Metro Briefs January 8

Metro Briefs January 8

Leslie Hoffman
Leslie Hoffman

Temple Emanuel of South Hills has hired Leslie Hoffman as its new executive director. Hoffman fills the position formerly held by Saralouise Reis, who passed away in August. Interim executive director Esther Herst will transition from the position over the next two weeks.

A New Jersey native, Hoffman is a longtime South Hills resident who has most recently served as the congregation manager at Congregation Dor Hadash, a 150-member Reconstructionist synagogue in Squirrel Hill. Before working in the world of congregation management, Hoffman was the Pittsburgh Chapter coordinator of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, spent time at Internet Services Corporation and FIServ and was at Mellon Bank for more than a decade.

Hoffman has been a member at Beth El Congregation of the South Hills for more than 19 years and has served as a Torah reader, Pancake Festival chair, a member of the nominating committee and the board of trustees and Sisterhood president. She is also a lifetime member of Hadassah. A graduate of the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School program, Hoffman sees her history serving different congregations in different movements of Judaism as a positive attribute, saying, “We’re all part of the same Jewish community; in the end, it’s about the relationships you build.”

As executive director, Hoffman will be a vital member of Temple Emanuel’s leadership team that includes Rabbi Mark Joel Mahler, Rabbi Jessica Locketz, ECDC director Iris Harlan and president Daniel Rothschild.

Temple Emanuel of South Hills is a Reform congregation of 560 households. Visit Temple Emanuel at for more information.

Squirrel Hill AARP Chapter 3354 will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 21 at 1 p.m. at New Light Congregation, 1700 Beechwood Blvd. at Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill. Following the business meeting, magician Chuck Caputa will entertain. Refreshments will be served afterward. The community is invited.

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

BBYO and the Jewish Community Center South Hills are forming a basketball league for teens in grades eight through 12 who live in the South Hills. The season starts Thursday, Jan. 22 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the South Hills JCC. The league will have nine weeks of play, playoffs and a championship game with a prize awarded to the winning team. Each player will receive a team jersey.

Registration is $40 per athlete. Contact Chuck Marcus, BBYO Keystone Mountain Region regional director, at or 412-446-4781 for more information.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh will be at the Kehillat Shaarei Yonah Menachem, 13 Ephraim St. (corner of Esther Hamalka) in Modiin, Israel, on Thursday, Jan. 22 at 6 p.m. Former Hillel Academy students, faculty and bnot sherut from 1947 through 2013 who reside in Israel are invited to reminisce and reconnect. Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh will host an alumni reunion at the home of Jake and Meria Sacks.

Call the office at 412-521-8131 or email for reservations.

Congregation Beth Shalom will hold an informational meeting for Mitzpeh Bagalil, a gap-year experience on Kibbutz Hannaton with Israeli peers, on Thursday, Jan. 22 at 7 p.m. Contact Rabbi Shawn Simon at or visit for more information.

The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh will hold several events in January.

>> On Thursday, Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m. there will be a conversation about the importance of free speech and what citizens must do to protect this essential tool in democracy. Gene Policinski, chief operating officer of the Newseum Institute and senior vice president of the First Amendment Center, will be the presenter.

>> On Friday, Jan. 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. legal professionals can earn CLE credits with “Drawing the Line: Censorship and Propaganda,” with speakers Policinski and Wayne Wise, a freelance writer/artist, comic historian and member of the “ChutzPow! Superheroes of the Holocaust” artistic team. The Center will present this program in partnership with the Cardoza Society, the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee and the Agency for Jewish Learning.

Both events take place at Rodef Shalom, 4905 Fifth Ave.

>> The Center will also participate in the MOTH StorySLAM with the theme “Perseverance” on Tuesday, Jan. 27 at the Rex Theatre, 1602 Carson St.

Contact, 412-421-1500 or visit for more information.

Congregation Beth Shalom’s adult education committee developed its Health Initiative speaker series, which will be in its third year, to address health and aging needs in Pittsburgh. The series will begin on Saturday, Jan. 24 with Dr. Steven M. Albert addressing Jewish teachings on family caregiving.

The series will include speakers and topics that are geared toward specific age groups: Dr. Jonathan Weinkle, Nice Jewish Doctors: Mitzvah in Practice; Dr. David A. Brent, Teen depression: Recognition, Treatment and Prevention; and Dr. Stanley M. Marks, New Approaches to Cancer: From Shotgun to Precision Therapies.

The series is free and open to the community and is funded by the UPMC Cancer Center, the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, the Staunton Farm Foundation, the Fine Foundation and the Aging Institute of the University of Pittsburgh.

Contact or visit for more information.

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation board of trustees approved $1,380,000 in grants on Dec. 8, including the renewal of the Foundation’s annual $900,000 grant to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and grants to expand upon JHF’s work as HIV/AIDS fiscal agent for southwestern Pennsylvania; develop a Harrisburg-based summit focused on identifying policy, payment and reimbursement solutions that enable the advancement of the community health worker as an integral part of the health workforce team; invest in JHF staff development via participation in Columbia University’s Health and Aging Policy Fellows Program; and support the Friendship Circle, a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit that helps children and young adults with special needs become more fully integrated into the broader community. In addition, the board of trustees approved the renewal of JHF’s annual grant to the United Way of Allegheny County.

The Jewish Healthcare Foundation was established in 1990 by the board of trustees of the Montefiore Hospital Association of Western Pennsylvania upon the sale of Montefiore Hospital.

Since its inception, JHF has provided an annual grant to the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh to be used by the Federation’s affiliated agencies to address the health needs of the Jewish community. This grant is made in addition to other JHF commitments to the Jewish community, including program support to individual agencies and JHF’s $33 million commitment to the Jewish Association on Aging through the Federation’s Renaissance Campaign.

JHF has been the HIV/AIDS fiscal agent for Southwestern Pennsylvania for more than 20 years. In this role, JHF manages approximately $4 million annually in state, city and federal HIV/AIDS dollars, which support the efforts of the region’s AIDS service organizations.

Improving primary care and keeping people out of hospitals is a major agenda item for the Jewish Healthcare Foundation and its Pittsburgh Regional Health Initiative operating arm. Increasingly, the Foundation has explored models of care that require patient-centered teams, including not only clinicians, but others who play a role in managing and improving health. These expanded teams become even more important through the advent of the Affordable Care Act, as millions of Americans obtain access to care and providers are under increasing pressure to contain costs.

In addition to the preceding grants, the JHF board of trustees renewed its $65,000 contribution to the United Way of Allegheny County’s Impact Fund, which supports the core programs of United Way partner agencies as well as new initiatives that address the critical community needs of children and families, employment, health, housing, neighborhoods and seniors.

JHF also, over the course of the year, distributed more than $125,000 in small grants ($15,000 or lower) to more than 40 agencies.

Visit for more information.

“More Than Just Learning” hosts Shirley and Morris Shratter interview Carnegie Mellon University professor Casey Donlevy on homeland and computer security every Tuesday at 8 p.m. on PCTV Comcast 21 and Verizon 47.

The Jewish Relief Agency fundraiser that was held from Dec. 18 to Dec. 19 by Chabad of Fox Chapel raised more than $40,000 in less than 13 hours. Three families matched each dollar raised, up to $10,000. The JRA can now add 150 more families and seniors to its delivery list.