi Danny Schiff on how to run a seder. He offered such tips as editing the Haggadah liberally and liberally noshing before the actual meal to maintain order. His advice stood me in pretty good stead, and for many years I ran what I consider, in all due modesty, a pretty good seder.

Last year Rabbi Schiff and his family joined the 35 people at our seder and, unlike the failed Iranian drones, I actually bombed. As always, the food my wife Amy prepared was great, but I failed to “read the room.”

This year Amy thought that we would take a break from our sedering and attend

It’s time for J Street to face the facts

one in Jerusalem run by Todd Warnick, a former Emma Kaufmann Camp unit head who went on to become Israel’s most famous basketball referee. Pesach lunch will be at the home of ex-Pittsburgher and matchmaker extraordinaire Tova Weinberg and her husband, Joel.

There’s a saying that in Israel there’s never a dull moment. Three days into our trip we can attest to that truth.

So far, we’ve been to an art opening where most of the attendees were as interested in the marijuana as the works on display. We watched a cable TV reporter talk about the empty streets in Tel Aviv before strolling down Rothschild Boulevard with thousands of Israelis walking their dogs and eating at cafés. We walked into a restaurant at 10:30 p.m., but they turned us away because they were jammed with reservations.

Out hotel pool was occupied by some kvetching kids. They became less annoying when we realized that they were part of the contingency of Israeli internal refugees unable to return to their border-adjacent homes. They

While there is much to dispute in Mark Fichman’s April 5 column (“J Street is committed to electing officials who are pro-Israel and pro-democracy”), the urgency of the moment requires a focus on J Street’s inexplicable endorsement of Summer Lee for the 12th District House seat. It is unfathomable how a rational analysis of Ms. Lee’s behavior and voting record could justify an endorsement from an organization touting a pro-Israel raison d’être.

It is not unreasonable to expect that a leader of J Street would make an effort to explain its endorsement of such a rabidly anti-Israel candidate. Yet Mr. Fichman’s only argument appears to be that it is important to keep the lines of communication open. While this is true and commendable, communication needs to be reciprocal. Ms. Lee has “ignored more than a dozen interview requests” from the Chronicle since her election to Congress and has, most recently, failed to respond to requests from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to appear at its “Coffee and Conversation town hall-style event,” intended to allow the Jewish community to interact with the candidates. Nor has Ms. Lee attended the many vigils and rallies in support of Israel following the horrific Oct. 7 attack. Also, as reported in the Chronicle, in early March of this year, a letter written to Ms. Lee by 40 local rabbis and cantors, ranging across denominations, denounced her for her anti-Israel voting record

For families who keep kosher, these costs hit home more during Passover than other times of the year. Though 40% of food in the grocery store bears a hechsher, the strict requirements of “kosher for Passover” are not a cost that most manufacturers are willing to bear. As a result, we have seen steep increases in basic staples. Even at wholesale prices, the cost of staples for a Passover celebration runs 120%130% higher than what we saw pre-pandemic. For families struggling to make ends meet, this burden can represent the breaking point between affordability and impossibility.

Which, of course, is why places like the JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry are here. And not just during Passover but the entire year. And not just for families who keep kosher but everyone: whether we are providing dates and halal meat for Muslim families to break fast during Ramadan; mangoes and pineapples for families resettling in Pittsburgh from Central and South America; or basic staples like rice, beans, cereal and fresh produce for anyone who comes in and tells us that they need food. Food insecurity is an ever-present threat to people you know, even if they don’t share their needs with you.

The responsibility falls on all of us, regardless of faith or religion, to speak up for our friends, our neighbors and ourselves.

won the lottery in terms of hotels, but I could see in their mothers’ faces that they would trade this beauty for home in a second.

We spent lunchtime before Shabbat in the Carmel market. We could barely walk through, there were so many people amid the kaleidoscope of produce and plastic products.

We sat at a café and caught up with old friends who we met decades ago on a trip to Italy. We met Ofer and Maya when they were just out of the IDF and now their sons are serving in the reserves. Their oldest, who looks like his mom, is a paratrooper recently serving on the northern border. He lost seven friends in the Nova rave massacre and recently lost his 28-year-old commander. The younger son, who resembles his dad, is in the Nahal Brigade and after a Shabbat leave was headed back to Gaza.

We visited the charming rooftop aerie of Rolando and Anne-Michele, he from Panama and she from Algeria. Rolando graduated from Carnegie Tech and was Bibi Netanyahu’s first boss in his family’s furniture business. We reminisced for a moment about Weinstein’s

If you need food, please ask for help. We are here for you. If you can help, please do — whether preparing a meal for your neighbors, organizing a food drive, or helping us or your local food pantry keep shelves stocked with a monetary donation.

But beyond that, call out the system for its inequalities. Write to your representatives to voice support for SNAP, school meals and other efforts to feed people. Advocate for culturally appropriate options to be more widely available for everyone who needs them. Passover is the festival of freedom. It’s a time for experiencing gratitude and for cherishing the many opportunities we sometimes take for granted. This year, let those of us who are more financially fortunate commit to helping those who are less fortunate. As the Haggadah reminds each of us to experience the holiday as if we were once slaves in Egypt, let us consider the challenges of poverty in our community as if we once experienced them ourselves. And for far too many of us, this doesn’t take much imagination.

Wishing you and your loved ones a meaningful Passover. PJC

Jesse Sharrard is the director of the JFCS Squirrel Hill Food Pantry.

delicatessen, but they were concerned about what was happening in the U.S., particularly with the Jewish community. I didn’t have good answers.

Amy spent this afternoon at the Jaffa flea market. She found a couple of great dresses, but the place was pretty empty. Tonight, we will hear our daughter’s Michigan pals sing a cappella Yiddish jazz in their living room. At 79 shekels per ticket, it will be an evening well spent.

Oh, and last night Israel was attacked by 300 Iranian bomber drones, ballistic and cruise missiles. In a sentence that a Jew of the last 2,000 years couldn’t even dream of writing — the Israeli Air Force shot them down.

