Metro Briefs January 14

Metro Briefs January 14

Justice David Wecht
Justice David Wecht

With more than 400 people in attendance, Judge David N. Wecht was installed as a justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania at a ceremony held at Duquesne University on Thursday, Jan. 7.

Wecht, the son of Sigrid and Dr. Cyril Wecht, graduated from Yale College and the Yale Law School, where he was notes editor of the Yale Law Journal, editor of the Yale Law & Policy Review and the Yale Journal of International Law.

Wecht served as law clerk to Circuit Judge George MacKinnon on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, practiced with Williams & Connolly in Washington, D.C., joined Katarincic & Salmon in Pittsburgh and then joined the Wecht Law Firm in 1996. He served as Allegheny County Register of Wills & Clerk of Orphans Court from 1998 to 2003. Until 2012, Wecht served as Judge of the Court of Common Pleas, including service as the administrative judge of the Family Division from 2009 to 2011. From 2012 to 2016, Wecht served as judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania.

Wecht has also taught at the Duquesne University School of Law and at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public & International Affairs.

Rabbi Ely Rosenfeld of Chabad Fox Chapel gave the invocation. Wecht’s children, Nathan, Jacob, Alexander and Emma, led the Pledge of Allegiance. Sen. Robert P. Casey was one of many notable speakers, including Wecht’s father, who spoke about his Jewish heritage, and about his wife’s family who worked for the resistance against the Nazis. Cyril Wecht also talked about growing up in the Hill District, as did Judge Max Baer of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania who now lives in Mt. Lebanon.

Wecht took the oath of office on a Bible that his grandfather had brought from Lithuania to Pittsburgh. Wecht’s wife, Valerie, and their children assisted with the judicial robing. Following Wecht’s closing remarks, Rabbi Alvin Berkun, rabbi emeritus of Tree of Life Congregation, gave the benediction.

The Rauh Jewish Program & Archives at the Heinz History Center will hold a reading, discussion and book signing with Barbara Burstin, author of “Steel City Jews: In Prosperity, Depression and War – 1915-1950,” on Thursday, Jan. 14, from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

In this sequel to 2009’s “Steel City Jews (1840-1915),” Burstin tells the story of Pittsburgh Jewry in an era of both triumph and tragedy. In the decade spent researching “Steel City Jews,” Burstin scoured attics and cellars, explored a variety of archival collections and books, and drew on personal interviews to weave her account of the city and its Jewish community.

David M. Schlitt, director of the Rauh Jewish History Program & Archives, will moderate the discussion. The event is free and open to the public; it does not include admission to the museum.

New Light Congregation will hold a joint Martin Luther King celebration with Rodman Missionary Baptist Church, located at 6111 Rodman St. in East Liberty, on Thursday, Jan. 14, at 7:30 p.m.

Sara Stock Mayo will participate with the Rodman choir.

Young adults in the Greater Pittsburgh area will volunteer, learn, and lead peers throughout MLK Weekend 2016 as part of Repair the World’s national initiative, “Act for Racial Justice.” In Pittsburgh alone, Repair the World, anticipates that hundreds of people will participate in the initiative to address one of the most urgent issues today.

In Pittsburgh, Repair the World has partnered with Assemble and 412 Food Rescue for volunteer projects, including making and serving breakfast to students in underserved communities who are off from school for the day. On Friday, Jan. 15 adults throughout the city will host and attend Turn The Tables Shabbat Dinners, centered on substantive questions and dialogue that sets the stage for the entire weekend.

Repair the World will also hold a series of online conversations in which Jewish leaders will interview civil rights activists of today. Follow these interviews on, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter pages with hashtag #AmplifyVoices.

Contact 412-327-1490 or for more information about the activities.

Congregation Emanu-El Israel’s next Festival of the Jewish Arts program, an evening of classical music, will be held on Saturday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. in Campana Chapel on the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg campus.

The program will include music by Felix Mendelssohn, Oswaldo Golijov and George Gershwin, with violin, viola and cello.  This program is free and open to the public and is funded in part by the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. 

Call 724-834-0560 for more information.

Community Day School students will commemorate Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday, Jan. 18, together with the Pittsburgh community in a day of learning, service and reflection.

MLK Day at CDS will include a social justice curriculum developed in partnership with the Facing History and Ourselves Innovative Schools Network.

After a prayer service, lessons and activities across all grade levels will be about the life and times of King, including a school-wide art project and music performance. Younger students will focus on the role of children in the Civil Rights Movement.

Middle school students will have a discussion about how to have respectful and productive conversations about race and other challenging topics and will study King’s speeches. Rabbi Ron Symons, senior director of Jewish Life at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, will help facilitate the discussion.

In the afternoon, middle school students will go to the Hill District to attend a panel discussion about living in Pittsburgh during the Civil Rights era and will visit Freedom Corner, the departure point for more than 2,000 Pittsburghers who marched on Washington in support of King.

CDS will also welcome speakers from organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Pittsburgh and Repair the World Pittsburgh.

