Metro Briefs February 28

Metro Briefs February 28

Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller
Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller

Congregation Beth Shalom will honor Lea Davidson and Elinor Zaremberg at their 2012-2013 Torah Fund Brunch Sunday, March 3.  Davidson and Zaremberg joined Congregation Beth Shalom as young women and have been involved ever since.  Best friends and sisters, both have been generous in giving of their time for Sisterhood as well as other synagogue activities.  The Torah Fund Brunch raises money to fund scholarships for students at the Conservative movement’s seminaries.  The brunch begins at 9:45 a.m. in the Samuel and Minnie Hyman Ballroom at Congregation Beth Shalom.

Temple Sinai will welcome Cantor Benjie Ellen Schiller Friday, March 15, 7 p.m.

Schiller, a longtime friend of Rabbi James Gibson, has sung with Temple Sinai on three prior occasions. The congregation’s Intergenerational Choir is preparing music to perform with her.

Schiller’s visit marks a highlight in Gibson’s 25th anniversary celebrations at Temple Sinai.

Schiller is a professor of cantorial arts at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, School of Sacred Music, in New York. Her work involves training cantorial students to bridge the gap between performance and spiritual leadership.

She was invested as a cantor and received her master’s degree from the institution where she teaches. She serves as cantor with her husband, Rabbi Lester Bronstein, at Bet Am Shalom Synagogue of White Plains, N.Y. They also sing together in Beged Kefet, a philanthropic Jewish music ensemble. Beged Kefet’s three recordings feature Schiller’s arrangements and compositions.

A reception and oneg will follow the service.

Contact Nicole Mezare, program director, at, or 412-421-9715, ext. 120 for more information.

The Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee’s Christian-Jewish Dialogue will meet Thursday, March 7, noon, at Congregation Beth Shalom, 5915 Beacon St.  The topic of the upcoming session is “Welcoming the Stranger,” presented by Rev. Linda Theophilus and Bob Whitehill. Jewish and Christian texts will be studied.  The conveners are Rabbi James Gibson, Father Radu Bordeianu, Theophilus and Rabbi Michael Werbow.  The program is free to the public.  Contact the PAJC office at 412-605-0816 or at for more information.  

The 21st Annual Taste of Westmoreland will be held Saturday, March 16, in the Student Union (Chambers Hall) at the University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg.  Doors will open at 6 p.m. and the event will conclude at 9 p.m.

Congregation Emanu-El Israel sponsors this yearly event.

More than 1,000 people are expected to visit Chambers Hall to try the specialties of more than 20 Westmoreland County restaurants and caterers.  The gymnasium will be transformed into tasting stations and the cafeteria will have seating for hundreds of participants.

Along with door prizes, there will be a Chinese auction and silent auction, featuring special items, baskets of gifts and gift certificates. Westmoreland County merchants donated the prizes.  Anyone bringing canned and/or nonperishable items for the Westmoreland County Food Bank will receive one free ticket for the Chinese auction.

There is a charge to attend. Tickets can be purchased at the synagogue office, 222 N. Main St., Greensburg.

Contact CEI at 724-834-0560, or visit for more information.

Ruderman Family Foundation, which promotes innovation for inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish community and Israel, has announced the launch of the 2013 Ruderman Prize in Disability, its second year, which will provide $250,000 in funding to recognize innovative programs and services that foster full inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish community worldwide.

The $50,000 awards will be given to five organizations that work in the disability arena, serve those in the Jewish community, and actively champion inclusion in their work.

“This year’s Ruderman Prize in Disability will again celebrate exemplars in inclusion, which by example accelerate innovations for people with disabilities and energize the global Jewish community to work toward those ideals,” Jay Ruderman, president of the Ruderman Family Foundation, said in a prepared statement. “We believe this competition will generate new attention to the issue and spur new ambitions, as we work toward our goal of the full inclusion of people with disabilities in the Jewish community, so that these individuals have the same employment, social, and religious opportunities as those without disabilities.”