I have to finish now because rather than watching from Pittsburgh while Rabbi Schiff teaches a class by Zoom from Israel, I’ll be watching from the courtyard of the beautiful Jaffa Hotel in Israel as he teaches from Pittsburgh.

His topic? How to lead a post Oct 7 seder. PJC Lou Weiss is a carpet salesman in Pittsburgh.

and divisive rhetoric, which, at times, they felt was “openly antisemitic.” This letter was a follow-up to an apparently fruitless meeting they had with her months earlier to discuss their concerns.

Ms. Lee’s voting record has, indeed, demonstrated an unremitting hostility to Israel.

On April 25, 2023, in honor of Israel’s 75th birthday, the House of Representatives adopted a resolution — by a vote of 400 to 19 — supporting the U.S.-Israel relationship and the Abraham Accords. Summer Lee was one of the 19 members who opposed the resolution. Along with eight other members of Congress, she also skipped Israeli President Isaac Herzog’s address to a joint session of Congress in honor of the occasion. This was an affront, not to the government of Israel, but to the state of Israel.

On Oct. 25, barely three weeks after Hamas’ horrendous assault, the House approved a resolution expressing support for Israel in its war against the terror organization. The vote was 412 to 10. Summer Lee opposed the resolution.

On Nov. 16, 2023, six weeks after the Hamas attack, six members of the House proposed legislation intended to block a $320 million arms sale to Israel. Summer Lee was one of those six.

Please see Letters, page 21


Chronicle poll results: Matzo toppings

Last week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “What topping do you prefer on matzo?” Of the 229 people who responded, 37% said “sweet”; 36% said “savory”; and 27% said “other.” Comments were submitted by 94 people. A few follow.

My real preference is matzo brei, soaked in egg and water, and fried in light oil with sweet toppings — as opposed to friends who like it soaked in egg and milk, fried in schmaltz with salt.

Schmaltz with salt and pepper — heaven!

It’s only eight days and cream cheese and matzo is what gets our crew through the holiday.

Simply put, butter and jelly ... unless any delicious charoset is somehow left from the seder!


Continued from page 20

Communication is certainly important. But Ms. Lee doesn’t’ want to listen. She cherishes her acceptance in the “Squad” — the congressional faction of neo-Marxist comrades whose conditions for inclusion mandate that members regularly act to delegitimize and demonize Israel. She relishes that membership and, for fear of expulsion, rejects any action resembling a more balanced approach to Israel. It’s time for J Street to recognize that.

It’s ‘shortsighted’ to support a candidate based on one factor

At the risk of alienating many of the readers of the Chronicle, I would like to explain why I am voting for Summer Lee (Primary election coverage, ongoing).

I have never been a single-issue voter. Because our elected officials affect our lives in so many ways, deciding whether to support or oppose a candidate based on one factor seems extremely shortsighted.

In addition, I make a distinction between supporting Israel and supporting everything its government does. That isn’t the case with organizations like AIPAC, which targets those candidates who do not follow its demand for total loyalty.

Congress should be a place where different opinions (except extreme ones) should be represented and debated. But some, like Bhavini Patel, think nothing should ever be asked of Israel’s government.

That is a problem given that those in power in Jerusalem comprise the most extreme government in the country’s history. Ministers like Ben Gvir and Smotrich never miss an opportunity to denigrate and dehumanize Palestinians and most other Arabs. And they get their way because Netanyahu needs their support to stay in power and out of jail.

The ongoing assault on the independence of the judiciary is another part of his strategy to remain in office. That is why over the last two years when asked if they were optimistic about the future of democratic rule in their country never more than 46% of Israelis said yes.

To placate its right-wing supporters the Netanyahu administration focused intently on the West Bank and completely failed to anticipate the horrific terrorist attacks of Oct. 7. To salvage something it can call victory from this debacle, it has destroyed more than half the buildings in Gaza, killed tens of thousands of the people including women and children [according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry], and allowed humanitarian aid to only trickle as starvation killed more.

One of the most tragic ironies of this war is that the country that was created because of the Holocaust is now accused of genocide in the International Court of Justice. That charge is extreme, but it cannot be dismissed with the usual assertion that international organizations are biased against Israel. Condemnation of Israel is widespread and growing.

There is almost nothing in the Middle East that is simple, but the way out of the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians can be reduced to a bumper sticker: “No Palestine, No Peace. No Peace, No Palestine.” Neither side can get everything it wants and give nothing in return.

As someone who is Jewish, lived in Israel for three years and has friends and family there, my heart aches every day for those lost and those held hostage. And as I look at the videos of my 2-year-old grandniece who lives in Jerusalem I wonder if she, her children, and grandchildren will ever know peace. There is only one way to achieve that even if the extremists here and abroad refuse to accept it.

Avocado, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Yum.

Slice a banana or plantain on top of a sheet of matzo and microwave for 30 seconds. Delicious.

Chopped liver. Second favorite is cream cheese.

Melted chocolate spread that has brown sugar in it and a bit of oil or margarine, spread on matzos. Passover paradise.

Covered in dark chocolate and topped with candied ginger and flaky sea salt.

Breakstone Whipped Unsalted Butter and a sprinkle of coarse salt. Nothing better!

I am a big fan of whipped cream cheese on matzo. And a pastrami sandwich with vinegar-based coleslaw on matzo is one of my seasonal favorites!

No topping. Good matzo doesn’t need any help!

Pizza sauce, cheese and an egg in the middle, baked.

One can never go wrong with the classic seder toppings of charoset and maror.

Whether you like sweet matzo, savory matzo, or just eat it plain, eating matzo and keeping Passover is vital to the future of the Jewish people. PJC

— Compiled by Toby Tabachnick

Chronicle weekly poll question: Do you support Israel responding to Iran’s attack? Go to pittsburghjewishchronicle.org to respond. PJC

seen displays of solidarity in times of crisis before — after 9/11, during periods of political upheaval, and amidst social justice movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. While these gestures of support (safety pins, tweets, black squares for profile pictures) may have been superficial, they were undeniably visible. Yet, when it comes to standing with our Jewish community, the silence from the broader community has been deafening.

