Metro Briefs January 29

Metro Briefs January 29

The Westmoreland County Chamber of Commerce and Westmoreland County Community College will present the 40th annual Westmoreland County Prayer Breakfast on Friday, Jan. 30 from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Ramada Hotel & Conference Center, Greensburg.

Education will be the focus of the event with Dr. William Kerr, superintendent of the Norwin School District, as keynote speaker. Jim Bendel of the Community Foundation of Westmore-land County will preside over the event, which features leaders in education giving spiritual readings and messages of hope, including Dr. Sharon Smith, president of the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg; Rabbi Sara Rae Perman of Congregation Emanu-El Israel; Dr. Jamie Piraino, superintendent of the Franklin Regional School District; and Dr. Tuesday Stanley, president of WCCC. The event is partially underwritten by Excela Health.

Actor Joshua Malina of ABC-TV’s “Scandal” and formerly of NBC’s “West Wing,” will be the featured guest on Saturday, Jan. 31 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. at YAD Main Event 2015, the Young Adult Division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh’s annual fundraiser event, at the Circuit Center & Ballroom, 5 Hot Metal St. on the South Side.

YAD invites Jewish and non-Jewish adults ages 22 to 45 to attend; there is a $50 charge. The evening will include an open bar, heavy hors d’oeuvres and desserts. Attendees will be able to make a commitment to the Federation’s annual campaign and take photos with Malina.

Contact or 412-992-5204 or visit for more information.

South Hills Torah Weekend will be held Friday and Saturday, Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, and will feature scholar-in-residence Seymour Drescher, distinguished professor of history at the University of Pittsburgh, on the subject of Jewish views on slavery. Drescher is known for his studies on Alexis de Tocqueville and slavery.

Temple Emanuel will host Friday evening, beginning with the Kol Emanuel Shabbat service at 7:30 p.m. Drescher will speak on “Jews and Slavery in the Ancient World: From the Egyptian to the Roman Empire.”

Shabbat morning service will be held on Saturday at 9 a.m. at Beth El Congregation.  The topic will be “Jews and Slavery in America to the Civil War.”

Havdalah will be held at the Jewish Community Center, South Hills on Saturday evening at 7. Drescher will speak on “Jews and Slavery in the Contemporary World: From the Holocaust to the Present.”

Torah weekend is sponsored by the Rabbi William Sajowitz Endowment Fund of Temple Emanuel of South Hills, the Beth El Congregation of South Hills Men’s Club and the Jewish Community Center, South Hills.

Congregation Beth Shalom Health Initiative’s second program will feature Dr. Jonathan Weinkle speaking on the topic “Nice Jewish Doctors,” exploring Jewish texts and traditions about bedside ethics of interpersonal relations, Saturday, Feb. 7 at 12:30 p.m. at 5915 Beacon St. in Squirrel Hill.

Weinkle is an internist and pediatrician at the Squirrel Hill Health Center and medical adviser to the Jewish Healthcare Foundation. The Health Initiative is funded by support from the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, the Fine Foundation, Staunton Farm Foundation, the UPMC Cancer Center and the Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services and the University of Pittsburgh. The program is free and open to the public.

Contact 412-421-2288, ext. 112 for more information.

Pittsburgh Area Jewish Community and Rodef Shalom Congregation will hold a program as part of celebrating 50 years of Christian-Jewish cooperation on Wednesday, Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. at Rodef Shalom Congregation at 4905 Fifth Ave. The program is free and open to the community.

Speakers will be Rabbi James Rudin, the American Jewish Committee’s senior interreligious affairs director; Dr. Tim Crain, director of the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education at Seton Hill University; and Rabbi Aaron Bisno, senior rabbi of Rodef Shalom.

Contact for more information.

Find out more about how Pittsburghers were involved in the history making development of the polio vaccine on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 3 p.m., when Shaare Torah will present “The Shot Felt ’Round the World,” a documentary produced by Carl Kurlander of the Steeltown Entertainment Project, about the historical events surrounding the vaccine.

Kurlander will be present to answer questions about the film, which will be followed by a panel discussion about vaccines featuring Dr. Todd Wolynn of Kids Plus Pediatrics, Rabbi Daniel Wasserman, Rabbi Yisroel Rosenfeld and community member Tamar Hashimi.

Older children and teens are welcome to attend. Babysitting will be provided for children ages 1 to 10, but Shaare Torah must be notified at Donations of $5 per child are requested. There is no cost to attend the film and panel discussion. Refreshments will be provided.

A trailer can be viewed at

Dennis Jett, retired ambassador and professor of international affairs at Pennsylvania State University, will speak on “How to Buy an Ambassadorship” on Sunday, Feb. 8 at 10 a.m., following a light breakfast served at 9:30 a.m. at Congregation Beth Shalom in Squirrel Hill.

A former career diplomat, Jett served 28 years in the State Department as ambassador to Peru, ambassador to Mozambique and as deputy chief of mission in Malawi, Liberia, Argentina and Israel. Jett is the author of three books, “Why Peacekeeping Fails,” “Why American Foreign Policy Fails” and the just released “American Ambassadors – The Past, Present and Future of America’s Diplomats.”

