Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle 5-24-24

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Antisemitic, anti-Israel incidents continue to plague Pittsburgh

Avariety of antisemitic and antiIsrael incidents continued last week in Pittsburgh.

On May 13, an individual was caught stealing “I Stand With Israel” signs from yards in Squirrel Hill.

Molly Braver was outside doing chores when she noticed a white truck parking near her home. The driver got out and walked into her neighbor’s yard, took their sign and started to walk away.

“I said to the guy, ‘What are you doing? You’re not allowed to take that,’” Braver said.

“‘You do not have permission.’ He was like, ‘You support genocide.’”

Once the thief left the scene, Braver posted the incident to the Facebook group Jewish Pittsburgh to alert others.

Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said that the individual was identified and charged, thanks to Braver’s work.

“We believe he was strategically targeting yards that had these signs,” Brokos said. “It seemed like he knew exactly where to go. He pulled right up to these homes, got out and pulled out the sign. I do believe he had done some prior reconnaissance.”

Another sign in the neighborhood was defaced, with the word “Israel” scribbled over and replaced by the word “Slaughter.”

Celebrated forensic pathologist Cyril Wecht

Cyril Wecht, a famed pathologist, political powerhouse, author, Zionist, husband, father and devoted Pittsburgher, died on May 13. He was 93.

Born March 20, 1931, to Jewish immigrants Nathan Wecht and Fannie Rubenstein, Wecht was raised in Bobtown, McKees Rocks and then the Lower Hill District, where his father opened a grocery store. He attended Fifth Avenue High School, graduating as class valedictorian, before attending the University of Pittsburgh. At college, he was president of Phi Epsilon Pi fraternity, concertmaster of Pitt’s orchestra, business manager of the Pitt News and president of the YMCA.

Braver and her boyfriend engaged the would-be sign thief in a loud and heated argument that drew the attention of their neighbor, who came outside and told the man he didn’t have permission to take their sign.

The criminal eventually left but not before Braver took his picture and noted his license plate number. Her boyfriend noticed other lawn signs in the back of his truck.

A skull was drawn on top of the sign’s Star of David. It is not known if there is a connection between that incident and the signs that were stolen.

Brokos said the incidents illustrate why Federation has created a Virtual Block Watch Program.

Those participating in the voluntary

Wecht graduated from Pitt with a Bachelor of Science degree and then from its School of Medicine. After graduation, he joined the Air Force. It was while serving as a captain that he met his wife, Sigrid. The pair had four children: David, Daniel, Benjamin and Ingrid.

The future medical examiner next spent time in Baltimore, attending the University of Maryland School of Law and earning a juris doctor degree while working in the medical examiner’s office. The family eventually returned to Pittsburgh, where

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candidate for Congress,
Everyone deserves a “Second Chance” Highlighting the humanity through photos
Page 16 Please see Wecht, page 8 Please see Antisemitism, page 6 May 24, 2024 | 16 Iyar 5784 Candlelighting 8:20 p.m. | Havdalah 9:27 p.m. | Vol. 67, No. 21 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org $2
The Branch seeks to destigmatize mental illness
dies at 93
 Dr. Cyril Wecht Photo provided by Ben Wecht  A small group gathered to protest the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Yom Ha’atzmaut event. Photo by Jim Busis


Republican James Hayes looks to unseat Rep. Summer Lee

this November

James Hayes believes Pennsylvania’s 12th Congressional District needs a change.

Hayes is the Republican challenger taking on incumbent Summer Lee, a Democrat, in November’s general election for the House seat that represents Squirrel Hill and stretches from Bethel Park to the Mon Valley, Plum to Jefferson Hills and parts of Westmoreland County.

“We don’t have really good representation right now,” Hayes said.

Whether it’s crime in the region, attacks on the energy industry, job growth or education and school choice, Hayes thinks Lee is on the wrong side of the issue.

“I’m especially concerned about the crime issue,” he said, noting that his son was a victim of gun violence.

“I lost a son a little over a year ago. He was gunned down in the parking lot of his apartment building in New Kensington,” Hayes said. “That was my ‘John Wick’ moment, if you will — when I lost my son. That’s really why I’m in the race.”

The day before his interview with the Chronicle, the candidate noted, a shooting occurred in Squirrel Hill in broad daylight and near Community Day School, where his wife works as a teacher. (Law enforcement officials determined that the shooting was not targeted at CDS and that there were no known associated security risks to the Jewish community.)

The Republican hopeful believes that, if elected, there are several areas where he can make a difference in crime, which he said is largely a local issue.

The first area is congressional oversight and appropriation.

“We hear a lot of noise out of the DOJ about how they’re practicing selective prosecuting,”

Hayes said. “They’re putting police departments under pressure because the departments want to keep crime under control and they’re scrutinizing it.”

As a congressman, Hayes said he can help make sure that law enforcement isn’t being undermined federally and that police can do their jobs to keep their communities safe. He said he’ll work to ensure that any legislation introduced as criminal reform won’t favor the criminal over the victim.

He believes it is important that police have the resources they need to do their jobs.

One of his goals will be to ensure there are funds to reopen the Shuman Juvenile Detention Center, which has been shuttered for nearly three years. As a result, Hayes said, young offenders are put back on the street where they can commit more crimes.

“We need to have a place for young people to be rehabilitated and keep them away from the community until they have turned their life around,” he said.

Hayes is a newcomer to politics. Born in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, he has a bachelor’s in international economics from Georgetown

University, a master’s in economics and policy from Princeton University, an MBA in finance and accounting from the University of Chicago and a doctorate in business administration from Case Western Reserve University.

He worked at Bankers Trust, now Deutsche Bank, before heading to the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. After moving to Pittsburgh, he worked at Westinghouse Air Brake Technologies Corp. in Turtle Creek.

The 62-year-old lives in Shadyside with his wife, Brenda, to whom he has been married for 28 years. He has a daughter, Courtney, from a prior marriage, and three children from his current marriage: Brenda Theresa, Angela and Jocelyn.

Hayes’ politics tread close to typical conservative viewpoints.

He supports school choice. As a child, he started his education in a school district that wasn’t working for him, and his family worked to save enough money to buy a house in a better district. Hayes believes that if he had stayed in his original school district, his future would have been completely different.

“I absolutely endorse the idea of letting the money follow the child,” he said. “People say it will be the end of public school. I don’t believe that at all. It will create competition, and I think all schools will get better.”

Hayes said he’s pro-life but believes that abortion laws should be decided by each state.

“I absolutely do not support a national ban,” he said. “I promise to be a firm ‘no’ vote on any national ban.”

As for how the government can help the economy, Hayes believes it starts with energy. He said that President Biden has signed close to 100 executive orders “attacking the energy industry.”

“When you attack energy, you drive up prices across the board, you make the supply chain more expensive, so it’s more expensive


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to get things to you, [it] makes imports more expensive, so it’s more expensive to manufacture things. So, that drives inflation,” he said.

He isn’t a fan of Biden’s infrastructure bill, either, blaming it for creating “runaway pricing.” The president’s policies, introduced in the beginning of his term, are still dr iving up prices and creating higher inflation, Hayes said.

Despite believing in free trade, Hayes agrees with the Biden administration on the new tariffs enacted on China.

“China is a serial abuser of fair trade,” he said. “They clamor for it when it works for them and rail against it when it goes against them.”

Hayes said he knows who’s at the top of the Republican ticket this fall, and that it’s time for change in America.

“You look at the border, our economy, the attacks on the energy industry, our loss of standing in the world. Who doesn’t want America to be great? Democrats want America to be great, independents want America to be great, Republicans want America to be great. Do I want a strong America? I absolutely do,” he said.

As for Israel’s war with the terrorist group Hamas, Hayes said he is a staunch supporter of the Jewish state.

“I absolutely support Israel,” he said. “I think Israel is one of our strongest allies in the world, certainly our strongest ally in the Middle East. It’s a thriving democracy and pluralistic society, no matter how people try to make it out.”

Hamas, he said, broke a cease-fire on Oct. 7.

“It’s unconscionable that people are supporting them,” he said.

Hayes opposes the BDS (boycott, divest sanction) movement against Israel and noted the plethora of innovation that comes out of the Jewish state.

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p Republican challenger James Hayes believes he can unseat Rep. Summer Lee in Pennsylvania’s 12 District. Photo by David Rullo Please see Hayes, page 9


Lest any confusion stem from Rabbi Hindy Finman’s lengthy new title, the senior director of Jewish life and director of the Center for Loving Kindness and Civic Engagement at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh has an unmistakable approach.

“My door is open,” she said. “You have a seat at the table.”

Finman is looking forward to assuming the role previously held by Rabbi Ron Symons, who will move to the New York City area next month.

“I am so excited and eager to meet people, and learn about their love for Pittsburgh and their hopes and dreams of Jewish life in Pittsburgh,” she said.

Finman is now in Boston, where she’s slated to receive ordination from Hebrew College on June 2. Last week, she visited Pittsburgh to meet colleagues, speak with community partners and find a place to live.

Having spent much of her adulthood in Massachusetts pursuing the rabbinate and in Colorado helping launch the BaMidbar Wilderness therapy program, she found Pittsburgh presented countless surprises.

Meetings with community members, nonprofit leaders and future partners confirmed that “people just want to get back together and continue the work, or address new things that have come up since COVID.” That heightened excitement and energy is “my love language,” she said.

Finman is intent on building but isn’t fixated on numbers. She said she wants to meet “the needs of the people where they’re at” rather than “just pushing an organization’s agenda of wanting to hit 300 people by this date or raising this amount of dollars.”

Benchmarks are “great internally,” she said, but the better approach is rabbinic. Following a divine lead requires “interfaith collaboration, Jew and Jew collaboration, and denominational collaboration. I think there’s so much

Finman is committed to casting a wide net, but said it’s imperative to reach a particular “There’s a gap in our Jewish community of providing services for young adults and teens who do not fit your typical camp mold,” she said. “Summer camp is great — I love summer camp — but that’s a two-month experience. So throughout the 10 months of the year, how can the Center for Loving Kindness

The new hire credited several “amazing organizations” that work with Pittsburgh youth before asking, “How can we all do that together?”

As the “new kid on the block,” Finman stressed she isn’t seeking to implement “radical” changes immediately, but hopes several questions will be addressed: “What works? What definitely doesn’t work? What might not work because it just hasn’t been reviewed enough or been creative enough? If there was no budget what would we do? And, working within a budget, where do we see the gaps?”

Finman is convinced the JCC and its Center for Loving Kindness can plug various cavities

but eschewed specifics.

“Come back to me in a year, and we’ll see what happened and what still needs to happen,” she said.

Too often, Finman said, the desire to enter a space and create anew denies a thorough review of one’s surroundings.

“If something’s working, let’s keep doing it,” she said. “Let’s keep going and celebrate the things that are working. And that seems to be — because there are teens walking through our doors.”

Finman’s communal and rabbinic approach is shaped by decades of Jewish experience.

“I grew up Chabad,” she said. “My dad’s a Hasidic rabbi and my mom’s very much the rebbetzin. I’m one of seven. They have a Chabad house just outside of Detroit in Ferndale, Michigan, which is sort of the queer neighborhood of Detroit.”

Finman called her parents’ home a refuge to “everybody who is the guy living in his car to the dean of a college.”

What every guest will find is “a seat at the table,” she said. “Jewish, not Jewish, in the process of converting, trans, straight, you name it, they’re at the table. And they’re all completely wonderful, lovely people.”

From the moment of her birth in Australia — where Finman’s parents were shlichim

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doors and substantive Jewish learning signal start of Rabbi Hindy Finman’s tenure at JCC
Please see Finman, page 4
Rabbi Hindy Finman Photo by Adam Reinherz


A ‘Second Chance’: Aleph Institute symposium highlights compassion for the incarcerated

In prison, there are only two days, goes the refrain: the day you go in and the day you go out.

But between those days, an interim exists, and that chapter deserves focus, explained Rabbi Moshe Mayir Vogel, executive director of Aleph Institute – North East Region.

For 33 years, the Squirrel Hill resident has aided inmates and those released from incarceration. Through spiritual guidance and numerous programs Vogel and Aleph have reduced recidivism.

On Sunday, those efforts continued as chaplains, volunteers and correctional officers gathered at the institute for a “Second Chance” symposium.

Antisemitism in the prisons was addressed, but the overarching message, Vogel said, is that “human beings deserve a second chance and need to be taken out of their cells for certain moments and heard by another person.”

Chaplaincy is hailed as a counter to criminal relapse. Nearly two-thirds (64.7%) of individuals were “re-arrested or re-incarcerated within three years of release,” according to a 2022 report from Pennsylvania’s Department of Corrections. Nationwide, the rate is significantly higher. The U.S. Department of Justice reported that 82% of people released from state prisons in 2008 were arrested at least once in the decade following.

