Coming up in Jewish Pittsburgh

Coming up in Jewish Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee is presenting a conversation on “Jews in Interfaith Dialogue: Confidently Talking with Others About Ourselves,” along with the Agency for Jewish Learning in a series of classes from noon until 1 p.m. and continuing March 17, and March 24. All of the classes will be held at AJL, 2740 Beechwood Blvd. Space is limited. Visit or contact the PAJC office at (412) 605-0816 or at for more information.

The 17th annual Pittsburgh Jewish Israeli Film Festival will take place March 4 – 21, 2010, at SouthSide Works Cinemas and other theaters in the surrounding suburbs of Pittsburgh. Visit Pittsburgh Jewish Israeli Film Festival or call (412) 992-5203 for more information. The ticketline is open M-F from 9-11am. Online orders are not taken for weekend films after midnight on Thursday.

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh will hold its fourth annual Big Night Saturday, March 6, 7:30 p.m., at the Irene Kaufmann Building, 5738 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. This year’s theme is Party with the Presidents. This year’s program celebrates the JCC’s board presidents of the past 50 years and benefits the JCC’s scholarship fund. Party with the Presidents will not be politics as usual. The Capitol Steps — a musical comedy troupe that spoofs all things political — will celebrate the JCC’s leaders. The Big Night Silent Auction includes several vacation packages, wine cellars, jewelry and designer accessories and dining and entertainment packages. Contact Cathy Samuels at (412) 521-8011 Ext. 165 or for event information and tickets.

Beth-El Sisterhood will stage its Second Annual Vashti’s Banquet Sunday, March 7, at 6 p.m. The women-only event will be held at the synagogue, 1900 Cochran Road, Scott Townbship. The festivity is designed to “recapture the atmosphere of joyfulness and triumph that must have surrounded Queen Vashti and her companions after she refused the king at the second annual Vashti’s banquet.” Vashti is one of the main female roles in the story of Purim. The event will include a light Middle Eastern dinner, a belly dancing performance and workshop by Moquette Volante, henna tattoos, and a shuk-like shopping experience for all manner of beauty secrets. There is a charge. Reservations are due by Feb. 28. Contact Sisterhood at or (412) 561-1168 for more information.

The Yeshiva Girls’ High School Production, “Staying Connected,” will be performed, for women only, Tuesday, March 9, and Wednesday March 10, at 7:30 p.m. at Yeshiva Girls School, 6401 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. Lieba Rudolph wrote the script, which is by girls and for women, and Amy Guterson is directing the show. The performance is a humorous play depicting how people can use modern technology for good. It stars a modern teenager, Tiffany, showing the dramatic impact technology had on her life and the courageous way her friends saved the day using the tools they had.

The Squirrel Hill Historical Society free monthly meeting will be on “Celebrating 100 Years,” the Mary Brown/Ames Memorial United Methodist Church in Squirrel Hill, with speaker Pastor Jim Cannistraci, Tuesday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m., at the Sixth Presbyterian Church, corner of Murray and Forbes avenues. Visit or call (412) 417-3707 for more information.

The 18th Annual Taste of Westmoreland will be held Saturday, March 13, in the Student Union at the University of Pittsburgh Greensburg. Congregation Emanu-El Israel in Greensburg sponsors the event, which runs from 6 to 9 p.m., and brings together more than 30 restaurants and caterers of Westmoreland County, which run tasting stations for attendees. More than 1,000 people are expected to attend. There will be door prizes, a Chinese auction and silent auction, featuring special items, baskets of gifts and gift certificates. Anyone bringing canned and/or non-perishable items for the Westmoreland County Food Bank will receive one free ticket for the Chinese auction. Tickets can be purchased at the synagogue, 222 N. Main St., Greensburg, or at the Shop & Save Markets on Rt. 136, Greensburg; E. Pittsburgh St., Greensburg; and Rt. 30 Latrobe. Additional sites include Giant Eagle (Eastgate), Craftique, Greensburg; Rose Style Shoppe, Latrobe; DeGennaro’s Restaurant, South Greensburg; and at the Norwin and Westmoreland Chambers of Commerce. Contact Congregation Emanu-El Israel at (724) 834-0560 or visit

