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November 27, 2020 | 11 Kislev 5781

Candlelighting 4:37 p.m. | Havdalah 5:39 p.m. | Vol. 63, No. 48 | pittsburghjewishchronicle.org

NOTEWORTHY LOCAL Protecting our children Sacred Spaces starts a dialogue

Number of hate crimes continue to grow in Pittsburgh and throughout U.S.

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Tips for weathering a pandemic winter By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law. His comments were first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Shawn Brokos, director of community security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, confirmed there have been some new anti-Semitic incidents in the area, but said she has not seen a “dramatic rise in anti-Semitism.” “I think the distinction is that the FBI openly talked about it, and created this new awareness,” said Brokos, a former supervisory special agent for the FBI. “This is not a new story. White supremacy and anti-Semitism have existed in Western Pennsylvania. I think this symposium just brought it to the forefront. My hope is that it prompts our community to come

ith Chanukah and a slew of cold days ahead, experts warn it’s important to remember that safety practices of the past eight months are worth holding on to — almost as much as a trusted winter coat. While the holidays and winter will look different this year, Pittsburghers are now experienced in making pandemic-friendly adaptations to traditions, say local mental health professionals. Whether it was figuring out the logistics of keeping a screen clear of matzah crumbs and charoset during a Zoom seder or awakening the soul during Kol Nidre in a dining room, the pandemic forced people to reimagine celebrations and rituals in the name of health. Leading up to Thanksgiving, teen therapist Stephanie Rodriguez reminded clients to focus on themselves and make sure that their “mental health is in check.” With COVID-19 cases spiking in recent weeks, many parents have become stricter with their children, said Rodriguez, who works at UpStreet, a program of Jewish Family and Community Services. “It’s causing a lot of my clients to want to stay in their room and not go downstairs and spend time with even just their family that’s in the house,” she said. Interpersonal connection is essential, says Rodriguez, so whether that’s facilitated by calling family and friends on Thanksgiving weekend, or taking time to do so during the upcoming weeks, teens must keep connecting. Even if it’s for only 20 or 25 minutes a day, teens should leave their rooms and go watch a movie with family, play a game with siblings or go for a walk outside. Despite falling temperatures, making it less pleasant to go outside, it’s still possible to have safe and meaningful social interactions, said Maggie Feinstein, director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership.

Please see Hate, page 12

Please see Winter, page 12

LOCAL 322 pages and counting

Checking in with daf yomi learners Page 3

LOCAL Coffee, candy and conversation  A man kneels to light a candle beneath a police cordon outside the Tree of Life building after the Oct. 27, 2018, massacre. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images/via JTA By David Rullo | Staff Writer and Ben Sales | JTA


A friendship tale Page 4

wo years after the massacre at the Tree of Life building, white supremacist groups remain active in Pittsburgh. In the past several weeks, a white supremacist group held a march downtown. About 100 people attended a white supremacist music festival in the area. A vocal white supremacist who had posted a call online to murder local Jews was released from prison. And flyers with white nationalist slogans have papered the city. “We have, since 2018, seen a dramatic increase in white supremacist-related violent incidents and in the overall presence of white supremacists within our [area],” John Pulcastro, an FBI supervisory intelligence analyst, said at a Nov. 12 symposium at Duquesne University’s

keep your eye on PittsburghJewishChronicle

LOCAL Computers for kids

LOCAL Giving it forward together

LOCAL Cyril Wecht on Cyril Wecht

Headlines Sacred Spaces initiates conversation on protecting children from abuse — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


ne in 10 adults reports having been emotionally abused as a child, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in five adults reports having been sexually abused as a child. One in four adults reports having been physically abused as a child. These statistics were gathered by interviewing adults about their childhood experiences in a retrospective study. Determining current prevalence rates is harder because most children delay their disclosure for years or never report abuse at all, said Shira Berkovits, president and CEO of Sacred Spaces, a Pittsburgh-based national organization that partners with Jewish institutions and responds to sexual abuse and other abuses of power. The first of several webinars dedicated to protecting children and teens from abuse was hosted by Sacred Spaces and sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh on Nov. 17. The program featured insights from Berkovits as well as Danielle Pitkoff, program manager of Sacred Spaces. Every community member has the ability to protect children from harm, said Berkovits. Education on the relevant research and best practices can help. Since founding Sacred Spaces in 2016, Berkovits has learned time and again the Jewish community is not immune from abuse. “When I started doing this work, and people started hearing that I was doing this

 Shira Berkovits

Photo courtesy of Shira Berkovits

work, as I was coming to synagogue I couldn’t get in the door without people finding me to talk to me and share with me that this had impacted them personally,” she said. During the past four years, Sacred Spaces has worked with Jewish communities across the country by responding to abuses and empowering community members. One of the key strategies in dealing with

abuse is focusing on the behavior, and not the identity, of the person who commits the act, Berkovits said during the Nov. 17 program. “If we focus on who the person is, on how much we love them, on how integrated they are, on how much we trust them, then we might miss what’s right in front of our eyes.” According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 34% of sexual offenses against

children are perpetrated by family members; 59% are perpetrated by acquaintances; 7% are perpetrated by strangers. “I think that we have this impression, or I know I certainly did before I got into this work, that the person who harms a child is a stranger — maybe it’s a bad guy, maybe a creep at the park who is hovering. In reality, this is inconsistent with the research,” said Berkovits. “When we talk about who causes harm, it’s really important to actually say all of us could harm or cause harm.” Communities can focus on their constituents’ behavior, which often offer indicators. Things to watch for include: violating social norms; not modeling safe behavior; paying extra attention to a child; lavishing a young person with gifts; or suddenly wanting to spend increased alone time with a child, said Berkovits. In helping communities identify and adopt policies, Sacred Spaces worked with the UJA-Federation of New York to create the Aleinu: Safeguarding Our Children campaign. “Aleinu is an educational campaign and curriculum that guides organizations through implementing 10 best practices to prevent child maltreatment, and create transparent and responsible procedures for responding when harm occurs,” said Pitkoff. Those 10 practices include: forming a child safety committee; creating opportunities for community dialogue; screening employees and volunteers; assessing space; implementing guidelines for interacting with youth; training adults; supporting victim survivors; developing protocols for Please see Sacred, page 13

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Headlines After 322 days of daf yomi, Pittsburgh Jews still turning the page — LOCAL — By Adam Reinherz | Staff Writer


en minutes before class began, Dr. Jill Felder hurriedly texted Rabbi Daniel Wasserman of Shaare Torah Congregation. It was Jan. 5, 2020, and Wasserman, like thousands of Talmud teachers worldwide, was beginning Tractate Berachot, the first book of the Babylonian Talmud. After spending years observing her husband and sons analyze rabbinic texts, Felder wanted to experience the Talmud herself. Wasserman gladly welcomed her to class. Now 322 days and 322 pages later she hasn’t missed one yet. Felder is one of many Pittsburgh Jews studying the Talmud daily. Colloquially referred to by the Hebrew words “daf yomi,” or “a page a day,” the practice enables participants to work through the classic corpus, totaling 2,711 double-sided folios, in about seven years and five months. Consisting of 63 tractates of Hebrew and Aramaic writings, the Talmud serves as the backbone of Jewish law and a window into rabbinic interpretation. Forget about the absolute breath of material covered, or the numerous disputes, individuals and acronyms included — understanding one page is

 A photo from Rabbi Amy Bardack’s first day learning the new cycle

challenging enough, explained Felder. “It takes quite a bit of work,” she said. “I continue to get into greater levels of understanding, but I do prep quite a bit.” Each night, before Wasserman’s morning class, Felder reads a summary of the following

 Martin Gaynor holds a Gemara.

Photo by Rabbi Amy Bardack

Photo courtesy of Martin Gaynor

day’s page. She outlines the arguments or stories, lists the rabbis mentioned and charts their statements. Felder estimates the prep takes about an hour. Factor in Wasserman’s class, which lasts approximately 45 minutes, and the occasional Talmud-related podcast

she listens to while driving between Squirrel Hill and Steubenville, Ohio, for work, and Felder spends hours each week enmeshed in rabbinic thought. Please see Daf Yomi, page 28



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Headlines Tuesdays with Jon and Helen — LOCAL — By David Rullo | Staff Writer


hoes, and the unexpected kindness of strangers, played fortuitous roles in the life of Helen Bayer, a local Holocaust survivor who died earlier this month. After a forced death march from the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany to Czechoslovakia during the waning days of World War II, a Czech soldier noticed Helen and her sister Mary had only one pair of shoes between them. The soldier gave the sisters a pair of his son’s shoes, then hid the girls on his farm until they were able to find shelter at a displaced persons camp run by the Allies. It was there that Bayer met her husband, Jim, who worked as an administrator at the camp. After they married, they moved to Wilkinsburg near Pittsburgh. Almost 75 years later, after the death of her husband and in failing health, the lack of shoes once again played a pivotal role in Bayer’s life. One day, after Bayer ordered food to be delivered from the Food Shoppe in Squirrel Hill, the owner, Joya Burkholder, saw that Helen was in bare feet, outside, during the cold of a February winter. Burkholder called the Jewish Association on Aging. With the assistance of the JAA,

Bayer’s niece, Anita Stern, was able to move Bayer into Weinberg Village. When Stern, who lives in Ontario, Canada, came to visit Bayer and the two returned to the Food Shoppe to thank Burkholder for her help, they happened to meet Jon Prince standing outside the store. Prince had stopped at the deli to pick up sandwiches with his wife, Jennifer Poller, and their two children, Julius and Jordan. “I think it was Louis Pasteur who said, ‘Chance favors a prepared mind,’” Prince said as he recalled his first meeting with Stern and Bayer. He had recently returned from a Classrooms Without Borders tour of several Holocaust sites in Poland. Bayer grew up in Poland and had spent time in the Warsaw Ghetto before her eventual confinement in Buchenwald. Prince, Stern and Bayer began chatting. Bayer’s accent was familiar to Prince as his grandmother also grew up in Poland. They discussed Bayer’s past, and when Prince heard that Stern lived in Canada and that Bayer was without family in Pittsburgh, he offered to visit her at Weinberg Village. After Prince gave Bayer his business card, said he would be in touch and drove away, Bayer told her niece, “He’s never going to come and see me,” Stern recalled. She was wrong. Although Prince did have misgivings about visiting a nonagenarian he happened

 Helen Bayer and Jon Prince

to meet in a store parking lot, he credits his wife with insisting he keep to his word. Bayer, who was suffering from the early stages of dementia, probed the 54-year-old about his intentions, Prince said. “I walked up to her and said, ‘Hi, I’m Jon,’ and she asked, ‘What do you want from me? Why are you here?’” Prince recalled thinking to himself, “What

Photo provided by Jon Prince

have I got myself into?” He told Bayer what he really wanted was a cup of coffee. Bayer responded, “Me too.” From that point forward, coffee was a focal point for the pair. “She was very particular about her coffee,” said Prince. “She had two creams and two Please see Tuesdays, page 13

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Headlines New nonprofit gets computers to kids in need — LOCAL — By Justin Vellucci | Special to the Chronicle


nto Their Hands, a new Pittsburgh nonprofit, is tackling technological inequity in the age of COVID-19 — and founder Ilana Solomon, a Jewish professional who moved to Pittsburgh after graduating from Columbia University in 2019, is ready to address some big issues through her group’s attempt to get working laptops to students who need them. “For virtual learning, it’s so essential to have a computer — and there’s a gap,� said Solomon, 23, who works for a technology consultancy and lives in Shadyside. “Our mission is to bridge the digital divide by redistributing laptops to students in need. This is especially crucial now in our pandemic-induced virtual world.� An estimated one in four low-income students do not have access to a computer or internet connection, Solomon said. Nearly half of all students in the lowest income brackets — those with family incomes below $30,000 — depend on a cell phone to do their homework. COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem. An estimated 11 million American children will have difficulty this year completing

p Ilana Solomon

Photo provided by Ilana Solomon

JC Opn Thanksgiving_Eartique 11/20/20 1:23 PM Page 1

an online assignment, Solomon said. Sparked by COVID19, Solomon and Into Their Hands started reaching out to companies and larger corporations nationwide to recycle their used laptops. The group has started small, putting together a donation of 16 laptops to the Boys & Girls Club of America from a business headquartered in Chicago. Next up, Solomon hopes, are Pittsburgh businesses and Pittsburgh-area groups for children and teens. “Our goal for the organization is much bigger than this,� Solomon said. “But this is a good start.� Launched just this summer, Into Their Hands is still processing its nonprofit tax status paperwork. But its age does not reflect the depths of the passions

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of its co-founders, four young professionals who attended elementary school alongside Solomon. They say they are dedicated to putting in the sweat equity to make Into Their Hands work. Each is involved in vetting the equipment they receive for donations. “Most laptops, they have a lot of life in them,� Solomon told the Chronicle, “even after companies get [their employees] a new one.� Comments from the kids who have used the donated laptops in Illinois speak volumes. “I can depend on the computer and technology at the Club to join my virtual classroom and complete my e-learning homework,� one said. Solomon feels the act of taking donated business laptops and giving them to those most in need is a form of tzedakah. Though she says she identifies as largely secular, Solomon was involved with Hillel programming at Columbia and has volunteered through the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. “This is a very Jewish activity and thing — it’s about respect, responsibility, caring, kindness, sustainability,� she said. “All of these things are very Jewish. For me, working with Into Their Hands feels like a Jewish act.� PJC Justin Vellucci is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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Headlines Volunteers give it forward together their families will be staying home. So GIFT is stepping up, offering 500 Thanksgiving to GO kits, its biggest batch. “Before COVID, I don’t know that everyone could understand that concept — how a senior might feel,” said Tombosky. “But I think now that we’ve all experienced loneliness or not being able to be social or connect to people like we used to, we can understand. “To be able to provide someone the opportunity to have a beautiful Thanksgiving, and that could be their last Thanksgiving — it sounds morbid, but it’s really meaningful.” She opted to have the food catered since the volunteers couldn’t gather to whip up fresh rolls, cranberry applesauce, turkey pot pie and more like they would pre-pandemic. Seniors couldn’t help with the assembly this year, but small groups of volunteers, 15 max, put together the kits at Congregation Beth Shalom. Volunteers delivered the kits, but they dropped them off outside seniors’ homes and didn’t go inside to chat this year. Michele Woltshock is one of those volunteers. She learned of Thanksgiving to GO through Tree of Life Congregation’s sisterhood and decided to deliver kits. “I just wanted to donate my time and have my daughter see that we are very fortunate, we are young and healthy and have

— LOCAL — By Kayla Steinberg | Digital Content Manager


hen R o chel Tomb osky founded Giving It Forward Together (GIFT) in 2015, she wanted it to be the kind of effort that lets everyone get involved. Take its “Thanksgiving to GO” program, providing Thanksgiving kits for seniors spending the holiday at home: Adult volunteers cooked and packaged the perishables, seniors assembled the nonperishables and kids and adults delivered the kits to seniors — all, as the nonprofit’s name suggests, giving it forward together. “No one really loves to be a receiver,” said Tombosky. “We work all our lives to be givers, and then we get to this stage in our life where it seems like more and more, we’re just receiving. We lose this feeling of meaning and purpose in our lives. GIFT is all about reestablishing that, reminding people that if they still have a breath, they still have a purpose.” Before COVID-19, Tombosky said, some seniors would assemble kits and then take one home because they’d be alone for the holiday. Now, during the pandemic, the need is even greater than before as many seniors who would normally spend Thanksgiving with

 Volunteer Jeremy Venanzi with a senior

Wishing you and your family a

Happy Thanksgiving We are thankful for our Volunteers and Caring Community

Photo courtesy of Rochel Tombosky

This week in Israeli history — WORLD — Items provided by the Center for Israel Education (israeled.org), where you can find more details.

Nov. 27, 2007 — Peace understanding is signed at Annapolis

A conference at Annapolis, Maryland, produces a joint statement from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and U.S. President George W. Bush on their peace goals and approach.


Mazel Tov to our 2020 Volunteer of the Year

Nov. 28, 1961 — Operation Yachin begins

Meyer “Skip” Grinberg

After Morocco ends a ban on Jewish emigration, Israel launches Operation Yachin to help Moroccans make aliyah via France or Italy. By the operation’s end in 1964, more than 97,000 Jews leave Morocco.

Nov. 29, 1928 — Meretz founder Aloni is born

Shulamit Aloni, a civil rights activist who helps start the left-wing Meretz party in 1992, is born in Tel Aviv. She is first elected to the Knesset with Mapai in 1965.

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Please see Volunteers, page 28

Nov. 30, 1947 — Jews are attacked in Arab cities

the British Mandate, but also leads to riots against Jews in such cities as Damascus, Aleppo, Cairo, Beirut and Aden.

Dec. 1, 1932 — Palestine Post prints first edition

The Palestinian Post, the precursor of The Jerusalem Post, prints and distributes 1,200 copies of its first, eight-page edition in Jerusalem to meet the demand for an English-language newspaper.

Dec. 2, 2001 — Bus bombing in Haifa kills 16

During the Second Intifada, a plumber from Nablus detonates an explosive device on a No. 16 Egged bus in Haifa, killing himself and 15 other passengers and injuring 35 others.

Dec. 3, 1969 — Findings of Jewish Quarter excavation revealed

Hebrew University archaeologist Nahman Avigad announces the results of his excavation of the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, shedding light on nine stages of the city’s history.  PJC

The U.N. vote a day earlier to partition Palestine into Jewish and Arab states not only sparks violence within



Headlines A project 50 years ahead of its time the largest Jewish congregations and major Jewish organizations in the area, asking what historical records were hidden away. They key-entered their findings into a database. With the help of University of Pittsburgh archivist David Rosenberg, I found a bound printout of this database in the holdings of the University. It is printed on an inch of old-school sprocket-fed continuous stationery with margins that tear along perforations. Here is a typical entry:

— HISTORY — Eric Lidji | Special to the Chronicle


n the spring of 1969, two history professors from the University of Pittsburgh partnered with the Rodef Shalom Brotherhood and the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Jewish Committee to save the Jewish history of Western Pennsylvania. They had three ideas: archival collecting, oral history recordings and a “data bank” of local Jewish communal historical records. Their first two ideas were already happening. The University of Pittsburgh had been saving local Jewish records since the founding of its archive in 1961, and the National Council of Jewish Women-Pittsburgh Section began its oral history project in 1968. But their third idea was something new. They wanted to enlist the entire Jewish community in a massive, volunteer dataentry campaign. They would create, as this newspaper described it in 1970, “a complete and cross-referenced index of information pertaining to the history of the entire community.” In the current age of genealogy websites, searchable newspapers and census records, and DNA matching, it is easy to shrug at this proposal. To appreciate its farsightedness, time travel to 1969, when acquiring basic



p A photograph from the Aug. 6, 1970, issue of the Jewish Chronicle, showing graduate students creating an inventory of historic records at Temple Sinai.

genealogical information often required months plopped in front of a microfilm reader or flipping newspaper pages. Imagine typing a name into a hulking,

bleeping metal box— and having it spit back genealogical data. They started by compiling an inventory. A small team of graduate students visited


The object being described is a membership ledger from the Sisterhood of Beth El Congregation of the South Hills. The ledger ends in 1948. The start date is marked by an asterisk, which means it was unknown. “ION” means that it contains information about individuals, organizations, and names, with the specifics of those categories detailed on the second line. The ledger was kept, at the time, in “SECO,” the secretary’s office. The inventory was meant to identify records for eventual key-entry. But the ambitious initiative never advanced beyond Please see History, page 13

NOVEMBER 27, 2020 7

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.

