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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice strives to cover events in the Delaware Valley and beyond of interest to our readers. Send your press releases, comments and suggestions to Community Editor Bruce S. Ticker community@pjvoice.org

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Getting Involved in the Jewish LGBTQ Community in Philly

June is Pride Month, which celebrates those who are homosexual, bisexual, transgender and queer, recognizing their historical struggle for equal rights. Locally, many people rocked rainbow colors at the Philly Pride Parade this past Sunday, including members of the Philadelphia Jewish LGBTQ community. For Jews looking for LGBTQ activities and information beyond the parade, there are a number of communal resources available year-round.

pRiSm is an LGBTQ social group within Congregation Rodeph Shalom that is also involved in activism. In addition to marching in this year’s parade, the group hosted its second annual Pride Shabbat dinner. Among the speakers was Amber Hikes,  executive director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs. Throughout the year, pRiSm provides “people of all gender and sexual identities” in “Philadelphia and the greater Delaware Valley’s GLBT Jewish community” with a space for community, education and activism, according to the group’s website.

J.Proud and Spectrum Philly, two other groups that cater to Philadelphia’s queer Jews, cosponsored pRiSm’s Pride Shabbat.

J.Proud is a group within Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Greater Philadelphia. In addition to hosting Passover seders for the LGBTQ community, J.Proud also held an educational conference last fall in conjunction with Congregation Kol Ami on inclusiveness for transgender and non-binary (people who don’t identify with a specific gender) Jews. On its website, J.Proud offers an extensive list of Jewish LGBTQ resources, including social services, congregations, schools and other useful information.

Spectrum Philly is geared specifically to LGBTQ Jews in their 20s and 30s, offering a range of social activities, such as parties, Shabbat dinners and opportunities to attend cultural events. in fact, on June 29, Spectrum is holding a happy hour meet-up at Toasted Walnut Bar and Kitchen.

Finally, for those who are not quite ready to join a group, but who would like to learn more about Jewish-American LGBT history, the Tumblr page called LGBT Stories: A Collecting Project might be a good resource. This page was created by Philadelphia’s National Museum of American Jewish History in 2014, and was followed a year later by an exhibit called “The Pursuit of Happiness: Jewish Voices for LGBT Rights.” Although the installation, which featured artifacts from a series of gay protests in the 60s, is over, the LGBT Stories page remains. The site acts as both a resource for curious readers and an opportunity for Jewish LGBT Americans to share their stories.

pRiSm, J.Proud, Spectrum Philly and the NMAJH Tumblr page are only a sampling of the resources available in the Jewish LGBTQ community in Philadelphia — but they are good places to start for those interested in getting more involved.

School Board Sizes Up Enrollment

By Samuel Haut 

Lower Merion School District meeting. Photo: Sam Haut.

As student enrollment rates increase, Lower Merion struggles to find solutions to accommodate class sizes. On Wednesday night, the school board for Lower Merion School District held a public meeting to tackle class size issues in middle and high schools.

The event, which drew about 30 people, was the sixth meeting this year in the series “Students, Today’s Challenges.” The previous meeting, held on May 27, centered on class size problems facing the elementary schools.

[Read more…]

Vigil for Detained Immigrant Jonatan Palacios Draws Crowd to Haverford Station

by Victoria Alfred-Levow

Last Thursday, at a vigil for detained immigrant Jonatan Palacios, speakers addressed a crowd of about 275 protesters at the Haverford Train Station.

Residents of Haverford and beyond applauded speakers at the vigil.

Residents of Haverford and beyond applauded speakers at the vigil.

“We stand united in the belief that these kinds of policies that led to Jonatan’s arrest rip apart the fabric of our community,” said Amanda Levinson, a leader of the Havertown-Area Community Action Network (H-CAN), which organized the vigil. [Read more…]

Middle East Expert David Makovsky Speaks at Gratz Gala

The crowd of 260 that attended Gratz College’s Jeffrey B. Plevan Annual Gala must have left the event with a spring in their step. From the videos during the cocktail hour to the accolades for the honorees – board member Leon Levy, retiring professor Dr. Saul Wachs and former College President Joy Goldstein – the whole event was supercharged with gratitude, positivity and optimism. Even the keynote speaker, David Makovsky, the Ziegler Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute, offered a rather upbeat assessment of Israel and its relationship with its Arab neighbors, a topic more often described in terms of deep-rooted problems. [Read more…]

