November 18, 2022 | 24 Cheshvan 5783
Candlelighting 4:42 p.m. | Havdalah 5:43 p.m. | Vol. 65, No. 46 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org
Pennsylvania elections make state firmly blue
NOTEWORTHY LOCAL New name, broader reach
Jewish Pittsburghers react to Israeli election
Jewish Residential Services is now The Branch Page 2
LOCAL Honoring the past, looking to the future Benjamin Netanyahu speaks with President Joe Biden from his office in Jerusalem on Nov. 7.
Photo courtesy of the Office of Benjamin Netanyahu
Josh Shapiro, his family and his running mate Austin Davis bask in their victory on stage at The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. Photo by Jarrad Saffren By David Rullo | Staff Writer
New Light’s new cemetery chapel
LOCAL CEO with a mission
Carole Zawatsky takes the helm at the Tree of Life nonprofit
ennsylvania, it appears, proved to be a firewall against a midterm national red wave. Democrat Attorney General Josh Shapiro defeated his Republican gubernatorial opponent Doug Mastriano by nearly 13% and, despite a widely panned debate performance in the waning days of the senatorial campaign, Democrat Lt. Gov. John Fetterman beat TV personality and Pennsylvania transplant Mehmet Oz. Closer to home, Democrat Summer Lee was declared the victor shortly after the polls closed in her race against Republican Mike Doyle in the commonwealth’s 12th District, becoming the first Black woman to win a congressional seat in Pennsylvania. Democrat Chris Deluzio defeated Jeremy Shaffer to keep Rep. Connor Lamb’s 17th District congressional seat blue. Libertarian Andrew Neft, who lives in Upper St. Clair, voted for Shapiro, he said, because he felt Shapiro was a stronger candidate, not because of the antisemitic claims voiced against Mastriano. Neft split his ticket, though, voting for both Oz and Doyle. “The one that’s really disappointing is the
congressional race,” he said about the 12th District race. “[Lee] is Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar together.” Election results aside, Neft is most concerned about politicians seeking to enrich themselves while in office. “They put themselves first, party second and country third,” he said. “Something needs to change. It’s a cancer within our political system.” Dana Platt Blitstein went to bed early on Nov. 8, with some trepidation about what she’d awaken to find on the news. She was pleasantly surprised to learn that both Shapiro and Fetterman had won their races. “My gosh, what a sigh of relief,” she said. “I thought Josh Shapiro had it in the bag, but I was concerned for Fetterman.” The Squirrel Hill resident’s fears were intensified after the Fetterman/Oz debate, but she believes a lot of people felt sympathy for the Democrat. “He portrays himself as a candidate that’s been knocked down and gets back up,” she said. “I think that’s what happened, I really do.”
By David Rullo | Staff Writer
hink you’re sick of hearing about the midterm elections? Did you tire from the barrage of television commercials, talking heads and political yard signs? Are you feeling anxious from not knowing for certain the winners of every race and which party would control the House? Whatever strong emotions you associate with the Nov. 8 elections, they pale in comparison to what Israelis have experienced. On Nov. 1, the Jewish state completed its fifth legislative election in nearly four years. The makeup of the country’s Knesset, its prime minister and its governing coalitions keep changing based on the political winds blowing across the Middle Eastern country. The political intrigue started in 2018 when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on the verge of losing his governing coalition, called for elections. Despite winning that election, he failed to form a government and called for new elections in April 2019. In 2019, the Likud and Blue and White Party finished in a virtual tie, but neither party was able to form a coalition, meaning — you guessed it — more elections. Before the third round of elections took place, though,
Please see Pennsylvania, page 10
Please see Israel, page 10
Volunteers of the Year November 23
Rana Hamid / iStock / Getty Images Plus
Headlines JRS rebrands, extends work while maintaining Jewish roots — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer
ewish Residential Services is now The Branch, and its new tagline is “Taking inclusion to new heights.” The name change was announced at a special reception on Nov. 3 at the Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse in Squirrel Hill. “As we look to the future and set a course for continued growth, we need to continue evolving as an organization and that includes transitioning to a new name that better fits who we are today and will be tomorrow,” the organization’s executive director Nancy Gale told attendees. “We really felt like it was imperative to have a name that could create more openness to explain what we do,” she told the Chronicle. The organization traces its roots to a Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh task force established nearly 40 years ago. At the time, the group reviewed various services offered within the Jewish community. After determining that adults with intellectual disabilities, or people living with mental illness, remained isolated from neighbors and community members, Jewish Residential Services was created in 1993 and began serving eight people with a history of mental illness. During the past three decades, the organization has evolved to provide not only residential care, but educational, rehabilitative and social offerings — all based on Jewish values, culture and practices, Gale explained — while welcoming individuals of all faiths and backgrounds. Before addressing celebrants on Nov. 3, Jan (who asked that her last name be withheld) told the Chronicle about her experience with the organization. “I have a long history of mental illness, probably longer than I realize,” she said. “Lots of suicidal attempts, lots of suicidal ideations, lots of
p Jan, Kenny Steinberg and Nancy Gale
self-injury, lots of hospitalizations.” As part of an outpatient program through UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital, Jan learned about the organization formally known as JRS and its Sally and Howard Levin Clubhouse, a Squirrel Hill-based center where adults with mental illness band together and develop social and vocational skills. Western Psych recommended Jan partake in the Clubhouse’s offerings.
Photo courtesy of Rebel Fox
“I didn’t want to come,” she said. “I felt like they were making me come. Nobody said, ‘You have to go,’ but in my mind, it was like, ‘Oh, they’re telling me to go.’” Jan reluctantly arrived at the Clubhouse, where she sat in the back — occupying one of two black leather chairs — and refused to engage in any of the Clubhouse’s programming. According to Caitlin Lasky, director of
development and communications at The Branch, the Clubhouse does not hold formal therapy groups. There are meetings throughout the day where individuals discuss the work that needs to be accomplished in each of the Clubhouse’s areas. Jan returned to the Clubhouse and eventually warmed to its environment. Over time, she started participating in meetings and activities. Her first job at the Clubhouse was cleaning toilets. It was ideal, she said: “I didn’t have to talk to anybody. I was by myself.” Since arriving at the Clubhouse eight years ago, she increased her involvement. Her hospitalizations continued, she said, but as opposed to going to the Clubhouse once every 10 days, she now attends three times a week. In 2020, during a JRS-hosted open mic night styled like “The Moth,” a popular storytelling event and podcast, Jan spoke. Before that night, “I hadn’t told anybody about the [attempted] suicides, I hadn’t told anybody about the self-injury, except my therapists,” she said. Sharing so many personal details was terrifying, but it was also “powerful,” Jan said: “We all got incredibly positive feedback. For me, it was like, ‘What, you believe me? You’re praising me? You’re hugging me?’ And so that just spurred me to kind of further blossom here.” That pre-pandemic night was “healing,” she said, and it also reminded Jan of the organization’s virtues. “We are a community here,” she said. “It has allowed me to stumble, to weep … And yeah we can come and we can do all of these things, but we do it in a spirit of love — that doesn’t mean that we don’t get mad at each other — but I think for all of us, on some level, that’s where part of our healing comes from.” Throughout the Nov. 3 program, individuals related their connectedness to the Please see Rebrand, page 11
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Headlines Grandson of late Holocaust survivor Judah Samet wins award for modern Shoah film — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer
haring aspects of his grandfather’s story was one of the challenges Penn State University senior Ezekiel Winitsky faced in developing his six-minute film, “Coming to Berlin.” “You want to make sure you are telling the story for the right reasons,” said Winitsky, the grandson of Judah Samet, a survivor of both the Holocaust and the massacre at the Tree of Life building, who died in September. “The project required me to think about who I am as a storyteller, what I’m saying in the film and what people are going to walk away with.” Winitsky won the IES Study Abroad Film Festival for his movie about reckoning with the Holocaust. The film pits protagonist Zeke against Yechezkel, a fictionalized historical version of Zeke, during a modern-day trip to Germany. The actors (both played by Winitsky) debate the Shoah’s legacy and the extent to which survivors and their descendants remain gripped by the horrific event. “Coming to Berlin” is filmed in various settings, including a wooded area, near
p A still from Zeke Winitsky's “Coming to Berlin” Photo courtesy of Zeke Winitsky
p Zeke Winitsky
Photos courtesy of IES Abroad
remnants of the Berlin Wall and at an urban Holocaust memorial. Between scenes, the film relies on dramatic flashes of still photos, including a picture of Samet. Reception to the film has been positive. Patrick Jager, a media executive and Study Abroad Film Festival jury member, told the Daily Collegian that Winitsky’s film was a “powerful, eye-opening glimpse into history and family.” Kiah Zellner-Smith, a multimedia marketing manager who worked on the
film festival, told the Daily Collegian that “Coming to Berlin” was an important film given its treatment of family and the experience of studying abroad. Despite wanting to create some sort of project during his stay in Germany last summer, Winitsky wasn’t sure what the film would reflect. He narrowed in on his subject after arriving in Berlin. After seeing so many Holocaust memorials, and listening to various tales related to the Shoah, Winitsky discovered there were “two voices” in his head, he said. Relying on those competing calls for attention, Winitsky began drafting a project. He wrote the script shortly after arriving in Germany but then sat on the work for weeks. “My parents really pushed me to make
something out of it,” he said. With their encouragement, Winitsky pulled together costumes and created storyboards. He filmed the material in one day, then edited it on the “back end” of his trip while staying in hostels and sitting in airports. “I had a rough cut when I got back to the States,” he said. Winitsky, who is studying film at Penn State, said he’s encouraged by the support “Coming to Berlin” has received. “As a young filmmaker, it’s validating to have someone besides your parents say they like it,” he said. Winitsky added that he felt a certain “catharsis” in telling the story and hopes others experience something similar. Although he hails from eastern Pennsylvania, Winitsky said he feels an affinity for Pittsburgh and the many people here who cherished his grandfather for so long. “I have so much love for the Pittsburgh Jewish community,” he said. “Even though my grandfather has passed, I still feel connected and want to be connected to that.” PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.
New Light Congregation honors past, looks to future, with dedicated cemetery chapel — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer
ne day after observing the yahrzeits of Joyce Fienberg, Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Jerry Rabinowitz, Cecil Rosenthal, David Rosenthal, Bernice Simon, Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax and Irving Younger, New Light Congregation dedicated a memorial chapel and looked to the future. Seated beside one another on Nov. 13, nearly 40 congregants and friends recited Psalms, sang and reminisced inside a former garage at New Light Cemetery in Shaler Township. New Light co-president Stephen Cohen told attendees that when construction began on the space there was no ceiling, no stained-glass doors to the side and the greenish-hued carpet was merely dirt. In place of the former garage now stands a refashioned building that tells the congregation’s history and includes personal religious items belonging to New Light’s three members who were murdered four years ago during the attack at the Tree of Life building. The new chapel, however, is “more than a memorial to our three congregants: Richard Gottfried, Daniel Stein and Melvin Wax,” Cohen said. “It is a memorial to all those who died and survived that day. It is a memorial to New Light itself. And on a more mundane level, it provides something that our cemetery has lacked for many PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
p A shofar used by Richard Gottfried, siddur used by Melvin Wax and haftarah study guide used by Daniel Stein honor New Light's "religious heart." Photo by Adam Reinherz
years: a chapel for pre- and post-funeral gatherings and, most importantly, facilities for the mourners.” Cohen acknowledged contractors, architects and several individuals and companies, including Eric Lidji, director of the Rauh Jewish Archives, Hunt Stained Glass Studios and Rome Monuments, who helped transform the space. Co-president Barbara Caplan surprised Cohen by presenting him with a gift: a tzedakah box in recognition of the time he spent working on the project. “You deserve a thank you for all that you did,” Caplan said. Along with tributes and remembrances, the Nov. 13 event included several songs. Barry Werber, a New Light congregant and survivor of the Oct. 27 attack, led attendees in Please see New Light, page 11
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
Headlines A Torah’s journey: From Lithuania to Pennsylvania to Israel in 1993? The Torah was stowed in storage, most recently above Rubin’s men’s clothing store, Specialty Clothing, on Fifth Avenue in Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. Today, there’s no trace of the store; PPG Paints Arena sits where it once stood. “I was always looking for a home for the Torah,” Rubin said. “I wanted it to have a home where it was used.” The Torah is now set to relocate to Efrat, a town of 14,000 — including Kally Rubin Kislowicz — about 30 minutes south of Jerusalem. “It’s a wonderful place for families, full of good schools, quality people, and Jewish and Zionist ideals,” Kislowicz said. Rubin lained from the Torah when he became a bar mitzvah in 1957. Now, a new generation will read from it — in the land where Rabinowitz eventually settled. “Our shul, Menorat Hameor Eitan, is made up of Israelis and Americans who joined together to create a warm, committed community,” Kislowicz said. “We officially moved into the building this past September. Once our shul had a permanent home, it felt that the time was finally right to bring my great-grandfather’s Torah to Israel, a place that was so important to him.” Raimy Rubin — Larry Rubin’s son, Rabinowitz’s great-grandson — feels close to the Lithuanian-born rabbi for whom he was given his Hebrew name. Like his sister Kally, Raimy Rubin also made aliyah to Israel. And Rabinowitz looms large in his life. “I have always felt a connection to him, a connection that intensified when I moved to Israel eight years ago,” Raimy Rubin said. “It feels, in a strange way, like I am walking a path that he paved for me decades before I was born. His life story fortified my decision to move here so there is something beautiful about bringing his Torah back here.” “It’s the resolution of a 100-year-old story,” he added, “and, at the exact same time, the beginning of a brand new one.” PJC
— LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle
ts first life revolved around a shtetl in Lithuania, the pride of Rabbi Reuven Yonah Rabinowitz. It then migrated to America with its family, settling in Vandergrift, Pennsylvania, 30 miles northeast of Pittsburgh. After the Jewish community dwindled there, the Torah spent years in storage above two family-owned shops and, later, was loaned to the Kollel Learning Center in Squirrel Hill. Soon, it will join a new generation of Rabinowitz’s descendants, when Cobi Davidson — the rabbi’s great-greatgrandson, who hails from Pittsburgh — will lain from it in Israel in August 2023. “The Torah represents the journey of the Jewish people throughout the centuries,” said Kally Rubin Kislowicz, the rabbi’s great-granddaughter. “They thrived in America, where life was good, but being Jewish was sometimes challenging. My great-grandfather never felt that he was fully home until he arrived in Israel. That’s the story of my family, but it’s also the story of my people. We have worked so hard over the centuries to stay connected to Judaism and to work our way back ‘home’ to Israel. Reuven Yonah sacrificed so much to do just that. And now his Torah gets to do it, too.” Today, Larry Rubin — Kally’s father, Rabinowitz’s grandson — tells the family’s stories and the story of the family Torah. The Torah’s story began in 1863 in Lithuania, where it was used for 50 years before Rabinowitz sent it to be held by his offspring in Westmoreland County in 1913, Rubin said. Rabinowitz came to Vandergrift in 1921, then made aliyah so he could die in Israel at age 85 in 1948. The Torah stayed in Vandergrift until 1983. So, what happened between the end of the Torah’s life in Vandergrift and its donation by brothers Larry and Ken Rubin to the Kollel
p Rabinowitz Torah
Photo courtesy of David Nadoff
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Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.