Africa. Ben-Hur will dedicate two weekly sessions to each country in this 12-week series. This series is co-sponsored by Rodef Shalom Congregation. 2 p.m. For more information and to register, visit classroomswithoutborders.org/jewishheritage-around-the-world.


Join Jewish Family and Community Services for Art and Contemplation - Teen Edition, an art-based support group just for teens. The sessions will explore how making art can help regulate the nervous system, promote playfulness, imagination, help develop insight, and connect us more deeply to our bodies, emotions and thoughts. For the first session, blank paper and drawing materials that have some variety of color will be needed. Free. 3 p.m. For more information and to register, visit jfcspgh.org.


Chabad of the South Hills presents Secrets of the Bible, a new six-week course from the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Study iconic stories, mystical meanings and their lessons for life. Sunday classes begin at 10:30 a.m.; Wednesday classes start at 8 p.m. Classes are presented on Zoom. For more information and to register, visit chabadsh.com. q

S UNDAYS, NOV. 29; DEC. 6, 13, 20, 27

Join a lay-led Online Parashah Study Group to discuss the week’s Torah portion. No Hebrew knowledge is needed. The goal is to build community while deepening understanding of the text. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. q

MONDAYS, NOV. 30; DEC. 7, 14, 21

Join Rabbi Jeremy Markiz in learning Masechet Rosh Hashanah, a tractate of the Talmud about the many new years that fill out the Jewish calendar at Monday Talmud study. 9:15 a.m. For more information, visit bethshalompgh.org. q

 ONDAYS, NOV. 30; DEC. 7; M FEB. 1, 8, 15, 22; MARCH 1, 8, 15

Most people associate the term “Haftarah” with opaque prophetic reading on Shabbat morning. This course, Haftarah, will attempt to make the opaque sparkle. Choosing selectively from the most interesting Haftarah portions, Jewish Community Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff will seek to imbue meaning in these powerful prophetic passages. Fourteen sessions for $70. 9:30 a.m. For more information and to register, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org. q

TUESDAYS, DEC. 1, 8, 15, 22

Jewish Family and Community Services hosts Mindfulness and Meditation for Stress Management, offering the opportunity to cultivate greater awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings and actions. Increasing awareness and integrating mindfulness and meditation into one’s routine strengthens one’s ability to act with intention rather than reactively and decrease feelings of being overwhelmed. 11 a.m. To register, visit jfcspgh.org. Join Classrooms Without Borders scholar Avi Ben-Hur on a fascinating look at Jewish heritage in six different countries across Europe and North

8 NOVEMBER 27, 2020



What is the point of Jewish living? What ideas, beliefs and practices are involved? Melton Course 1: Rhythms & Purposes of Jewish Living examines a variety of Jewish sources to discover the deeper meanings of Jewish holidays, lifecycle observances and Jewish practice. Cost: $300 per person, per year (25 sessions), includes all books and materials. For more information and to register, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org. q

T UESDAYS, DEC. 1, 8, 15; FEB 9, 16, 23; MARCH 2, 9

Treating Jewish jokes as text, From Sinai to Seinfeld invites students to analyze and interpret the evolving concerns, styles, rhythms, preoccupations and values of the Jewish people that lie buried deep in words that make us laugh as Jews, and that bond us as a people. $50 per person, (10 sessions), includes all books and materials. For more information and to register, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org. q


Help the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh respond to emergency pandemic needs by making a commitment to the Community Campaign today at jewishpgh.org/donate, then join them for a free thank-you Chanukah cooking demonstration with Pittsburgh native, chef Michael Solomonov. 8 p.m. To register, visit jfedpgh.org/solomonov-demo. q


Classrooms Without Borders presents “Becoming Blended L2: A Practical Course for Remote Pedagogy.” All classroom educators can receive this fully subsidized teacher training. Educators attending the program are eligible to receive Pennsylvania Act 48 continuing credits. 4 p.m. For more information and to register, visit classroomswithoutborders.org.

Join Classrooms Without Borders for a weekly book discussion of “Never Alone: Prison, Politics, and My People” with Dr. Joshua Andy on Zoom. 7 p.m. For more information and to register, visit classroomswithoutborders.org. q


Classrooms Without Borders in partnership with Rodef Shalom is excited to offer the opportunity to watch the film “Menachem Begin: Peace and War” and engage in a post-film discussion with the film director, Levi Zini, and CWB scholar Avi Ben Hur. 3 p.m. For more information and to register, visit classroomswithoutborders.org. Chabad of Squirrel Hill hosts its annual Evening of Celebration online, honoring Janie Yahr with the Community Lamplighter Award. The program will feature a light, inspirational presentation by David Weiss, screenwriter of “Shrek 2” and other popular films, entitled “Shrekstival of Lights: Finding the Light When You Feel in the Dark.” 7:30 p.m. $50. To reserve, go to chabadpgh.com. q

S UNDAYS, DEC. 6; JAN. 31; FEB. 7, 14, 21, 28; MARCH 7, 14

What does Jewish tradition have to say about God, Torah, mitzvot, suffering, messiah, Israel? In this special course, Pittsburgh Rabbis on Jewish Belief, Jewish Community Foundation Scholar Rabbi Danny Schiff will host 14 Pittsburgh rabbis, each teaching a session on fundamental aspects of Jewish belief. Fourteen sessions for $70. 10 a.m. For more information and to register, visit foundation.jewishpgh.org. q


Join Beth El Congregation of the South Hills for First Mondays at Beth El. This month, Barbara Burstin will present “FDR, was he good for the Jews? A discussion on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.” Burstin is on the history faculty of both the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University and has written several books, including a biography of Sophie Masloff. She was the historical consultant and producer of the movie by Ken Love entitled “Jewish Memories of the Hill.” 12 p.m. For more information, visit bethelcong.org. q


United Hatzalah is an innovative and fast-growing organization whose focus is getting emergency medical attention to people all over Israel. Learn about the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s relationship with, and support of, United Hatzalah, as well as the story of its founder, Eli Beer. 12 p.m. For more information, visit jewispgh.org/event.




Classrooms Without Borders is honored to convene an interfaith discussion about resilience and miracles featuring religious leaders from the three major monotheistic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Moderated by Imam Jihad Turk, founding president and dean of Bayan Islamic Graduate School, the panel features Rabbi Aaron Bisno of Rodef Shalom Congregation, Rev. David Poecking of Archangel Gabriel Parish and Imam Chris Caras of the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh. 4 p.m. For more information, visit classroomswithoutborders.org. Join Chabad of the South Hills and celebrate the Annual South Hills Lights with a Chanukah drive-in. The first candle will be kindled on the grand 12-foot menorah. Enjoy individually wrapped Chanukah treats and swag for each car, a family-friendly multimedia experience on a giant 30-foot screen, live entertainment, music and more. All you have to do is drive in, park your car and enjoy. Dormont pool parking lot. 5:30 p.m. This event will strictly adhere to Covid-19 safety guidelines. Reservations are required. Go to chabadsh.com to register your vehicle. q


Be a superhero, join the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Annual Phone-a-thon to raise funds for the community. Super Sunday will be held virtually in 2020. Represent your favorite Jewish Pittsburgh organization. The group with the most representatives will receive $1,800. There will be a training session on Wednesday, Dec. 9. You will need a computer with internet access and a mobile device to make calls. For more information, visit jewishpgh.org/event/ super-sunday. q


Join Classrooms Without Borders in Israel — virtually. Monthly tours with guide and scholar Rabbi Jonty Blackman via Zoom. 7 p.m. For more information and to register, visit classroomswithoutborders.org.  q


Classrooms Without Borders, in partnership with Rodef Shalom Congregation and the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage, will offer the opportunity to watch the new film “A Call to Spy” and engage in a post-film discussion with actress Sarah Megan Thomas and Columbia University Adjunct Professor Anne Nelson. There are a limited number of free licenses available to view the film on a first-come, first-served basis. 4 p.m. For more information and to register, visit classroomswithoutborders.org.  PJC


Headlines — WORLD — From JTA reports

Quebec to allow gatherings during Christmas, but not Chanukah

Jewish groups in Quebec are expressing dismay after the province announced a plan to allow small gatherings at Christmas but said gatherings during Hanukkah would remain prohibited. The plan would permit Quebecers to have gatherings of up to 10 people per day for four days in late December, in a concession to the fact that families would likely gather even as COVID-19 cases surge. Gatherings were not permitted during Canadian Thanksgiving last month, but people got together nonetheless and cases soon surged throughout the country. Premier François Legault said Dec. 24-27 was chosen to allow residents to quarantine before and after without disrupting school and work schedules. But he also said he believed that Quebecers craved time with their families and that allowing them to come together would give them hope during a dark time. “Christmas, the holidays, is a time of year that’s precious, and let’s remember that family is the basis of our lives,” he said last week. Asked whether any exceptions to the province’s ban on gatherings would be allowed during Chanukah, which this year runs Dec. 10-18, Legault said no. That response is drawing criticism from Canadian Jewish groups. “Premier Legault has not addressed the concerns and needs of several minority groups in Quebec, including the Jewish community,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada, said in a statement Friday. He added, “The Quebec government must take the needs of minority communities, including the Jewish community, into consideration, and work proactively with these communities prior to the lifting or imposition of unilateral COVID-19 restrictions. There must be no favouritism. The Premier must be the premier of all Quebecers.” “We appreciate the government’s efforts to balance the imperatives of communal health and family holiday celebrations,” Rabbi Reuben Poupko, the co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs Quebec, told the Canadian Press. “We hope and anticipate that the liberties granted to the Christian community will be shared equitably with the other faith communities of Quebec.” Quebec’s December rules, which could be rolled back if cases continue to rise there, are being received skeptically by epidemiologists, who say any permission to relax safeguards could fuel a rise in cases. At least some Jewish Quebecers, too, say they are bewildered by the plan. “I sadly officiated at a lot of funerals in the first wave of this pandemic and I don’t want to see that happening again in January because of this government decree,” Rabbi Lisa Grushcow of Temple Emanu-El-Beth Sholom told the Global News.


Report: Satmar Jews hid massive wedding from public

Weeks after one prominent Satmar wedding was publicly called off amid a backlash over convening guests during the pandemic, members of the Chasidic sect held another wedding in Brooklyn that brought together thousands of people. The Nov. 8 wedding was arranged to avoid detection by authorities, according to the New York Post. Photographs show Congregation Yetev Lev B’Satmar in Williamsburg packed with guests, in violation of pandemic rules limiting houses of worship to 50% capacity at most, and less in areas with many COVID-19 cases. “Due to the ongoing situation with government restrictions, preparations were made secretly and discreetly, so as not to draw attention from strangers,” the Satmar newspaper Der Blatt reported, according to the Post’s report. The previous wedding, for a grandson of Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, the leader of the Satmar faction based in Williamsburg in Brooklyn, was made family-only after Gov. Andrew Cuomo learned about announcements in Yiddish circulating in the community and issued a formal public health order to stop it. No such announcements were made for the Nov. 8 wedding, of a grandson of Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, a leader of a Satmar faction based in Kiryas Joel, a town in upstate New York’s Orange County. “All notices about upcoming celebrations were passed along through word of mouth, with no notices in writing, no posters on the synagogue walls, no invitations sent through the mail, nor even a report in any publication, including this very newspaper,” Der Blatt reported. Cuomo’s order shutting down the previous wedding came amid escalating tensions between Cuomo and Hasidic Orthodox Jews in Brooklyn at a time when COVID-19 cases were on the rise in several heavily Orthodox neighborhoods. Since then, cases have risen across the city, and Orthodox neighborhoods no longer have the highest proportion of tests coming back positive. The Nov. 8 wedding took place at the main synagogue in Williamsburg attended by followers of Aaron Teitelbaum. The synagogue’s president, Mayer Rispler, died of COVID-19 in mid-October, after having openly urged his community to follow city and state health rules earlier in the pandemic. “We do not condone any behavior that puts people at risk and pledge to keep working alongside the brave men and women of the NYPD in addressing and eliminating any such occurrences,” Rispler wrote in May, as tensions between the city and his community escalated after Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized a large Hasidic funeral.

Jonathan Pollard may travel to Israel

Almost 35 years to the day after his arrest outside the Israeli embassy in Washington, D.C., Jonathan Pollard was granted the freedom to do what he wanted that day — travel to Israel. Pollard’s lawyers announced that the U.S. Parole Commission had lifted remaining restrictions on him, five years after he was

paroled from federal prison, and 35 years since his Nov. 21, 1985 arrest. Pollard and his then-wife, Anne, were turned away from the embassy that day as law enforcement closed in on the U.S. Navy civilian analyst who had for several years spied for Israel. “Mr. Pollard is no longer subject to a curfew, is no longer prohibited from working for a company that does not have U.S. government monitoring software on its computer systems, is no longer required to wear a wrist monitor that tracks his whereabouts, and is free to travel anywhere, including Israel, for temporary or permanent residence, as he wishes,” said the statement from Eliot Lauer and Jacques Semmelman, two prominent lawyers who have for years represented Pollard for free. “We are grateful and delighted that our client is finally free of any restrictions, and is now a free man in all respects,” the statement said. “We look forward to seeing our client in Israel.” Pollard had since his conditional release sought assistance from the Israeli government among others, saying the restrictions were keeping him from attending to the needs of his wife, who has cancer. “Mr. Pollard is happy to finally be able to assist his beloved wife Esther, who is fighting an aggressive form of cancer,” the statement said. “Mr. Pollard would like people to know that it was his wife, more than anyone else, who kept him alive during all the years he was in prison.” Pollard, through the lawyers’ statement, thanked among others Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; his lawyers; Rabbi Pesach Lerner, the leading advocate stateside for his release; and “all people of good will who have kept him in their prayers and hoped for this day.”

World’s 1st lab-grown meat restaurant opens near Tel Aviv

The world’s first lab-grown meat restaurant has opened near Tel Aviv, the Los Angeles-based VegNews reported. The eatery, whose name is “The Chicken” — a reference to the pseudo-intellectual quandary over whether it precedes the egg or the other way around — is adjacent to the factory of its mother company, SuperMeat, in the Tel Aviv suburb of Nes Tziona, according to a VegNews report from last week. Tables must be reserved in advance and patrons do not pay as the restaurant is still in test phase, Walla reported. They are, however, requested to answer questions or offer feedback. The menu of The Chicken features two burgers made of “crispy cultured chicken fillet” grown from cells in SuperMeat’s factory. “The burger has a juicy chicken flavor, crispy on the outside and tender on the inside,” SuperMeat CEO Ido Savir told Fast Company. The taste is indistinguishable from that of slaughtered animals, he said. SuperMeat was established in 2015 to offer an alternative to meat whose production requires animal suffering. Some rabbis argue lab-grown meat is exempt from traditional kosher meat requirements, but others say the same prohibitions, including salting and separating from dairy, do apply.


“Here, from the beginning it’s not considered meat because it’s a microscopic thing. … And even if it were really meat, because it changed its form, a ‘new face has arrived here’ and it’s not considered meat, and it’s clearly parve,” an Israeli rabbi told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2016.

Toronto suburb to rename street named after Nazi naval officer

A suburb of Toronto will rename a street named for Nazi naval officer Hans Langsdorff. The town council of Ajax, a suburb northeast of Toronto, voted 4-3 this week to rename Langsdorff Drive after a Jewish-led campaign, according to B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish organization that advocated for the change. The town is named after a British ship, the HMS Ajax, that won a 1939 battle against a ship commanded by Langsdorff. An online petition to change the name garnered more than 900 signatures. The vote to change the name came after a Holocaust survivor testified at the town council meeting. “Taking action against the glorification of Canada’s enemies and a man who fought for the most evil regime in history sends the right signal to those concerned about the rise of hate in our time,” said Michael Mostyn, B’nai Brith Canada’s CEO.

