Metro Briefs April 18

Metro Briefs April 18

Melissa Sevimli
Melissa Sevimli

Community Day School has hired Melissa Sevimli as the first director of its Early Childhood Education program.  She will begin work at CDS immediately and will be the lead teacher for the inaugural prekindergarten class, which begins this fall.

Sevimli most recently worked as the pre-k lead teacher at the Carriage House Children’s Center in Squirrel Hill, having taught there for five years.

She has earned degrees in public relations/human resource management from Seton Hill College, and in elementary education from Point Park University.

“With Melissa’s enthusiasm for teaching and philosophy that emphasizes the whole child, her outlook aligns beautifully with our school’s principles and goals,” Avi Baran Munro, head of school, said in a prepared statement.  “We are delighted to welcome her to CDS.”

While completing her current school year at Carriage House Children’s Center, Sevimli will begin working with CDS on a part-time basis immediately and in June will assume full-time duties to prepare for the pre-k class this fall.

The pre-k program is expecting to fill its first class.  It will include at least one Hebrew-speaking teacher to enable the school to offer integral Hebrew language learning and Jewish connections throughout the day.

The program will be housed in what is currently the Valinsky Big Room;  a complete renovation is slated for summer.  An indoor play space for the pre-k, kindergarten and first-graders will be created in the CDS annex (currently housing the Agency for Jewish Learning). Access to the play space will be via an existing tunnel that connects the two buildings.

Renovations for the tunnel will be funded in part by the Charles M. Morris Charitable Trust, and will be ready for the new school year.

The community is invited to meet Sevimli at CDS and learn more about the pre-k program, Monday, April 22, from 7:45 to 8:45 a.m.; and Tuesday, April 23, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.  

Craig Taubman will appear in concert Saturday, May 4, 8 p.m., at Temple Sinai. His appearance is part of the series of programs marking Rabbi James Gibson’s 25 years at the congregation.

A nationally known Jewish singer and songwriter with more than 60 recordings, Taubman’s top-selling releases include “Friday Night Live,” composed for a special Shabbat service held once a month at Sinai Temple with Rabbi David Wolpe in Los Angeles.

His extensive musical catalog features everything from Jewish lullabies, to Disney’s “Rock ’n Toontown.”

His songs bridge traditional Jewish themes and ancient teachings with passages and experiences of contemporary Jewish life.

Taubman has also composed music for television and film, including the Fox children’s series “Rimba’s Island” and the HBO animated series “Happily Ever After.”

The performance is open to the public, but there is a charge. Contact Temple Sinai at 412-421-9715 or at for more information.

The Women of Temple Sinai will present “Songs We Love,” a concert featuring vocalist Daphne Alderson and pianist/arranger Douglas Levine, Saturday, April 20, 7:30 p.m. at the synagogue. Alderson and Levine will perform a concert of selections from their cabaret repertoire, including songs by Oscar Hammerstein, Edith Piaf, Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell. This concert is a fundraiser for The Women of Temple Sinai.

Alderson has sung with the Pittsburgh Opera and Chatham Baroque as well as other special appearances at First Fridays at Frick and WQED-FM.

Levine has worked with many area cultural groups, including Pittsburgh Public Theater, City Theater and Pittsburgh Musical Theater.

There is a charge. Contact the event chair, Lynda  Wrenn, at 412-362-5450 or at for more information.

Congregation Beth Shalom is planning a 25th anniversary celebration of its Early Learning Center, Sunday, June 9, 3 p.m., at the synagogue, 5915 Beacon St., Squirrel Hill.

The celebration is being planned at the same time the Early Learning Center has earned a special designation from Pennsylvania’s Keystone STYARS program — a statewide initiative to support early learning. The Early Learning Program earned a “4 out of 4” stars rating — the only Jewish preschool in the city to receive it.

More details of the celebration will be reported as they are available.

South Hills Interfaith Ministries (SHIM) will host its 34th annual Holocaust Observance Sunday, April 21, 7:30 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2040 Washington Road in Upper Saint Clair. The annual event commemorates the lives lost under the Nazi regime.

