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Congratulations to Neil Port on being honored by the UPMC Altoona Foundation at Winter Splendor on January 19, 2024. Neil received this Health Care Honor for his over 30 years of service, including serving as a Trustee of the Board and Chair of the Foundation. Click here to see the video of Neil receiving this honor.


Altoona "minyan" in Florida at Barb Hollander’s art exhibit


Our Altoona Jewish Community celebrated the lighting of the Menorah at UPMC Altoona on Friday morning, December 8, 2023. Our Service was led by Bill Wallen, Rabbi Judah Kogen, Rabbi Audrey and Neil Port. Click here to read about the program from the Altoona Mirror.


Blair County Judge Ilissa Zimmerman will be hanging up her judicial robes and returning to her former role as the county’s divorce and custody master.

Condolences to the family of Hank Katzen. Hank passed away peacefully Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. He was a former resident of our community and a leader at the Federation and AAC. Click here to read the obituary.

Almost four years after taking the helm of the Jewish Cemetery and Burial Association of Greater Pittsburgh and helping grow the organization in stature and scope, Barry Rudel is stepping down. Mazel Tov to Barry Rudel on his retirement.

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Judith R. “Judy” Thaler on November 29, 2023. Condolences to her family. Click here to read the obituary.

Condolences to the Family of Bonnie Scheinberg Moss. Bonnie passed on October 26, 2023. Click here to read the obituary.



Mazel Tov to Steve and Michelle Schmidt on the marriage of their daughter Alexandra to Brandon Hunter on December 2, 2023.

Mazel Tov to Michael and Andrea Cohen on the marriage of their daughter Allison to Zack Stimell on October 22, 2023.

On May 24, 2023, the Federation, on behalf of our Jewish community, was proud to receive a proclamation designating May 2023 Jewish American Heritage Month from Altoona Mayor, Matt Pacifico.

This proclamation was received at our annual Community Veterans Service at our cemeteries. Over 30 members of our community were present to hear Mayor Pacifico speak about the outstanding contributions of Jewish Americans to the history and progress of our democracy and furthering of the our cherished values of freedom and the American dream.

He also spoke about the need to safeguard minority communities and fight Antisemitsm, as Jews and minorities have enriched American life for all for hundreds of years.

Click here read the proclamation.



Mazel Tov to Mickey and Neil Port on the recent marriage of their granddaughter Jace to Dyllan.

Congratulations to Neil Port. Neil's passion for music, performing started early as this entrepreneur nurtures local arts community with P&J Productions.

Mazel to Phil and Victoria Dubrow on the marriage of their daughter Marissa to Brennan Hurd on July 29, 2023.



Mazel Tov to Dianne and Neil Rudel on the marriage of their son, Adam Rudel to Rebecca Ellison, on December 17, 2022.

Mrs. Rudel is a 2012 graduate of Franklin High School, Reisterstown; and a 2016 graduate of Towson University with a bachelor of science degree in psychology. She is director of development for a synagogue/private day-school in Baltimore. Mr. Rudel is a 2010 graduate of Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School and a 2013 graduate of Penn State University, University Park, with a bachelor of science degree in recreation, parks and tourism management. He is marketing manager for the Baltimore Ravens.


Condolences to the family of Dr. Mark Lipitz on the passing of Ben Lipitz, his beloved brother on Tuesday, April 18, 2023.


Condolences to the family of Genia Sommer, who passed away Friday, Feb. 17, 2023, at her home in Hollidaysburg.

Genia was born in Poland, a Holocaust Survivor. She created a family and searched for a new life after surviving the destruction of her own family and society and the 6 million Jews who perished in WWII. Immigrating to the United States with her husband, Jack Sommer, after the war, she raised her two children and resumed her education, obtaining a bachelor’s degree and master’s degrees in psychology and library science. Her focus was on her family, with a work ethic, positive attitude and emphasis on education as the means towards independence and self-fulfillment.

Originally living in New York, Genia moved to Hollidaysburg in 1984, helping to raise her grandchildren. Click here to read the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the Pechter family. We are saddened to learn of the passing of Shirley Pechter, who peacefully passed away on Friday, January 20, 2023. She was a noted philanthropist and lifelong resident of Altoona, Shirley was in her 103rd year. Shirley was devoted to numerous causes and was admired for her ability to galvanize others into action, for bravely voicing her opinions and for generously contributing to the many charities close to her heart.

