The Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh has launched an effort to increase communication and cooperation among the more than 3,000 Jewish households in the South Hills. According to a 2002 study conducted by the Federation in cooperation with the Jewish Healthcare Foundation, two-thirds of South Hills Jewish families live in Mt. Lebanon.
From its new office in Mt. Lebanon and headquarters in Oakland, the Jewish Federation offers a range of programs that address Jewish needs in the areas of health, education and social welfare. Nine Mt. Lebanon residents will be serving on a 20-member South Hills Council for the initiative, which is directed by Rob Goodman. They are: Sheryl Cohen, Jonathan Fischer, Miles Kirshner, Rebecca Lasus, Max Louik, Stacey Reibach, Michael Roteman, Matt Schwartz and Scott Seewald.
The council will meet six times a year at various South Hills synagogues to plan and publicize events that will engage participation and make an impact. “Ninety percent of what we are doing is purely promoting, repackaging, rebranding and letting the [Jewish] community know about events that are already going on,” says Rob Goodman of Upper St. Clair, director of the initiative. “How can we make them better? How can we make them more accessible?”
Goodman says the council is thinking beyond particular congregations or neighborhood demographics in an effort to promote a stronger sense of community among all Jewish residents of the South Hills. “We’re one community,” he says. “We want [Jewish families] to know, if they’d like to come to the South Hills, here are the opportunities that are available,” he says.
Rabbi Jessica Locketz of Temple Emanuel of the South Hills on Bower Hill Road welcomes the effort. She says local synagogues already are working together to plan events like high school programs and holiday celebrations that will bring people from various south suburbs and congregations together.
“Even though it is a relatively new initiative, the impact can already be felt,” she says.