Individuals who work with Aleph, or similar institutions, experience far less recidivism.

“Traditionally, we are at 8% for the same time frame,” Vogel said.

Marshall Dayan, a retired federal public defender and the president of Pennsylvanians Against the Death Penalty, praised Aleph’s work. A recidivism rate of 8% is “remarkable,” he said. “That tells us that no one is irredeemable.”

The Highland Park resident, who collaborates with the Squirrel Hill-based organization, was the symposium’s keynote speaker.

T here’s an emphasis throughout the institute’s work that “we’re all created B’tzelem Elohim (in the image of God),” Dayan said. “We are commanded to engage in being partners with Hashem, in creating the kind of universe that we all want to live in.”


Continued from page 3

(religious emissaries) — exposure to “extreme radical hospitality” has been foundational, she said. “I have an extreme amount of gratitude for my parents for instilling those values in us very, very young.”

One way of paying homage is by calling herself a “Hasidic feminist.”

The term means personalizing “foundational” materials, she said. “Not just assuming what’s on the page is to be taken for granted but really looking back at biblical texts, Talmudic texts and then the Hasidic texts, while also keeping in mind my love for history.”

Issues espoused generations ago remain

Even those who’ve committed heinous acts have “some role to play,” he said. “My tradition taught me that we believe in teshuva (repentance) and everyone has an opportunity to turn from evil and do good.”

Dayan was introduced to those concepts almost 45 years ago as a junior at the University of Georgia. At the time, the Peach State had announced it would carry out its first execution in nearly 20 years.

“I thought to myself, ‘Well, in a democratic society, if my state is going to be killing somebody, that means that I’m going to be killing somebody because we all are the government,’” he said.

Dayan reflected on capital punishment, jurisprudence and his role as a tax-paying citizen. He committed to attending law school and arrived at Antioch School of Law in Washington, D.C., intent on following a particular path.

“I focused as much of my legal education as I could on criminal defense and capital defense,” he said.

After graduating, Dayan joined a small D.C. firm and represented Virginia and Florida death row inmates on a pro bono basis. He became a staff attorney for the North Carolina Death Penalty Resource Center. After almost a decade with the center and the North Carolina Office of the Appellate Defender, he entered private practice in Durham, North Carolina.

Dayan focused on capital litigation at all stages from trial through post-conviction. He became a visiting professor of constitutional law at North Carolina Central University

relevant, Finman explained.

Being a “Hasidic feminist” means scouring Jewish sources and asking, “Is this an inclusive text or not? If it isn’t an inclusive text, how can we make it inclusive? And if it already is inclusive, great. Then make a big pot of chicken soup and invite everybody over for Shabbat dinner.”

Finman is unabashedly deliberate in who she is and what she wants to accomplish.

Her JCC-issued name tag says “Rabbi Hindy.”

“Having the word ‘rabbi’ was very intentional,” she said.

Hearing that title should “open up people’s eyes,” the rabbi continued. “I don’t wear a kippah, and I don’t wear a collar.”

Holding this position requires “constantly asking who’s not at the table, and why has our

School of Law — a Historically Black Colleges and Universities law school — and later served as an assistant professor of law for six years.

In 2006, Dayan joined the national ACLU Capital Punishment Project but only stayed a year.

“It was strictly public education and advocacy, and what I found was that as much as I liked doing that — and I do like doing it, and still do it now as president of Pennsylvanians Against the Death Penalty — I really missed litigating,” he said.

Dayan found an opening at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Pittsburgh in the Capital Habeas unit. A lifelong Steelers fan, Dayan was thrilled to be hired. He and his wife moved to the city in 2007 and “have been here ever since,” he said.

Vogel called Dayan an asset and “an ear” to Aleph and the larger region.

“Marshall has been an advocate for those people on death row for over 40 years,” Vogel said. He recognizes that “individuals who have or may have done terrible wrongs are still human beings and they deserve compassion.”

According to the American Bar Association, as of 2022, 128 people are on death row in Pennsylvania, a small fraction of the commonwealth’s more than 36,000 inmates.

A moratorium on executions in Pennsylvania has been in place since 2015.

Vogel said Aleph serves both Jews and non-Jews; the former, which are spread across state and federal correction centers, total approximately 1,000.

Both Vogel and Dayan refuse to give up

tradition not allowed them at the table,” she said.

Being a rabbi also demands involvement in substantive Jewish learning.

“I love text-based learning. Not everybody loves text-based learning, so sometimes it’s just learning by being a role model and learning by example,” she said.

Weeks remain until Finman begins her Pittsburgh tenure.

Jason Kunzman, the JCC’s president and CEO, cannot wait.

“We are on the cusp of redefining Jewish engagement — of which Jewish learning is a part of. Hindy brings with her this innate ability to turn things upside down and inside out, and make sense of it all in a very Jewish way,” he said. “We’re going to shake it up. We’re

on any of the incarcerated or released. t’s a commitment that was espoused by Vogel’s mentor, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, enachem Mendel Schneerson.

“One of the goals of the prison system is to help Jewish inmates and non-Jewish inmates — who are required to keep the Noahide laws — to raise up their spirits, and to encourage them, providing the sense to the degree possible, they are just as human as those that are free, just as human as the prison guards. In this way they can be empowered to improve,” Schneerson told followers in March 1976.

People are often mistaken about prison life, Dayan said.

“Incarceration is awful. Imagine never getting to decide for oneself what time to get up, what time to turn on the light, what time to turn off the light, what time to eat, what time to go outside, what time to shower, what time to exercise, what time to pray, who you can pray with,” he said. “Every single decision that human beings make on a regular basis is taken out of your hands when you’re incarcerated.”

The reality of prison makes chaplaincy indispensable, Dayan continued.

“These professionals “bring a sense of spirituality, inner peace, to people for whom that’s very hard,” he said

“Because people are so confined, and their lives are so directed, and they have so little freedom, and they have so little contact with the outside world, it really dehumanizes them,” he continued. “I’m not suggesting that, therefore, we should do away with prisons. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying it is a punishment, but no one should be misguided to think that anybody who’s incarcerated has anything great. It’s a miserable, miserable, miserable way to live.”

The symposium, and Aleph’s work, remind chaplains and others that individuals are not only created in the image of God but “most of the people who are incarcerated will become members of society again outside of prison walls,” Dayan said. “Let’s do everything that we can to help get them ready to be back out on the streets in a productive and loving way. We can’t abandon them. We can’t abandon them in terms of training them spiritually, economically, vocationally — all of those things are necessary elements of being productive members of society.” PJC

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

going to do it meaningfully and in a way that we hope will resonate with as many of our neighbors, both Jewish and non-Jewish.”

Finman can’t imagine any other approach.

“I don’t want the word ‘senior’ to ever scare anybody away. I don’t want the word ‘rabbi’ to ever scare anybody away. I don’t want the fact that I’m a woman in a rabbinic role to scare anybody away,” she said.

Change is often met with fear, but Finman hopes that people see the goal.

“This open door policy means let’s meet, let’s chat, let’s go for a walk, let’s go for coffee and nothing they can say will deter me from wanting to show up again,” she said. PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

p Rabbi Moshe Mayir Vogel Photo courtesy of Rabbi Moshe Mayir Vogel p Marshall Dayan, right, greets client Noel Montalvo, who was exonerated 20 years after being sent to death row. Photo courtesy of Marshall Dayan

Headlines Calendar

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


Join Congregation Beth Shalom and Tiferet Project for seven weekly yoga sessions in the Zweig Library that explore the week-by-week countdown from Passover to Shavuot. The countdown links the freedom and liberation of Passover with the revelation and responsibility of Shavuot. 10 a.m. 5915 Beacon St. bethshalompgh.org/tiferetyoga.

 SUNDAYS MAY 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.


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.


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

 WEDNESDAYS, MAY 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.


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.


Join the Jewish Genealogy Society of Pittsburgh for Jewish Genealogy Day as Lara Diamond leads two dynamic sessions on Jewish genealogy: "Jewish Genealogy 101” and “Defying Expectations: The Story of Jewish Woman Who Took on the Russian Empire.” Sessions begin at 10:30 a.m. $10/$18. Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St. heinzhistorycenter.org/event/jewish-genealogy-day.


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 the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh for Tikkun Leil Shavuot, its annual night of Jewish learning featuring well-known rabbis and speakers, plus cheesecake and co ee. 10 p.m. JCC of Greater Pittsburgh, 5723 Darlington Road. No registration required. For more information on the speakers and topics, visit jewishpgh.org/occasion/tikkun.

 WEDNESDAYS, 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 thoughtprovoking, with tools to help build strong relationships and family unity. Free. 12:30 p.m. PJC

Author Lauren Grodstein to join Chronicle Book Club on June 9

How and When:

We will meet on Zoom on Sunday, June 9, 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.

Pittsburgh synagogue shooter’s motion for new trial denied

Federal Judge Robert Colville rejected a motion for acquittal and for a new trial filed by the man convicted of killing 11 worshippers in the Tree of Life building on Oct. 27, 2018. The shooter was found guilty in June on all 63 counts against him, including federal hate crimes. In August, a unanimous jury recommended, and the court imposed, the death penalty.

The shooter murdered members of three congregations: Dor Hadash, New Light and Tree of Life * Or L’Simcha. Those killed were Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil and David Rosenthal, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Dan Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger. Congregants Andrea Wedner and Daniel Leger were seriously wounded, as were several police officers.

In his motion for acquittal and a new trial, filed in November, the defendant argued that the government did not present sufficient evidence to establish that he specifically intended to obstruct each victim’s right to the free enjoyment of religion.

The court rejected that argument, writing: “Defendant planned his attack for months, espoused repugnant beliefs about Jews and Judaism on the internet and eventually told those arresting him

‘that all Jews need to die.’ The Government has effectively summarized [in its brief] the evidence introduced at trial as to the Defendant’s intent on the day in question.

“It is beyond question that the Jury was presented with sufficient evidence to support its finding beyond a reasonable doubt that Defendant specifically intended to obstruct each victim in the enjoyment of that victim’s free exercise of religious beliefs on October 27, 2018.”

The defense also argued that some of the prospective jurors dismissed during the selection process were improperly rejected because of their race. The shooter’s attorneys wrote in their motion that they did not have enough time to properly challenge those prospective jurors’ exclusion.

Colville rejected that argument, writing that the government had already provided to the court “race-neutral bases for its peremptory strikes,” that “those bases were credible,” and that the defendant “has come up well short of his burden of establishing purposeful discrimination.”

The defendant will most likely file an appeal in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals on these same issues. Appeals are standard in death penalty cases. PJC

The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle invites you to Zoom into the Chronicle Book Club for its June 9 discussion of “We Must Not Think of Ourselves,” by Lauren Grodstein. The author will join us for the meeting!

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

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

Happy reading! PJC — Toby Tabachnick

 Lauren Grodstein Photo by Rosie Simmons



Continued from page 1

program register their address and then, if a crime against the Jewish community is committed, Federation will reach out and ask the participants to provide camera coverage from the time of the criminal activity.

“The whole notion is to expedite obtaining video evidence if something has happened,” Brokos explained. “A lot of times, police have to go door-to-door in a neighborhood canvas. This will expedite the response time because we’ll know who has camera coverage and is willing to share that information.”

Decals that can be affixed to doors or windows are distributed to people participating in the program.

Those interested in learning more or joining the program can do so at jewishpgh. org/info/virtual-block-watch.

Antisemitic flyers

Shadyside residents were targeted with antisemitic flyers placed on their cars on May 18.

A Jewish resident said that she first noticed the flyers — distributed by a known white supremacist group — when a couple stopped and pulled one off a parked car.

“I heard them talking and they said, ‘Jewish’ and ‘What’s going on?’ They took the flyer and left.”

The resident said she saw and removed flyers on cars parked near Walnut Street.

“I took one off and it said, ‘Free Palestine.’ I looked through it and realized these were highly antisemitic flyers, and I was completely outraged.”

Another flyer had the headline “Every single aspect of USA politics is Jewish.” Still another read “Every single aspect of 9/11 is Jewish.”

A smaller postcard-sized flyer was titled “Watch Europa the last battle” and “White lives matter.”

Brokos said that while the hate group is known and has distributed flyers in the city previously, this is the first time they’ve included the “Free Palestine” rhetoric with their antisemitic conspiracies.

“I urge people to report this via our incident report form,” she said. “It’s not illegal to put flyers on cars, so this is not something we encourage people to call 911, but we do track this type of activity, not just locally but throughout the country.”


Pittonkatonk, which took place May 11 at Pittsburgh’s Vietnam Veterans Pavilion in Schenley Park, bills itself as an annual celebration of May Day, social justice and community.