Walter Mosley honored with lifetime achievement award

Black Jewish novelist Walter Mosley received one of the National Book Foundation’s highest honors: the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Mosley is the first Black man to win the medal in its history, but not the first Jewish man — writers such as Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and Arthur Miller have won it in past years. Mosley, 68, is perhaps best known for his “Easy Rawlins” mystery series, centering on Easy, a Black private detective in Los Angeles in the 1960s. The first of the series, “Devil in a Blue Dress,” was adapted into a 1995 movie starring Denzel Washington. Mosley has not just stuck to the crime genre, however; he has written more than 60 books spanning genres, from Afrofuturist science fiction to plays. He even won a Grammy Award in 2001 for Best Album Notes for comedian Richard Pryor’s compilation “…And It’s Deep Too!” Mosley began writing at age 34. One of Mosley’s mentors, the Irish novelist Edna O’Brien, encouraged him to write his first novel by telling him: “You’re Black, Jewish, with a poor upbringing; there are riches therein.” “In a way, to be a Jew is to be a part of a tribe,” Mosley said in 2010. “Being a part of a tribe, you can never really escape your identity. You can be anything inside, but in the end you’re always answerable to your blood.” He was born to a Jewish mother and a Black non-Jewish father in Los Angeles. He once told the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival: “I grew up with half-sour kosher pickles and collard greens, and I enjoyed both sides of my family.”  PJC

NOVEMBER 27, 2020 9

Opinion We need to step up our charitable giving during the pandemic — it’s the Jewish thing to do Guest Columnist Yvette Alt Miller


t’s been decades since I ordered food at a McDonald’s. I’ve kept kosher since I was 18 and, outside of Israel, at least, Mickey D’s is decidedly treif. Except the other day, I found myself entering and ordering a decidedly nonkosher cheeseburger and fries. To be clear, the food wasn’t for me. After months of sheltering in place in my suburban neighborhood, I could no longer put off a downtown appointment. So the other day I headed to Chicago’s central business district, making my first journey to the Loop since March. It felt like something out of a dystopian movie. The typical afternoon crowds had disappeared: There were no masses of people hurrying along the wide avenues; gone were the packs of tourists that stopped foot traffic as they gaped at the city’s skyscrapers. There was also hardly any litter — even the alleyways, usually full of detritus, were eerily clean. Homeless people seemed to be the largest contingent I saw. On most corners I passed,

there were several. “Can you help me out?” one implored. Another asked for money, saying he was cold and wet and needed help. The amount of need felt so overwhelming that at first I rushed past them all, ignoring their pleas. Then, just before I boarded a train that would take me back to the suburbs, I asked myself why I hadn’t helped anyone. After all, I had some cash on me: Why hadn’t I given any out? Just then, I was approached by a skinny man about my age who asked for help. “Sure, I can help you,” I said as I reached for my wallet. “I don’t want your money,” he responded. “Can you buy me a meal instead?” “Of course,” I replied, trying to mask my shock as it occurred to me that as I almost rushed by, there was a human standing here hungry. I’d given plenty of money to beggars in my life, but nobody had ever asked me to buy them food directly. I asked him where he wanted to go, and he led me to a nearby McDonald’s, one of the few restaurants that was still open — another shocking aspect of Chicago’s newly quiet downtown. My new acquaintance ordered a cheeseburger. Before I paid, I hesitated. “Why didn’t he order dinner, too, for later?” I asked. He ordered Chicken McNuggets and

some sides. I swiped my credit card: a total of $16 for providing a day’s worth of food. “God bless you — you’re the only one who stopped,” he told me. In a time of such enormous need, his words broke my heart. After all, the coronavirus pandemic has decimated the U.S. economy — as well as much of the world’s. A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that about one-fourth of Americans have had trouble paying their bills over the past seven months. Demand at food banks has risen at an “extraordinary rate,” according to The New York Times, and up to 14% of American parents now say their children are not getting enough to eat. “The number of families having difficulty affording food has exploded during COVID19,” the nonpartisan Center on Budget Policy and Priorities recently noted. Each week, a food pantry near my home offers drive-through food assistance. The line to receive these donated boxes of food is long and filled with later-model minivans. Just a few months ago, many of these people would never have imagined being in this position. But jobs have been eliminated, salaries have been cut and workers have been furloughed. Poverty and food insecurity aren’t always easy to spot — your neighbor,

your child’s teacher, the parent serving on the PTA with you can all be suffering from food insecurity now. I’d like to say that the American Jewish community has stepped up to help. And, in many ways, Jewish institutions have indeed pledged funds to alleviate the worst effects of the pandemic. For example, Jewish federations have launched dedicated COVID-19 relief funds, such as the Combined Jewish Philanthropies’ of Greater Boston’s Coronavirus Emergency Fund and the Jewish United Fund of Chicago’s COVID-19 Initiative, which provides direct aid and assistance to those affected by the pandemic. In this unprecedented moment, it’s wonderful that many Jewish institutions are reimagining themselves and redoubling their efforts to help those in need. But are we, as Jewish individuals and families, doing the same? Judaism mandates giving charity: The Talmud goes into great detail about the many obligations we have to help others, declaring “Charity is equivalent to all the other mitzvot combined” (Talmud Bava Batra 9a). The Jewish mitzvah of maaser kesafim instructs us to donate a portion of our income to Please see Miller, page 27

The challenge for Orthodox media Guest Columnist Gary Rosenblatt


ow is the Orthodox community, much of which enthusiastically supported President Trump, dealing with his defeat — and his refusal to concede? Post-election, it’s difficult to gauge such reactions statistically. And of course, there is a wide range of outlook and behavior within Orthodoxy, from charedi to modern Orthodox. But based on conversations I’ve had this week with several influential rabbis and lay people, and my own observations, it seems that while Trump was heavily favored by Orthodox Jews, in large part because of his forthright support for Israel, his loss generally is being accepted as a political reality, however disappointing. But there are pockets of ardent supporters for whom Trump is still seen as an historic hero, if not savior, who symbolizes both religious and personal freedom. For them, the president’s defiant reluctance to wear a mask, or encourage others to do so, underscored a welcome reliance on God alone to protect us. And they believe the election was rigged. For Orthodox media, known for avoiding controversy in covering their local communities, the toxic political climate of the moment finds editors and publishers caught 10 NOVEMBER 27, 2020

between facts and sentiment. The most recent and dramatic case in point involves a column published last week by The 5 Towns Jewish Times, a robust, free-distribution weekly primarily covering the Orthodox community on the South Shore of Long Island. Though the community is seen as a bastion of pro-Trump support, a piece caused an outcry when it appeared to promote baseless beliefs that the media and the public health community — including the CDC — conspired with the Democrats to exaggerate COVID-19’s dangers to ensure the election of Joe Biden as president. “A suspicious virus coming out of China was utilized by the Democratic Party as a means of mind control and behavior control before an election,” wrote columnist Gila Jedwab, a local pediatric dentist. “A weapon of fear that was used to terrify a nation and accomplish one agenda: to create enough chaos to get their candidate elected.” She also appeared to question the science of epidemiology itself, writing, “Stopping the spread of something invisible had always been an endeavor bereft of common sense, the absolute height of futility.” Jebwad’s column was too much even for many members of a community where a pro-Trump rally was held before the election and for readers who had tolerated the writer’s previous criticism of mandated masks as an assault on freedom. All but one of the 37 online responses to her piece on the publication’s website expressed outrage at the writer

for her baseless claims of widespread fraudulent ballots, and at publisher Larry Gordon for giving her the forum. Rabbi Heshie Billet, who recently retired after more than 40 years as rabbi of the Young Israel of Woodmere, said he complained vigorously to Gordon about Jedwab’s columns, which he felt were “very, very troubling and went against mainstream medical advice” in her criticism of face masks. The rabbi said publishing such columns was irresponsible. Other critics called out Jedwab’s use of a false conspiracy theory, attributed to QAnon, that asserts that Trump secretly water-marked ballots before the election to expose them as fraudulent. QAnon, which employs anti-Semitic elements, claims that liberal celebrities and politicians operate a secret cabal to kidnap children and harvest their blood. It believes Donald Trump is their savior. Gordon responded in his column this week to the criticism by asserting that as publisher, he shouldn’t be expected to agree “with every word and idea” that appears in the paper. To me, and I’m sure many others, that wasn’t the point of the complaints. Rather, it’s that a publisher should be expected to refrain from printing known falsehoods. I called Gordon, who told me that Jedwab submitted a column for the current issue, but he decided not to run it. “Things were very hot this week,” he acknowledged, referring to numerous complaints, and he said he


hopes to “cool down” the situation. He said Jedwab’s future as a columnist in his paper “depends,” but he did not elaborate. I also asked Gordon about a column written by his son, Yochanan, that appears to endorse the idea that Vice Presidentelect Kamala Harris should be compared to Amalek — traditionally, the biblical personification of anti-Jewish evil. Gordon dismissed it as “just a cute little thing” — a meme on various pro-Trump websites that puns on the spelling of her first name. “It doesn’t mean she’s Amalek.” He believes that many of his readers “are resigned” to Joe Biden becoming president, but he’s not one of them. He advocated allowing state legislatures in this instance to choose electors to elect the president, in effect choosing Trump by nullifying the voice of the American people. “It makes the most sense and is moving in that direction,” he said. COVID has brought out the worst in some people. The extremes are louder and more challenging. In Teaneck, New Jersey, the local Jewish Link, a widely distributed free publication that focuses on the Orthodox community, had a tumult of its own last month. A long essay, displayed as a full-page ad, was titled “Sacrificing Our Children On The Altar Of Covid Fear.” Written by a local day school lay leader, it argued that communal Please see Rosenblatt, page 27


Opinion Many Jews of color and diverse Jews are politically conservative — and many voted for Trump Guest Columnist Mijal Bitton


fter Joe Biden won the presidency, my liberal friends — mostly Ashkenazi Jews with deep roots in America — were aghast that over 70 million Americans voted for Trump. My Syrian, Persian, Bukharian and Hispanic friends and family members — Jews with immigrant identities — were shocked, too. But most mourned the president’s defeat. Throughout this election, I kept feeling a sense of vertigo living at the collision point between my life as a scholar working in liberal settings and as a traditional Jew with deep ties to conservative immigrant Jewish communities. This afforded me a dual vantage point to a political division that is not understood or acknowledged by the liberal Jewish establishment: that entire populations of diverse Jews (or Jews of color, depending on one’s definition) lean Republican, and many within them voted for Trump. Demographic data is scarce about the voting patterns of diverse Jewish communities like the ones to which I belong. But as an Argentine immigrant Jew of Middle Eastern background and scholar of Sephardic Jews, I see that much of the American Jewish political fracture stems from precisely these divergent identities. Our current Jewish communal efforts toward understanding our diverse community overlook conservative-leaning Jews from minority groups. We have learned how to check off diversity requirements without making space for ideological difference. These challenges are not unique to the Jewish community. Despite progressive conventional wisdom that as America became more diverse the Democratic Party coalition would grow, Trump’s share of ethnic

and racial minority votes increased in 2020 compared to 2016. While we can argue as to why this occurred, it is clear that there is no monolithic category of American “people of color” who universally vote for Democrats. The now-obvious gap between how minorities identify and “mainstream” institutional leaders speak of them is also present in the Jewish community. This gap interferes with our understanding of diversity and ability to perform critical political work in our own communities. In the course of my work, I have found three most prevalent fallacies that impair Jewish diversity projects: the idea that all diverse Jews are the same, that nonwhite or diverse Jews are all progressive, and rampant tokenism. Many have a well-meaning but mistaken impulse to flatten the differences within and between diverse Jewish populations. They assume that all Syrian Jews, for instance, have the same political orientations or that all Black Jews would feel uncomfortable with security details at synagogues. Others commit this flattening between groups, lumping together Black, Asian and nonwhite Middle Eastern Jews as if they all see themselves as parts of the same communities with shared goals and interests. One example is the way some use the term “Jews of color” as a catchall phrase that includes all kinds of populations — Black Jews, Middle Eastern Jews, sometimes even all Sephardic Jews and Hispanic Jews. Yet we have no indication that these diverse populations identify as part of the same group, use this label or have shared interests. In fact, the data suggest otherwise. One prominent example relates to Hispanic Jews in America. Although these Hispanic Jews — mainly from Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina — are typically the largest group assigned by scholars to estimates of Jews of color, most are likely to identify both as Hispanic and white. In other words, although they are

in Florida at higher rates than other Jews, the Jewish vote is particularly important there. While we do not have data on how Jewish Hispanics voted in Florida, my own anecdotal interactions with Latino Jews there indicate that many have immigrant identities that contribute to their support of Republicans. In particular, Cuban Jews — many of whom experienced the tyranny of left-wing regimes — oppose what they perceive as the Democrats’ affinity toward communism or socialism. Among Middle Eastern Sephardic Jews living in America, many share family histories of having escaped Arab nationalism and anti-Semitism in the Middle East. Their recent experiences of Jewish displacement have led many to identify with a realpolitik approach in which a “strongman” politician can best compete in the international arena to protect both Israel and American interests. Moreover, many are socially conservative and identify with Trump’s economic policies. In her widely shared 2009 TED talk, Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie highlighted what happens to underrepresented populations when they are mainly portrayed through monolithic single stories. One danger of single stories — or of ideologically monolithic stories — is that we only hear from minorities when they fit the majority culture’s narrative. In the liberal media, those who are ideologically progressive are increasingly represented, but people of color who question progressive orthodoxies are largely absent. Similarly, Jewish communities seeking to become more inclusive will often invite guest speakers or activists who tend to embody liberal viewpoints and values. Some years ago I was invited to speak at a panel about being a Sephardic Jew. One of my co-panelists made a comment about how my own experiences were a powerful window into my community. Her words so troubled me that I turned to my mostly Please see Bitton, page 27

Remembering Cantor Taube in Moscow

— LETTERS — JAA should reconsider closing Charles Morris

As the former first vice president of the Jewish Association on Aging, I was directly involved in the planning of the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center as well as planning for additional services in the community, like Weinberg Terrace and Weinberg Village. We had already established the Allderdice unit for dementia residents and were looking at other services for the residents. One of our guiding principles was to always keep the integrity of providing care to the Jewish poor in our community. I found it very disheartening that the decision was made to close Charles Morris. I continue to be an active licensed nursing home administrator and am well aware of Medicaid reimbursement, which I agree needs to be increased. However, this is a poor excuse for eliminating a value needed service for the Jewish community, especially when the agency also receives funds from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and the United Way. I hope that the JAA board and its president and CEO reconsider their decision, even if it means reducing its census, so that the JAA can continue to fulfill the mission of providing needed services to our Jewish poor. Jeff Weinberg Pittsburgh PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  

increasingly labeled as Jews of color, Hispanic Jews in America are just as likely to identify as white. (For more on Latino Jews in America, including their negotiation of whiteness, I recommend Laura Limonic’s fabulous book “Kugel and Frijoles.” ) An unintended consequence of this between groups flattening is that it obscures some needed anti-racist work. When we group together all diverse or nonwhite Jews, it actually undermines what we are trying to achieve. Black Jews, for instance, face greatly different challenges given the long history of anti-Black racism in America, including in our communities, than, say, white-identifying Hispanic Jews or Sephardic Middle Eastern Jews. Categorizing a group with a term the community doesn’t actually identify with is especially problematic in the case of immigrant Jewish populations, which are often labeled with broad American racial or ethnic categories foreign to their immigrant experiences. This summer, I participated in several private roundtables focused on questions of representation in which diverse Jews were described as fully aligned with progressive ideologies. This is demonstrably untrue. While liberals in my newsfeed were arguing this summer that the best way to honor Jews of color would be to march with Black Lives Matter on the streets, many of my Hispanic friends were anxious about BLM’s anti-capitalist discourse, and my Middle Eastern Jewish friends were more likely to be dropping off cookies at police precincts than supporting anti-racist demonstrations. As Limonic says, “Latino Jews are not, on the whole, politically conservative,” but there are electorally significant populations of Hispanic Jews who defy this mold. According to the 2019 American Jewish Yearbook, Florida, a battleground state, contains the third largest population of Jews in America. Since Jews tend to vote at higher rates than other Americans, and Jews

In 1990, I had the privilege of representing Pittsburgh’s Federation on a multi-country mission to several Jewish communities in Eastern Europe. While in Moscow, I went to the Choral Synagogue for Shabbos services. At that time the synagogue was in disrepair and filthy. There were several old men in the main sanctuary and three of us in the women’s gallery. We had the rare zchus to hear Cantor Moshe Taube daven in that setting. His voice filled the entire structure and illuminated the Shabbos service magnificently. It was unforgettable. The Choral Synagogue since been restored to its former glory. But I believe that I witnessed its most memorable service. Judy Palkovitz Pittsburgh 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, fax or email letters to:

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NOVEMBER 27, 2020 11

Headlines Hate: Continued from page 1

forward with any incident or threat that they come across.” According to the Anti-Defamation League’s Center for Extremism, which tracks the growth of hate crimes across the nation, there is continued and steady growth of hate crimes in Pittsburgh, but they are not necessarily more prevalent here than in other cities. “I don’t want to be alarmist about it, but whenever there is a growth of hate and a growth of white supremacist activity, we need to pay particularly close attention and we need to root it out,” said James Pasch, Anti-Defamation League regional director for Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky and Western Pennsylvania. Hate crimes have risen to the highest level in more than a decade, according to the FBI’s 2019 Hate Crime Statistics, released on Nov. 16. Hate-motivated killings also reached their highest levels since the bureau began collecting that data in the early 1990s. Religion-based crimes rose 7% overall in 2019, according to the report, while crimes against the Jewish community rose from 835 reported crimes to 953, a near 14% increase. Anti-Semitic crimes were the highest number of hate crimes relating to religious bias, making up 60.3% of incidents. Based on this report, and the recent PostGazette article, Pittsburgh’s Federation will be hosting a hate crime webinar in January, with speakers from the Pittsburgh FBI office to further discuss the findings and trends, according to Brokos. Analysts cited the recent white supremacist demonstration as particularly

concerning. A Texas-based extremist group called Patriot Front brought more than 100 members to march down the city’s Boulevard of the Allies on Nov. 7, according to the FBI, blasting a smoke machine and carrying a banner reading “Two parties, one tyranny” in capital letters. The crowd, largely if not entirely men, wore military-style gear and sunglasses. The group has a relatively small presence in Pittsburgh, said the ADL’s Pasch, which means they brought in members from across the country. Patriot Front, which espouses violent white nationalism and evolved from a group that was active at the 2017 far-right Charlottesville rally, has also embarked on a flyers campaign in Pittsburgh. Its red, white and blue propaganda bears slogans like “America first” and a map of the United States alongside the words “Not stolen, conquered.” The Ku Klux Klan has also posted flyers across the city that tend to be densely typed pages of racist invective. The flyers and anti-Semitic graffiti have been seen in Squirrel Hill and elsewhere. In early September, Brokos also received multiple reports of someone yelling anti-Semitic profanity at Jews in Squirrel Hill. “Propaganda and flyering have increased because it’s a way to increase their presence and their message without identifying themselves,” Pasch said. “It’s a way to remain anonymous while spreading hate.” Pasch said the flyering isn’t limited to Pittsburgh. In Ohio, he said it increased more than fivefold from 2018 to 2019. Pasch also said that Patriot Front is responsible for about two-thirds of the white supremacist flyers in the country. “They’re marking their territory, just like

old gangs used to,” Pulcastro said at the symposium. “They’re recruiting. They’re trying to push for individuals to come to the fold who also find this material and ideology appealing.” The Patriot Front demonstration happened about a month after a white supremacist concert called “Won’t Say Sorry: A night for the white working class.” Days earlier, a white supremacist who had posted a call online to murder Jews in Squirrel Hill was released from prison. Pasch said the heightened activity in and around Pittsburgh mirrors a rise in white supremacist activity nationwide — and on extremist websites. “My largest concern remains the growth of white supremacist ideology and hate online,” he said. “It knows no geographic boundaries and people can cross state lines to commit acts of hate.” Brad Orsini, Brokos’ predecessor, said that even as Pittsburgh Jews continue to processes their trauma from the 2018 shooting, the community has remained prepared for hate to strike again. “I think there is a higher level [of risk] in Pittsburgh because of what happened,” said Orsini, the senior national security advisor of the Secure Community Network, which coordinates security for Jewish institutions nationwide. “However, I do see the Pittsburgh Jewish communal program doing everything they can to keep that community safe.” Jewish Pittsburgh has responded by “protecting our community, our places of worship, through training, building hardening, security coordination,” said Laura Cherner, director of the Community Relations Council for the Jewish Federation

of Greater Pittsburgh. “The reality is anti-Semitism in the United States is older than the country itself and I feel like Pittsburgh is a similar story. The Jewish community is often used as scapegoats.” While the Jewish community is the largest religious group victimized by hate crimes, it isn’t the only group that should be concerned with the growth of white supremacy or the rise of hate, Cherner said. “I think it’s incredibly important that we support other marginalized communities in solidarity, because they’re also vulnerable to acts of discrimination or violence,” she said. “Something that we saw after the shooting on Oct. 27, was the huge outpouring of the broader community, and diverse communities really embraced us. It’s critical that we show them the support by sharing our resources and by building coalitions.” Brokos and her department — which catalogs hate incidents and reports them to local law enforcement and the FBI — are available to the community at large. She urges anyone who has been a victim of hate or notices an incident, including graffiti, flyers or hate speech, to report it. “I have seen so many times where people are hesitant to come forward with their concerns or with threats,” Brokos said. “I’m working very hard to try and change that mindset. I am trying to encourage people that reporting to the Federation is a safe place. I will coordinate with law enforcement for the appropriate response. The other mindset I am working so hard to change is that we’ve always been threatened, so this is nothing new.”  PJC David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

