Metro Briefs February 3

Metro Briefs February 3

Noah Gardenswartz

Photo courtesy of Noah Gardenswartz
Noah Gardenswartz Photo courtesy of Noah Gardenswartz

Comedian Noah Gardenswartz will take the stage at the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s Young Adult Division (YAD) event, “Stand Up for Giving: Make Pittsburgh Laugh Again.” YAD invites Jewish and non-Jewish adults ages 21 to 45 to the event on  Saturday, Feb. 25, at 8 p.m. at the Kelly Strayhorn Theater, 5941 Penn Ave.

The cost is $50 per person. In addition to Gardenswartz’s performance, the evening will feature preshow cocktails and hors d’oeuvres and postshow desserts.

Gardenswartz is a New York–based comedian featured on “Conan” and Comedy Central’s “Adam Devine’s House Party.” He was a semifinalist in 2015 on NBC-TV’s “Last Comic Standing,” and had his own half-hour special on Comedy Central last year. Gardenswartz performs at clubs and colleges across the United States, and he works on behalf of Jewish Federations, Hillel Jewish University Centers and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

At the event, attendees will have the opportunity to make a financial gift to the Federation’s 2017 annual campaign. No minimum gift is required to attend.

For accommodations related to disabilities or to attend Stand Up for Giving, register online at or contact Meryl Franzos at or 412-992-5204. Kosher dietary laws will be observed.

February is Jewish Disability Awareness and Inclusion Month, which is recognized across the country. Temple Sinai has scheduled educative, fun and engaging events to spread awareness and create a welcoming atmosphere for all.

Temple Sinai will kick off the month with Mostly Musical Shabbat: A Sensory Friendly Experience on Friday, Feb. 3. The service will feature a fidget room with live streaming, large print prayer books, and services projected on the wall to create a visual and informal setting. A fundraiser to help build a handicapped ramp in the rose garden will be held for the community on Friday, Feb. 17. Congregants will be able to discover meaningful ways to learn about and interact with people in the community who are disabled.

At Temple Sinai, strides toward inclusivity have been made in the last year, including changing the format of the Shabbat service every first Friday to include the hearing and visually impaired and creating safe and varied environments for children with autism to worship.

Other events throughout the month include sensitivity training for clergy and staff and a brunch with a guest speaker on mental illness. A Shabbat service on Feb. 24 will include a guest speaker and Shabbat readings on disabilities.

Visit for more information and a calendar of activities.

In April of last year, Rabbi Hershy Gourarie, co-director along with his wife Miri of Chabad of the Undergrads at Penn State, lost his father, Yossi, after a prolonged battle with brain cancer. To honor his memory, the Chabad Student Board, together with fellow students, have organized a “Mega Shabbat” Friday night dinner, for which Chabad will donate $2 to THON for every student who attends. In addition, the student organization that brings the largest number of students will receive a $250 donation toward their THON fund.

One of the highlights of the Mega Shabbat will be the attendance of the president of Penn State University, Eric Barron, and his wife Molly, who will bring greetings from the university administration.

THON, a student-run philanthropy, is a yearlong effort to raise funds and awareness for the fight against pediatric cancer. Since 1977, THON has raised more than $137 million for Four Diamonds at Penn State Hershey Children’s Hospital. The fundraising efforts culminate with a 46-hour dance marathon the weekend of Feb. 17 at Penn State’s Bryce Jordan Center.

The Mega Shabbat dinner will take place on Friday, Feb. 3 from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Alumni Hall. Visit or for more information.

The American Jewish Museum of the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh and Chai Mitzvah will hold a reception and artist talk with Archie Rand on Saturday, Feb. 4, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in Levinson Hall at the JCC. “Sixty Paintings from the Bible” features Rand’s mash-up of comics, pulpy-style drawing and biblical narrative that generate a visually stunning and thoughtful body of work.

The exhibit will be on view through March 29. There is no charge to attend. Visit for more information.

The Holocaust Center will hold two events with Alan Rosen, an expert on Elie Wiesel, on Monday, Feb. 6. From 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. there will be a teacher training session with Rosen. Any educator who teaches the Holocaust is welcome to attend, but the training will be of particular interest to those who use Wiesel’s book “Night” in the classroom. The training will include an overview of age-appropriate literature of the Holocaust and the place of “Night,” how to use Wiesel’s work in teaching the Holocaust, his legacy and what we can still learn from Wiesel’s works and Rosen’s personal recollections of working with Wiesel. 