Our early childhood programs, the heartbeat of our community, are struggling to weather the storm. The recent events, compounded by the ongoing challenges of the childcare staffing crisis exacerbated by the pandemic, have pushed many of them to the brink of collapse.

Temple Ohav Shalom Center for Early Learning has been showing pride online for many of our beautiful values, such as repairing the world (tikkun olam), fostering community (kehilla), cherishing family (mishpacha), and practicing loving-kindness (chesed). However, instead of receiving the encouragement and support I hoped for, I was met with a barrage of hateful comments, such as “#1 Jewish value: Genocide of the Palestinians” and “murderers.”

Not only was it a stark reminder of the urgent need for solidarity and action, but it was also a sad reminder of just how many people are happy in their ignorance and willing to target any Jewish institution, including a preschool, to have an outlet for their hate.

Your support for Jewish early childhood programs can make all the difference. Support can manifest in various forms — it doesn’t have to be financial. You can offer to read stories to the children, help repair broken toys or books, or send a kind and encouraging note. By coming together, we can cultivate a network of individuals who believe we should nurture our children with good, strong Jewish values.

Let’s join forces to uplift Jewish early childhood education, embracing our collective dedication to nurturing our youngest learners. By championing these essential programs, we fortify our community’s resilience and take a stand against antisemitism and division. Together, let’s proudly showcase the importance of investing in the education and growth of our children, paving the way for a future illuminated by the values of compassion and unity inherent in our Jewish heritage.

Now is the time for action. Now is the time to stand together against antisemitism. Now is the time to support the youngest members of our community.

Amy Jacobs, director of early learning Temple Ohav Shalom Center for Early Learning People left out of Big Nosh

I recently attended the Chronicle’s Big Nosh event held at Beth Shalom and couldn’t help but appreciate the vibrant atmosphere and delicious offerings. However, my enjoyment was tempered by a disheartening observation: The event lacked thoughtful consideration for individuals with disabilities.

While I understand why the event was held at Beth Shalom, that space poses challenges for those with mobility impairments. The absence of clear signage directing individuals to accessible routes and the lack of alternatives for those unable to stand in line were glaring oversights. Furthermore, obtaining ingredient lists for attendees with dietary restrictions proved to be difficult.

In our quest to foster inclusive communities, it is imperative that we acknowledge and address the needs of all members, including the elderly and persons with disabilities. All of our Jewish organizations should look at this as a lesson to do better in disability inclusion. Each organization should have an inclusion checklist that they review during event planning to ensure that our entire community is welcome.

Standing together against antisemitism

These past months have been fraught with challenges for our community. In the aftermath of recent events, we have witnessed a distressing surge in antisemitic actions and sentiments around the world (“Antisemitic incidents continue locally post-Oct. 7,” April 5). The invasion of Israel on Oct. 7 left us grappling with fear and uncertainty as hatred and misinformation spread like wildfire. What is perhaps most troubling is the deafening silence from the broader community. We’ve

37% Sweet What topping do you prefer on matzo? 27% Other 36% Savory We invite you to submit letters for publication. Letters must include name, address and daytime phone number; addresses and phone numbers will not be published. Letters may not exceed 500 words and may be edited for length and clarity; they cannot be returned. Send letters to: letters@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org or Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle, 5915 Beacon St., 5th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15217 We regret that owing to the volume of correspondence, we cannot reply to every letter. — LETTERS —


Wednesday, April 24 marks 200 days since Hamas terrorists took Israeli hostages, with 134 still captive. Support Israel through events, political advocacy and volunteering at jewishpgh.org/info/stand-with-israel.

To learn about our community’s impact in Israel, visit jewishpgh.org/info/your-israel-impact.


Give to the Jewish Federation’s Community Campaign: visit jfedpgh.org/donate or call 412-681-8000


Life & Culture

Passover almond bars

I’m excited to share my Passover almond bar recipe because it’s the closest thing I’ve ever made to a cookie bar for the holiday. My husband and kids couldn’t believe that these were gluten-free.

This recipe is easy to put together. The bottom layer is made from a mixture of ground almonds, which is topped first with a toffee layer and baked. The toffee layer sinks into the nut crust while baking, making a chewy bottom with bits of toffee crunch. After baking, you cover the bars with chocolate, sliced almonds and flaky sea salt.

I like these a lot because the flavors reveal themselves one by one. First, you taste the nut crust and the toffee flavor, then the chocolate starts to melt in your mouth before the flaky sea salt brings it all together.

I’ve been experimenting a lot with crusts made from nuts, and I finally have the best combination. If you’re avoiding extra matzo or are simply watching your gluten intake, this recipe uses simple ingredients without any grain or potato starch. Tuck this one away because you can use it to make a gluten-free pie crust for cheesecake any time of year.

If you don’t have a food processor, I recommend getting a small version before the holiday for projects like this. You will

definitely get lots of use out of it. I use my mini food processor to make all sorts of food, including sauces and dressings.

Use the best quality ingredients you can find, especially when it comes to chocolate. I have found the best chocolate with Passover certification is the Elite bittersweet chocolate bars and California Gourmet chocolate chips, and I use both brands year-round.


Makes 16 squares

Almond crust

2 cups whole almonds, measured before grinding

2 egg whites

3 tablespoons sugar

A pinch of kosher salt (1⁄16th teaspoon)

To ee layer

1 stick (½ cup) butter or margarine

¾ cup packed light brown sugar


1 cup dark chocolate chips or the equivalent broken from a chocolate bar

¼ cup sliced almonds

A sprinkle of flaky sea salt


Place the oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 F.

Line a square glass or metal baking pan with two sheets of trimmed parchment paper going in opposite directions. This creates a cradle to lift the bars out of the pan when it’s time to cut them, while also keeping the pan as clean as possible.

Grind 2 cups of whole almonds in a food processor until finely ground.