Winter: Continued from page 1

Feinstein has lived in both Pittsburgh and Alaska, so she appreciates the challenges of navigating the cold. “Dreading the potential of the weather can be limiting and self-limiting,” she said. The better approach is simply to prepare and make sure to get outside, smell the trees and absorb some vitamin D. Even on the worst days, she points out, “getting outside can be so satisfying.” “Everyone is sick of the pandemic,” said Stefanie Small, clinical services director at JFCS. “Everyone is sick of having to take precautions. Everyone wants to throw caution to the wind, but now is when it’s the most important to try to do all those things and try to be careful.” Whether it’s on Thanksgiving or during any of the upcoming holidays, people may want to forgo social distancing or mask-wearing, but that’s wrong, continued Small. She recalled the words of Dr. Mark Horne, Mississippi State Medical Association president, during a Nov. 12 Zoom meeting with colleagues: “We don’t really want to see Mamaw at Thanksgiving and bury her by Christmas,” said Horne. “It’s going to happen. You’re going to say ‘hi’ at Thanksgiving, ‘it’s so nice to see you,’ and you’re either going to be visiting her by FaceTime in the ICU or 12 NOVEMBER 27, 2020

 Mask wearing prevents the spread of COVID-19 and seasonal flu.

planning a small funeral by Christmas.” “We all want the traditions of the past,” Small said. “As Pittsburghers we for sure want the comfort of what we’ve always done — but this year is not like every other year. This year has to be considered different.” Feinstein said it can be helpful to give back during this unusual holiday time: Whether

it’s delivering a plate of cookies to an isolated neighbor or having children make cards for someone, there are multiple ways to offer care or compassion this season. Adopting these practices not only helps others but can combat one’s own sense of loneliness. Keeping a positive outlook will help, Small noted.


Photo by Patrick Daxenbichler/iStockphoto.com

“Remember that this year is an anomaly,” she said. “We don’t think we’re going to have to do this in 2021, or 2022, or going forward.” Pittsburghers “are hearty people,” she said. “We can do this.”  PJC Adam Reinherz can be reached at areinherz@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Headlines Sacred: Continued from page 2

responding; empowering youth; and maintaining and evaluating a child safety program. When a community begins to work toward safeguarding its children, it’s important to maintain a shared language, said Pitkoff. Once that’s established, the next step is to

Tuesdays: Continued from page 4

sugars, and I got my coffee black. And after, we just started talking.” For next three and a half years, Prince, or a member of his family, never missed a Tuesday visit with Bayer until her death on Nov. 11. Bayer enjoyed following fashion, and during their first visit together, Prince noted she looked very regal. He began bringing her fashion magazines that they would look at together while drinking coffee and chatting. As the relationship deepened, Prince began visiting more frequently, sometimes sharing Shabbat dinners or holidays with his new friend.

History: Continued from page 7

its preliminary stage. Despite seed funding and in-kind contributions, it lacked support from the broader Jewish community and soon stalled. A group revived the project in September 1981. It obtained a charter, drafted a budget, and once again began looking for funding for “a constructive Jewish History Society.” Again, the project struggled to get community support. But associated projects advanced. The

have shared expectations. Aleinu provides a digital space where community members can identify and work through best practices. Communities have an inherent interest in protecting their youth, said Berkovits. “Sometimes, though, we worry that others might form the wrong impression of why we do this, interpreting our efforts to be in response to something bad that happened here,” she said. “Why do they care so much about this

issue? This needs to change. We must view these efforts for what they are: a proactive positive step that we all need to take that goes to the very core of what it means to create a Jewish institution and to create a community that values and safeguards our children.” Sacred Spaces will continue holding webinars in the coming months. The reality is that what works for one community or institution may not work

for all, said Berkovits. But “by talking about this topic, even by debating about this topic, we’re having a conversation, we’re making it safe to talk about this, we’re thinking about active ways that we can all be somebody who is a source of strength for the children and youth in our community.”  PJC

Prince is the president of CandyFavorites. com, a wholesale candy business begun by his grandfather in 1927, known then as the McKeesport Candy Company. Coincidentally, Bayer had a sweet tooth, which Prince helped satisfy by bringing her candy. He also supplied treats for a Valentine’s Day party at the care home. When it came time to celebrate Helen’s birthday, Prince made sure Bayer’s love of chocolate was considered. “I wanted to celebrate with the best party I could,” Prince said. “I reached out to [JAA staff] and I said, ‘You know, we need to get a cake for Helen. Helen loves chocolate. And she loves sweets. Let’s get a cake for everyone that’s going to be in the room. I mean, make this a serious party.’ We had balloons and we had an edible bouquet and a huge cake. It

was a pretty fun party.” As the time passed, the two got closer. Prince signed Bayer up for trips to the symphony and even accompanied her on medical visits, all while keeping in touch by phone with her niece in Canada. When COVID-19 necessitated visits to be conducted through glass, the pair continued to meet on Tuesdays, albeit without the usual cup of coffee. Their last visit happened just as restrictions began to be loosened. Bayer’s private care worker, Jennifer Seiss, remembered the meeting. “They wore gloves all the way up to their arm pits and were allowed to hold hands,” Seiss said. “She was always so happy to see him and this was the last time. She grabbed hold of him and wouldn’t let go.”

Bayer died shortly after that final visit while Prince was on vacation with his family. He helped coordinate the funeral with his friend, Rabbi Mordy Rudolph, executive director of the Friendship Circle. Prince even helped the family watch the funeral in Canada via Zoom. “Jon ensured every detail was covered,” recalled Stern. Prince said his friendship with Bayer was beshert, or “meant to be,” rather than coincidence. Establishing a friendship with a senior citizen — like the one he shared with Bayer — is not beyond the reach of others, he said: “It’s not daunting if you’re willing. Anyone can do this.”  PJC

National Endowment for the Humanities funded “Roots and Branches,” a 1982 exhibit about local Jewish history. In 1986, the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania and the United Jewish Federation published Jacob Feldman’s book “The Jewish Experience in Western Pennsylvania: A History.” Those projects generated enthusiasm for local Jewish history. With funding from the Berkman family, the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania commissioned the Jewish Archival Survey in 1987. It produced a comprehensive inventory of all known records in the community, duplicating some of the work undertaken 17 years earlier.

This time, though, the project advanced. The Western Pennsylvania Jewish Archives was founded on Nov. 1, 1988. It became known as the Rauh Jewish Archives in 1999, following a gift from Richard E. Rauh. In the 21st century, the desires of the public have finally caught up with the ambitions of a half-century ago, making it easier to pursue major digitization projects. Within the past two decades, local Jewish newspapers have been digitized, a database of local Jewish burial records has been compiled, and thousands of pages and images have been uploaded to websites like Historic Pittsburgh. But achieving the full vision

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

David Rullo can be reached at drullo@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org. from 1970 would still require thousands of volunteer hours, millions of dollars, and the resurrection of the many records described in the inventory that have yet to be shepherded into archival storage. It is bittersweet to imagine what might have been, had the public been able to foresee its own future desires: a single, searchable repository of all the Jewish community’s records.  PJC Eric Lidji is the director of the Rauh Jewish Archives at the Heinz History Center. He can be reached at eslidji@heinzhistorycenter.org or 412-454-6406.

Steeler Cam Heyward donates cleats in memory of Oct. 27 victims


ittsburgh Steeler Cam Heyward is donating a pair of game-worn cleats in memory of the Oct. 27 shooting victims. For the “My Cause, My Cleats” week each NFL season, players can pick a cause, personalize their cleats and, as described on the NFL website, “wear their hearts on their feet.” Last season, Heyward chose The Cecil and David Rosenthal Memorial Fund at Achieva and the 10.27 Healing Partnership. The star defensive tackle’s black and gold ombre cleats read “10.27 Healing Partnership,” “stronger than hate” and “#loveliketheboys” — a campaign launched in honor of brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal who were murdered during the Oct. 27, 2018, massacre at the Tree of Life building. “Achieva is grateful to Cameron Heyward and the Rosenthal family for generously donating the custom game-worn cleats honoring everyone impacted by the Tree of Life shooting,” said Steve Suroviec, president PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  

and CEO of Achieva. “The cleats are significant to Achieva because they promote acts of kindness in memory of Cecil and David. The movement, called ‘Love Like the Boys,’ encourages others to share the pure, kindhearted nature of Cecil and David through uplifting deeds.” Maggie Feinstein, director of the 10.27 Healing Partnership, is thankful for Heyward’s donation. “Healing is different for everyone, but we know that community solidarity plays a tremendous and positive role in the process,” she said. “Cam Heyward’s donation sends a clear message to the community and the families that we serve: all of Pittsburgh stands with us. We are so grateful to Cam and to everyone who supports our work.” The raffle for the cleats ran until Nov. 23. The winner was scheduled to be announced over a livestream at noon on Nov. 26, with the Steelers playing later in the day.  PJC — Kayla Steinberg

p Cam Heyward with Cody Sabol, the nationally recognized speed painter from Pittsburgh who designed the cleats. Photo provided by Larry Ceisler (Ceisler Media)


NOVEMBER 27, 2020 13

Headlines Federation reaches $6 million in COVID-19 relief distributions

By Toby Tabachnick | Editor


he Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Nov. 18 distribution of COVID-19 relief funds brings its total to more than $6 million This newest distribution of funds follows the board’s Nov. 11 approval. “Because our Community Campaign raises unrestricted dollars, the Jewish Federation was able to respond with emergency funding as early as March 31,” said David D. Sufrin, chair of the Jewish

Federation’s board, in a prepared statement. “We saw an enormous number of families suffering health and financial impacts, and we knew that the Jewish Federation needed to lead Jewish Pittsburgh through this crisis.” COVID-19 has had a critical impact on Pittsburgh’s Jews, according to a recent Federation-funded study which “revealed a looming mental health crisis among young adults and a dire warning that job losses and financial hardship will push families already at risk of falling into poverty over the edge,” said Jan Levinson, chair of the Federation’s Community Campaign, in a prepared statement. “This is a perfect example of why we need a strong Community Campaign

from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, designated for the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh for health and human service needs, helped the Federation reach its $6 million total. Fundraising for community pandemic relief was the result of a coordinated effort, said Jeffrey H. Finkelstein, Jewish Federation president and CEO. “We knew that some of the most generous donors would receive COVID-19 relief requests from multiple organizations, so this crisis required an extraordinary level of cooperation,” he said “One of the strengths of Jewish Federation’s Community Campaign is the trust it enables us to build with Jewish agencies so that in times of crisis, we already know how to work together.” A portion of the distributions will go to overseas Jewish communities. The American Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel will distribute those funds. In Israel, Federation support helps provide day care for the children of medical professionals so they can attend to the coronavirus caseload spike. In Israel, the former Soviet Union and Argentina, Federation funds provide hygiene supplies, emergency medicine and care for the neediest Jews, including homebound seniors. PJC Toby Tabachnick can be reached at ttabachnick@pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

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— it enables us to respond immediately during a crisis.” Volunteers, along with Federation planning experts, its main beneficiary agencies and its two historical overseas partners, are working to continually track and fund areas of greatest need, according to a Nov. 18 Federation press release. “The key impact areas include health and wellness, emergency funding and food insecurity, physical space needs for proper social distancing, capacity building and maintaining Jewish identity.” Federation’s local beneficiary agencies currently have more than $11 million in needs above their annual allocations because of the pandemic. In addition, millions more are needed in Israel and in other Jewish communities around the world, said Debbie Resnick, Federation’s Community Campaign co-chair. It is imperative, she said, that the Community Campaign reach its $14 million goal and beyond to meet those challenges. The Federation has provided funds to cover the personal protective equipment of frontline workers and other COVID-19 safety equipment, including more than $540,000 to the Jewish Association on Aging. Other critical needs addressed by Federation funds, said Sufrin, include technology and training to facilitate remote learning at Jewish day schools, kosher meal delivery to seniors, and financial help for the unemployed. Seed money in the amount of $2.5 million

Headlines Tom Hanks, Billy Porter and others serve on honorary cabinet for Tree of Life campaign


ctors Tom Hanks and Billy Porter, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf, and Joanne Rogers, wife of the late Fred Rogers, have become honorary cabinet members to support the renovation of the Tree of Life building, the congregation announced on Nov. 18. Funds raised through the “Remember. Rebuild. Renew.” campaign will contribute to the renovation as well as community partnerships, educational programs, national outreach and a center for ending hate. “Through this effort and with the support of people of all backgrounds, we will transform a site of hate and tragedy into a site of hope, remembrance and education,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Myers of the Tree of Life Congregation in a statement. “I will forever be grateful for the wellspring of love that continues to flow over and through our synagogue from all parts of the world, including the support of the individuals who have agreed to join the honorary cabinet to take the horror of Oct. 27 and create something beautiful that changes our country and our world.” For Porter, a Pittsburgh native and Carnegie Mellon University alum, this is a chance to support a community that has helped him. “The Jewish community of Pittsburgh has been present for me and my family for

 Actor and filmmaker Tom Hanks in 2014

decades,” said Porter. “They took care of me in my early years. They took care of my mom in my absence, as I pursued my career. My love for this community is unwavering. I look forward to showing the world what real love looks like!” The Remember. Rebuild. Renew. campaign is chaired by Drs. Ellen Stewart and Jeffrey Cohen as well as Linda and Jeffrey Solomon. “It’s important to me that not only is Tree

Photo via State Department / public domain

of Life preserved [but also] that there’s a fitting memorial to the victims, and there’s something positive over there that is bigger than Tree of Life — something that is meaningful to the people of this community, to this neighborhood and to people of all groups,” Stewart told the Chronicle. “A place for understanding and learning as well as a place for the Jewish faith and a memorial.”

Stewart and Cohen live near the Tree of Life building and are longstanding members of the congregation. Cohen visited the shooter while he was treated at Allegheny General Hospital and led the hospital staff in caring for some of the victims of the attack. Linda and Jeffrey Solomon grew up in Squirrel Hill, and Jeffrey had his bar mitzvah at Tree of Life. Stewart is grateful for the celebrities’ backing and hopes it inspires others to support the project, too. “I’d love for people to look at that list and say, ‘Wow, Tom Hanks is a supporter of this project,” she said. Wolf sees the effort as a force for good. “The tragic and terrible attack at Tree of Life had a profound impact on our commonwealth and the nation, and the process of healing continues,” he said in the congregation’s announcement. “But one thing is clear — hate has no place in Pennsylvania. This campaign is an important opportunity to collectively resolve to fight hatred and anti-Semitism by supporting Tree of Life and connecting and engaging with the community. I’m honored to be named to this cabinet and to be a part of a campaign that seeks to overpower hate with education, support and, most importantly, love.” PJC — Kayla Steinberg

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NOVEMBER 27, 2020 15

Headlines Cyril Wecht memoir offers insight into a forensic legend — LOCAL — By Hilary Daninhirsch | Special to the Chronicle

“The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht: Memoirs of America’s Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist” by Cyril H. Wecht, M.D., J.D. and Jeff Sewald


fter penning eight true crime books and writing or contributing to dozens of professional books, internationally acclaimed forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht has written perhaps his most captivating book to date: a memoir of his own life. In “The Life and Deaths of Cyril Wecht: Memoirs of America’s Most Controversial Forensic Pathologist,” Wecht, now 89, chronicles his life from his humble beginnings as the son of a merchant in Bobtown, Pennsylvania, to his childhood in Pittsburgh to his military service to meeting his wife as well as his eventual rise to Allegheny County coroner, his past legal troubles, the deep love and commitment he has for his family, and a snapshot of some of the cases that defined his illustrious career. Those who only know Wecht from what they’ve read in the newspapers or have seen on television may be surprised by the outspoken coroner, who regales his audience with stories that could equally curl your toes

and warm your heart. Wecht details his fascinating, multifaceted life in a straightforward, no-nonsense way, with fervor and self-assurance, but with underlying warmth and even a touch of humor. Wecht’s dual legal and medical degree have elevated his professional life; he has been called upon to perform autopsies and/or testify, applying complex medical-legal principles, in cases extending from Pittsburgh to Pakistan to Brazil, Australia, China and many more countries as well as across the U.S. Though Wecht runs on a schedule that would be exhausting for someone decades younger, he is tireless. In part, he is compelled to keep going by a sense of justice. He makes it clear in the book that the cases he works on are equally important, whether it is a high-profile sensationalized case, such as Chandra Levy, David Koresh or Claus von Bülow, or a coal miner whose family is seeking Black Lung benefits or a young African American man shot by a white police officer. “When I became coroner in 1970, every police-related death was a matter of public inquest conducted by my office,” Wecht said in a phone interview. “I became heavily involved in Jonny Gammage and Charles Dixon and cases of African Americans brutalized by the cops. I am very proud of that.” He paid a steep price for these coroner inquests, however, as they ignited a longstanding feud with Allegheny County

District Attorney Stephen Zappala. Wecht lost millions of dollars while defending what he describes as trumped up corruption charges against him, which he says were motivated by politics. In the book, he details the federal charges brought about by former U.S. Attorney Mary Beth Buchanan. Fully exonerated though financially ruined, Wecht is clearly still angry about those charges, as well as litigation against him in the late 1970s, in which he was also cleared. In addition to leaving his story behind for his cherished family, Wecht wanted to write this book, he said, so readers could understand the “ … complexity and the multifaceted challenges of the interface of law and medicine, specifically in the realm of pathology, and how important it is for justice to be served, with the input from forensic science, and how the system can be subverted, perverted, suppressed, and manipulated.” In addition to his early life, Wecht also devotes parts of the book to his interest in public office; the establishment of the Cyril H. Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law at Duquesne University; and the many cases, famous and not so famous, he has worked on during his career. Interwoven throughout the memoir are comments from friends, family and colleagues, including close friend and journalist Geraldo Rivera, former Pennsylvania Gov. Dick Thornburgh and criminal defense

attorney F. Lee Bailey. Photos of Wecht from childhood to present day — such as a photo of Wecht and his varsity basketball team at Fifth Avenue High School or one of him with director Oliver Stone — add color to the book. No Cyril Wecht memoir would be complete without his analysis of the case that continues to vex him: the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Wecht writes in detail about his involvement in the case and how he debunked the single bullet theory as outlined in the Warren Report, as well as his belief that the government or at least people connected with the government, had a role in the president’s death. Although filled with both personal and professional stories of a life well lived and a career that has launched Wecht into the national spotlight, the book can also be viewed as a cautionary tale. “We believe we live in this great, honorable society and terrible things cannot happen; that is so naïve and so absurd,” said Wecht. Still, his sense of justice and compulsion to advocate for the voiceless come through loud and clear in the pages. As Wecht himself writes in the preface: “In the end, I believe that one does what one must, as determined by the internal compass of one’s being — what the mind and heart require.” PJC Hilary Daninhirsch is a freelance writer living in Pittsburgh.