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Headlines Tree of Life hires inaugural CEO — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer
he task to “Rebuild. Remember. Renew.” has a new point person in Pittsburgh. Carole Zawatsky was named the CEO of the nonprofit Tree of Life. Zawatsky takes the reigns of the organization created earlier this year. Its mission includes reimagining the building at the site of the worst antisemitic attack in United States history. It shares a name with one of three congregations housed in the building during the Oct. 27 massacre — which also targeted New Light Congregation and Congregation Dor Hadash
p Carole Zawatsky
Photo courtesy of
— but is a separate entity. The new building at the corner of Shady and Wilkins avenues will include a museum, memorial and center for education. The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh also will be a part of the organization. “This project, the Tree of Life reimagined, spoke to me in every single way possible, with every fiber of my being,” Zawatsky said. “It is, to me, the most deeply Jewish thing we can possibly do, which is, out of the worst adversity, create something new, teach hope and work to eradicate antisemitism.” The new CEO, who has already moved to Pittsburgh, has spent more than three decades in leadership roles at Jewish institutions and is dedicated to the space of Jewish art, culture and ideas. Born in Washington, D.C., but raised in suburban Maryland, Zawatsky earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland where she studied art history and a master’s from George Washington University. She began her career at the J. Paul Getty Museum in Malibu, California, but it wasn’t long before she felt the pull for a deeper connection in her work. “In a relatively short time, I came to understand that deep within my DNA was the need to do what I was doing in a Jewish space,” she explained. Her first experience at a Jewish institution was at the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles. At the time, it was located on the Hebrew Union College campus; it has since been renamed the Skirball Cultural Center and moved to Bel Air. The move allowed Zawatsky to work with Israeli Canadian architect Moshe Safdie. The 1994 Northridge earthquake convinced PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
Zawatsky that a change of coasts was in order. “It was time to go back to terra firma where you woke up each morning and your windows are right where you left them,” she said. She accepted a position working on public programs at the newly opened U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In the role, Zawatsky traveled the country with a broad array of individuals including survivors, rescuers, musicians and thinkers to bring programs highlighting lessons of genocide, human rights violations and the Holocaust. Zawatsky next moved to New York and The Jewish Museum, where she served as the director of education for eight years before transitioning to the founding director at the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage in Cleveland, which looks at American Jewish history through the lens of northeast Ohio. When she was offered the unusual title of associate director for Arts, Ideas and Jewish Life at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, she headed back west. “Who wouldn’t want to be the director of ideas? That said, the institution has an absolutely incredible vision of truly bringing community together through arts, culture and very high-level ideas, symposia, conferences and speakers across a multitude of ideas around Jewish life and the secular world,” she said. Zawatsky then moved east again to accept the role of CEO at the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center. While there, she oversaw a capital campaign for a complete renovation to create what is now known as the Edlavitch Jewish Community Center of Washington, D.C. In what would be her final stop before accepting the CEO title at Tree of Life, Zawatsky served as the chief strategy and development advancement officer at the Weitzman National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. “I was there about a year, and it was wonderful,” she said, “but the opportunity to be in Pittsburgh, at the Tree of Life, is something that for me, is an opportunity I am humbled and honored to be a part of.” It might be tempting to believe that someone with Zawatsky’s experience would be anxious to impart her vision on a new organization; that, however, doesn’t seem to be how the new CEO views her role. “My vision has to be aligned with the vision of the community,” she said. “There can never be any sort of error between my vision and the community’s vision. I’m here to ensure the communal vision happens in the best way possible.” Zawatsky has a lot on her plate as Tree of Life’s inaugural leader, including working to eradicate antisemitism and helping memorialize and honor the victims of Oct. 27 and their families. She’ll also be spending time meeting and getting to know as many community members as possible. “And to educate everyone locally, nationally and internationally that antisemitism is not a Jewish problem. It’s everyone’s problem and when we work to eradicate antisemitism, we work to eradicate hate,” she said. To that end, Zawatsky is anxious to partner Please see Tree of Life, page 11
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PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
Calendar Submit calendar items on the Chronicle’s website, pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. Submissions also will be included in print. Events will run in the print edition beginning one month prior to the date as space allows. The deadline for submissions is Friday, noon. q FRIDAY, NOV. 18 – SUNDAY, NOV. 20 Pittsburgh Shorts and Script Competition film festival will showcase 11 blocks of short films including dramas, comedies and “Chiller Theater” selections at the Harris Theater, with six additional film blocks available virtually. The 114 films come from 24 countries with 45% directed by women and 35% by and about people of color (films from past festivals later went on to win Academy Awards). The festival also includes a script competition with live readings and a conference for local and international filmmakers with workshops, panel discussions and networking events. 809 Liberty Ave. For more information, visit filmpittsburgh.org or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. q SUNDAY, NOV. 20 Classrooms Without Borders and partner The Holocaust Teacher Institute present “The Nazi Titanic: The Incredible Untold Story of a Doomed Ship in World War II.” Dr. Robert P. Watson will be joined in
conversation with Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff. Built in 1927, the German ocean liner SS Cap Arcona was the greatest ship since the RMS Titanic. When the Nazis seized control, she was stripped down for use as a floating barracks and troop transport. Dr. Watson has unearthed forgotten records, conducted many interviews and used over 100 sources, including diaries and oral histories, to expose this story. 5 p.m. cwbpgh.org/ event/the-nazi-titanic-the-incredible-untold-storyof-a-doomed-ship-in-world-war-ii q SUNDAYS, NOV. 20 – DEC. 18 Join a lay-led online Parashah study group to discuss the week’s Torah portion. No Hebrew knowledge is needed. The goal is to build community while deepening understanding of the text. 8:30 p.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. q MONDAYS, NOV. 21 – DEC. 19 Join Congregation Beth Shalom for a weekly Talmud study. 9:15 a.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. q MONDAYS, NOV. 12 – MAY 15 Understanding the Torah and what it asks of us is one of the most important things a Jew can learn. But
Tree of Life zoning hearing scheduled for Dec. 1
— LOCAL —
he project to reimagine and renovate the Tree of Life building will face its first challenge on Dec. 1 during a City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning Zoning Board of Adjustments hearing. In paperwork filed by Daniel Rothschild, a principal at local architectural firm Rothschild Doyno Collaborative, the firm seeks approval for partial demolition on the site, a new addition and a renovation to the existing Tree of Life synagogue. The filing asks for a special exception for expanded use as a religious assembly with consideration for a minor reduction of the setbacks.
According to information filed as part of the request, the Tree of Life sanctuary on the corner of Shady and Wilkins avenues will be retained, but the original building and social hall on Wilkins Avenue will be removed. The new building will include a footprint of 33,964 square feet, 2,327 fewer square feet than the original building. The design also includes a sloped “Path of Light” that, at its apex, will be approximately 17 feet higher than the original building. Rothschild Doyno Collaborative is working with lead architect Studio Libeskind. PJC — David Rullo
most Torah classes begin in Genesis and never finish the first book. If you want a comprehensive overview of the whole Torah, Torah 1 is the course for you. In the first year of this two-year Zoom course, Rabbi Danny Schiff will teach Genesis, Exodus and the first half of Leviticus. In the second year, he will complete Leviticus and cover Numbers and Deuteronomy. $225. 9:30 a.m. foundation. jewishpgh.org/torah-1. q TUESDAY, NOV. 22 Join New Light Congregation for its November Lecture Series: Pittsburgh is Our Home. Classes will be in person and on Zoom. Free. 7 p.m. Registration required to receive the Zoom link. To register, send an email to email@example.com or register online at newlightcongregation.org. For a complete list of subjects and speakers, visit newlightcongregation.org. q WEDNESDAYS, NOV. 23 – MAY 24 Registration is now open for “Melton Core 1: Rhythms and Purposes of Jewish Living.” This 25-lesson course will take you through the year’s cycle — the life cycle traditions and practices that bind us together. Explore not just the what is and how is of Jewish living, but the why is that go with them. 7 p.m. $300 per person, per year (25 sessions), includes all
books and materials. Virtual. foundation.jewishpgh.org/ melton-core-1. q WEDNESDAY, NOV. 30 If you are experiencing fertility challenges and need support, join the Jewish Fertility Foundation for its Infertility Support Group led by a therapist who specializes in this area. Free. Zoom. 7 p.m. jewishfertilityfoundation.org/support. q THURSDAY, DEC. 8 Join Classrooms Without Borders for a post-film discussion of “The Partisan with the Leica Camera” with Yael Perlov and Simon Lavee and moderated by Avi Ben Hur. 3 p.m. cwbpgh.org/event/post-film-discussionthe-partisan-with-the-leica-camera-with-yael-perlovsimon-lavee-moderated-by-avi-ben-hur. q SUNDAY, DEC. 18 Join Classrooms Without Borders and Rabbi Jonty Blackman as they light the lights of our menorah and celebrate the miracle of Chanukah. Of Maccabees and Miracles will explore some of the lesser-known stories behind the Chanukah traditions. 4 p.m. cwbpgh. org/event/of-maccabees-and-miracles-with-rabbijonty-blackman. PJC
Join the Chronicle Book Club!
he Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle invites you to join the Chronicle Book Club for its Jan. 8 discussion of “The Escape Artist: The Man Who Broke Out of Auschwitz to Warn the World,” by Jonathan Freedland. From Barnesandnoble. com: “Award-winning journalist and bestselling novelist Jonathan Freedland tells the incredible story of Rudolf Vrba — the first Jew to break out of Auschwitz, a man determined to warn the world and pass on a truth too few were willing to hear — elevating him to his rightful place in the annals of World War II alongside Anne Frank, Primo Levi, and Oskar Schindler and casting a new light on the Holocaust and its aftermath.”
• Toby Tabachnick, editor of the Chronicle • David Rullo, Chronicle staff writer
How and When: We will meet on Zoom on Sunday, Jan. 8, at noon.