Squirrel Hill AARP Chapter 3354 will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 20, at 1 p.m. at New Light Congregation at 1700 Beechwood Blvd. Following the business meeting, there will be bingo and refreshments.

Contact Frieda D. Safyan at 412-521-2804 for more information.

South Hills Christian Jewish Dialogue will be held on Thursday, Jan. 21, from noon to 1:15 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 2040 Washington Road. Imam Abdu’Semih Tadese of the Islamic University Center of Pittsburgh in Oakland will lead a discussion on “Understanding Islam.”

Contact the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee at 412-605-0816 for more information and to RSVP.

Parkway Jewish Center will hold a free Tu B’Shevat lecture on sustainable gardening and landscaping with Ben Shapiro on Friday, Jan. 22, from 7:15 p.m. to 8 p.m., following Friday evening services.

Shapiro is a teacher, community activist, gardener and chef. He will speak on sustainability and the ecology of the Pennsylvania/Ohio region.

Adat Shalom Congregation will have a scholar-in-residence for the weekend of Jan. 22 to Jan. 24 with Eitan Fishbane, who has a doctorate from Brandeis University and is an associate professor of Jewish thought at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He has been a faculty member for nine years.

Fishbane teaches courses in the literature and history of Jewish mysticism, from medieval kabbalah to modern Chasidism. The author or editor of six books, the latest of which will be published by Oxford University Press, Fishbane’s research and writing have been devoted primarily to the development of kabbalah in medieval Spain. 

Sessions over the weekend include: “What is Jewish Mysticism,”service time 6 p.m. followed by dinner and program; Saturday lunch and learn on “Shabbat as Spiritual Transformation in Jewish Mysticism” following services; and Sunday morning, “Mysticism and the Moral Life in Judaism,” brunch and program following 9 a.m. minyan.

The cost for the three programs, including meals, is $36 per person. Friday is $18, Saturday $18 and Sunday $7.

Make reservations by contacting or call 412-820-7000.

Women of Temple Sinai (WoTS) invite the community to “Women and the Arts,” an event that will celebrate music and the visual arts on Saturday, Jan. 23, from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. The evening will feature the Alumni Theater Company, the Temple Sinai Intergenerational Choir and a Pittsburgh artist who will create a graffiti-themed piece of art that will be up for auction. 

The cost for the program, which includes “food truck” themed food selections, is $18 in advance and $22 at the door. Preregistration is due by Jan. 15.

RSVP to Make checks payable to WOTS and mail to WOTS c/o Temple Sinai, 5505 Forbes Ave., Pittsburgh PA 15217. 

Poale Zedeck Sisterhood will hold an International Kosher Food Festival on Sunday, Jan. 24, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the social hall.

Contact the office at 412-421-9786 or for more information and pricing.

Congregation Dor Hadash will present a program on Marriage Equality and Judaism on Sunday, Jan. 24, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, 5898 Wilkins Ave. The program will feature keynote speaker Evan Wolfson, president and founder of Freedom to Marry, the campaign to win marriage equality nationwide. Wolfson grew up in Pittsburgh.

Wolfson wrote “Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality, and Gay People’s Right to Marry.” Citing his national leadership on marriage and his appearance before the U.S. Supreme Court in Boy Scouts of America v. James Dale, the National Law Journal named Wolfson one of “the 100 most influential lawyers in America.” In 2012, he received the Barnard Medal of Distinction alongside President Barack Obama.

Wolfson will be joined by Rabbis Chuck Diamond, Doris Dyen and Ron Symons, who will present brief, theological perspectives on marriage equality.

The program, co-sponsored by Congregation Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, is free and open to the public. RSVPs to are welcome but not required.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh invites the community to participate in Super Sunday on Jan. 31 at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill. Super Sunday is the Federation’s mega phone-a-thon. Choose from three sessions on Sunday to make calls, help your chosen agency earn an extra $1,000, grab snacks, give blood and register for the national bone marrow donor database.

Register at

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh – South Hills, 345 Kane Blvd. in Scott Township will hold its 17th annual Birthday Bash on Sunday, Jan. 31, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The event is free and open to the community.

Activities will include Mike the Balloon Guy, a bounce house, timed obstacle course contest with prizes in three age categories (ages 2 to 12), crafts and a prize giveaway for children 12 and under at 3 p.m. Refreshments include birthday cupcakes, popcorn and lemonade.

JCC facilities will be free and open to everyone from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. as follows: fitness center (must be 16 years old); free swim in the pool, children under the age of 7 or who do not know how to swim must be accompanied by an adult; free play in the gym (children must be accompanied by an adult).

Contact Ann Haalman at 412-278-1782 or for more information.

Bridges: Jewish Women’s Professional Series is a new initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh that convenes Jewish female professionals in the Greater Pittsburgh area through networking and educational events, with the goal of fostering professional relationships. One-hour lunches to discuss topics facing female professionals today will be planned throughout the year.