The event’s website says it is “a one of a kind musical festival, free and open to all, connecting the dots between community, organizers and euphoric musical experiences.” It lists the Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Grable Foundation as some of its sponsors.

This year’s festival took a decidedly anti-Zionist turn, according to some in attendance.

Jeremy Kazzaz said the festival is usually one of his favorite events in the city, but

“Free Palestine.”

Kazzaz said he was troubled by the presentation of a Pittsburgh City Council proclamation sponsored by Councilperson Barbara Warwick.

in the shape of a bird that had a slogan on it. She also said that people were passing out literature in support of a cease-fire.

She said she wasn’t taken aback by what she saw.

“Pittonkatonk has always been more than just a music festival,” Warwick said. “It’s been around since, I think, 2014 and is a global multicultural gathering of artists, activists and social justice advocates. It definitely wasn’t surprising that the antiwar movement was front and center at the event.”

The councilperson acknowledged that some Jewish attendees told her they felt uncomfortable at the festival.

Warwick said that nothing she saw or heard at the event gave her pause before presenting the proclamation. Instead, she said, it points to the difficulty of distilling nuanced issues to “bumper sticker politics.”

“These kinds of bumper sticker politics end up being more polarizing than unifying,” she said.

Warwick said that hate speech is never acceptable and that she’s been trying to sort out the various statements and symbols she’s seen since Oct. 7. She said she believes that now is the time to engage with

“That’s when we can put down the flags and the banners and start talking to each

Pittonkatonk organizer Pete Spynda told the Chronicle that he “recognizes that topics addressed by musicians and activist organizations may be controversial, and that diverse voices often have conflicting opinions about world events. Pittonkatonk fully supports artists’ rights to express themselves.”

The 2024 event, he said included performers from Colombia, Congo, Puerto Rico, Poland, Canada, Palestine, Brazil

“Pittonkatonk does not censor artists but selects artists we feel would best represent the community spirit of

He noted that the organization supports and is supported by a range of different nonprofit organizations.

“In particular, representatives from Jewish Voices [sic] for Peace participated by organizing land acknowledgment, spoken word and table activities.”

The Heinz Endowments, The Pittsburgh Foundation and The Grable Foundation didn’t respond to requests for comment from the Chronicle.

Yom Ha’atzmaut

A small group of protesters was present at the Federation’s Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration on May 19.

The event, which was promoted on social media and in the Chronicle, included an Israeli solidarity march that started at Congregation Beth Shalom on Beacon Street and ended at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh on Darlington Road.

The group of less than a dozen protesters, including several members of Jewish Voice for Peace, gathered at the parklet on Murray Avenue near the post office.

How to report antisemitic events

Anyone who has witnessed an antisemitic incident is urged to report it to the Federation through its online form at jewishpgh.org/form/ incident-report. PJC

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

p Molly Braver took photos of a man stealing “We Stand with Israel” signs in Squirrel Hill. Photo by Molly Braver p A white supremacist group distributed flyers conflating their ideology with the war in Gaza. Courtesy photo p A white supremacist group distributed hate flyers in Shadyside. Courtesy photo


Suspect in LA shootings of Jewish men in 2023 will plead guilty

The suspect who was arrested in February 2023 for two shootings of Jewish men as they left synagogues in Los Angeles has agreed to plead guilty to all of the charges he is facing, the Justice Department announced on May 14, JTA.org reported.

Jaime Tran, 29, will plead guilty to two counts of hate crimes with intent to kill and two counts of using, carrying and discharging a firearm during a violent crime. Under the plea agreement, Tran will receive a prison sentence of 35 to 40 years, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California. Had the case gone to trial, Tran would have faced a potential life sentence.

According to U.S. Attorney Martin Estrada, Tran, who had a previous track record of antisemitic behavior, “sought to murder two men simply because they were Jewish.”

The attacks took place on consecutive days in February 2023 in Pico-Robertson, a heavily Jewish neighborhood in L.A. Tran drove to the area and shot a man wearing a kippah as he left a synagogue, then returned the following morning and shot a second man, also wearing a kippah and exiting another synagogue blocks away.

Both victims survived with only minor injuries.

Teacher who showed ‘cute’ baby Hitler photo under investigation in Connecticut

A middle school teacher in Connecticut was reportedly suspended following a lesson on the Holocaust in which they asked students to draw a swastika in their notebooks, list positive things Adolf Hitler did for Germany and comment on a baby photo of the Nazi leader that the teacher described as “cute,” JTA.org reported.

And a private middle school outside Atlanta faced criticism after asking students to rate Hitler “as a Solution Seeker” and “as an Ethical Decision Maker.”

The teacher at the public Middlesex Middle School in Darien, Connecticut, identified only as a “veteran” social studies teacher, did not make any comments supporting Hitler or Nazism during the lesson beyond the content of the assignment. But students in the class still felt uncomfortable, according to local reports.

Superintendent Alan Addley said that “the allegations are serious” and that the district would be investigating.

Meanwhile at the Mount Vernon School, a private school in Sandy Springs, Georgia, eighth-graders were asked to rank Hitler’s qualities both “as a Solution Seeker” and “as an Ethical Decision Maker,” according to screenshots of the assignment shared by a local news reporter.

School officials have removed the assignment from the curriculum and said in a statement that they “wholeheartedly denounce” antisemitism, a local TV station reported. Head of School Kristy Lundstrom said in a statement, “We do not condone positive labels for Adolf

Today in Israeli History


Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (israeled.org), where you can find more details.

May 24, 1948 — Battle for Latrun begins Inexperienced Israeli troops, including many Holocaust survivors, fail to capture the Jordanian-held hilltop fortress at Latrun in an effort to relieve the siege of Jerusalem 10 miles to the east. Jordan holds Latrun until June New York’s first Israeli Jazz Festival, tion of the Israeli influence on the global jazz scene, begins. The festival features performers such as Omer Avital

May 26, 1924 — U.S. restricts Jewish immigration Congress passes the 1924 Immigration Act, which cuts off most immigration from Eastern and Southern Europe. Without the United States as an immigration destination, Jews increasingly go to Palestine.

Hitler,” but also said the screenshot was “taken out of context” from a March assignment.

Jews were excluded from California county’s death penalty juries for decades, new evidence reveals

As many as 35 death-row cases in a California county could be under review for discriminatory practices, including the exclusion of both Black female and Jewish jurors, JTA.org reported.

The cases in Alameda County date as far back as 1977.

D uring jury selection in one murder case from the 1990s, the prosecution left handwritten notes about prospective jurors — including whether they were Jewish or Black.

California has had a moratorium on the death penalty as of 2019, but at least three people were resentenced due to the early findings of the Alameda County review.

The intentional exclusion of Black and Jewish people, or any other group, from participating in a jury is illegal.

Prosecutors may have wanted to keep Jews off juries to increase the chances of a death sentence. A 2016 Gallup poll found that, when compared with other religious groups, Jews are less supportive of capital punishment — though 54% still believed it to be “morally acceptable.”

Princeton students get hungry, end 10-day strike

Students at Princeton University protesting Israel’s war with Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip ended their initial “hunger strike wave” after 10 days, citing health concerns, JNS.org reported.

The Princeton Divest Now group, which has

been urging the prestigious New Jersey institution to divest from America’s Middle Eastern ally due to the civilian death toll in the Gaza Strip, announced the end of the first strike phase.

“Due to health concerns of the 13 strikers who fasted for 10 days, the first hunger strike wave ended, and the second wave has begun,” the group stated in an Instagram post. “In the tradition of rotary strikes, seven new strikers are indefinitely fasting for a free Palestine.”

The decision to halt the first “strike wave” came after participants had vowed not to consume food or drink until their demands were met.

Israel’s economy rebounds in first quarter

Israel’s economy sharply rebounded in the first quarter of 2024 after taking a hit late last year from the war that Hamas started on Oct. 7, JNS.org reported.

According to preliminary estimates from the Central Bureau of Statistics published on Thursday, gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annualized rate of 14.1% in the first three months of the year, after having contracted at an annualized 21.7% in the previous quarter (revised from a previous estimate of 21%).

The rebound was led by a large increase in private spending and investment, especially in the residential sector.

Israel’s annual inflation rate rose to 2.8% in April compared to 2.7% in March, data published on May 15 showed, above expectations of 2.5% although within the government’s annual target of 1-3%. PJC — Compiled by Andy Gotlieb

May 27, 1911 — Longtime Mayor Teddy Kollek is born

Teddy Kollek, Jerusalem’s mayor from 1965 to 1993, is born near Budapest. His parents name him after Theodor Herzl. He is mentored by David Ben-Gurion and runs for mayor at his behest.

May 28, 1999 — Submarine Dakar found after 3 decades

A U.S.-Israeli team discovers the Israeli submarine Dakar, which disappeared in January 1968, broken in half between Crete and Cyprus almost 9,800 feet beneath the surface of the Mediterranean.

The boat originally was the World War IIera HMS Totem.

May 29, 1979 — Dayan addresses peace process

Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan speaks to the Knesset about the events that culminated in the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty two months earlier. He expresses optimism that normalization between the countries will succeed.

May 30, 2009 — Former President Ephraim Katzir dies Ephraim Katzir, Israel’s fourth president, dies at age 93 in Rehovot. Born in Kyiv, Katzir made aliyah with his family when he was 9. A prize-winning Weizmann Institute scientist, he was elected president in May 1973. PJC

p Anat Cohen was one of the featured performers at the inaugural Israeli Jazz Festival in New York in May 2010. p The salvaged bridge and conning tower of the Dakar are on display in Haifa. By Avishai Teicher, PikiWiki, CC BY 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons



Continued from page 1

Wecht earned a second law degree from the University of Pittsburgh.

A few years older than Wecht, Pittsburgher Moses Finder attended dental school at Pitt and was a member of Phi Epsilon Pi. Finder remembered Wecht as a man who “never slept.”

“He worked at the new VA hospital as a resident pathologist and made arrangements to go to law school in the morning because that’s when the classes were, and then he would do his residence in the afternoon and early evening. At night, he worked as a doctor,” Finder said.

That drive proved crucial to Wecht, who showed an early interest in the burgeoning field of forensic pathology. He worked four jobs in the early days of his career: as a deputy at the coroner’s office; as an assistant district attorney/ medical-legal adviser to the district attorney; as a pathologist at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital-Leech Farm; and as an attorney.

Coroner career and national attention

Wecht was elected Allegheny County coroner in 1970, serving in the position until 1980. He was reelected a second time in 1996, serving for four years.

Allegheny County Medical Examiner Dr. Ariel Goldschmidt said the office mourned the death of Wecht, calling him “an icon in the field of forensic medicine.”

“Dr. Wecht continued performing casework well into his 90s and never shied away from opinions that challenged conventional viewpoints,” Goldschmidt said. “His colorful and larger-thanlife personality and commitment to teaching will cause him to be missed by many.”

Wecht gained national attention in 1964 when he was asked to review the Warren Commission’s report that concluded Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman who assassinated President John F. Kennedy. Wecht called the commission’s conclusion “absolute nonsense.”

The Associated Press reported that attorney F. Lee Bailey called Wecht “the single most important spearhead of challenge” to the report.

Wecht criticized a staffer on the commission, Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter. The pair would eventually form a friendship with Specter supporting Wecht during a five-year legal battle.

Wecht went on to write books about the O.J. Simpson and JonBenét Ramsey cases and perform an independent autopsy on the body of Daniel Smith, the son of actress Anna Nicole Smith.

Wecht performed approximately 21,000 autopsies and reviewed or was

consulted on about 42,000 additional postmortem examinations, according to his biography.

Political career

Just as influential in local politics as he was in the field of forensic pathology, Wecht was elected chairman of the Allegheny County Democratic Party in 1978. A year later, he was elected to the Allegheny County Board of Commissioners.

In 1980, he was elected as Allegheny County Commissioner before unsuccessfully challenging Sen. John Heinz in 1982.

Wecht also ran as the Democratic nominee for the newly created position

Legal battles

Wecht’s career wasn’t without controversy. In 1979, he was accused of misusing his public office for personal gain. He was indicted on several charges. All but one were dismissed. He was acquitted of the one remaining charge.

In 2008, Wecht faced a federal trial, charged with public corruption. Several of the charges were dropped during the trial, and a judge eventually declared a mistrial on the remaining counts. The prosecution announced plans to retry Wecht; however, after political and public outrage, which challenged the case as politically motivated, the charges were dismissed in 2009.

“[Dr. Cyril Wecht’s] professional acumen, captivating science and keen intellect will sorely be missed by the Duquesne community, the region he served so faithfully and the entire world that recognized him as one of the great forensic pathologists of our time.”

of Allegheny County Chief Executive in 1999. He lost to Republican businessman Jim Roddey.

