Metro Briefs May 23

Metro Briefs May 23

Michael Chabon
Michael Chabon

Michael Chabon, the well-known Pittsburgh-raised Jewish American novelist whose books often have strong Jewish characters and sometimes Pittsburgh settings, has been named to The Jerusalem Post  list of the “50 Most Influential Jews.”

Chabon, the author of “The Mysteries of Pittsburgh,” “Wonder Boys” and “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union,” placed 29th on the list behind blogger Ben Smith and ahead of Sara Netanyahu, a psychologist and wife of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Chabon, whose parents divorced when he was 11, grew up part of the year in Pittsburgh and the rest of the time in Columbia, Md. He attended Carnegie Mellon University for one year before transferring to the University of Pittsburgh where he graduated. He then went to graduate school at the University of California, Irvine, where he studied creative writing.

In an interview he gave to the Post, Chabon said being Jewish is a “central” theme in his life.

“I have no hesitation saying that being Jewish is unquestionably one of the ways I define myself to the world,” he said. Being Jewish colors my way of seeing everything from being a parent to how to vote.”

Yair Lapid, Israeli finance minister and leader of the upstart Yesh Atid party in Israel, topped the list.

WorkAble, a partnership of the Career Development Center (CDC) of Jewish Family & Children’s Service of Pittsburgh (JF&CS), North Hills Community Outreach (NHCO) and South Hills Interfaith Ministry (SHIM), held two career fairs this week at SHIM offices in Bethel Park and at the Millvale Community Center.

Launched in the fall of 2012 and supported by the United Way of Allegheny County, WorkAble is a countywide employment and critical needs service for financially struggling adults, especially those newly struggling and those who are one event away from crisis. WorkAble serves unemployed and underemployed individuals throughout Allegheny County at NHCO sites in Allison Park and Millvale, SHIM offices in Bethel Park and JF&CS offices in Squirrel Hill.

WorkAble is an expansion of JF&CS’s holistic, high quality combination of employment and critical needs services that has successfully helped thousands of people find work and return to self-sufficiency, while including new components, such as NHCO’s experience in communitywide volunteerism. WorkAble is unique in that the program serves both jobseekers ready to meet the challenges of a job search and employment, as well as employers seeking talent.

Those who are struggling and need assistance can call the WorkAble hotline at 412-904-5993.

Hillel Jewish University Center will thank Aaron and Sharon Weil for their 10 years of dedication to the Pittsburgh community and Jewish campus life with an evening of celebration, memories and dessert Tuesday, May 28, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the JUC, 4607 Forbes Ave. in Oakland.

Contact Caryn Goldenberg at or 412-621-8875, ext.112 for reservations and for more information.

Bricolage, the “adventurous theater” located at 937 Liberty Ave., announced the details of WordPlay, a collaboration with local comedy writer and performer Alan Olifson.

WordPlay is a new event that blends humorous true stories with a live music mash-up. Actors, comedy writers and everyday people read their own funny, and often poignant, true stories with a live DJ score. Using anything from Bach to Britney Spears, the producer works with each performer to develop the soundtrack, creating a rich storytelling experience. The result will be something distinct, collaborative, lively, and — most importantly — funny.

The first installment of this quarterly series debuts Friday, May 31, with storytellers David Harris-Gershon, Nora McLoughlin, Alan Olifson, Amanda Hamilton Roos and Todd Shaffer, with live music provided by DJ Firefly. The show begins at 8 p.m. There is a charge.

WordPlay’s creator and producer Olifson, the host of Pittsburgh’s monthly Moth StorySLAM series, transplanted this event to the Steel City from Los Angeles, where it ran successfully for five years.

“Alan approached us last year about hosting a one-time WordPlay event at Bricolage and we immediately loved the concept,” said Jeffrey Carpenter, artistic director of Bricolage in a prepared statement. “We aim to present programs that blend performance styles and that provide an opportunity for our audience to experience something special onstage. WordPlay really fits with our mission and we are excited to help make this an ongoing event.”

WordPlay is supported in part by a Seed Award from The Sprout Fund.

Visit the WordPlay website at or Facebook page for more information and to purchase tickets.

Chabad of the South Hills seventh annual Women’s Spring Dinner will be held Tuesday, May 28, from 6 to 9 p.m. at 1701 McFarland Road.

The evening will begin with a wine and cheese reception and silent auction, followed by dinner featuring guest speaker Chani Baron.

Baron, co-director of Chabad of Howard County, Md., is a Jewish women’s educator who recently delivered the keynote address at the international conference of Chabad Shluchos. She is featured in the book “Jewish Mothers: Strength, Wisdom, Compassion,” by Lloyd Wolf, and her husband, Rabbi Hillel Baron, has been involved in kosher supervision of the White House kitchen.

The evening will also include musical entertainment provided by Mollie Neuman on the harp.

Contact for more information or to make reservations.

Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh will introduce Ga-ga, an Israeli game growing in popularity among American kids at its day and overnight camps this summer.

The JCC’s James and Rachel Levinson Day Camp, held at the Family Park in Monroeville, and Emma Kaufmann Camp in Morgantown, W.Va., are each setting up Ga-ga “pits,” the courts in which the fast-moving game is played.

Ga-ga (touch-touch) is a dodgeball-like game played with a large cushioned rubber ball inside a court; players use an underhand throw in attempting to hit one another below the knees or waist to eliminate opponents from the court.  

Contact Liza Baron at 412-521-8011, ext. 241 or for more information about J&R. For information about EKC, contact Sam Bloom at 412-521-8011, ext. 366 or

The Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee’s Christian-Jewish Dialogue will meet Thursday, June 6, noon, at Congregation Beth Shalom, 5915 Beacon St.  The group will have a wrap up discussion and planning meeting before adjourning for the summer.  Members should bring ideas for the 2013-2014 dialogue.  The regular monthly conveners are Rabbi James Gibson, Father Radu Bordeianu, Rev. Linda 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.