Local News

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 [email protected]

Event listings should be added to our free community calendar. Please contact Jessica Weingarten [email protected] if you need help.

Melrose B’Nai Israel Emanu-El Anniversary Gala

Melrose B'Nai Israel Emanu-El Broadway cabaret. Singers standing in a row on a stage.

Melrose B’Nai Israel Emanu-El Broadway cabaret.

On Sunday evening November 4, the Melrose B’Nai Israel Emanu-El (MBIEE) family celebrated its 62nd Anniversary with a Broadway Musical revue conducted by BMI Foundation award winner and composer Ari Sussman. Over 200 people attended the event, enjoyed the inspiring Broadway voices of our artists, and delighted in the superb dessert buffet following the concert. Five long time members – Phil and Bea Barrish, Len Cohen, Natalie Gabai, and Joe Pressman were honored for service and dedication to the synagogue.

Sixty-two years ago, Melrose was but a dream in the heart and minds of a small group of young Jewish families in the Melrose Park area in 1956. The community formed a committee to establish a religious and social center for the Melrose Park community.  We stayed there until seven years ago when our shul outgrew its location on Cheltenham Avenue and relocated to the Elkins Park Corridor, side by side with our friends and neighbors of Reform Congregation Kenneth Israel.

Synagogue honorees standing around a table with a large cake on it.

Synagogue honorees.

Together in one building, as associates and colleagues, but autonomous,  we continue our commitment to Conservative Judaism and the community.

Melrose B’nai Israel Emanu-El 8339 Old York Rd Elkins Park 19027 – 215-635-1505 mbiee.org

CHOP Pediatric Oncologist Honored as Citizen Diplomat

Dr. Stephan Grupp. Photo: Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Thirteen-year-old Emily Whitehead, who six years ago was suffering from an aggressive form of leukemia, is alive and well and in remission, thanks to the pioneering work in immunotherapy by Dr. Stephan Grupp, M.D., Ph.D., at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP). Grupp has since traveled throughout the world to teach doctors in other countries about using this therapy to treat children and young adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. As a result, Citizen Diplomacy International, an organization that seeks to foster connections between Philadelphia and the global community, honored Grupp this month at its second annual “Citizens Soiree: A Dinner for Diplomacy” at the National Museum of American Jewish History. [Read more…]

Sharing Stories Across Generations

By Rosie Gertzman

This spring, students from the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy Holocaust Education and Reflection Club (HEAR Club) loaded up a bus and headed to Wesley Enhanced Living (WEL) in Media, a senior living facility previously known as Martins Run. The eighth- through 11th-grade students embarked on a day of sharing, learning and growing with the WEL residents. It was a day filled with laughter, tears and thought-provoking questions. [Read more…]

Former Vice President Joe Biden Honored at Jewish Museum Gala

Vice President Joe Biden seated with Ron Rubin, co-chair of the gala committee and a presenting sponsor.

The National Museum of American Jewish History (NMAJH) honored Vice President Joe Biden at the museum’s annual Only in America Gala, held at The Bellevue Philadelphia on April 24. [Read more…]

Democracy Works Summit in Philadelphia

A two-day conference of good government advocates will be convened in Philadelphia on May 21 and 22, with attendance open to the public. Hosted by Common Cause Pennsylvania, the summit will present speakers from the private, public and nonprofit sectors of the mid-Atlantic region, who will discuss issues critical to our democracy, such as the census, redistricting and voting modernization. [Read more…]

Central High School and Israeli Druze Students Collaborate

—by Dani Neuman

After several months of communi­cating on the Internet, on April 22, a delegation from Amal’s Menachem Begin Compre­hensive High School in Safed and Amal’s Compre­hensive High School in the Druze village of Kisra Samia arrived in Phila­delphia to continue the entrepre­­­neurship project they began online with a team of science students from Central High School. [Read more…]

Free Breast Cancer Screening for Jews in Philadelphia

A team of leading experts in the fields of cancer research and genetics will soon launch the pilot phase of a new, independent research initiative in Philadelphia, Boston, Los Angeles, and New York: the BRCA Founder Outreach Study (BFOR), which is designed to increase access to one of the most common tests for hereditary cancer. The study  is now open to those interested in participating, with potential enrollees to be contacted by email soon.

[Read more…]

World War II Treasures Discovered in a Shoebox

At the Passover Seder, we recite the story of the Jews’ exodus from Egypt. For Marc Shatzman and his family, there is also another Passover story to tell — how Shatzman’s maternal grandfather, Bruno Elkan, celebrated Passover as a Jewish American soldier in Europe in 1945:

While I was in Belgium I attended a Seder given by the seven Jewish families left in town. … The stories they told me are hard to believe but I know they are true. How they managed to survive the Hitler regime is hard to comprehend. They were lovely people & I felt quite at home.

These words were written by Elkan to his future wife, Adele Berkowitz, in a letter dated March 30, 1945. In a subsequent letter, he mentions a young girl at the Seder, who told him things that “no human being can understand.”

Bruno Elkan during World War II.

Through his letters to Berkowitz, Elkan created a first-hand account of the life of an American soldier in Europe during World War II. Until recently, his prolific wartime correspondence dwelled in a shoebox in Marc Shatzman’s closet. Although Shatzman never met his grandfather — who survived the war, but died from an allergic reaction at an early age — he feels connected to him, in part because of their physical resemblance. [Read more…]

AJC Brings Innovative High School Program to Philadelphia

By Max Buchdahl

When Ryan Berger was about to enter his sophomore year of high school, the current University of Pennsylvania freshman watched coverage of the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas with nervous eyes. He was surrounded by people he cared about who had differing opinions on the war — and he wanted answers.

So Berger asked his mother, who is involved with the American Jewish Committee (AJC) in New York, what he could do to learn more about the issues. He wanted to know how a high-schooler, with little expertise but a large desire to get involved, could advocate effectively on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. [Read more…]

Cattle Car of Dreams on Display at Barrack

Every year, the Holocaust Education and Reflection (HEAR) Club at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in suburban Philadelphia creates a special school legacy project, with the goal of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. One year, it was a flower garden dedicated to the children of the Holocaust. Another year, it was butterflies stenciled on the walls of the school stairwells, commemorating the poem The Butterfly, written by a young Holocaust victim, with the iconic line “I never saw another butterfly.”

Cattle Car of Dreams. Photo: Shira Stein.

And for 2017-2018, it is the Cattle Car of Dreams. At first, the project’s title seems a bit jarring. How could a vehicle that transported Jews to their deaths, obliterating their hopes for the future, be described as a “cattle car of dreams”? [Read more…]