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NOVEMBER 27, 2020 17

Life & Culture How homemade jachnun is giving a lifeline to European Jews in a second COVID wave — FOOD — By Cnaan Liphshiz | JTA


fter Gal Graber and Tal Goldman had a disappointing experience with a store-bought jachnun, the two Israelis living in Amsterdam set out to make the slow-cooked Yemenite bread on their own. “As with many Israelis, jachnun is connected in our minds with Saturday mornings, with quality time,” Graber told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. “But the frozen ones for sale here are not great. So we decided to make our own.” It turned out to be a prescient undertaking. Earlier this year, the restaurant where Graber was working — & moshik, which had two Michelin stars thanks to its Israeli chef Moshik Roth — shut down during the Netherlands’ first coronavirus lockdown. Like restaurant workers around the world, Graber and his French girlfriend, Mathilde Lair, who was head pastry chef at & moshik’s, both lost their jobs. Now, Graber, Goldman and Lair spend their days baking and delivering the buttery rolled bread that is a standby of Yemenite families’ Shabbat lunch tables, and delivering it by scooter throughout Amsterdam. Neither partner is Yemenite. But what they lack in cultural authenticity they make up for their experience as chefs and desire to make neatly folded rolls that they say are aesthetically superior to coarser cakes and, of course, tastier than the frozen jachnun available in Amsterdam’s kosher supermarkets. “How many jachnuns do you know, in Europe or anywhere, that are made by chefs from a 2-star Michelin restaurant?” Garber said. There aren’t many — but thanks to other enterprising Israelis, Europeans across the continent are getting an introduction to jachnun during the pandemic. Across the globe, home bakers have found themselves suddenly able to compete with restaurants that are now closed to diners. From London to Munich, jachnun businesses have popped up to capitalize on a dish that’s exotic, comforting and — perhaps most significantly for the moment — takeout-friendly. Unlike hummus, which Israelis have had a big role in injecting into the increasingly vegetarian culinary mainstream of Europe and North America, jachnun can stay for days in the fridge without going bad. And unlike falafel, another food that Israelis have had a key role in mainstreaming, it does not become soggy if it is not consumed right away. Cooked for many hours and typically served with hard-boiled eggs, jachnun comes with a crushed tomato and zhug, a coriander pesto that’s so spicy that even Israelis tend to apply it sparingly. In London, Zak and Yifat Braham are selling mostly to Israelis for whom, Yifat said, “jachnun is part of a tradition, a slice of home. … I think what I’m actually selling are memories, not food.”

18 NOVEMBER 27, 2020

 Gal Garber and Mathilde Lair prepare jachnun in their apartment in Amsterdam, Nov. 20, 2020. Photo by Mathilde Lair via JTA

 Served with crushed tomato and zhug, a spicy corriander pesto, jachnun is a weekend delicacy for Yemenite Jews. Photo courtesy of Gal Garber via JTA

Yifat learned to make jachnun in her native Karmiel, a city in Israel’s north, from her mother and aunt, who have Yemenite roots. She was recovering from major surgery that prevented her from working in her job as a teacher when the pandemic began, so when her husband’s income as a cab driver evaporated almost overnight, the family feared a crisis. “We were heading toward a fall, we couldn’t afford to pay the bills,” she said. The pair began producing jachnun in their home and delivering it to customers throughout London. Through the Israeli customers, “others are also getting to know the food,” said Yifat, who each week prepares dozens and

sometimes hundreds of rolls. “Italians tend to like it for some reason.” Demand is so high that Zak’s cab isn’t enough to make the rounds anymore. The Brahams had to hire a second delivery man. “It’s not very lucrative, but it’s generating an income. It’s saved us,” Yifat Braham said. “We were lost before we got into jachnun.” The Brahams have competition in Jonathan Gan, a 42-year-old high-tech innovator who immigrated from Israel to the United Kingdom in 2014. He fell back on jachnun last spring, when the country went into a lockdown that spelled disaster for his marketing software at a time when business owners were cutting costs just to stay afloat. “I reached for grandmother Yonah’s


jachnun recipes and granddad Zion’s zhug recipes and started rolling,” Gan said in an article about his coronavirus transformation for Alondon, a Hebrew-language magazine. Gan has applied his startup skillset to his new business, Jachnun Stories. “There’s a fundamental difference between making 10 portions to making 100, and it’s not only about multiplying materials by a factor of 10,” he told Alondon. As demand rose, “I was racing to catch up with it, learning as I went along how to make bulk while setting up a chain of supply, optimizing preparation, establishing a digital presence” and other aspects. His kitchen in London looks like a physics classroom. “The walls are full of charts, formulas and calculations, flow charts and work protocols,” he said. His business owes as much to his Yemenite grandparents as it does to his Ashkenazi grandmother who put him through his studies to become an engineer, he added. Ya’arit Stark, a stay-at home mom of two, began selling jachnun earlier this year in her apartment near Munich, where only a few hundred Israelis live. Her husband, Eran, who works in the tech sector, delivers the dishes across the Munich region by public transportation, she told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in a video interview that she gave while preparing a batch. Repeating the process that her 95-year-old grandmother, whose name is also Yonah, taught her, she sprays the working surface with fat and stretches the dough until it’s the size of an average oven tray. She stops stretching when holes start to form in the nearly transparent sheet. “You need those holes, they’ll provide some airiness,” she said as she quickly folded the sheet inward over itself and placed the wrap in a Wonder Pot, a device possibly invented in Israel that is essentially a ringshaped receptacle made of aluminium that’s especially useful for slow cooking. She fills the pot with jachnuns, spraying each unit with oil to keep them from sticking to one another. With fewer Israelis to buy jachnun, the Starks have had to make inroads with the other locals, whom she says “like Middle Eastern food but have a pretty limited selection of it, mostly made up shawarma.” A taste for novelty was what brought Max Breinbauer, a 26-year-old law student, to jachnun, which he had heard about during his Hebrew-language course. “I wanted something new and it was definitely that. Satisfying, spicy and very simple,” said Breinbauer, who is not Jewish and one of the Starks’ regulars. While the future for pandemic pop-ups is uncertain, Gan, in London, said business is going well for now. “Turns out you can invent an innovative technology, raise millions, start a firm and international operation from scratch, employ dozens of employees, win international competitions, and then hit the jackpot with some flour and water,” Gan wrote on Facebook. “We’re making lemonade out of corona.”  PJC PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Life & Culture Their annual gathering impossible, Chabad rabbis convene on Zoom — for days and days — RELIGION — By Shira Hanau | JTA


t the end of the annual conference of Chabad emissaries from around the world, they typically take a giant group photograph in front of the movement’s headquarters in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights. But this year, no camera at the Kinus Hashluchim could capture the nearly 6,000 participants at once: They were on Zoom from their separate computers and time zones. The video version was a concession to the coronavirus pandemic that has disrupted the globe for nearly a year. What’s more, the conference didn’t really end. Without planes to catch and families to head home to, the emissaries who assembled on Saturday night for a post-Shabbat party simply never signed off. The conference began Thursday, Nov. 12, over Zoom and took a break over Shabbat before resuming Saturday night with a virtual melave malka, a post-Shabbat party, and farbrengen, a Hasidic gathering where stories and words of Torah are shared. The event was supposed to start in Melbourne, Australia, the first place in the world where Shabbat ends, and continue

because of advanced ALS was able to participate this year. The conference typically meets for four days in Brooklyn, where the Chabad emissaries, or schluchim, gather with friends from around the world and attend sessions on all aspects of their work on behalf of the Hasidic movement. This year’s forum included sessions on how to deal with Zoom fatigue and how to run a camp safely during the pandemic. In a typical year, a massive banquet at the end would feature a roll call of every country where the Chabad movement has emissaries. At the Zoom gathering that replaced the banquet this year, the movement announced the founding of the first Chabad center in Lagos, Nigeria. It also celebrated approximately p The closing event at Chabad’s annual conference of worldwide emissaries was filmed in 100 Chabad couples being sent out as Crown Heights, Brooklyn, and streamed around the globe. Photo by Bentzi Sasson/Chabad.org via JTA new emissaries, including Rabbi Levi Duchman, now the official emissary to as Shabbat finished around the world, with of media relations for Chabad.org. Posts on the United Arab Emirates. But it was the celebratory Zoom meeting the emissaries in Hawaii and Alaska the social media suggested that number had actually risen on Wednesday afternoon. that took on something of a life of its own. last to sign on. “You have people who are connecting The singing and l’chaims may even continue All of that happened. But instead of ending the meeting when the main confer- and inspiring one another in a way you until Shabbat, when the emissaries will log ence resumed on Sunday, Chabad rabbis would have thought would not be possible off, time zone by time zone. “As long as there are people who want to logged in as they were able. On Tuesday because they weren’t able to gather this year night, at least 750 people were still logged on, in person,” Seligson said. He noted that one listen and share and be inspired, it’s going according to Rabbi Motti Seligson, director rabbi in California who is unable to travel strong,” Seligson said.  PJC

We are pleased and proud to recognize

Stephen Tobe

Longtime JCC friend and AgeWell at the JCC volunteer, our Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle Volunteer of the Year.

Thank you for all you do! Brian Schreiber President and CE0 PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  


William S. Goodman Chair of the Board NOVEMBER 27, 2020 19


The Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle is proud to present the Volunteers of the Year for 2020. Their stories are incredibly inspirational. We hope you enjoy reading about the wonderful work these volunteers perform in our community. ADAT SHALOM

Jeniffer Feder has given her time and talent to Adat Shalom for many years. As a member of the board of directors and president of the religious school PTO, she has earned the gratitude and appreciation of parents, staff, and the entire congregation. Jen is an enthusiastic, organized leader and involved parent whose cheerful smile, welcoming presence and genuine love of our community have generated a sense of belonging among our families. From parent breakfasts to festive holiday parties, to stepping up as a co-host on Zoom High Holiday student services and so much more, Jen is the quintessential volunteer!


Wendy Panizzi is Congregation Ahavath Achim’s Volunteer of the Year for 2020, in recognition of her commitment to the Carnegie Shul. She has served as a member of the congregation’s board of directors and was recently elected secretary of the board. Up until the pandemic and the temporary cessation of services, Wendy took responsibility for providing provisions for the weekly kiddushes after Shabbos services. (Although Shabbos services have resumed, albeit with concomitant COVID-19 restrictions, our weekly Shabbos kiddushes have not.) Nonetheless, she has been actively involved in facilitating the shul’s renovation and reconfiguration this year. Her continued service and support warrant her being accorded this honor.


With over 20 years of nonprofit development experience, Andi Fischhoff was introduced 20 NOVEMBER 27, 2020

to the Aleph Institute by Aryeh Sherman, who asked if she could help the Aleph Institute with proposal writing and organizational development. For the past eight years, she has met with Rabbi Moishe Mayir Vogel weekly and was instrumental in the development of the Shifra program which provides assistance to 78 local families. Andi is an asset to the Aleph Institute and the community at large. She helped connect the Aleph Institute with leaders in Hazelwood and the South Side who share the Aleph Institute’s commitment to working with incarcerated individuals and their families. Vogel says her dedication and commitment is indispensable.


In March, Beth El Congregation of the South Hills transitioned to virtual operations due to the C OV I D - 1 9 pandemic. Heidi Cohen delive re d hu n d re d s of siddurim, chumashim, Haggadot, mahzorim and more contactlessly to members since then. Heidi has traveled more than 400 miles in 40 hours to help congregants stay connected. Heidi’s dedication has meant a great deal to Beth El by ensuring that no one is being left behind. A “regular” at worship services and adult education classes, Heidi volunteers her time with bingo, the annual Throwdown, shiva committee, and singlehandedly decorates the sukkah. She is also the Sisterhood’s programming vice president.


Beth Hamedrash Hagodol-Beth Jacob Congregation proudly recognizes Sherman Weinstein as our 2020 Volunteer of the Year. Sherman is currently the first vice president of our congregation and has served as an officer on the executive committee for over 20 years. He manages our cemetery, located in McKees Rocks. Sherman instituted our annual hamantaschen bake sale using his legendary Pastries Unlimited hamantaschen recipe. Before COVID-19, Sherman was a regular attendee at our daily and Shabbat services. Thank you, Sherman!


freely with the Jewish community in general and Chabad of the South Hills in particular. He is always among the first to help when there is a need, whether it be resolving flood or smoke damage at Chabad, helping make minyan for yahrtzeits and shiva, to supporting the underprivileged in our community. He is just an all-around mensch who can be relied upon at all times.

CHABAD OF SQUIRREL HILL Beth Samuel Jewish Center is honored to select Karen Beaudway as our Volunteer of the Year. Karen’s Hebrew name means “life,” and she has contributed to the life of BSJC in so many ways. Karen is past president, having served an extended term from 2015-2018, is the current chair of our Sisterhood and Book Club, chants Torah, tutors our b’nai mitzvah students, runs our annual Hanukkah Auction, chairs our annual Purim carnival committee and is in charge of making hundreds of hamantaschen every year. Karen steps up to so many tasks — wherever she sees the need, including The Lasagna Project and serving meals at The Ladle. Her contributions keep us vibrant and thriving!


When COVID-19 struck, Julie Harris — a guitarist, performer and teacher — immediately stepped forward to offer her time and assistance to Chabad of Squirrel Hill. In addition to playing guitar for the annual Sound of Jewish Music event, which took place virtually in the spring, she also helped deliver bags of soup and challah every Friday throughout the summer, spreading warmth and a taste of Shabbat to friends around the community. Her kindness and volunteer work were especially appreciated during this challenging period and helped foster a sense of connection at a time of physical separation.


Jonathan Weinkle has been a member of Congregation Beth Shalom for 21 years. He is a graduate of the Wexner Heritage Program, an author and a doctor of internal pediatrics and internal medicine. As an amateur chazzan, he helps lead services frequently and has served as a b’nai mitzvah tutor, religious services chair and a member of committees, including nominating and hiring an interim rabbi. Most recently, Jonathan has been an active participant in Beth Shalom’s COVID-19 task force, guiding synagogue decision-making. Jonathan is a contributing blogger for the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle and often shares his knowledge through delivering divrei torahs.


Cliff Zlotnik is a genuinely kind and compassionate person who is blessed with many talents and interests which he shares PITTSBURGH JEWISH CHRONICLE

Community Day School parent Dr. Micah Jacobs is an infectious disease specialist and associate director of infection control at UPMC St. Margaret, where he is part of the team coordinating the response to COVID-19. He has volunteered for several years to provide medical guidance to the CDS Health Office and to raise school funds, with tremendous impact in increasing individual participation in the state tax credit program resulting in scholarships for eligible students. This year, CDS is especially indebted to Dr. Jacobs, who has shared his time and expertise with the school community in COVID-19 safety planning, always demonstrating his patience, compassion, and consummate professionalism even during the most challenging times.

Please see Volunteers, page 21




FRIENDSHIP CIRCLE Continued from page 20


Dor Hadash’s Volunteer of the Year is Jim Lenkner. Almost two years ago, Jim began assisting us as our communications chair. Jim continues to assist with our technology needs. Besides Dor Hadash, he helps at Adat Shalom; the Waverly Presbyterian Church; Unity Church in Delaware; First Step Recovery Homes: Jeremiah’s Place; and Fair Districts PA.  Jim has helped to revive our newsletter and create our website. With the onset of COVID-19, he assisted setting up Zoom and training us to use it. He has become an integral part of our Zoom b’nai mitzvah and High Holiday services and countless other events. We are grateful to have him as a member of our community.

The Friendship Circle recognizes Dr. Marlene Cohen Behrmann. Marlene’s journey with us began almost a decade ago. Her son volunteered with us in high school, and Marlene joined soon after at our Sunday Circle program. Since then, she has shared her time, expertise, and talent, and made many valued contributions to our organization. Most recently, she served as chair of our safety task force and has been instrumental in the sustainability and growth of our programs and mission. Marlene is an incredible resource, and we are grateful for the opportunity to learn from her, always.

Initiatives task force, Meira has facilitated important progress, including policies that make interest-free loans accessible to more people. A natural and passionate advocate, Meira operates with a clear sense of people’s best interest at heart. In addition to her work at HFL, Meira volunteers in the community through the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Community Day School, and in frequent anonymous acts of chesed. Hebrew Free Loan is grateful for and humbled by Meira’s thoughtful and caring leadership. 