What To Do:
Buy: “The Escape Artist.” It is available at area Barnes & Noble stores and from online retailers, including Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Email: Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and write “Chronicle Book Club” in the subject line. We will send you a Zoom link for the discussion meeting. We hope you enjoy the book. PJC —Toby Tabachnick
Prosecutors charge New Jersey teen whose Islamist manifesto threatened synagogue attack — NATIONAL — By Asaf Elia-Shalev | JTA
ederal prosecutors have arrested and charged a New Jersey teenager with extremist Islamist views with making the threat that led to a sweeping FBI warning for the state’s synagogues earlier this month. Omar Alkattoul, 18, of Sayreville, New Jersey, is charged with one count of transmitting a threat in interstate and foreign commerce for an extremist manifesto he shared on Nov. 1 on an undisclosed social media network. He faces up to five years in prison. Alkattoul had pledged allegiance to the leader of ISIS and researched how to obtain firearms and past mass shootings, according to the criminal complaint against him filed Thursday
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey. The complaint alleges that Alkattoul published a manifesto online that had been written as though he had already carried out an attack. The detection of his manifesto caused the FBI to warn the Jewish community in New Jersey, which immediately activated security protocols at communal institutions. A day later, the FBI said the threat had been eliminated. “No one should be targeted for violence or with acts of hate because of how they worship,” U.S. Attorney Philip Sellinger said in a statement. “There is nothing the U.S. Attorney’s Office takes more seriously than threats to our communities of faith and places of worship.” Titled, “When Swords Collide,” Alkattoul’s manifesto was written as if he had already attacked a synagogue, according to prosecutors. Multiple extremists have published manifestos immediately prior to committing violent
attacks, including against Jews. “I am the attacker and I would like to introduce myself,” the manifesto reads. “I am a Muslim with so many regrets but I can assure you this attack is not one of them and Insha’Allah many more attacks like these against the enemy of Allah and the pigs and monkeys will come.” The manifesto continues, “I did target a synagogue for a really good reason according to myself and a lot of Muslims who have a brain. Let’s be aware of the fact that the Jews promote the biggest hatred against Muslimeen even in the west.” The manifesto included a section on “why hatred towards Jews is a good thing even if they’re not Zionists.” Federal investigators probed Alkattoul’s devices and interrogated him several times to understand his views and help determine his level of commitment to carrying out
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attacks against Jews. He told investigators his radicalization had happened over a year on social media following his encounter with a video showing followers of the late Israeli extremist Meir Kahane “laughing and sharing photos of dead Arab children and praising the people who killed them,” according to the criminal complaint against Alkattoul. Alkattoul was also found to have praised Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who murdered nine Black worshippers at a South Carolina church in 2015. In messages to other extremists and comments to investigators, Alkattoul expressed hesitation about actually carrying out any attacks. He repeatedly said “he didn’t have the balls” for the type of violent acts he envisioned, according to the complaint. He also said he didn’t want to go to prison or get shot and that he didn’t want to disappoint his family. PJC PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
Dave Chappelle focuses ‘SNL’ monologue on ‘the Jews’ and Kanye West’s antisemitism controversy — NATIONAL — By Andrew Silow-Carroll | JTA
osting “Saturday Night Live” for the first time since he faced widespread criticism about jokes ridiculing transgender people, comedian Dave Chappelle opened the show with a lengthy monologue about “the Jews” — namely, the controversy surrounding rapper Kanye West’s recent antisemitic comments. In the monologue, Chappelle danced along the lines he was mocking, emphasizing that he was not antisemitic while arguing that “it’s not a crazy thing to think” that Jews control Hollywood and insinuating that Jews have been making Black people into scapegoats for their past trauma. Reaction from the audience featured ample laughter, although one joke landed in silence; online, criticism mounted immediately, with Time Out New York’s theater critic tweeting: “That Dave Chappelle SNL monologue probably did more to normalize anti-Semitism than anything Kanye said.” In an unusually charged appearance for an “SNL” host — with rumors that some of the show’s writers might boycott in protest — Chappelle also appeared to address his own near-cancellation by analyzing the public and corporate backlash against West. At the start of the routine, Chappelle unfolded a small piece of paper and read from it, saying, “‘I denounce antisemitism in all its forms. And I stand with my friends in
Jews and the rapper’s boast that Adidas, his erstwhile corporate partner, would not dare sever ties with him. The sneaker company broke ties with West days later. “Ironically, Adidas was founded by Nazis,” said Chappelle, “and they were offended. I guess the student surpassed the teacher.” Chappelle, an African-American who often satirizes the Black community while at the same time mocking the serious and casual racism of whites, performed a similar tightrope act in dissecting West’s antisemitism. “I’ve been to Hollywood and — no one get mad at me — I’m just telling you what I saw,” he said, adding a signature pause. “It’s a lot of Jews. Like a lot.” As the audience at NBC’s Manhattan studio laughed nervously, he quickly added, “But that doesn’t mean anything! You know what I mean? Because there are a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri, it doesn’t mean we run the place.” That joked echoed a familiar line of Jewish defense groups, who are often at pains to point out that a disproportionate Jewish presence in an industry is not an indication of a conspiracy — an age-old canard. But Chappelle leaned harder into the joke, leading some reports on the monologue to suggest that he was justifying and defending West’s antisemitism. He said the “delusion that Jews run show business” is “not a crazy thing to think,” but “it’s a crazy thing to say out loud.” He also said of West, “It’s a big deal, he had broken the show business rules. You know, the rules of perception. If they’re Black, then it’s a gang. If they’re Italian, it’s a mob. If they’re
got in trouble,” Chappelle said. “This is where I draw the line. I know the Jewish people have been through terrible things all over the world, but you can’t blame that on Black Americans.” The line was met with silence, until a single audience member was heard to hoot approval. “Thanks, the one person that said ‘woo.’” Chappelle closed what for SNL was an unusually long opening monologue by seeming to allude to “cancel culture” and the controversy that swirled around his own comedy and charges that he is transphobic. “It shouldn’t be this scary to talk about anything,” he concluded. “It’s making my job incredibly difficult. And to be honest with you, I’m sick of talking to a crowd like this. I love you to death and I thank you for your support. And I hope they don’t take anything away from me ... whoever they are.” Snap reaction to Chappelle’s routine was mixed. In addition to the tweet by Adam Feldman, Time Out New York’s theater critic, the Jerusalem Post accused the comedian of “engaging in antisemitic tropes.” Screenwriter Amalia Levari
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the Jewish community.’ And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time.” He then went on to explain that, over his 35-year career in comedy, he has come to learn that there are “two words in the English language that you should never say together in sequence: ‘The’ and ‘Jews.’” He then mocked West’s threat to go “death con 3” on
Jewish, it’s a coincidence and you should never speak about it.” Chappelle also alluded to a similar controversy surrounding Kyrie Irving, star of the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets, who was suspended after tweeting about a film that promotes a series of antisemitic canards. “Kanye got in so much trouble that Kyrie
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p Dave Chappelle on "Saturday Night Live" on Nov. 12
tweeted, disapprovingly, “So cool that SNL gave Chappelle the stage to deliver a TED Talk about how antisemitic dog-whistles are good, actually.” Ari Ingel, who heads Creative Community For Peace, a group that fights antisemitism and other forms of bigotry in the entertainment industry, appeared more forgiving. “Some people will be offended at some of his monologue, but sometimes you just need to laugh,” he tweeted. Rabbi Josh Yuter, an influencer on Jewish Twitter, wrote: “As I understood Chappelle’s monologue, the key point is that there are double standards regarding who can say what about whom. If my Twitter feed is any indication, everyone agrees this is a problem though there’s rampant disagreement over the details.” Last week, the Irving controversy was also mentioned in the show’s “Weekend Update” segment, when mock newscaster Michael Che said that Irving met with the Anti-Defamation League and said that “from now on he would pretend to not be antisemitic.” PJC
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A look at Josh Shapiro’s election night victory party — REGIONAL — By Jarrad Saffren | Contributing Writer
hey sipped beers, ate ice cream and held lively conversations around high-rise tables. They smiled; they laughed; they even danced to the party playlist blaring overhead. Some people stood on the balls of their feet and watched CNN on one of the many screens set up around The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center. But for the most part, the hundreds of supporters of Jewish Democrat Josh Shapiro knew what their result would be on Nov. 8. Shapiro, Pennsylvania’s attorney general, an Abington resident and a member of the Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, would become the commonwealth’s next governor. “This is a great experience for anyone who’s here tonight,” said Scott Holloman, 42, of Harleysville. “I have 100% faith that Josh will win.” It happened around 11:15 p.m. On a big screen to the left of the stage in the Oaks, Montgomery County venue, CNN showed a graphic declaring Shapiro the winner. As media outlets called the race throughout the 10 o’clock hour on social media, supporters moved from their high-rise tables in one room to the area in front of the stage in the next room. Once CNN called the race,
p Josh Shapiro addresses the crowd at his election night victory party at The Greater Philadelphia Expo Center in Oaks. Photo by Jarrad Saffren
attendees hollered and held up their “Shapiro for Governor” signs. Shapiro, 49, had defeated his Republican opponent Doug Mastriano. The Republican, a state senator who denied Donald Trump’s defeat in the 2020 U.S. presidential election and participated in the Jan. 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol Building, took a full five days to concede. But that almost seemed beside the point. The Democrat leads by almost 15% and more than 700,000 votes with 98% of the vote counted. It seemed beside the point on Nov. 8 at the Expo Center, too. After Shapiro’s running
mate Austin Davis addressed the crowd, the governor-elect walked onto the stage, waved to the people and smiled. Then he stepped to the podium. “Rural, urban, suburban folks across this commonwealth, who I’ve had the opportunity to talk with, you know they basically all want the same thing,” Shapiro said. “They want a real opportunity for good schools, safe communities and an economy that just gives everybody a shot.” The crowd clapped and hollered. “We showed in this campaign that no matter
what you look like, where you come from, who you love, or who you pray to, you are valued here in Pennsylvania!” Shapiro continued. “And we hear you!” The supporters cheered in unison. “And I can stand before you tonight, thanks to all of you, in the birthplace of our democracy, in the cradle of liberty, and look you in the eye and say, ‘Because of you, our democracy endures,’” Shapiro said later on. Two years ago, Shapiro, in his role as attorney general, defended Pennsylvania’s election process from Trump’s lawsuits that attempted to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in the state. Mastriano, in his role as a state senator, allied himself with Trump and tried to pass a resolution that would have allowed the state legislature to reject the result of the vote and appoint delegates to the Electoral College. As Mastriano himself wrote on his state Senate website, “For the legislature to pass the resolution, Governor (Tom) Wolf needed to call a special session and he refused.” During his campaign, the Republican said that as governor, “I could decertify every (voting) machine in the state with the stroke of a pen.” And the stroke of Mastriano’s pen likely would have mattered a great deal. The last two presidential elections, Trump’s win over Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Biden’s victory over Please see Shapiro, page 11
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
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Headlines — WORLD — UK chief rabbi will sleep over at King Charles’ house to attend coronation, which falls on Shabbat
King Charles III wants to make sure that the United Kingdom’s chief rabbi can make it to his coronation ceremony next year — so much so that he’s letting the Jewish leader sleep over at his house, JTA.org reported. The coronation is set for May 6, 2023, which falls on a Saturday, in the middle of the Jewish sabbath. Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis and his wife, Valerie, who are Orthodox, are not allowed under Jewish law to travel by car or use electricity on Shabbat. King Charles’ residence before he moves into Buckingham Palace is Clarence House, located a few minutes’ walk from the palace. So the sleepover allows the Mirvises to walk to the ceremony. While the Telegraph reported that a member of the rabbi’s staff called the offer “an amazing gesture,” it’s not the first time the king has accommodated Mirvis’ religious observance. Mirvis, 66, has been the chief rabbi since 2013, succeeding the late Jonathan Sacks.
KFC Germany apologizes for ‘treat yourself’ chicken promotion tied to Kristallnacht
The German branch of international fast-food chain KFC apologized to customers on Nov. 9 for sending out a promotional message tied to the anniversary of Kristallnacht, JTA.org reported. “It’s memorial day for Kristallnacht! Treat yourself with more tender cheese on your crispy chicken,” KFC Germany said in an initial push notification message to customers, in German, advertising its “KFCheese.” A short time after, the chain sent a follow-up in all-caps: “SORRY WE MADE A MISTAKE.” The company blamed the message on “a bug in our system.” Reaction to KFC’s “mistake” came swiftly. Daniel Sugarman, director of public affairs for the Board of Deputies of British Jews, tweeted that the promotion was “absolutely hideous.” Arsen Ostrovsky, head of the proIsrael legal group International Legal Forum, said he was “utterly speechless and repulsed.”
ADL acquires Jewish investment watchdog to fight threats to Israel on Wall Street
The Anti-Defamation League is bolstering its advocacy on Wall Street by absorbing JLens, an organization known for rating companies on their alleged support for the
Israel boycott, according to an announcement on Nov. 10 by the ADL. Founded in 2012, JLens was for years one of the only groups pressing pro-Israel positions in the growing environmental, social and governance movement, known as ESG, which advocates for a form of corporate decision-making in which profit is not the only priority. Over time, JLens managed to raise awareness that Israel could get ensnared in ESG filters used by investors who wish to avoid doing business in conflict zones or with companies implicated in human rights abuses. As part of its mission, JLens also urges investors, especially Jewish organizations with significant endowments, to prioritize Jewish concerns in deciding where to put their money. JLens says more than 30 Jewish organizations have opted to invest nearly $200 million according to JLens guidelines.
Israel launches $17M autonomous public transportation pilot
Israel’s Innovation Authority announced on Nov. 6 the launch of a two-year pilot program to study the viability of using autonomous public buses, JNS.org reported. In collaboration with the Transportation Ministry and Ayalon Highways, the authority selected four groups, including Egged,
Israel’s largest bus operator, to begin operating self-driving buses on public roads, according to the IAA. The state is contributing half of the $17 million required for the two-stage pilot. In the first stage, the groups will test the technology’s viability from business, legal and safety standpoints, as well as in closed and operational areas. In the second stage, they will operate autonomous bus lines on public roads, with a range that will grow throughout the pilot.
Study: Haifa residents willing to pay higher taxes to remove wild boars
Half of Haifa’s residents would agree to a tax hike if the proceeds went toward combating an infestation of wild boars, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing a University of Haifa study. The study said 29% of city residents felt harmed or threatened by the boars, up from just 6% in 2019. The average Haifa resident would be willing to pay an annual property tax increase of $65 to combat the problem. Study participants were given various choices about the extent of the measures used to reduce the problem. PJC — Compiled by Andy Gotlieb
Today in Israeli History — WORLD — Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (israeled.org), where you can find more details.
Nov. 18, 1958 — Jerusalem reservoir opens
A reservoir for Jerusalem opens at Bayit Vegan, completing a project that began in 1955 to promote economic development and to prevent a repeat of the War of Independence water shortage.
Nov. 19, 1957 — Singer Ofra Haza is born
Ofra Haza is born in Tel Aviv. She is named Israel’s Singer of the Year annup Ofra Haza performs at Israel’s 50th birthday ally from 1980 celebration on April 30, to 1983, finishes 1998. second at the By Amos Ben Gershom, Israeli Government Press Office 1983 Eurovision and voices Moses’ mother in “The Prince of Egypt.”
Nov. 20, 1977 — Sadat addresses Knesset
“I come to you today on solid ground, to shape a new life, to establish peace,” Egyptian President Anwar Sadat tells the Knesset a day after arriving in Israel for his historic visit.
Nov. 21, 1984 — Operation Moses begins
Working with the CIA and Sudanese State Security, the Mossad launches Operation Moses to bring Ethiopian Jews to Israel. Almost 8,000 are flown from refugee camps in Sudan in less than seven weeks.
Nov. 22, 1923 — Actress Hanna Maron is born
Hannele Meierzak, who as Hanna Maron is recognized by p Hanna Maron Guinness as having performs in Tel the world’s longest Aviv in 1949. By Hans Pinn, National stage career, is born in Photo Collection of Israel Berlin. She keeps acting after losing a leg in a terrorist attack in 1970.
Nov. 23, 1926 — Spymaster Rafi Eitan is born
Rafi Eitan, whose intelligence career ranges from the high of leading the capture of Adolf Eichmann in Argentina to the low of handling U.S. Navy analyst Jonathan Pollard as a spy, is born at Ein Harod.
Nov. 24, 1938 — British debate Palestine
During the Arab Revolt, the House of Commons debates the future of Palestine. Colonial Secretary Malcolm MacDonald says Palestine cannot accommodate more than a fraction of the Jews who might try to escape Nazism. PJC
60 years Jewish Pittsburgh of connecting
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Headlines Pennsylvania: Continued from page 1
As for Lee, Blitstein admitted that she didn’t vote for the candidate during the primary but did in the general election, saying Israel was one part of her calculus. “I think we definitely have some work to do with her as a Jewish community,” Blitstein said of Lee. “I voted for her because I think that there are other issues besides Israel that I have to think about. I definitely still have concerns about her, and I think the Jewish community is really going to have to put in a lot of effort to open the lines of communication and sit down with her. I do know that she has tried to have conversations with the Jewish community, but she said some things that are concerning.” Lou Weiss of Squirrel Hill isn’t as optimistic when it comes to Lee. “She claims to be a future member of the Squad,” he said. “That’s about the most antisemitic group in Congress — not just voting against Israel, but actual antisemites — so I definitely am concerned. I hope she is as pro-Israeli as her advocates say she is.” Weiss said that he was thrilled both with
Israel: Continued from page 1
Netanyahu was indicted on charges including bribery, fraud and breach of trust. New elections took place in the early days of COVID in March 2020. Again, there was no clear winner. Netanyahu and Benjamin Gantz formed a unity government. The two couldn’t govern together successfully, however, and a year later — wait for it — there was another national election. When Netanyahu was unable to form a coalition in the Knesset, Yair Lapid seized the opportunity and became prime minister, ending 12 years of Netanyahu’s reign. A little more than a year later, Lapid’s coalition fell apart triggering another election. Proving you can be down but not out, Netanyahu, appears to be piecing together another coalition, meaning he will once again add the title of prime minister to his name. “Only foolish people make predictions about Israeli politics,” Rabbi Danny Schiff, Foundation scholar at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, said when asked if he thinks that this will be a lasting government. Nevertheless, Schiff, an Israeli citizen and part-time Pittsburgher, sees no reason why this government shouldn’t remain in place for at least several years. But he is concerned about what that permanence means, as Netanyahu’s new coalition may be beholden to small parties and their interests. “I think that is very worrying,” Schiff said, “given the makeup of the coalition that looks like it’s going to be sworn in soon.” Some say that bloc is the most far-right in the nation’s history. It will include ultra-nationalist and ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) parties, as well as controversial politicians, including Itamar Ben Gvir, who has called for the deportation of rival lawmakers, more freedom for soldiers to shoot Palestinians and an end to Palestinian autonomy in parts of the West Bank. He is expected to seek the position of public security minister.
