Metro Briefs December 11

Metro Briefs December 11

The ninth annual Vodka Latke will be held on Saturday, Dec. 13 from 8 p.m. to midnight at IVY Pittsburgh (18th Street entrance in the Strip District). Enjoy the open bar, kosher spread with latkes and cookies, photo booth, DJ and more. Tickets are available for $20 in advance or $30 at the door. New this year is to make it a “Party with a Purpose” by bringing items for the Howard Levin Clubhouse, the Squirrel Hill Community Food Pantry or Hillel Academy.

Shalom Pittsburgh’s Hillary Friedman and Kristen and Matt Keller are chairing the event. Reservations should be made online at by Friday, Dec. 12. Contact Amy Cohen at 412-992-5245 for more information.

Congregation Dor Hadash invites children ages 18 months to 12 years for a Chanukah cookie baking event on Sunday, Dec. 14 at 11 a.m.  Parents of young children are encouraged to attend.  Reservations are requested but not required and should be made by contacting 412-422-5158 or

J Street Pittsburgh will hold a presentation and dialogue with Steve Krubiner, chief of staff at J Street, on Monday, Dec. 15 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in Levinson Hall at the Jewish Community Center. His presentation, “What’s Now and What’s Next for Israel,” will focus on the current situation in Israel, what is on the horizon, including the upcoming Israeli elections in March 2015, and the role that J Street will be playing.  This program is free and open to the community.

Krubiner has spent the past decade working on Middle East conflict resolution, including five years in Israel.  He was previously J Street’s director of Israel and international programs and oversaw efforts to highlight the support that exists in Israel for a two-state solution.

He has also served as a policy associate at the Institute for Inclusive Security, where he worked with Israeli and Palestinian women leaders on designing inclusive peace and security processes. Prior to this position, Krubiner worked for Search for Common Ground, where he was one of the coordinators of the Madrid+15 Conference, convening officials and civil society leaders from the Middle East, the United States, Europe and the United Nations to strategize on launching a regional and comprehensive approach to resolving Arab-Israeli conflicts.

The Jewish Community Center will hold its first night of Chanukah celebration on Tuesday Dec. 16 at 4:45 p.m. The celebration is open to the community. Meet at at the 5738 Forbes Ave. entrance in Squirrel Hill for the JCC menorah lighting. The celebration will include music from the Temple Sinai choir and the Hazamir Jewish High School Choir and sing-along with Rabbi Donni Aaron, JCC Jewish educator.

Chanukah activities at the South Hills JCC at 345 Kane Blvd., Scott Township will include a community Chanukah celebration on Sunday, Dec. 21 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The activities are open to the community; there is no charge. Reservations are requested but not required; contact Ann Haalman at 412-278-1782 or

The South Hills community will hold the first-night candle lighting on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 4:30 p.m. in the JCC lobby.

Squirrel Hill AARP Chapter 3354 will hold its next meeting on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 1 p.m. at New Light Congregation at 1700 Beechwood Blvd. at Forbes Avenue in Squirrel Hill. Following the business meeting, Jerry Sapir will play the violin, and there will be a holiday party. Refreshments will be served. The community is invited.

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

The Temple Sinai Seniors Group is hosting a musical Chanukah lunch on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at noon to celebrate the first day of Chanukah.  All are welcome to attend and enjoy toe-tapping, hand-clapping, sing-along music in the happy style of the Pittsburgh Banjo Club, one of the largest and best known banjo clubs in the country. 

Bring menorahs for lighting the candles together. 

There is an $18 charge.  Reservations are due by Dec. 12 and can be made by contacting Judy Mahan at 412-421-9715, ext. 110 or

Parkway Jewish Center will hold a swing dance, concert and holiday celebration on Sunday, Dec. 21 from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. featuring Henry Shapiro & Swing Fever with Shapiro on guitar and vocals, Dr. Nelson Harrison on trombone, Tom Roberts on piano, Denny Kurzawski on clarinet, Dave Pellow on bass and John Schmidt on drums.

Swing dance lessons are at 4 p.m.

Cost is $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Contact 412-823-4338, or for reservations and more information.

Rodef Shalom Congregation is reviving its tradition with gourmet kosher Chinese cuisine on Wednesday, Dec. 24 at 6 p.m. in Freehof Hall. After dinner there will be a film and sing-a-long with the movie “Frozen.”

The evening is open to the community. The charge is $25 for adults and $12 for kids ages 12 and under. Visit for more information.

Teens traveling to Israel in 2015 may qualify for a $1,750 scholarship from the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Need-based funding is also available. Applications are due April 30, 2015, but early applications are preferred. Contact Debbie Swartz at 412-992-5208 for more information or to receive an application.

Israeli Dance Pittsburgh has opportunities to learn Israeli dance, which is a fun and social way to connect with Israel, hear Israeli music and exercise for mind and body. Music ranges from the classic Hora sound to Middle Eastern melodies to current pop and rock, and dances range from simple walking to complicated choreography. Beginner classes will start with basic steps and classic dances. No experience is necessary, and all ages are welcome.

Lynn Berman will be teaching beginner classes in two locations that are followed by open dance sessions, included in admission.

Contact Lynn Berman at 412-403-3488 or or visit for more information and schedule.

Twenty leaders of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community began honing their ability to advocate for Israel on Nov. 30 by participating in an initiative of the Israel Action Network of the Jewish Federations of North America. The initiative, the Community Impact Partnership, has a curriculum that includes a practical application requirement.

The Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is the initiative’s partner in Pittsburgh.

Participants will complete an Israel-related community relations project to build local alliances that would involve outreach to churches, university groups, unions, racial and ethnic groups, other mutual benefit organizations or the media.

Participants include rabbis, lawyers, doctors and college students. Trainees were asked to participate in this invitation-only course on the basis of proven leadership skills and public support of Israel. Noam Gilboord, director of community strategy, Israel Action Network, is leading the three training sessions.

JFNA created the Israel Action Network in 2013, in partnership with the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, to increase the capacity of small and mid-sized Jewish communities to counter assaults on Israel’s legitimacy. In addition to training, the network provides resources, best-practice models and crisis-management tools.

For information about Partnership training and the advocacy activities of Pittsburgh participants in the program, contact Gregg Roman, CRC director, at 412-992-5234 or

Chabad Lubavitch of Pittsburgh will host the following events in celebration of Chanukah:

Sunday, Dec. 14:

>> Grand Car Menorah Parade at Schenley Plaza. Parade at 4:45p.m., candle lighting at 5:30 p.m.

Tuesday, Dec. 16:

>> Chabad of the South Hills Grand Menorah Lighting at the Galleria of Mt. Lebanon, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

>> Chabad of Monroeville, 2715 Mosside Blvd. at 6:30 p.m.: “Coinorah” latkes, doughnuts, crafts, and music.

>> Friendship Circle, Schenley Ice Skating Rink, 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.: latkes, doughnuts, soups, warm drinks, dreidels, music, games and much more.

Wednesday Dec. 17:

>> Cranberry Menorah Lighting, at 6:30p.m. Cranberry Township Building, 2525 Rochester Road: Indoor Chanukah party, hot drinks, latkes, live music and jelly doughnuts.

Thursday Dec. 18:

>> Fox Chapel Menorah Lighting, Fox Chapel Plaza at 6:30p.m.:

Laser light show, O’Hara Elementary second-grade chorus, hot drinks and latkes, jelly doughnuts and live music.

>> Chanukah Carnival-Lubavitch Center, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Games, rides and food court.