Shirley was Chairman Emeritus of Altoona Pipe and Steel Supply Company, founded by her grandfather Abe Abelson in 1885. She is survived by her daughters, Donna and Joanne; her son, Richard; sons-in-law, Philip and Richard; and daughter-in-law, Kayla; nine grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.

Friends will be received from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, at E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home Inc., 2309 Broad Ave., Altoona. A private family graveside service will be held at the convenience of the family.

Click here to read the complete obituary.


Mazel Tov to Andrea Cohen, president of Blair Companies Real Estate and Lakemont Park, who received the Athena award from the Blair County Chamber of Commerce on January 27th. This award is presented for professional excellence, community service and for actively assisting women in their attainment of professional excellence and leadership skills. Click here to watch video of this event.

We are saddened to learn of the passing of Marcia Schulman, beloved sister of Reva Feldman and Elaine Wolkoff on Thursday January 26, 2023. Marcia was a lifelong member of Agudath Achim and participated in many services and events. She was a resident of Harrisburg in recent years.

We are saddened to learn of the passing of David I. Rudel, beloved father of Neil Rudel, on Sunday January 22 at the age of 91. Dave was a lifelong Johnstowner, a graduate of Penn State University, and a great supporter of Johnstown’s Jewish community. Neil remembers him as a great father who loved to golf, play cards and – most of all — spend time with his family, which included his five adoring children, eleven grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren. Click here to read the obituary.



The feast of Hanukkah commemorates the preservation of the Jewish faith more than 2,000 years ago, when Judah Maccabee fought not only a Greco-Syrian tyrant who wanted to destroy Judaism but also fellow Jews willing to be assimilated, according to Rabbi Judah Kogen, speaking at UPMC Altoona’s annual menorah lighting Tuesday.

In the Holy Land of the second century BCE, Judaism “could have been wiped out,” said Bill Wallen, executive director of the Greater Altoona Jewish Federation. “But 2,000 years later, we still exist.”


Condolences to the Levinson family. We regret to inform you of the passing of former community member and leader Bernice Levinson in Philadelphia on Monday, October 17, 2022. Bernice was the wife of the late Howard; loving mother of David (Kathy Kirn), Michael (Cathy) and Mark (Sally); adoring grandmother of Al (Meghan), Madeline, Louis, Noah, Sophie and Isabelle.

As her time approached, the Federation Executive Committee at a recent meeting shared fond memories of Bernice and her time in Altoona.  We spoke of her service to Federation, the Jewish community, as well as her work in the general community and at Improved Dwellings of Altoona.  Bill Wallen remarked about her returning to college after her IDA retirement and obtaining her degree from Penn State.  Mickey Port reminisced and admired her drive and determination as one of the early women leaders in our community and a true difference maker.  Bernice was the first woman to be honored by B’nai B’rith as Person of the Year as well as a National Association of Human Services Person of the Year.  She was also a founding member of Big Brothers Big Sister.

We marveled at all that Bernice accomplished as a community servant, leader and mentor.  More impressive was her manner in making a difference with class, distinction and dignity, and respect for her fellow human beings.  As a vanguard of humanity, Bernice put Jewish values into action.  

We honored and remembered her commitment to Judaism, community, and humanity that continues to inspire in our traditions of tzedakahchesed and tikkun olam.

The Altoona Mirror featured many of her accomplsihments as a role model.


Condolences to Reva Schulman Feldman and her family on the passing of her husband, Gary Feldman, on December 4, 2022.


Condolences to the family of Asher Sky, who died on October 28, 2022. Asher was born and reared a family in Altoona. He referred to his father Israel as the smartest person he ever knew. He referred to his mother, Tessie, as the most athletic person he ever knew. He has fond memories of playing sandlot baseball, football and basketball with the neighborhood kids and his mom.

He played football in high school. Legend has it that he was the smallest, hardest hitting lineman ever. He was offered a football scholarship to play at Michigan State University, but Israel didn’t let him take it. Still, he went to Michigan State University to play football and major in food distribution. However, after his first day on the football field, the coach told him that he better get his skinny butt off the field before he got himself killed.

Click here to read the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to the family of Jerry Bergstein, who passed away August 23, 2022. was born in Altoona, the son of Irving and Sara (Kirshner) Bergstein. He married Joan (Davis) in Cumberland, Md., on July 3, 1951.

Jerry attended Altoona High School and Penn State Altoona. He was a lifetime member of Penn State Alumni. At the age of 13, he began working for Joseph S. Karp Bros. restaurant supplies. He eventually became sole owner and continued as president of the company until its closing in 1984.