The first session will be a discussion on “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are,” and the impact it has on perceptions in the workplace. A TED Talk led by Harvard Business School professor and social psychologist Amy Cuddy will be viewed, followed by an interactive roundtable discussion.

The lunch will be held on Tuesday, Feb. 2, from noon to 1 p.m. at Tucker Arensberg, P.C., One PPG Place, 15th floor.

There is a $10 charge. Lunch will be served and dietary laws will be observed. This is a nonsolicitation event.

In order to attend this event, Jewish female professionals must have demonstrated a commitment to the community through a contribution to the Federation’s 2016 annual campaign.

Contact 412-992-5227 or for more information.

The University of Pittsburgh’s Jewish Studies Program welcomes Marcy Brink-Danan, a professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Hebrew University, for a lecture on Wednesday, Feb. 3, at 7 p.m. in the Cathedral of Learning, room 324. Brink-Danan will examine what it means for Jews to live as a tolerated minority in contemporary Istanbul.  

The lecture will be accompanied by tours of the Israel Heritage Room and Turkish Nationality Room on the third floor of the Cathedral of Learning at 6 p.m. Refreshments and a reception will follow the lecture. The event is free and open to the public. Advance registration is recommended but not required.

Brink-Danan is the author of “Jewish Life in 21st Century Turkey: The Other Side of Tolerance.”

Contact or 412-992-5247 for more information or to register.

Adults ages 60 and over are invited to join a free six-week workshop called Better Choices, Better Health at the South Hills Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, 345 Kane Blvd. in Scott Township, on Mondays, Feb. 8 to March 14, from 2 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

The self-management workshop, developed by Stanford University, is for older adults with ongoing, chronic health issues. Any health problem that does not go away qualifies as a chronic condition.

In a Stanford University study, people who participated in the program demonstrated significant improvements in exercise, cognitive symptom management, communications with physicians, self-reported general health, health distress, fatigue, disability and social/role activities limitations. They also spent fewer days in the hospital, and there was a trend toward fewer outpatient visits and hospitalizations.

All workshop participants receive the companion book, “Living a Healthy Life with a Chronic Condition” as a graduation gift.  Light refreshments are provided throughout, with a graduation celebration at the end.

Contact Elaine Cappucci at 412-446-4773 or for more information and to register.

The Zionist Organization of America, Pittsburgh District Israel Scholarship Program, now in its 54th year, continues to assist local students traveling to and studying in Israel. The program is committed to the future of the children of the region. ZOA believes traveling to Israel complements what students learn at home and in class and reinforces their commitment to Judaism by providing an appreciation of the centrality of Israel to Jewish life. The Scholarship Program is designed to encourage and assist student participation on approved educational trips to Israel. Scholarship Committee chairperson Phyllis Silverman announced that applications are being accepted through Feb. 28.

Up to three $1000 ZOA scholarships are available to students who will be entering their junior or senior year of high school in the fall of 2016. All applicants must be participating in an approved program and submit a qualified application to ZOA. Priority may be given to those who have never visited Israel or have not received a ZOA scholarship in the past. Applicants must be Jewish and permanent residents of Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington or Westmoreland counties.

In addition, the Anouchi Research Scholarship of $750 is available to full-time college students, who have completed at least one year, and graduate students. Applicants may submit a proposal based on a topic of individual interest. Research proposals for the Anouchi scholarship will be reviewed. The awardee will be required to complete a paper upon returning from Israel.

The Israel Scholarship Program continues with funding from endowments underwritten by Avraham and Patti Anouchi, Bernard and Esther Klionsky, Harold and Marla Scheinman, the late Thelma Esman and the Novick family, in loving memory of the late Ivan and Natalie Novick.

Contact ZOA Executive Director Stuart Pavilack at 412-665-4630 or for details about the scholarships, applications or how to establish a scholarship in the name of a loved one.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s SteelTree Fund is seeking applications for innovative ideas that help teens and young adults ages 22 to 45 find meaning and participation in Jewish life. SteelTree members are interested in funding projects and programs that have an impact on the engagement of this young population in the Pittsburgh Jewish community. Special consideration will be given to applications that have work focusing on strengthening Jewish continuity.

The SteelTree Fund provides grants between $500 and $5,000 and is limited to the Pittsburgh Jewish community. Projects will be considered only once per calendar year, though an organization or individual can apply for more than one project within a calendar year. SteelTree will entertain requests for renewal funding but not within the same campaign year (July 1-June 30).

Contact Emily Richman, associate director of development operations, at or visit for more information and to apply.

The Zionist Organization of America invites members and nonmembers to join its Purim Mission to Israel, from March 21 to March 30. Jerusalem will serve as home base for the duration of the stay.

A highlight of the trip will be meeting with members of the Israeli Defense Forces and personally delivering more than 8,000 Purim mishloach manot (gift baskets) to soldiers.

Contact ZOA Executive Director, Stuart Pavilack at 412-665-4630 or for complete details, itinerary and costs.