Meira Russ has been an extraordinarily committed member of the Hebrew Free Loan board of directors and has used her many talents to benefit both the organization and its borrowers. As a member of the executive committee and the chair of the Strategic

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh commends and appreciates the leadership of Jewish Federation 2020 Volunteer of the Year

We would like to express our sincere thanks to Dr. Harold Wiesenfeld for leading our COVID-19 reopening task force. Dr. Wiesenfeld has put in countless hours

analyzing our health and safety procedures. Harold continues to take the time on a daily basis to carefully analyze all of our concerns and answer each question thoughtfully and with poise. Without his hard work and dedication, Hillel Academy, serving 400 hundred students, would not have been able to reopen this fall in a safe and meaningful way.


Since 2011, Matt Weinstein has been a valued member of Hillel Jewish University Center’s board of governors. His dedication to Hillel JUC’s vision of a world where every student is inspired to make an enduring commitment to Jewish life, learning and Israel is why he is Hillel JUC’s Volunteer of the Year. Although he has worked as a development professional within higher education institutions, he has tirelessly volunteered on Hillel JUC’s behalf to secure financial support and partnerships to ensure the continuity of future generations of Jews who make Pittsburgh their college home. We are indebted to Matt for his insights, guidance and accomplishments. Please see Volunteeers, page 22

Mazel Tov to Steven Schwartz Jewish National Fund’s Volunteer of The Year

JIMMY WAGNER and salutes his tireless service to the Jewish community. We congratulate Steven and thank him for his dedication and his tireless efforts in support of our philanthropic work and continuation of Theodor Herzl’s legacy. jewishpgh.org • 2000 Technology Dr. Pittsburgh PA 15219 • 412.681.8000



NOVEMBER 27, 2020 21


Volunteers: Continued from page 21


called Amy Gold to ask how he could help. He was excited to start making telephone wellness check-in calls to our older adults. Stephen is the JCC’s 2020 awardee of the Lillian Goldstein Senior Adult Volunteer Leadership Award. Both children of survivors, Jake and Rebecca Jacobson lead our Life & Legacy Committee, ensuring that the Center’s mission will be supported for years to come. Rebecca chairs the Generations Steering Committee, the group composed of children and grandchildren of survivors. She also shares her mother’s story of survival through our Generations Speakers Bureau. Jake is immediate past chair of the Holocaust Center Advisory Board. He led the organization following the attacks at the Tree of Life building, and oversaw new initiatives during his tenure as chair, including the Center’s training for Pittsburgh Police recruits.



Known by so many in our community, Meyer “Skip” Grinberg has been an engaged, caring and dedicated volunteer. After many years of involvement as a board member, Skip became president, bringing his experience helping other nonprofits grow. Skip generously shares his vision, dedication and time to help the Jewish Assistance Fund. In his quiet, calm way, Skip plays a pivotal role. We count on him to assure that even with a small staff, we can have a big impact in the lives of the Pittsburgh Jewish community by providing financial assistance for immediate and pressing expenses.


Ronna Scoratow had been an amazing volunteer before COVID-19 and somehow, despite our restrictions on visitors in the building, she has still managed to bring joy and laughter (and calories) to our residents. Each week we have “Treats from Ronna.” She buys ice cream, cupcakes, sweets of all kinds, and provides magazines, crossword puzzles, and anything she can think of that will lift up the spirits of our Charles Morris folks. She sends cards, makes phone calls, sends greetings — and constantly reminds her friends that they are out of sight, but certainly not out of mind. Thanks, Ronna!


Stephen Tobe is a long-time JCC friend whose children and grandchildren are active at the JCC. When he joined AgeWell in March 2016, he immediately volunteered in the J Café. Stephen is always willing to help. He has a knack for making the people around him feel special. For him, the important part has always been about making the connections with our older adults and the other volunteers. When COVID-19 struck, Stephen was in Florida, but missing his friends from the JCC Choir and J Café, he 22 NOVEMBER 27, 2020

Greg Engel is the president of the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association of Greater Pittsburgh. He has served as president since 2018 and ably leads the JCBA as it expands its reach in the region. He serves on the JCBA nominating committee and is involved with hands-on projects to help beautify the cemeteries. Greg has served on the JCBA Board since 2016.


Randi Cohen enhances the work that JFCS Career Development Center does through her extensive 37-year experience in human resources. She provides additional training and career development assistance to our active job-seeking clients of diverse abilities and backgrounds, helping them to become employed. She connects with our career consultants, recommending useful action items they can incorporate into the client’s overall job search strategy. Randi is an

intermediary to our partner employers while assisting at career fairs and employer events. She is a true professional, always accessible, reliable, selfless, and an ideal team player. We are truly blessed to have Randi as a partner.


For more than a decade, Jimmy Wagner has proven himself an exemplary leader at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Mr. Wagner chaired the Jewish Federation’s 2012 and 2013 annual Community Campaigns. As chair of the Federation’s Cemeteries Task Force, he helped forge a new model to care for the region’s 80 Jewish cemeteries. In addition to board service throughout the community, Mr. Wagner was the recipient of the 2012 William and Olga Stark Leadership Award. Currently, he is a vice chair of the Federation’s board of directors.


Elaine Krasik (z”l) was an active board member and officer for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation (JHF) and its operating arm, Health Careers Futures, from 2003-2009 and had remained a key supporter of JHF’s work up through 2020. JHF mourned her passing this year and honors all her many important contributions to our community. She was a founding member of the Working Hearts Coalition and an active member of the JHF Distribution Committee, bringing her community and legal acumen to JHF grantmaking and community involvement efforts. She also led JHF’s Health Education and Access Grant Assessment Team.


Steven Schwartz’s contribution and commitment to Pittsburgh’s Jewish community as well as to the land and people of Israel is beyond reproach. In addition to his philanthropic support, Steven has served as a mentor and motivator to so many over the years. Thanks to Steven’s efforts over many decades, Jewish National Fund-USA has connected thousands in the greater Pittsburgh region with Israel and the organization’s vision of bringing 800,000 people


to the Negev and Galilee. During this most unusual year, Steven’s leadership has been the steady hand and reassuring voice of our community. As Steven steps down from the presidency, we wish to recognize his tireless efforts in support of our philanthropic work and continuation of Theodor Herzl’s legacy.


This year’s nominee is Lorrie Rabin, president-elect of the JRS board, past chair of the Clubhouse advisory board and indefatigable supporter of JRS’s mission. Lorrie’s passion is helping the Clubhouse provide colleagues with an environment that is compassionate, dignified, purposeful and meaningful. She is active in efforts to spread the word in the community about the value of the Clubhouse program and serves as a mentor to staff. Lorrie’s time and expertise have directly contributed to the success of our program.


Kesher Pittsburgh nominates Lauren Goldstein as our Volunteer of the Year with appreciation for her tireless efforts on behalf of our community. Whether playing guitar at services, co-organizing events, boosting morale, or thinking about the big picture, Lauren is committed to helping our community grow and deepen sustainably and meaningfully. However, it’s not just what she Please see Volunteeers, page 23




REPAIR THE WORLD Continued from page 22

does to help but how she approaches each task: kind, warm, caring, organized, dependable and authentic, Lauren is a joy to work with and is an exemplar of our community’s values. We are so grateful that she is part of our team!


Like other community agencies, COVID-19 had a huge impact on NCJW’s operations. When the departure of NCJW’s executive director coincided with the start of COVID-19, another layer of complexity was added to an already challenging situation. In addition to her responsibilities as board president, Teddi J. Horvitz stepped right in to take on operational duties, which included managing staff, completing the PPP funding application, determining the status of our social enterprise, Thriftique and working with community partners at the Allegheny County courts regarding the Playrooms at the Courts. For Teddi, no job was too small or too big to ensure NCJW’s viability.


Cátia Kossovsky is passionate about helping the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle fulfill its mission of connecting Jewish Pittsburgh. Cátia represented the Chronicle in the Legacy Heritage OnBoard leadership development program and has used her learnings to help strengthen the Chronicle’s board. Cátia is one of those lay leaders who always says yes and is always there. She has provided tremendous value to a variety of Chronicle committees and task forces over the years. She is also always an enthusiastic ambassador for the Chronicle in the community. Cátia, an attorney, is the founder of Kossovsky Law PLLC and lives with her husband and two daughters in the North Hills.


If you’ve been to a Repair the World Pittsburgh event before, you’ve probably met Mike Kirshenbaum. Mike is a pro harvester and great at weeding the garden beds and putting the beds to rest for the winter. He is a super volunteer for our Sheridan Ave. Orchard and Garden and has a super sense of humor. He bikes everywhere, rain or shine, with safety in mind. Thank you, Mike for so consistently showing up in service for our community. We appreciate you, your dedication to food justice and living out Jewish values like tikkun olam!


joined by his children Josh and Isabella. Arnie has held many volunteer positions there, including being the vice president of membership prior to becoming president from June 2018 to May 2020. As president, Arnie was instrumental in substantially increasing the membership and engagement of its members and building a strong foundation for Temple Ohav Shalom’s future. Arnie continues to be very active by volunteering to help out in any way that benefits the synagogue, including being a critical member of its executive council, as immediate past president.


A past president and 40-year member, Louise Malakoff’s welcoming spirit truly embodies our mission to inspire, innovate, and include everyone who seeks a Jewish home. As head of our Caring Connection program, Louise prepares and delivers caring bags to new members; to those celebrating a birth, a wedding, or who have completed conversion; as well as to the sick or grieving. From cooking meals for congregants in need, to coordinating volunteers to give rides or run other errands, to serving as a longstanding member of Women of Temple Sinai and Tikkun Olam Center, Louise touches our community in many positive ways.


Temple Emanuel is pleased to honor Rita Zolot as our Volunteer of the Year. For 15 years, Rita coordinated the operation of Temple’s gift shop, overseeing all of the purchasing, volunteer scheduling and inventory management. Evolving from a once-a-month volunteer to a weekly presence in the shop, Rita described herself not as the gift shop “manager” but instead the “decider.” For her efforts, Rita also recently received Temple’s Manny Award, the most longstanding and highest honor of any award at Temple Emanuel.


It is abundantly clear to the entire congregation how much time and effort Stacey Hausman has put into all facets of Tree of Life. Her commitment to the synagogue has never wavered. No project, activity, or event is too big or too small for Stacey to take on. In her roles as synagogue treasurer and Sisterhood co-president, Stacey has devoted countless hours to our community. She is a familiar and welcoming face at all services and functions and can be relied upon to do whatever is necessary to ensure Tree of Life’s vitality.


Arnie Begler has been a committed member of Temple Ohav Shalom since he and his wife Sandra joined in 2003. They were later

A native of Massachusetts, Lior Shkedi with his wife and children moved to Pittsburgh to become part of its Chabad community and Yeshiva Schools. Especially this past year, Lior has blossomed as a critical volunteer at Yeshiva Schools. His leadership, expertise, and countless hours of service as the Chair of Yeshiva’s Information Technology Committee are transforming Yeshiva’s IT platform and operations including its website and information storage. Also, as a recent member of Yeshiva’s board, he is playing an important


role in navigating the financial separation of Yeshiva Schools and Lubavitch Center.


Sharon Ackerman grew up as a teen leader in Young Judaea, attending camps, and going on Year Course. When Sharon’s sons, Micah and Josh, became active in YJ, Sharon took on leadership and volunteering, supporting local programs and yearly Shabbatons. Although her sons have graduated, Sharon continues leading two yearly events. For Family House, she shops, engages volunteers to cook, serve and meet with people. Additionally, 10 years ago, Sharon spearheaded, and continues to organize, our successful and popular Rosh Hashanah Honey Sale. Thanks to Sharon’s dedication and compassion Pittsburgh Young Judaea continues to thrive.


Stephen A. Neustein, Esq. has served ZOA: Pittsburgh in many capacities and is currently ZOA’s 1st vice president. In addition to his leadership skills, he has often lent his professional skills to ZOA. Whenever ZOA calls, Steve is up to the task. Steve has held board positions at Congregations Beth Shalom and Beth Hamedrash. He is also active with JNF and Israel Bonds. Steve is dedicated to the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs and has served as treasurer and vice president of the International FJMC. He has received numerous awards from the forementioned organizations for his volunteer activities. ZOA is fortunate to benefit from his many talents. Time permitting, he has practiced law for 42 years.  PJC

NOVEMBER 27, 2020 23

Life & Culture A Jewish cohousing movement is on the rise — but challenges beyond COVID remain — LIFESTYLE — By Rachelle Stein-Wotten | JTA


ANCOUVER, Canada — On a January afternoon, snow blanketed the streets of this western Canada city of famously weather-fickle residents. But it didn’t keep 30 Jews from packing into the living room of Noam and Val Dolgin to talk about Jewish cohousing. The group ran the gamut in age, from young adults to families with kids to retirees. Some were secular in search of cultural fellowship, while others were more religiously observant and cared about living in a space conducive to observing Shabbat and keeping kosher. They were united, however, in their curiosity about living in a setting that offered daily connection and support built out of a shared, uniquely Jewish community vision. “There’s potential to do a lot here that can really beautifully integrate generations, socioeconomic groups, different religious expressions, and could be an example of what a progressive Jewish community can look like,” said Noam Dolgin, a realtor specializing in co-ownership models who envisions an inclusive community built around diverse Jewish life. “It’s about the ability to take [Judaism] out of institutions and into your own home. There is something different between having Shabbat in your own backyard versus going to a synagogue, something really powerful about the intimacy of a smaller community.” The Dolgins’ effort is the latest in a decadelong attempt to build Jewish cohousing communities across North America. Cohousing is a type of intentional community that aims to foster deeper relationships among households and champion the spirit of interconnectivity, with families living in separate but proximate housing and sharing certain resources collectively. This craving for kinship has led to a ripple of activity, including an annual Jewish Intentional Communities Conference, and the creation of advisory teams, like the Jewish Cohousing Network. From Seattle to Boston, San Diego to Brooklyn, groups began coalescing in an attempt to make Jewish cohousing a reality. “Culturally, our history has been around living within community, so I imagine that our DNA structure might be oriented towards that,” said Sephirah Stacey Oshkello, co-founder of Living Tree Alliance, a Jewish cohousing community and farm on 91 acres in Vermont tagged “the kibbutz reimagined.” Despite this affinity and more than a decade of work, the root system of North American Jewish cohousing remains shallow. Of the seven communities listed on the Jewish Cohousing Network website, only Oshkello’s has residents living together onsite. The multigenerational community is hands-on and attracts plenty of nonresidents to holiday events and land-connected programs at their education center. Each household has an active role in either running the farm, education center or the 24 NOVEMBER 27, 2020

 A group gathers in the Vancouver home of Noam and Val Dolgin to discuss a possible Jewish cohousing project. 

Photo by Noam Dolgin via JTA

cohousing component, the “heart” of their earth-based living model. Despite having approval for seven singlefamily residences, Living Tree has attracted only two additional families. They’re now building a common house that will have three short-term rental units. Oshkello expected the project would be further along by now, but she accepts the realities. “We’re on God’s time schedule,” she said. In Northern California, Roger Studley and others have spent five years building Berkeley Moshav, an urban Jewish cohousing community with an egalitarian, hyperinclusive bent — residents don’t even have to be Jewish. The organizers desire to also accommodate every expression of Jewish observance, even planning to volley between group Shabbat observances with and without music. Last November, the group acquired a half-acre site in southwest Berkeley, but Studley expects it will take another three years until they can move in. One-bedroom, 650-square-foot units are estimated to start at over $600,000 and rise to over $1 million for three-bedroom units. Interest surged when the land purchase was announced — 23 core member households have made a down payment toward their eventual homes. “The intuition that cohousing would resonate in a Jewish context turns out to be right,” said Studley, a cohousing consultant and founder of Urban Moshav, a nonprofit development and advisory partner whose projects include Berkeley. He hopes lessons learned from Berkeley will help groups reach the land-purchasing stage within one year. That, combined with developing a community vision, is what he believes prolongs the whole process. Aharon Ariel Lavi, founder and director of Hakhel, an incubator of Jewish intentional communities run by the Jewish sustainability organization Hazon, agrees that establishing residential intentional communities such as cohousing can take a while because of the real estate commitment required of individuals. Additionally, everyone involved needs to gel as a group.