After WWII, he enlisted and served in the Army. He was stationed in the Philippines for 1.5 years. He enjoyed golfing and bridge, but most of all, spending time with his family and friends. He always greeted them with a hug and a smile. He loved his family fiercely.

Click here to read his complete obituary.



Mazel Tov to family of Ed Petsonk. Ed was a past Federation President, and was the original developer of Blue Knob All Seasons Resort. He was recently posthumously inducted into the Pennsylvania Snow Sports Museum Hall of Fame.

On September 23 and 24, 2022, his family, skiing friends and others in the ski community gathered at Seven Springs Mountain Resort to celebrate his induction into the hall of fame. The ceremony honors those who have made significant contributions to the Pennsylvania Snowsports industry.



Mazel Tov to Rachel Hollander and Ari Sirner on the birth of Kobi Shai Sirner on July 13, 2021. Rachel is the daughter of Barbara and Joel Hollander.






Congratulations to Ilissa Zimmerman. Ilissa has been approved as a judge for the Blair County Court of Common Pleas. Ilissa, who fills a vacant seat on the county bench, put on a black robe Tuesday during a ceremony in which she repeated the oath for her appointed position through December 2023.



Mazel Tov to Adam Rudel on his engagement and marriage to Rebecca Ellison.

  1. Adam is the son of Dianne and Neil Rudel.

They were married December 17, 2022.



Congratulations to Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer. She is the recent winner of a 2022 Covenant Award. She is the Chief Program Officer of the Jewish Learning Venture of Greater Philadelphia.

At Jewish Learning Venture, Ms. Kaplan-Mayer leads disability awareness trainings for synagogues, schools, and Jewish organizations. She also facilitates a consortium of organizations that work in the disability field across the Greater Philadelphia Jewish community. In addition, Ms. Kaplan-Mayer leads seminars and webinars for parents, educators, and clergy members, consults with synagogue inclusion committees and leaders, and designs sensory-friendly family engagement programs. She also directs the Reta Emerson Fellowship/Teen Assistant Program (TAP), a training program for teens who volunteer with children who need extra learning support in their Hebrew Schools.

Click here for a video of her work.

The Covenant Foundation takes pride in honoring outstanding Jewish educators selected from across North America for their inspired teaching and creativity.

Gab is the daughter of Dr Steve Kaplan and of  Lynne Kaplan, of blessed memory.

Click here for more information.


Mazel Tov to Connor and Grant Okonak on their Bar Mitzvah at AAC on July 2, 2022.

  1. They are the sons of Andrea and Robbie Okonak and the grandsons of Amy and Steve Seltzer.




Congratulations to our 2022 graduates:






Ava Kline graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Major in Psychology and a Minor in Biology. She wants to find her own Special Way to Heal the World.

Scott Cohen has grduated from indiana University with a Master in Business Administration degree.

Rob Smith has graduated from Penn State University.

Zach Dubrow is graduating from Hollidaysburg Area High School.

Melissa Dubrow has graduated from IUP with a Master degree in Literacy.

Mike Holzer has graduated from Penn State with a Master in Project Management degree.


Mazel Tov to Jerry Zolten on his acclaimed documentary film — produced and narrated by a local professor — “How They Got Over/Gospel Quartets and the Road to Rock ‘n’ Roll.” He is a nationally-recognized musicologist and professor of Communication Arts and Sciences at Penn State Altoona. He is also the producer of the Grammy winning gospel group the Fairfield Four (as seen in the film “O Brother Where Art Thou”) and the author of the book “Great God A’Mighty! The Dixie Hummingbirds/Celebrating the Rise of Soul Gospel Music.” The second edition becomes available this month from Oxford University Press. He has been involved in the gospel documentary project for the past 10 years. Click here for more information in the Altoona Mirror.

Mazel Tov to Ilissa Zimmerman. Ilissa, a part-time assistant district attorney and the county’s master for divorce and custody cases, is on a list of judicial nominees that a state Senate committee approved Wednesday, as interviewed and vetted by Gov. Tom Wolf’s office. Click here for article in the Altoona Mirror.

Congratulations to TBI Confirmands:

Isaac Rubinstein, son of Gregory Rubinstein and
Bridget Crowe Rubinstein

Greyson Morris, son of Greg and Shannon Morris
Grier Morris, daughter of Greg and Shannon Morris




Condolences to the family of Michael Neidorff, who passed away Thursday, April 7, 2022. He was a beloved husband to Noémi Neidorff, father to Peter Neidorff and the late Monica Neidorff, and brother to Susan Neidorff Reinglass and Robert Neidorff.