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
Shapiro’s victory and the apparent pushback against Trump-backed candidates — although he supports many of the former president’s policies, which he said were good for the United States and for Israel. “But he’s a total jagoff,” Weiss said. Overall, Weiss said, the election proved a good night for pro-Israel candidates. “Even Fetterman’s policies on Israel seem to be positive,” he said. Yael Silk felt that the elections proved a boon to progressive voters in the area, including those who supported Lee. “I am incredibly grateful that the vast majority of my neighbors voted for representatives who will fight for health care access, clean air and water, public education, and investments in our diverse communities. We did this together, through small donations, canvassing, and so much more to turn out the vote,” she said. Mt. Lebanon resident Jeff Young said the election results pointed to a great day for both Pennsylvania and the United States. “Because we had a man running for governor, a known antisemite, that was repudiated,” he said. “How ironic that it was at the hands of a Jewish candidate.” Young said he was also glad that Fetterman
defeated Oz. Any sort of election denialism or anti-abortion rhetoric, he said, should disqualify anyone from holding a Senate office. And while Young was pleased with the election results in Pennsylvania, he said there was still cause for concern. “We still don’t know if the House...[is] going to be controlled by the Republicans or Democrats,” he said. “It’s still conceivable that the Republicans will hold [that] arm of government. That doesn’t make that a great day or week, even though the red wave hasn’t taken place.” Republican Jon Tucker said it seems as if the outcome of Pennsylvania’s elections was determined by the eastern part of the state, which concerns him. Just as importantly, though, he said, the Republican primaries locked candidates into positions that made it hard to track to center for a general election. “To a great extent,” he said, “I think that Trump was the spoiler.” For many, Tucker said, the election may have been less about voting for a particular candidate than it was about voting against one. “For conservative Democrats, their vote for the Democrat wasn’t so much because they liked a particular candidate but because they
“In the context of Israel, far-right usually means a couple of things,” Schiff said. “That means ultra-nationalist in the sense of the approach to how they see the land of Israel — that’s the characterization of religious Zionism, and for the Haredi parties it certainly means a really strong commitment to a public Jewishness in the state of Israel that aligns with their understanding of what Jewishness should be.” Schiff ’s main concern, he said, is the preservation of democracy in the country, which has only one chamber of parliament and no executive branch separate from that chamber — making the Supreme Court the only check and balance on the Knesset. Schiff isn’t alone in his concern. Several of the compromises being bandied for a commitment to align with Netanyahu’s party in the new government — including revising Israel’s grandfather clause, which allows people with even one Jewish grandparent to immigrate to the country, and the “judicial override clause,” which would allow the Knesset to override the Supreme Court on any law it considers illegal — have many people troubled. “It will basically mean that the simple majority in the Knesset can do whatever they like without effective checks and balances,” Schiff said. “I think that’s a concern for a democratic system because it can easily lead to the tyranny of the majority.” Mark Fichman is a member of J Street Pittsburgh’s steering committee and a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. He thinks most American Jews are disturbed by the results of Israel’s latest election. “My own view,” he said, “is that Netanyahu is extremely problematic.” Fichman noted that last year Netanyahu was talking to Arab parties about forming a coalition. “I take it with a bit of a grain of salt,” Fichman said. “He forms a coalition with the people he can, that will allow him to pursue the goals he cares to pursue; and so one aspect of
it is his policies, the other is keeping his posterior out of jail.” Fichman expects more pushback on Israel from President Joe Biden than there was from the previous administration, but he doesn’t think it will be very pronounced. “J Street has asked the Biden administration not to deal with Ben Gvir if he attains a ministerial position,” Fichman said. “I’m not sure the Biden administration will do that or if, pragmatically, you can do that. It’s really up to Netanyahu, in some sense, how he wants to configure his administration and project his policies and image in the United States.” Netanyahu, Fichman said, is an astute politician with a keen understanding of the American landscape and, as prime minister, Netanyahu could appoint Ben Gvir to a position that would involve very little interaction with American officials. Before the elections at home, J Street made some news when its founding director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, said that the group is “not a two-state solution organization.” Ben-Ami, Fichman explained, was commenting on the organization’s goal of influencing U.S. policy toward Israel to remain a democratic Jewish state. He said rising antisemitism in the U.S., primarily from the right but occasionally on the left, is also a concern. “In Germany, two things had to happen: the ascendancy of an antisemitism orientation in the Nazis and the end of democracy. Democracy and the protection of individual rights safeguarded Jews in Germany and other places,” he said, noting that democracy protects Jews everywhere and is a Jewish value. “We’re concerned about democracy declines in Israel and their intolerance to human rights,” Fichman said. Stuart Pavilack, the director of Pittsburgh’s chapter of the Zionist Organization of America, thinks the latest election will bring stability to Israel. He isn’t concerned about the makeup of the coalition.
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couldn’t handle the Republicans’ national platform,” he said. Attorney Jeff Letwin spent a lot of time during the general election campaigning for Shapiro and against Mastriano, in part because of the Republican candidate’s ties to the social media site Gab. “Josh is one of the most qualified candidates that we could ever put in this position,” Letwin said. “He has a tremendous history and experience. He was the perfect candidate and would have been hard to beat by anybody, let alone an extremist.” The Pennsylvania election results could be seen as a repudiation of Donald Trump and his form of politics, Letwin said. As for Lee’s victory in District 12? “I’m glad a Democrat won and hope she will be able to build a good relationship with the Jewish community and that we will be able to successfully solicit her support for Israel,” he said. PJC For more stories on the outcome of the midterm elections, go to pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. “The headlines are ‘right-wing government, right-wing government,’” he said. “It makes it seem like something nefarious is going on. The reality, that most people aren’t aware of, is that something like 65% of the Israeli public considers themselves on the right, whether you’re talking about moderate right, hard right or center-right. So, to say ‘the right-wing government’ is trying to put a negative spin on what’s going on in Israel. Their democracy is different than ours, and we have to respect that.” Pavilack recommends not getting caught up on buzzwords or phrases; rather, he urges American Jews to be as educated as possible as to what’s happening in Israel. “It’s a never-ending learning process for Americans to try and stay attuned to what’s going on,” he said. “The right wing in Israel has a different definition. There are some on the right wing that are just for the protection and future of the country.” Efrat Mishani, the Jewish Agency Israel Fellow at Hillel JUC Pittsburgh, also believes American Jews should be educated about Israeli politics and elections. She teaches university students about the process. “On Nov. 1, we collaborated with student leaders and had a watch party at Hillel,” she said. “We had about 30 students. We all sat together and watched the results. It was a great time.” The opportunity allowed her and other Hillel leaders to hear the students’ opinions and concerns and to teach them about the election process, she said. She expects those who attended will continue to stay engaged with future elections in the country. Asked her opinion on the election, Mishani offered a response one hears often in Israel, to everything from internal Israeli politics to conflicts with Hezbollah to Iran policy to what type of hummus is best: “It’s complicated.” PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittburghjewishchronicle.org.
Headlines Rebrand: Continued from page 2
organization and how the rebranding will help better the community at large. Speaking before the assembled group, Kenny Steinberg introduced himself as “Max Steinberg’s father” and described his son’s celebrity status: Whenever the two are walking — whether in Point Breeze, Squirrel Hill or Oakland — people roll down their car windows and say, “Hi Max.” Eight years ago, Max Steinberg and two other men with intellectual disabilities moved into the Goldberg House, a Squirrel Hill-based community living arrangement with 24-hour care. Although the Goldberg House promised the possibility of a permanent residence where Shabbat and the Jewish holidays could be celebrated in a safe space that allowed for each of its residents to achieve greater communal integration,
New Light: Continued from page 3
“Yigdal,” a hymn that recalls Maimonides’ 13 Principles of Faith and is often sung at the beginning and close of Shabbat services. Rabbi Jonathan Perlman recited the “El Malei Rachamim,” a Jewish memorial prayer, and chanted the Hebrew names of the 11 Jews murdered in the Tree of Life building four years earlier. Perlman told attendees that New Light’s dedicated site serves as more than a memorial. “This will be our heritage for generations to come: a chapel that will reflect our history
Tree of Life: Continued from page 5
with many of the other Jewish organizations operating in the city. “We are all better when we come together and share what we are each best at,” she said. “So, as a new institution, there’s a wonderful opportunity to collaborate to be a part of a really robust Jewish community.”
Shapiro: Continued from page 8
Trump in 2020, came down to a few close states, including, and perhaps especially, Pennsylvania. Biden beat Trump by fewer than 100,000 votes in the Keystone State in 2020, while Trump beat Clinton by about 44,000 in the commonwealth in 2016. The Shapiro-Mastriano fight was about many issues, including crime, the economy and a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion. Many Democrats viewed Shapiro as pro-democracy while perceiving his Republican opponent to be against it. For that reason, even as the party at the Expo Center started hours before CNN declared Shapiro’s victory on Nov. 8, the attorney general’s supporters in attendance were still a little nervous. “I think it’ll probably be closer than we want it to be,” said Jessica Rosenthal, 47, of Ambler. Less than an hour after Rosenthal tempered her expectations, CNN flashed an early count from the Pennsylvania governor’s race that PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
the decision to move Max there wasn’t easy, Kenny Steinberg said. “There were a lot of questions,” he said. “No. 1 was, could Max adjust to a whole new living situation after living with us, and would he get the attention he needs? Would he be safe? We protected Max our whole lives and we wanted him to be safe, and how would he get along with his roommates who had their own challenges like Max has his challenges? And then could Terry and I let go of our son?” At the time, Max Steinbergs’ parents were in their 60s and began considering their mortality. “If Max only lived with us and we passed away, what would then happen to Max if he never had a living situation where he was more or less on his own?” Kenny Steinberg said. “And just as importantly, by keeping him in our house were we limiting Max’s opportunity to grow?” Had Max Steinberg remained at home, he never would have met “his wonderful roommates Kevin and Jason,” the father added.
Every weekend, Max Steinberg returns to his parents’ home, and the first thing he does when entering the door is point to a photo with Kevin and Jason — the three residents of Goldberg House — Kenny Steinberg said. “He knows his home is the Goldberg House.” As beneficial as the arrangement has been, there are only three residents at the Goldberg House. “There’s not enough facilities for all of the adults that need them,” Kenny Steinberg said. “That’s why I’m so excited about the changes coming to — not JRS — The Branch, because when we repair the world we have to make sure that nobody gets left behind.” For years, the organization has enabled people to remain in their community, see their family and attend the same programs and synagogues daily, said April De La Cruz, director of residential support services at The Branch: “That’s what we’re here for.” The name change won’t change that mission. “Regardless of where you live, whatever
community that you’re in, we want to make sure that you’re able to stay there and be a part of your community,” she said. While the organization is no longer known as JRS, its Jewish character remains intact, Gale said. “When people see our logo, I think it will be very clear that we’re a Jewish organization,” she said. “There won’t be any doubt about what our roots are.” The Branch’s logo is a large Star of David behind the words “The Branch: Taking inclusion to new heights.” The new name signals both an invitation to neighbors and a call to supporters, Kenny Steinberg said: “Let’s keep on working so that every deserving person can have the wonderful opportunities that our community has provided for my boy.” PJC
and reflect our most glorious days — when we were cut down and yet survived,” he said. “We ask God as He entered all holy spaces in the life of the Jewish people to also enter this space and to make it holy, so that we may use it to worship, teach and to congregate for many years to come.” Before concluding the service, Caplan and Cohen joined Perlman in affixing an old mezuzah to a new doorpost. The mezuzah, Caplan explained, was brought from the congregation’s former home in the Sisterhood Room at Tree of Life. As Cohen pressed the Hebrew scroll and its
cover against the chapel’s entrance, Perlman sang “Haneshama Lach,” a tune composed by Shlomo Carlbach with Hebrew lyrics meaning, “The soul is Yours and the body is Your handiwork. Have mercy on Your labors.” Perlman then asked attendees to join him in reciting the “Shehecheyanu,” a blessing reserved for special occasions. Once the ceremony ended, Caplan invited attendees to the back of the room, where she and her husband, Harold Caplan, served bagels, lox, blintzes and salad. She told the Chronicle that serving brunch reminded her of her mother, the late Miriam
Zelman, who believed it was important to always have enough food for people to eat on-site and also to take home for later. “We just had this very emotional dedication,” Caplan said of the Nov. 13 program. Offering everyone something to eat gives a “feeling of completion.” “Look around,” she said, noting people talking and reminiscing. The meal was a way of “ending on a happy note. We should be together in love, and with a full stomach.” PJC
Zawatsky was chosen at the end of a national search, explained Michael Bernstein, chair of Tree of Life’s interim governance committee. The organization, he said, employed a search firm that specialized in helping to find nonprofit executives. Their recommendations were vetted and interviewed by the nonprofit’s search committee, which eventually narrowed the candidates down to eight before choosing Zawatsky. Bernstein said the organization’s immediate
goals include ensuring there is a clear understanding of what they are developing and building and how that will translate into fundraising to ensure its support and longterm stability. Another goal will be to develop a plan that enables the organization to be a national player of consequence in the fight against antisemitism. “Carole, given her background in program development and history and, really, as an
expert in this area, we believe, can help drive us there,” he said. The organization will lean on Zawatsky’s experience to help build a team of lay volunteers and professional leaders, Bernstein said. “We’re super excited and blessed and very fortunate to have a professional of her caliber join us,” he said. PJC
showed Shapiro up by more than 30 points. A few people around the Expo Center cheered as they watched the TVs. As the eight and then nine o’clock hours continued, more results appeared on the screens. Around 9:30, as people started walking over to the area in front of the stage, an event staff member turned up the volume on the big screen to the left. CNN’s John King was discussing Shapiro’s advantage, which remained at about 30 points with almost a quarter of the vote counted. The crowd clapped and hollered. Over the next 45 minutes, votes continued to come in, except Shapiro’s lead was now diminishing. It dropped from around 30% to less than 20% to 11%. For a few minutes, it felt like the race might get close. Shapiro’s supporters stood around, checked their phones and watched the screens. The event staff and campaign kept turning the party playlist on, off and then back on to try to keep the party going. But in the minds of many, there was never really a doubt. “From the projections now, it looks like he’s definitely going to win,” said Irfan Huda, 42, of Chalfont.
