Metro Briefs February 14

Metro Briefs February 14

Rabbi James Gibson
Rabbi James Gibson

Temple Sinai is preparing for a series of programs to mark the 25th anniversary of  Rabbi James Gibson as its spiritual leader.

Programs, services and learning sessions are scheduled from March to May. In addition, noted Jewish leaders and entertainers are coming to Pittsburgh to join the celebration.

Here is a roundup of the celebratory events:

• Benjie Ellen Schiller, professor of cantorial arts at the School of Sacred Music, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, will sing with the Temple Sinai Intergenerational Choir at Shabbat evening services, Friday, March 15, 7 p.m.  The public is invited. Schiller will also make a special performance at a sponsor/patron dinner at a private home, Saturday, March 16. Another such dinner is set for Saturday, April 13.

• A “Mostly Musical Shabbat and Oneg,” featuring Gibson, music soloist Sara Stock Mayo and the Temple Sinai Band will be held, Friday, May 3, at 7 p.m. The public is invited.

• Rabbi David Saperstein, director and counsel of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, will deliver a guest Shabbat sermon, Saturday, May 4, 9:15 a.m. The public is invited. A lunch and learn session with Saperstein will follow the service. There is a charge.

• Craig Taubman, a popular Jewish singer and songwriter, will perform at the synagogue, Saturday, May 4, at 8 p.m. There is a charge for tickets, and different rates are set for adults, children and students with valid ID. Reservations must be received by April 18. A sponsor/patron event will follow the concert.

Contact Nicole Mezare, program director, at 412-421-9715, ext. 120 or nmezare@ for more information.

Duquesne University is holding the first in a series of religious art exhibits at the school’s Les Idees Gallery.

Ben Schachter, associate professor of fine art at St. Vincent College who has exhibited at Yale University and the Westmoreland County Museum of Art, brings together Jewish rule, community and art in his exhibit “Jewish Geography.”

The event, sponsored by the McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts, is the inaugural exhibit in an annual series of religious-themed artwork that Dean James Swindal hopes to bring to the campus community.

“It’s a way of giving our students and our departments — history, theology, sociology, philosophy — the benefit of the fine arts,” Swindal said in a prepared statement.

Schachter’s artwork, abstractions of physical places, focuses on the idea of the eruv, a symbolic enclosure that surrounds Jewish homes. He represents this idea through maps of eruvs from around the world.

In the Jewish tradition, Orthodox Jews cannot carry anything outside the eruv of their community on the Sabbath. For instance, carrying food or pushing a stroller from one house to another is forbidden on the Sabbath. Yet, Schachter sees this process as building community space.

“Fostering community is important in both the Catholic and Jewish traditions,” Schachter said in a prepared statement. “And yet, there are some laws that limit communal activities. I see an eruv as a highly regulated line running through space. For Orthodox Jewish communities, it blends individual houses into one communal home. At the same time, it is a collaged line winding its way through the city. More importantly, this set of rules is followed all over the world and to apply them in different places requires creativity.”

The exhibit, which is free and open to the public, runs through Monday, March 1.

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills will hold its annual Purim Carnival, Sunday, Feb. 24, from 10:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The carnival is open to the community and will include games, prizes, moon bounce, silent and Chinese auctions and an Israeli food fair. Tickets can be purchased at the door.

Call Beth El at (412) 561-1168 for more information.

The Orchid Society of Southwest Pennsylvania Annual Show will be held March 23 and 24 at the Phipps Garden Center, 1059 Shady Ave.

This year’s theme is, “An Orchid Obsession,” and will look at the ease of becoming hooked on orchids. Visitors will see hundreds of orchids in full bloom, designed exhibits and floral arrangements.  The show also will include free educational seminars, plant raffles and sales by vendors from all over the eastern United States and, for the first time, a vendor from Ecuador.

A team of certified American Orchid Society judges will judge the orchids and exhibits.  Admission is free and open to the community. Call 724-224-4012 or visit for more information.

The Biblical Archeology Society of Pittsburgh will present a photo lecture program by Ram Kossowsky, president of the society, titled “Ethnogenesis of Ancient Israel,” Sunday, Feb. 17, 7:30 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation.

There is a donation for those who are not current members of the society. Contact Robert Loos at 412-921-3747 for more information about the Society.

Squirrel Hill AARP Chapter 3354 will hold their Wednesday, Feb. 20, meeting at 1 p.m. at New Light Synagogue, located at 1700 Beechwood Blvd. at Forbes Avenue.

Following the business meeting, Mary Bock, a consumer advocate of AARP, will speak. Refreshments will be served.

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