Metro Briefs February 13

Metro Briefs February 13

Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner
Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner

Two West Virginia rabbis will be among the 26 honorees at the Governor’s 11th Annual Civil Rights Day on Thursday, Feb. 27 in Charleston.

The honorees will receive the Civil Rights Day Award, which recognizes individuals who advance civil rights through advocacy. The award is presented through the West Virginia Human Rights Commission.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin will recognize Rabbi Beth Jacowitz Chottiner of Temple Shalom in Wheeling for her work as chair of the City of Wheeling Human Rights Commission; and Rabbi Victor Urecki of Congregation B’nai Jacob in Charleston for his longtime support of the state Human Rights Commission and his humanitarian and civic work.

A group of Jewish Pittsburghers is looking to develop a connection with an internationally active and established organization called Chai Lifeline.

Chai Lifeline works to support children with serious medical issues and their families. Families in Pittsburgh have benefited from their services over the years, and the group seeks to strengthen the connection in order to provide more consistent and extensive support for these families.

The group is seeking two to three individuals to dedicate time to help develop this connection. They would be volunteer employees of Chai Lifeline — trained and accountable to their professional standards — while working in the Pittsburgh community to network with medical professionals and establishments, identify those families in need and identify the needs of those particular families, and build a network of volunteers to help provide those needs.

Visit for more information about Chai Lifeline. Those interested in Pittsburgh should contact or call Chani Silver at 412-421-0508.

Gal Beckerman, an award-winning journalist and author of “When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone,” will be this year’s speaker at the Milton E. Harris Interfaith Institute Annual Clergy Breakfast and Lecture, Friday, March 14, 9 a.m., at Rodef Shalom Congregation.

“When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone,” chronicles the struggle to save Soviet Jewry. It shows how the movement led to the 1989 mass exodus of Jews from the Soviet Union and how it shaped the American Jewish community. The book was nominated for Best Book of the Year by the New Yorker and Washington Post and won the 2010 National Jewish Book Award and the 2012 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature.

Beckerman is the opinion editor for the Forward and former assistant editor of the Columbia Journalism Review.

J Street Pittsburgh will present another in its series on Middle East peace.

The program, “Water, Energy and the Peace Talks: Can Israel and Palestine Share Their Common Resources,” will be held Wednesday, Feb. 19, 7 p.m., at Temple Sinai’s Rogaliner Lounge, 5505 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill. All views are welcome.

The Temple Sinai Tikkun Olam Center for Jewish Social Justice is hosting the event.

Contact J Street Pittsburgh at for more information.

Ben Schachter, a professor of fine arts at Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, is attempting to leverage the use of social media to fund a creative project.

Schachter, of Regent Square, is on Kickstarter, a website that seeks funding for creative projects to create and distribute stickers for the kitchen that refer to religious observance of Jewish dietary laws — kashrut.

Households that follow this rule often have two sets of dishes, one for each kind of food, labeled with little oval stickers that say “dairy” or “meat.”

Schachter has designed the labels with the word “treyf” and is now seeking help to order materials, print the stickers and ship them off to people to enjoy in time for Passover in April.

The project will only be funded if at least $1,620 is pledged by Tuesday, Feb. 25.

The stickers are meant to be a funny, tongue-in-cheek pieces of art. The image is printed in black on clear sticker pages. Further information about the project is available at

Shaare Torah’s Chili Cookoff will take place Saturday, March 8. Bring your best chili recipes  — meat, chicken, vegetarian, hot or mild — and let the games begin.

Charges are $15 per adult, $8 per child (3-12 years), with a $48 family maximum; children 2 and under are free.  Cooks have a $5 entry fee plus the chance to be the winner of the Second Annual Shaare Torah Chili Cookoff. Sign up by Wednesday, Feb. 26, to cook. Sign up to eat by Friday, Feb. 28. 

Contact Linda in the Shaare Torah office at 412-421-8855 for reservations.  Contact Arielle Avishai at for further cooking details.

The Rauh Jewish Archives will present “Finding Jewish Ancestry through Genetics,” Sunday, Feb. 23, from 1 to 3 p.m., at Senator John Heinz History Center, 1212 Smallman St., with speaker Jeremy Balkin, Family Tree DNA.

Learn how Family Tree DNA’s application of genetics to traditional genealogy methods can help open new avenues to a family’s past and the extent of Jewish ancestry. Balkin will explain what can be discovered through a simple cheek swab.

Admission is free.  Refreshments will be served. 

Contact Kelly Smith at 412-454-6410 or to make reservations.

Living & Learning, a service of Squirrel Hill Psychological Services, will present two new programs in February and March, to be held at Temple David in Monroeville, 4415 Northern Pike:

• “Get Ready, Set, Talk,” Tuesday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m. — Stefanie Small, a geriatric care coordinator, will lead a discussion of the challenges and solutions related to the aging process with older adults;

• Interfaith Couples/Families, Wednesday, March 12, 7 p.m. — Wendy Levin-Shaw, a psychotherapist, will lead a discussion on the challenges of interfaith relationships and families.

The programs are free to the public. Contact Temple David at 412-372-1200 or at

The Agency for Jewish Learning, through its Hubert G. Feldman Jewish Inclusion Project, will hold a panel discussion with local experts on the topic of, “Common Concerns of Parents of Children with Special Learning Needs,” Wednesday Feb. 19, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Hillel Academy, 5685 Beacon St. The panel and discussion is open to all parents.

The program, which is being held in honor of Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month, will be an opportunity for Jewish parents to meet and determine if they would like to develop a support network to enhance the understanding of children with different learning needs.

Ella Ziff, at Hillel Academy, will moderate the program and will include presentations by Annie Pries, Becky Weinberg, Vita Nemirovsky, April Artz, and Terry Feinberg Steinberg.  

Contact Terry Steinberg at or 412-521-1101, ext. 3206 for more information.

Hebrew teachers and others interested in teaching Hebrew reading are invited to a special lunch and learn entitled, “Learning to Read Without the Vowels? — Helping struggling students learn to read Hebrew,” on Friday, Feb. 21, noon to 2 p.m., at Rodef Shalom Congregation.

This program is free of charge and is sponsored in honor of Jewish Disabilities Awareness Month. A kosher luncheon will be provided.

The session, presented by Vita Nemirovsky, will focus on best practices in reading instruction, how to reach the struggling student, and how to apply best practices.

Space is limited; register by Monday, Feb. 17, with or 412-521-1101, ext. 3206.