Mastriano never got closer than 11%. As the clock struck 10 and the vote count crept into the 60% range, tweets started going out from pollsters and media outlets about how Shapiro had won. President Biden’s White House Chief of Staff, Ronald Klain, a prolific liker of tweets that make the president look good, liked a tweet from a political poll account that called the race for Shapiro. (Biden and former President Barack Obama headlined a rally with the Democratic candidate at Temple University’s Liacouras Center on Nov. 5.) One woman sent out a tweet congratulating Shapiro on beating an insurrectionist. Philadelphia-area newspapers and television stations started reporting the news of the local man’s victory. By the time CNN announced the result, it was a formality. And when Shapiro walked out on stage minutes later, with the crowd clapping, cheering and holding up phones, he did not even need to open his speech with some great line ending in an exclamation point. “I am so humbled to see all of you here tonight,” he said, before thanking his wife Lori Shapiro and pointing out their four children
Jonah, Sophia, Max and Reuben to the side of the podium. “I am proud to be a Pennsylvanian,” Shapiro said later. And then, for good measure, the Conservative Jewish man who sits for Shabbat dinner with his family each week paraphrased his favorite line from the Talmud. The same one he spoke about during his campaign kickoff speech at Penn State Abington in October 2021. “No one is required to complete the task, but neither are we free to refrain from it,” the governor-elect said. After Shapiro’s speech ended around midnight, after he hugged his family members and waved to supporters, and after he strolled off the stage, some people walked out to their cars. Reporters hustled back to their tables behind the TV camera riser to file their stories. But the lights stayed on, the music kept playing and a group of people started dancing in front of the stage. PJC
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.
Jarrad Saffren writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared. NOVEMBER 18, 2022
Opinion How will you support your neighbors in need the day after Thanksgiving? Guest Columnist Jordan Golin
ext Thursday, I will join millions of families and friends across America in gathering around tables full of delicious, colorful food, with warm lights, festive decorations and the spark of holiday excitement that ignites during this time of year. Recently, though, I found that the arrival of Thanksgiving also brings along a tinge of sadness. It’s hard to think about the holiday of plenty without also recognizing that many families in our community struggle to make ends meet and will encounter significant challenges to pull together enough resources to celebrate this special American holiday. At a time when we hope that the greatest stress of the day should be which relative brings the pumpkin pie or whether the turkey is dried out, the reality is that Thanksgiving won’t be very joyous for many Americans this year and has not been a joyous celebration over the past few difficult years. Thanksgiving is a complicated holiday for many people. In addition to the family dynamics that most have to navigate during holidays, the financial ramifications of holidays can be overwhelming. The food and the decorations are the obvious ingredients for a Thanksgiving meal, and they clearly have a significant price tag. But many other
things also have to fall into place to make everything come together on Thanksgiving day — a house to meet in, electricity to light the rooms and run the kitchen appliances, money for groceries and a community of people to invite in.
of the year can exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation and increase levels of stress that were already higher than average. But what we are also seeing is that the financial struggle is hitting the middle class really hard. For so many families who feel
Our greater community is already finding ways to support food insecure individuals and struggling families so that they can have the ability to enjoy the holiday. For many in our community, Thanksgiving Day is out of reach — and not only because of a lack of food. One lost job can certainly result in food insecurity. But it can also lead to unpaid bills, repairs that never get taken care of, isolation from others due to shame and embarrassment, and an inability to feel joy around holidays and other special occasions. The impact of financial distress can be broad and far-reaching. Some of our most vulnerable Pittsburgh neighbors — seniors, people with disabilities, the unhoused — can struggle particularly during holidays as their limited finances may further magnify the differences they often feel between themselves and the larger society. These “special” times
that they do have money to put food on the table, the rising costs of food, gas and other necessities is limiting their flexibility with other needs — and that will impact what they are able to do to celebrate Thanksgiving and other holidays this year. Fortunately, holidays are when the giving spirit in our city really comes alive. There is a long list of organizations and faith-based groups like JFCS that distribute Thanksgiving food items and meals. Our greater community is already finding ways to support food insecure individuals and struggling families so that they can have the ability to enjoy the holiday. If you want to start getting involved in helping out your neighbors this
Thanksgiving, there are plenty of opportunities: You can volunteer with an organization that is hosting a meal, help distribute food or donate Thanksgiving meal items to your local pantry. Please take Thanksgiving as a starting point. How will you support our neighbors the day after Thanksgiving? Food is not the only need people have — and the distribution of food isn’t the only way people are being helped in our community. Every stable household requires many critical needs — a job, education, utilities, medical care and so many others. You can take the next step and start talking to your friends, neighbors and relatives about the importance of our community’s assistance programs; and you can write letters to your local representatives, urging them to support critical safety net services especially during tough economic times. As many of us enjoy our own Thanksgiving celebrations this year, please take some of that warm, festive spirit and carry it over to help neighbors through the upcoming year. And by doing so, we strengthen the kind, connected Pittsburgh community that we so deeply cherish. PJC Jordan Golin, Psy.D., is president and CEO of JFCS Pittsburgh, a proud founding member of JFunds, alongside Hebrew Free Loan, Jewish Assistance Fund, Jewish Scholarship Service and Israel Travel Grants to help people in need this season and all year long.
Chronicle poll results: Voting and Israel
ast week, the Chronicle asked its readers in an electronic poll the following question: “When you vote, how important to you is the issue of Israel’s security?” Of the 257 people who responded, 63% said “Very important,” 19% said “Fairly important” and 13% said “Somewhat important.” Just 5% said it was “Not at all important.” Comments were submitted by 49 people. A few follow. We need to focus on our own pressing issues first. Only then can we help others. Glass empty philosophy. Israel is quite self-sufficient. I am dismayed by many Jewish liberals in this country. It is as though they have traded our history, and Hashem, for the Democratic left. I fear their ignorance. If all other factors are equivalent, then Israel’s security determines the choice, but all other factors are never equal. Many issues are important, and voting is a balancing act among often incompatible choices.
I fundamentally care about Israel’s security. I voted based on the situation in the U.S. and threats to democracy, abortion and our future as a country. I know that Biden and the Democratic Party are committed to Israel’s security, so that is assured and did not influence my vote. I do not think Republicans like Mike Doyle, Kevin McCarthy and Donald Trump care about Israel at all. They nominated Doug Mastriano, an antisemite, and support Q-Anon. Enough said. Summer Lee is a disaster for Israel’s security. I’m astounded how many Jews and well-minded people voted for her — she was thoroughly endorsed by Israel-haters.
When you vote, how important to you is the issue of Israel’s security?
5% Not at all important
13% Somewhat important
19% Fairly important
63% Very important
It is the No. 1 issue. Israel faces existential threats from many enemies. The millions of Jewish lives there are more important than any domestic issue. This is not the only issue I consider when voting, but it’s one of the top three (the others being abortion rights and antisemitism). PJC
Israel is very important to me, but I vote my concerns for this country first. One is my homeland, but this is my home. I support Israel with my votes as much as I can and should as a fervent Zionist and Democrat who values the role of our most crucial ally — but not so much as to be accused of dual or improper loyalties.
“Israel’s security.” Some on the far left don’t think it’s a worthy concern, losing sight of the fact that, despite her flaws, Israel remains the region’s only true democracy. Some on the far right take an “Israel right or wrong” approach and (falsely) equate any criticism of Israel’s government with antisemitism. Many of us are in the middle — supporting Israel and her government, but not unconditionally.
When I vote, it’s crucial to me that a candidate be pro-Israel. So it’s more than “very important”; it’s paramount. People have different definitions of
Chronicle weekly poll question: What is your preferred Thanksgiving main course? Go to pittsburghjewishchronicle.org to respond. PJC
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
Opinion — LETTERS — Most families of Pittsburgh synagogue victims support the death penalty for the shooter
As the Chronicle has reported in numerous articles, the U.S. Department of Justice has decided to seek the death penalty in the case against the mass murderer who perpetrated the Pittsburgh synagogue attack on Oct. 27, 2018. Some recent opinion pieces in our local newspapers have expressed the writer’s position in favor of accepting a guilty plea from the defendant to the charges against him in exchange for a sentence of life in prison without parole. This plea would eliminate the need for a trial which the writer feels will cause further harm to the victims’ families and the community as a whole. These views do not represent the vast majority of the victims’ families; they are, in fact, contrary to our views. The opinion the writer has stated is their opinion and theirs alone. Please don’t tell us how we should feel, what is best for us, what will comfort us and what will bring closure for the victims’ families. You can not and will not speak for us. The massacre of our loved ones was a clear violation of American law — mass murder of Jews for simply being Jewish and practicing Judaism, driven by sheer antisemitism — which the law rightfully deems is a capital offense. That part is indisputable. As families of the massacred in this case, we had a choice to make in supporting or opposing pursuit of the death penalty for the monster who committed the mass murder of our loved ones. We are well aware of the risks that come from it, which include the public rehashing of the specifics of the massacre, years of appeals and the possibility that the court may not return a verdict delivering the death penalty. Allowing the defendant to plead out will rob us of our “day in court” and will prevent the Justice Department from punishing the perpetrator to the full extent of the law, as we have sought for the past four-plus years. We are not a ruthless, uncompassionate people; we, as a persecuted people, understand when there is a time for compassion and when there is a time to stand up and say enough is enough — such violent hatred will not be tolerated on this earth. Our beloved 11 were taken from us in a brutal, cold-blooded act of hatred and violence. We, the undersigned, will feel further violated by letting the defendant have the easy way out. His crimes deserve the death penalty. The family of Bernice and Sylvan Simon The family of Cecil and David Rosenthal The family of Rose Mallinger The family of Joyce Fienberg The family of Richard Gottfried The family of Daniel Stein The family of Melvin Wax
Chronicle criticized for “attack” on Summer Lee
Tell me you’re making an endorsement without telling me you’re making an endorsement. That’s exactly what the Chronicle did on Election Day, Nov. 8. Four articles appearing in the Chronicle’s emailed newsletter casting aspersions and raising doubts about Summer Lee’s candidacy left little or no doubt: The Chronicle was out to get Ms. Lee. The editors of the Chronicle are certainly within their rights to publish an endorsement. A few hundred words from the editors criticizing Ms. Lee, or supporting her opponent, would be entirely appropriate, even if (to many of us) thoroughly disagreeable. However, pushing these views through supposed “news” articles shatters journalistic boundaries. Any one of these articles on its own would have been problematic. Four together is nothing less than an attack. In reading the body of the lead article (“Event in support of Summer Lee leaves some questions unanswered”) it is clear that the Chronicle could find no evidence of any anti-Israel sentiment on the part of Ms. Lee. However, the framing of the article implies that this information must exist, if only they could find it. This is not reporting — it is fear-mongering. The Chronicle’s reporting was accurate in one important sense. It is true that “the candidate’s views on issues related to Israel were not addressed.” This is quite true, and by design. Those of us who proudly stood with signs declaring the support of Jews for Summer Lee know that our congressional representative must represent Pittsburgh’s needs and concerns on a wide variety of issues, from health care to housing, the environment, education and many others. We also know that members of Congress have minimal influence over foreign policy. Finally, we know that our interests are not served by reducing the Jewish community as a monolith that views every political question through the lens of impact on Israel. Summer Lee is a dedicated member of the community, a powerful activist and a capable voice working tirelessly for the benefit of her district — including parts of Squirrel Hill — and our region. The Chronicle’s ham-handed attempts to smear her campaign reflect poorly on our community. Harry Hochheiser Tom Hoffman Yael Silk Joshua Friedman Avigail Oren Squirrel Hill
PA-12 contest pit J Street against AIPAC
“Extremism” is in the eye of the beholder. Those 240 Jews who signed an open letter condemning AIPAC/UPD for opposing Summer Lee’s congressional candidacy can’t see that in her. Yet her record says otherwise. She has advocated for lax criminal treatment, an invisible U.S. border, Supreme Court packing and other radical measures. As a democratic socialist, she has drawn hearty leftist support. Her overt anti-Israel antagonism, moreover, will make her an ideal addition to a growing congressional “Squad.” That fully explains AIPAC’s concerns. Unfortunately, though a well-warranted effort, it was unsuccessful in opposing her candidacy. This current dustup between J Street and AIPAC supporters, however, is about far more than one congressional contest. It’s really about the radicalization of the Democratic Party, ongoing American public support for Israel and, ultimately, American Jewry’s future. Jews have been among the most stalwart Democrat voters, but the party has been rapidly abandoning them. That can only ultimately undermine broader public support for Israel. Lee could have allayed such concerns, but chose not to engage with the Chronicle. “Equity” is about destructive group PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
proportionality apportioning of society’s wealth and opportunities. Jews, about 2% of the American population, can thrive only when there is equality of opportunity, where all are free to pursue their skills and interests, unimpeded. There thus looms a fateful choice for “progressive” Jews between those two parts of their identity. Richard D. Wilkins Syracuse, New York
Op-ed about electing right-wing Israeli government shows lack of understanding
Your recent guest editorial by Sara Yoheved Rigler on why Israelis are voting in large numbers for rightwing governance (“Why Israelis like me voted in a right-wing government,” Nov. 11) made some valid points but showed in some cases an amazing shallowness of emotional understanding. She wrote that in 1985 she could not comprehend why the mother of a Hamas member and accused terrorist was wailing and grieving over the possibility that she might never see her son again. Was she incapable of understanding the simple, profound pain a mother might feel at losing a child, irrespective of that child’s behavior? Her son may very well have been guilty of horrendous crimes, as indeed Hamas is generally. But dehumanization and demonization of “the other side” has historically been a step toward even more tragedy. The accelerating Israeli political drift rightward is not hard to understand. We all know the modern proverb that a conservative is a liberal who has been mugged. But his assumed antisemitism notwithstanding, Nietzsche had it right when he observed, “If you stare into the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.” Perhaps the hardest task of all is not hating. The Dalai Lama once met with a Tibetan monk who had escaped from prison in Chinese-occupied Tibet. The monk related how horrible his prison experience had been, but said that the worst moment of all was when he almost lost his compassion for the Chinese. Jack Bailey Squirrel Hill
‘Appalled’ and ‘offended’ by letter to the editor