Michael was raised in Altoona, Pennsylvania. He graduated from Trinity University and St. Francis University with a Master of Arts degree.

Michael Neidorff was one of the most philanthropic individuals in the country. His philanthropy and personal generosity transformed the non-profit landscape throughout the state of Missouri and across the nation. His continual support for hundreds of not-for-profit organizations was widely celebrated. Click here to read his complete obituary.



Mazel Tov to Allison Cohen on her engagement to Zack Stimmel.

  1. Allison is the daughter of Andrea and Dr. Michael Cohen.




The Altoona Mirror offered a perspective from members of our local Jewish community about the invasion of Ukraine. Read thoughts from Gary Belenitsky, Bill Wallen and Valerie Metzger by clicking here.

Condolences to the family of Anna Leopold, 96, of Altoona, who passed away March 6, 2022. She was born in Altoona, the daughter of William P. and Eliza (Imler) Shaefer. She married Louis E. Leopold (1922-2009) in 1947. They had two children, John (1948-2021) and Louise of Hollidaysburg. She had one granddaughter, Ellen; and four great-grandchildren, all living in Ventura, Calif. Anna was a 1942 graduate of Altoona High School and earned a PH. B and an MA from the University of Chicago. She taught sociology at Penn State Altoona for 11 years, doing research in industrial and community relations and modern community trends. With her husband, she exhibited original photographs throughout the United States in support of visual social science as an instructional tool. A Celebration of Life honoring Anna Leopold will be held at 2 p.m. Thursday, March 24, 2022, at The Stevens Mortuary Inc., 1421 Eighth Ave., Altoona.

Condolences to the family of Gerald A. Karp, 78, Greensburg, formerly of Altoona, who passed away Wednesday at Twin Lakes Rehabilitation Center in Greensburg. He was born in Altoona, son of the late Aaron and Malvene (Goldberg) Karp. Gerald is survived by a very special cousin and his wife, Gerald “Jerry” and Joan Bergstein. A graveside service will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, March 21, 2022, at Agudath Achim Cemetery with Cantor Ben Matis.

Mazel Tov to Blance Kaminsky on her "Jubilee" 100th birthday on Februrary 9, 2022. Blanche was a long time member of our community and a leader at AAC, the JMC and at the Federation. She was also a driving force for our local Hadassah chapter and a member of the National Board of Hadassah. She currently resides in Columbia, Missouri.


Mazel Tov and Happy Birthday to Maxine Weinberg

  1. Maxine recently celebrated the 51st anniversay of her 29th birthday in Florida.



Condolences to the family of Dr. Len Zimmerman, who passed away Thursday, January 13, 2022. Len was a 1954 graduate of Bucknell University and a 1958 graduate of University of Pittsburgh Medical School. He completed an internship at San Francisco General Hospital in 1959 and his residency at the Mayo Clinic in 1962.

He retained board certification as an Ear, Nose and Throat specialist from 1963 until his retirement. After his retirement, he volunteered at the UPMC Altoona Partnership for Health Services and provided care to veterans at the Van Zandt VA Medical Center. His work continued weekly until 2013. 

Len was a member of Agudath Achim Synagogue and Temple Beth Israel, a long time officer for the Greater Altoona Jewish Federation, and an active participant in the Federation Jewish Film Festival committee.  He was an avid reader, tremendous gardener, an extensive traveler, an enthusiastic sports fan and loved spending time with his friends and family.  A private funeral service will be held at the convenience of the family. 

Click here to read a tribute to Len's legacy in the Altoona Mirror.

The family asks that contributions be made in Len’s memory to The Greater Altoona Jewish Federation, PO Box 224, Hollidaysburg, PA 16648.


Congratulations to Joe Port on the success of Ghosts on CBS. Local fans have enjoyed the numerous Altoona references in the show and his 10-member writing staff who have also embraced the city. “I always enjoyed seeing Altoona references in movies and TV shows when I was growing up,” Port said, because “it’s a comedic name. It sounds funny.” He said he’s glad so many people like the show and is looking forward to the next season. Click here to read more about Joe and the show in the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to the family of Lynn Fishbaine. Lynn, 89, State College, formerly of Altoona, passed away Wednesday, December 8, 2021, at Juniper Village at Brookline. She was born in Altoona, the daughter of the late Joseph F. and Martha K. Cohen, founders and owners of The Young Men’s Shop in Altoona.

