Simchat Torah Temple-Style

Our fall season of holidays came to a close with our wonderful Simchat Torah celebration on Sunday, September 30.  With our service led by Rabbi Don and Rabbi Locketz, we marched and danced with the Torahs to music by the Hot Matzohs.  Our younger folks enthusiastically waved their flags, while the adults carried the Torahs throughout the Sanctuary.  A highlight of the morning was our  Torah service with 16 congregants each reading or chanting a line!  With our Torah Center teachers and madrichim chanting the aliyot, it was truly a special time for all.

Many thanks to our teen videographer, Harrison Pittle, who captured the spirit of the morning for us in this great video!

Summer, Shabbat, S’mores and More!

Last Shabbat we gathered in Bird Park for a “welcome to summer” picnic and service. It was a beautiful evening in a beautiful place, surrounded by friends of all ages. For many of us, it was truly the start of summer break – a perfect way to begin the ‘lazy days of summer.’ Running through the park, sharing a meal, talking to each other as the the evening cooled and the busyness of the week faded… Shabbat, and the sense of calm that it brings descended as we prayed together – led in worship by Rabbi Mahler, Rabbi Locketz and Rebecca Schwartz. We were inspired through singing songs and sharing the spirit of Shabbat with each other. Thank you to Rebecca for a powerful message about the work that needs to be done within a community; and for reminding us that we should all be proud of our contributions to it.

After the service, it was time for s’mores….what could be better than that?!?!?!


Join us for our next Service in Bird Park on Friday, September 7th. We will once again come together for a picnic dinner at 5:45 pm followed by a brief Shabbat service at 6:30 pm. And of course there will be S’mores….yum!

Mark your calendars; be sure not to miss it!

Nothing Beats Sharing A Good Story

One of our focal points in the Torah Center this year has been building community – looking for opportunities for students of all ages to learn and grow together.

This past Sunday, the 5th grade class joined the Kindergarten students for story time in the Sifriyah (the library). This was the third time they have joined classes during this school year to read Jewish books together. Sometimes the 5th graders read the books, and sometimes, our newest readers like to show off what they can do! Is there anything better than sharing a good story?!


A “Food-Filled” Visit to SHIM

Remember all those bags of food under the stairs that you couldn’t help noticing when you went upstairs?  Thank you to everyone who brought in food during our annual drive for the SHIM food Pantry. On November 6th, after filling ours cars with donations, our 4th grade families brought it all to the food pantry and helped sort it and restock the shelves. What a mitzvah!

It’s the weigh in – did we bring more food than our 4th graders weigh? We did! [Once again, parents did not get on the scale!]


The 4th Graders weighed 710 pounds. The food? 854 pounds!!!! Incredible!

While we were there, we learned how a family “shops” at the Food Pantry and gets much needed assistance. We realized how much we can help and how fortunate we are to be able to support our community through our donations and volunteer time. It was a great morning – a worthwhile experience for all.




Our High Holiday Food Collection may be over…but don’t forget that you can donate year round!


First SHIM harvest

Learning has come to life for Melinda Freed’s 7th grade Making Meaning From our Food class. Yesterday, they reaped Temple’s first harvest for SHIM (South Hills Interfaith Movement): A large bag of swiss chard and a smaller bag of kale.

A few years in the making, the garden was the brainchild of Social Action Team chair Marty Altschul, who calls it “a dream come true.” When Freed needed a sub for this particular class, she knew Altschul would be perfect.

“I am so glad we have this garden to tie into my curriculum – the mitzvot of feeding the hungry and caring for the earth, knowing where our food comes from,” says Freed. “[The kids] got a hands-on experience picking the vegetables.”

A huge thanks goes out to everyone who made this garden possible. “Its mission goes beyond SHIM — it educates my students, Temple members, and the people who drive past it on Bower Hill Road,” says Freed. “May it ‘grow and grow.'”


What a fun and LOUD time we had!

Our shofar blowing workshop was a huge success! Thank you to Ron Schneider and Harvey Rubin for teaching our students (and a few parents as well). We were amazed at quickly they learned and look forward to some new shofar blowers at our High Holiday Family Services this year!shofar-1 shofar-2 shofar-3 shofar-4

It’s Been a Busy April at Torah Center!

While all of the grades have been busy with classroom activities………..

2nd1                 3rd2

visiting the Art room………..

K54       4th1

and exploring Hebrew music……….