Scoop the ground almonds into a bowl and mix with the egg whites, sugar and salt. (You can store the egg yolks not used in the crust for a day or two and use them in another dessert that calls for egg yolks only, or you can add them to scrambled eggs or a quiche so that they don’t go to waste.)

Press the mixture into the parchment-lined pan. I smooth the mixture with the back of a spoon to make sure it is evenly distributed. Spread the mixture about a half-inch up the sides of the pan to create an edge for the dessert.

Add the butter or margarine to a small saucepan with the brown sugar and turn the heat to medium-low. Whisk regularly until the mixture is combined, which will take about 4-5 minutes. The mixture will start to thicken and should be gently bubbling when it’s ready to use.

Remove the pan from heat and use a spatula to pour the toffee mixture over the almond crust. Spread it evenly across the crust with a spatula and bake for 10 minutes.

Remove the pan from the oven and add the chocolate immediately. After a few minutes, the

chocolate will soften and you can easily spread it across the top. Butter and margarine can react differently when hot. It’s OK if the toffee mixture mixes in with the chocolate.

Let it rest for 5 minutes before sprinkling with sliced almonds and a pinch or two of flaky sea salt. I don’t measure the salt, but imagine the bars cut into 16 pieces and try to get one to two flakes on each bar. Don’t oversalt: You just want a hint of sea salt every bite or two.

Allow the bars to cool for about a half-hour before refrigerating for at least an hour and a half. Don’t put a hot pan into the refrigerator because it will raise the temperature of your refrigerator, which can cause other foods to spoil.

Take the pan from the refrigerator about a half-hour before serving. Allowing the bars to warm up a bit will allow you to cut them nicely with a sharp knife; if the bars are too cold the chocolate layer will crack.

If your home is hot you may want to keep the remaining bars well covered in the refrigerator, but if your home is cool you can leave them covered at room temperature and they will last for several days.

This recipe is non-gebrokts for those who don’t bake with matzo cake meal or matzo sheets during the holiday.

Chag kasher v’sameach to you and your loved ones. Enjoy and bless your hands! PJC

As we celebrate the seder, we remember those who should still be with us. Some of those seats belong to Magen David Adom medics, who gave their lives trying to save others. Your donation provides the equipment MDA needs so that next year only Elijah’s seat may be empty. Join the effort at afmda.org or call 866.632.2763.

— FOOD —
Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.  Passover almond bars Photo by Jessica Grann

Life & Culture

Why is this wine di erent from all other wines?

Guest Columnist

Passover, the holiest of holidays for wine enthusiasts, holds a unique place on the calendar. How many other occasions command the consumption of not one, not two, but four (or sometimes even five) cups of wine during the celebratory dinner?

While some holidays may suggest indulging in wine, Passover mandates it. The Mishnah decrees that even the most financially challenged must partake in wine at a Passover seder, underscoring its significance and blessing.

Kosher wines are an essential aspect of this cherished tradition. The caveat, however, is that the wines must be designated “kosher for Passover.” (As a side note, I don’t really know of many kosher wines that are not also kosher for Pesach.)

So what is “kosher for Passover”?

Kosher for Passover certification entails adherence to strict guidelines: All ingredients must be kosher and the winemaking process must be overseen by a Sabbathobservant Jew. Moreover, in accordance with Passover regulations banning the presence of

chametz, the wine must undergo fermentation using yeast that did not originate from grains — although, I am unaware of any wine yeast that does not come from grapes.

Thankfully, today’s kosher wines stand at their pinnacle, transcending the stereotype of sweet, syrupy offerings. Gone are the days when Manischewitz monopolized the market, as renowned wine producers from across the globe craft exceptional kosher varieties. These wines not only satisfy religious requirements but also appeal to discerning palates worldwide.

While observing the patience-demanding rituals of Pesach, consider the four cups of kosher wine that warrant attention at your seder. Whether you’re Jewish or not, the obligation to drink four cups of wine during the first night of Passover serves as a testament to its significance. Symbolizing the four expressions of deliverance promised to the Jewish people in the Torah, “The Four Cups” are an integral part of the seder tradition.

Yet, one shouldn’t resign to monotony. I feel we should add to the Ma Nishtana: “Why do we drink the same wine in every cup?”

The market’s response to diverse preferences among Jewish communities is evident, with an extensive range of varietals now available. From robust reds like Bordeaux blends and merlot to crisp whites such as sauvignon blanc and chardonnay, kosher wines from esteemed vineyards

in northern Israel, as well as Italy, Spain, Portugal and New Zealand, offer a global tapestry of flavors.

Prices span the spectrum, from budgetfriendly options priced around $10 per bottle to premium selections going as high as $150 per bottle.

Here are some wines for your Passover table:

Tishbi Merlot (Israel), Mevushal, $23.99: Dark ruby in color with a brick rim. Nice on the nose with cherries, strawberries, red currants and vanilla. Very easy drinking wine.

Jerusalem Vineyards Malbec (Judean Hills, Israel), Mevushal, $21: Another wine that is not from the traditional area where malbec can thrive, but let’s try something different. The wine displays a rich purple color and exudes fragrances of black plum, mint and violets. It has a medium to full body with a well-balanced finish.

Contessa Gavi di Gavi (Italy), Non-Mevushal, $17—The first kosher Gavi. Floral and fruity notes, including hints of white flowers along with flavors such as green apple, citrus and minerality. This wine is funky!

The landscape of kosher wines has undergone a remarkable transformation, offering a diverse array of options to enhance the Passover experience. Whether you’re honoring tradition or simply savoring a well-crafted wine, many kosher-forPassover wines promise to elevate your seder table with richness, complexity and, above all, the spirit of celebration. PJC

Uriel Marcovitz is a former restaurateur in Pittsburgh. He studies wine with the Court of Master Sommelier and holds advanced-level sommelier status.

Twin Suns Pinot Noir (Lodi, California), Mevushal, $17.99: Not the usual area for pinot noir but purple in color with medium intensity. Fruity nose of raspberries, sweet cherries, spices, red candy and light black pepper. Fruit forward with a soft mouthfeel.

