Author Archives: Rick

Birthday and Anniversary

Carl Schiffman - Bob Adler

Carl Schiffman – Bob Adler

Last month, Bob Adler celebrated his 94th birthday by leading almost the entire Shabbos morning service, including the Preliminary, Shachris, and Mussaf services. May we all be so fortunate to live to such an age and be so capable. Bob also volunteers one day a week at St. Clair Hospital and another day each week at a nursing home near the Galleria.

Bob is a long time fixture at the Carnegie Shul.  Although he’s been to a lot of shuls in the Pittsburgh area, he likes Carnegie the best. Bob first came to America in the 1930s; his parents sent him to live with relatives in NYC because things were getting worse in his native Germany. He would never see his parents again. He spent most of his adult years in NYC with his dear wife Ethel; may her memory be for a blessing. There, he became a big NY Rangers hockey fan. Eventually, he and Ethel retired to Pittsburgh to be closer to his daughter Ronni, her husband Carl, and their kids. We are very fortunate to have him.

This coming Saturday, Carl Schiffman will celebrate the 50th anniversary of his bar mitzvah. Carl will lead most of the morning services just as his father-in-law did last month. And he will hope to do as well as his mentor. For those who don’t know Carl, he and Ronni are attorneys and have a practice in Pittsburgh near Mercy Hospital.  Carl’s peers have voted him one of Pittsburgh’s “super lawyers”. But sometimes I think he finds his antique cars more interesting. We’re all looking forward to a joyous Shabbos morning.

Last week I sent out an email message informing everyone about some problems that we are having with this blog. It appears that not everyone is receiving the notices; and at this point we haven’t solved it. About 30 people out of 78 subscribers responded that they received that recent message. The messages may be going into be people’s junk mail folders or there may be a problem with the mail server. We will continue to investigate.

be well.

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50th Anniversary Program

Plaque 50th annivFriends, most of you know the basic story of our congregation’s founding. You know that services were first held in the Sherman home in 1896 and the first High Holidays that same year were held in the Husler Building, now owned by the Historical Society of Carnegie. You may not know that our congregation was officially chartered in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas in 1903. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of that charter, the congregation held a celebratory dinner. I have attached the program booklet from that affair. It is quite a fascinating look at our past. Click HERE.

Not only can we reminisce about the businesses on Main St. where we used to shop or eat lunch, we get to see a lot of names and faces of past friends and family. One of the things that caught my attention was that women didn’t appear to have first names back then. They were Mrs. Irving Bendis or Mrs. Bernie Roth. Times have changed and that’s part of the joy of looking at historical documents.

Thanks to my daughter Melissa for scanning this document into the computer. Feel free to share with others in the community who may be interested in Carnegie history.  PS. The shul president at the time of the original charter in 1903 was Falk Kantor. There’s a lot of history to be told about Mr. Kantor. Last year I met with his great granddaughter, Florence Bebo. I will be posting a lengthy story about the Kantors this summer. It’s going to take me a while to assemble all the story which has connections to Liverpool, England, Washington DC, Beaver Falls, PA and our home town of Carnegie.


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Biz hundert un tsvantsik

Joe NegriWe have a saying, “may you live to be a hundred and twenty”. This was the age of Moshe Rabbenu (our Master Moses) when God took him. Despite his advanced years, he was clear of sight and full of vigor. We should all be so fortunate!  Well, it was 120 years ago that our borough was founded.  And that brings us to a celebration on Thursday, March 27.  A benefit concert will be held at the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall (in Carnegie of course) and features a performance by Joe Negri and his Trio.  Joe has been a regular performer at our music hall. He is always a welcome treat. In addition to celebrating 120 years of Carnegie, we honor Marcella McGrogan for creating and leading the Historical Society of Carnegie for the past 20 years.

So, you must be thinking that surely Carnegie is older than 120!  Our own congregation was started 118 years ago, and we weren’t exactly the first people to move into town.  Well, the fact is that Carnegie began as two separate towns.  On the east side of Chartiers Creek was the town of Mansfield (our congregation has always been located on the Mansfield side).  And on the west side of the creek was the town of Chartiers. In a referendum held on February 20, 1894, the voters of Chartiers and Mansfield voted in favor of merging to become one borough. Carnegie Borough legally incorporated on March 1, 1894. Over the ensuing 120 years, the resilient Carnegie has known its share of ups and downs. Through it all it is a community that holds a special place in the hearts of those who have lived here, worked here and those who have just visited.

Our music hall holds 425. We expect this event to sell out, so don’t delay in getting tickets. To reserve tickets, $30 each, call Maggie Forbes at 412-276-3456, ext. 13.