Lynn was a self-taught avid painter and many of her works appeared in juried exhibitions and now hang in collections throughout the country. Her love for flowers was reflected every spring in the gardens blooming around her house and in many of her canvasses. Along with her husband, Lynn enjoyed foreign travel, visiting more than 20 countries, always on the alert for venues that offered music, from jazz to classical, and opportunities to dance as long as her partners would last.

Click here to read the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the family of Samuel M. Kaplan. Sam, 92, passed away Monday, January 3, 2022, at Cambria Care Center of Ebensburg. He was born in Altoona, son of the late Morris and Ida (Small) Kaplan.  Sam is survived by a brother, Harold Kaplan of Altoona; and many nieces and nephews.

He was preceded in death by a brother, Charles Kaplan; and his sisters, Shirley Steiner and Anna Paikin.  Sam retired from the Crane Co. after many years of service and was a veteran of WWII and served with the U.S. Army Air Corps.   Sam belonged to the VFW Post 3, the UVA, Newburg Firehall and the Bavarian Aid Society.

Interment will be made at Agudath Achim Cemetery.
Condolences may be made at or Stevens Family Funeral Homes Facebook page.


Condolences to the family of Peter Viner. Peter passed away on November 28, 2021. He was the beloved husband of Genia, father of Mina and Gary Belenitsky.

Peter was one of the "New Americans" that we welcomed to our community. He loved being here with his family and loved our country. Peter always greeted everyone with a smile and a handshake. May his memory always be for a blessing.


Condolences to the family of Larry Bloom. Lawrence “Larry” Bloom, 91, passed away after a lengthy illness on Saturday, October 16, 2021. Larry was born in New Rochelle, N.Y., and graduated from Bucknell University with a BS in Commerce and Finance in 1952. Larry soon joined Puritan Sportswear’s office in New York as a sales associate and then moved to Altoona.


Congratulations to Dorothy Liller. On October 1, 2021, Temple Beth Israel honored soloist Dorothy Liller for her 36 years of dedicated service to the congregation. Mayor Matt Pacifico was on hand with a proclamation declaring October 1 "Dorothy Liller Day" in the city of Altoona.

Rabbi Audrey Korotkin of Temple Beth Israel was one of dozens of survivors honored at 2021 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer of Central Pennsylvania on Sunday, October 10, 2021, at PNG Field in Altoona. As co-chairs of the Jewish Community's "Kadima!" team, Rabbi Korotkin and Betsy Kline have helped Kadima to raise over $1,400.



Mazel Tov to Mickey and Neil Port on the occassion of their 60th wedding anniversay.





Condolences to the Karp family. Rosaline Karp, 92, of Chicago, formerly of Altoona, passed away Wednesday September 8, 2021, at the Illinois Masonic Medical Center. She was born in Altoona, the daughter of the late William and Anna (Share) Mazur. Rosaline married Albert Karp on February 7, 1954, he preceded her in death in 2003. She was a member of Agudath Achim Sisterhood, President of the Jewish Memorial Center Axillary, a life member of Hadassah, taught Hebrew School and Sunday School. Rosaline enjoyed bowling, watching football, reading, and playing mahjong, but most of all enjoyed spending time with her family. Click here to read her obituary.



Condolences to the family of Fay "Snooky" Schmitt. S. Fay “Snooky” Schmitt, 91, Savannah, Ga., formerly of Altoona then Duncansville, passed away Wednesday evening at her daughter and son-in-law’s home in Savannah, Ga., with whom she resided for the past 3.5 years.

Snooky was a member of AAC and the Federation. She actively served on each board and was extremely involved with Altoona Community Theatre, producing an amazing number of unforgettable musicals. Many remember her excitement before big shows while taking tickets at the Mishler Theatre’s box office. She was a board member of the Friends of the Altoona Library, an energetic helper at the soup kitchen and served on numerous other boards and organizations. For Snooky, no one was a stranger and, of course, no one would go hungry in her presence.

Click here to read the full obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Congratulations to Elliott Bilfosky. He was recently honored with the Pennsylvania's Medical Society's Everyday Hero Award. Click here to read about the honor in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the Meisner family. We are saddened to learn of the death of Marvin H. Meisner MD. Marvin passed away on June 4, 2021. He was beloved husband of Judith Sue Meisner (nee Eglin), loving father of Kevin (Christine) and Jonathan (Alice) Meisner, devoted grandfather of Zachary, Jacob, Samuel and Benjamin.

Marvin was a leader in the development of Cardiology and other medical services for our community thru the development of Blair Medical Associates and many new services at the Altoona Hospital.

Click here for the live stream of the funeral service, Monday, June 7, 2021, 2pm.

