Metro Briefs December 2

Metro Briefs December 2

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh issued a letter to the community with a reminder that it represents, without exception, a diverse community and acts in a nonpartisan manner and that discourse, which can be divisive and difficult, is part of this country’s democratic process.

The letter, co-signed by Cynthia Shapira, chair of the board, and Jeff Finkelstein, president and CEO of Federation, shared concern about the increasingly charged rhetoric from a variety of sources espousing hate and bigotry against some communities and states, “We must never allow political disagreements to justify hateful, racist, sexist, xenophobic or anti-Semitic words or actions. We stand with all who are targeted by those who seek to divide, demonize and intimidate.”

In closing, the letter encourages all members of the community to engage with civility in order to play a “constructive role in helping our nation heal by focusing on that which unites us.”

Ethical issues stemming from the use of unsubstantiated or “junk” science will be discussed at the next Ethics and Eats session at Duquesne University. Hosted by the Wecht Institute of Forensic Science and Law, “Forensic Failures: The Ethics of Unfounded Science in the Courtroom” will be held on Friday, Dec. 2 from 11 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. in the Africa Room of Duquesne’s Student Union.

This is the third installment in the Ethics and Eats series, which is offered both on site and online. It was created to provide attorneys an opportunity to meet their annual Continuing Legal Education (CLE) requirements during a convenient lunchtime session.

DNA scientist Dr. Mark Perlin and criminal defense attorney Michael Machen will be the featured presenters at the sessions, which offer two hours of ethics CLE credit. The onsite session is open to the public and other professionals.

Contact, 412-396-1330 or visit visit for more information, including cost options.

Jay D. Aronson, associate professor of science, technology and society, and director of the Center for Human Rights Science at Carnegie Mellon University, will speak on Sunday, Dec. 4 at 10 a.m. at Congregation Beth Shalom. His research and teaching focus on the interactions of science, technology, law, politics and human rights in a variety of contexts.

Aronson’s latest book, “Who Owns the Dead? The Science and Politics of Death at Ground Zero,” was published by Harvard University Press in September. It focuses on the recovery, identification, and memorialization of the victims of the 9/11 World Trade Center attacks.

RSVPs are appreciated at 412-421-2288.

The Music at Rodef Shalom Series will welcome Douglas Levine & Friends with Levine on piano, and friends, Roi Mezare on clarinet and Raquel Winnica Young, vocalist, to the Herbert Shook Memorial Concert on Monday, Dec. 5 at 8 p.m. Rodef Shalom Congregation is located at 4905 Fifth Ave.

The concert is free and open to the community. A reception will follow the performance to provide an opportunity to meet and to converse with the musicians. The Sisterhood Gift Shop will be open and refreshments will be served.

Levine, a music director and pianist, is an active composer for theater and dance. This past summer the Microscopic Opera Company performed his chamber opera, “Mercy Train.” He has written or arranged for local companies, including Pittsburgh Public Theatre, City Theatre, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, and Renaissance City Women’s Choir.

Mezare, a native of Israel, is the principal clarinet of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in West Virginia. He studied at the Israel Conservatory of Music in Tel Aviv, Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto and Carnegie Mellon University. He has performed with various ensembles and orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Mezare has received awards in Israel and the United States. He and his family reside in Pittsburgh.

The mezzo-soprano/actress Young was a finalist of the Vocal Art Song Discovery Series DC 2016 and a two-time winner of the Pittsburgh Concert Society Competition. Born in Cordoba, Argentina, her career has taken her to concert halls throughout the Americas and Europe. She is adjunct faculty in the Voice Department of Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

A program on planning for the future for individuals with special needs will be co-presented by Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JF&CS) and Jewish Residential Services (JRS) on Tuesday, Dec. 6 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Friendship Circle in Squirrel Hill at 1922 Murray Ave.

Featured speakers include Jillian Zacks, attorney at Strassberger McKenna Gutnick and Gefsky; Patty Yerina, education and outreach coordinator at ACHIEVA Family Trust; Nicole Iole, director of guardianship services at JF&CS and representatives from Reliable Payee Service. The program will provide information and resources related to planning for the future and ensuring the long-term well-being and care of children and adults with special needs. The program is appropriate for individuals with special needs and their loved ones.

The program is free and open to the community and includes a light kosher meal at 6 p.m. Registration is required. Contact or for more information and to register.

Pittsburgh Young Judaea invites interested families to its Camp Young Judaea Open House and Chanukah Party on Sunday, Dec. 11 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Congregation, 5898 Wilkins Ave. The director, Robin Anderson, will talk about CYJ Midwest, a pluralist camp for second- to ninth-graders. First time campers may be eligible for a $1,000 camping grant. There will be dreidel playing, Chanukah cookies and latkes as well.

To RSVP or learn more, contact or call Barbara Baumann 412-421-9713. Visit CYJ’s website at

“My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes of the Holocaust” is the next Sisterhood Movie Night film at Rodef Shalom Congregation on Sunday, Dec. 11 at 7:30 p.m.

The documentary is about a little known resistance movement by Italian citizens to save Jews in Italy during World War II while risking their own lives by defying the Nazis. An estimated 80 percent of Italy’s Jews survived WWII because of the efforts of ordinary Italian citizens as well as the efforts by prominent Italians like cycling champion Gino Bartali, who hid Jews in his home and smuggled fake identity documents in his bicycle frame for Jewish exiles sheltering in monasteries and convents. Another Italian hero was physician Giovanni Bordromeo, who invented a fictitious disease to defend the Rome hospital where he was hiding Jews.

American director Oren Jacoby, who has been nominated for awards for many of his films, includes inspiring stories told by descendants of Italian rescuers as well as survivors who escaped the concentration camps as children because of their efforts. Actress Isabella Rossellini narrates the film.

The community is invited at no charge. The Italian community in Pittsburgh, who can take pride in the efforts made to save Italian Jews during WWII, will be invited.

The community is invited to hear Rabbi Akiva Sutofsky, M.S., speak on the subject of effectively parenting adolescents and teens by establishing open and honest lines of communication with children at a series of lectures called Parenting With A Plan at Hillel Academy of Pittsburgh. Sutofsky is the school counselor at Hillel Academy and maintains a private practice in the Squirrel Hill area. All sessions are from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at 5685 Beacon St.

The first session, on Dec. 13, will be “Gotta Know the Basics”; session two on Jan. 3 is “Lost in the Confusion”; and on Jan. 31, “Juggling Chainsaws: Parenting Strategies That Actually Work.”

Call 412-521-8131 for more information.  

Chabad of the South Hills in Mt. Lebanon will hold its Chanukah seniors lunch on Wednesday Dec. 28 and will include Chanukah music and entertainment, hot latkes and a holiday game. There is a $5 suggested donation. The building is wheelchair accessible.  

RSVP to Barb at 412-278-2658 or

The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh announced that Jason Kunzman will be joining the staff in the new position of chief program officer, effective Jan. 3, 2017. Kunzman will join the senior management team with the primary responsibility for leading and providing ongoing supervision and support of major service areas of the agency, including early childhood development, elementary-aged programming, camping, and wellness. He is also charged with providing strong visionary, creative and thoughtful leadership to all areas of the JCC, driving the function of innovation throughout the agency and developing clear action plans and systems to address financial and operational challenges and opportunities.

Kunzman brings with him experience in working with people, service delivery systems, client outcomes and care and operational/financial management.

A native of Rockland County, N.Y., he recently returned to Pittsburgh after spending six years in the Washington, D.C., area, working in both the public and private sectors of health care.