There have also been some special family events for some of our students!  Pre-K Family Day saw our youngest students sharing the fun with their parents and participating in Hebrew games.

PK1        PK2

PK6       PK7

Sixth graders and their parents spent the morning with Rabbi Mahler as he showed them each the Torah portion that they would be reading at their B’nei Mitzvah.

6th1 6th2 6th3

And all of Torah Center gathered together for the Model Seder last Sunday, led by our very own Melinda Freed!

Model Seder LD2 Model Seder 7 Model Seder 2 Model seder C Model seder D Model Seder LD4

A happy Passover time was had by all….even the Madrichim!

Model Seder LD5

The end of the school year is fast approaching. We hope to see you all on May 15th as we end the year with a special family program.  Until then, have a Happy Passover.

Countdown to Passover!

Make Temple Emanuel part of your Passover celebration this year!

  • Join us for Torah Center’s Model Seder, led by the always amazing Melinda Freed, on Sunday, April 17 at 10:45 AM.  Please RSVP via email to
  • Leave the cooking to us and bring your family to our Community Second Seder on Saturday, April 23 at 6PM.  RSVP by April 11 to the office or online at
  • Ladies (and young ladies ages 10+), come and be inspired at our Women’s Seder on Thursday, April 28 at 7PM.  RSVP by April 21 to the office or online at
  • Stop by the gift shop and browse our selection of beautiful seder plates, matzah covers and more.  Shop for yourself or find the perfect hostess gift.  Sundays 9:30am-noon, Mondays 6:30-8:30PM, Wednesdays 4:30-6:30pm.
  • Worship with us at our Yom Tov and Shabbat Morning service at 10:30AM on April 23 and join us for our Concluding Passover, Yizkor and Shabbat morning service at 10:30AM on April 30.
  • And, do a mitzvah!  When you’re cleaning out your kitchen, donate your chametz to SHIM.  Drop off your food donations any time at Temple.

Purim is Coming…

…And the excitement is growing!

We made hamantaschen With Ms. Freed during Family Cooking:


And Shaloch manot – (gift baskets) to give to friends and family:

IMG_20160302_170720274 IMG_20160302_170625681 IMG_20160302_170707586 IMG_20160302_170647595_HDR IMG_20160302_170638593

And masks to wear:



We also practiced for the ‘Big Show,’ learning the song that will end it all (and many are joining in for just the last few verses):

IMG_20160306_104411956  IMG_20160306_104354606


Can’t wait until our ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Purimshpiel this Saturday night? Here are some pictures of the AWESOME cast to tide you over until then:





See you on Saturday at Temple for the Purimshpiel and on Sunday at the JCC for the Community Purim Carnival. Have a Happy Purim!


What an Amazing Weekend!

On Friday, our young families joined together for a delicious Shabbat dinner, followed by a lively and interactive service. The evening included a special blessing under our beautiful new Tallit, decorated with the hand prints of our Torah Center students. Many thanks to Laura Young, Rikki Hommel and especially to Diane Holsinger for all of their hard work on this true labor of love!

20160226_190803_resized 20160226_190848_resized


Sunday morning we held our first ever COLOR WAR. It was a great morning filled with friendly competition through Hebrew games, scavenger hunts, Gaga and the like. But the coolest part? It was planned entirely by our madrichim (student aides). Yeshar Koach (kudos!) to them…especially the Captain of the day, Rebecca Schwartz. Looks like the makings of a new Torah Center tradition. Since it was a tie (really!) – rematch next year?!?!

IMG_20160228_115757193  IMG_20160228_115835329_HDR

IMG_20160228_101655362  IMG_20160228_101842609

IMG_20160228_101830509_HDR    IMG_20160228_104820198

IMG_20160228_104849954 IMG_20160228_102010030   IMG_20160228_104945085    IMG_20160228_114702362   IMG_20160228_102349840    IMG_20160228_102437015   





It was an exciting day – and a great weekend!



Coming Up (In case you missed it last week!):

***Purim! Celebrate it in style…get involved in the amazing opportunities here at Temple and in the South Hills Community:

  • Order Hamantaschen baked by Melinda Freed by March 4th
  • Put on your apron and come to Family Cooking on March 6th at 12:15 pm
  • Bring the entire family to see the ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Purim Shpiel at Temple on March 12th
  • Dress up in costume and come to the South Hills Community Carnival at the JCC on March 13th. (Or volunteer – we really need YOUR help!)

To place your order, RSVP or get more information, please contact the Torah Center at