Photo via Pixabay Uriel Marcovitz

The staff and board of the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle wish all of our readers a meaningful Passover.


Torah Celebrations

Bar Mitzvah

Mason Northern Jones will celebrate becoming a bar mitzvah on April 20, 2024, at the Jewish Community Center. Mason will be surrounded by proud parents, Jenny and Chad Jones; his sister Ava; grandparents Pam and Bruce Silberman and Karen and Gary Jones; and his extended family and friends. Mason is a seventh grader at Community Day School. Mason is an athlete and plays all sports, but his main sport is baseball. His love for the game is truly magical to watch. When Mason isn’t playing sports, he loves being with his family and friends. Mason enjoys watching sports on TV and playing video games with his friends. Mason’s bar mitzvah project is collecting items for teen boys

Tuesday is primary election day in Pennsylvania. It will also mark the first day of Pesach.

Yes, voting was scheduled in our state to occur between the two seders.

as Jews. We remind him and ourselves that prior to the exodus from Egypt, he might have been forgotten and rejected, but not today.

Molly and Robert Zacharias of Edgewood are profoundly excited to announce the birth of their daughter Ruth Olive Zacharias. She was born at home in the early hours of Wednesday, March 27, 19 inches long and weighing in at 7 pounds. Her proud grandparents are Karen Kornblum of Pittsburgh, Neal Berntsen of Pittsburgh, and Emily and Dan Zacharias of Maplewood, New Jersey. Ruth’s great-grandparents Elizabeth Humes and Sylvan Kornblum, a Holocaust survivor, reside in La Ciotat, France.


With great pleasure, Nate and Jamie Bennett of Upper Saint Clair are happy to announce the marriage of their daughter Bailey to Phillip Gelman. Phillip is the son of Bruce and Dana Gelman of Squirrel Hill and grandson of the late Boris Gelman and the late Sylvia and Marvin Newman of White Oak, and the late Phillip and Marlene Harris of Squirrel Hill. Bailey is the granddaughter of the late Don and Judie Selig of Scott Township and the late Tilden Bennett of Presto, and Judy Spahr of Upper St Clair. Phillip is a special education teacher and finishing his master’s in special education through Penn West University. Bailey is a senior stylist at Philip Pelusi. The couple were married in November in Pittsburgh and reside in Upper Saint Clair. PJC

If you already voted with your absentee ballot, kudos to you! If you have not, then according to G-d’s Torah, commandments and Jewish tradition, you should abstain, as voting on this sacred day of Passover is prohibited.

Leviticus 23:6-7 explicitly states: “And on the fifteenth day of this (first) month a festival of Matzot shall be for G-d; On the first day it shall be for you a day you call sacred, and you shall do no work of labor.”

It’s ironic that some who claim to protect the rights of all peoples, especially minorities and the oppressed, find it acceptable to silence the vote of Jews throughout the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

And silenced we must be (if you did not already vote) on this day of Passover, for so does G-d command!

With the rise of antisemitism across the world and a war raging in Israel, one may ask: How can I stay silent, and how can we, as Jews, believe that silence at such a time is acceptable?

So let’s take a moment to stop and think. Were the framers of the Constitution trying to build a country where their own opinions would dominate the discourse or a place where the majority forces the submission of the minority? Or were they trying to give each person a voice and even a choice to stay silent that would be protected?

Extremists in both of the dominant political parties easily throw around the words “evil” and “wicked” about others. The vitriol and hatred are poisonous to America and civilization.

Some of these are the very people elected to protect our Constitution. Yet, to maintain their power or advance their agendas, they label others as wicked and evil, refuse to engage and worse, they try to cancel the voices and people they disagree with.

Think about the seders we will attend on Monday and Tuesday night, our nights of freedom as a Jewish people, and notice the difference. There, at the seder, we ensure that even the “evil” or “wicked” son joins us. His presence is vital to our holiday and our identity

Since the exodus and the giving of the Torah, each and every Jew is vital and celebrated by G-d and the Jewish people. Even those labeled as wicked must be at our seder, for they are an irreplaceable part of the Jewish people. Our celebration is not about the opinions voiced but rather the inherent value of being a Jew. They may choose to remain silent, and we will respect and value them, for our exodus from Egypt signifies the value that G-d places on each and every Jew individually. This is a true, G-d-given, inalienable right and voice.

The framers of the Constitution were probably trying to advance the ideas we celebrate at the seder, protecting each human being made in the image of G-d. But sadly this idea is being destroyed from within in the name of morality and self-righteousness.

So, if you haven’t already voted before Pesach, make the true and proper choice. Pass over your vote and vote with G-d. Eat some matzo and bitter herbs, spend time in shul, celebrate, and uplift your family and fellow Jew at a seder. Invite the “wicked” son and celebrate the gift that G-d has given each of us: true, endless and unlimited love and value.

Don’t trade your own values for a man-made political agenda. And please do not vote for anyone whose agenda and platforms claim to be so important that they can trample and suppress the G-d-given value of humans and other G-dly creations.

Vote for the rights and values that G-d has given you and you will be truly free. Free from the notion that it is constitutions and politicians that grant you rights or value; free from the poison of today’s political vitriol; free from the daily worries about negative influences in our world.

Free to declare that true value comes from G-d and not from man, for man will perish and change, but G-d’s value is eternal and true. I pray that the people of America will hear the vote of silence.

Have a kosher and joyous Passover and may we experience true freedom for all Jews the world over. PJC

Rabbi Elchonon Friedman is the spiritual leader of Bnai Emunoh Chabad. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabonim of Greater Pittsburgh.

