Metro Briefs, Aug. 22
David Nesenoff, the rabbi and filmmaker who videotaped Helen Thomas on the White House lawn stating Jews should “get the Hell out of Palestine,” is coming to Pittsburgh. Nesenoff will be the keynote speaker for the 25th anniversary celebration of Chabad House on Campus, Wednesday, Sept. 11, at the University of Pittsburgh’s O’Hara Student Center, formerly the Concordia Club, 4024 O’Hara St., in Oakland. In 2010, while attending a reception on the White House law in celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month, Ne- senoff, the host of rabbilive.com, approached Thomas, the well-known “Dean” of the White House Press Corps, and asker her for a comment on Israel. “Tell them to get the Hell out of Palestine,” Thomas said. She quickly added that the Palestinians were “occupied” and that the Jews could go home to Germany, Poland or America. Her remarks ultimately cost the legendary journalist her job with Hearst Newspapers. Nesenoff studied at Yeshiva University, Hebrew University, and the Jewish Theological Seminary. He served as an anti-bias consultant for the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. His films have won awards at the Sundance Film Festival, Columbus In- ternational Film Festival, Media Awards Competition of the National Council on Family Relations, and the Long Island Film Festival. In the 1990s, Nesenoff came to national attention as an expert on bias crimes and in counseling youth who had committed such. He worked as a consultant to the U.S. Department of Justice in the Denny’s Restaurant racial discrimination case, and as an intervention consultant to Mel Gibson when the actor/director was accused of anti-Semitism. The Chabad celebration will begin at 7:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres and jazz followed by Nesenoff’s address, “Inspiring a Generation” at 8:30 p.m. Visit chabadpgh.org for reservations.
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and Temple Sinai will offer special High Holy Day services for children up to age 10 and their families in the JCC’s Levinson Hall, in the Irene Kaufmann Building, 5738 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. The services are free and open to the community. Rabbi Ron Symons, director of Temple Sinai’s Lifelong Learning and Tikkun Olam Center for Jewish Social Justice, and Rabbi Donni Aaron, JCC Jewish educator, will lead the services. The programs will include music, sto- rytelling, prayer, Torah lessons and an appearance of Sheli the Puppet. Theme- based activity centers will be available for younger children. Rosh Hashana service will be held from 11:15 a.m. to noon on Thursday, Sept. 5, followed by a snack. Yom Kippur service will be held from 11 to 11:45 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 14. Contact Nicole Mezare, Temple Sinai program director, at 412-421-9715 or at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Classrooms Without Borders, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organiza- tion that brings groups of students, teachers and professionals to Europe to visit notorious sites of the Holocaust, has just completed its first seminar to Berlin in partnership with another organization, Germany Close-up. Twenty-five young Jewish professionals under age 35 from across the United States and Canada participated in the 10-day study program in Berlin, learning how Germany is grappling with its past, the continuity of Jewish life in Germany today, and the state of U.S.- German and Jewish-German relations, according to CWB Executive Director Zipora Gur. In addition to visiting sites in Berlin that deal with Germany’s role in the Shoa, participants met with many Ger- man citizens and leaders. In a panel discussion at the Jewish Community Center in Berlin, the group heard about the renewal of Jewish life in the country from an Orthodox rabbi, a sociologist and an organizer of Limmud Germany, the annual festival of Jewish learning. A Kabbalat Shabbat egalitarian service was held in the New Synagogue, followed by a dinner with members of the Jewish community. Seminar participants heard presentations by two members of the German Parliament as well as a representative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Outside of Berlin, the trip included a tour of the Sachsenhausen concentration camp and the cities of Potsdam, Worms, Heidelberg and Speyer. There, the group delved into the history of the Jewish pres- ence in Germany in the Middle Ages, including a tour of Rashi’s synagogue in Worms and a descent into two complete 900-year-old mikvaot (ritual baths).
Israeli archaeologist Gabriel Barkay is coming to Pittsburgh for a se- ries of free community lectures on biblical archaeology. The next program is slated for Monday, Sept. 16, 7 p.m., at The Ellis School, 6425 Fifth Ave, Shadyside. Classrooms without Borders is the sponsor. Barkay is perhaps best known for his discovery of the Priestly Benediction Scrolls, two tiny silver scrolls containing a complete verse from the Hebrew Bible and dating from the Seventh century B.C.E. These are the oldest examples of biblical verses ever found, pre- dating the oldest of the Dead Sea Scrolls by 350 years. Visit classroomswithoutborders.org/events for reservations.
Beth Israel Congregation in Washington, Pa., is offering free one-year mem- bership to any new members. The offer is open to individuals, couples, college students and families. “This is an important time of year for Jews around the world, and it is unfortunate that some small congregations have had to close,” Beth Israel President Marilyn Posner said in a prepared statement. “We have a friendly group of members, a full-time rabbi, and a large building – all making it a perfect place for those looking for a new congregation or a place to pray and participate in Jewish activities while they are deciding. Beth Israel is a Conservative congregation with a full-time rabbi David Novitsky. For the High Holy Days, Novitzky will be joined on the bima by soloist Jack Mostow. Call membership chair Richard Littman at 412-519-9499 or Posner at 724-225-1873 for more information.
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh is host- ing the National Council on Aging’s Flu + You campaign, Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the JCC in Squirrel Hill. A health fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., presentation from 12:15 to 1 p.m., and vaccines will be given from 1 to 3 p.m. The event is free and open to older adults age 65 and older; appointments are not required. Adults 65 and older have vaccine options available to help protect against the flu. In addition to the traditional flu vaccine (which helps protect against three strains of the flu virus), there is also a quadrivalent vaccine (which helps protect against four strains), and a higher dose vaccine. The higher dose flu shot improves the production of antibodies in older patients. Antibodies are the soldiers of the immune system that help fight infection when the body is exposed to the virus. An annual flu shot is a Medicare Part B benefit. This means that the vaccine is covered with no copay for Medicare beneficiaries 65 years of age and older. Visit ncoa.org/Flu for more information.