“The disadvantage is that it’s much more complicated and more demanding to create [a residential] community, but once you have succeeded, these communities tend to be much more sustainable over the long term because people put so much time and energy and money into them.” While Studley advises a three- to four-year move-in timeline once a group has land, Karen Gimnig of the Cohousing Association of the United States tells would-be cohousers to expect more like five to seven years. Cohousing began in Denmark in the 1960s. There are now 110 intergenerational communities in the country of 5.8 million, a 2019 article in the Journal of Housing Studies estimates. The first cohousing community in the United States appeared in the early 1990s. The online directory of the Cohousing Association of the United States lists 174 established communities. The movement appears to have an outsized Jewish representation: A 2012 survey from the Cohousing Research Network found that Jews make up 10% of cohousing residents in the U.S. The vision for a specifically Jewish cohousing community echoes various attempts at Jewish communal living over the years, including the kibbutz movement in Israel and the Jewish agricultural settlements that sprang up in the United States in the early 20th century. Many of the cohousing communities have an ecological mandate, often centered around sustainable living or, if they’re in rural areas, a working farm. When the coronavirus crisis hit, Rachael Love Cohen and her family felt spurred to purchase a five-acre property north of Orlando to establish the Jewish cohousing and eco-community they had been envisioning for years. The property features two homes, stately oaks, farm animals and a school. Cohen hopes to see another three or four families join them. Cohen and her family have bounced around the United States for years in search of a cohort that matches their values and lifestyle. She was an early organizer of the


Jewish Intentional Communities Conference that started in 2013 and is now a project of Hakhel. Over the years, she has experienced the challenges of establishing a Jewish cohousing community firsthand. “People come in and out. They are interested in the end product, but I have yet to meet very many people who are interested in being a part of the long-haul process,” Cohen said. “You have to continue to be a cheerleader and continue to find that excitement that you felt from day one and bring that through for a decade or two.” That perseverance is particularly hard to come by as the coronavirus has upended lives. Planning for the Vancouver community stalled as the pandemic took hold, as did efforts in Seattle and Boston. Others have long since disbanded before ever becoming established. The Baltimore-area Pearlstone Center’s master plan includes a subsidized tenant model of cohousing to house the center’s staff and the broader Baltimore Jewish community, but is in search of funding. Nor is it a current priority for the institution, though Executive Director Jakir Manela acknowledges there has been “strong interest” for the past 10 years. He called it “a project of national importance” that could be a model for other communities. Of all the conferences hosted by Pearlstone during his tenure, Manela said the intentional communities conference held there in 2018 had the highest attendance — 190 people plus a long waitlist. “I can hope that after the crisis we will have some sort of movement of cohousing communities at least in the United States,” said Hakhel’s Lavi, who serves as an adviser to Living Tree Alliance. He estimates 15-20 Jewish cohousing communities could be functioning in a decade once the virus passes. “We see people flocking in this direction,” Lavi said. “They want to live in a community, but they don’t want the old institutions that are, from their perspective, kind of rigid, very expensive, not so relevant for the kind of life they want to have.”  PJC PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG





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Life & Culture The goal isn’t to find your bashert. It’s deciding if you want a second date — DATING — By Eric Schucht | Washington Jewish Week


f there’s one thing Erika Ettin can’t stand, its people who say Washington is a terrible place to date. As founder and CEO of A Little Nudge, a D.C.-based dating coach practice, Ettin said that in spite of the pandemic, people’s dating lives persist. But concern over COVID and the lack of in-person community events have led would-be daters to adjust their tactics, leading many toward dating apps, websites and matchmakers. “From a business perspective, this is the busiest I’ve ever been,” Ettin said. “People want to meet someone. They see winter coming. They see that restrictions are going to be in place again and they want to put themselves out there, but in the safest way.” To better understand the dos and don’ts of pandemic dating, WJW reached out to three Jewish matchmakers/dating coaches for advice. Here’s what they had to say:

Virtual dating

The restrictions on bars and restaurants have put many in-person dates on hold. However, there are alternatives, said Leora Hoffman of Garrett Park, who has worked as a professional matchmaker since 1989. She’s also the author of “Catch Me A Catch: Chronicles of a Modern-Day Matchmaker.” Since COVID became a mortal threat, many of her clients have started going on virtual dates. Instead of eating out, they’ll dine in while video-chatting over Zoom. For some, this can take the pressure off dating. There’s no driving involved. Nobody has to worry about who pays for what at the restaurant. There’s no internal debate over whether or not to initiate a kiss or a hug at the end of the night. “And from a romantic point of view, in my opinion, it actually makes things a little sexier because it forces things to simmer for a while,” Hoffman said. “If there is that

mutual attraction, it gives people something to anticipate down the road.” But a Zoom date does come with its own rules of etiquette, according to Michelle Jacoby of Bethesda, owner of DC Matchmaking. A Zoom date is low energy, but still requires some effort. The camera needs to be positioned at eye level. Lighting needs to properly illuminate the person. “And no green screen background please. Like that’s creepy. We want to see where you are. And those dark, poorly lit rooms, those dirty unmade beds in the background. You have to stage your spot for dating,” Jacoby said. “Having a nice spot to have your Zoom date is important. Even if the rest of your apartment is a mess, pick one corner, clean it up and get some good lighting.”


Sometimes there can be an awkwardness when chatting over Zoom, according to Hoffman. People may not know how to keep the conversation relaxed or fun when not held in person. “They go into an interview or a job-seeking mode when they’re on a Zoom,” Hoffman said. “And they’ll start asking each other a series of questions, for example, and it becomes kind of a chore for that person to be asking or answering questions. And the mistake people make, I think, is to treat it more as a business transaction than an actual date.” Jacoby tells people to avoid negative topics on a first date. Politics can be divisive, and the pandemic can be depressing. Conversation topics should be positive and focused on the present. Talk should be organic, playful and authentic. And whatever you do, don’t talk about past relationships on a first date. “You don’t have to tell your whole life story. And you certainly don’t have to talk about past relationships,” Jacoby said. “Why on earth would you want to invite your ex on your date? Focus on the wonderful person you have in front of you.” If asked about their exes, a person can always decline to answer and say they’ll talk about it another time. “Just because you’re asked a question doesn’t

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Online profiles

When it comes to using dating apps, like Tinder, Bumble and OkCupid, Hoffman recommends using recent photos that are an accurate representation of the person. Ettin recommends having exactly five on a dating profile (except for Hinge, where she recommends six). “Too many and people have the opportunity to find one they don’t like and not choose you because of it,” Ettin said. Jacoby says people should include a fullbody picture and a headshot in their profiles. No group shots. No business suits. Just highquality, clear photos that accurately depict how a person will look on a first date. “So if you have curly hair, show up on your date with curly hair. If you have blonde hair, show up on your date with blonde hair,” Jacoby said. “And that’s what the picture should reflect in your profile. The way you look right now.” Jacoby also recommends including photos that show a person doing something interesting or fun. If a person likes to hike or play guitar, then including a photo them doing either is a must. When it comes to the written text of a profile, Ettin tells people to think of it like the front page of a newspaper, where the important stuff is above the fold. It should be “short and sweet.” And always be honest on your profile, Jacoby said. Don’t lie about your age or height or your life. If you have kids, Jacoby says to be honest about it.

How (not) to say no

It can take time for attraction to spark. Ettin generally recommends giving someone two dates before deciding whether you want to see them again. Shooting someone down can be uncomfortable, but the one thing not to do is ghost them. Ghosting is a colloquial term used to describe the act of ceasing all communication with a person without explanation and ignoring all contact. Some justify ghosting

by saying it’s less confrontational than telling a date that you’re just not that interested. But what do the experts think? Ettin is blunt. “Don’t do it. Ever. Those are my thoughts,” Ettin said. Ghosting is especially consequential when dating within a small group, such as the Jewish community. Word can get around fast, leading to bad reputations. Jacoby also advises against ghosting. “I know a lot of people ghost because they don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings,” Jacoby said. “But honestly, ghosting is unkind. And I don’t like when people do that. It takes more courage to say to someone you know, I don’t think we’re a fit, but people appreciate it.” A simple text is all it takes to break things off on good terms.

Slowing down

A perk of virtual dating, according to Hoffman, is that it forces people to focus more on getting to know one another and leads to relationships building more gradually. “Prior to COVID, my biggest complaint had been that people were looking for instantaneous results,” Hoffman said. “And generally not willing to spend more time together to give it a chance to develop. But because we’ve been forced to slow down because of COVID, I’m seeing more of that now.” Jacoby said a major mistake that people make is to try to determine if this person, after one date, would make for a potential husband or wife. The point of the first date is to get to know somebody. “The only goal of a first date should be to decide if you want to have a second date,” Jacoby said. Added Ettin, “I always say the criteria for a second date should be: Do you want to have one more conversation with this person? People will say to me sometimes after a first date, ‘Oh, this is not going to be my future spouse.’ Seriously? It’s one date. How would anyone know that? So if you want to have one more conversation, it’s worth a second date.” PJC


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Headlines Milller: Continued from page 10

charity. Rabbis through the ages interpreted this to mean that we should donate at least a tenth of our income to charity. For too many of us, however, performing this mitzvah feels like an impossible ideal rather than a tangible rule for life. I once heard a Jewish children’s song that described the Jewish mitzvah of tzedakah as “coins clinking in a can,” and I was so surprised: Jewish views of tzedakah are traditionally much more substantial — not just pocket change but enough money to materially help other people. Perhaps now it’s finally time for us to have a difficult conversation about our attitudes to giving charity and to the poor. Over the years, I’ve heard some troubling comments reflecting a profound reluctance to help others. A friend once told me she didn’t donate her children’s castoffs to charity because she didn’t believe in helping people bear “children they can’t afford.” A 10-year-old student in one of my Sunday school classes was taken aback one day when we learned that the Jewish sage Maimonides taught that the highest form of charity was giving a poor person a job. “But poor people don’t want to work,” she said, no doubt echoing what she’d heard at home. “That’s why they’re poor!” Unsurprisingly, the reality is very different: A report in October from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that the overwhelming majority of unemployed workers — 7.2 million — expressed hope of finding another job soon. That number was substantially higher than before the pandemic hit. These attitudes have long been a problem, but today they’re a crisis in our country

Rosenblatt: Continued from page 10

leaders should ignore medical advice and government-approved regulations calling for masks and social distancing in day schools. A number of Orthodox rabbis in the community had earlier urged The Link not to accept the piece as an opinion article, an earlier draft of which was titled “Our Heads Of School Are Child Abusers.” The publisher, Moshe Kinderlehrer, noted a definite deepening of polarization

Bitton: Continued from page 11

Ashkenazi crowd and said a version of the following: “I want you to consider that I am on this stage because I am a progressive feminist who knows how to speak to a pluralistic and liberal audience. I share many ideas and values with my Sephardic family, community and with the Sephardic Jews I have researched. At the same time, most of them are politically conservative. I want us to think about what it means to have representative ethnic diversity if we were to take moral and political diversity seriously.” If you want to appreciate how badly these PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG  

Torah that we can’t ignore. In a world buffeted by recession and sudden destitution, we need to rediscover the central Jewish tenet of charity more than ever. When people can no longer feed themselves — when people are begging on street corners, wracked by hunger and asking for succor — we have no choice but to step up and help. It’s time for us as a community to step up to the plate and, if we are in a position to help, we must increase our charitable giving. Whatever your current level of giving is, consider giving more. Reach out to your local synagogue, JCC or Jewish federation and ask what they’re doing to help people in your community. If you feel they’re not doing enough, urge them to do more, and consider volunteering to help spearhead new programs. Contribute to the emergency relief funds. Donate to established charities. And remember, too, that tzedakah isn’t always made up of money — if funds are tight, we can also help by volunteering our time and expertise. A few weeks ago, if you had asked me whether there was more I could do to help, I might have said no. I already donate between 10% and 20% of our income to charity. Each week, before I light my Shabbat candles, I set aside money for tzedakah. I might have said I was maxed out — I certainly would never have thought I’d be paying an impromptu visit to McDonald’s. But there’s always more we can do, more we can give. Judaism teaches that we are each here to fulfill a specific set of tasks that only we can perform and for which we’re given the precise, individual tools we require. Let this be our moment to shine. Let this pandemic be our time to step up and start helping our fellow men and women in their hours of need.  PJC

Ascending the ladder of spirituality Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum Parshat Vayeitzei Genesis 28:10 - 32:3


n this week’s Torah portion, Vayeitzei, Yaakov must spend the night on Har Moriah. The Torah tells us, “And he (Yaakov) dreamed, and envisioned a ladder set on the ground with its top reaching to heaven; and behold, angels of God were ascending and descending upon it.” Our sages note the image of the ladder and use it to express many Jewish concepts. For example, the ladder symbolizes money. A person earns his livelihood from various

To achieve success in life, whether it relates to prayer or learning or any other activity, one must start on the ground but at the same time keep one’s eyes on the goal.

Gary Rosenblatt is the editor at large of The Jewish Week, where this piece first appeared.

activities “on the ground.” Yet if he gives part of that money for charity, he (and his funds) are able to reach “the heavens.” In other words, his work and his earnings are elevated to the most exalted levels of holiness through charity. Similarly, when a person prays, the thoughts and words expressed by man on earth have the power to reach up to the heavens. These sincere prayers can elicit blessings which are symbolized by the “angels descending below.” Yet there is another lesson one can learn. To achieve success in life, whether it relates to prayer or learning or any other activity, one must start on the ground but at the same time keep one’s eyes on the goal. With that approach, you are bound to succeed. One may ask: Do angels need a ladder? Everyone knows angels have wings, not feet. So why would they need a ladder? There is a beautiful message here. In climbing heavenward, one does not

three fallacies have led us to misunderstand Jewish diversity, consider how liberal Jewish organizations choose to label diverse communities versus how those communities choose to self-identify. More often than I can count, I have been mislabeled as a Latinx, Mizrahi or a Jew of color. Yet I do not use any of these terms to describe myself, mainly because my communities of origin do not use these labels. The overwhelming majority of American Hispanics — 97%, according to the Pew Research Center — do not use the term Latinx, a word that reflects American progressive gender norms more than the language used in Latin America by its indigenous people. The pan-ethnic category of

Mizrahi reflects a uniquely Israeli context and has not emerged organically in my American Sephardic communities. And the classification of Jews of color has distinctly American racial undertones that feel foreign to my personal identity as a nonwhite immigrant. Of course, there are populations of diverse Jews who deserve visibility, who proudly identify and organize through these and other identities. But every time I am called a name that does not reflect my identity, it reminds me that we have a long way to go as our communities undertake what should be a complex and disruptive American Jewish diversity project. Many liberal Jews were shocked that so many Jews could have supported the president,

This article originally appeared in Kveller.

within the community over the past year. “COVID has brought out the worst in some people,” he said. “The extremes are louder and more challenging. It’s not all about Trump. It’s about this weariness” over the pandemic, and how to deal with it, from masks to social distancing to the debate over in-person schooling. “As a publisher, I worry,” he said. He’s not alone.  PJC

need wings. There is a ladder, a spiritual route clearly mapped out for us; a route that is traversed step by step, one rung at a time. The pathway to Heaven is gradual, methodical and eminently manageable. Many people are discouraged from even beginning a spiritual journey because they think it requires a huge leap of faith. They cannot see themselves reaching a degree of religious commitment which to them seems otherworldly. And yet, with the gradual step-by-step approach, one finds that the destination is actually not in outer space but within your grasp. A wise teacher once asked his students, “If two people are on a ladder, one at the top


and one on the bottom, who is higher?” The class thought it was a pretty dumb question — until the wise teacher explained that they were not really capable of judging who was higher or lower until they first ascertained in which direction each was headed. If the fellow on top was descending, but the one the bottom was ascending, then conceptually, the one on the bottom was actually higher. The truth is, it doesn’t really matter what your starting point is or where you are on the ladder of life. As long as you keep moving in the right direction, you will, please G-d, succeed in climbing to heavenly heights. Good Shabbos!  PJC Rabbi Yossi Rosenblum is CEO of Yeshiva Schools of Pittsburgh and rabbi of Congregation Kesser Torah. This column is a service of the Vaad Harabanim of Greater Pittsburgh. much less diverse Jews. But if we want to truly understand those who hold views different than ours, we must take the time to get to know diverse communities rather than ascribing our own political beliefs and assumptions onto others. In the wake of this election, my commitment for my beloved country’s democracy leads me to reaffirm the difficult work of working to move hearts and minds and cultivate common cause with political opponents. This work begins at home.  PJC Mijal Bitton Ph.D., is a scholar in residence at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America and the Rosh Kehilla of the Downtown Minyan. This piece was originally published by JTA. NOVEMBER 27, 2020 27

Headlines Daf Yomi: Continued from page 3

“It’s a lot of fun and it gives me something to look forward to,” she said. Apart from yielding countless topics for discussion during family meals, daily study has allowed her to meet others who are interested in the subject. “It seems to be a shared passion,” she said. For 30 years Rabbi Amy Bardack has studied Talmud. Prior to last January, however, she never undertook daf yomi. “It felt like a daunting prospect,” said Bardack, director of Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Even so, before the new cycle began last January, Bardack decided it was time. “I set my sights on 2020 thinking that by then I’d have teenagers and life might just be a little bit easier,” she said. “Of course, COVID came.” Amid the uncertainty of a pandemic, Bardack said, designating time to rabbinic thought has been unexpectedly grounding. “The rabbis of the Talmud themselves endured long periods of plague while immersed in their own studies,” she said, noting that the Antonine Plague occurred during the time of the Mishna and the Justinian plague during the time of Gemara.

Volunteers: Continued from page 6

families, and it’s good for you to be kind and help people who have less than you,” said Woltshock. “I told Rochel, ‘This is actually a gift to our family.’” She delivered kits to several seniors last year, not knowing she’d build a friendship with one senior that would extend far beyond that initial delivery with visits throughout the year and another Thanksgiving to GO delivery. The kit includes prepackaged food, a booklet with emergency numbers and fun activities, and exercise bands to accompany

There’s a certain strength and inspiration that comes “from being part of a centuries-long sacred conversation,” she said. Talmud study can broaden insight, said Wasserman. For example, people often use the word “eruv” to refer to the ritual enclosure that permits carrying on Shabbat; however, as the Talmud teaches, the term “eruv” actually refers to a box of matzah. The enclosure that people call an “eruv” is really the “mechizios,” or barriers, he said. Some passages can be perplexing — within Tractate Eruvin, for example, there are topics as varied as the status of a doorway on Shabbat to coarse bread’s effect on fecal production. For some students, though, along with the confusion often comes laughter, or even nostalgia. Dor Hadash congregants and survivors of the Oct. 27, 2018, shooting at the Tree of Life building Daniel Leger and Martin Gaynor began studying daf yomi in memory of Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, who was murdered that day. “The three of us were the ones who were in the shul that morning,” said Leger. “It’s been a fascinating journey, and one of the things that is wonderful about it is sometimes Marty and I will come to a passage, in the comments, that is just ridiculously absurd and we will both say to each other, we can just see Jerry laughing with his big smile, just hysterically laughing.”