The cost is $10 to attend, or $25 for those educators who want Act 48 credit. The training is free for Holocaust survivors and students (must present a valid student ID at the door). A question and answer segment will follow; light refreshments will be served. 

Rosen will also give a lecture at the Holocaust Center at 7 p.m. on “Capturing the Fire, Envisioning the Redemption: The Life and Work of Elie Wiesel.”  

Contact Christina Sahovey at or 412-939-7289 to RSVP or for more information.

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills will hold the third session of its Winter Speaker Series on Thursday, Feb. 9, at 7 p.m. at 1900 Cochran Road.

The program is free and open to the community and starts with a complimentary wine and cheese reception.

Rabbi Alex Greenbaum of Beth El Congregation and Rabbi Mark Mahler of Temple Emanuel will talk about concepts of God. Beth El’s adult education committee presents this series.

Visit for more information. To RSVP in advance call 412-561-1168. Beth El is located on 1900 Cochran Road.

NA’AMAT USA, Pittsburgh Council invites women in the community to a Tu B’Shevat Woman’s Spiritual Check Up on Thursday, Feb. 16, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at NA’AMAT House, 6328 Forbes Ave. for celebrating “the New Year for the Trees” with a seder that will include readings, eating fruits, and having meaningful and stimulating conversations. RSVP to by Feb. 14; donations will be accepted.

The community is invited to the NCSY Q on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh’s Katz Theater. Doors open at 8 p.m.

The Q helps raise money for the local events and activities of Pittsburgh NCSY. This includes educational and leadership programs, community service events, Shabbat experiences, Jewish Student Union clubs in local public schools and more.

Visit for more information and tickets.

Nominations are open for the 2017 Shore-Whitehill Award, which was created in 1996 and named for Robert Whitehill and the late Barbara Shore and celebrates volunteers who promote inclusion of people with disabilities in the fabric of Jewish life through advocacy or direct service to individuals and families.

Organizations that nominate awardees receive a grant of $1,000 to help underwrite the costs of a recognition event and/or inclusion activities. Awardees receive an original sculpture by the late Sylvia Plutchok, a Pittsburgh-based artist. The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and Jewish Residential Services present this award annually.

Past winners of the Shore-Whitehill Award include Daniel Leger, Janie Yahr and Judy Greenwald Cohen.

The deadline for nominations for the 2017 Shore-Whitehill Award has been extended to Friday, Feb. 24. The nomination form is available at

Contact Jewish Residential Services at or 412-325-0039 for more information.

The Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh will present “Annelies,” a choral work by the English composer James Whitbourn based on “The Diary of Anne Frank,” on Saturday, Feb. 25 at Rodef Shalom Congregation.

Music director Matthew Mehaffey notes that “Annelies” sheds new light on the words of this familiar book. By hearing Anne’s words sung live by both soprano soloist and choir, the audience is brought into a relationship with Anne in a way that the words alone can never achieve.  Anne’s descriptions of moments of great fear, sadness, and even levity, become more poignant when coupled with what has been described as the “woundingly beautiful” music of Whitbourn’s score. The Mendelssohn performance will be the Pittsburgh premiere.

Immediately following the performance there will be a “Talk Back” moderated by Paul Guggenheimer, former host of “Essential Pittsburgh,” with Mehaffey and soprano soloist Amelia D’Arcy.

The Fine Foundation, the Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh, and the Jewish Healthcare Foundation sponsor MCP’s performance; media sponsors are 90.5 WESA and WYEP 91.3.

Single tickets are $28 to $40; there are student discounts. The performance is not recommended for children under 12 years of age.

Visit or call the box office at 866-811-4111 for tickets and more information.

The Jewish Community Foundation of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh is accepting grant applications for 2017.

The Foundation is making approximately $320,000 available to fund programs and projects that address vital human needs, support lifelong Jewish learning and create a vibrant and dynamic Jewish community in Pittsburgh. Of the total, approximately $270,000 will be available to fund “Signature Grants” to fund initiatives that are intended to have a significant impact on the long-term vitality of the Pittsburgh Jewish community.

Additionally, $50,000 will be available for “Micro Grants,” which fund one-time projects in Pittsburgh’s Jewish community that align with the Jewish Federation’s mission and goals. Micro Grants range from approximately $5,000 to $15,000.

The Jewish Community Foundation has already committed $525,000 in continuing funds for multiyear grants awarded during last year’s grant cycle. All told, the Foundation will allocate approximately $845,000 in grants in 2017.

The grant application is available at and must be submitted by 5 p.m., Tuesday, March 14, for consideration in the spring grant cycle. Awardees will be notified in June.