Metro Briefs March 24

Metro Briefs March 24

J Street Pittsburgh is co-sponsoring the visit of Assaf Gavron with several departments at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh on Sunday, March 27 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. and will include his presentation and discussion at the Classic Lines bookstore on Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill.

Gavron is an Israeli writer, novelist, translator and musician who formerly worked as a journalist and in the hi-tech industry.

On Monday, March 28 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. in Room 501 at the Cathedral of Learning at the University of Pittsburgh, Gavron’s talk will be on “Contemporary Writing in Israel: Can You Avoid Politics?” He will also read from his works.

These events are free and open to the community.

Gavron was the winner of the Bernstein Prize for “The Hilltop,” a book about the hilltop youth in the West Bank where he lived, and the Israeli Prime Minister’s Award for Authors.

Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh will hold a program for women on “What’s Jewish about BRCA and cancer?” on Sunday, March 27 at 7:30 p.m.

One in 40 Ashkenazi Jews carries a BRCA gene mutation, which increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. Join Sharsheret and learn how to take charge of your health. Speakers will include Sharsheret staff, medical professionals, and Rachie and Faygie Sacks, who have both been diagnosed positive for the BRCA mutation.


The Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will host an Insider’s Breakfast with David Bernstein, the new president and CEO of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA), on Tuesday, March 29 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. at 234 McKee Place. Bernstein will discuss “The Boycott Divestment and Sanctions Movement: The Anti-Israel Agenda on College Campuses.”

Prior to his appointment at JCPA, Bernstein served as a consultant dedicated to assisting organizations and communities in strengthening their Israel education, engagement and advocacy work. He is also a founder of CultureSolutions LLC, which works with nonprofits on strategic planning and culture change efforts.

Bernstein spent 13 years at the American Jewish Committee (AJC), where he began as director of the Washington regional office and served in management roles overseeing regional offices and national and local programming and advocacy. RSVP to Eric Probola at by Friday, March 25. Dietary laws will be observed.

Temple Sinai invites the community to a viewing of the film “God in the Box” on Wednesday, March 30 at 7 p.m., followed by a panel discussion with interfaith leaders. The film attempts to answer the questions “What does God mean to you?” and “What does God look like to you?” by using people’s answers and commentary from clergy and scholars of different faiths and beliefs.

Rabbi James A. Gibson will facilitate the program with the help of guest panelists including Rev. De Neice Welch of Bidwell Street United Presbyterian Church, Fr. David Poecking of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church and Rev. Randy Bush of East Liberty Presbyterian Church.

This program is free and open to the public. Call 412-421-9715, ext. 115 for more information. Visit for more information about the movie.

HaZamir Pittsburgh and HaZamir Karmiel/Misgav will hold a free community concert on Wednesday, March 30 at 7:30 p.m. in the Katz Theater at the Jewish Community Center Robinson Building in Squirrel Hill. A dessert reception (dietary laws observed) will follow the program.

The concert is co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and the Zamir Choral Foundation.

Contact Carolyn Gerecht, 412-339-5400 or for more information.

World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh will hold a luncheon discussion focused on the future of U.S.-Iran relations in the wake of the Iran nuclear agreement with Alireza Nader, senior international policy analyst for the RAND Corporation on Thursday, March 31 from noon to 1:30 p.m. at The Rivers Club.

Nader is author of “The Days After a Deal with Iran: Continuity and Change in Iranian Foreign Policy.” His research has focused on Iran’s political dynamics, elite decision-making and Iranian foreign policy. Prior to joining RAND, Nader served as a research analyst at the Center for Naval Analyses.

Tickets are $40 for World Affair Council members and $55 for nonmembers.

Contact 412-281-7970 or for more information and tickets.

Congregation Emanu-El Israel’s Festival of the Jewish Arts will present Rabbi Bob Alper, stand-up comic featured on Sirius/XM radio and honorary comedic advisor to Pope Francis, on Saturday, April 2 at 7 p.m. at Campana Chapel at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg. Alper served congregations for 14 years and holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary.  He has had 25-year comedy career. The event, with support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, is free and open to the public.

Adat Shalom Congregation will host a weekend of programming, Friday, April 1 through Sunday, April 3, about the career of Justice Louis D. Brandeis, marking the centennial of his rise to the U.S. Supreme Court. Scholar-in-residence Paul Finkelman, Ph.D., Juris Doctor will be the guest speaker. Adat Shalom sponsors the programming with support from the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee.

Finkelman is the Ariel F. Sallows Visiting Professor of Human Rights Law at the University of Saskatchewan College of Law. The U.S. Supreme Court has cited Finkelman in four opinions dealing with religious liberty. Currently he is co-authoring a book with Rabbi Lance Sussman on the legal history of American Jews.