Click here to read the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to the family of Charles Samuel Kaminsky, who died Thursday, June 14, 2021, after an extended illness. Charles spent the major portion of his life career as president/owner of Puritan Cleaners, a business founded by his father Morrie and Uncle Jack Kaminsky.

Click here to read the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.




Condolences to the family of Irv Seltzer. Irv passed away on January 8, 2021. Irv and his wife Joan, who preceded him in death on May 15, 2002, moved to Altoona in 1954, to establish the Altoona Telephone Message Center.

Irv was very involved in community and civic activity, having served as secretary on the board of directors of Agudath Achim Congregation and president of the Altoona Lodge of B’nai Brith

Click here to read the tribute of Irv in the Altoona Mirror.

Click here to read Irv's obituary.



Condolences to the family of Bill Rosch. William M. Rosch, 76, Largo, Fla., formerly of Altoona, passed away Monday January 25, 2021, of complications from COVID-19. He was the son of the late Dr. Bernard and Helen (Kessler) Rosch. 

Bill relocated to Florida in 2009 after retiring from Valley View Nursing Home (now, Maybrook Hills), where he worked as an aide for nearly four decades.

Click here to read the full obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Mazel tov to parents Joe and Tessa Port of Los Angeles, California, on the birth of son Charlie Port. Charlie is the grandson of Phyllis Port.

Mazel Tov to Rabbi Korotkin, Cantor Matis and Bill Wallen for their Hanukkah prgram at UPMC Altoona this year.

Click on the link below to view the service.



Congratulations to Bill Wallen. Bill was recently honored by the Sixth Ward at their Thanksgiving Interfaith Service. Click on the image to watch the service.


Judith (Beker Cohen) Meisel, age 91, passed away peacefully at home on November 3, 2020 in St. Louis Park, MN. She was born in Lithuania to Mina and Osser Beker, and survived the Holocaust in the Kovno ghetto and eventually the Stutthoff Concentration Camp where her mother was murdered in the gas chamber. She and her sister, Rachel, escaped during a death march in 1945 as the Russians were advancing towards the Camp. She was 16 years old when she was liberated in Denmark. More than 75 years later, Judy provided key witness testimony in recent German indictments and trials of SS guards from Stutthoff. Her amazing story of survival can be found at Her life story as a Holocaust survivor, educator, speaker and activist was chronicled in a documentary film, Tak for Alt.

Judy made numerous visits to our community to educate the secular and Jewish communities about the Holocaust and social justice. She made a tremendous impact with all she met. She felt it was important to speak in memory of those who did not survive, and let everyone know that we can make a diffence to create a better world.

Click here to read Judy's obituary.

Click here to read her profile at Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara.



Condolences to the family of Falon Morris. Falon Marie Morris, 24, of Hollidaysburg, sadly passed away on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, in a winter snowstorm automobile accident driving home from New York. Falon was born in Altoona, the daughter of Gregory S. and Shannon (Dalby) Morris.

Falon was a graduate of Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School and was confirmed at Temple Beth Israel in Altoona. Falon attended Pennsylvania State University, where she majored in English and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in May 2019. Falon enjoyed studying literature and writing short stories as well as taking Women’s Studies classes. 

Click here to read the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to the family of Henry Weinberg. Henry passed away on November 18, 2020. We join Maxine and The Weinberg Family in mourning the loss of our dear friend. Henry was a life-long and devoted member of our Jewish and general community. He was a long time Federation officer and board member. He was also a teacher for generations of our children.

Click here to read the tribute of Henry in the Altoona Mirror.

Click here to read Bill Wallen's honoring of Henry at Henry's 90th birthday celebration at AAC.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to the family of Nima Chorny. Nima passed away on November 21, 2020. Her funeral and burial will be in Naples, Florida on Friday, November 27, 2020.



Condolences to the family of Mildred Miller. Mildred passed away peacefully at her home surrounded by family on Saturday, October 10, 2020. She was born Pittsburgh, to Freda (Goodman) and David Saltsburg, and attended its public schools, graduating from Peabody High School. Raised with the belief that you are never too old to learn something new, Mildred devoted her life to upholding this principle and sharing it with others.

Click here to read the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to the Bergstein family. Barry Lee Bergstein, 66, of Greenville, S.C., died Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020. Barry was a lover of Penn State and Steeler football, a good bottle of wine and his dog Yarmouth. He loved to host events and make others feel welcome. His generous heart made him the first to donate to any friend’s cause or to offer a word of encouragement or praise. Above all else, Barry loved his family.

