Metro Briefs December 4

Metro Briefs December 4

Congregation Beth Shalom will hold Shabbat Shiur with Adam Garber, field director for PennEnvironment, on Saturday, Dec. 6 at 12:40 p.m., after services, in the Helfant Chapel.

Garber helps coordinate PennEnvironment’s efforts to educate the public about the state’s most pressing environmental issues, to increase civic participation and to garner media coverage to inform concerned Pennsylvanians.  Over the last five years, he has worked to engage decision-makers into supporting environmental policies by working with some of the state’s largest media outlets, working with and training thousands of Pennsylvanians to demonstrate public support for these initiatives and building diverse coalitions of elected officials, public health experts, religious leaders and environmental groups. 

Garber will talk about early Jewish influences that affected his career choice as an environmental advocate. He will also describe PennEnvironment’s current campaigns.

The 4 Synagogues Israel Trip and Yom Ha’atzmaut Mission open house has been rescheduled for Sunday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, 5898 Wilkins Ave. at Shady Avenue. Congregations Adat Shalom, Beth El, New Light and Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha are participating in cooperation with Classroom Without Borders and the Mofet Institute.

The open house will offer an opportunity to meet tour guide Avi Ben-Hur and learn details about the trip and expenses. Call 412-521-6788 for more information.

The Jewish Women’s League and the Mikvah Association of Pittsburgh will hold a lecture and reception, for women only, to pay tribute to Faithe Milch and Surah Brodie for their years of dedication and service to the community on Sunday, Dec. 7 at Congregation Shaare Torah, 2319 Murray Ave. at 7:30 p.m.; a parve buffet and boutique sale will precede it at 6:30 p.m. The $40 charge is payable at the door. The Pittsburgh Community Directory will be distributed to all attendees.

Chaya Kalazan, a teacher at the Jewish Renaissance Center, Ohr Naava, Masores High School and New Seminary will speak on “Chanukah and the Four Beasts.”

Classrooms Without Borders invites the community to hear director of education Avi Ben-Hur speak about the “Rise and Fall of Greece’s Jews from 1942 to 1945” on Monday, Dec. 8 at 7 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 Fifth Ave.

The traveling exhibit “Triumph of Morality: A Tribute to the Righteous of Greece” will be on display. A reception will follow the program. Visit to make a reservation.

The Squirrel Hill Historical Society will hold its next free meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Ave. Joel Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University’s Richard S. Caliguiri professor of history and urban environmental policy, will speak on “Early Gas Exploration in the East End.” Call 412-417-3707 or visit for more information.

Rabbi Donni Aaron will be the guest Shabbat service leader at Congregation Dor Hadash on Saturday, Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. Adults and children are invited to attend this musical and spirit-filled service, followed by lunch. Visit for more information.

Learn about Jewish genetic diseases and the importance of genetic screening Sunday Dec. 14 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at 5898 Wilkins Ave. In a presentation titled Know Your Genes, two experts will provide information about the latest developments in the field and explain how a simple blood test can have a profound effect on many lives.

Dr. David Finegold, geneticist and pediatric endocrinologist, and Kara Levine, genetic counselor, will discuss the risks and the availability of screening and counseling, as well as cost issues.  Both presenters are connected with the Pittsburgh Victor Center, which is an affiliate of the Albert Einstein Medical Center of Philadelphia for medical oversight, and a nonprofit partner of the Jewish Healthcare Foundation.

The Pittsburgh Victor Center director is Dolores Roskies, and Lisa Steindel is the community outreach organizer. Bagels and coffee will be available.

Reservations should be made by Dec. 11 at or 412-422-5158.

Jewish Residential Services will hold its Chanukah Open House at the Howard Levin Clubhouse on Thursday, Dec. 18 from 4:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 2621 Murray Ave.

The celebration will include hors d’oeuvres and klezmer music. Participants are asked to bring a donation of board games, playing card holders or toiletries for the Riverview Towers Senior Apartments and the Charles Morris Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Contact 412-325-0039 or to make a reservation by Dec. 12.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh Volunteer Center will hold the annual Mitzvah Day on Thursday, Dec. 25 and invites the community to perform a mitzvah. This year for Mitzvah Day, and in preparation for Good Deeds Day on Sunday, March 15, the Volunteer Center is collecting items that will be donated to pantries and shelters all over Allegheny County.  Visit or contact Matt Cohen, Volunteer Center program associate at 412-992-5229 or for more information.

Ima V’Ani is a new weekly program that allows infants and toddlers to discover the Hebrew language through songs, dance and play. The program is for caregivers (not just moms) and their children from birth to age 2 and is being offered by the Agency for Jewish Learning and the Jewish Community Center.

In addition to having fun, there are other benefits for the young children who attend. Studies have shown that exposing an infant to a second language, even on a short-term basis, can help them develop phonetic learning and discriminate between different types of sounds.

Classes meet at the Squirrel Hill JCC most Mondays from 10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. There are also monthly guest speakers from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Dr. Deborah Gilboa, an award-winning parenting expert, family physician, international speaker and author of, will be the guest speaker on Monday, Dec. 15. She will speak about how to “Get the Behavior You Want … Without Being the Parent You Hate” and provide real-world advice.  This lecture is appropriate for parents of children between 18 months and 12 years but of interest to parents of younger children as well.

Classes and guest lectures are $5 per combined session and the first class is free. Contact Tal Perel at the Agency for Jewish Learning at 412-521-1101, ext. 3202, or for more information or a calendar of sessions and speakers.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, Steel Tree, My Baby and I and the PJ Library also sponsor the program.

For the eight days of Chanukah, Jewish families light menorah candles to commemorate a time when their ancestors were denied the freedom to worship and study sacred texts. Today, in honor of Jewish literary pride, PJ Library sends children’s books each month to a growing number of families around the globe to engage them in Jewish heritage, tradition and holidays.

In Pittsburgh, the PJ Library is reaching 694 children who are opening their mailboxes this month to find featured Chanukah books such as: “Hanukkah Bear” by Eric Kimmel, a 2013 National Jewish Book Award for Illustrated Children’s Book recipient; “Hanukkah in Alaska” by Barbara Brown, a 2014 Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Younger Readers Award recipient; and “The Peddler’s Gift” by Maxine Rose Schur, a 1999 Sydney Taylor Award for Younger Readers recipient.

Started in 2005 by Jewish philanthropist Harold Grinspoon, PJ Library is made possible by local donors and partner organizations such as the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. More than 130,000 children between the ages of 6 months and 8 years in approximately 200 communities in the United States and Canada receive books from PJ Library.

The Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Mass., is accepting applications for its 2015 Steiner Summer Yiddish Program, an intensive seven-week program for college students.

Now in its fourth decade, this is the Yiddish Book Center’s flagship education program. What began in the early days of the center as a practical internship — participants received Yiddish instruction every morning in exchange for afternoons spent unpacking and sorting books in a warehouse — evolved over the years into an academic program in which students spend their days in Yiddish language and culture classes as well as taking part in cultural and social activities at the center.

The program offers a beginner track for students with no previous Yiddish experience and an intermediate track for those who have completed one year of Yiddish. All students accepted to the program receive full tuition scholarships. Intermediate students also receive free housing and a $1,000 stipend in exchange for working on ongoing projects at the center. All participants are eligible to receive college credits through the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The 2015 Steiner Summer Yiddish Program will run from June 7 to July 24. Applications are due by Feb. 10. Visit for more information.

The Jewish Chronicle’s Organization Directory will be running in December. Revisions and new listings should be sent to