Judaic artist Mordechai Rosenstein will visit Temple David, 4415 Northern Pike, Monroeville, from Friday, March 12, through Saturday, March 13. Rosenstein is best known for his Judaic art depicting liturgical pieces and biblical scenes; he uses a calligraphic technique combined with vivid colors. Rosenstein will participate in Shabbat worship service on Friday evening, presenting a talk entitled, “My Journey as an Artist.” On Saturday he will participate in Torah study at 9 a.m. and Shabbat morning services at 10 a.m., presenting a talk on “The Art Within Shabbat and Torah” during the morning service. Rosenstein will be the featured guest at a reception Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and will present his third speech, “The History of Creating Jewish Art.” Reservations are only necessary for the Saturday evening reception. There is no charge for reservations made prior to March 8. Contact Deborah Cooper at (412) 829-1327 or for reservations or for more information.

Campus Superstar, an “American Idol”-like contest displaying some of the best music talent at Pittsburgh’s college campuses, will hold its final competition Sunday, March 21, 7 p.m. at Carnegie Music Hall. The proceeds from the annual Campus Superstar program benefit the Hillel Jewish University Center. Contact Linda Myers at or (412) 621-8875 Ext. 101 for more information.

Hadassah Greater Pittsburgh Chapter Rishon Group will have its big fundraiser, “Night at the Races,” Saturday, March 6, at 7:30 p.m. at Parkway Jewish Center, 300 Princeton Drive. Tickets, which include admission, light meal, soda and beer are on sale now. Horses can also be purchased. Contact Marsha Myerowitz at or (412) 856-4465 for more information or to purchase tickets. You must be 21 to attend.

Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee (PAJC) has several upcoming programs that are free and open to the community. The Christian–Jewish Dialogue will be held Thursday, March 4, noon, at the Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. The March theme is “Word of God” and will include Bible readings (Jewish Text) Psalm 33:6-9 and (Christian Text) John 1:14. Monthly conveners are Rabbis James Gibson and Michael Werbow, Rev. Cynthia Bronson-Sweigert and Father Dan Valentine. PAJC and the Muslim community will come together Monday, March 8, at 7 p.m. for their monthly dialogue for a discussion on “Everything You Wanted to Know About Judaism … But Were Afraid to Ask!” The dialogue will be held at a private home. Contact PAJC for reservations and directions. “Israel’s Looming Energy Crisis — What are the Options?” with Debra Knopman, will be held Tuesday, March 9, at 7 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation, Oakland. The PAJC board meeting will start at 6 p.m. Knopman is vice president and director of RAND Infrastructure, Safety and Environment. Her research background is in hydrology, environmental and natural resources policy, systems analysis and public administration. She recently worked on a major energy study for RAND in Israel and will speak about her work there. Space is limited, so reservations are requested. For all programs, contact the office at (412) 605-0816 or for more information.

Rodef Shalom Congregation will present a free concert featuring Jewish Music Festival artists Monday, March 15, at 8 p.m. The performers are Aron Zelkowicz, cello, founder and director of the Pittsburgh Jewish Festival; Luz Manriquez, piano; Gilad Harel, clarinet; and Jennifer Orchard, violin. Call Rodef Shalom at (412) 621-6566 for more information.

Ten finalists for the Hillel Jewish University Center’s Campus Superstar Competition have been selected. They will compete for the top honor Sunday, March 21, 7 p.m., at Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. The first prize is $5,000. Based on the television program “American Idol,” Campus Superstar features Pittsburgh-area college students who display their singing talent for the chance to win first prize. The proceeds from the event benefit the Hillel Jewish University Center. Visit for more information.

