Jews of the Somme

Temple Emanuel Congregant David Rosenberg created, an interactive online exhibit introducing some of the key sources for the history of the Jews in the Department of the Somme, especially during the Occupation and immediately after, ca. 1940-1946.

Read more about his work in the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle.

Mazel Tov, David, on this publication and making this exhibit available to so many.

Kindergarten Friends Explore Israel

Torah Center teacher Lisa Dvorin wrote about a fun class this past Sunday, when the kindergarten friends explored Israel:

First, we found it on the globe in relation to Pittsburgh. Next, we spread out a paper map of Israel on the rug, and they were full of eager questions — “What is this city? Why is it blue here? Where were you when you were in Israel?”

They were fascinated to learn that the main language in Israel is Hebrew — a language that they have been learning at Torah Center each Sunday! The kindergarten friends also made a special Star of David decoration with popsicle sticks and decorated a paper Israeli flag. Finally, pretending that they were on the beach in Israel, they had a fun time playing with kinetic sand and tiny beach toys!

Vote for your favorite video!

As we get closer to our Karaoke & Kibbitz event, it’s time to vote for your favorite video! If you vote, you’ll be entered into a random drawing for a free entry to Karaoke & Kibbitz!

Click here to vote after you’ve watched the videos!

Here are the submissions:

Manic Monday








New Year’s Day








Hava Nagila





Heaven is a Place on Earth








Takin’ Care of Business








Ain’t No Mountain High Enough





Sunrise, Sunset

URJ 2019 Biennial


Last week, a group of seven people from Temple Emanuel left Pittsburgh for the URJ Biennial in even colder Chicago.

“The URJ Biennial offers an opportunity to compare notes with similar congregations, learn best practices from around the movement, connect with colleagues and friends, and grow even more excited about the future of progressive Jewish life in America,” Rabbi Aaron Meyer says. “All Biennials feature amazing scholars, great educational sessions, moving worship opportunities, and more. The 2019 Biennial focused on issues of inclusion. Our communities, our religion is stronger when it makes intentional space for all.”

Kathy Ginsberg, a member of Temple Emanuel’s Board of Trustees and Worship Chair, attended for the first time. She heard about Biennial before she even became Jewish. Some of her Jewish friends had gone and reported what a remarkable experience it was. “This year, with my taking on a larger leadership role at Temple, I felt the time was right,” she says.

Ginsberg knew it was the largest gathering of Jews in North America, but she was unprepared for the number of folks roaming around. “It was amazing to sit in the plenary sessions and Shabbat services with 5,000 other Reform Jews!” she recalls. “Talk about the power of community!”

Tracy Barnett was also a first-time attendee. She says she decided to go for a couple of reasons. She’d also heard from prior attendees what a wonderful experience it was. Then, when she reviewed the schedule, she saw how many classes applied to her position on the Temple Board as co-treasurer and hoped to learn new things to help her be a better board member. She mainly took classes regarding governance and temple finances, since those are her areas of interest.

“I learned new approaches for fundraising and governance approaches,” Barnett says. “I wish the breakout sessions had been longer to be able to hear more about what other congregations were doing. But I do feel that we at Temple are ahead of the game in the way we get input from the whole congregation in major decisions (rabbinic transition and mission/vision).”

Ginsberg enjoyed a session by Ariel Burger, an Orthodox rabbi who was Elie Wiesel’s teaching assistant for many years. Other sessions she attended were on worship, social justice issues like climate justice and gun violence prevention, and helping to integrate both Jewish adjacent members and members with disabilities into temple life. “I was very impressed by the number of young people there who were doing important social justice work while still in college,” she says, calling it very inspiring.

This was Temple President David Weisberg’s second Biennial. He says it was great connecting with other presidents, of whom there were 250 in attendance. “We were able to share ideas and common issues,” he says. “Best practices can be brought back and potentially utilized at Temple.”

In fact, two other synagogue presidents reached out to Weisberg after they heard about the success of our interim and settled rabbinic searches. Both congregations have long-tenured rabbis soon to be retiring and asked about our processes. Temple’s Tashlich & Tacos was also recognized as a top innovative program. “Many other congregations loved the idea and would consider a version of it for their own synagogue,” reports Weisberg. 