Last June, the Foundation awarded $200,000 to 10 organizations.  It received over 150 applications representing seven countries.

The Ruderman Prize recognizes organizations for exemplary existing initiatives rather than making grants for new programs.

The application form for the awards is available on the Foundation’s website.  Submissions are due March 18 and winners will be announced in May. Visit for more information.

Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s Career Development Center will offer job seekers 18 workshops in March.

Some of the workshops address unemployment benefits (March 7), networking (March 11), tax credits (March 11) and the Pittsburgh Business Times (March 14). Workshops for LinkedIn for Beginners, LinkedIn Advanced, AARP WorkSearch 40+, Networking Club and Job Seeker Support also will be held.

Registrations are required and can be completed at Call the Career Development Center at 412-422-5627 for more information.

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills will host a pancake breakfast coupled with a program on genealogy, Sunday, March 10, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The program will include demonstrations and a discussion of online resources useful in researching one’s family tree.

Reservations can be made by emailing or calling 412-849-5549.

Hoedown for Heifer, this year’s annual citywide dance for Jewish teens, will be held at Temple Sinai, Saturday, March 9, from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m., and is open to all Jewish teens, grades nine through 12.

Each year, Jewish teens across the Pittsburgh area gather together to raise money for a worthwhile cause and have fun in the process. This year, the planning group, comprised of student leaders of the Senior Youth Group at Temple Sinai — PARTY (Pittsburgh Area Reform Temple Youth), Beth Shalom USY (United Synagogue Youth), and Tree of Life USY, chose Heifer International, a charitable organization that donates livestock to impoverished villages in Third World countries.

Heifer International was selected because of the sustainability component and that it could be “the gift that keeps on giving.” With the donated animals, recipient villages are able to achieve a stable and sustainable source of food and income. The livestock provided by Heifer International ranges from the usual cows and goats, to the less common: guinea pigs, bees, silkworms and water buffalo. Each animal contributes a specific benefit to the village into which it is introduced. Subsequently, the animals can produce offspring leading to a sustainable population with the ability to feed, house and provide for the members of the village.

Tickets will be available at the door; dress is casual.

Contact Jackie Braslawsce, director of informal education at Temple Sinai,; Carolyn Gerecht, youth director at

Congregation Beth Shalom,; or Alex Speck, programming director at Tree of Life-Or L’Simcha Congregation, for more information.

Temple Sinai will present a live, satellite broadcast from New York’s 92nd Street Y featuring Brian Williams and Jonathan Tisch, Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Williams, an award-winning anchor and managing editor of “NBC Nightly News” and host of “Rock Center with Brian Williams,” will talk to Tisch about journalism and politics and the future of America. Tisch is co-chairman of the Loews Corporation board and chairman of its subsidiary, Loews Hotels & Resorts.

As a warm-up to the broadcast, WPXI News Anchor David Johnson, a Temple Sinai member, will facilitate a community Conversation titled “The World News: A Pittsburgh Perspective,” about the way we report and receive international news in Pittsburgh.

Johnson will speak at 7:15 p.m. followed by the live broadcast at 8 p.m..

Tickets are available at the door; there is a charge. Call 412-421-9715 for more information.

The Teen Athlete Mitzvah Corps, a project of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and funded by the Jewish Teen Engagement Initiative at the Agency for Jewish Learning, is continuing for the third year in a row.

The project’s goal is to engage teens who participate as basketball coaches at the JCC in community service with Jewish content and Jewish learning so that they will experience the Jewish values of chesed (compassion) and tikkun olam (fixing the world through giving back).

On March 3, the basketball coaches will meet with teenage refugees who work with Jewish Family & Children’s Service for an afternoon of activities, performances, icebreakers and discussion.

Contact Meredith Brown at 412-521-8011, ext. 181 for more information.