“Jerry would undoubtedly be laughing at us and getting a great deal of amusement for how confused and perplexed we are over things,” agreed Gaynor. On Nov. 22, Leger and Gaynor, like thousands of fellow Talmud enthusiasts worldwide, completed Tractate Eruvin. Of the three Talmudic volumes (Brachot, Shabbat and Eruvin) studied to date, Eruvin has been the toughest, said Leger. “It is just such a detailed exploration of the balance between leniency and stringency with regard to what can you move from one place to another on Shabbat.” But beyond the details of boundaries, barriers and fence-building apparatuses, lie larger principles. “It just seems to really strongly want to keep the community together — that’s what seems to be behind most of it,” Leger said. “The goal is that you’re not alone, that you’re not out there isolated, that the community is engaged in Shabbat together and here’s a way to do it.” Mondays through Fridays, Leger and Gaynor tackle the material after attending Congregation Beth Shalom’s Zoom morning services. “It’s mentally stimulating, it’s satisfying and it’s a great way to start the day,” said Gaynor. If time permits, Gaynor prepares beforehand, spending anywhere between 15 minutes and an hour listening to lectures, like Wasserman’s, or reading Talmud-related

websites, like alldaf.org. “The problem is not finding resources,” said Gaynor. “The problem is sort of selecting from among those. There’s so much stuff that is available electronically, either synchronously, or videos or stuff that people have written up in various places.” The study partners break for weekends — they don’t FaceTime each other on Shabbat, but will occasionally correspond on Sundays with insights from that day’s or the previous day’s page — and when Monday arrives, they begin again. “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to learn together with my friend Dan,” said Gaynor. “And to be doing it and honoring Jerry’s memory is particularly meaningful. Learning Gemara is one of the quintessentially Jewish things. I think it really enriches one’s life and really sort of enhances one’s own Yiddishkeit.” Daf yomi requires commitment, and some days it’s tough to get through the text. The need to constantly move ahead often restricts the ability for in-depth analysis, but over the course of seven-and-a-half years, there are opportunities to go back and explore previously covered material, noted Gaynor. “That’s the great thing,” he said. “You do what you can but there’s always tomorrow.”  PJC

a routine created by a Chatham professor and a physical therapist who volunteered for kit delivery last year. The food is kosher to be inclusive of different diets, Tombosky explained, as GIFT serves people of varying religions and backgrounds. “When we do things at GIFT, we are seeing the godliness of every person, whether they’re Jewish or not,” said Tombosky. Organizations like the Nina Baldwin Fisher Foundation, Comfort Keepers, UPMC and Community LIFE stepped up to offer financial support, and volunteers came from the community. Some had participated in other GIFT programs like CHAT, or Corona Halts At Talk, which pairs youth

with seniors for weekly 15-minute calls. “It takes a lot of hands to achieve her goals,” said Woltshock. “So many people get to benefit from the work.” Woltshock almost feels guilty, she said, being the face of the effort as a deliverer when so much work has gone into all of the behind-the-scenes steps. “This is Rochel’s vision, somebody made all this food, somebody boxed it, I’m like the next step that gets to do something good for somebody,” she said. “I’m just very appreciative that we get to play a small role in this very big undertaking. We get out of it so much more than we give.” GIFT’s next big program is “Passover

to GO,” an effort Tombosky sees as more important now than ever because of COVID-19 and the proposed closure of Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Tombosky’s husband has an opportunity in Las Vegas, and the couple is moving in December. But Tombosky will continue her work full time with GIFT, and she sees the move as a chance to add more GIFT locations. “It’s the Florida of the West Coast,” she said of Vegas. “It would be the place to start.”  PJC

Did You Know? B’nai Israel Cemetery– Steubenville, Ohio For more information about the JCBA, to inquire about plot purchases, to view full histories, to volunteer, and/or to make a contribution please visit our website at www.jcbapgh.org, email us at jcbapgh@gmail.com or call the JCBA at 412-553-6469. JCBA’s expanded vision is made possible by a generous grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Jewish Community Foundation

28 NOVEMBER 27, 2020

Jews settled in Steubenville, and in Weirton, West Virginia in the mid-19th century. On the Ohio River, these towns became thriving centers of the steel industry. Within the region, a robust Jewish community flourished as well, on both sides of the Ohio. B’nai Israel contains burials from Weirton and East Liverpool, and from Steubenville’s Conservative B’nai Israel Synagogue. As the area’s population declined, the Jewish community’s population declined even more. Its doors closed in 2013. The cemetery remains as a tribute to the Jewish communities of Weirton and Steubenville. Located on Sunset Boulevard in Steubenville, B’nai Israel became a part of the JCBA in 2015.


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

Kayla Steinberg can be reached at ksteinberg@ pittsburghjewishchronicle.org.

Mazel Tov to

Rita Zolot

Temple Emanuel’s Volunteer of the Year


Obituaries KATZ: Cheryl Katz. On Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. Beloved wife of the late Sanford Katz; beloved mother of William (Stephanie ) Katz of Port Orange, Florida and Adam (Diane) Katz; sister of Morris Gindler and Zelda (Charles) Rosenthal; grandmother of Zoe and Joshua. Also survived by many nieces and nephews. Private services and interment were held at Beth Abraham Cemetery. Contributions may be made to the Hillman Cancer Center, UPMC Cancer Pavilion, Suite 1B, Pittsburgh, PA 15232. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com

HUTTNER: Marian Huttner, age 94. On Monday, Nov. 16, 2020. Beloved wife of the late Arnold Huttner. Loving mother of Janice (Amir) Pilch, Renee (Rabbi Marc) Gruber and the late Martin (surviving spouse Rhonda) Huttner. Sister of Allan (Ruth) Zytnick and Toby (late Marvin) Valinsky. Sister-in-law of Hanna Edelstein. Grandma of Liana, Jonathan (Maria), Lee, Rebecca (Larry), Ian (Kelly), Sarah (Or), Shai (Beth), Micah (Naytal) and Ayal. Great-grandma of Jesse, Robert, Joshua, Levi, Asher and Yissa Arnold. Also remembered by many nieces and nephews. Services and interment private. Contributions may be made to Samuel and Mollie Zytnick Endowment Fund, c/o Congregation Beth Shalom, 5915 Beacon St., Pittsburgh, PA 15217. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com

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THIS WEEK’S YAHRZEITS — Sunday November 29: David Ackerman, Alan Adler, Bertha Lillian Berliner, Simon Blatt, Morris Braun, David Breman, Sarah Cramer, Gussie Finkelstein, Jacob Firestone, Sol Z. Heller, Rebecca Hoffman, Hyman Kalovsky, Ithamar Lando, Frances Elling Levine, Morris Levine, Tema Lewinter, Sam Makler, Benjamin Mitchel, Esther Bluestone Morrow, Jacob Offstein, Elly Mars Goldstein Resnik, Herbert Rosenbaum, Sam Sacks, Silas J. Simensky, Ethel Solomon, Jack Talenfeld, Dr. Louis Weiss, Bessie Zakowitz, Samuel Zaremberg Monday November 30: Max Blatt, David H. Fischman, Walter Frank, Fern Halpern Kaye, Lawrence L. Lifshey, Marian Malt, Edward C. Meyer, Sam Salkovitz, Harry B. Saltman, Harry Soltz, Abe Stolovitz, Samuel Tufshinsky, Jacob Winer

Please see Obituaries, page 30

Tuesday December 1: Eleanor Bergstein, Thomas Berlinsky, Maurice A. Berman, Sybil Young Cherington, Henrietta Chotiner, Bessie C. Cohen, Hyman Cohen, Gertrude Dugan, Joseph O. Goleman, Helen Gusky, Meyer Leff, Leona Mandel, William Nathan, Hyman Parker, Samuel Silverman, Anna R. Weil Wednesday December 2: Flora Breverman, Harry A. Cohen, Lillian Cohen, Sol M. Cohen, Morris D. Golden, Myron (Bunny) Klein, Edward Lamden, Pvt. Joseph Mandel, Louis J. Rubenstein, Fannie Solomon, Edward E. Strauss, Max Strauss, Anna Swartz, Blanche Strauss Zionts Thursday December 3: Sidney Epstein, Anna Gold, Ella Kazan, Jennie Levy, Isaac Mikulitsky, Jane Florence Pianin, Joseph Reisz, Freda Rosenwasser, Charles Saxen, Yetta Vinocur, Judge David H. Weiss Friday December 4: Bessie M. Bleiberg, Samuel B. Cohen, Louis Debroff, Hilda B. Friedman, Jacob Gilberd, Marcella Shapiro Gold, Bella Goodman, Everett Green, Herbert Alvin Haase, Eileen G. Herman, Frieda K. Lawrence, Ruth M. Lazear, Sadye Lincoff, Carl Markovitz, Jacob Mendelblatt, Marcus Rosenthal, Goldie Mallinger Schwartz, Norman M. Schwartz, Charles B. Shapiro, Julius Sheps, Morris Solomon, Bella Stein, Edna Teplitz, Celia Verk

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Obituaries Obituaries: Continued from page 29

KROVITSKY: Howard Harvey Krovitsky. On Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020. Beloved husband of Dale Krovitsky; beloved father of Randi, Andra (Keith) and Laurie; brother of Frances, Earl and the late Ruby and Ruth; grandfather of Dana, Adam and Ethan. Harvey had a welllived life. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, brother and uncle. His family and wife meant everything to him. Harvey was a proud Air Force veteran and served during the Korean conflict. He loved a good gin rummy game and was an avid golfer. You could often find him basking in the sun near his favorite ocean. Services and interment private. In honor and memory of Harvey, please consider a contribution to a charity of your choice. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com SILVERMAN: Arnold B. Silverman, of Mu r r y s v i l l e , Pennsylvania, born Sept. 1, 1937, and died Nov. 19, 2020. Arnie was the beloved husband of Susan L. Silverman for 60 years and the son of the late Frank E. and Lillian L. Silverman. He is survived by two sons, Michael E. Silverman of Cranberry Township and Lee O. Silverman of Morgantown, West Virginia; a granddaughter, Rachael M. Silverman, and a grandson, Henry Jack Silverman, both of Fox Chapel; and a niece, Carol Goldstein (Bernard Nadel) of Los Angeles, California. He was predeceased by his sister, Janet Goldstein. He also leaves behind his beloved two therapy dogs, Polo and Pippa, which are of Shih Tzu breed, and who, over the years, have extended comfort and love to hundreds of hospital patients and students who have difficulty with reading. Arnie received a bachelor of engineering science degree from Johns Hopkins University in mechanical engineering in 1959. He was the managing editor of the Engineering School Magazine. He was named to the honor societies in political economy and psychology, and he received varsity letters in baseball and football along with receiving the varsity seal award for outstanding leadership in student activities. He also served as dormitory house president and was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity. Arnie was very active in Johns Hopkins alumni activities, including serving two terms on the University’s National Alumni Council, serving as an alumni member of the University Board of Trustees and a founding member of the Society of Engineering Alumni. He made major commitments of time and financial support to the University. Arnie graduated from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law cum laude in 1962. At Pitt Law School, Arnie was elected to The Order of the Coif, and served as an editor of Law Review. He served as class president, was 30 NOVEMBER 27, 2020

an officer of the Student Bar Association and was a member of Tau Epsilon Rho legal fraternity. Following graduation from Pitt Law School, Arnie served as president of the University of Pittsburgh Law Alumni Association and served on the Law School’s Board of Governors for many years, and he received the Law School’s Distinguished Alumni Award. In addition to many years of giving time and financial support to the Law School, he and his wife, Susan, created the Arnold B. and Susan L. Silverman Law School Endowment Scholarship. He also served on the Board of Governors of the University of Pittsburgh’s General Alumni Association and was secretary of that board. In addition to the foregoing, he provided financial support to numerous organizations including the Pittsburgh Public Theater, the Pittsburgh City Theatre, The University of Pittsburgh Athletic Department and Alumni Association, The Johns Hopkins University Engineering School and Athletic Department, charitable research organizations and numerous Jewish charities. In 1963, Arnie served in the United States Army at Fort Knox, Kentucky in the Judge Advocate General’s Office. He was selected by a panel of senior officers to receive the American Spirit Honor Medal which is given to the individual who best represents the “American Spirit, Honor and High Example to Comrades in Arms.” During his career as an intellectual property attorney, Arnie was one of approximately 50 U.S. attorneys elected into membership of the British Chartered Institute of Patent Agents. He was a member of, and active in, a large number of technical and legal associations including the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the American Society of Electrical Engineers, the American Chemical Society, the American Bar Association, the American Intellectual Property Law Association, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, the District of Columbia Bar Association and the Allegheny County Bar Association. He served as president of the Pittsburgh Intellectual Property Law Association. Arnie also authored over 95 published articles on various aspects of intellectual property law as well as sports, arts and entertainment law. Arnie thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of his diverse and challenging legal practice, which spanned 58 years from 1962 to 2020. In addition to being very talented and well-regarded, he was a gentleman, devoid of ego, and had a huge work ethic. He enjoyed the challenges of the wide spectrum of technology, law and, to an extent, psychology involved in his day-to-day practice. He had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. He felt equally as comfortable working on a patent for a mass spectrometer as protecting and enforcing trademarks for a number of professional sports teams, including a 35-year period in which he worked closely with Myron Cope to protect and enforce the trademarks for “The Terrible Towel” and many related products. He derived great satisfaction from mentoring young attorneys and having a role in their professional development. He also had a great and very spontaneous sense of humor. He enjoyed entering caption contests with the Pittsburgh PostGazette and The Week Magazine. Dozens of his captions were selected for publication in those publications. Arnie’s maternal

grandfather taught him to play chess at age 4 and mentored him for a number of years. At age of 9, he participated in the Junior Chess Championship Tournament for the State of Maryland, which involved players up through the age of 18. He had nine matches against 18-year-old participants in that tournament and went undefeated in those matches. As a result, he became the Junior Chess Champion of the State of Maryland at the age of 9. He pursued this interest through college and thereafter. He was a member of Mensa, Intertel and the Duquesne Club. He was chairman of the Churchill Borough Civil Service Commission for over 20 years. Arnie viewed with nostalgia experiences he had as a pitcher on his high school baseball team. Among the stories he enjoyed telling related to his having pitched the first four innings in a game in which his team won a lopsided victory. During those four innings he had an assist, a put out and 10 strikeouts. A sports writer who attended the game wrote in the Baltimore News-Post that Arnie could throw hard enough to “throw a strawberry through the side of a battleship.” Another experience he had related to Al Kaline, a Hall of Fame baseball player who went right from his high school team to the major league roster of the Detroit Tigers and had an illustrious All-Star career. Although Al consistently batted over 400 on his high school and sandlot teams, he was able to get only one hit in nine bats against Arnie. In his personal life Arnie had a very diverse set of interests and activities throughout his lifetime which reflected the fact that he was a Renaissance man. He enjoyed Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh City Theatre, Point Park Theatre, opera, jazz, museums, boating on the Pittsburgh rivers, photography, travel, good food and fine wines. He particularly enjoyed vacationing in Longboat Key, Florida for 35 years and going deep sea fishing in the Gulf of Mexico. He enjoyed engaging in physical fitness including Pilates, weightlifting and, for a number of years, golf. He played tennis regularly from age 12 until his 80s, when, in 2017, cancer caused him to terminate that activity. He pursued enthusiastically both spectator and participant sports. He was an avid fan of the Steelers, Pirates, Penguins, Pitt football and basketball, and Johns Hopkins baseball, football and lacrosse. Above and beyond everything else, he thoroughly enjoyed being with and doing things with his wife, children, grandchildren and other family members. Due to the pandemic, a celebration of life service will be announced at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to UPMC Hillman Cancer Center, 5515 Center Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15232. Arrangements entrusted to Ralph Schugar Chapel, Inc., family owned and operated. schugar.com

fully in Tuesday, in 1927, of Bess

SN Y DE R : Ja n e t L. Barmak Snyder, devoted schoolteacher, lover of music and the arts, wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away peaceWest Palm Beach, Florida, on Nov. 17, 2020. Born in Pittsburgh Janet was the dedicated daughter and Leonard Barmak (z”l) and


sister to three siblings, (z”l), Teddy, Irving and Sidney Barmak, also of Pittsburgh. As a young girl, she was overjoyed that her father gave her special permission to study dance on Shabbat. She excelled as a gifted ballerina, studying pointe technique, and she carried on a love of dance throughout her life. Janet received her bachelor’s degree from Duquesne University and her master’s degree in education from the University of Pittsburgh. Janet was introduced to Ed Snyder, a handsome young man from Uniontown with kind aquamarine eyes, and he stole her heart. They were married in 1954 and built a beautiful life together with their two children, Carol and Ken. Janet proudly taught language arts in the Pittsburgh Public Schools for 35 years, setting high standards for all of her students and going the extra mile to ensure that each student reached their full potential. She revered her teaching years and continued to receive notes of appreciation from her many successful graduates. She was always excited to run into and reconnect with former students in Pittsburgh and South Florida throughout the last 25 years. They couldn’t wait to thank “Mrs. Snyder” for all she helped them to achieve. Janet served as vice president of the University of Pittsburgh Alumni Association and was an avid Pitt basketball fan, traveling with Ed and the team to the Sun Belt to cheer them on. She was a member of Rodef Shalom Congregation in Pittsburgh and was honored to be an active member of the sisterhood. Janet was also a gifted visual artist, a hobby that she developed in her early years and kept up for most of her life. She created inspiring oil paintings. Her retirement in South Florida was filled with interior decorating, swimming, sunshine, golf, new friends, volunteering for many good causes and welcoming her family to South Florida for family vacations and bonding. Janet loved nothing more in the world than spending quality time with her grandchildren, who affectionately called her “Mamie.” Mamie always lit up the room with her beauty, high spirit and infectious smile. She was the epitome of style, grace, class and elegance. She never left the house without being sharply dressed, with coiffed hair and fully made up, always ready to impress. Janet never missed a Friday night Shabbat service, either in person, or lately on Zoom. Her love of Judaism will be carried on by her family. She helped to teach the ongoing Yiddish class at their new residence for the last two years, explaining that Yiddish was the “tongue of her childhood.” Janet is survived by her loving and devoted husband of 66 years, Edward Snyder. Her memory will always be a blessing to her adoring daughter, Carol Niren (Dr. Neil Niren), and devoted son, Kenneth B. Snyder (Lisa Snyder), along with her six grandchildren, who were the loves of her life: Cantor Leslie Niren, Lisa Niren, Ilana Snyder Gershon (Ori Gershon), Daniel Snyder, Andrew Snyder and Michael Snyder. Janet is also survived by one adorable greatgrandson, Liam Gershon. A private service and interment took place on Thursday, Nov. 19 at Westview Cemetery in Pittsburgh. To honor Janet’s life, contributions may be made to any of the following synagogues she cared for so deeply: Temple Beth El in Boca Raton (tbeboca.org), Temple Emanu-El in Dallas (tedallas.org) or Rodef Shalom (rodefshalom. org) in Pittsburgh.  PJC PITTSBURGHJEWISHCHRONICLE.ORG

Community We tip our cap to you

Good for the brain and the tummy Sisters of Sigma AEPi, a Jewish sorority at Pitt that was founded by Hillel JUC students, met over Zoom on Nov. 10 for Jewish learning and warm treats from Insomnia Cookies.

p Jodie Black, pictured, knitted hats for kids at the Squirrel Hill Health Center.

p Abbey Farina, Emily Fogel and Mollie Berman p Hats ranging in size from newborn babies to big kids Photos courtesy of Jamie Lichtenstein

Takin’ it to the streets

p Lia Gold-Garfinkle Photos courtesy of Hillel JUC

Macher and Shaker

File photo

p Members of Temple Emanuel’s environmental sustainability committee picked up trash along Gilkenson Road in Mt. Lebanon on Nov. 8.

Andy Schaer was named international vice president of the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. The USCJ is the umbrella organization of Conservative synagogues throughout North America, a network that includes nearly 600 congregations. USCJ, along with the Rabbinical Assembly and the Jewish Theological Seminary, represent the three major arms of the denomination.

Photo courtesy of Temple Emanuel of South Hills

Hope you’re hungry

p Elegant Edge Catering Company prepared more than 200 Shabbat 2 Go meals for Hillel JUC students.



Photo by Jim Busis

NOVEMBER 27, 2020 31


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