Metro Briefs May 5

Metro Briefs May 5

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills, spiritually led by husband-wife duo Rabbis Alex and Amy Greenbaum, is celebrating its centennial year. The congregation, tucked away in a remote corner between Mt. Lebanon and Scott Township, will celebrate its centennial through a series of events, recognitions and fundraisers. The kickoff event on Sunday, May 7 is a sold-out tribute dinner honoring Rabbis Alex and Amy’s 15 years of service to Beth El. The New York-based and internationally renowned a cappella group the Maccabeats, known for its lighthearted, humorous and unique entertainment, will be performing.  

Beth El originated in Beechview, thanks to the efforts of Rebecca Ruderman, a mother of eight, who wanted to create a religious school for her children that was closer than the largely Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood.

As interest grew, so did the need for an expanded space. In the early 1960s, a lot was purchased where Beth El currently resides in Scott Township. Over the years, additional membership growth required Beth El to expand several times to accommodate its current 400 plus family community.

Throughout the course of the next year, Beth El hopes to celebrate this “simcha” — joy — not just inside the walls of the synagogue but also within the larger Jewish community and the Scott Township and Mt. Lebanon areas.  

“For The Love of Spock,” a documentary tribute to the iconic, emotionless Mr. Spock, a popular character played by Leonard Nimoy in a variety of television series and films spanning six decades, will be the next feature at Rodef Shalom Sisterhood Movie Night on Sunday, May 7 at 7:30 p.m.

“For the Love of Spock,” written and directed by his son Adam Nimoy, captures the essence of Spock’s nature and the imagination of a whole generation of young people known to this day as Trekkies. Leonard Nimoy narrates much of the film. He died in 2015 while this documentary was being made, and Adam Nimoy completed the film.

The community is invited to attend at no charge and Trekkie costumes are acceptable. Vulcan refreshments will be served after the film.

Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha invites the community to the 2017 Omer Institute Speakers Series of fun and informative adult educational lectures and programs.

On Monday, May 8 Laura Cherner, assistant director of the Community Relations Council at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, will discuss “Campus Ambassadors Mission to Israel” and “Bridges to Tomorrow.” The presentation will serve as an overview of an innovative Israel trip designed to educate students on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through hands-on experiences with Arabs in Israel. “Bridges to Tomorrow” focuses on creating a network of resistance to the BDS movement and building relationships with the African-American community in Pittsburgh.

On Monday, May 15 Paul Roth, member of Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha and instructor at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, will present “Jewish Music in the Big Band Era.” Roth will focus on the Jewish musicians and bands that made this type of music wildly popular. Included in this presentation will be a chronological history of the development of the American song, from the concept of publishing single songs for the masses to the creation of the American Song Book.

On Monday, May 22 Laurie Zittrain Eisenberg, professor of Middle East history at Carnegie Mellon University, will present “Six Day War Stories” in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 war. Learn about the coincidences, lucky breaks, bad luck, close calls, good calls, bad ideas, and strange but true episodes that brought the brief war to its stunning conclusion.

All sessions begin at 7 p.m. at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha, 5898 Wilkins Ave., and will include light refreshments. There is no cost and all programs are open to the community. Contact Alex Speck at 412-521-6788 or for more information.

The Squirrel Hill Historical Society will hold its next free meeting on Tuesday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m. at Church of the Redeemer, 5700 Forbes Ave. Avi Baran Munro, head of school at Community Day School, will speak on “Community Day School: Preserving Tradition, Securing the Future.” Contact, 412-417-3707 or visit for more information.

On Mothers Day, May 14, the 25th Komen Pittsburgh Race for the Cure will be held in Schenley Park. The three founders of the Pittsburgh Race for the Cure — Laurie Moser, Pat Siger and Eileen Lane — are reuniting this year to serve as the honorary co-chairs for the Race. Moser, Siger and Lane, as members of the Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, were looking for a women’s health project that would bring about meaningful change. Their conversation in the summer of 1992 created a movement and changed lives. Under the auspices of NCJW, the first Race was held on Mother’s Day 1993.

NCJW continued to manage the Race until 2005, when the Race became a full affiliate of Susan G. Komen, the national organization. The Pittsburgh Race for the Cure has raised more than $31 million. Additional money has been raised through non-Race activities.

To date, Komen Pittsburgh has reinvested more than $20 million into the community through local grants that focus on education, screening and treatment and more than $7.6 million in national research.

Chabad of Western Pennsylvania invites the community to the Lag B’Omer Family Festival on Sunday, May 14 at Anderson Field in Schenley Park from noon to 4 p.m.

Contact 412-422-7300 or for more information.

“Bingo anyone?” will be held at the AARP Squirrel Hill Chapter 3354 after its monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 17 at 1 p.m. at New Light Congregation, 1700 Beechwood Blvd. Bonnie from Juniper Village will explain what Juniper Village is and what it does in the community. Afterward she will call the bingo game, prizes included. All are invited to attend; refreshments will be served after the game.

Contact Ilene Portnoy at 412-683-7985 for more information.

Chabad of Squirrel Hill will sponsor a women’s event, “Jars of Joy,” on Wednesday, May 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Chabad, 6401 Forbes Ave. Each participant will make two salads in a jar, one to take home and one to donate to the Squirrel Hill Food Pantry.