I was appalled and offended by last week’s letter to the editor, “‘Horrified’ and ‘ashamed’ of Jews voting Republican.” The author unabashedly asserts that, by voting Republican, one unequivocally places oneself on the wrong side of justice. Somehow it is not Jewish to vote Republican. In the campaign for the 12th Congressional District, the letter’s author was outraged that “Mike Doyle” didn’t put “Republican” on his campaign literature ostensibly to hide that he is an “extremist imposter.” Who is the extremist? Perchance it’s the one who is pushing the toxic notion that a vote for a Republican is inherently, unquestionably and irrefutably a vote against truth, justice and the Jewish way. The inclination of the Democratic Party toward the extreme left is sufficient reason to consider the merits of every Republican. There are elements in both parties that are quite noxious. Neither party has a monopoly on depravity. I, personally, am an independent. Perhaps the Republicans are not all evil. Maybe it’s worth examining each one on his/her merits, especially when, as was the case in the 12th Congressional District, the alternative (and winner) is a woke progressive who will happily join the congressional Squad — a faction that has shown itself to be virulently anti-Israel and has promoted domestic policies which, even if unintended, have helped to generate high levels of antisemitism in many segments of American society. We could all learn from our forefather Abraham, who in last week’s Torah parshah, Vayera, pleaded with G-d to spare the city of Sodom for the sake of the righteous who might live there. In a similar manner, perhaps we could find 10 worthy Republicans in the entire party. If not 10, maybe nine, or even eight, so that we need not summarily dismiss any thought of voting Republican. Conceivably, the elections in which we which we vote include such Republicans — those who support values of a liberal democracy — as opposed to Democrats who foster a neo-Marxist, woke ideology. Reuven Hoch Squirrel Hill
Letters to the editor should not spread hate
During this election season the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle published many letters and columns advocating for or critical of various candidates and their positions. Some of the letters to the editor have gone beyond presenting different views on issues and candidates. These letters have, by the words of the writer, shamed, blamed and vilified fellow Jews who are from a different political party or hold a different view. Some of these letters are hateful. This seems contrary to the banner on the front page of the Chronicle “Connecting Jewish Pittsburgh” and is an open rebuke that is not really in line with Torah and Jewish values. We have seen the corrosive impact of divisive social media that has led to a significant polarization of our country leading to gridlock by our government and too much anger. The concern for policing social media is rising. Letters to the editor are a great feature of the Chronicle. Perhaps as social media needs policing, the staff that reviews the letters to the editor should consider doing the same. Angry rant-and-rave letters that steer away from issues and attack groups of individuals are divisive and may even be hateful, and should be left unpublished. As we remember the fourth yahrzeit of the Tree of Life martyrs, we need less hate and need to find a way back to civil dialogue with those whom we have different views. Rocky Wice Squirrel Hill We invite you to submit letters for publication. Letters must include name, address and daytime phone number; addresses and phone numbers will not be published. Letters may not exceed 500 words and may be edited for length and clarity; they cannot be returned. Mail or email letters to: Letters to the editor via email: firstname.lastname@example.org Address:
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NOVEMBER 18, 2022
Life & Culture
Israeli actor Michael Aloni is a hero in ‘Plan A’ — FILM — By Alan Zeitlin | JNS
hough he wears no cape and has no superpowers, Michael Aloni’s character in the film “Plan A” has only one shot at preventing the deaths of millions and making sure the Jews’ hopes of establishing a state are not squashed. Produced by Menemsha Films and directed by Doran and Yoav Paz, “Plan A” is a must-see powerhouse of a film that reminds the viewer that actions have consequences, and Jewish blood is not cheap. As Michael, he must make sure that a plot to poison the water and kill millions of Germans is stopped. Aloni, 38, is on the money every time he’s on screen, making us feel what is at stake. World War II ends before Aloni’s character, a soldier in the British Army’s Jewish Brigade, has a chance to kill Nazis on the battlefield. But then he gets an opportunity to find some in hiding. How would any of us have acted as a survivor whose family was murdered and then had an opportunity to take revenge? “That’s the exact question the film raises,” Aloni told JNS. “My grandfather fought during the war and was a partisan and was kind of a vigilante.” As to what attracted Aloni to the film, he said it was the Paz brothers’ excellent directing and the fact that the plot, however far-fetched it might seem, is based on truth. “I was really fascinated to jump so deep into a story that not a lot of people are aware of,” he said. Abba Kovner, portrayed with grit and mystery in “Plan A” by a stellar Ishai Golan, was a Holocaust survivor and poet who founded Nakam, a paramilitary organization that took revenge on Nazis. His plan, from which the film gets its title, was for an eye-for-an-eye attack on 6 million Germans, to be achieved by poisoning a water supply. As the character Max, August Diehl is haunting to watch as he weighs the romantic idealism of revenge with a pragmatic sense that such an act could make the Jews a pariah in the world and possibly put an end to the Zionist dream. This is not the first time Aloni has played a character buffeted by war and hardship. In the Israeli drama series “When Heroes Fly,” available on Netflix, Aloni plays Dotan “Himmler” Freidman, a tough Israeli soldier who joins buddies from his unit as they trek to a South American jungle to try to save a friend’s sister. Aloni said that, while he’s always pondered the courage soldiers displayed in Israel’s 1948-1949 War of Independence and other wars, his character in “Plan A” prompted him to think less about the risks of combat and more about the privilege of having a national army, especially since Jews had long yearned for a time when they could defend themselves. Known to many as the star of the hit
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
p In “Plan A,” Michael (Michael Aloni) wants to make it clear to Max (August Diehl) that only one man is in the driver’s seat. Photo courtesy of Menemsha Films
Netflix show “Shtisel,” Aloni has displayed versatility in playing many different kinds of characters. While Akiva Shtisel, the Hasidic character Aloni plays on the show, would never cheat on his wife, Aloni’s character in the melodrama “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem,” also on Netflix, isn’t so moral. Following his father’s death, Aloni’s Gabriel Ermoza is forced to marry a woman he doesn’t love while his heart belongs to another. Based on the book by Sarit Yishai-Levi, the show follows Gabriel and his wife Rosa (Hila Saada) as they deal with different struggles in raising their daughters in the Holy Land and takes the viewer from 1917 under Turkish rule, to the British mandate to the establishment of Israel. Difficulties range from violent Arab attacks, to emerging problems with Gabriel’s shop, which sells luxury foods.
don’t have the same issue unless you’re asking for her hand.” In “Happy Times,” available on Amazon, Aloni again stars as a character named Michael, a man who brings his girlfriend to a family dinner of mostly Israelis in Los Angeles. It turns out to be the dinner from hell. In a wild altercation at the dinner, he is pushed, slaps someone, elbows someone and gets choked out. While unconscious, someone takes an embarrassing selfie of him and shares it. He wakes up in a fury. Characters drop like flies in the movie, which is more of a black comedy than a horror film. “I don’t think the character is a bad guy,” Aloni said. “They’re all bad. But it’s always more fun to play the villain. It’s kind of fun to take that role, but in ‘Happy Times,’ he’s trying to survive.”
One role in which Aloni had supernatural abilities was in the thrilling series “Temporarily Dead.” He played Lev Alexander, a man with mysterious powers who has stolen the heart of medical intern Dana Riskin (Agam Rudberg). Some of the scenes between them were tearjerkers. When I saw Aloni a few years ago after he spoke to a crowd of thousands at a Manhattan synagogue, a woman kissed him on the cheek, and it seemed like she might be temporarily dead. A defibrillator was not needed. “Shtisel” fans asked if he could bring the show back to life for a third season. He did. Now the fans, including some of the more than 34,000 members on the impressive Facebook page “Shtisel — Let’s Talk About It,” are wondering if there is any chance there can be a season four.
Produced by Menemsha Films and directed by Doran and Yoav Paz, “Plan A” is a must-see powerhouse of a film that reminds the viewer that actions have consequences, and Jewish blood is not cheap. “It’s a wonderful show, and I’m happy to be part of it,” Aloni said of the epic “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem.” “It’s the most expensive production yet to come from Israel and it’s a period piece [taking place] just before ‘Plan A’ kicks into motion. It travels through time in such a marvelous way.” “The Beauty Queen of Jerusalem” features a breathtaking performance by Swell Ariel Or, who plays Ermoza’s daughter Luna. One man who proposes to her ends up getting hanged. So it’s no surprise that her father wants to make sure she only dates the right person. When asked what happened when Aloni met the fathers of women he dated, Aloni responded with a laugh. “It varies,” he said. “Some were more protective or less protective. I think we’re more modern today. You
A small scene with Academy Award winner Jessica Chastain in the HBO miniseries “Scenes From a Marriage” showed that Aloni has the gravitas to go at it with the best of them. As Poli, he wants more than a fling with the married Mira, but she doesn’t know if that’s her thing. “Working with Jessica, Oscar Isaac and creator Hagai [Levi] was a wonderful experience,” Aloni said. “There were deep layers [in the characters] and it was fun playing off Jessica.” His former “Shtisel” co-star Shira Haas is set to play Sabra, an Israeli superhero, in Marvel’s upcoming “Captain America: New World Order.” Gal Gadot starred as Wonder Woman. Good things come in threes, right? “I’m always open to do a Marvel movie or DC,” Aloni said.
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“I don’t know,” Aloni said. In Hebrew, he added “b’ezrat hashem”—”with God’s help.” Many Jews are also looking to God for help as they stress over outcomes of the Israeli or American elections, a tough economy, fears of military conflict and an environment in which everyone seems to want to argue. Aloni said he’s aware that times are stressful, but we can try to think and act in a positive way. “I think the future holds better and promising things,” he said. “If people are disappointed or have different opinions, we should all keep in mind that we are all humans no matter which side you are taking. If you can understand the other side and have empathy, you can try to be a source of comfort and light.” PJC PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG
Life & Culture In new miniseries ‘The Calling,’ an NYPD detective’s Judaism helps him solve crimes — TELEVISION — By Julia Gergely | JTA
n “The Calling,” a new miniseries streaming on Peacock, a Jewish NYPD detective fights crime and solves mysteries by letting his Jewishness lead the way. Jeff Wilbusch plays Avraham Avraham, a detective whose Judaism is both central to his character — in more than one scene he says the Mourner’s Kaddish for a murder victim — and an identity that influences the way he does his job. “It is so beautiful that, in our profession, as actors in the storytelling business, that you can play such a character,” Wilbusch told the New York Jewish Week. “Also, in these crazy times now, to have this beautiful role and character brought to life on screen on such a big platform is a really good thing.” “The Calling” is based on a series of detective novels by Israeli author Dror Mishani. Though Mishani’s books take place in Israel, the show, produced by David Kelley (creator of “Ally McBeal,” “Big Little Lies” and more) and directed by Barry Levinson (“Diner,” “Good Morning, Vietnam”), transports Detective Avraham to New York. Slightly reminiscent of “Law & Order,” it has less of a procedural bent, with cases that span multiple episodes and more emphasis on the character development. Detective Avraham — whose double name is not explained in the show further than one off-hand comment “my parents liked the name, I guess” — is a bit of a mysterious and complicated figure who works with his team to solve missing persons cases and a bomb threat at a day care. Wilbusch, who is Israeli, is best known for his role in Netflix’s “Unorthodox” as Moishe Lefkovitch — the unruly and somewhat dangerous cousin who flies to Germany to track down Esty (Shira Haas), the show’s formerly Orthodox protagonist. For the actor, who grew up in the Satmar Hasidic community of Mea Shearim in Israel until he was 13, and whose native language is Yiddish, he feels a certain responsibility to honor the Jewish characters he plays. “As a storyteller you have a lot of responsibility, especially when it comes to playing characters that are specific. I do feel a very strong responsibility to Avi,” the 34-year-old actor said. “I’m Jewish and I’m playing Jewish and it is a strange time for us Jews. The current events don’t really leave my head.” In some instances, the show seems to combine several different streams of Judaism — Detective Avraham says he grew up in Crown Heights, though in a shot of him saying morning prayers and wrapping tefillin on his roof, he appears to live in Williamsburg. He doesn’t wear a kippah save for a few scenes, and while he attends an egalitarian synagogue, he also seems to speak fluent Yiddish.
p Jeff Wilbusch as Jewish NYPD Detective Avraham Avraham in “The Calling,” which is streaming on Peacock Photo by Heidi Gutman/Peacock
Still, the character’s Judaism is less about the external markers of Judaism on the show — the scenes of him praying, saying a blessing, or performing “shemira,” watching over the dead — and more about how he carries himself and conducts his job. “He’s not just Jewish because his name is Avraham, or Jewish because he wears a kippah. He’s Jewish because many different things make him Jewish, storytelling-wise. He’s not a superficial character,” Wilbusch said. “He is such a deep and complex and interesting character with such a strong message of humanity. ” Avraham is considered the best detective in the department: He knows how to ask the right questions, how to bear witness to tragedy and how to continue to advocate for justice. “I learned many things from him — to really listen to people, to really use the senses and to fight to see the good in people,” Wilbusch told the New York Jewish Week. “The Talmud teaches us to see every single human being as the whole world, and that each and every person is entitled to infinite respect and concern. It’s not that I didn’t believe in this before, but just to play a character who consciously embodies this in his whole way of living is a very strong thing and a very healing thing,” he added. Though Avraham is guided by that very Jewish conscience, he still has his blind spots. He prefers to work alone, he keeps his methods to himself and he remains guarded about his background and personality, perhaps aware that his Judaism sets him apart. Upending these tendencies in Avraham is his more junior partner Janine Harris (Juliana Canfield), who is eager to learn more about Judaism in order to understand her colleague better. Throughout the series, she asks about synagogue, shiva and Sukkot in a respectful and curious way. Please see Calling, page 21
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Life & Culture
Diabetes-friendly foods for Thanksgiving — RECIPES — By Linda Morel | Contributing Writer
wo weeks before Thanksgiving last year, my husband’s endocrinologist said his blood sugar was dangerously high. David needed to bring it down — immediately. But traditional Thanksgiving foods can cause anyone’s blood sugar to spike. Think of stuffing, sweet potatoes with melted marshmallows, cranberry sauce (my recipe calls for two cups of sugar) and pumpkin pie! On top of everything, our 30-year-old niece, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 10, was joining us. Recently, she’d worked hard to eat right and exercise more. She became prediabetic for the first time in 20 years. I always knew Thanksgiving food is carb-heavy and far too sweet, yet I figured what could it hurt once a year. But now that it was clear this menu was harmful to two family members, I didn’t want Thanksgiving dinner to catapult their health backward. Our family is not alone. In the United States, 34.2 million people suffer from diabetes, and another 88 million live with prediabetes. I decided to tweak ingredients in Thanksgiving foods, lowering carbohydrate culprits, such as flour and sugar. But in the process, I refused to sacrifice flavor. Here is what I did. • I skipped cranberries, which require excessive sugar. Instead, I used raw cranberries to garnish the platter of sliced turkey. • In the stuffing, I upped the veggies and lowered the amount of bread. • I nixed candied sweet potatoes with marshmallows. As an alternative, I served a sweet potato casserole with a pecan topping. • I substituted a couple of veggie sides for mashed potatoes. • I added almond flour to the pear cake and reduced the amount of sugar. On Thanksgiving, everyone raved about my enlightened recipes. My family didn’t bemoan what we were missing, but rather we were thankful to be together, sharing a delicious meal in good health.