State Senator Daylin Leach and Daughter Brennan Honored

Brennan and Daylin Leach. Photo: CNN

Brennan and Daylin Leach. Photo: CNN

The Democratic Committee of Lower Merion and Narberth (DCLMN) held their annual Spring Dinner earlier this month. The theme of this year’s dinner was “The Shake It Up Party.” Given the unprecedented challenges facing our party and our country, we didn’t want to have a traditional fundraising dinner. Instead, we had decided to shake things up, do some unconventional things. So, we featured music and art that reflected the protest movements of the past and the resistance efforts underway now. We honored State Senator Daylin Leach, quintessential fighter for liberal causes and opponent of the status quo. We also presented Daylin’s daughter, Brennan Leach, with our first-ever Youth Honoree award. [Read more…]

Perelman Jewish Day School Celebrates 60

By Shira Wohlberg

On Wednesday May 24, Perelman Jewish Day School held its Tribute Event, celebrating 60 years of educating the minds and souls of thousands of children in the greater Philadelphia area. Over 400 members of the community – parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty and friends – gathered at Har Zion Temple, where the school began, to celebrate this remarkable milestone. Attendees honored the legacy of Judy and David Wachs, their parents, founders Fannie and Abe Birenbaum, and their family, and paid tribute to Past Presidents.

[Read more…]

A Community Holds Candlelight Vigil in Face of Hate-Based Activity

Candlelight vigil at Ambler Church of the Brethren. Photo credit: Andrea Cantor

“Hate has no home here,” Chair of the Montgomery County Board of Commissioners, Dr. Valerie Arkoosh, said to a room of around 300, during an interfaith candlelight vigil in response to recent anti-Semitic and racist attacks.

[Read more…]

Young Generation Displays Next Century Entrepreneurship

By Laurel Fairworth

Judgement Day is coming June 5, 2017, for a group of local students. A trio of well known experts will decide which of the two dozen students involved in the Eitanim leadership building program, a national program with 17 groups across the US, has created a unique way to capture the past while looking ahead to the future of Israel. The Israeli American Council sponsored program is especially timely now in light of recent anti-Israeli sentiment. The judges have all demonstrated they have the right stuff, excelling in various businesses. Ami Miron, who was very successful in the public sector, says he is looking for innovation and the wow factor. “Technology is the tool to create bridges and connect the Israeli and Jewish communities. That is what I am looking for in these student projects,” explained Miron.

Ninth through twelfth graders at Barrack Hebrew Academy and various high schools in the Greater Philadelphia area were challenged during this seven month project to think outside the box. They were asked to innovate with the hope they would find a deeper connection with the Holy Land. Since September, the kids have been putting long hours into their inventions. Liat Dorani says she has been surprised about what she discovered. “Eitanim has been an amazing way for me to understand people I normally think I don’t have any similarities with. I got to learn there that these teenagers are the same as me, living and breathing pride in their Judaism and their pride in the state of Israel,” said Dorani. Fifty percent of the students are Israeli-Americans the other half are Jewish-Americans.

Tasked with developing unique ways to showcase modern Israel while honoring our collective past the teens benefited from the advice and guidance of mentors such as Shai Shermister. He rose to prominence at SAP and was in turn surprised about what he got back from the experience. He is looking forward to seeing the students’ finished products.

Students say they have developed a deep appreciation for those who preceded them and all things Israeli, and an unexpected friendship with each other. The idea for this exercise was that it would hone skills and help the group excel when they go to college.

The public is invited to view and try out the students’ creations on June 5, 2017, at Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Avenue Wynnewood, PA 19096.

Please RSVP to sharonad@israeliamerican.org

Prof. Saul Wachs Retiring After 42 Years at Gratz College

Dr. Saul Wachs, the Rosaline B. Feinstein Professor of Education and Liturgy, is retiring at the age of 85, after 42 years of teaching at Gratz College. Described as a legend within the field of Jewish education, Dr. Wachs will be honored with a tribute at the Gratz annual gala, an honorary doctorate at commencement and a scholarship prize created in his name. He has also been granted emeritus status by the Gratz College Board of Governors.

Dr. Saul Wachs

Dr. Saul Wachs

[Read more…]