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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 [email protected]

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Hilary Levine Named Associate Director of AJC Philadelphia/Southern NJ

AJC Philadelphia/Southern NJ is pleased to announce that Hilary Levine has been promoted to Associate Director. In this new role, Levine will continue to manage AJC Philadelphia’s ever-growing advocacy, interreligious/intergroup, and programmatic initiatives throughout the region (which covers Pennsylvania, Southern NJ, and Delaware). She will also take on a role with donor cultivation and fundraising outreach.

Levine previously served as AJC Philadelphia’s Assistant Regional Director since December 2014. During this time, she is noted for helping to grow the regional office’s advocacy and interfaith work and enhancing AJC’s presence in the community. Achievements included receiving the prestigious AJC Staff Excellence Award at the 2016 AJC Global Forum in Washington, D.C. and representing AJC on the 2018 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diplomatic Seminar for Young Jewish Leaders. Additionally, Levine was a Fellow at the Hertog Foundation in Washington, D.C. in 2016 and is a graduate of the FBI Philadelphia Citizens Academy, class of 2019.

“AJC is delighted to offer Hilary this opportunity for advancement in her career,” stated Marcia Bronstein, Regional Director. “She is an asset to the field of Jewish Communal Service and a strong leader among her peers.”

Prior to joining AJC, Levine served as Associate for the Community Relations Committee (CRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ where she planned and implemented Israel advocacy programs and educational opportunities and managed the Israel and World Affairs portfolio for the Federation, while supporting the CRC’s government affairs and other issue-based work. Levine graduated summa cum laude from Elmira College, where she studied international relations and history, and undertook graduate studies in international affairs, concentrating in diplomacy and foreign policy, at The City College of the City University of New York. Levine hails from North Caldwell, NJ and currently resides in Philadelphia.

“My combined interests in and passion for advocacy, policy, international affairs, interfaith relations, Israel, and the Jewish people make AJC the perfect place for me,” noted Levine. “It has been an honor to play a role in the growth of AJC in this region, and I look forward to what the future holds.”

Photo credit: Christopher Brown.

Israel Independence Day Celebration at Thomas Paine Plaza

Celebrations for Israel’s 71st Independence Day took place at Thomas Paine Plaza, 15th Street and JFK Boulevard in Philadelphia, on Thursday, May 9, 2019.

Rabbi Batya Glazer, Director of the Jewish Community relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said of the event, “This is our opportunity to come together as a community, to celebrate Israel’s 71st anniversary.” In spite of the inclement weather, she said, “we’re hoping for the best.” Volunteers handed out samples of Israeli confections, including cookies from the Israeli restaurant Zahav.

Addie Lewis-Klein, Director of Community Engagement   of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said, “We are out here at City Hall celebrating Israel’s 71st birthday.” That morning, she added, Philadelphia’s City Council passed a resolution supporting Israel, “and now we’re out here, under the billowing Israeli flag,” she said, “giving out Israeli treats and taking pictures with Israeli flags to show our support, and giving out some information and other fun things to show our support for Israel.”

Yoni Ali, Executive Director of the Israeli American Council of Philadelphia, said, “We come to celebrate the 71st anniversary of Israel, to show the support of the Philadelphia community to Israel, to show the love for Israel, and to give the people of Philadelphia some facts about Israel. We have a large Israeli-American community in Philadelphia that supports Israel and loves Israel.” Ali handed out cards showing facts about Israel.

Michael Sklaroff, a graduate of Barrack Academy, represented the Friends of the Israel Defense Forces (FIDF). “I’m here to raise awareness,” he said, “for our organization, which helps wounded soldiers recover, and supports people who want to go over to Israel to enlist in the IDF, but don’t have a place to stay and a stipend for meals.” Sklaroff said a number of young people go to Israel to serve in the military, “tons of people in our organization.” FIDF, added Sklaroff, also provides scholarships for Israeli military personnel who want to go on to college.

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…]