He was appointed the county’s first medical examiner by Chief Executive Dan Onorato in 2006.

When not in office, Wecht was a familiar voice on KQV radio where he served as a political commentator during the radio station’s election coverage, often with announcer P.J. Maloney.

Maloney said Wecht was a fixture at the station through the ’90s and into the new century.

“He was a character,” Maloney said. “I got along with him well. I don’t think anyone had to beg him for an interview. He was a lot of fun. He said what was on his mind and was probably one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met in my life.”

Wecht, Maloney said, had his finger on the pulse of Allegheny County and Pittsburgh politics, which often meant he disagreed with some of the decisions made on the other side of the state.

“One time we were in the studio, and he was upset with some Democrats in Philadelphia, who he thought were much too progressive for the likes of Pittsburgh. He said, ‘We refer to them as f----- jagoffs.’ It went over the air and hit me like a punch. The newsroom was staring at me, master control was staring at me. We had a sevensecond delay, but I didn’t use it and it went out over the air.”


Wecht was a staunch supporter of Israel. He had a lifetime membership to the Zionist Organization of America and served as an active board member and frequent lecturer, according to Stuart Pavilack, executive director of the ZOA’s Pittsburgh chapter.

“Cyril was a devoted member of ZOA,” Pavilack said. “I could always give him a call whenever I needed a favor or help coordinating something. It’s a huge loss to the Jewish community and the city of Pittsburgh. They don’t make any more Cyrils. He had Yiddishkeit, love of America and our community.”


Wecht’s legacy is larger than most medical, legal and political figures. He is the co-author of more than 650 professional publications and is the author or co-author of numerous books including “Grave Secrets: A Leading Forensic Expert Reveals the Startling Truth about O.J. Simpson, David Koresh, Vince Foster and Other Sensational Cases,” and “Who Killed JonBenét Ramsey?”

He was known across the nation as a frequent television commentator on high-profile cases, including the deaths of Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. He often appeared on the “Today” show and “Good Morning America” during O.J. Simpson’s homicide trial.

Wecht served as a consultant on several films, including “Concussion” and “JFK.”

In 2000, the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law was founded at Duquesne University. It is an internationally acclaimed center for professional and general public education and training in applied forensic science.

Duquesne President Ken Gormley said he was proud to call Wecht a longtime colleague.

“His professional acumen, captivating science and keen intellect will sorely be missed by the Duquesne community, the region he served so faithfully and the entire world that recognized him as one of the great forensic pathologists of our time,” Gormley said.

His public persona didn’t preclude Wecht from creating personal relationships, as well.

Kim Paskorz, the former digital content editor of the Butler Eagle, recalled on Facebook about being assigned to write a report on the Kennedy assassination when she was in high school.

“Of course, I didn’t do my homework. The night before my report was due, I looked in the phone book and, sure enough, found a listed number for Cyril Wecht. Not only did he take the call of an inquisitive teenager, but he spent a good hour on the phone talking to me for my report,” she recounted.

Rabbi Aaron Bisno officiated Wecht’s funeral service. He said he had only known Wecht for a few years, but they bonded immediately when they first met.

“We became really close,” Bisno said. “We went out to dinner together; I would visit with him. I took an enormous amount of strength and encouragement from his recognizing in me a kindred spirit and friend. I believe we can judge each other by the company we keep, and I was very proud to be able to say that genuinely I considered him a friend.”

Former Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said Wecht has a long and distinguished public service career.

“His influence on the forensic pathology profession cannot be overstated,” Fitzgerald said. “He became a pioneer within his field, and for nearly seven decades was sought after by government officials, celebrities and industry leaders for his expertise.”

Pennsylvania state Rep. Dan Frankel was one of the many local and state politicians who remembered Wecht on X, formerly Twitter.

“He always had something to say and was devoted to learning more,” Frankel wrote. A public memorial service will be held at Temple Sinai on June 30 at 1 p.m., and will be livestreamed. PJC

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

Don’t miss an issue All changes can be submitted in writing or emailed to subscriptions@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org or call 412-687-1000, ext. 2


University of Pittsburgh to review professor’s alleged bias toward student

discipline, and in a manner that harassed and targeted a student based on religion in violation of school policies and applicable law.”

StandWithUs Saidoff Legal Department and StandWithUs Center for Combating Antisemitism (divisions of the nonprofit Israel education organization StandWithUs) sent a letter to Joan Gabel, chancellor at the University of Pittsburgh, expressing concern for an incident against a Jewish student alleged to have occurred on April 4.

According to the letter, Alexandra Weiner, a professor in the Department of Mathematics who identifies as Jewish, spoke with an unnamed student who participated in a Chabad tabling session.

Weiner accused the student of saying to her in Hebrew, “Go die in Gaza.”

The student reportedly corrected that, saying she said, “You’re Jewish? Go to Gaza, and you’ll see what will happen.”

Other students who witnessed the exchange reported that Weiner started talking about Israel’s war in Gaza, saying that she supported “the liberation of Palestine through armed resistance against all of Israel by any means necessary”; denying that Hamas terrorists raped women during its murder rampage in southern Israel on Oct. 7; and that she “supports the killing of any Israeli or Zionist colonialist.”

In SWU’s letter, the group said Weiner “has abused her position as a faculty member to propagate hateful views on a controversial topic that has no relevancy to her academic


Continued from page 2

“Why wouldn’t we want to invest in that?” he asked.

As for those who say he has an uphill journey in his campaign against Lee because District 12 has traditionally voted Democrat, Hayes believes he has a strategy to win. It includes duplicating the success Republican Joe Rockey found in certain areas of the district when running against Allegheny

SWU noted that the student filed a complaint alleging bias.

“We request that you investigate this matter immediately and thoroughly per the complaint filed with your administration by the targeted student, and institute the proper remedy as per institutional rules and employment policies,” the letter asked. ”At the very least, Professor Weiner should be removed from the classroom pending the outcome of an investigation, and then face an investigation and repercussions for her antisemitic conduct.”

Gabel answered SWU, confirming receipt of the letter and the university’s intent to investigate.

“We are pleased that the Pitt administration has responded and is looking into our complaint,” Julie Paris, StandWithUs Mid-Atlantic regional director, told JNS.

“During this divisive time, far too many faculty members have participated in escalating the division on their campuses,” Paris said. “Many have aligned themselves with dangerous racist propaganda being promoted by anti-Israel groups that support the genocidal ideology of Hamas, spreading this information in their classrooms while demonizing and attacking Jewish and Zionist students with whom they disagree.”

Chuck Finder, Pitt’s senior director of media relations, told JNS that “the university has shared the letter with the appropriate offices, which are aware and are looking into the matter.” PJC

County Executive Sara Innamorato, while counting on parts of Westmoreland County, which, he said, is solidly Republican.

“If you duplicate Joe Rockey, who came within about 8,000 votes, take out Mt. Lebanon, add in the quarter of Westmoreland County that’s in the district, that’s probably good for 20,000 to 30,000 votes,” he said. “I believe I could win by 20,000 votes.” PJC

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

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Anti-Zionism forced us to withdraw from Reconstructionist Rabbinical College

The Reconstructionist Rabbinical College graduated 11 new rabbis on Sunday. At least half identify as antiZionists or have been participating in antiIsrael protests and actions.

By contrast, when we and other students formed the RRC Students Supporting Israel chapter after Oct. 7, only eight students joined out of the 60 at RRC. Over a grueling year of isolation, three members withdrew from the school (including us), and another three left the group.

Our time at RRC was marked with sorrow and shock, as we experienced an increasingly vociferous anti-Zionism among the student body, the steady erosion of civil discourse and the seminary’s inability to transmit the Jewish narrative to those it will ordain as future spiritual leaders of the Jewish people.

RR C is the rabbinical school of Reconstructing Judaism, founded on the scholarship of Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan, who famously articulated that Judaism is a civilization and at its center is the Jewish people. Kaplan was devoted to establishing the state of Israel as a primary hub of creative and meaningful renaissance of the Jewish civilization, in relationship with other hubs in the Diaspora.

We believed upon entering RRC that our rabbinical school would teach us to serve the Jewish people, emphasizing the centrality of Jewish peoplehood and support for our survival and self-determination.

Instead, we came to find that RRC is, de facto, a training ground for anti-Zionist rabbis. Because of RRC’s rabbinical program, protests led by Jewish Voice for Peace and other anti-Israel organizations will count increasing numbers of rabbis among their ranks, training the next generations to oppose Israel and the safety of Israelis — our own people.

We began our studies at RRC in fall 2021 and 2023, respectively. Before Oct. 7, we were surprised that RRC’s curriculum did not include much about how and why Reconstructionism’s progressive

Zionist positions developed.

We were also surprised by the loud anti-Zionist sentiment among the student body and the culture of silence and intimidation that dissuaded students from expressing any positive connection with Israel. We saw members of the faculty and administration largely ignore anti-Zionist rhetoric under a guise of pluralism, when in fact, open conversation, curiosity and learning were stifled in this environment.

Students characterized Israel as committing apartheid, ethnic cleansing, settler colonialism and genocide. Faculty refrained from teaching the definitions of these terms and from explaining the mutable nature of antisemitism.

Mentions of collective Jewish pain and the Shoah were met with dismissiveness, even eyerolls. Classmates told us to get over our own intergenerational trauma, even as we learned to make space for everyone else’s.

A tension emerged for us. On the one hand, we relish Judaism’s focus on machloket leshem shamayim — argument for the sake of heaven. We can and often must disagree respectfully in order to learn, grow and serve others. And we know that not all Jews are Zionist or feel connected with Israel, as we do.

On the other hand, we chose to attend the seminary of a progressive Zionist movement, and it was difficult to understand why RRC would ordain rabbis who not only do not engage with its positions, but actively disrespect and work to undermine them.

We were glad to be in a community that recognized the legitimate aspirations for Palestinian self-determination and freedom. But all too often, the rhetoric we were hearing at RRC cast Israelis as disgraceful and expressed little concern for their security. After Oct. 7, we saw how deep this antipathy ran.

On Oct. 7, the movement sent out a statement recognizing the horrors perpetrated by Hamas. That same day, as we were trying to make sense of what was happening and if loved ones survived, we saw classmates post such sentiments on social media as: “Gaza is now free,” and “What did you think would happen?”

We heard more and more from other students that Israel was committing genocide and ethnic cleansing, that Israelis were white settler colonialists. Some of our classmates confessed to us that they didn’t fully

understand these terms, but would be joining other students and recent ordinees at antiZionist protests anyway.

A month after Oct. 7, one of RRC’s faculty members began sending weekly pre-Shabbat emails. The hostages were not mentioned until Dec. 22, and the sexual violence Israelis experienced was never mentioned, even during Women’s History Month.

The capacity for civil discourse, which we understood to be critical skills for rabbis, was diminishing.

Over the next six months, we and other members of our pro-Israel group met collectively and individually dozens of times with members of faculty, administration and senior leadership of the movement.

We asked them to address the growing anti-Zionism and erosion of civil discourse in the school with urgency and care. Instead, both the president and the executive vice president of Reconstructing Judaism, Rabbis Deborah Waxman and Amber Powers, went so far as to tell us that not everyone ordained by RRC had the maturity and skill set required of rabbis, but that the school assumed this would develop in their rabbinates.

It was shocking to hear how aware senior leadership of Reconstructing Judaism was that they ordain rabbis and send them into communities before they are ready to guide and serve their constituents appropriately.

At the end of January, Rabbi Waxman, who is also the president of RRC, addressed the RRC community and insisted the school does not have litmus tests about whether students enter or leave the school as Reconstructionist Jews, or as Zionists.

On Feb. 1, outside protesters came to the RRC campus and distributed communist literature, asking students trying to enter the main building if they were Zionist.

The final straw for us came shortly after Rabbi Waxman’s speech, when the student association was facing a budget surplus. To pay down the surplus, the student body was voting to make substantial tzedakah donations to two organizations, one of which had characterized Israel’s actions as settler colonialism, apartheid and genocide in a social media post.

We were astounded and conflicted: This particular organization was run by and serves Black Jews, whom we consider vital for the

Jewish community to support and uplift. But we were concerned about what it would mean for a rabbinical student association to financially support an organization whose words inaccurately vilified Israel.

When we shared our concerns, students organized against us and mischaracterized our support for Israel as racism, erasing our personal records of fighting for racial justice.

Students repeated their personal attacks at a subsequent town hall with Reconstructing Judaism leadership. One student association board member apologized for being complicit in anti-Black racism for merely listening to the concerns of pro-Israel students. One student being ordained this year said that Zionism is racism and antisemitism.

Rabbi Waxman said nothing.

We were devastated, and the next morning, the two of us withdrew. The student association approved the donation.