Jett is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Academy of Diplomacy and has been interviewed on “The News Hour with Jim Lehrer,” CNN, NPR, BBC and other national and international news programs.

The program is co-sponsored by the Beth Shalom Adult Education Committee, Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh and the Pittsburgh Area Jewish Committee.

The program is free and open to the public. Contact or for reservations, and 412-421-2288, ext. 112, for more information.

Squirrel Hill Psychological Services and Quest Therapeutic Camps provide a summer therapeutic day camp program designed for children ages 6 to 18 with social and emotional challenges. Diagnoses include attention deficit disorder, chronic anxiety, chronic depression and high-functioning autism (previously labeled Asperger’s syndrome).

Quest Camp offers campers a highly structured and therapeutic curriculum with the look and feel of a typical summer camp. Daytime activities include swimming, field trips and sports and drama, music and science classes, while following a cognitive behavioral approach designed to teach skills and reinforce positive changes in behavior. The camp offers an opportunity for children to learn, grow and increase confidence within a day camp setting. Parents have reported improvement in areas that include self-esteem, cooperation, family relationships and conversational skills as well as overall improvement in social and emotional functioning.

Visit Quest Therapeutic Camps at or call 800-313-9733 for more information and to register.

Contact April Artz, director for Quest Therapeutic Camp/Afterschool, at 412-521-3800 or or visit for more information on the Pittsburgh program.

The Jewish Women’s Foundation of Greater Pittsburgh will fund programs that address the needs of women and girls at five organizations.  The recipients, approved by the JWF trustees, will receive a total of $47,500. In addition, the Foundation will continue funding its signature project, The Center for Women, in collaboration with the National Council of Jewish Women, Pittsburgh Section, for $75,000. The total grant to the Center for Women, which is in its second year of a three-year commitment, is $225,000.

Co-chairs Kathy DiBiase and Suzanne Wagner, along with the grant-making leadership of Carolyn Hess Abraham, Lauren Goldblum, Lori Guttman, Natalie Klein, Marsha Marcus, Debbie Resnick and Fern Schwartz, led the foundation through its grant-making process.

“The Jewish Women’s Foundation is proud to support organizations in our community that are working to change the lives of women and girls in our community,” said Wagner, co-chair of the Foundation. “This year, the Foundation addressed such social change issues as homelessness in older women and ensuring the financial independence of girls through STEM education and negotiation training.”

The 2014 grantees and their projects are:

>>Bethlehem Haven, $7,500, Housing Intervention Program. The goal of the Housing Intervention Program is to help older, vulnerable women find or maintain safe, stable housing.

>>Centennial Fund for a Jewish Future, $10,000, benefiting the Jewish Community Center, which is year one of a five-year commitment. Funds will be used for programming to support new families transitioning to parenthood, helping them to build peer relationships and connect to Jewish life and community.

>>The Center for Women, year two of a three-year commitment, $75,000. The Center for Women provides programming, services and referrals to women in transition with the goal of financial literacy and economic independence.

>>Hill Dance Academy Theatre, $10,000, for It’s Bigger Than Dance. HDAT’s mission focuses on children and youth, ages 3 to 18 years old, who want to dance, but would not otherwise have the opportunity to do so. The funded program, “It’s Bigger Than Dance,” provides the girls with opportunities to develop, as dancers, the social skills that give them the confidence and personal esteem to make healthy and successful life choices.

>>Program for Research and Outreach on Gender Equity in Society, $10,000. PROGRESS seeks to improve society by teaching women and girls the art of negotiation. This investment targets girls who live in challenged communities and supports a partnership with the Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Schiller grades six through eight on the North Side.

>>Yeshiva Girls School, $10,000, ensuring the financial independence of Pittsburgh’s ultra-Orthodox Jewish women through a STEM and writing program. The school is seeking to bring about long-term systemic change to ensure the financial independence of its students through a STEM education and writing program. JWF’s second year funding of this grant will enable the school to modernize its science laboratory and continue to develop the STEM and writing program curriculum.

Contact Judy Greenwald Cohen at 412-727-1108 or for more information.

A Jewish group that focuses on volunteering and service joined the Pittsburgh community to turn the tables on racial injustice as Jews broke bread for Shabbat dinner before Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

Repair the World Pittsburgh urged the community to use Friday night dinners before Martin Luther King Day at homes and communal institutions as a platform to tackle issues of racial injustice that have surfaced nationwide in recent months.

The Shabbat dialogue was part of Repair the World’s nationwide campaign called Turn the Tables, dedicated to discussion and service-based action on racial inequality.

In Pittsburgh, Repair the World partnered with J’Burgh to host a special Turn the Tables Shabbat dinner/workshop with 50 guests.

Repair the World Pittsburgh also hosted a listening party for about 30 people, featuring three stations that used different mediums to discuss civil rights.

Visit for more information.