Federation’s Meet the Authors Program – A Huge Success

Michael and Susan Diamond, of Clarks Summit, opened their beautiful home to host the Jewish Federation’s Meet the Authors event featuring authors Joani Ascher of New Jersey and Keith Gilman of Scranton.

About 25 people sampled Susan’s delectable refreshments including a selection of kosher wine. When both authors arrived the very congenial group settled in the Diamond living room to listen first to Joani and then to Keith as they told us about how they started writing, how they developed their style and genre and how the business end of writing works as well.

Joani is the author of six mystery novels whose protagonist is a Jewish soccer mom who finds mysteries to solve in her own community. Keith also writes mysteries of a grittier nature based on his experiences as a 20-year veteran of the police force.

Questions and comments abounded after the formal presentations and both authors brought books to sign and sell. All were impressed with our authors professionally and truly enjoyed spending the afternoon with them.

We especially were fortunate to have Irving and Florence Gilman, Keith’s parents, join us for the program.

Thank you to Michael and Susan Diamond and to authors Joani Ascher and Keith Gilman.

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Meet The Authors Joani Ascher and Keith Gilman

Please join us for
Light Refreshments
and to
Meet The Authors

Joani Ascher and Keith Gilman

Sunday, March 23rd at 1:00
at the home of
Susan and Michael Diamond
6 Chatham Hill Circle
Clarks Summit, Pennsylvania

Sponsored by
The Jewish Federation of NE PA

Please respond to dassy.ganz@jewishnepa.org
or phone 570.961.2300 x2

JoanibiopictureJoani Ascher is the author of six books set in a fictional small town in New Jersey, similar to the one where Joani lives. She will be speaking about her books, which feature amateur sleuth Wally Morris.  Wally is a Jewish nursery school teacher who is always busy with something, whether it is teaching the students in her class, caring for her family, or solving a local problem. She is nearly as busy as Joani, who when not writing books, raises puppies for The Seeing Eye®, works in the children’s room of a local library, is a cooking captain in her synagogue’s Kitchen Cabinet, and is a member of her sisterhood board.

Joani’s books will be available for purchase as well as signing.

_MG_7041WEBA native of Scranton, Keith Gilman has been a police officer in the Philadelphia area for nearly twenty years and his writing is a reflection of that experience. He has always believed that cops have important stories to tell, stories that need and deserve a
strong voice. Readers want to know how cops think. They want to know what cops know. They want to know what makes them tick, what they dream about at night, their loves and fears, how they balance their roles as cops, fathers, friends and finders of truth.Keith is the author of three novels: Father’s Day; My Brother’s Keeper and Bad Habits. His first novel, Father’s Day, won the Private Eye writers of America’s Best First Novel Award.

All three of Keith’s books will be available for sale and signing.

BTA breakfast asks “How do I make a difference”?

BTA -Prof Schaps 001Ziv Ben-Dov of Out-of-the-Box Therapy in Scranton was the co-sponsor with the Jewish Federation at the 2014 winter breakfast held at the Scranton JCC.

After a delightful buffet breakfast, Mr. Ben-Dov began by showing a video clip of the famous philosopher and Holocaust survivor, Victor Frankl. Frankl discussed the importance of having a moral compass and that it is imperative to aim high in the hopes of achieving even the basics in the proper level of goodness and morality. If one doesn’t reach for the stars, he is bound to land way below what is necessary for society to exist.

Ziv then brought the conversation to the assembled business people and challenged them by asking what they do in their daily living, both at home and in their professions that keep them on the track of morality and decency. Many of the attendees jumped in with questions and comments including how we pass these proper values on to the next generation.

As always, each attendee had an opportunity to introduce himself/herself and their business. Welcome to Andrew Katz of Katz Financial, Lake Ariel PA.

The NEPA Business and Trade Alliance is a project of the Jewish Federation of Northeastern PA under the guidance of Becky Schastey. For further information or to join the BTA go to JewishNEPABTA.org

Professor Malka Schaps wows the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania

Close to fifty people sat mesmerized as Professor Malka Schaps told her life story- the story of Mary Elizabeth Kramer of Ohio who converted to Orthodox Judaism, who holds a PhD in Mathematics from Harvard University, who lives in the Ultra-Orthodox community of Bnai Brak in Israel, who is a novelist and who has been appointed as Dean of Exact Sciences (mathematics, physics, chemistry and computer sciences) at Bar-Ilan University.