More and more Jews holding the spiritual authority of clergy from an accredited rabbinical college will seek to counteract the traditions, longings and aspirations for selfdetermination, undermining what the majority of Jews hope for Israel and our people.

We are deeply concerned about the impact to the collective and individual psyches of the Jewish people in being led by rabbis who have chosen intimidation over dialogue, who believe that, unlike all other peoples, we are not deserving of autonomy, self-definition, self-determination, safety or home.

We urge all Jewish congregations to take great care in choosing their spiritual leaders, to dig deep into their positions on Israel. We hope for a renewal of the Jewish people’s ability to engage in conversation and learning across difference. PJC

Talia Werber is a student, visual artist and writer who facilitates Jewish creative writing workshops. Formerly she worked in civics education and legislative advocacy for democratic, transparent and accountable government. Steven Goldstein is a lawyer, civil rights advocate and former television news producer who served as a Democratic staff member in the U.S. House and Senate. 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.

Kinocide: Hamas targeting of families is a new crime against humanity

Guest Columnists

Cochav Elkayam-Levy & Irwin Cotler

The brutal abuse of families during Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack compels us to consider a haunting question: Does the weaponization of the family unit constitute a new crime against humanity?

It’s imperative to acknowledge the heinous nature of familial abuse as crimes against humanity, drawing parallels with other

historical atrocities. The current peak of cruelty in such attacks unequivocally warrants this recognition.

In the early hours of that Saturday morning, which marked the holiday of Simchat Torah when families join together in celebration, horror descended upon southern Israel as Hamas terrorists launched a ruthless and premeditated attack on civilian homes in kibbutz communities, cities and villages. While families slept in their beds, Hamas unleashed an onslaught of terror, perpetrating unspeakable atrocities. They violently broke into homes and

proceeded to execute people mercilessly. Parents were murdered in front of their children, children in front of their parents. Siblings were torn apart. Children, even infants, were gunned down in their bedrooms. Entire families were slaughtered. Many were burned alive. Hamas committed violent sexual crimes against women, men and young girls, and tortured family members in front of each other before killing them or abducting them into Gaza. These heinous acts were not random. Hamas’ modus operandi on Oct. 7 was as calculated as it was cruel; it was a deliberate

strategy to exploit the family unit as a weapon of terror. This form of weaponization is as yet undefined in international law, though the atrocities committed on Oct. 7 clearly constitute crimes against humanity, specifically the weaponization of familial bonds for strategic ends. These atrocities require new ways of thinking. For this purpose, we wish to offer to define a new term, “Kinocide,” which aims to reflect this concept. Kinocide describes the deliberate weaponization or destruction of families. It involves a coordinated plan

Please see Elkayam-Levy & Cotler, page 11


Chronicle poll results: Feeling less safe as a Jew in America

Last week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “Do you feel less safe as a Jew in America since Oct. 7?” Of the 380 people who responded, 67% said yes; 30% said no; and 3% said they had no opinion. Comments were submitted by 106 people. A few follow.

I feel pretty safe living in Pittsburgh. I’m glad my kids recently graduated from college — I know that I’d feel less safe with them in a college atmosphere. While I feel safe, I feel much less understood/appreciated as a Jew. Some “friends” have shown me that they don’t care how threatened I feel by growing antisemitism if it goes against their thoughts on the Israel/Palestine conflict or a political candidate.

I still feel safe, but it’s hard not to feel like the ground is shifting.

Elkayam-Levy & Cotler:

Continued from page 10

aimed at the devastation of a nation or an ethnic group by targeting families through, among possible methods, mass killings, cruelty and torture. It does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation but is intended to denote various forms of violence against the family unit, targeting the core of a nation or society.

In March, the UN Security Council and the 68th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women chronicled the grim details of Hamas’ sexual violence during and following the Oct. 7 attacks. The reports also described the systematic slaughter and abduction of parents and children, which were intended to fracture the family unit and instill fear at the most fundamental human level.

Three-year-old Israeli-American Avigail Idan was forced to witness the murder of her parents while her brother Michael (9) and sister Amalia (6) sought refuge in a closet in their home in Kibbutz Kfar Aza. Avigail’s father was holding her in his hands when he was shot.

I’m not overwhelmed with fear, but as a Jew and an American, I no longer take feeling safe for granted, and haven’t since 9/11.

In the nearby kibbutz of Nir Oz, Hamas terrorists kidnapped Shiri Bibas while she was clutching her children Ariel (3) and Kfir (9 months) in a blanket. Kfir is now the youngest hostage being held in Gaza. The boys’ father, Yarden, was abducted separately and has been subjected to psychological torment by Hamas, who cruelly recorded and used his anguish in a propaganda video in which they informed him of the supposed death of his wife and sons.

These families’ stories, two of many, are more than tragedies; they are methodical violations of the intrinsic right to family life. Despite the recognition of the sanctity of civilian life and family rights within various international legal frameworks, at present, there is insufficient recourse in international law for the deliberate targeting of families. The absence of specific provisions for such crimes in armed conflict poses significant challenges to justice and accountability.

Families are recognized as fundamental units of society, and their systematic destruction not only inflicts direct harm on individuals but also undermines the fabric of communities, has lasting gendered implications, and causes long-term intergenerational

Etna Council resolution is ‘the height of chutzpah’

When did the members of the Etna Borough Council become experts in Middle East foreign policy, notably the war in Gaza? (“Etna Borough Council passes cease-fire resolution,” April 26.) This war was initiated on Oct. 7 by the designated terrorist organization Hamas, with its execution of cruel, barbaric and heinous crimes against humanity.

The expertise of the council members is immediately called into question as they refer to Gaza as “occupied territory.” Are they ignorant of the fact that Israelis have not lived in Gaza since 2005, when the Israeli government removed nearly 10,000 of its citizens from Gaza in hopes of achieving a permanent peace with its Arab neighbors? For this goodwill gesture, Israelis have suffered terrorist attacks, kidnappings and 19 years of rocket attacks aimed at their nearby communities and cities. Imagine if Sharpsburg, Aspinwall and Glenshaw, the communities that border Etna, had deadly rockets poised to fire at any moment, and Etna had to live under the constant threat of knowing its enemies had fired rockets all too frequently in the past. Nevertheless, while Israel faces many graver threats from Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Iran, it is constantly pressured to use restraint, to withdraw and to enter a permanent cease-fire agreement with Hamas, which has held our hostages for months — a major war crime. Etna council members might remember that there was a cease-fire agreement in effect on Oct. 7, which did not deter Hamas from its barbaric attack. And this is what its resolution is calling for: entering into an agreement with an enemy who is determined to eliminate Israel and the Jewish people.

It is the height of chutzpah to tell Israel how to prosecute its existential war while sitting

I am not Jewish, but I do believe my friends who are Jewish are less safe.

I am particularly concerned about the future for my children and grandchildren.

Armed guards at all Jewish organizations! Never thought I would see this!

I have felt less safe in Pittsburgh since Oct. 27, 2018.

I have never experienced antisemitism like I have since Oct 7. I’ve lost friends because of it and directly experienced antisemitism myself. There is a feeling of uncertainty over who I can trust. It is disturbing and distressing.

I’ve been feeling unsafe as Jew since 2016, when Trump was elected.

trauma and societal disruption. The right to family is intricately tied to individual autonomy and is essential for societies to exist and thrive.

The deliberate targeting of families represents a distinct challenge and a form of violence that our legal systems are currently ill-equipped to address. In assessing the legal ramifications of Hamas’ actions, it becomes apparent that international criminal law lacks the specific mechanisms to confront the extent of the brutality and systematicity employed on Oct. 7.

To effectively confront the scourge of what can be termed as “family-targeted violence,” a reevaluation of international law is imperative. The Oct. 7 attack is a stark testament to the evolving nature of warfare and the emergence of new forms of war crimes that must be addressed. Placing the protection of the family unit at the forefront of our legal discourse is a crucial step toward devising a robust global response.

Amidst the human suffering caused by the Oct. 7 atrocities, international law may seem abstract and disconnected from the raw pain and grief wrought by the crimes against humanity committed that

Instead of leaving “Jewish” as my religion on my medical records, I changed it to “None.” It’s so sad that I felt this might be necessary.

I am very uncomfortable in the America of today — and I no longer believe that I have Israel as a safe place to go to. I feel isolated, targeted and afraid.

Finally I am able to say the truth: AntiZionism is antisemitism. No conscious Jew can any longer pretend otherwise. That wretched game has ended once and for all. PJC

— Compiled by Toby Tabachnick

Chronicle weekly poll question: Have you been following the criminal proceedings against Donald Trump? Go to pittsburghjewishchronicle.org to respond. PJC

day. Yet, it is precisely in these moments that our legal instruments must evolve to respond effectively.

“Peace is the beauty of life,” declared Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin in 1978, in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech. “It is the smile of a child, the love of a mother, the joy of a father, the togetherness of a family.” We must rise to the challenge of honoring that vision and paving the way for peace. Now is the moment for paradigm shifts. We must push for the evolution of international criminal law, ensuring that future generations inherit a world where families are safe and protected. PJC

Cochav Elkayam-Levy is a recipient of the Israel Prize, and chair and founder of The Civil Commission on Oct. 7th Crimes by Hamas Against Women and Children. Irwin Cotler is the international chair of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights, an emeritus professor of Law at McGill University, former minister of justice and attorney general of Canada and longtime member of Parliament, and an international human rights lawyer. This first appeared on The Times of Israel.

in the comfort and security of the United States. No nation in the history of warfare has executed a war with greater care for the civilian population, which includes many who are supportive of Hamas, including UNRWA. What other country in the annals of warfare has sent humanitarian aid, often hijacked by Hamas, to feed its enemy?

I would urge all the council members to heed the sensible words of Etna’s mayor, Robert Tuñón, who along with several others, opposed this resolution, suggesting that “the council should deal with issues like the recent flooding in the borough.”

In reality this war is not just about Israel. It is about the preservation of Western civilization and its values of freedom and democracy. Instead of passing resolutions that embolden Hamas, we should be expressing our eternal gratitude to Israel for the enormous sacrifices it continues to make in fighting this just war for all of us.

Wishnev Pittsburgh

67% Yes Do
3% No opinion 30% No — LETTERS —
you feel less safe as a Jew in America since Oct. 7?
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.

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Life & Culture

Fattoush salad

— FOOD —

We enjoy grilling and eating outside once the weather turns warm, and grilling season means tons of fresh salads to go along with our main course.

Fattoush is one of my all-time favorites. It’s chock-full of many vegetables and herbs like fresh mint, parsley and thyme.

Fattoush salad is incredibly refreshing, and the special treat on top is toasted pita. The reason this salad was created was to use up extra stale pita. It’s the Mediterranean version of croutons, and who doesn’t enjoy a little bit of seasoned bread on a salad?

What I love about this salad is that it’s made from vegetables that most people have on hand. Every time I write a recipe that uses fresh herbs, I encourage readers to keep a few pots or a small kitchen herb garden outside so they have abundant and affordable fresh herbs handy. I was blessed to get beautiful fresh herb plants from my local farmers market last week, and each plant costs less than one little packet of herbs from the store. Even if you’re not much of a gardener, it’s worth a try — you will cook with herbs much more if you have them on hand.

I’m including a fresh vinaigrette dressing recipe, although I only use about half of the dressing on the salad. You can add it to another salad the following day.

Sumac is the secret flavor in this dish. It’s slightly pungent and reminds me a little of tangy lemon juice, but it’s a bit different.

Traditionally this salad uses purslane as an added green, but it’s hard to find. Every time I go to a special store I search for it, but I’ve yet to find it. If anyone knows where to buy it, feel free to reach out to me. You can substitute fresh arugula, spinach or even watercress. My first memory of watercress was of my mother picking it from a stream behind our home when I was young. I refused to eat it, and boy, did I miss out.

You can prepare this salad hours in advance, but don’t dress it until just before serving.


For the toasted pita:

1 large pita

2 teaspoons olive oil

A sprinkle of sea salt

A sprinkle of sumac

For the vinaigrette:

2 smashed or minced large garlic cloves

¼ cup good-quality olive oil

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ teaspoon sea salt

A pinch of black pepper

1 teaspoon sumac

1 tablespoon finely chopped flat parsley

2 teaspoons fresh mint

1 tablespoon lemon thyme

1 teaspoon water

1 teaspoon honey (optional)

For the salad:

2 heads romaine lettuce, washed, dried and gently torn by hand

1 large English cucumber or 6 Persian cucumbers

2 large tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes

1 ½ cups chopped bell pepper; use red, orange, yellow or a mix

6-8 radishes, scrubbed and thinly sliced

1 cup arugula, watercress, fresh spinach or purslane

3 scallions, white and light green parts

¼ cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves

1 tablespoon fresh lemon thyme leaves

Wash and check the lettuce, then let it air dry. You can do this hours ahead of time to make work easier in the evening. This recipe also calls for a lot of fresh herbs, so you can wash and set those aside to dry as well. You can also make the dressing ahead of time: Put all the ingredients into a Mason jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake it well for about 30 seconds. You can leave this on the counter until you’re ready to dress the salad — just give it a few good shakes before you add it to the bowl. Set the oven to 400 F to toast the pita. Insert a sharp knife into the edge of the pita with the blade going into the center and cut

p Fattoush salad Photo by Jessica Grannn
Please see Salad, page 22
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Life & Culture

Highlighting the humanity: The Branch’s photo exhibit aims to destigmatize mental health struggles

In the excitement of a fundraising event held by The Branch, Julie Arnheim stood next to a poster and calmly explained to a passerby what it meant.