Ofer Goren, an Israeli mime artist, will appear in Pittsburgh and Wheeling, W.Va. In March Goren will make three separate performances of “The Passover Story”, in Pittsburgh: Tuesday, March 16, 5 p.m., at Congregation Beth Shalom; Wednesday, March 17, 11:15 a.m., at Yeshiva Boys School; and 2:30 p.m. at Community Day School. In addition to students, the Beth Shalom program is open to the community, but the Yeshiva and Community Day programs are open to parents only. Agency for Jewish Learning is sponsoring the programs. Prior to these dates, Goren will appear at Temple Shalom in Wheeling on Monday, March 15, 7 p.m. Soul Train, a group that brings Jewish and Israeli cultural activities to small congregations, is sponsoring that program.

Pittsburgh Public Theater continues its 35th season with “The Price,” a drama by playwright Arthur Miller, which will run March 4 through April 4 at the O’Reilly Theater. One of the characters, Gregory Solomon, is a nearly 90-year-old Russian/Jewish antiques dealer.

The Tikva Group of Hadassah will feature LaDonna Bates, memory expert, at their meeting Sunday, March 14, at the Forward Shady Apartments. Bates will discuss coping with normal memory lapses, how to identify what and how we remember and build on those strengths. There will be a dessert buffet at 1 p.m. Reservations are required and guests are welcome; there is a charge. Contact Ethel Mandel at (412) 421-6794 for reservations and information.

Rabbi Aaron Mackler, associate professor of theology at Duquesne University, will give the Jewish perspective on genetic counseling during a lunch and learn session Thursday, March 18, noon, at the Agency for Jewish Learning, 2740 Beechwood Blvd., Squirrel Hill. Contact Amy Karp by March 15 at (412) 521-1101 Ext. 3204 or for more information.

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and UPMC Health Plan are collaborating to help children and their families stay healthy through the We Can (Ways to Enhance Children’s Activity & Nutrition) Energize Our Families Youth Wellness Program. The JCC will offer eight-week sessions of the program in spring and fall at the Squirrel Hill facility, 5738 Forbes Ave. The spring session, for children ages 8 to 13 with a parent or caregiver, will be held Sundays from 1:30 to 3 p.m., beginning March 14 and ending May 2. There is a charge. Participation will be limited to 20 children and parents. Scholarships are available. Contact Marsha Mullen at the JCC at (412) 521-8011 Ext. 380 or for more information.

Community Day School will hold its annual Night at the Movies Thursday, March 11, 6:30 p.m., at SouthSide Works Cinema. This year the Zionts family, Tzippy Mazer, Sandy Browdie and David Jaffe will be honored. There will be a cocktail reception followed by an awards presentation “Academy Awards style,” a private screening of Academy Award winning movie “West Bank Story,” and some surprise live entertainment from members of the Zionts family. Proceeds from this annual fundraiser benefit the school. Contact Tim Richart at (412) 521-1100 Ext. 2117 or for reservations. Visit for detailed information.

Retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, President Barack Obama’s special envoy for Sudan, will be in Pittsburgh to discuss U.S. policy in Sudan (including Darfur) and meet with Sudanese diaspora leaders and activists to hear their concerns and recommendations, Saturday and Sunday, March 20 to 21. Gration is the point person for U.S. Sudan policy. His appearance comes one month before critical elections and several months before a referendum on independence for the south, which will shape Sudan’s future — and likely that of the millions of displaced persons from Darfur in the western part of the country — for generations to come. His visit is correlated with a “Summit on the Way Forward in Darfur and South Sudan,” a national disapora and activist conference organized by the Pittsburgh Darfur Emergency Coalition, in cooperation with Carnegie Mellon University, the Save Darfur Coalition, Global Solutions Pittsburgh and the Sudanese community in Pittsburgh. The Hon. Ezekiel Lol Gatkuoth, head of mission of the government of South Sudan, and retiring national Save Darfur President Jerry Fowler, fresh from a trip to Darfur and South Sudan, will join Gration in a free public presentation Saturday, March 20, at 8 p.m. at CMU. Details on the free presentation and registration for the conference are available at or call (412) 992-0102. The Holocaust Center of the United Jewish Federation of Pittsburgh and UJF Community and Public Affairs Council are among the co-sponsors.