With humility, wit, and sheer brilliance, Professor Schaps gave an overview of her personal journey. The audience was spellbound listening to the professor sharing her discovery of Judaism as the true faith and the twists and turns she had to endure to get to the goal of her conversion.

She and her husband, Professor David Schaps, moved to Israel to join the academic community after they received their PhD degrees from Harvard (she in mathematics and he in the classics).  While working in academia, Malka Schaps raised two children and fostered four more. She also began a side career writing novels and non-fiction for the Orthodox Jewish audience under the pen name “Rachel Pomeranz”. This past November, she was appointed to the prestigious post of Dean of Exact Sciences at Bar-Ilan University, the first Orthodox woman to do so.

One of the professor’s proudest accomplishments is the development of a program/curriculum in Financial Mathematics which is being used throughout the State of Israel. Malka Schaps said “this is probably my biggest contribution to the State of Israel”.

Her inspiring presentation left people wanting more.

“I’d love to spend more time with her.”

“I’d love to have her at my Shabbat table.”

“For someone so brilliant, she is very modest, very unassuming.”

“I could have listened and asked questions for another hour”.

When I mentioned to Professor Schaps that people found her humble, she replied, “Strange as it seems, being a mathematician can be a job encouraging humility.  I am constantly dealing with people who are conspicuously smarter than I am.”

Many thanks to the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania for sponsoring this event. Co-sponsors were Dr. Shaya and Phyllis Barax, Shlomo and Deborah Fink and Dr. Nancy Willis.

Patrons were Rabbi Nathan and Maggy Bushwick, Jeff and Dassy Ganz, Seth and Sheryl Gross, Sonia Sandhaus and Tova Weiss.Prof Schaps1Prof Schaps5Prof Schaps 10Prof Schaps 9Prof Schaps 8Prof Schaps 7Prof Schaps 6

Malka Schaps

Come and Meet the first Orthodox female
appointed by Bar-Ilan University as
Dean of Exact Sciences


Photo-© 21C Israel

Raised in Ohio as Mary Elizabeth Kramer, the daughter of two college professors, Malka spent her first years at Swarthmore College engaged in a personal philosophical search. At the end of her sophomore year, while working at a math camp, she met her roommate and fellow counselor, a Jewish girl who introduced her to the Hebrew alphabet, took her to Friday night services and introduced her to Jewish dietary laws.

By the time she graduated Swarthmore, Mary Elizabeth (now Malka) had converted to Judaism and married David Schaps. The next leg of her journey continued at Harvard University where both husband and wife earned their doctorates, he in the classics and she in mathematics. Malka and David Schaps chose to move to Israel where they began their academic careers in Israeli universities.

Malka has published five novels and two nonfiction works on the Holocaust under the name of Rachel Pomerantz.


In November 2013, Malka Schaps was appointed Dean of Exact Sciences at Bar-Ilan University; she is the first Orthodox Jewish woman to hold such a prestigious position at an internationally recognized university.

The Schaps’ have two children, raised four foster children, and currently are proud grandparents of 12.

Sounds like an interesting life? Sounds like a woman with one life and two worlds?

Join us as Malka Schaps discusses
One Life, Two Worlds
Sunday, February 2, 2014 at 2:15pm
 Scranton JCC
601 Jefferson Avenue
Scranton, PA 18510

Minimum Donation: $5.00
Event Patron: $18.00
Sponsorships available

For further information, to RSVP, or to sponsor this event, please contact
Maggy Bushwick 570-961-0340 or email at 1life2worlds@gmail.com

Jewish Federation Opening Event Combines Tikkun Olam and Fun!

Super Sunday is usually known as a quiet day of phone solicitations to benefit the United Jewish Campaign of the Jewish Federation of NEPA.

This year the UJA phone-a-thon was only part of the Super Sunday program held at the Scranton JCC on Sunday September 29, 2013.

The JCC kitchen was buzzing first thing with the crew of volunteers led by Sue Severe, the JCC’s kosher kitchen manager. The free boxed lunch to be offered on Super Sunday consisted of a sandwich (egg salad, tuna or turkey), fruit, snack and a drink. Thank you to the Federation and to Carlucci, Golden, DeSantis Funeral Home, Inc. of Dunmore for sponsoring the lunch. And many thanks to our volunteers, Nancy Ben-Dov, Rozzie Ben-Dov, Bernice Ecker, Carol Fishbein, Leah Laury, Shira Laury, Nancy Milano, Millie Myers, Nancy Rainey, Theresa Shonus and Katherine Smith.

