Metro Briefs July 18

Metro Briefs July 18

State Rep. Dan Frankel says the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit challenging the state’s ban on same-sex marriage may be the quickest way to ensure LGBT equality.

He was referring to a lawsuit filed July 9 by the ACLU and a Philadelphia law firm in the Middle District of Pennsylvania that challenges the commonwealth’s ban.

Since the filing, Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane has announced she will not defend the law in court.

One of the 20-plus plaintiffs in the suit, Helena Miller of Philadelphia, is Jewish. She married her wife, Dara Raspberry, in 2010 in a Jewish ceremony in Brooklyn.  They later moved to Philadelphia to be closer to family, only to find their marriage was not recognized by the commonwealth.

Pennsylvania is one of 35 states that does not recognize same-sex marriage.

“The Declaration of Rights in our state constitution exists to protect the rights of our citizens from the ‘tyranny of the majority,’” the Squirrel Hill Democrat said in a statement released following the suit’s filing. “It sounds clichéd; it’s been repeated so many times. But in this case, that’s just what our state constitution must do.”

Frankel is the prime sponsor of House Bill 300, which would ban discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression in employment, housing, credit and public accommodations in Pennsylvania.

“We passed a state marriage prohibition in 1996, before I joined the legislature,” Frankel said in his statement. “I would have voted against it then. And given a chance, I’d vote to overturn it immediately. I believe the majority of Pennsylvanians would, as well.

“But the majority of Pennsylvanians, who support rights for the LGBT community, are not being heard in state government right now. Well over two-thirds of the commonwealth’s residents — Republican or Democrat — want people’s work performance to be judged based on how well they do the job, not who they return home to.”

Sarah DeWitt has been named the new director of admissions at Community Day School. She succeeds Judy Goldman, who is leaving after 18 years in the position, but will continue to act as a part-time admissions consultant.

“Sarah is a proven leader who has earned the respect and trust of the families and staff that work with her every day,” Head of School Avi Baran Munro said in a letter to parents. “She is an outstanding individual with extensive community building and management experience.”

DeWitt previously taught kindergarten at CDS and “played an important role in the admission process as she welcomed prospective families, attended outreach and admission events, and shared her passion for CDS with our community,” Munro said. She also worked as the school’s database administrator this past year.

Before joining CDS, DeWitt worked at Hillel at Kent State University as a development associate, owned and operated a Rita’s Italian Ice for seven years and held professional and volunteer positions throughout the Jewish community.

Marc Ekstrand, a Pittsburgh native and third-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, is the new student rabbi at Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Bluefield, W.Va.

Having grown up in Pittsburgh, where his family belonged to Temple Sinai, Ekstrand went on to graduate from Virginia Tech where he studied materials engineering.

He went on to work in the steel industry, most recently for AK Steel Corporation as manager of quality for its Middletown Works in Ohio.

He became a founding member of Congregation Beit Chaverim in Cincinnati and served as vice president, treasurer, board member, education chairperson and teacher. His involvement in Jewish life ultimately influenced his decision to study for the rabbinate.

Ekstrand is the father of two boys, Michael, 14, and Aaron, 8.  

His last student pulpit was Congregation B’nai Israel in Parkersburg, W.Va.  

Shalom Pittsburgh will hold its third annual Apples & Honey Fall Festival Sunday, Aug. 25, from 1 to 4 p.m. at Anderson Playground, Schenley Park.

This free family-friendly event is open to all ages and will include apple sack races, an apple tasting with Giant Eagle experts, beeswax candle making, honey tasting, snacks, crafts and more. Giant Eagle will provide the apples.

Contact Meryl Lotz at 412-992-5204 or for more information.

Dr. Jonathan Weinkle, a primary care physician at the Squirrel Hill Health Center, is holding a 40th birthday concert as a way of realizing his life-long dream of becoming a stage musician, while raising funds for Jewish Family & Children’s Service at the same time.

The concert, “Age of Understanding” will be held Sunday, July 21, at 8:30 p.m. at Club Café on the South Side. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the refugee resettlement work of JF&CS.

Weinkle describes his concert as a “mostly solo/acoustic act” of songs he has written over the past 20 years.  

Weinkle cares for hundreds of refugee patients, currently ranging from primarily Bhutanese and Nepali, refugees from the Congo and some Iraqis, many of whom were resettled by the refugee department staff at JF&CS.

There is a charge; the event is 21 and over. Doors open at 8 p.m. Visit for ticket information.

Leslie Golomb will give a gallery talk about her current work included in “New Prints/New Narratives,” Thursday, July 25, 6 p.m. at the International Print Center New York, at 508 West 26th St. The talk will be held in conjunction with Chelsea Art Walk 2013.

Other exhibitions currently presenting Golomb’s art are Honor, 798 Art Zone, Union Art Center, Beijing; Global Print 2013 Invitational, Lamego Museum and Douro Museum, Alijo, Portugal; and Sint-Niklaas 2013 Biennial Printmaking, Sint-Niklaas, Belgium, Municipal Museum.

The Chabad family picnic and kosher barbecue will be held Sunday, Aug. 4, at 4 p.m. at Scott Park pavilion, across from the baseball field. The picnic will include face painting and music; there is no charge. Contact Barb at 412-278-2658 or for more information.

The Jewish Community Center’s acrylic painting class will hold its annual show and opening from Aug. 1 to 28, in the Fine/Perlow and Weis Gallery in the JCC, 5738 Forbes Ave., Squirrel Hill.

The artwork is by members of Lila Hirsch Brody’s class.

The opening reception, which is underwritten by Will Darling, will be held Thursday, Aug. 1, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., in the gallery.

Squirrel Hill businesses will hold this year’s Sidewalk Sale, Thursday through Saturday, July 18 to 20.  Twenty-Five businesses along Forbes Avenue are participating with sales, and there will be children’s activities, music and food.  

Also, the Vintage Grand Prix Parade is scheduled to take place Friday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m. on Forbes Avenue.

Celebrations will include music each day, starting with Steel Drummers from the Kelly-Strayhorn Theater Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.  Friday night, during the Grand Prix Parade, there will be a Latin Jazz Band, and Saturday will wrap up with DJ DeCarlo.