Click here to read the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the family of Lynn S. Kaplan, who passed away on September 19, 2020. Lynn was known for her sparkling personality, for her great sense of humor, outgoing nature and beautiful, inclusive way of treating every human being she met with dignity, kindness and caring. Click here for the complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Mazel tov to Isaac Rubinstein, son of Bridget Crowe Rubinstein and Gregory Rubinstein, as he is to be called to the Torah as a Bar Mitzvah on Friday evening, August 21, 2020.


Condolences to the family of David A. Lebendig, 63, Hollidaysburg, who passed away Sunday at his residence. He was born in Altoona, son of the late Robert and Marion (Preiskel) Lebendig. Click here for the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Congratulations to Tyler Sky Rispoli who graduated from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University Daytona's Honors Program, Summa Cum Laude with a BS in Aeronautical Science and a double minor in Aviation Law and Aviation Safety. He received the Aeronautical Science Department Chairman's Award and was an award winning member of the ERAU Eagles Flight Team.



Congratulations to Barbara Hollander as she has retired as site coordinator for the Altoona location of the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art after 21 years with the nonprofit art organization. She is the longest-tenured employee of SAMA, the oldest satellite museum system in the country. Click here to read her story in the Altoona Mirror.








Mazel Tov to Levi Werstil on his Bar Mitzvah on May 30, 2020.






Mazel Tov to Kim & Clark Adelman on the birth of their grandson, Clark Harper Adelman, born 4/16/2020.  The proud parents are Clark Mento and Nicole Adelman.


Congratulations to Benjamin Freedman and his family! Benjamin made his Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, June 6th. Mazel Tov!




Bedford firm rolling out energy bars. Read more at the Altoona Mirror.

Congratulations to Ben Borenstein who graduated from the University of Virginia. Ben is the son of Julie Kaplan and grandson of Lynn and Steve Kaplan.

Condolences to the family of Beverly Cohen, mother of Susan Cohen of Columbus Ohio and wife of Dr. Samuel Cohen of blessed memory. Click here to read her obituary.



Mazel Tov to Marty and Barbara Port, of Tampa, Florida, who have created a $25,000 endowment that will support Penn State Altoona’s Ivyside Eats food pantry in perpetuity.

“Barbara and I are happy to establish an endowment for the benefit of Ivyside Eats. Part of our motivation is guided by history,” states Marty. “Our family was instrumental in the food service industry in central Pennsylvania and beyond for many years. In 2001, the Hickory Court Café at Penn State Altoona was rededicated as the Port-Sky Café in honor of gifts to the campus from our brother Neil Port and his wife Mickey and our cousins Phil and Roz Sky. Given that history, it was a natural fit that our endowment be linked to food.”

Click here to read about this generous gift.


Our favorite Jewish Food Historian is at it again!


Congratulations to Henry Weinberg for being recognized by the Commonwealth of PA and Senator Judy Ward for his contributions to our community.

Congratulations to our Federation Secretary, Susan Pohl. She co-founded the Blair Type 1 Diabetes Foundation in hopes of helping researchers one day find a cure.

Click here to read and watch Susan's story.

Jack Werstil is doing a spring semester in high school in Israel. He recently visited the underground playground that was the recepient of our Sunday School Tzedakah a few years ago. Go Jack!


Conratulations to the Hollander family on the birth of Rafi David Mendel, son of Rachel and Ari Sirner.


Mazel Tov to Adam Port.The Altoona Area High School senior signed a national letter of intent to play college football at Lafayette College and then received the Joe F. Cohen Blanket Award as the Mountain Lions’ most valuable football player during a program in the AAHS auditorium.

Click here to read about his honor in the Altoona Mirror.


The Cohen Blanket is one of the oldest high school awards in the country — this is the 93rd year. It was started by Altoona businessman, Young Mens Shop owner, and Jewish Memorial Center founder, Joe F. Cohen.

Joel Cohen, Joe’s son, continued the tradition and now Brian Cohen, his grandson, a State College businessman, makes the presentation annually. In presenting the award to Port, Brian Cohen noted: “My grandfather created the blanket in 1926 to recognize the top senior player who demonstrated the highest level of integrity, leadership and success on the field, in the classroom and in the community.”


Congtatulations to Andrea Cohen. She was featured in the Altoona Mirror's Monday Spotlight for her community work and in recognition of her Respected Citizen Award from the Central Blair Recreation and Park Commission.