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Passover, vote


ARONSON: Florence Moltz Aronson passed away surrounded by her loving family on Saturday evening, April 6, 2024, in Stamford, Connecticut. She was born on Aug. 25, 1925, and raised in Pittsburgh. She attended University of Pittsburgh. She worked in retail as a ladies buyer for Kaufmann’s department store and other various high-end specialty stores around the Pittsburgh area. In 2004, she moved to Stamford, Connecticut, to be closer to her daughter, son-in-law and grandsons. Florence was the daughter of the late Sara and Morris Moltz. She was a loving wife to the late Karl Aronson and a loving mother to the late Richard Aronson. She is survived by her daughter Maxine Freilich (Jay Freilich); her adored grandchildren, Gary Freilich (Danielle Hauser Freilich) and Brian Freilich (Nikki Reiner Freilich); and great-grandchildren, Andy Freilich and Benjamin Freilich. She had many friends and family members and was beloved by all of them. She will be dearly missed. Graveside services and interment were held at Ahavath Achim Cemetery. Contributions made be made to Stamford Jewish Community Center, 1035 Newfield Ave., Stamford, CT 06905, (stamfordjcc.org) or Wheel It Forward, 48 Union St., Stamford, CT 06906, (wheelitforwardUSA.org) or a charity of your choice. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. schugar.com

DAVIS: Barbara Ann Davis, on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. Beloved daughter of the late Daniel and Blanche Davis. Cousin of Helen Faye (late Ray) Rosenblum. Also survived by extended family. Barbara, fondly known as “Bubbly” to a wide and eclectic circle of friends, was educated at Taylor Allderdice High School, Brandeis and Yale universities, and through an unshakable commitment to many aspects of lifelong learning. She was a gifted musician and a devoted supporter of the many humanitarian causes in which she believed. Her loss will be deeply felt by her former colleagues at Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, and in the larger neighborhood of Pittsburgh, which was her beloved home. Graveside services and interment were held at Tiphereth Israel Cemetery. Contributions may be made to a charity of donor’s choice. schugar.com

LANE: Nicholas David Jeremy Lane died peacefully on Tuesday, April 9, 2024. Born in London in 1940, he was the son of Zena and Ben Lane. Educated at The Highgate School and Christ Church, Oxford, he qualified as a chartered accountant and worked in financial and internal audit functions at Associated British Foods and Rank Xerox UK. A voracious reader, inveterate world traveler, a collector of British surrealist and primitive art, as well as ancient Greek and Roman coins. But his passion from the time he was a teenager was collecting guide books and travel literature. In 1978, he moved to Pittsburgh with his wife and two children, where he worked in various enterprises with members of his wife’s family. He became active in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community, chairing the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee, the Community Relations Council of the United Jewish Federation and the Campaign for Soviet Jewry. He also served as chair of the board of Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle. For over a decade, he discussed the news on WTAE’s Shalom Pittsburgh. On a national level he was a trustee of the American Jewish Committee and The Claims Conference which represents the world’s Jews in negotiations for compensation and restitution for Holocaust survivors. Appointed by the presidents of Estonia and Lithuania, he was a member of their historical commissions to record the history of their countries during both the Nazi and Soviet occupations. He served on the board of directors of the Carnegie Library and Pittsburgh Arts and Lecture Series. He was a popular lecturer at both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University Osher programs for many years. He is survived by his beloved wife of 55 years, Eileen, his sister Trisha Usick of London, England, his son Adam (Rebecca Wolfe) of Boston and his grandchildren, Elliot, Naomi, Oskars, Alise and Tom. He was predeceased by his daughter Erica Lane-Tamuza (Kristaps Tamuzs of Riga, Latvia). He is also survived by his collection of travel guides maintained by the Rare Books and Special Collections of the University of Pittsburgh’s Library System. Services were held at Rodef Shalom Congregation. Interment West View Cemetery of Rodef Shalom Congregation. Contributions may be made to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, 2000 Technology Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 or for fellow books lovers, to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, 4400 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15213. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. schugar.com

LEVITT: Paula Benjamin Levitt, age 89 of Dayton, Ohio, passed away Thursday, April 11, 2024, embraced by the love of her family. She was born to Frank and Ida Benjamin on Jan. 25, 1935, in Boston. Paula was preceded in death by her husband, Marvin, of 64  years. Also survived by her three children, Mitchel (Patty) of Columbus, Ohio, Wayne (Ilise) of Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, and Lee (Karen) of Pittsburgh; five grandchildren whom she adored, Paul (Michelle), Nicholas, Alexandra, Sophie and Noah. Graveside service was held at the Beth Jacob Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be made to Koester Pavilion, Freedom Wing, 3232 N. County Road 25A, Troy, OH 45373. Glickler Funeral Home handling arrangements.

Please see Obituaries, page 28

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

Anonymous William Taper

Anonymous .Frances Light Feinberg

Ron & Larraine Bates .Dorothy L Fisher

Christine Dobrushin .Sheila Dobrushin

Richard Glick .William Glick

Lynne Gottesman & Debra Ritt .Esther Gottesman

Denise Kaiser .Bertha Kaiser

Lamfrom Family .Mervin B Feldman

Sylvia Pearl Plevin .Lee C Plevin

Sylvia Pearl Plevin .Betty Pearl

Mr & Mrs Arthur Pollock & Family Isadore Pollock

Mr & Mrs Arthur Pollock & Family Samuel Davidson

Rita Reese .Jacob Barniker

Richard, Mindy, & Logan Stadler Harry Saxen

Robert Rosenstein Ruth Rosenstein

Mena Shapiro Melvin Sherman Shapiro

Sunday April 21: Freda Berkovitz, Dr Albert B Berkowitz, Ida Cohen, Freda Gordon, Milton Kelsky, Rosa Klawansky, Esther Kramer, Rosalind Light Kraus, Isadore M Pollock, Ruth Rosenstein, Julius A Rudolph, Jacob Segal, Leonard Herbert Shiner, Mel Weinberg, Meyer Young, Helen Zeff

Monday April 22: George Apple, Sam Astrov, Morris A Berman, Gerda Bloch, Nathan Breakstone, Dorothy L Fisher, Bennie Ginsburg, David Philip Gold, Morris H Goldenson, Saul Katz, Louis K Landau, Sara Gluck Lewinter, Abe Mallinger, Jan Steuer Mandell, Eva Perlow, William Wolf Shamberg, Ida R Thompson