Finkelman will discuss “Louis Brandeis: The Most Important Jew in American History,” on Friday, April 1 at a 7 p.m. at dinner following services, which begin at 6 p.m. On Saturday, at a luncheon following Shabbat morning services, Finkelman will discuss “How Louis Brandeis Discovered His Judaism,” and at brunch following minyan on Sunday, at 10 a.m. his topic will be “Professional Ethics and the Brandeis Confirmation.” One hour of CLE credits may be earned for attending the Sunday morning program. The cost for three lectures and accompanying meals is $36 per person; each session is also individually priced.

Call Adat Shalom at 412-820-7000 to register.

Beth El Congregation will host its annual Pancake Festival and the fifth annual South Hills Genealogy Day on Sunday, April 3 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Admission to the genealogy seminar is free; there is an $8 charge for the all-you-can-eat Pancake Festival in the next room. The community is invited to attend.

Register for the seminar at or Call the Beth El office at 412-561-1168 for more information on the Pancake Festival.

Chabad of the South Hills will present Jewish Comedy Adult Night Out featuring New York City comedian Jon Fisch on Sunday, April 3 at 7 p.m. at the Carnegie Stage, 25 W. Main St. in Carnegie. Drinks and hors d’oeuvres will be available. Glass harpist Jamey Turner will perform.

Tickets are $18. Contact, 412-344-2424 or visit for more information and registration.

The event is co-sponsored by Chabad of the South Hills, South Hills Jewish Pittsburgh and SteelTree Fund.

NA’AMAT USA, Pittsburgh Council will have Bagels and Books on Wednesday, April 6 at 10 a.m. at the Labor Zionist Educational Center, 6328 Forbes Ave. Helen Faye Rosenblum will give the book review and there will be a light breakfast. Call the NA’AMAT office at 412-521-5253 for more information and to make a reservation.

The Pittsburgh community is invited to a tasting event including over 30 purveyors of treats on Sunday, April 10 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 Fifth Ave. In its second year, Sweet Sunday is a fundraising project of Hadassah, a worldwide women’s organization dedicated to aiding pioneering medical research including the latest breakthroughs in ALS treatment.

At Sweet Sunday, each attendee is given a box and a bag to collect samples and materials from the vendors. Seating areas will be available to relax and enjoy some of the treats. Along with the samples, businesses will have products available for sale as well as ideas for special events. There will also be door prizes and auction baskets.

Deena Ross of Creative Kosher Catering will be featured as a demonstrator and speaker. Alex Portis of Food Network’s “Kid’s Baking Champion-ship” will be there selling his desserts.

Tickets are available in advance for $15 by contacting the Hadassah office at 412-421-8919 or Tickets will also be available at the event for $18.

Campus Superstar, an “American Idol”-like singing competition featuring Pittsburgh area college students, will be held on Sunday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at the Carnegie Music Hall in Oakland. More than 150 students auditioned in the fall, and 10 finalists will compete in the Campus Superstar finals.

Hillel Jewish University Center will honor Eva Tansky Blum and Jim Rohr at the event for their leadership and service both locally to the university and greater Pittsburgh communities, and nationally.

The competition winner will receive the $5,000 Ellen Weiss Kander Grand Prize.

Contact Julia Katz, at 412-621-8875 for more information or visit to purchase tickets.

PJ Library, a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh in partnership with the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh, is expanding.

A new program, PJ Our Way, will provide books to children ages 9 to 11 who live in the Pittsburgh community, bringing Jewish books into older children’s lives as PJ Library has done with younger children over the last 10 years.

Building on the success of PJ Library, which gives the gift of Jewish children’s books each month to more than 140,000 children ages 6 months to 8 years old in North America, including more than 1,000 in the Pittsburgh area, PJ Our Way allows program participants to select one of four books every month.

As part of the program, PJ Our Way participants can create book trailers, videos, quizzes, author interviews and other media to communicate with peers about the books. The website provides these new avenues for discussion.

PJ Our Way is guided by a design team made up of participants from around the country. These children have early access to books and create videos and reviews, interview authors, participate in workshops and lead the conversation amongst their peers. Subscribers can apply to be a part of the national design team each October.

PJ Library is a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in partnership locally with the Federation and the JCC.

Contact Lauren Bartholomae, 412-339-5417 or for more information or visit to enroll.

Two Western Pennsylvania champions of diversity — Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Urban Affairs Foundation, which is a part of the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh — have joined forces to implement this year’s Mini Grants Initiative: 2016 Civic Inclusion & Engagement Fund to promote diverse communities in the Pittsburgh region. Each organization has committed $25,000 to create a $50,000 pool.

The term of proposed projects should be one year. The typical range of a grant award is $1,000 to $7,500.

Grant application materials are available at Completed grant applications are due by 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 4 and should be sent to

Vibrant Pittsburgh and the Urban Affairs Foundation will announce Mini Grant awardees in June 2016.