Metro Briefs September 10

Metro Briefs September 10

Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha will celebrate Rabbi Chuck Diamond’s 60th birthday and anniversary of his bar mitzvah on Shabbat morning, Saturday, Sept. 12. Services begin at 9:45 a.m.  Following services, Rabbi Chuck and his family will be hosting a special Kiddush luncheon in his honor.

Makom HaLev Minyan will hold its High Holy Days services at the Repair the World workshop, 6022 Broad St., in East Liberty. Makom HaLev’s theme for this year’s services, “Healing Ourselves, Healing our World Through Making Loving Connections,” fits in with Repair the World’s mission, which is to “enable young people to find Jewish context in their pursuit of justice and social change” through “meaningful volunteer experiences that address real needs in partnership with local communities.”  

Led by Rabbi Doris Dyen and minyan co-leaders, the egalitarian services will include Rosh Hashanah morning, erev Yom Kippur (Kol Nidre), Yom Kippur morning and Yom Kippur minchah/Ne’ila.   Contact Dyen at 412-521-7570 or see Repair the World at for more information.

Community Day School will offer the Foundation for Jewish Family Living course developed by the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning starting Thursday, Sept. 10. Jewish educator Danielle Kranjec will teach the 10-week course. Participants will explore core Jewish values and parenting issues from a Jewish perspective through text-based open discussion.

Contact Jennifer Bails at or 412-521-1100, ext. 3206 for more information or to register.

Beth El Congregation of the South Hills will honor longtime community leaders Sam Balk and Alvin Catz at a Tribute Dinner on Sunday, Oct. 11 at 6 p.m. at 1900 Cochran Road.

Balk has been a member of Beth El since 1969 and served as its president from 1978 to 1979. His contributions include organizing daily services at the synagogue and arranging prayer services at the homes of those in mourning. Balk helped secure the financial future of Beth El by co-chairing its Generations Campaign in 2012, and he regularly volunteers at the congregation’s weekly bingo games.  Balk is also known for physically transporting a rescued Holocaust Torah from England to Beth El, where it is still on display.

Catz joined Beth El in 1974 and served as its president from 1984 to 1986. Catz helps families of bar and bat mitzvah students prepare for their big day, arranging honors for family members, and guiding them through rehearsals. Catz is a dedicated mashgiach in Beth El’s kitchen, ensuring that it continues to meet the kosher standards of the Conservative movement. He also has offered his financial expertise to Beth El, managing the congregation’s finances during its building expansion campaign from 1995 to 1998. He is always ready and willing to help lead services in the rabbi’s absence.

Balk and Catz have been active on Beth El’s ritual committee and have served as co-chairs of that committee for years. They each dedicate hours organizing and facilitating Sabbath and holiday services every year, and offer a warm welcome to all who enter Beth El’s sanctuary. They are each past honorees of Israel Bonds.

Contact Bette Balk at or Beth El Congregation at 412-561-1168 for more information or to make reservations for the Tribute Dinner.

The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism announced the second annual Shoshana S. Cardin Leadership Award, which recognizes an emerging Jewish leader who is making a difference in advancing the values of a 21st-century Judaism that is learned and passionate, authentic and pluralistic, joyful and accessible, egalitarian and traditional. Nominations can be submitted online and are due Oct. 7. This year’s program is open only to lay leaders, who can be nominated by peers, colleagues, supervisors or even themselves.

Contact Laurie Kamens at or 646-519-9291 or visit for more information and to apply.

Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has hired consultant Larry Rubin to bring together 19 Jewish organizations in Pittsburgh to create concrete plans to move forward with shared space and shared redevelopment opportunities. The plans would be based in part on the Federation’s Community Facilities Study, which detailed six possible scenarios for shared space. At a meeting in December, community leaders discussed three of these potential scenarios in detail.

The Community Facilities Study, now in its third phase, reflects the work of Federation volunteers who participated in a collaborative discussion with Jewish agency executives and community leaders. Architects from the Rothschild Doyno Collaborative facilitated the discussion. The architects compiled details about the physical, economic and social status of Jewish facilities, and the community participants leveraged these details to brainstorm ideas for maximizing use of space. In the study’s second phase, these leaders reacted to and evaluated specific proposals that the architects had detailed. Bill Rudolph chairs the study.

Rubin will base negotiations on three suggested scenarios that were designed to spark ideas and opportunities to save money while expanding access to key services, including senior housing. The committee expects that, through discussions Rubin facilitates, Jewish organizations will generate more potential ideas.