Tuesday April 23: Jacob Barniker, Gary Allen Braunstein, Rubin Dafner, Ida Dobkin, William Glick, Esther Gottesman, Sara R Levy, Louis Nathan Morris, Rose Myers, Harry Saxen, Rebecca Schulman, Melvin Sherman Shapiro, Libby Sherman, George Simon, Freeda Solomon, Robert Charles Solomon

Wednesday April 24: Rae E Abady, J Bernard Block, Cernie Caplan, Sol Fox, Philip Hanauer Sr ., Herbert E Hirsh, E Abe Keizler, Samuel L Krauss, Edith Tanzer Levendorf, Luella Mattes, Louis N Miller, Esther Unitan, Harry Weisberger, Aaron Weiss

Thursday April 25: Bertram I Adler, Pearl Braun, Louis Cohen, Joseph Cooper, Samuel Davidson, Adolph Edlis, Erwin R Glick, Bernard Gold, Saul Goldberg, Mildred Winer Grossman, Flora Klein, Jennie Peetler Kliman, Julius Lebovitz, Sophie Ida Meyers, Oscar Radin, Sadie Reznik, Marcus P Rose, Ben Rothman, Jacob C Tanur, Dora C Weiss, Mollie Weiss, Mary Zoni

Friday April 26: Harry Ellanovitz, Jennie Friedman, Bertha Kaiser, Phillip K Landau, Dr Edwin Sheldon Protas, Hannah R Rubinoff, William Taper, Norman Weinberg, Helen Jaffe Wolk

Saturday April 27: Fannie Ackerman, Harry Birnbaum, Julius H Cohen, Ben Fleischer, Anne M Flitman, Lillian H Goldfield, Edward L Gordon, Rachel Haltman, Sidney Lawrence, Jack Lundy, Fannie Pollock, Herman Aaron Rosenblum, Jacob Rubenstein, Matilda S Strauss, Ferd N Taub, Rose Tick, Bessie Rebecca Traub

Contact the Development department at 412-586-2690 or development@jaapgh.org for more information. THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS — The Original Our Only Location At 2145 BRIGHTON ROAD • PITTSBURGH, PA 15212 • 412-321-2235 Serving the Jewish Community Since 1924 Jeff Weinberg, M. ED, M.PH, NHA National Certified Health Care Advocate author of Emperor Needs New Clothes: Or Why The Caring Disappeared from Health Care 412-952-6944 jeff@caregiverchampionadvocate.com Wishing You a Happy and Joyous Passover Praying for the Release of the Hostages

Chag Semeach Wishing all a Happy Passover

Continued from page 27

SMOLOVER: Anita Stewart Lopatin Smolover. Three surnames that each evoke different phases of her life. She was 98 on March 9, and died peacefully of natural causes on Saturday, April 13, 2024. Anita Stewart was the eldest of three daughters (Anita, Marilyn Laufe [deceased] and Sondra Reiff, Carbondale, Colorado) of Charles “Benny” and Esther Stewart. Anita was born in Beechview then moved to Squirrel Hill where she attended Taylor Allderdice High School, and then graduated with a BFA in music education from Carnegie Tech. Aside from her role as camp counselor at Emma Farm, she began her career as band director and music teacher at Braddock Elementary School, then moved on to become a nursery school teacher and nursery school director at the Irene Kaufmann Settlement, (corner of Stanton and Negley in the East End), prior to which she married Milton Lopatin (deceased), her college sweetheart. (Up until her death there were many of you who had stopped her on Murray Avenue to say “Mrs. Lopatin, Mrs. Lopatin, you taught me in nursery school.”) Anita’s tenure as nursery school teacher evolved into program director for the facility and advanced further as the IKC was absorbed by the Pittsburgh JCC. She moved on to the Squirrel Hill JCC location and advanced her position to citywide director of early childhood programming. She also oversaw the James and Rachel Levinson Day Camp and Swim Club in Monroeville. As her administrative skills grew, in 1972 she was tapped to become assistant executive director of the Pittsburgh JCC and moved to the YM&WHA building in Oakland, a position that few women in this country had achieved. Anita was responsible for total day-to-day operations for five JCC facilities. She served the Pittsburgh Jewish community for 43 years then retired when there was nowhere else to go, as she was passed over for executive director for being a woman and for not having a degree in social work. Though she certainly did know her job. Retirement was really not in Anita’s vocabulary. I caught her selling Hawaiian plants at the Pittsburgh Flower & Garden Show the following spring. Not long afterward she was approached by Marilyn May of the May Co. (owner of Kaufmann’s department store) to establish a Pittsburgh chapter of OASIS (Older Adult Services and Information Systems) in Kaufmann’s downtown location. Anita opened the Pittsburgh program with three members and proceeded to grow it to an astounding 36,000-plus membership, the largest in the country. From the OASIS offices on the 10th floor of Kaufmann’s she ran programming and established a computer center for Pittsburgh’s older adults to learn computer skills. It was during this time that Milton, suffering from mental illness, took his life. Though devastated, Anita picked herself up and continued to focus on her life at OASIS. In time, Anita realized that she didn’t like living alone, and began to date at age 70. She met and fell in love with Albert “Al” Smolover. They were married in 1997. Anita finally did retire when Al lost his eyesight due to macular degeneration. For 14 years they were an inseparable couple. She became the “eyes” for both of them as they walked hand-in-hand, shoulder-to-shoulder to parties, symphonies, synagogue and Osher classes. Al passed suddenly in 2013. Anita remained in her apartment until 2018 when she moved to JAA Weinberg Terrace and had been a cheerful, bright light there since. She is survived by her son William “Billy” Lopatin (Rebecca Litman), six grandchildren (two Lopatins, four Bachs), 12 great-grandchildren and numerous members of the Smolover family. Her daughter, Jody Lynn Bach, died unexpectedly of COVID in 2021. During her lifetime Anita received numerous awards and accolades from mayors, governors, congressmen, community organizations, religious institutions and universities. Anita dedicated her life to community service and to the caring of others. Her memory will remain not only a fixture in the Jewish community of Pittsburgh, but also to the 36,000-plus older adults who’s lives she touched in her service to OASIS throughout the community of Greater Pittsburgh. Graveside services and interment were held at Beth Shalom Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the Jewish Association on Aging, 200 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. schugar.com

