Metro Briefs February 20

Metro Briefs February 20

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto will speak at Temple Sinai, Friday, Feb. 28, during Shabbat services, which begin at 8 p.m.  

According to its announcement, the congregation has asked Peduto to elaborate on his plans “for moral leadership in light of the issues of our day.”

The mayor’s speech is open to the community. Peduto also will remain for the oneg following services.

Contact Deborah Fidel at or 412-421-9729 for more information.

A free, all-day summit focusing on children and youth with disabilities will be held at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, Wednesday, March 5, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

The summit will feature a full-resource fair with 70 vendors, as well as a dozen breakout sessions throughout the day.

Sessions will include topics such as mental health services for children and teens, a legislative panel, early intervention services, employment, independent living, transportation and effective advocacy.

The summit is sponsored by State Rep. Dan Miller, D-Mt. Lebanon, along with a number of local nonprofit organizations, South Hills school districts and other governmental agencies, with the goal of providing the most current information to parents and professionals who are concerned about children and youth with special needs.

Contact Joan Charlson at 412-563-6008 for more information.

Empty Bowls, the annual simple meal of soup and bread to remember those who face hunger, will be held Sunday, March 2, from 2 to 6 p.m., at Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 Fifth Ave., Shadyside.

This is the 19th consecutive year for Empty Bowls, which is sponsored by the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and Just Harvest: A Center for Action Against Hunger. The soup will be served by local celebrities, TV personalities, athletes and elected officials, including Mayor Bill Peduto.

Restaurants and caterers donate several hundred gallons of soup, from Thai corn chowder to chicken noodle.

The event will feature children’s activities, a bake sale, live entertainment, a silent auction of fine ceramic art, celebrity-autographed bowls, soup-to-go and, new this year, a coffee and espresso bar.

Those attending Empty Bowls may select an “empty bowl” to take home from the more than one thousand handmade ceramic bowls on display.

Amateur and professional potters from across the region make the bowls. Community bowl-making sessions are held at art centers around Pittsburgh in January. They include Carlow University, Union Project, Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Manchester Craftsman’s Guild and Sweetwater Art Center.

Tickets are $20 and are available through the Food Bank and Just Harvest websites, and, or by calling 412-431-8960.

A town hall in support for U.S.-led efforts to reach a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be held Monday, March 3, 7 p.m., at Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 Fifth Ave., Shadyside.

J Street Pittsburgh, National Council of Jewish Women-Pennsylvania and the OneVoice Movement are sponsoring the event.

OneVoice Israel Youth Leader Mattan Peretz and OneVoice Palestine Youth Leader Obada Shtaya will headline the town hall. They will discuss their efforts to mobilize everyday Israelis and Palestinians to support ongoing peace talks.

Leaders from J Street Pittsburgh, the National Council of Jewish Women-PA and Rodef Shalom will also speak.

The event is free to the public and a dessert reception will follow in Aaron Court.

Pittsburgh is one of 15 cities across the country hosting town halls in response to Secretary of State John Kerry’s call to American Jews to rally a “great constituency for peace” behind the Obama administration’s efforts to achieve a two-state solution.

The town halls are part of J Street’s 2 campaign, launched in 2013 to give voice to pro-Israel Americans who support the current efforts to achieve peace.

J Street launched the million-dollar national campaign at its national conference last fall. The town hall meetings will be backed up by an advertising campaign and educational activities to inform and mobilize support.

OneVoice is an international grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to propel their elected representatives toward the two-state solution.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh expressed its shock at the “terrible and untimely” murders of Susan and Sarah Wolfe.

The sisters, who recently moved to Pittsburgh from Iowa, were found shot to death Friday, Feb. 7, in the basement of their East Liberty house.

Susan was an assistant teacher at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh, a beneficiary agency of the Federation. Sarah was a psychiatrist at UPMC’s Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the family of the victims,” Douglas Ostrow, chair of the Federation, said in a prepared statement. “We urge law enforcement to swiftly bring to justice the perpetrator(s) of this horrific crime, a hateful act, as far as we know by an individual acting on his own. At this time we pull together as a community in shock and deep mourning. We embrace our partners at Hillel Academy and stand with them at this very difficult and tragic time.”

The Federation has been in touch with Hillel Academy staff and has offered assistance to the organization.

JCC Big Night is slated for Saturday, March 8, starting at 7:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill.

“Game On” is the theme of this year’s fundraiser for the JCC, which will include music, dancing and food.

This year’s Big Night celebrates the role that the JCC plays in the community, enriching the lives of thousands of children each year. On any given day, children are learning to swim, playing basketball, putting on shows and creating art.

This year’s Big Night committee co-chairs are Sue Berman and Doug Kress of Squirrel Hill and Ingrid and Eric Smiga of Mt. Lebanon. PNC Bank is again the lead sponsor.

Contact Marla Werner, Big Night team leader, at (412) 521-8011, ext. 352, or at for more information.

Young Peoples Synagogue/Bohnai Yisrael, hosted a Feb. 9 presentation by Judith Rosenberg Cohen on “The Mantello Rescue Mission.”

Cohen, director of photo archives at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., was instrumental in securing the Mantello Archives for the museum.

In 2005, a Hungarian survivor, Enrico Mantello, became aware of a suitcase belonging to his father, George Mandel-Mantello, found in a basement in Geneva, Switzerland.  Mandel-Mantello had been first secretary in the Geneva Consulate of El Salvador during World War II.  The suitcase contained over a thousand Salvadoran citizenship certificates issued to Jews throughout occupied Europe during the Holocaust — some even reaching people in French detention camps in Theresienstadt and Auschwitz.  

Cohen described the extraordinary friendship between George Mandel-Mantello and Col. Jose Arturo Castellanos, the Salvadoran counsul general, leading to Mandel-Mantello’s own position and his opportunity, supported by Castellanos, to issue the citizenship certificates.  Mandel-Mantello issued certificates when he obtained, through various means, the names, photos, and personal data of individuals or families needing them.

Mandel-Mantello may have issued as many as 10,000 certificates, many with the names and photographs of several family members. In some countries, the certificates exempted recipients from deportation, allowing them to find opportunities to escape to safety in Switzerland or elsewhere.

Some Dutch recipients were detained in a special camp for foreign nationals at Bergen-Belsen.  In many cases, however, deportations or other Nazi actions occurred while certificates were in transit, but many certificates did reach their intended recipients in time.

Cohen continues to research the Mantello rescue mission to determine the actual number of European Jews saved by these Salvadoran citizenship certificates.

More information about the Mantello rescue mission can be found on the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website,

The University of Pittsburgh Jewish Studies Program and the Pittsburgh Holocaust Center co-sponsored the program.