It was a black-and-white portrait of Arnheim with a series of statements underneath.

“I am Julie. I have survived 4 decades with mental illness. I am a 4-year brain cancer warrior. I am a daughter, a sister, and an aunt. I am an advocate. I have a dream to write a book. I am a Clubhouse colleague,” the poster reads.

The poster is part of an exhibit that The Branch, formerly Jewish Residential Services, displayed to destigmatize the mental health issues of Clubhouse colleagues, the collective term for members and staff of the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse. The Clubhouse was created by The Branch to provide a community and safe space for those struggling with mental illness.

It’s one of more than 300 Clubhouses following the Clubhouse International model. Clubhouse members participate in a work-ordered day where members

complete tasks to help the Clubhouse function, giving them a space to socialize and be productive.

The exhibit was featured in the “Breaking Down the Walls” event on Thursday, May 16, at the Energy Innovation Center in the Hill District, a fundraiser for the Clubhouse to celebrate mental health recovery and raise awareness about stigma against those with

mental illness. Posters featured 24 Clubhouse colleagues, some of whom gave speeches at the event about their experience with mental illness and their time at the Clubhouse.

Arnheim, a Clubhouse member since 2021, explained that at 9, she sent her parents a paper airplane that read, “I’m sad, and I don’t know how to talk about it.” Her mother got her a therapist, but Arnheim became suicidal by the age of 12. She began to meet with a psychiatrist, but after his cancer diagnosis ended their sessions, she had to begin searching again.

Before she graduated college, Arnheim had already worked with five different mental health professionals. She ended up in an emotionally and physically abusive marriage that led to a weeklong stay in a psychiatric ward followed by three weeks of intensive outpatient therapy in 2001. She was living in New York City at the time, and just weeks after losing her job, 9/11 happened.

Around that time, her sister moved to Pittsburgh, and Arnheim followed.

“Living in Squirrel Hill, I knew the sign for the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse, but I never knew what it did or who it served,” said Arnheim, whose cousin suggested it might be a good fit for her. “I found a place that is safe, that can authentically see me and allow me to flourish in ways that I was struggling. When I learned about the work-ordered day model, I really thought it was going to help me with my pink slip anxiety, and it has.”

Delaine Swearman, a Clubhouse colleague for 14 years, said she knew she wanted to be a doctor since she was 3. When she applied to college, she decided to become a physician assistant so she could enter the medical field sooner.

After beginning work in 2002, being a physician assistant became a large part of her identity. She was let go from her first job and had her first inpatient psychiatric hospitalization shortly after starting her next job. After many medical leaves, she lost her job in 2009. That day, she realized her career was over.

“I saw myself as a total failure,” she said. “I had lost the only future that I could ever imagine. I lost the dreams of my childhood.

“We want to highlight the humanity of the people that we serve and that people with mental illness have the same desires and aspirations and interests as anyone else.”

I lost my whole identity, but then I found the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse. I no longer see myself as a failure, and I’ve developed a new identity. Throughout my experiences over the past 14 years, I’ve come to realize that people are so much more than just their job title.”

The issue of identity runs through all of the exhibit’s posters. Almost every statement accompanying the images begins with “I” and tells the story of Clubhouse colleagues beyond just their mental health struggles.

Swearman’s poster highlights other facets of her identity and life: She is a dragon boat paddler, an aunt and a gardener, and is mourning the loss of her cat.

Reneé Carlisle, a Clubhouse member for a little over a year, emphasized the importance of viewing people as more than their mental illness. Carlisle has struggled with depression since losing her father and brother within six months of each other.

“You don’t look at people as a mental illness. You look at them as the person they are. I’m Reneé. I’m not depressed,” she said. “People at the Clubhouse are awesome, and they look at you as a person.”

Nancy Gale, executive director of The Branch, came up with the idea of the exhibit after a vacation brought her to the Boston Logan International Airport. While walking down a hallway, she stopped at a series of black-and-white portraits paired with “I am” statements created by the Yellow Tulip Project, a nonprofit that aims to reduce stigma around mental health.

Pittsburgh photographer Alan Adams took the photos after Gale proposed that the Clubhouse do its own version for “Breaking Down the Walls.”

“We want to highlight the humanity of the people that we serve and that people with mental illness have the same desires and aspirations and interests as anyone else,” she said. “Our aim is for people to not see them as other just because they have a diagnosis. They’re people.” PJC

Abigail Hakas is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

p Julie Arnheim poses with her portrait at The Branch’s “Breaking Down the Walls” event on May 16.
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Life & Culture

Today’s understanding of Hollywood — the glitz, the glam, the red carpets and paparazzi — are a far cry from the film industry’s humble beginnings, when a group of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe laid the groundwork for what would become an epicenter of American and global culture.

Such is the story told by a new exhibition at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, which opened last week. “Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital” traces the history and legacy of early 20th-century Jewish Hollywood pioneers like the Warner brothers, Louis B. Mayer, Adolph Zukor and others. It is the museum’s first permanent exhibit.

The exhibit’s debut comes two and a half years after the museum’s opening, which sparked controversy among supporters and visitors for not including the industry’s Jewish beginnings.

Jacqueline Stewart, the museum’s director and president, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that community feedback helped the museum change its contents — and influenced its decision to make the exhibit permanent.

“I really feel that we’re able to present this exhibition now in a way that’s better than it would have been if we had tried to tell the story

when we first opened,” Stewart said during a press preview. “Because we understand our audiences better.”

Dara Jaffe, the exhibit’s curator, said she held listening sessions and spoke to a number of rabbis and other members of the Jewish community both in Los Angeles and across the country to gather as much feedback as possible.

“I talked to every single person who reached out to me,” Jaffe said. “Anyone who called, emailed, I wanted to hear from them. And also, most importantly, we wanted a lot of eyes on this. We didn’t want anyone to be surprised by the content. We wanted people to know exactly what to expect, and to feel like their voices were heard.”

Stewart also pointed to the exhibit’s bilingual

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their safety, their sense of identity,” Stewart said. “I’ve been really encouraged by the way that this exhibition has come together, because I think that there are so many young Jewish people who will get a sense of pride from it.”

For Jaffe, highlighting the Jewish identity of each founder was an integral part of telling the story of Hollywood — particularly because of the influence of antisemitism on their careers.

“We’re looking at the way that a dominant culture of antisemitism not only shaped the way these Jewish founders were drawn towards the industry, but the way they were treated even after they were atop this industry that they built,” Jaffe said.

presentation — the displays all include English and Spanish — and its permanence as signals of the importance of the “Hollywoodland” story.

“That is providing a point of access to this story that we were not doing when the museum first opened,” Stewart said, referring to the Spanish-language offerings. “It’s from listening to a broad range of voices and coming to understand that we really need to be the place to tell this industry history. And this industry history is a story about Jewish immigrants and the world that they built in Los Angeles.”

For both Jaffe and Stewart, the new exhibition is also personal: Jaffe is Jewish, as are Stewart’s children.

“I have a lot of concerns about my kids,

Jaffe, who had been working on the current iteration of the exhibit for more than two years, said she hopes it will serve as an educational resource, especially as antisemitism — including conspiracy theories about Jews running Hollywood — persists today.

“The same kind of antisemitic rhetoric that was leveled at these original Jewish founders of Hollywood, it’s still leveled at Jews in Hollywood today,” Jaffe said. “So to us, we are thinking about this as a very important educational platform to dispel these antisemitic harmful stereotypes, to offer some clarity and accuracy about why the founding of Hollywood is a Jewish immigrant story.”

The exhibit, housed on the third floor of the museum, contains three main sections.

Please see Hollywood, page 22

— FILM — An exceptional opportunity to build Israel now and make a difference for the future.
Today at jnf.org/volunteeril FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT Ellen Spira Hattenbach
LA’s Academy Museum initially excluded Hollywood’s Jewish origins. A new exhibit on Jewish film pioneers fixes that.
p The new “Hollywoodland: Jewish Founders and the Making of a Movie Capital” exhibit at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles Photo by Josh White, JWPictures/Academy Museum Foundation

Torah Celebrations

Bat Mitzvah

Emma Stavchansky , daughter of Arie and Rachael Stavchansky and sister of Talia (TD) and Sam Stavchansky, will celebrate becoming a bat mitzvah on May 25, 2024, at Congregation Beth Shalom. Emma is the granddaughter of Frank Miller of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Bertha Miller and Salomon Stavchansky of Austin, Texas; and the late Ruth Stavchansky, z”l. Emma enjoys art, theater and video animation. She is in the seventh grade at Community Day School, and she bravely started middle school as a transplant to Pittsburgh from Austin, Texas. Emma has an interest in drawing and always beats the rest of her family in Monopoly.

Talia (TD) Stavchansky will celebrate her bat mitzvah at Congregation Beth Shalom on May 25, 2024. Talia is the daughter of Arie and Rachael Stavchansky and sister of Emma and Sam Stavchansky. Her grandparents are Frank Miller of Chattanooga, Tennessee; Bertha Miller and Salomon Stavchansky of Austin, Texas; and the late Ruth Stavchansky, z”l. Talia enjoys singing, art, musical theater and graphic novels. She started Community Day School as a transplant from Austin, Texas, last year and is in the seventh grade. Talia has an interest in creative writing and is a very good listener to family and friends.

Mazel Tov!

Brother, can you spare some tzedakah?

It was a cold night in May, 20 years ago, and I had just finished a very satisfying meal on the Upper West Side of New York City. My belly was full as I was on my way to see the Broadway show “42nd Street,” when I was presented with the classic question, “Brother, can you spare some tzedakah?”

I was surprised by the wording. “Tzedakah” seemed to be an unusual word coming from a wandering African American wearing a cross, in search of a handout. I quickly realized that she knew me well enough by my kippah and the kosher restaurant I exited to pull on my Jewish righteous strings.

She didn’t ask for charity, a gift of the heart, as the Latin root caritas indicates. Rather, she asked for tzedakah, righteous giving, from the root tzedek, justice.

her and thought that maybe the next time I was approached I might do more than give a cookie, but I knew that there would be many other times. I went to “42nd Street,” the place where the underclass “can meet the elite, 42nd Street.” The rhythm of the dancing feet helped me to forget about the woman.

Four hours later, 10 blocks further north, she approached me again.

“Brother, can you spare some tzedakah?” I stopped and smiled.

“Hi, I’m Rabbi Symons, we met earlier.” She was puzzled.

“I gave you the cookie.”

“Yeah, I remember.”

I asked her name. Teresa told me her story, how she doesn’t use drugs or alcohol. How she doesn’t steal. She just needs help getting by.

Surprised by her ease with the word, I was taken aback for a moment and knew that I had to do something. I had no spare change readily accessible and I was in a rush. I didn’t want to ignore her request, so I reached into my leftovers bag and gave her an NYC-style rainbow-colored cookie, the kind that looks more like a cake than a cookie. I felt good about my action.

“Please, I hope that you enjoy this.”

“What’s this?” she responded.

“I thought you might enjoy this cookie.”

“I would prefer money.”

“But I have no spare change; all I have is this cookie.”

“Listen, I don’t steal or do drugs. I just need money.”

The conversation continued for a few seconds as she escorted me down the street. Flanked by 30 of my eighth-grade American and Israeli students, I asked her to leave us alone. The students and I talked about the need for respect in giving and receiving. We talked about how sometimes you can only give so much.

I was grateful to this woman for helping me to fulfill the mitzvah, the Jewish sacred responsibility of giving to the poor. I was particularly grateful that this happened during the week when we read the Torah portion Behar, because in it we find the verse:

This time, even though I had more cookies to share, I searched my pocket for the change I avoided four hours earlier. I gave her a dollar. We wished each other “God bless you.” I never thought that our first anonymous exchange would be repeated. Teresa seemed to fill her time asking for handouts. It seemed to be a way of life for her.

I wonder why I changed my response to Teresa between our first and second interactions. Was it compassion? Was it the joy of the show? Was it persistence? Maybe it had to do with Rashi, the great medieval Torah commentator, who teaches we should understand the verse above in this way:

“Do not leave your brother by himself until he has descended and fallen at which point it will be difficult to raise him up. Rather, uphold him from the moment of the failure of his means. To what is this similar? To a heavy load on a donkey. As long as it is on the donkey, one person can hold the donkey up and keep him from falling to the ground. But, once the donkey and the load fall to the ground, five people will not be able to put him on his feet again.”

I learned a lesson 20 years ago in NYC: Do not wait until someone falls down to help them; support them before they fall. I learned that lesson 20 years ago in NYC and have carried it with me through my work in Boston and Pittsburgh, through Temple Sinai and the JCC Center for Loving Kindness. That lesson has served as the basis of my work ever since. Pittsburgh has been the perfect place to strive to help.

“If your brother becomes impoverished and his means falter in your proximity, you shall strengthen him — proselyte or resident — so that he will live with you.”

According to this verse, our person in need is either a member of the Jewish community for a long time (a brother), one who joined our community through conversion, or one who simply lives among us (Jewish adjacent). This is how I felt about the woman. She clearly was one who lived within a Jewish community, the Upper West Side. Her use of the word “tzedakah” showed her familiarity with our ways.

I felt good about my interaction with

Now, as Barbara and I prepare to relocate to the NYC area to be with family and friends, I’ll continue to carry it with me and act accordingly. I hope that you will continue to carry it with you and act accordingly here in Pittsburgh, too. It has been an honor to do this mitzvah and so many others with you. Thank you. PJC

Rabbi Ron Symons is the senior director of Jewish Life at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh. This column is a service of the Greater Pittsburgh Jewish Clergy Association.

5885 Forbes Avenue • Squirrel Hill, PA 15217 phone #: 412-521-8100 Rachels and Reubens...
Rabbi Ron Symons
Parshat Behar | Leviticus 25:1 – 26:2 I learned a lesson 20 years ago in
Do not wait until someone falls down to help them; support them before they fall.
Absolutely! special recognition. The more you celebrate in life… the more there is in life to celebrate! SEND YOUR CELEBRATIONS, MAZEL TOVS, AND PHOTOS TO: announcements@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org And there is no better place to share your joy than in... What is a special occasion…a birth, a b’nai mitzvah, an engagement, a wedding, an anniversary? Absolutely! But so is a birthday, a graduation, an athletic victory, an academic achievement…anything that deserves special recognition. The more you celebrate in life… the more there is in life to celebrate! SEND YOUR CELEBRATIONS, MAZEL TOVS, AND PHOTOS TO: announcements@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org SPECIAL OCCASIONS DESERVE SPECIAL ATTENTION And there is no better place to share your joy than in...


BEHREND: William Behrend, on Saturday, May 18, 2024, age 98, of Oakland after a brief illness. William (Bill) Behrend was born March 20, 1926, in Jersey City, New Jersey, to Morris D. Behrend and Esther Cohen Behrend. He and his late brothers Daniel and Dean grew up in Maplewood, New Jersey. Bill was a graduate of Columbia High School and New York University. He was a veteran of WWII, serving in the Army Air Corp. at Fort Dix, New Jersey. After the war, Bill moved to Pittsburgh to marry Celeste Silberstein and they settled in Squirrel Hill. He was a mortgage banker at Pittsburgh Mortgage Corp., a partner at Urban Development Corp. and then a real estate appraiser, developer and partner at Key Management Corp. with offices in Shadyside and on Murray Avenue, where he was also a notary public for decades serving generations with their real estate and auto title work. Bill was particularly honored to assist Holocaust survivors in receiving reparations from Germany. He was also involved in politics, running local campaigns, serving as a precinct committeeman and active with the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club. Bill was a survivor, having been run over by a motorboat in his teens and a head-on car crash and polio in his 20s. Despite these challenges, he maintained incredible, understated good humor and was never once heard to complain. At 98 he was still doing the NY Times crossword puzzle every day in ink. He was the beloved husband of the late Celeste Silberstein Behrend (1928-2009), and father of Samuel (Mary Ann O’Neil) of Tucson, Arizona, Bernhard (Stefanie Forscher Behrend) of Pittsburgh and Charles (Nancy Gondleman) Behrend of Denver, Colorado; grandfather of Margot, Vanessa, Daniel, Kacy, Georgia and Andrew; and great-grandfather of Maya, Claire, Jacob, Avery and Luka; nieces Celia Jane and Julie; nephews Douglas, Andrew (deceased) and Richard. Graveside service and interment were held at West View Cemetery of Rodef Shalom Congregation. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and a charity of one’s choice. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. schugar.com

owned Silvestri California, one of the largest mannequin manufacturers in the world. Alain was a passionate collector of bicycles, cars, boats and airplanes, but above all else, he loved family. His greatest pride was his daughter, Mia, and his days were filled with happiness alongside his wife, Ruta. Alain’s extraordinary strength was evident during his six-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He is survived by his wife, Ruta; daughter, Mia; stepson, Vincent; and sisters Terry Snyder, Simone Politi and Debbie Minchenberg. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to PanCan.org.

COHEN: Lynne C. Cohen, age 87, of New Castle, Pennsylvania, passed away the early morning of May 15, 2024, at Sharon Regional Hospital. Born June 13, 1936, in New Brighton, Pennsylvania, she was the daughter of the late Pierson and Besse (Balter) Caplan. On Aug. 3, 1958, she married her husband of nearly 60 years, Earl Cohen. He preceded her in death on Feb. 9, 2018. Lynne was a graduate of New Castle High School class of 1954. She graduated in 1957 from the Lilian S. Kaufman School of Nursing. For 41 years, she was employed by Jameson Memorial Hospital, where she worked in the pediatrics and same-day surgery departments, until her retirement in 1999. Lynne enjoyed going to ball games with her husband and their family as well as spending time in Florida. Above anything else she treasured her family and the times she was able to spend with them, especially her grandchildren. Lynne was a member of Temple Hadar Israel, Hadassah, and served as president of Tifereth Israel sisterhood and the New Castle Jr. Woman’s Club. Survivors include one daughter, Debbie (Sheldon) Abrams of Holland, Pennsylvania; one son, Mark (Kristen) Cohen of Lewes, Delaware; four grandchildren, Alexa (Vinny) Abrams Marinelli, Justin Abrams, Daria Cohen and Brianna Cohen. A funeral service was held at the R. Cunningham Funeral Home & Crematory, Inc., with Sam Bernstine officiating. Burial was alongside her husband at Tifereth Israel Cemetery. Memorial contributions may be offered to the donor’s choice in memory of Lynne. Online condolences may be offered to the family by visiting cunninghamfh.com.

JOSOWITZ: Marlene Weitz Josowitz, on Monday, May 13, 2024. Beloved wife and best friend of the late Jack Josowitz. Cherished mother of Fern (Alan) Steckel, Steven (Lydia) Josowitz and Barry (Beth) Josowitz. Daughter of the late Sam and Minnie Weitz. Sister of the late Irwin Weitz, late Esther Leff and late Frank Weitz. Grammie to Scott (Maya), Michael (Cari), Adam (Lee), Ian, Paul (Will Cannon), Alex (Dani), Torey and Shayna; great-grammie to Reid Jackson, Jamie Miriam, Ben Jacob, Morgan Hayes and Danielle Mia. Also survived by nieces and nephews. Special thanks to Sivitz Jewish Hospice and her aids, Ayonna, Liya and Lydia. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Poale Zedeck Memorial Park Cemetery. Contributions may be made to Sivitz Hospice, 200 JHF Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15217, Congregation Beth Shalom, 5915 Beacon St., Pittsburgh, PA 15217 or a charity of donor’s choice. schugar.com

LEVI: Elie Alain Levi, 68, a remarkable man whose life journey spanned continents and touched countless hearts, passed away on April 23, 2024, surrounded by loved ones. Born in Alexandria, Egypt, on May 15, 1955, to Menasce and Diane Levi, the Levis were soon forced from their home in Egypt, lived in Paris, and made their way to Squirrel Hill. In Squirrel Hill, Alain became an American, joined the swim team, attended the Hebrew Institute, made lifelong friendships and many happy memories with his sisters, Terry, Simone and Debbie. After graduating from Allderdice High School, Alain attended Penn State and graduated from UCLA. He led a successful career in law and business, where he

Helene Girson Myers, of Pittsburgh and Palm Beach, Florida, adored wife of the late Morton Myers, passed away peacefully, surrounded by love on Mother’s Day, May 12, 2024. Beloved mother of Jaymi Myers-Newman (Kenneth T. Newman); cherished grandmother of Grant Newman, Cole Newman and Heath Newman. She was preceded in death by her son, the late Craig Myers, her parents, the late Harry and Lillian Ohringer Girson, and her brother, the late Ronald Girson. Helene was proud to have been born and raised in Squirrel Hill and gave that same childhood to her own children. She loved her daily walks through her neighborhood, stopping “upstreet” to chat along the way. She had enormous empathy, a vivid imagination, a quick laugh and a generous spirit. Helene was a great beauty. She modeled in Pittsburgh and New York, and was the Dapper Dan Girl and Miss Pittsburgh. After graduating from the University of Pittsburgh, she taught second grade at Wightman School. She went on to own and operate a gift shop called Knock on Wood on Walnut Street in Shadyside. Helene loved her family, and she loved the movies. There was not a movie that she did not see. Oscar Night was her big event. But to her family, she was always the real star. She always will be. Service and interment were held at Homewood Cemetery. If you would like to make a charitable donation in Helene’s memory, kindly consider the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 North Michigan Ave., 17th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. schugar.com

SHEAR: Belle Shear, the beloved wife of Sam Shear; mother of Barbara (David) Gershon, Shelly (Mike) Andreas, Howard (Jackie) Shear; and sister of the late Carl Williamson. She was Grammy to six grandchildren: Andrew (Siejhi) Gershon, Lauren (Eric) Morales, Evan (Kristin) Andreas, Benjamin (Nicolle D’Onofrio) Andreas, Brad Shear and Margo (Justin) Fischgrund; and six great-grandchildren: Teddy and Quincy Morales, Parker and Cooper

Please see Obituaries, page 20

Jewish Association on Aging gratefully acknowledges contributions from the following: A gift from ... In memory of... Anonymous Harry Berenfield Lessa Finegold A Mitchell Caplan

Idelle Hoffman . .Mildred “Mitzie” Greenwald Miller

Schlesinger & Seed Families .Beatrice (Bibe) W Schlesinger

Jerry & Ina Silver Judith Gutkowska Mendelsohn

Sharon Snider

Max Snider

Sharon Snider .Ed Snider

Dr Susan Snider & Family .Ed Snider

Rhea & Howard Troffkin Frieda Troffkin

Susie Zohlman & Sally Close .Elise K Goldman

Contact the Development department at 412-586-2690 or development@jaapgh.org for more information. THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS —

Sunday May 26: Cora G . Barnett, Harry Berenfield, Benjamin B Chotiner, Lois Ruth Cohen, Leonard Frank, Shane Rose Gelman, Herman Greenstein, Paul E Gusky, Allan L Janowitz, P Fred Kamens, Anna T Kirkell, Ruth Klein, Morris Krasik, Sol S Kurtz, Minnie Latterman, Abe Leventon, Paul Mainzer, Evelyn Meyer, Max Rice, Rebecca Wesoky Robins, Dorothy Rosenthal, Sherman Howard Schenk, Sophia Silverman, Rubin Solomon, Max Weiss, Frieda W Wolff

Monday May 27: Hyman Louis Abrams, Rose Seiger Allen, David Busis, Harry Faberman, Anna K Farbstein, Anna Feivelson, Philip Grossman, Sanford C Kramer, William Samuel Landau, Beatrice (Bibe) Schlesinger, Mayme Skirboll, Charles Teper, Yetta H Wheeler

Tuesday May 28: Alexander Bardin, Anna Bourd, Abraham Mitchell Caplan, Bernard Carlton, Jerome Gelman, Leah M Greenberg, Bessie N Harris, Betty York Joseph, Benjamin Kellman, Rose Levin, Joseph J Martin, Samuel Saul Morris, Sylvia Rosenberg, Phillip Ruben, Abraham Saville, Amelia K Silver

Wednesday May 29: Alice G Eisner, Marion Feldman, Anna E Ginsburg, Harry Goldberg, Hilda Goldberg, Bertha B Levy, Harold Liptz, Theodore Mervis, Ethel A Miller, Samuel Myer Roth

Thursday May 30: Lena Davidson, Irwin J Harris, William Kempler, Edna F Levine, Judith Gutkowska Mendelsohn, Saul M Morris, Saul Schein, Ada M Shepard, Abraham Shiner, Maurice A Steinberg, Samuel Stoller, Rosalee Bachman Sunstein, Celia S Wedner

Friday May 31: Herman Barnett, Myer D Berman, Ida Burns, Harry Davidson, Robert K Finkelhor, Henry Fried, Ernest Gartner, Elise K Goldman, Martin S Kaiserman, Arthur Seymour Markowitz, Sylvia Shaer, Meyer Weinberg

Saturday June 1: Herman Barnett, Rae Rubin Farber, Jennie Gross, Adolph Hersh, Edward A Lenchner, Lizzie Lieberman, Helen G Match, Arnold Ivan Meyers, Rose Pinsker Rudick, Mary Rotter, David Rubenstein, Morris L Sands, Lillian Goodman Smith, Ed Snider, Edwin Snider, Fannie Rosenthal Weinberg


It’s Important To Pre-Plan.