Jerusalem artichoke stuffing | Pareve
Serves 8 Nonstick vegetable spray 6-8 Jerusalem artichokes (sometimes called sunchokes) 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons Kosher salt to taste 10-12 ounces of peasant bread or sourdough, presliced (about ½-⅔ of a large bakery loaf) 5 stalks of celery 4 large carrots 1 onion 3-4 cloves garlic 1½ inches ginger root 8 ounces mushrooms, presliced ¼ teaspoon sage ¼ teaspoon thyme 3 cups chicken broth
Place a shelf in the middle of the oven. Preheat
p Whipped sweet potatoes
the oven to 350 F. Coat a small roasting pan with nonstick spray. Dice the Jerusalem artichokes. Move the artichokes to the prepared roasting pan. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (or more if needed). Sprinkle with salt, tossing to coat evenly. Roast for 35 minutes, or until the artichokes are golden and fragrant. Cool to room temperature and reserve. The recipe can be made to this point up to two days in advance, if covered and refrigerated. Bring the artichokes to room temperature before proceeding. Tear slices of bread into bite-sized pieces. Reserve. Peel and dice finely the celery, carrots and onion. Peel the ginger and garlic. Dice them and then chop them finely. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil on a medium flame. Add the mushrooms, celery, carrots, onion and ginger. Sprinkle them with the salt, sage and thyme. Stir to combine. Sauté until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and Jerusalem artichokes, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Add the bread, and stir to combine. Slowly pour in the chicken broth a little at a time, stirring after each addition. When the bread is wet and sticking together (but not sopping wet and saturated), you don’t need any more chicken broth. If any remains, use it for another purpose. Coat a deep 2½-quart casserole with nonstick spray. Spoon the stuffing mixture into the casserole. Bake the stuffing for 45-55 minutes, or until the casserole is bubbling. Serve immediately.
Whipped sweet potatoes with pecan crust | Pareve Serves 8 4 large sweet potatoes or yams Nonstick vegetable spray
p Spiced pear cake
bhofack2 / iStock /Getty Images Plus
2 tablespoons maple syrup, preferably Grade A Amber ⅛ teaspoon granulated salt, plus ⅛ teaspoon ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus ⅛ teaspoon 1 to 1½ cups chopped pecans or walnuts
Peel the sweet potatoes, and cut them into 1-inch chunks. Fill a large pot with cold water. Add the sweet potatoes, cover the pot with a lid and bring it to a boil. On a fast simmer, cook the sweet potatoes until soft in the center, about 45-55 minutes. Add more water, if needed. Drain the sweet potatoes in a colander. While the sweet potatoes simmer, preheat your oven to 350 F. Coat a deep 2½-quart casserole with nonstick spray. In two batches, move the sweet potatoes to the bowl of a food processor. To the first batch, add 1 tablespoon maple syrup, ⅛ teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon. Cover it with the lid and process until all the lumps are gone and the potatoes look fluffy. Using a spatula, move the sweet potatoes to the prepared casserole. Repeat with the second batch of potatoes, maple syrup, salt, and cinnamon. The recipe can be made to this point 2 days ahead. Bring the potato casserole to room temperature before proceeding. Scatter the nuts on top. Move the sweet potatoes to the oven, and heat for 15-20 minutes, until the casserole bubbles at the edges. Serve immediately.
Roasted parsnips with rosemary | Pareve Serves 6 Nonstick spray 3 large parsnips, peeled and cut the size of carrot sticks 2 tablespoons olive oil Kosher salt to taste ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon rosemary needles, chopped
IriGri8 / iStock / Getty Images Plus
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Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 375 F. Coat a 7-inch-by11-inch ovenproof pan, such as Pyrex, with nonstick spray. Move the parsnips into the prepared ovenproof pan. Drizzle on the olive oil and stir to coat it evenly. Sprinkle on the salt, garlic powder and rosemary. Toss to coat evenly. Move the pan to the oven, and roast until the parsnips turn golden brown, about 30-35 minutes. Serve immediately. The recipe can be made a day ahead if cooled, covered and refrigerated. Bring it to room temperature before placing it in a 375-degree oven until heated through and crisping again.
Spiced pear cake | Pareve Serves 8-10 Nonstick vegetable spray 2 firm, but ripe, Bartlett pears ⅔ cup sugar 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon ⅓ cup vegetable oil ⅓ cup unsweetened applesauce 3 eggs 2 teaspoons vanilla 1 teaspoon almond extract 1½ cups all-purpose flour 2 cups almond flour 1 tablespoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground ginger ¼ teaspoon cloves ¼ teaspoon cardamom
Place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat your oven to 375 F. Coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray. Peel the skin off the pears. Slice them in half the long way. Use a melon baller or paring knife to remove seeds. Place the flat side of pear halves on a cutting board. Cut thin slices lengthwise down each pear half, cutting all the way through. Keep the slices in the shape of a pear. Reserve. In a large-size mixing bowl, place the sugar, cinnamon, oil and applesauce. Using an electric beater, beat on low until combined. Add the eggs, vanilla and almond extract. Beat on low, until incorporated. The mixture will appear loose and quite dark. Add the 2 flours, baking powder, salt, ginger, cloves and cardamom. Beat on low to incorporate them. With a spatula, scrape the bowl and mix again. Pour the dough into the prepared springform pan. With a spatula, gently lift each sliced pear half one at a time onto the dough. Place the flat side of the pears down on the dough. Position the necks of the pears closer to the center of the pan and the bulbous ends closer to, but not touching, the edge. Fan out the slices to resemble the spokes of a bike. Gently press on the pears until the batter squishes up the sides of each pear, but the tops of the pears are still exposed. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool to room temperature before serving. Do not remove the springform sides until the cake is cooled. PJC Linda Morel writes for the Jewish Exponent, an affiliated publication where this first appeared. NOVEMBER 18, 2022
The many lives of Sarah
It is with great joy and happiness that Harrison and Jessica Paull, currently residents of Texas, announce the birth of their two bundles of joy into the world, Asher Levi and Olivia Gail. Asher and Olivia’s grandparents, and Harrison’s parents, are Lee and Debra Paull, formerly from Pittsburgh, and the greatgrandparents are Herbie and Mildred Paull of blessed memory. PJC
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Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel Parshat Chayei Sarah Genesis 23:1 - 25:18
ascinatingly, the Hebrew word for “life” has no singular form. The word “chaim” means life, but literally, it means multiple lives. (The word “chai” means alive — an adjective.) So when we toast, “L’chaim!” we are not really saying “To life!”; we are saying “To many lives!” Like everything holy, the Holy Tongue has no coincidences and there is endless depth to be found in this grammatical twist. Here is one: A life lived only for oneself is no life at all. A real life is one that enlivens others. My life, your life, every life — they all need to involve lives. A wise man once said, “What counts as currency on earth does not count as currency in Heaven; in Heaven they accept no cash or credit — they do, however, accept charitable receipts.” Ultimately, the Creator Who gave us our lives is less interested in how well we did for ourselves and more interested in how well we did for others.
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infused meaning into their life, and they came alive. Thus, she lived her life and, even after passing, she helped them live theirs. These are “the lives of Sarah.” She gave life to her son Yitzchok (Isaac). She bore him at the age of 90, a happy vehicle for a Divine miracle to bring this precious child into the world, and with him, a world of happiness. Even in her old age, she nursed him, raised him, molded him, defended him, fought for him and made him into the forefather of Israel he would become. She lived her life, and even after her passing, his life was a result of hers. These are “the lives of Sarah.” And you, dear reader, if a Jewish heart beats in your chest, or if Torah values guide your days, is your life not a gift from the life of Sarah? If Torah’s wisdom inspires you, and the Shema strengthens you, and Shabbat preserves you, and Chanukah warms you, and Purim ignites you, and Pesach sets you free, and the High Holidays elevate you — is your life an extension of Sarah’s? And not just you and me, but the millions of Jewish lives lived with inner joy and meaning since the dawn of our people: These are all “the lives of Sarah.”
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This is surely one of the reasons for the peculiar name of this week’s Parshah: Chayei Sarah — the lives of Sarah. It is peculiar not only for its plural description of Sarah’s one life (as discussed) but also for the timing: The parshah features not the story of her life but rather the story of her passing, her funeral, her shiva. And that we call “the lives of Sarah”? And yet, how true it is. Sarah touched thousands of people with her kindness, her hospitality and her education. She made people feel respected and valued; she gave people a place to call home when they were far from their own; and, above all, by teaching people about G-d and His purpose for the world, she gave people a life. She
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Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel is executive director of The Aleph Institute — North East Region. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh.
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May G-d bless us and help us emulate our matriarch Sarah even if only to a degree. May we open our eyes to the truth that a life is only a life when it breathes life in another. Wisdom is only wise when it is taught; money is only valuable when it is shared; life is only eternal when it is plural. So this Friday night, raise a glass at your Shabbat table, share this truth with your family and friends, and join me in a jolly toast: “L’Chaim! To many lives!” Shabbat Shalom. PJC
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Obituaries ARONSON: Morton M. (Mort) Aronson, 1926-2022, on Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022. Mort, son of the late Matt and Blanche Goldman Aronson, grew up in Lower East Oakland, Pittsburgh, appropriately close to the old Forbes Field. He was a graduate of Schenley High School, trained in the Air Force, and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh. Mort married Evelyn Rae Horelick on Dec. 21, 1946, who predeceased him; they were happily married for over 72 years. Mort is survived by his three children: Richard (Roberta), Carol Sue Aronson Soifer (Bruce), and Thomas, and four grandchildren: Esther Frances Aronson (Michael Blackburn), Rachel Ann Aronson (Jacob Garguilo), Jason Matthew Aronson Soifer (Rachel Zamoiski) and Scott Samuel Soifer. Great-grandchildren are Joseph, Julia and Anna Soifer, Lucas and Lily Aronson, and Aron Blackburn. Professionally, Mort was chief mechanical engineer at Pennsylvania Transformers, co-founded by Samuel Horelick, his father-in-law. Mort designed power systems and held several patents for transformer design and features. He had strong analytical skills and demonstrated a strong knack for working with his hands. Eventually, he went into the retail food business and became an interested investor in commercial real estate and other ventures. Always a sports enthusiast, young “Morty’s” athletic talent and passion became evident as early as elementary school pick-up baseball games, continued as a member of Schenley High School’s basketball and football teams as well as the YMHA basketball team. His athletic skills showed up later in baseball and softball also. Later, as a family man, his passion and high achievement turned to the formidable and frustrating game of golf for most of his long life. Never one to blow his own horn, Mort disliked a fuss made over or about him; accomplishments were obvious to whomever witnessed them. His complaints were kept to himself. Mort had a quiet and delightful sense of humor. He enjoyed a good sitcom like “All in the Family,” and mostly loved laughing with his friends, many of them from his childhood. Much to Evey’s and his children’s amusement, he gleefully made up his own words to popular songs on the radio. His children loved receiving enchanting notes he sent to them at summer camp, replete with whimsical drawings of stick figures driving little cars puffing exhaust and cartoons of family pets, Cindy the stately German Shepard and Bamboo the mischievous Siamese cat. On the other hand, his intensity was legendary. He was an avid reader, and spent time each evening after dinner studying the thesaurus. He insisted his children practice good manners, especially at the dinner table, and speak respectfully to adults at all times, and strive to develop their vocabulary also! These lessons were appreciated much later in their lives! Mort loved cars, a passion passed to his son Richard. There were efficient, family-friendly models and more exotic types: his 1929 Chrysler and three Jaguar sport models were particular favorites. Gentle and loving, powerful, playful, persevering and practical, Mort was greatly loved and admired by his family and friends. Services and interment were private. Donations may be made to Disabled American Veterans. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com GROSS: Sylvia Gross, born Feb. 5, 1930, in Homeville, Pennsylvania, to the most wonderful parents, Rose and Zoltan Smooke of blessed memory, died Nov. 7, 2022, in the care of her loving family and caregiver Ebere Victoria. Sylvia, AKA “Double,” a moniker she acquired from her toddler grandsons, exemplified generosity of spirit, unconditional love, values of open doors and welcoming the stranger. Double grew up with her brothers and sisters, Allen, Jerry, Betty and Fay, all of blessed memory, in the wild Steel Towns of Homeville/Homestead, and finally the Oakland neighborhood of Pittsburgh. Her father used to brag that he was a “5 X millionaire!” to explain how much he adored his children. At 18, Double met and married the love of her life, Ben Gross, a Hungarian “Hand-Grenade.” Double dedicated her life to helping Ben and his siblings, all survivors of the Holocaust, rebuild their shattered lives. She read and wrote for him. They