SURLOFF: Helen Audrey (Rauch) Surloff, age 105, died peacefully on Saturday, April 6, 2024, after complications from a fall. Cherished wife of the late Milton Surloff for 65 years. Loving mother of Shelley (late Russell) Hilton and grandmother of Nicholas (Maria) Hilton. Also survived by nieces, nephews, cousins and their children. Helen was born in South Fork, Pennsylvania, to parents Abram and Rose Meyers Rauch and grew up with siblings Victor Rauch and Maxine (Edward) Kaplan, both deceased. The family moved to Pittsburgh during the Depression. Helen has outlived everyone in her extended Rauch family, including relatives from Europe and the U.S. She worked as a buyer in downtown Kaufmann’s department store and later in life as a manager for Kaufmann’s in Mt. Lebanon near her home. Helen was a member of various Jewish organizations and Temple Emanuel of South Hills for many years. She also was a breast cancer survivor, twice. Helen will be deeply missed in this life, but now has been reunited with her husband as well as family and friends. Services were held on Wednesday, April 10, at William Slater II Funeral Service (412-563-2800) 1650 Greentree Road, Scott Township, 15220. Burial in Mount Lebanon Cemetery. Contributions may be made to a charity of your choice. slaterfuneral.com PJC

Ryave Brody Family and the entire staff of Ralph Schugar Chapel
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Life & Culture

A new take on ‘Company’ comes to the Benedum

Matthew Rodin’s wedding day evolved into an ironic example of life imitating art — or was it art imitating life?

Shortly after the New York-based actor and his husband stomped on a glass celebrating their vows in Central Park, Rodin headed to a final callback for the featured role of “Jamie” — a gay man on the verge of marriage — in the national revival tour of Stephen Sondheim’s “Company.”

“On Monday, July 3, we were married in Central Park with our two families and four of our closest friends,” Rodin said, speaking from Boston where “Company” was performing before heading to Pittsburgh. “We all stood in a circle. Everybody got to speak. My grandmother was there, and she gave a blessing over the glass that we got to step on. And that happened at 11 a.m. And then at 2 p.m., I had my final callback for this tour. And I got to sing ‘(Not) Getting Married’ on my wedding day.”

He got the role — no doubt in part due to the authenticity embedded in his audition.

“It was absolutely insane and incredibly special, and it did feel bashert,” Rodin said. “And now I get to sort of relive a part of my wedding day eight times a week.”

Rodin, who was raised in Chicago — his

“It was such a big turn for me in terms of faith and understanding that there’s something greater at play here, and there is some sort of higher power that’s working for me,” he said. “Because I if I was writing a movie or a TV show, I would never have even written that into the show because it seems too ridiculous. ... I really do feel, in the whole sense of the word, blessed about the way that the whole thing played out.”

While it hasn’t been easy being separated from his husband during their first year of

with me. I have pictures up of the wedding day in my dressing rooms and it’s really, really special.”

While the show employs several gender switches, its lyrics by Sondheim and its book by George Furth remain largely intact.

The show is “so strong,” Rodin said, “that they really didn’t have to change much of the material in order to make it relevant to today’s audience.”

For some of the couples portrayed, the genders aren’t switched but their lines are, so

that the male is assigned the lines originally written for the female and vice versa.

The swaps, Rodin said, “create just a sort of different dynamic and it shines a light on how far we’ve come in terms of the way that we understand gender roles and partnerships, and what each of those people play in each of those companionships or marriages. And it’s been fun.”

As for the character of Jamie, Rodin is thrilled to play a queer character drawn with so much nuance.

Jamie, Rodin said, “is not the sort of one-note, comedic character. And he’s not overdramatized. You know, I think in society, we’ve had the sort of Cam and Mitch of ‘Modern Family.’ We’ve had the ‘Call Me by Your Name,’ tortured young, queer person. And I feel like this falls somewhere in the middle. You sort of get to see all the sides of [Jamie]. And for me as an actor, that’s like the biggest gift because I get to play a real human being having a real human experience — which I have to say, as someone who also has recently married, I know the feeling of that fear that comes up when it’s time to commit to a single person.”

While Rodin said he was a “huge fan” of the original piece, the revival “brings this story to a whole new audience, a whole new generation.” PJC

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

 Matt Rodin and Ali Louis Bourzgui in “Company” Photo by Matthew Murphy for MurphyMade


Still noshing

The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle presented Big Nosh, a Jewish and Israeli food festival, on April 7-8. The two-day affair welcomed more than 3,000 people. Attendees enjoyed dancing, live music and delicious kosher cuisine, while learning more about the local Jewish community. Big Nosh supported the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

ZOA: Pittsburgh Scholarships Awarded

Established in 1962, the Zionist Organization of America: Pittsburgh’s Scholarship to Israel Program enables local Jewish teenagers to attend structured, summer trips to Israel. Applicants are judged on their activities, Jewish and secular, volunteerism, and essay on “What the State of Israel and Zionism means to me.” Scholarships are awarded with funding from endowments established by Avraham and Patti Anouchi; Harold and Marla Scheinman; the late Thelma Esman; the late Bernard and Esther Klionsky; and the Novick family, in loving memory of the late Ivan and Natalie Novick. Ivan Novick was a past national president of ZOA. This year, $1,000 scholarships were awarded to Mendel Eisenberg, Azi Knoll and Sima Reinherz.

p Azi Knoll will participate in Bnei Akiva’s Mach Hach BaAretz, a summer touring program. Within his essay to ZOA, Knoll addressed his family’s connection to the Jewish state: “When Hitler came to power my great-saba realized that things were going to get worse. He decided to move to Israel, pleaded with his family to do the same. His parents and most of his family were killed by the Nazis.”

p Food and friendship is a perfect pairing. p Clarinet and klezmer music keep it cool. Photos by Renee Rosensteel p

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