The Red Cross was next to “set up shop” in the JCC’s Koppelman Auditorium. Jennifer Williams and Robert Lee, team leaders and the wonderful phlebotomists created the appropriate atmosphere for donations. Tim Frank, Director of Youth Services at the JCC, was the first donor of the day! At the end of the day, Jeanne reported that there were 21 donations, ten of which were “first- timers”! Thank you to Marshall Needle and Walter Gantz who volunteered as escorts and at the canteen area.

Christine Kelly, head of the JCC’s Early Childhood Department and Trish Kuntz of daycare created a wonderful children’s experience in the JCC gym. There was face painting, arts and crafts and the popular bounce house.

The nostalgic sounds of classic Jewish music emanated from the Goodman Lounge. Brothers Alan and Jay Sweifach and Jim Bazewicz of the Hester Street Troupe brought toe tapping and hand clapping to those who enjoyed the upbeat style of clarinet, keyboard and percussion. The group graciously played requests from the audience as well.

The UJA phone-a-thon did take place amidst all the activities in the JCC Linder Room. Mark Silverberg, executive director of the Jewish Federation, led the training and then solicitors, many for the first time, made their phone calls. Organizers said that there had never been so many new solicitors, perhaps due to the different location and time.

Our thanks to our Super Sunday volunteers, Sheila Abdo, Jean Blom, Maggy Bushwick, Mark Davis, Esther Elefant, Jim Ellenbogen, Vera Epshteyn, Joe Fisch, Jeff Ganz, Seth Gross, Ann Herman, Janet Holland, Larry Millikan, Maddy Mogel, Mel Mogel,Barbara Nivert, Louis Nivert, Gwen Pole, Rabbi Dovid Rosenberg, Ellie Sullum and Millie Weinberg.

One of the day’s attendees summed it all up so well by saying “this was a great program. A perfect mix of fun, food and ’tikkun olam’ (responsibility to better the world).”

Thank you to all who support the Jewish Federation of NEPA and its programs.

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“It Was Just a Perfect Day!”

On Sunday June 2, 2013 the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania marched in the annual Celebrate Israel parade in New York City. Though the region was under a heat wave, we got on our air conditioned charter bus, armed with the cold drinks the Federation had provided and headed to the parade. The march is so much fun and the opportunity to join thousands of Jews and gentiles in support of the Jewish homeland is so unforgettable that we knew we wouldn’t let the weather get the best of us.

This year a number of newcomers joined our group including Jean Blom, our featured speaker at the Federation’s Yom HaAtzmaut event. Jean and her son, Jacob (also at the parade), spent two weeks in Israel volunteering on an army base. Jean brought friends and family along too because she “can’t get enough of Israel”.

We were pleased at the growing number of young people, members of our local Bnai Brith Youth Organization (BBYO), who marched carrying our banners as well as the banner of the Scranton JCC.

And there were the many people, from school age to golden age, who have consistently marched with us since the Federation became a part of the parade.

After our making our way down Fifth Avenue, we boarded our bus and went to Teaneck, N.J. for what we call “the second best part of the day”. As we have been to this lovely Jewish community before on parade day, most everyone had their favorite kosher restaurant to enjoy- Chinese, fusion, steakhouse, deli, fast- food or dairy pizza and vegetarian cuisine.

Our wonderful day ended with great memories of time spent enjoying ourselves and supporting our true Jewish homeland.

Thank you to all our participants from Scranton and the Poconos. Thank you to Mr. Barth Rubin, owner of Budget Inn and Suites for the use of his establishment as our Pocono pick- up point. Thank you to Mr. Martin Weiss of the Poconos who brought along huge Israeli and American flags to add to our presentation. Thank you to Becky Schastey who created our photographic mosaic theme banner. And, of course, thank you to the Mark Silverberg and the Jewish Federation of NEPA which underwrote most of the cost of the event.

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Jewish Federation’s Yom HaAtzmaut Program Was Captivating

In honor of Israel’s 65th birthday, members and friends of the Jewish Federation of NEPA had the pleasure of listening to two speakers who shared their recent experiences visiting the land of Israel.