raised four children: Cindy, Marcie, Howard (of blessed memory) and Michael. She and Ben were a team and she learned quickly how to manage a household and be a lady kosher butcher. Together they operated Ben Gross Kosher Meats on 5th Avenue in Pittsburgh, into the late 1950s. In time, Ben joined his brothers at Albee Homes In Youngstown, Ohio, and traveled the country while Mom dedicated herself to holding down the fort. In 1963, Ben accidentally boarded a plane to Atlanta when he meant to fly to Atlantic City to open a model home. He looked around and the brothers decided to invest in exurban real estate. In 1967 the family finally moved to Atlanta. Double persevered through the ups and downs of economic peaks and valleys managing the family finances while never losing her warmth and sense of humor. She always made sure that the kids had money in their wallets and there were charity dollars by the front door even when money was very tight. She was a great family finance manager with only a high school education. Double exemplified loving kindness (chesed) and created a warm and welcoming home in Atlanta. She taught us the importance of visiting the sick and elderly, community involvement in meaningful ways that did not always attract attention, and she showed us the value of volunteering with a smile. She really loved bowling with her dear friend Helen Gerson (of blessed memory) and they delighted in telling all about their high scores and gutter balls. They loved their bowling league teammates and made every effort to attend the end-of-season parties. Double was a lifetime member of Na’amat and served as president of the local chapter many times. She was named an Atlanta Jewish Federation Woman of Achievement and was an honoree of SOJOURN for her dedication to supporting the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Sylvia Gross was predeceased by her husband, Ben, her beloved son Howard, and her sisters and brothers she adored. She is survived by Cindy Solomon, Marcie Koffler (Barry,) Michael Gross (Bryan) and Cathy Gross (Howard z’ll.) She will be missed by her beloved grandchildren Max (Jennifer,) Aaron (Chanyl,) Lucy (Michael,) Zak (Luca,) Micah (Jason) and Caleb (Margalit) and the lights of her life, great-grandsons Charlie Hugo Gross and Pax Anic-Koffler. Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Nov. 8, at Crestlawn Cemetery in Atlanta. See DresslerJewishFunerals.Com. There will be a hole in our hearts but we will forever carry with us her spark, her love of life and people, and the kindness she taught us was so important to creating lasting connection with others. We love you Double. KARELITZ: Cheryl Fran Karelitz, on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2022. Beloved daughter of the late Morton and Racille Karelitz. Sister of Alan B. (Meryl) Karelitz and the late Evan (surviving spouse Kathy) Karelitz. Aunt of Barry S. Karelitz, Josh (Holly) Karelitz, Laura Karelitz-Duffy (Seth) and Andrea Karelitz. Greataunt of Charlie, Martin, Dominic and Delano Karelitz, and Theo Duffy. Cheryl was a resident of Citizen Care, Inc. for many years. The family wishes to thank the Partners for Quality Foundation, Inc. for all the love and care they’ve given Cheryl throughout the years. Services and interment were held at Tree of Life Memorial Park. Contributions in Cheryl’s memory may be made to Partners for Quality Foundation, Inc., 250 Clever Road, McKees Rocks, PA 15136. schugar.com MARGOLIS: Naomi Margolis departed her loving family on Nov. 13, 2022. Naomi was born in Pittsburgh on Dec. 12, 1955. She was a doting, caring and loving mother to Avram, Felicia and Jessica. She raised her children in Pittsburgh, Squirrel Hill. Naomi was married for 40 years to a dedicated and devoted man who admired and cherished her. As a teacher and daycare/preschool owner, Naomi was known for her caring and heartfelt ways with every child. She raised each one as her own. Her daycare started small in her house while raising her own children and quickly took off. Then, she moved her daycare to a separate building in Wilkins Township. Some of the grown children’s families she taught follow up and thank her for how their children were adored. PLEASE SEE OBITUARIES, PAGE 20
Please see Obituaries, page 20
Bernadette L. Rose-Tihey Funeral Director, Supervisor, Vice President
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NOVEMBER 18, 2022 19
Obituaries Obituaries: Continued from page 19
Her hobbies included watching cooking shows and ice skating on TV, and shopping. Naomi had a passion for seeing musicals and going to the movies. She loved attending parties and was always the life of the party! Naomi enjoyed reading books and magazines. She took great pleasure in cooking huge meals for her family, especially for the Jewish holidays. Naomi was the happiest when she was around her family. Her granddaughter, Shoshana, was the apple of her eye. She was beyond proud of her and lived for Shoshana. Naomi was infatuated with being a bubbie and always said it was her favorite thing in the world! She is survived by her husband, Steven Margolis, children Avram Margolis, Felicia Kass (Will Kass), Jessica Margolis (Shane Pastura), and granddaughter, Shoshana Margolis. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc. Interment private. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com MARKOWITZ: Dr. Martin (“Marty”) D. Markowitz. It is with deep sorrow that we share the passing of Marty Markowitz, who died unexpectedly on Nov. 6, 2022, just four days after celebrating his 76th birthday with friends at his home in Cape Coral, Florida. Marty was born Nov. 2, 1946, in Pittsburgh, and grew up in Garden City and Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Marty graduated from Gateway High School and went on to attend Ohio University and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. After graduating from optometry school, Marty served stateside as an optometrist for the United States Army. Marty then joined his father, the late Dr. Louis S. Markowitz, in his optometry practices in Greensburg and Indiana, Pennsylvania, where he spent the next 38 years. For more than four decades, you could find Marty, with his beloved wife of 54 years, Anita, boating on the Allegheny River on the Genesis. In addition to his father, Marty was preceded in death less than two months ago by his mother, Lillian Rosenblum Markowitz. In addition to Anita, Marty is survived by his two children, Craig and Pace (Michelle) Markowitz. Marty’s pride and joy were his grandchildren, Myer and Hannah Markowitz. He is also survived by his beloved siblings, Cindy (Jerry) Brodsky of Lyndhurst, Ohio, and Michael (Charlotte Paskman) Markowitz of Chalfant, Pennsylvania, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins. Services were held at Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., 5509 Centre Avenue, Shadyside. Interment Homestead Hebrew Cemetery in West Mifflin. Contributions in his memory may be made to Shalom Life Center, P.O. Box 61346, Ft. Myers, FL 33906, or Temple David, 4415 Northern Pike, Monroeville, PA 15146. schugar.com
Jewish Association on Aging gratefully acknowledges contributions from the following: A gift from ... In memory of... Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Goldie Fishman Phyllis Cohen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Abe M. Cohen Phyllis Cohen . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Estherita Cohen Helene Friedman. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sidney Friedman The Goldberg Family . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Harold L. Roth Marlene Goldstein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Capt. Morris A. Rudick Marlene Goldstein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sarah Rudick Shirley L. Hirsch . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Esther S. Levine Tari Modes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mildred Hahn Marion Reznik . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Eleanor Bergstein Simma & Lawrence Robbins . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Ruben Nadler Joel Smalley . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Mary Smalley Sharon Snider . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Nettie Touber Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Max Blatt Anonymous . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Dr. Marshall Steinberg Howard & Rhea Troffkin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Sally Brenner Nancy Wolper. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Janet Wolper
PERILMAN: Stuart (Bart) Perilman, age 80, of Collier Township, passed away peacefully on Friday, Nov. 11, 2022. Son of the late Saul and Florence Perilman. Beloved husband of Wendy (Lupovitz). Loving father of Mark L. (Carina) Perilman and Staci (Rick) Perilman Schreiber. Loving “Pop Pop” of Eliana Carly, Maya Anabella, Tatiana Sofia Perilman, Jenna Rayne and Keira Rose Schreiber. Brother of the late Jerrilyn Perilman and Stanley Perilman. Brother-in-law of Toby Perilman, Sandra Bohm, Alan (Karen) Lupovitz and the late Tala and Sonny Kravitz. Also survived by several nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Stuart dedicated his life to family first, but put almost unparalleled energy into charitable pursuits, top leadership positions and living a wonderful and honorable life. Stuart spent most of his career as a CPA, was a 1st Lt. in the U.S. Army, served in Vietnam in 1968, and the list could go on as high as his golf scores (sorry Dad). The family would like to thank AHN Hospice for the care they provided. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Helene Weinstein Fund at Beth El Congregation, or the Lewy Body Dementia Association, LBDA.org. Funeral Service was held at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills. Interment in Beth El Section of Mt. Lebanon Cemetery. Arrangements entrusted to William Slater II Funeral Service, Scott Twp., slaterfuneral.com. WEISMAN: Marilyn Esther Amdur Weisman (Miriam Esther bat Etti), beloved daughter, wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, passed away on Friday, Oct. 28, 2022. Marilyn was born on the same date, 1926, in Pittsburgh, and was raised in a large, close-knit family including her mother, Ethel Amdur Riesberg, her mother’s husband Benjamin Riesberg, her grandparents Nathan and Jenny Amdur, and her siblings, Evelyn (“Evy”), Mildred (“Milly”), and William (“Sonny”). Marilyn met and married fellow Pittsburgher, Sidney Weisman (1918-2007), in 1944, with whom she raised two daughters, Leesa and Jeanne, and lived out her 96 years in their home in West Caldwell, New Jersey. In her later years, she was lovingly cared for by Shurlan Cromwell and Yvette Marks. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Leesa Barenboim (Carl) and Jeanne Berman (Alan); grandchildren Deanna Eve Barenboim, Julia Barenboim Nagler (Daniel), Elana Plenby and Jeremy Berman (Andrea); and great-grandchildren Kabir Shai Sindhwani, Max Plenby and Skye and Nova Berman. She is also survived by her brother, William Riesberg. A private funeral was held on Sunday, Oct. 30, 2022. Marilyn was an insightful, generous, spunky, and loving friend, family member and citizen of the world. She was a voracious reader and learner, who earned her BA from Montclair State College (now University) in her 40s, majoring in anthropology. She also engaged her cultural interests while traveling the world through Sidney’s international work as a metallurgist. They were a dashing couple, known for their amazing dancing and for being very much in love for all their years together. Marilyn also had incredibly special relationships with each of her family members, and will always be remembered for her love, caring warmth, deep listening, sage advice, amazing cooking, and welcoming holiday table. She will also be remembered as a caretaker of her larger community and society. Marilyn volunteered with Meals on Wheels, advocated for women in the workplace, and was an active donor to feminist organizations such as NARAL and Hadassah. She voted in every election she could, volunteered at hospitals, and supported scientific advances through organizations such as the Weizmann Institute of Science. In Marilyn’s younger days, she — along with Sidney and other dear friends who often camped together on Lake George, New York — founded Congregation Agudath Israel synagogue in West Caldwell, New Jersey, for which she was honored in 2012. A plaque can be found at Agudath Israel in memory of Marilyn and other women crucial to the founding and success of the synagogue’s preschool and library programs. Marilyn’s family hopes to set up ways to honor Marilyn’s memory through fostering the education and imaginations of generations to come; if you are interested in donating to future initiatives, please sign up at bit.ly/honoringmarilyn to find out more as plans unfold. PJC
Contact the Development department at 412.586.3264 or email@example.com for more information.
THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS — Sunday November 13: Doris Libby Bennett, Joseph Bilder, Max Cohen, Herman A. Donofsky, Leah Firestone, Phillip Friedman, Morris Glassman, Betty Grayer, Jennie Iskowich, Harry Jacobs, Bertha Klein, Leon Morris, Polina Novak, Meyer Seiavitch, Irwin Sidler, Fannie G. Skirboll, Sidney Stein, Sam Stern, Sam Stone, Marvin Tachna, Joseph Thompson, Mildred Weinberger, Milton Zakowitz Monday November 14: Bessie Lottie Azen, Sylvia Braun, Harry Cukerbaum, Anne Firestone, Julia Goldstein, Louis Greenberg, Zelda Gutmacher, Isaac Klein, William Levy, Joseph Lustig, Jacob S. Miller, Gertrude R. Nachman, Ruben Nadler, Miriam S. Nydes, Max Perr, Philip Rubenstein, Shana Sergie, Ida Sussman, Nettie Touber, Rose Wolovitz Tuesday November 15: Jeannette Tafel Alman, Charlotte Ginsburg, Hymen L. Kaplan, Benjamin Klawansky, Esther S. Levine, Lafe B. Murstein, Sadie Rossen, Fannie Ruben, Leah W. Schlesinger, Helen G. Sheinberg, Lena Frieman Sieff, Michael Stone, Rebecca Tillman, Janet Wolper Wednesday November 16: Sam Benowitz, Fannie Fleischer, Jay David Glasser, Meyer Helfer, Bella Kalson, Nathan Levenson, David London, Alvin Meyers, Bette Rudick, Anna Shapira, Edward I. Solomon, Jack Joseph Sussman, Harry Edward Traub Thursday November 17: Esther Berschling, Saul Cabin, Hyman Goldenson, Raymond E. Gusky, David Pudles, Ida Radbord, David G. Tarshis Friday November 18: Carol Lee Anatole, Nathan Bliman, Rebecca Needelman Bodek, Sadie Chotiner, Benjamin M. Cohen, Hyman Daly, Rebecca Friedman, Isaac Glick, Dr. Henry Goldstein, Selma Goldstein, David Gross, Hyman H. Kimel, Alfred Malt, Alvin Marks, Max Schwimer, Elmer Solomon, Dora B. Whiteman Saturday November 19: Sam Birnkrant, Sara Chotiner, Goldie Fishman, Herbert Alvin Haase, Benjamin Himmel, Abraham Korsunsky, Louise Lebby, Adeline Levitt, Isaac Lieb, Mary N. Lustig, Annie Mermelstein, Ida Nusin, Fred Nussbaum, Noah Saxen, Raymond Irwin Sloan, Sherwin Smalley, Arthur Speizer
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
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“The Talmud says it’s forbidden for a teacher to reject his student,” she tells him in one scene. “If I ask you, you kinda have to teach me.” It’s a relationship not often seen on television, a non-Jewish character with an innocent curiosity about Judaism and a recognition of how it influences one’s entire being. For Wilbusch, the relationship between Avraham and Janine was one of his favorite parts of the show. “It says in the Torah ‘Lo tov heyot l’adam l’vado,’ a person should not be alone,” Wilbusch said, quoting a line in Genesis. “Avraham thinks he works best alone, but he needs Janine badly. The relationship
that they have is not just a master-student. She keeps them in line where he has blind spots.” The relationship on screen bled into their real world interactions on set, Wilbusch said. As production went on, Canfield, who is not Jewish, would slip in Yiddish phrases like “oy gevalt” after messing up a line. “It means a lot to me. It’s a dream come true — a dream that I never knew I had,” Wilbusch said. “I never thought I would play a Jewish detective, that this would be my first leading role in America.” All eight episodes of “The Calling” will be available to stream on Peacock on Nov. 10. PJC This article first appeared in the New York Jewish Week.
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www.pittsburghjewishchronicle.org 22 NOVEMBER 18, 2022
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Community Mezuzah making meet
Temple David celebrated its choir during a Nov. 4 oneg. Congregants baked delicious and creative treats and decorated the social hall with musical notes, posters and fun choir puns.
p University of Pittsburgh students joined Hillel JUC for a mezuzah making event.
Photo courtesy of Hillel JUC
Samuel Rosenberg art discussion
Barbara L. Jones, curator emerita of The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, and Laurence Glasco, associate professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, spoke about Black migration and the artwork of Samuel Rosenberg during the annual Rodef Shalom Legacy Society dinner in collaboration with the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Life & Legacy program.
p These treats hit the right note.
Photo courtesy of Temple David
The STEAM team
p Laurence Glasco and Barbara L. Jones
Photo courtesy of Rodef Shalom Congregation
p Community Day School and PJ Library Pittsburgh partnered on a program using recycled and natural materials.
Satiated with study
Students and community members enjoyed an evening of chavrusa-style learning at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh.
p Fried food, pop and Torah is a recipe for smiles.
Photo courtesy of Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh
p Students explored science, technology, engineering, arts and math.
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE
Photos courtesy of Community Day School
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
Empire Kosher Fresh Boneless Chicken Breasts
• All-natural poultry — whole chickens, breasts, wings and more • All-natural, corn-fed beef — steaks, roasts, ground beef and more • Variety of deli meats and franks
Available at select Giant Eagle stores. Visit gianteagle.com for location information.
Price effective Thursday, November 10 through Wednesday, November 16, 2022
Available at 24
NOVEMBER 18, 2022
PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE