Barrack Students Visit Home of the Paper Clips Project

From left to right, Maddison Barrack, Rebecca Shaid, Sarah Scheinmann and Emma Dorsch.

When their plane touched down in Tennessee, Emma Dorsch, Sarah Scheinmann, Rebecca Shaid and Maddison Barrack — four high school students from the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in suburban Philadelphia — did not realize that they were about to embark on a life-changing experience. Representing Barrack’s Holocaust Education and Reflection (HEAR) Club, the girls would be attending a dedication at Whitwell Middle School in rural Tennessee, home of the famous Paper Clips Project. [Read more…]

Pride in Jewish Identity Under Nazi Occupation

Ladies wearing Jewish stars. Photo: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Ladies wearing Jewish stars. Photo: U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

During World War II, German authorities and their collaborators in Nazi-occupied countries forced people of Jewish descent to wear identifying badges as a way to isolate them and publicly mark them as inferior. But some chose to embrace their forced visibility and celebrate their Jewish identity by posing for professional photographic portraits while wearing the yellow star.

[Read more…]

Philly POPS 5th Annual Ball

Gary Frank with Dottie and Frank Giordano.

Gary Frank with Dottie and Frank Giordano.

More than 250 people danced to Frank Sinatra tunes played by the Philly POPS’ 65-piece orchestra at the group’s fifth annual ball. During this major fundraiser, held at the Hyatt at the Bellevue, former POPS board chairman Sal DeBunda was honored for his service, and his successor, Gary Frank, was officially welcomed into his new role.

Beth Botel and Bob Green.

Beth Botel and Bob Green.

Among the speakers was Mayor Jim Kenney, who praised DeBunda and Frank Giordano, president and CEO of the POPS, as well as the orchestra as a whole, for their contribution to children in the School District of Philadelphia. Through the POPS in Schools program, the orchestra is enhancing music education by providing instructional activities and bringing musicians into classrooms to mentor Philadelphia students. In fact, additional schools in the district that will be participating in the program were named at the ball.

Mayor Jim Kenney (center) and Sal DeBunda (4th from left) surrounded by representatives from Parx Casino: Tony Ricci, Bob Green, and Marc Oppenheimer.

Mayor Jim Kenney (3rd) and Sal DeBunda (4th) surrounded by people from Parx Casino: Tony Ricci, Bob Green and Marc Oppenheimer.

A founding resident company of the Kimmel Center, the Philly POPS is now entering its 39th year of offering concerts to the community, including July 4th Independence Week performances, and the Salute to the Military and First Responders. The POPS’ 39th anniversary season is being sponsored by Parx Casino.


Jay and Sharon Ruder with Debbie and Steve Appel.

Jay and Sharon Ruder with Debbie and Steve Appel.

Roz and David Marion.

Roz and David Marion.


Photos: Bonnie Squires.

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…]