This year’s event, “Beyond Anne Frank,” showcases a collection of 15 diaries from the book “Salvaged Pages” by Alexandra Zapruder. The diaries, written by young people ages 12 to 22 from towns and villages throughout Europe, reflect a vast and diverse range of experiences — some of the writers were refugees, some were imprisoned in ghettos, others hiding and passing as non-Jews. Some survived but most perished. Local teenage boys and girls will narrate and “be the voice” of the diarists featured in the book.

“SHIM looks forward to hosting this interfaith event each year,” said Jim Guffey, executive director. “It’s an opportunity for us to come together and honor the triumph of the human spirit.”

National Council of Jewish Women Young Women’s Group will hold a Mini Designer Days special event for friends Thursday, April 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. in their Home Consignment Store, 1913 Monongahela Ave., Swissvale. The event will open to the public on Friday.

Contact NCJW at 412-421-6118 or for more information and to register.

The Manor Theatre will present a Charlie Chaplin movie music party, Thursday, April 25, at 7 p.m. Piano player Tom Roberts will perform.

The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra approached Roberts in 2011 to compose new scores for two of the Chaplin masterpieces: “One A.M.” and “The Rink.” For his scores, Roberts used musical styles and genres that would have been appropriate for 1916. In addition to ragtime, foxtrots, tangos and waltzes, he utilizes more exotic elements such as the French “Vals Musette” and Brazilian “Choros,” both styles that would have perhaps been performed with these scores in their respective countries.

Tickets can be purchased at or at the box office.

Cantor Moshe Taube will perform Wednesday, May 8, at 7 p.m. at Congregation Shaare Torah for Yom Yerushalayim.

Reservations are being taken by email. There is a charge; Holocaust survivors and those who served in the Israel Defense Forces will be guests.  

The Olender Foundation is sponsoring the concert. 

Contact or call 412-421-8855 for reservations and more information.

Pittsburgh Conference of Jewish Women’s Organizations will hold their annual meeting and installation at a tea party for President Dena Chottiner and her board Monday, May 6, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Howard Levin Clubhouse, 2621 Murray Ave.

Marcia J. Weiss will install the officers at the event planned by Carole Wolsh, chairwoman, with her committee, Ileen Portnoy and Dee Selekman.

Call Portnoy at 412-683-7985 or Selekman at 412-904-3183 for more information and reservations.

The Jewish Association on Aging will welcome two offsite programs to their main campus.

The Centers for Outpatient Rehabilitation will be moving to the campus at 200 JHF Drive, effective April 29.

In response to patient concerns, this move provides free parking in front of a separate entrance, a larger gym treatment area and expanded programs.

The Anathan Club, an adult day service program that provides individuals with mild to moderate dementia, has moved to the JAA campus at Weinberg Village, 300 JHF Drive.  The social programming provided by Anathan Club will allow members to participate in other activities on the main JAA campus, including large music therapy programs, outpatient therapy services and  hair care.

Contact Lori O’Brien, director, at 412-422-9454 for more information.

Congregation Dor Hadash will welcome Rabbi Donni Aaron as the guest service leader Saturday, April 20, at 10 a.m. The service is designed to engage all ages in a musical, thought-provoking, spiritually enriching Shabbat morning. All are welcome to the service and invited to stay for lunch.

Congregation Dor Hadash meets at 5898 Wilkins Ave., Squirrel Hill. Contact Leslie Hoffman at 412-422-5158 or for more information.

Chabad of the South Hills will hold Lag B’Omer festivities, including lunch, bird show, music and children’s activities, Sunday, April 28, at noon. There is a charge.

Call 412-344-2424 or email for more information and reservations.

Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee and the Pittsburgh Jewish Social Justice Roundtable are joining Planned Parenthood PA Advocates and PAC for a Candidate Forum on Women in Western Pennsylvania on Thursday, April 18, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Welker Room, Chatham University, Chapel Hill Road.

This program provides an opportunity to learn about the candidates’ positions on issues that affect the lives of millions of Pennsylvania women and families.

Contact to submit questions for the candidates and more information.