Metro Briefs February 21

Metro Briefs February 21

Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay
Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay

Rabbi Stephanie Ruskay will conclude the two-year “Conversations for a Jewish Future” lecture series, Wednesday, March 13, 7 p.m., in the Jewish Community Center, Squirrel Hill, when she speaks on the topic, “If Not Now, Then? Our Community’s Relationship with Social Justice in the Future.”

Ruskay is the national director for community engagement at AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, which advances tikkun olam by fighting poverty in the United States and grooms future leaders by inspiring Jewish individuals through placements in anti-poverty organizations. Previously, she served as the associate director of education at American Jewish World Service and as a volunteer in Bulgaria for the Jewish Service Corps.

Trained as an organizer by Jewish Funds for Justice and the Industrial Areas Foundation, Ruskay served as program director for Face to Face/Faith to Faith, a multifaith youth leadership and conflict resolution program for Christian, Jewish and Muslim youth from the Middle East, South Africa, Northern Ireland, and the United States run under the auspices of Auburn Theological Seminary.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Agency for Jewish Learning co-sponsored the series, which has been underwritten by the Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, of the Federation’s Jewish Community Foundation.  

The series drew several noteworthy speakers to Pittsburgh, including Steven M. Cohen, research professor of Jewish social policy, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and director, Berman Jewish Policy Archive at NYU Wagner; Alan Hoffmann, director general of the Jewish Agency for Israel; and Amy Sales, associate director, Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis University.  

There is a charge for admission.

Register online at or contact Danielle Kranjec at 412-521-1101, ext. 3204 or

J Street Pittsburgh will sponsor a special event examining the results and implications of Israel’s recent elections. Sunday, March 3, 3 p.m., at Congregation Beth Shalom.

Pittsburgh native Joel Rubin, director of policy and government affairs for the Ploughshares Fund, will be the guest speaker, discussing what Israeli elections mean for U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Rubin also writes a regular political column for the Chronicle.

The program will examine whether Israel’s recent election is cause for optimism on the peace front, and what it might mean for the global effort to combat Iran’s nuclear program.

The program is the first in a series on Israel’s elections hosted by the Beth Shalom Adult Education Program.

Good Deeds Day, an international day of volunteering, will come to Pittsburgh, Sunday, March 10.

Sponsored locally by the Jewish Federation Volunteer Center, the event will be modeled on the Center’s Mitzvah Day, which engaged more than 700 volunteers on Dec. 25, 2012.

Originally launched in Israel in 2007, Good Deeds Day attracted 7,000 volunteers that first year.  Last year, it drew more than 250,000 participants and encompassed some 3,600 projects in Israel alone.

Locally, on March 10, hundreds are expected to perform a wide range of volunteer tasks at sites throughout the Pittsburgh area. Activities to take place at different times throughout the day will range from visiting and entertaining the elderly, to making toys for sick children, to preparing food for distribution through area food pantries.

To view the opportunities and register for Good Deeds Day, visit the Volunteer Center online at  

Good Deeds Day is underwritten by Giant Eagle and Huntington Bank. In addition, the KIND bar corporation has donated KIND bars for the event. Volunteers are invited to a free breakfast at the Jewish Community Center in Squirrel Hill, from 8 to 10 a.m., including a volunteer rally at 8:15 a.m.

In conjunction with Good Deeds Day, the Volunteer Center will be collecting new, unused winter clothing items — gloves, boots, scarves, hats, coats etc. — for the Children’s Village in Karmiel/Misgav, our partner region in Israel in the Partnership2Gether project.  All items can be brought to the breakfast at the JCC on Good Deeds Day and dropped off in the specially marked box.  Donations also will be accepted at the Federation. Call 412-992-5214 before dropping off the items.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh will present a panel discussion titled, “The Other Side of the Fiscal Cliff Wednesday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m., at the
 Jewish Community Center
in Squirrel Hill.

The fiscal cliff was narrowly averted earlier this year, but the need to balance the budget remains. And government spending cuts for social service agencies still loom.

David Brown, chair of the Human Services & Public Policy Committee of the Jewish Federations of North America
chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Chicago, will be the keynote speaker for the program. The panelists will be Deborah Winn-Horvitz, CEO, Jewish Association on Aging;
Aryeh Sherman, CEO, Jewish Family & Children’s Service;
and Dr. Karen Wolk Feinstein, president & CEO, Jewish Heathcare Foundation.

Contact Eric Probola at or 412-992-5247 for more information. 

Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee will hold its inaugural Caplan-Lieber Bridge Builders Award Reception, Tuesday, March 12, 5:30 p.m. at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Downtown. Mark S. Frank, Justin M. Johnson and Judge Livingston M. Johnson will be honored for their work to improve intergroup relations while fostering human and civil rights.

Following the reception, guests are invited to attend a special performance of the PBT production, “Thurgood,” a one-man play about the life of America’s first black U.S. Supreme Court justice, Thurgood Marshall.

The reception begins at 5:30; the play, 7 p.m.

Contact PAJC at 412-605-0816 or to attend.

Jewish Association on Aging is listed in the Top 20 of organizations that demonstrate how better care transitions can prevent re-admissions.

The JAA was a finalist in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s (RWJF) contest to find innovative programs to reduce potentially avoidable hospitalizations through better care transitions. The JAA’s video about their care navigator position, along with other contest entries, can be seen online as entries of the RWJF’s “Transitions to Better Care” video contest.

More than 100 videos were submitted showcasing innovative, patient-centered approaches at transition points in care.

The contest is part of “Care About Your Care,” a month-long effort sponsored by RWJF to focus attention on the national problem of people returning to the hospital soon after they are discharged.

Almost one in five elderly patients released from a hospital is back within 30 days and more than a third are back within 90 days. Many of these return visits could be avoided with better care transitions when a patient is discharged from the hospital.

The JAA’s video showed a newly created position, the care navigator, whose job is to guide each patient and family through the various levels of care services available within the continuum of care, addressing specific needs as they arise.

View the JAA video at Contact Kathy Fuller, director of marketing, at 412-521-2475 or for more information.

Chabad of the South Hills will hold a pre-Passover senior luncheon Wednesday, March 13, at noon at 1701 McFarland Road, Mt. Lebanon. There will be a model seder, Passover music, holiday foods and raffle prizes; there is a suggested donation. The building is wheelchair accessible.

Contact Barb at 412-278-2658 or to register or for more information.

JFilm will present a special screening of “Eddie Rosenstein: An Evening of Film” Saturday, March 2, 7:30 p.m., at the Melwood Screening Room, Pittsburgh Filmmakers, in Oakland. A Q&A with Rosenstein, a Pittsburgh native, will be held after the screening, followed by a reception. Dietary laws observed.

JFilm is a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh. Seating is limited. For tickets visit or call 412-992-5203.