High school junior Anna Schwartz, NFTY-PAR VP of Programming, also attended. She spent her time with other NFTY teens and NFTY programming, but participated in the general Biennial programs as well. She called it an amazing experience.

When asked how this Biennial compares to others, Rabbi Jessica Locketz says every Biennial has its moments – the ones that make their impact and inspire her. This one was no different. “To name a few…hearing about the interfaith efforts in Omaha, NE was a powerful reminder of the importance of building a larger religious community that includes all faiths and all peoples,” she says. “When President Rick Jacobs spoke about ‘widening our tent’ to include Jews of color, Jews on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, Jews with disabilities, etc…it made me feel good about all we have accomplished and ready to take on all the work we still have to do to make a diverse Jewish community a reality.”

Rabbi Locketz was able to network with educational colleagues about innovations in their schools and talk to vendors about new curricular resources that she hopes to share with the Torah Center Advisory Board as they navigate changes to the Torah Center program. “I am excited about what is in store for our students and their families!” she says.

She most enjoyed seeing colleagues and friends, as well as spending time with the lay leaders that attended as part of the Temple delegation. “Attending sessions and sharing meals together gives us the rare opportunity to deepen relationships and engage in conversations about Temple’s future,” she says.

Rabbi Aaron agrees. “The Biennial is designed to expose lay leadership to the best and brightest in the Reform Movement,” he says. “While I enjoyed seeing friends, connecting with congregants from previous cities, and some personal growth opportunities, the highlight by far was traveling with our great delegation from Temple, comparing notes after provocative and inspiring sessions, and thinking about the future of Temple Emanuel.”

Likewise, this was the most important thing that Ginsberg feels she got out of attending Biennial. Executive Director Leslie Hoffman also enjoyed the introspection. “For me, one of the best parts of attending the Biennial is having the opportunity to step away from day-to-day operations and take the time to reflect on why we (Temple) do what we do,” she says. “A recurring theme in the sessions that I attended was the importance of making sure that everything that we do aligns with our mission and vision. As we are in the midst of reshaping our congregational mission and vision right now, I am excited to work with our rabbis and lay leadership to shape our future.”

The next URJ Biennial is December 8-11, 2021 in Washington, DC (National Harbor).





Remember. Repair. Together.

by Sara Wulff

Now that my girls are a bit older, I have been searching out age appropriate and meaningful ways in which we can contribute to our community. Rabbi Locketz and I met at the beginning of the school year to discuss various ways that we may be able to bring mitzvah opportunities to Torah Center students. After our brainstorming session, I contacted SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Movement) to discuss potential off-site activities.

The greater Pittsburgh community offered several opportunities this past weekend to commemorate the anniversary of the tragedy at the Tree of Life congregation. I loved the idea of offering a mitzvah project right here at Temple Emanuel as an extension of this effort.

On Sunday, October 27, several families gathered after Sunday’s Torah Center classes to work together in order to better our community in honor of the victims. Our project was to portion out 150 pounds of bulk rice so that SHIM’s food pantry can disperse them to families in need in the South Hills. Approximately 20 volunteers tackled this endeavor and finished in less than an hour! It was amazing to watch the Torah Center students hard at work and to see their sense of pride in knowing that they accomplished this mitzvah.

Overall, I would say that this mitzvah project was a great success! Look for more social action projects in the future!

Matzoh Ball Soup, Anyone?

At the end of June, Fran Rossoff coordinated a special project cooking matzoh ball soup for the Temple Emanuel Caring Community. A team of Temple members (Bonnie Benhayon, Stephanie Claypool, Sara Frey, Deb Madaras, Amy Pardo) and Fran gathered at 9 am in the Temple kitchen and got to work cutting chicken and vegetables, cooking broth, and making matzoh balls.

Twenty quarts of soup later, the work was finished, and the products were separated into three containers – chicken soup broth, matzoh balls, and chicken/vegetables.

This delicious matzoh ball soup is now sent home with Shabbat Bags to Temple members