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 community@pjvoice.org

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Former Har Zion Cantor Feted in Atlantic City

Program book featured a photo of Cantor Wall and his late wife, Sheva, z”l.

This summer, at Atlantic City’s Rodef Sholom, a hundred people paid tribute to Har Zion Temple’s cantor emeritus, Cantor Isaac Wall, in celebration of his 100th birthday. After serving at Har Zion Temple for more than four decades, Cantor Wall moved to Ventnor, where he has spent the last 25 years of his “retirement” as cantor of Rodef Sholom. [Read more…]

The Chevra Provides Art and Community To Philly 20s And 30s Jews

Monte Carlo Masquerade at The Chevra. Photo courtesy: The Chevra

At 20th and Market, go down the road a little bit, and you’ll find an unassuming brown office building called The Chevra. But unlike the nearby bank and coffee shop, The Chevra’s purpose can’t be defined in one word.

In fact, their website does it in about 24: “multimedia venue & social network feat. a lounge, bar, stage, gallery & loft providing social, educational, spiritual, & volunteer experiences for Young Jewish Professionals & Grad Students.”

Leon Vinokur, Jon Erlbaum and Aryeh Shalom came up with the idea for The Chevra in 2002. According to Vinokur, their goal was to unite a variety of programming for young Jewish adults within one building. “We wanted to do something that was substantive and sophisticated and fun, social, and that had a really big lev, had a really big heart,” said Vinokur, who is The Chevra’s chief operating officer. [Read more…]

Two Gratz Students Produce Hip New Jewish Toys

Partners in Yom Tov Toys: Elana Gootson (left) and Jessi Sheslow (right).

Using her coursework at Gratz College, student Elana Gootson launched Yom Tov Toys in 2016 with her business partner and fellow student Jessi Sheslow. The two entrepreneurs are now producing an innovative toy that is different from anything else available on the market today — a toy that seamlessly combines kid appeal with Jewish humanitarian values.   [Read more…]

Social Group Brings Together Local 20s and 30s Jews

JPSP’s Eagles vs Cowboys Watch Party. Photo courtesy: JPSP Facebook page.

After college, Jews returning to the Philadelphia area are typically set on finding a job and home of their own. But in their 20s and 30s, they might not be as determined or abled to jump back into the Jewish community– too old to go to youth groups, but too young for programming aimed at parents and empty-nesters.

This was the problem confronting Elizabeth Stone in spring 2014. In response, alongside three other members of Maple Glen’s Congregation Beth Or, she helped found Jewish Professionals of Suburban Philadelphia (JPSP). The organization holds social events with Jewish twists across the counties surrounding Philadelphia.

[Read more…]

StandWithUs Truck Ad During Roger Waters Concert

StandWithUs/Philadelphia is running a truck ad that will circle the city of Philadelphia prior to Roger Waters’ concert on Wednesday, August 9, 2017. The truck will begin its circuit in downtown Philadelphia at 12:00 PM and head to the Wells Fargo Center arriving at 6:00 PM. It will be visible to concert-goers until 8:00 PM.

The message, which will be placed all three sides of the truck reads:
Say NO to Racist Attacks Against Israel By Roger Waters!

“Roger Waters has a history of blaming only the state of Israel for the lack of peace. He supports the boycott campaign against Israel, which does not promote peace, does not create a better life for Palestinians, and whose agenda is the destruction of the State of Israel. He has even flown a helium pig with a Star of David on it during his concerts,” states Joseph Puder, executive director, StandWithUs/Philadelphia.

“Waters claims to be against all forms of injustice, but where is his outrage at the Palestinian Authority which incentivizes murder of Israeli civilians by paying subsidies to terrorists in Israeli jails and their families? StandWithUs is sending a clear message to Waters that his double standard, hatred and lies against Israel will not go unanswered,” Puder continued.

Philadelphia DA Candidates Pound the Pavement in Search of Votes

The general election for Philadelphia’s district attorney is still a few months away, but the candidates agree that summer is no time to get complacent.

Beth Grossman, the Republican candidate, who spent over 21 years as an assistant district attorney, is filling her calendar with events all over the city. Larry Krasner, her Democratic challenger, who is a civil rights lawyer, wants to knock on the door of every marginalized voter he can before Election Day on Nov. 7. [Read more…]

Stereotyping Race and Culture


Despite progress, many stereotypes plague the Jewish community as well as other minority groups. Jews deal with anti-Semitism, a prejudice that generates harmful stereotypes.

Stereotypes are not only directed at Jews, but also at a wide range of other ethnicities, races and cultures, from Asian to Hispanic to African American.

Anita Friday, founder of Open Hearts: A Path to Racial Healing, said Jews and other groups were excluded from housing for many years.”There were certain restrictions on deeds: ‘No blacks, no Jews, no Catholics.’ Different nationalities couldn’t buy a house,” Friday said at her talk entitled,”Suspicion…..Why and at What Cost?”

The event at Haverford’s YMCA had about 30 people in attendance. Friday’s presentation focused on stereotypes, specifically those affecting African Americans. During her talk, Friday shared her experiences as a black woman in America as a way to explain racism. [Read more…]

Gratz College Offers an Online Ph.D. in Holocaust and Genocide Studies

As world events churn perilously with ethnic hatred and violence, expertise in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies is needed more than ever. Atrocities perpetrated by terrorist groups around the world and hate crimes on the rise in the United States and Europe make the promise of “never again” seem to ring hollow. In response to these acts, experts are needed to inform government policy, educate the public, and provide teachers with the tools they need to instruct the next generation on the dangerous repercussions of hatred and intolerance.

This fall, Gratz College will launch an online Ph.D. program in Holocaust and genocide studies, making this important field accessible to students everywhere. This program is the first in the United States to offer a Doctor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies degree, as opposed to a Ph.D. in a related discipline, such as history or sociology. [Read more…]

CeaseFirePA Flash Vigil Marks 5th Anniversary of Aurora Shooting

To mark the fifth anniversary of the tragic Aurora shooting, CeaseFirePA held a flash vigil at the Regal Warrington Theater in Bucks County, PA on Thursday, July 20. Gathering to honor the twelve who lost their lives and the seventy shot that night, the crowd also affirmed that we have the right to be safe in places like movie theaters, churches, schools and places of business.  Shira Goodman, Executive Director of CeaseFirePA, explained, “We are here to send the message that we deserve to be able to come together to learn, work, pray and play in safety.  Going to your neighborhood theater is a quintessential American pastime — and we want to be clear that we want to be safe here and everywhere.”

[Read more…]

Getting Involved in the Jewish LGBTQ Community in Philly

June is Pride Month, which celebrates those who are homosexual, bisexual, transgender and queer, and recognizes their historical struggle for equal rights. Locally, many people rocked rainbow colors at the Philly Pride Parade, 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.