Metro Briefs February 17

Metro Briefs February 17

Temple Sinai is looking for lollipop kids, monkeys, witches and more for its “Wizard of Oz” themed Purim shpiel. Rehearsals are every Sunday in February and open to all ages. Rehearsals begin with lunch at noon and practice from 12:30 p.m. until about 2 p.m. The shpiel will take place on Saturday, March 11 at 6:15 p.m. Love to sing, dance or act? Then this is a perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon at Temple Sinai, 5505 Forbes Ave.

Contact Cantor Laura Berman at or (412) 421-9715, ext. 112 for more information.

The Jewish Life and Learning Department of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has partnered with Gratz College to offer an online teacher training program, NEXT, to teachers in Pittsburgh-area Jewish part-time religious schools serving students in the elementary and high school years. Gratz’s NEXT (New Excellent Teacher Training) program is an intensive program that consists of a series of four-week courses designed to build the skills and knowledge that part-time Jewish educators need.

The Jewish Life and Learning Department will subsidize the cost of tuition for one course as well as provide a stipend for part-time Jewish educators in Pittsburgh who have preapproval from their principals. The arrangements may apply to the NEXT session that begins on Monday, Feb. 27. Gratz College will offer three more four-week sessions in 2017.

The NEXT program is designed to provide individualized professional development for teachers. Rabbi Amy Bardack, director of Jewish Life and Learning of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, believes the program will fill a gap in teaching.

“Teachers who have Jewish knowledge but lack formal education training can learn basic pedagogy through the Boot Camp for New Teachers course. Those ready to expand their tools can learn about incorporating the arts or project-based learning,” Bardack explained.

Course participants come from all areas of the United States, and course instructors have expertise in Jewish supplemental schools. The program is offered four times per year, with each course involving about two hours of study per week for four weeks. NEXT courses are asynchronous — that is, weekly study may occur at each student’s convenience.

Course topics cover a range of subjects, including the arts, project-based learning, addressing special needs, Jews and politics, and Hebrew through movement. Experts who have experience in Jewish supplemental school settings teach all courses.

Gratz College of Melrose Park, Pa., has been a pioneer in higher education and Jewish education since it opened, in 1895. Gratz is the oldest pluralistic college for Jewish studies in North America, and the oldest independent college offering Jewish studies. In addition, Gratz holds the distinction of being the first institution of advanced Jewish learning to accept women on par with men.

Contact Bardack at for more information.

Visit, email or call 215-635-7300, ext. 135 to register.

Zionist Organization of America: Pittsburgh reminds 10th- and 11th-grade students and their parents that applications to ZOA’s Israel Scholarship Program are due by Feb. 28. Area Jewish students traveling to Israel this summer on structured study programs and who will be juniors or seniors in high school in the fall of 2017 are eligible to apply. Three $1,000 scholarships will be awarded.

Contact ZOA Executive Director Stuart Pavilack at 412-665-4630 or for more information. The Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh will hold its premier fundraising event, Big Night Big Prom, on Saturday, March 4 at 7:30 p.m. at the JCC in Squirrel Hill. The JCC’s 11th annual Party With a Purpose will include drinks, dinner and dancing.

This year, the JCC will honor Mardi and Bill Isler. Mardi has been a consultant to the JCC on early childhood and after-school programs. Bill, who serves on the JCC board, is CEO of the Fred Rogers Company and a longtime educator. Their passion for improving the lives of children makes this community a better place.

Big Night is the JCC’s premier fundraising event, serving as both a celebration and an opportunity to recognize the community’s support through the JCC Annual Fund, which provides scholarships that enable individuals of all backgrounds, abilities, religious affiliations and financial need to participate in the programs and services.

Carole and Jerry Katz and Lauren and Scott Americus are the event co-chairs.

Contact or 412-697-3510 or visit for more information.