Welcome to another wonderful weekend at our little shul in the big woods! The last of the autumn colors will be stripped from the trees very soon, so stop by this weekend!
And Check out our Upcoming Events Page. It's designed to be a quick peak at everything upcoming (within reason...we are still a volunteer organization after all!)
You should also look for changes to TWAKS, our weekly email. We're planning for shorter and sweeter, with links to this same Upcoming Events Page for when you need to know what's coming beyond the This Week in This Week at Kehillath Shalom. (That's what TWAKS stands for, after all!)
Welcome to another wonderful weekend at Kehillath Shalom Synagogue!
Also on Sunday, the next installment of Bagels and Books. Click the image above to see what other books we'll be reading this year and get a jump on next month's!
Check it out - we have a new page on the website. Need to know what's coming up in the next few weeks? You can find it all here, or click on "Coming events" on the header bar above!
It's the Hanukkah Fair!
This Shabbat is the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the "night of broken glass," an organized pogrom against the Jews of Germany and Austria.
The violence was instigated primarily by Nazi Party officials, but, in its aftermath, German officials announced that Kristallnacht had erupted as a spontaneous outburst of public sentiment in response to the assassination of a German embassy official.
Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old Polish Jew, had shot Ernst vom Rath on November 7, 1938. A few days earlier, German authorities had expelled thousands of Jews of Polish citizenship living in Germany from the Reich; Grynszpan had received news that his parents, residents in Germany since 1911, were among them. Grynszpan's parents and the other expelled Polish Jews were initially denied entry into their native Poland. They found themselves stranded in a refugee camp near the town of Zbaszyn in the border region between Poland and Germany.
Already living illegally in Paris himself, a desperate Grynszpan apparently sought revenge for his family's precarious circumstances by appearing at the German embassy and shooting the diplomatic official assigned to assist him.
Vom Rath died on November 9, 1938, two days after the shooting. The day happened to coincide with the anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, an important date in the National Socialist calendar. The Nazi Party leadership, assembled in Munich for the commemoration, chose to use the occasion as a pretext to launch a night of antisemitic excesses. Propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, a chief instigator of the Kristallnacht pogroms, suggested to the convened Nazi 'Old Guard' that 'World Jewry' had conspired to commit the assassination. He announced that "the Führer has decided that … demonstrations should not be prepared or organized by the Party, but insofar as they erupt spontaneously, they are not to be hampered."
As we celebrate Shabbat, we remember philosopher and rabbi Emil Fackenheim's words, known as his "614th commandment":
... we are, first, commanded to survive as Jews, lest the Jewish people perish. We are commanded, secondly, to remember in our very guts and bones the martyrs of the Holocaust, lest their memory perish. We are forbidden, thirdly, to deny or despair of God, however much we may have to contend with him or with belief in him, lest Judaism perish. We are forbidden, finally, to despair of the world as the place which is to become the kingdom of God, lest we help make it a meaningless place in which God is dead or irrelevant and everything is permitted. To abandon any of these imperatives, in response to Hitler's victory at Auschwitz, would be to hand him yet other, posthumous victories.
We are here. We are Jews. We live and we hope and we work to make this world a better place for us and for all.
Rabbi Lina Zerbarini
by Barbara Heller
Pittsburgh, my home, has been shot in the heart.
On Shabbat morning of October 27, a man walked into a synagogue open to all who would enter. The man, twisted with hate, raised a semi-automatic rifle toward the congregation deep in prayer and squeezed the trigger. People screamed and wailed and ran like crazy in all directions -- the sturdy ninety-seven year old Rose Mallinger, the beloved Rosenthal brothers, Bernice and Sylvan Simon. When the ear-shattering barrage of bullets ceased eleven people lay dead on the well-worn carpeted floor of the Tree of Life synagogue, their sacred house of worship and the man walked out the door. SHEMA YISRAEL!
And the people heard and came from the surrounding streets and cried. And people from beyond that Jewish community of Squirrel Hill heard, people from East End and Mt. Lebanon. The reporters came and the TV cameras. And this horrific act shocked the people from Long Island and Cherry Hill and Florida and California. And the peoples in the broader world heard. And we all wept and sobbed and our tears formed a new sad river for this gentle city. And we were beyond tears.
But what of Squirrel Hill?
I grew up in East End, a section composed of little homes and small businesses that depended on streetcars for transportation. The Jewish community was an active one. Within a few blocks on Negley Avenue you could find the stately B’nai Israel Synagogue where I was confirmed and married. Further down the street was the Orthodox synagogue where my B’nai Brith Girls group met in the basement each Wednesday evening. And dotting the street were two small ultra-orthodox shuls that had been converted from homes. I used to walk my Zayde home from one of them.
Growing up, we East End kids made snide remarks about Squirrel Hill, calling it the Gilded Ghetto because of the preponderance of wealthy Jewish families who lived there. But in truth, we knew it was the heart of the city’s Jewish community and its richness was reflected in a bloom of Jewish life. We had a lot of family there. Uncle Louie had a tailor shop on Forbes Street. Aunt Pearl and Uncle Joe served Thanksgiving dinner every year in their home on Bartlett Street. Both Uncle Irving and Uncle Al lived on Beechwood Boulevard where I had sleepovers with my cousin Faye Ellen.
Murray Avenue was the hub, the Jewish food capital of Pittsburgh. It was there you would come to savor real kishke and kneidlach in Weinstein’s Restaurant. Only on the Avenue could you find a bakery that made corn bread with a good crust. Smallman’s was the place for gigantic pastrami sandwiches served with a fat kosher pickle. Mini-skirted girls and babushked bubbes would meet at the checkout line at the Giant Eagle where the deli counter had a separate case full of kosher prepared foods.
On Murray Avenue, on the second floor of the building that housed the Manor movie theater, were the two small offices and a bathroom of the B’nai Brith Youth Organization, a gathering place of gangling adolescent Jewish kids, the Petri dish that grew us into functioning young adults.
Yes, and what of Squirrel Hill now? Murray Avenue will still look the same. The BBYO office is still there and the people will continue to go to the Manor and shop at the Giant Eagle and buy pastrami sandwiches at Smallman’s. With our prayers, skilled medical expertise will heal the bodies of the six wounded. The community lives on.
Next Shabbat, the faithful will gather for services at Tree of Life and Rodef Shalom and the other synagogues in Squirrel Hill. But during this week of October 27th, they will gather too, day after day at Ralph Schugar’s Funeral Chapel to mourn two or seven or all eleven of the victims of this massacre. And a pall will settle over the community that will, in time fade but never be gone completely. And Jews in Squirrel Hill and East End and around these United States will be looking over their shoulders with a fleeting thought of Kristallnacht because they could not imagine that what had happened to the Jews in Germany eighty years ago could ever happen in America. It happened. GEVALT!!!
Shema Yisrael Adonai Eloheynu…
A beautiful, busy weekend of community and prayer!
And after services on Saturday, November 3rd,
please join us for a special oneg sponsored by Lisa Hadar,
in honor of her upcoming trip to Israel!
And also on Sunday, November 4th, KSS welcomes the wider community in formally welcoming Rabbi Lina Zerbarini.
Installation begins at 2pm.
And a quick reminder - remember to set your clocks back so you show up on time for Sunday's festivities!