Jeanne Blom, of Hallstead PA, mesmerized the group of close to 50 with her story as a volunteer on an Israeli army base as part of the Volunteers for Israel/ Sar-el  organization which arranges with volunteers from all over the world to give time and energy to relieve the soldiers of the Israeli Defense Force from some mundane duties so they can stand in readiness to defend and protect the Jewish State. Jeanne’s engaging and candid style did much to enhance her presentation as did an array of beautiful and telling photos of her trip.

As Jeanne had said to the audience, “I am not Jewish but I love the people and the land and it was a chance of a lifetime to do something for the soldiers of the IDF.” Jeanne’s 17 year old son, Jacob, accompanied her on her trip which was another special component of the experience.

Brad Smertz, of Clarks Summit, then regaled the audience with both story and photos of his first visit to Israel as part of the Scranton JCC’s Teen Israel Experience, co-sponsored by the Federation. His youthful enthusiasm and delightful pictures of beautiful scenery and active teens gave everyone the feeling that all young people should have a chance to visit and volunteer in Israel.

The evening began and ended with the singing of the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikva led by Cantor Vladimir Aronzon

A small collation following the program featured a cake in the shape of the Israeli flag, blue and white cookies and fruit. Guests were able ask questions and talk to our speakers. It was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate our Jewish homeland.

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Congregation B’nai Harim second annual GOLF OUTING

Cong. B’nai Harim second annual GOLF OUTING

DATE:  Monday June 27

Pocono Farms Country Club.  7000 Lake Road, Tobyhanna, PA 18466.

Dinner following at Lake Naomi Club in Pocono Pines, PA 18350

Cost: $115 includes round of golf, cart, prizes and dinner for the golfer.

Dinner only $45 pp

Contact : Ira Miller 570-355-5350.  cut off date June 19, 2013

For reservation mail check to:

Congregation B’nai Harim

PO Box 757

Pocono Pines PA 18350

Include number of golfers and if you wish to be paired with any particular person(s).

For dinner only please note.

Scranton Community Participates in the Orthodox Union’s Jewish Communities’ Home and Job Relocation Fair

With a growing number of Orthodox Jewish families frustrated with the high cost of living in major cities, many are prepared to make the move to “out of town” communities. The struggling economy has taken its toll on these families and some are out of work. Real estate and tuition costs in day schools in the big cities are sky high, and the pressures of “keeping up with the Cohens” are a reality they must face daily. As a result, many families want and need to make a change. They seek a warm environment with amenities suitable to their Orthodox Jewish lifestyle such as kosher food, a Hebrew Day School, a mikvah and synagogues. They also look for houses they can afford and for new job opportunities to support their families.

Recently, the Orthodox Union (OU) created a wonderful opportunity for such families and smaller Jewish communities to network – The OU Jewish Communities’ Home and Job Relocation Fair. Now in its fourth year, this year’s Fair was held on Sunday April 21, 2013 at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Manhattan. Forty smaller communities were represented, some for the first time – including Scranton, Pennsylvania.

Organizers of the event were anticipating over 1,000 people to attend. They were not disappointed.

The Scranton Jewish community decided to get involved to see if it could grow the community with young families whose children would consider attending the Scranton Hebrew Day School thereby adding to the vibrancy of the Orthodox community as a whole. A new website was created for this Initiative (www.jewishscranton.org) highlighting all the reasons that make Scranton a wonderful place to live. Visitors to the Scranton Booth at the Fair received a brochure on the Orthodox community to take home as well as sample newsletters from our synagogues, the Scranton Hebrew Day School, the JCC and the Jewish Home of Eastern Pennsylvania.

Elisheva Lorber created a sheet of real estate listings with photos and financial information which was very informative as many people are looking for a more affordable community.

Approximately 100 persons visited the Scranton Booth at the Fair with sixty (60) leaving e-mail contact information thereby enabling us to invite them to a forthcoming Shabbos program in Scranton.

Many thanks to the Organizing Committee and to those who represented Scranton at the Fair. They included Rabbi Yisroel and Aviva Brotsky, Dr. Joel and Leah Laury, Meshulem and Rivky Epstein, Stuart and Elisheva Lorber, Rabbi Dovid Rosenberg, Rabbi Arye Jacubowicz and Dassy Ganz ………… and a special thank you is extended to those whose financial backing made this project possible – especially the Jewish Federation of Northeastern Pennsylvania.

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