The Jewish Cemetery & Burial Association of Greater Pittsburgh (JCBA) welcomes inquiries about the purchase of burial plots in JCBA cemeteries.

JCBA is committed to the proper care and maintenance of sacred grounds, and is devoted to the stewardship of Jewish cemeteries in Western Pennsylvania.

Plots are available in the following JCBA cemeteries:

Agudath Achim – Beaver Falls

Agudath Achim – Hampton

Anshe Lubovitz

Beth Abraham

B’nai Israel- Steubenville

Holy Society – Uniontown

Johnstown Jewish Cemeteries

Kether Torah

Machsikei Hadas

New Castle Jewish Cemeteries

Poale Zedeck Memorial Park

Rodef Shalom

Shaare To rah

Tiphereth Israel - Shaler

Torath Chaim

Workmen’s Circle #45

We anticipate plot and burial fees at all JCBA cemeteries to increase in 2025.

For more information please visit our website at www.jcbapgh.org, email us a jcbapgh.org or call the JCBA at 412-553-6469.

For more information about JCBA cemeteries, to volunteer, to read our complete histories and/or to make a contribution,



Continued from page 19

Andreas, Baxter Andreas and Madden Fischgrund. She also had many nieces, nephews and friends who loved her dearly. Belle passed away on May 16, 2024, but she leaves behind a legacy of cherished memories and recipes from a remarkable 94 years of life and 72 years of marriage. She was born on Oct. 29, 1929, in the heart of the Hill District in Pittsburgh, to Libbie and Julius Williamson. And one of her favorite stories to tell included an important history lesson: While the stock market was crashing and some were ending their lives, she was just beginning hers! Though her frame was small, she was an intense, feisty firecracker who could sew, embroider, bake, and shop a sale like no other. And whether you knew her as Belle, Bella or Bellalie, you’ll always remember a woman whose love ran deep for her family and friends. She should always be remembered as a blessing. Interment Shaare Torah Cemetery in Whitehall. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the charity of your choice. Professional services by D’Alessandro Funeral Home & Crematory Ltd., Lawrenceville. dalessandroltd.com

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WEIN: Rosalyn Eisner Wein, on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 12, 2024; it was fitting, as motherhood was Ros’ greatest role. Beloved wife of the late Joseph Wein of Clarion, Pennsylvania, and Pittsburgh. Daughter of the late Louis and Ethel Rabinovitz Eisner; loving mother of Cheryl (David) Weisberg, Tedd (Ellen Goldhagen) and Alisa (Robbie) Oppenheim. Sister of Jay Eisner; preceded in death by the late Samuel Eisner. Devoted grandmother of Ariel “Lee” (Talia) Weisberg, Elana (Kirsten Opstad) Weisberg, Robin (Chris) Shoemaker, Amy Wein, Michael and Sari Oppenheim (fiancé Jacob Horvitz); great-grandmother of Ora, Yosef and Avi Weisberg, Sycamore Hart Opstad Weisberg and Sophie Shoemaker. Also survived by loving nieces, nephews, beloved cousins and many close friends. Rosalyn lived in Clarion for 32 years, where she raised her family. She loved cooking, gardening, entertaining and traveling with her husband and family. In 1968, Ros and Joe made their first of many trips to Israel where there was a large extended Wein family. In 1992 she and Joe proudly volunteered in the Sar-El Program for two months in Netanya, both on an army base and in the Be’eri School. Ros’ last visit to Israel was nine months after Joe’s passing to attend the wedding of her oldest grandchild, Ariel, in Jerusalem, almost 13 years ago. The family enjoyed many vacations together including summer picnics at Cook Forest and many wonderful summers at Chautauqua Lake. Ros was a proud lifetime member of Hadassah and gave that same gift to her two daughters and oldest granddaughter. She was an active and passionate leader and president of many civic and Jewish organizations in both Clarion and Pittsburgh, including participating in the adult b’nai mitzvah program at Temple Sinai. While in Clarion she served as president of both The Clarion Civic Club and Clarion Hospital Guild. Ros was also very active in the Oil City Tree of Life Synagogue as president of both the Sisterhood and Hadassah chapter. She also enjoyed acting in several productions of the Clarion Community Players. Before Ros married her beloved Joe of 57 years in 1955 and moved to Clarion, she enjoyed working at both JFCS and as assistant to the late Rabbi Solomon Freehof at Rodef Shalom. It was during this time that Ros would begin to develop and nourish many friendships that would last a lifetime. She will always be remembered for her beautiful smile and her ability to connect with young and old alike. The family would like to thank the caring staff at Ahava Memory Care for their loving care of Ros (“Rozie,” as she was affectionately known there for the past three years). Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment Beth Shalom Cemetery. schugar.com PJC

Michele Stehle, deceased, of Pittsburgh, PA, No. 3168 of 2024, John J. Checkeye, Administrator, c/o David J. Slesnick, Esq., 310 Grant Street, Suite # 1220, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Anna Marie Shields, deceased, of Pittsburgh, PA, No. 3170 of 2024, Nicole Lockhart, Executrix, c/o David J. Slesnick, Esq., 310 Grant Street, Suite #1220, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

expanded vision is made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish
Community Foundation D EBORAH S. P RISE

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Life & Culture


Continued from page 14

evenly around the pita until it separates into 2 round pieces.

Brush or drizzle each half of the pita with 1 teaspoon of olive oil per half and sprinkle each half with sumac and sea salt. (For a more precise measurement, use a 1/16th-size measuring spoon. If you ever wondered what a “pinch” means in baking, that is exactly what it is.)

Continued from page 17

“Los Angeles: From Film Frontier to Industry Town, 1902-1929” features a digital topographical map of L.A. alongside a wall-length video screen depicting the city’s landscape and its progression, highlighting key landmarks that contributed to the growth of the film industry — from Warner Brothers Studios to influential Jewish sites such as Wilshire Boulevard Temple.

The second component, titled “Studio Origins,” is a long series of panels detailing the history of Hollywood’s studio system, spotlighting the eight studios known as “the majors” and their Jewish founders. In addition to archival documents, images of early studio lots, movie posters and behind-the scenes images from film sets, the displays mention each founder’s Jewish background.

The thickness of the pita will affect the baking time, so stay close by the first time you prepare this. Toast for 4-7 minutes on the first side and pull the pan out of the oven. Quickly flip the pieces and give the side that is now facing up another sprinkle of sumac and salt. Put it back into the oven and toast for another 3-5 minutes. The pita should be slightly brown but still have a bit of movement to it.

Remove it from the oven to cool for 10 minutes before using. You can make this a few hours in advance.

assimilation — and of raising the profile of an initially low-brow industry — are anchors of the exhibit.

The Warner Bros. display highlights Harry and Jack Warner’s “early stance against Nazism when polls and public discourse still conveyed this was an unpopular position in the United States.”

In the Universal installment, there is a 1938 letter written by studio founder Carl Laemmle, in which he emphasizes his concern for European Jewry. Laemmle would help hundreds flee Nazi Germany.

The third component of the “Hollywoodland” exhibit is a 30-minute documentary, “From the Shtetl to the Studio: The Jewish Story of Hollywood,” which traces the rise of the Jewish studio executives and their myriad impacts on the industry and on Los Angeles.

Chop the rest of the vegetables as you wish. Some people prefer to make this salad very fine; I prefer chunkier pieces. I like to use what I have on hand, so sometimes I use different kinds of tomatoes or colored peppers. This is one of the best salads to prepare if you have random vegetables that need to be eaten.

When you’re ready to dress the salad, start with about ¼ cup of dressing and go from there. Coat the lettuce and vegetables lightly; there should not be any dressing pooling in the bottom of the serving bowl. You can bring

deep-seated antisemitism that permeated both the United States and Los Angeles — from calls for boycotts and discriminatory real estate practices to antisemitic leaders like Henry Ford and Father Charles Coughlin.

The film also focuses on the studio founders’ desire to fit in during a time when assimilating was crucial to success in America. Louis B. Mayer, for instance, the co-founder of MetroGoldwyn-Mayer studios, was born Lazar Meir, while fellow co-founder Samuel Goldwyn was born Szmuel Gelbfisz.

the dressing to the table so that people can add more if they like. The herbs shine through because the dressing is light.

Break the toasted pita by hand and sprinkle the pieces over the salad. You also can add about 1 cup of grated feta cheese if you’re having a dairy meal.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as I do. Bless your hands! PJC

Jessica Grann is a home chef living in Pittsburgh.

meant deferring to the cultural zeitgeist of the era, which oftentimes excluded or misrepresented women, people of color and members of the LGBT community. It also meant suppressing their own Jewish identities.

“This empire could be taken away at any moment by antisemitic forces that persistently questioned the Hollywood Jews’ admittance to America,” the documentary says. “If their Jewish identities became visible in their movies, they would suffer the consequences.”

In the section for Paramount, which was founded by Adolph Zukor and Jesse Lasky, the exhibit explains that “Zukor aimed to elevate the artistic status of movies to gain social respectability otherwise out of reach for a Jewish immigrant.” The idea of

Narrated by TV host Ben Mankiewicz, the grandson of legendary screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (the subject of the film “Mank”), the documentary follows the Hollywood pioneers from their humble beginnings as working-class immigrants through their steady rise to power, all while overcoming a

“The dream was to be assimilated and accepted as true Americans in their new country,” the documentary says early on. “The fear was that a dominant culture of anti-immigration and antisemitism would tear away their progress, keeping them marginalized, vulnerable and powerless. For this group of Jewish immigrants, these twin motivations drove the creation of Hollywood and combined into a force that could redefine their lives, and ours.”

The film also explores how, as the executives sought to depict their idealistic interpretations of “the American Dream” in their movies, that

Helping Teens Prepare Jewish College Life for

Tuesday, May 28 • 5-6:30 pm JCC Squirrel Hill, Kaufmann Building, Room 202 5738 Forbes Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15217

Free and open to the public · Kosher dairy refreshments will be served

Panel Discussion

For Jaffe, while the events of the past several months — namely Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, the Israel-Hamas war and the reported global spike in antisemitism — didn’t influence the content of the exhibit, she said the current climate does accentuate the need for accurate storytelling.

“Unfortunately, antisemitism has always been prevalent and remains so, so this story always remains relevant,” Jaffe said. “There have been so many times throughout the last couple years where I wished that this exhibition was open so I could point to it and say, ‘if you’d like to be educated on this topic, please come to the Academy Museum, we’ll tell you exactly why.’ And so I’m just glad that it’s finally open.” PJC Hollywood:

Learn from Jewish Life Professionals what to consider when choosing and visiting college campuses.

The panelists

Panelists include Danielle Kranjec from Hillel International, Brian Burke from Hillel JUC and current college students!

More info: Maria Carson mcarson@jccpgh.org

REGISTER HERE: Join us for a panel discussion on Jewish
in college and how Jewish students learn and thrive in a variety of college environments!


Community members celebrated 76 years of Israel’s independence. The May 19 festivities included a march from Congregation Beth

Macher and Shaker

Emmet Schuler of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh placed second in the The Harvard Salient inaugural high school essay contest. Essays were judged by the Salient’s editorial team and Professor Emeritus Harvey Mansfield, “who has championed conservative thought at Harvard

What a pack

Members of the Pittsburgh Jewish community joined the NORPAC mission to Washington, D.C., and met with elected officials, including U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, U.S. Rep. Chris Deluzio and U.S. Sen. John Fetterman. Founded in 1994, NORPAC is a bipartisan Political Action Committee that supports candidates and sitting members of Congress who demonstrate a “genuine commitment

p Photo courtesy of Amy Schuler p Photo courtesy of Etti Martel p Photo courtesy of Rochelle Parker Quite the finish Shalom to the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, p Walk this way. p Ayelet Knoll, left, participates in a coloring activity. Photos by Joshua Franzos
24 MAY 24, 2024 PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG Let our expert shoppers navigate the aisles for you with Curbside pickup & delivery. save time and money

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