For further details, click on the following invitation. Borough Birthday Benefit

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ACFL&MH Benefit Concert

When I was growing up in Carnegie there were regular concerts at the Library Music Hall in Carnegie. Unfortunately they were attended only by a small, yet committed, group of seniors. On those occasions when I attended concerts of the Pittsburgh Civic Symphony, I was the rare young person in attendance. But things have changed. Recent productions of Broadway plays have drawn SRO crowds to the Andrew Carnegie Free Library & Music Hall, including a lot of young people. As a borough councilman I cannot be more pleased by the transformation. But this transition didn’t happen by accident. Just like in the old days, it took a small, committed group of citizens to make the impossible happen. I admit that when the Chartiers Valley Partnership was formed and declared that it was going to raise $7.5M to renovate the facility, I was numbered among the skeptics. But here we are, 12 years later. Although delayed by the recession, the facility rehab is mostly done. The event calendar for the music hall is full. Our nationally recognized Civil War Veterans Post is fully renovated. And most importantly, we have an attitude— an absolute confidence in the future of this facility as a centerpiece of our community. That confidence is bolstered by the return of Maggie Forbes as executive director of ACFL&MH.

LenoraEach year, ACFL&MH hosts a benefit concert: this year on the evening of December 28. Tickets are already selling briskly, and the event will certainly sell out. Benefit events are always an important fundraising tool, but they are also good fun. An after-show party will span all three floors of the building, with various degrees of formality, food, and music. It would be nice to see a group of Carnegie Shul members in attendance. Who doesn’t like to dress up and go to a party? For more information and tickets, call Maggie at 412-276-3456, ext. 13, or call me. Even if you think this performance may not be your “cup of tea”, always remember that the health of our shul is partly dependent on the health of our town. I am looking forward to a group picture of our members during the after party. See you there.


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The Zero Hour

Poster-The-Zero-HourMany of you are aware that there is a new theater in Carnegie named Off The Wall. It is located on Main Street across from Citizens Bank and opened about a year ago. Formerly this company was located in Washington, PA but moved to Carnegie because of our superior location near Pittsburgh and the western suburbs (shameless plug for Carnegie by local borough councilman). OTW presents unusual and uncommon plays. This isn’t the typical fare that you would see in large productions in the city. But that’s fine with us. We have two live theaters in Carnegie and they each have their niche.

Recent offerings include a play about a woman with dementia and her estrangement from her husband. Another dealt with a strained mother-daughter relationship and breast cancer. Today I’m writing to tell you about a play currently being performed at OTW called The Zero Hour. It stars Erika Cuenca and Daina Michelle Griffith, and was written by Brooklyn playwright Madeleine George. It’s directed by Robyne Parrish. The lead character, Rebecca, writes textbooks for a New York publishing house and has been tasked with writing a chapter on the Holocaust for 7th graders. Because the textbook has to be marketable throughout the U.S., including the Bible Belt, she has to be careful about what she says. As a Jew, and a homosexual, there’s much she would like to say but isn’t allowed. She finds the task stressful, to say the least. And of course, any good story has complications that add to the tension. There’s her roommate/lover who won’t get a job. And, there’s the guilt/stress of hiding her roommate from her mother. As Rebecca’s stress mounts she starts hallucinating— Nazis appear on the train when she comes home from work at night, and they engage her in lengthy conversations. The whole script is excellent. I especially liked the intertwining of the “living a lie” theme as Rebecca describes a “closet” Jew living with false papers in Berlin, while Rebecca herself is hiding her true life from her mother. I also liked how Rebecca struggles with how to make the Holocaust relevant to 7th graders. She can’t describe the enormity of it all— how many Shea Stadiums full of people are we talking about? Her descriptions of the text book modules are priceless.

The acting is very good all around, with Erika giving an especially strong performance as Rebecca. Each of the two leads play 4 or more characters each, which means that they had extensive lines to memorize and have to change costume, accent, and personality repeatedly throughout the play. The numerous costume changes are done on-stage which adds a physicality to the play and an extra challenge to the actors. The set design is excellent, including subway cars, with lighting and sound effects that mimic being in the underground. I give the cast and crew high marks for an emotionally moving and intellectually stimulating performance.

It’s not often that we get a Holocaust themed play in Carnegie. I am probably understating the obvious; we probably have never had a Holocaust themed play in Carnegie! That said, this play is not for everyone. There is overt lesbian sexuality portrayed in some scenes. If you are offended by two women kissing and fondling, you may wish to stay home. The play is running for two more weekends. Members of the Carnegie Shul get a substantial discount on ticket sales; you can call me if you want more info. The OTW website is here.

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