A variety of salads will be served, and the program will also include a short, interactive presentation on mindfulness.

The cost is $10 per person. Reservations are required by May 14 and can be made at or by calling 412-421-3561.

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills invites Pittsburgh Jewish communal professionals to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day with an evening of music, dinner and community on Friday, May 19 at 6 p.m. for Friday Night Live evening services with an Israeli themed dinner to follow. Contact for more information.

New Light Congregation invites the community to a brunch and conversation on Sunday, May 21 at 10 a.m. at 1700 Beechwood Blvd. in Squirrel Hill. Featured speakers are Dr. Knowledge and Miss Information (Charles and Audrey Reichblum). The charge is $15 per person. Send checks, payable to New Light Congregation, to Ilene Portnoy, 4 Bayard Road, #7, Pittsburgh, PA, 15213. Reservations are due by May 16; your check is your reservation.

As part of the Books in the ’Burgh literary series, join the Rauh Jewish History Program at the History Center and the Italian American Program for a discussion about the relationship between military service and American ethnic identity on Wednesday, May 24 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Library & Archives Reading Room

The program will include talks from Dr. Elaine Berkowitz, author of “Live Life … Love Country,” and Valerie DeFazio Vacula, author of “The Italian Campaign: The Forgotten War.” Berkowitz chronicles her experiences from a nearly 40-year career in the U.S. Army, including four tours of duty in Kosovo and Iraq. Vacula tells the story of her Italian-American father’s experience fighting in Italy during World War II.

Admission to this event is free but does not include access to museum exhibitions.

Contact Caroline Fitzgerald at or 412-454-6373 for more information and to register.

National Council of Jewish Women Pittsburgh Section will hold its annual meeting, presenting “Freedom of the Press Under Attack” with panel members John Allison, editor, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette; Ronald D. Barber, shareholder, Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky; and

Sarah Rose, senior staff attorney, ACLU, on Wednesday, May 24 form 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation, 4905 Fifth Ave. The charge is $10 for NCJW members and $15 for nonmembers.

Contact 412-421-6118 or to check membership status.

Members will be able to pick up a free copy of “Her Deeds Sing Her Praises,” the latest offering in NCJW Pittsburgh Section’s Oral History Project.

Visit for more information and to purchase tickets.

Chabad of the South Hills in Mt. Lebanon will hold its 11th annual Women’s Spring Event, “Relax, Recharge, Rejoice: Unleashing Our Feminine Power,” on Wednesday, May 24 at 6 p.m. The guest speaker will be Sharon Saul, psychologist, MS, with entertainment by Kol Shira, Pittsburgh’s Jewish women’s a cappella ensemble.

The evening will include tips on neurobiology/relaxation, aromatherapy and nutrition. There will be salad and dessert bars, raffle and auction prizes.

Reservations are $18 prepaid by May 19 and $25 after May 19.

For more information contact Batya at 412-512-2330 or

Classrooms Without Borders will host Dr. Gabriel Barkay for a series of community lectures in Pittsburgh. The lectures are free and open to the community and will include such topics as the history and politics of the Temple Mount, memoirs of his time as a soldier in the Six Day War, the Temple Mount Sifting Project, the discovery of the earliest biblical verses in Jerusalem, and biblical archeology from the time of David and Solomon. Barkay will also tour local CWB partnering schools.

Barkay was born in Hungary in 1944, and immigrated to Israel in 1950. He earned his doctorate in archaeology from Tel Aviv University in 1985. He was involved in the discovery of the Silver Scrolls, two silver amulets that contain the oldest biblical inscriptions ever found. He has been the director of the Israel Excavation Society Sifting Project since 2004, sifting soil from the Temple Mount area. Barkay is the recipient of the 1996 Jerusalem Prize for Archaeological Research, and is a professor at Bar Ilan University in Tel Aviv.

Visit for more information.

The 2017 Waldman International Arts and Writing Awards on Spiritual Resistance were announced at a ceremony on April 19 at the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh. Entries from the Pittsburgh area and from the partner regions of Karmiel/Misgav, Israel, were judged both in Pittsburgh and Israel.

Pittsburgh area winners in Creative Writing — Middle School are:

1st Place: Estie Engle, “The Soul That Burned,” Yeshiva Girls School of Pittsburgh; 2nd Place: Ainsley Kindred, “Internal Defiance,” Hopewell Memorial Jr. High School; and 3rd Place: Sophia Levin, “Hear O’Israel,” “Community Day School.

Visual Arts — Middle School winners are: 1st Place: Dori Catz, “Lost Hopes,” Community Day School; 2nd Place: Madison Zunder, “A Man in His Mirror,” Community Day School; and 3rd Place: Emma Stewart, “Protecting Poetry,” Community Day School.

Creative Writing — High School winners are: 1st Place: Manny Shollar, “Illegal Belief,” Yeshiva Boys School of Pittsburgh; 2nd Place: Kaylee Andrusier, “Resilience,” Yeshiva Girls School of Pittsburgh; and 3rd Place: Spencer Greenberg, “God is,” Shady Side Academy.

The Waldman International Arts and Writing Competition is annually underwritten by the Hal K. and Diane Waldman Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and is sponsored by the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh in collaboration with: J-Film, P2G — Partnership2Gether, Classrooms Without Borders, the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Karmiel/Misgav, Israel.