Congratulations to Elliott Bilofsky

  1. UPMC awarded Dr. Elliott Bilofsky special recognition for his dedicated services to patients in need regardless of any obstacles encountered. 
  2. The resentation was given at UPMC Winter Splendor on January 17, 2020.



Federation Executive Director Bill Wallen, Rabbi Audrey Korotkin, Cantor Ben Matis and Neil Port participated in the UPMC ceremonial Menorah lighting at the Altoona Hospial on the piano donated by Shirley Pechter and her family.

Click here to read about the piano donation in the Altoona Mirror.

Click here to view a video of the candle lighting ceremony at Altoona Hospital.


Mazel Tov to Hymie Antikol who received the George Award for public service from the Blair County Chamber of Commerce. Hymie volunteers at UPMC Altoona in the Greeter Services department. Click here to read about the award in the Altoona Mirror.

We are saddened to report the passing of Father Leo Lynch who was one of our early Luddy Scholarship winners. He was devoted to community service, including his work as Principal of Bishop Guilfoyle High School. Click the link for the obituary.

Congratulations to Andrea Cohen. Andrea was recently named the 2019 Respected Citizen by the Central Blair Recreation and Park Commission for her recent leadership in transforming Lakemont Park to a recreation, attraction and special events park. She will be honored at its annual Community Classic Dinner and Auction, which will take place Feb. 29 — at the Bavarian Hall.

Click here to read about the award in the Altoona Mirror.


  1. Mazel Tov to Elizabeth Benjamin and her colleagues at the Beard Legal Group for their induction to the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame.

Click here to read more in the Altoona Mirror.



We regret to inform you of the passing of Sherman Lasser, 78, of Gulfport, Miss., formerly of Hollidaysburg and Atlanta, Ga.  Sherman died Sunday, Oct. 20, 2019, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

He was born in Altoona, son of William and Sylvia (Cohen) Lasser. Surviving are his wife Joan; three daughters: Lisa, Theresa and Brenda; grandchildren and great-grandchildren; a brother, Byron (Ronna), and a niece, Stacy, both of Hollidaysburg. Before retirement, Sherman was executive vice-president of Brown Group Shoe Co. Naturalizer Division and president of Etienne Aigner of New York City.

Condolences to the family of David Brooks who passed away on November 24, 2019. Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Our own Bonnie Zimmerman, Mickey Port and Alex Seltzer are dedicated volunteers for the Healing Patch Children’s Grief Program.  The Federation also gives financial support to this community service through our Sam and Rose Port Endowment Fund.

Click here to read more about the Healing Patch in the Altoona Mirror.

      Bill Wallen, Cantor Ben Matis and Rabbi Audrey Korotkin represented the Jewish community with these interfaith leaders at the 1st annual “Season of Creation” service at Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church on September 8, 2019.  
  Our condolences to the Port and Sky extended family and to all of our community on the loss of Steve Port – a friend to all.

Steve passed away on August 14, 2019.  He is remembered as a “fine gentleman” in the Altoona Mirror tribute.  Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Click here to read the tribute article in the Altoona Mirror.

Click here to see the video tribute to Steve from the 2016 Annual Federation Meeting.


Congrautlations to Irina and Boris Aryev on becoming grandparents. Granddaughter Elsie Clair Robinson was born on August 30, 2019.



Congratulations to Clark Adelman. Clark was recently profiled in the the Altoona Mirror for his work as a volunteer at the JMC, a leader at the Central Blair Recreation Commission, and as a marriage counselor at the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Click here to read more.


Happy 40th anniversary to Kim and Clark Adelman.



Condolences to the Holzer/Sevel family on the sudden passing of Russ Holzer, age 75, on July 14, 2019.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Mazel tov to Falon Morris, daughter of Shannon and Gregory Morris, on her graduation from Penn State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English. Falon has moved to New York City to pursue a career in journalism.






Mazel Tov to Casey Rispoli, son of Tobi Sky Rispoli and Dave Rispoli for his graduation from Altoona Area High School on June 10, 2019. He will be attending Penn State University’s main campus in the fall.




Mazel Tov to Phoebe Simon, daughter of Sue Port Berkman and Doug Simon, for graduating from Hollidaysburg Area High School.

Class of 2019











Alex Schmidt graduated from Marian University Medical School.

Mazel Tov to the new Schmidt family physicians.

Kathryn Schmidt graduated from Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine.

Erica Schmidt graduated from International American University College of Medicine.





Mazel Tov to Michael Berkman who was recognized with 2019 President’s Award for academic integrity by Penn State University (4/2/19). Click here to read about the award

Mazel Tov to Neil Hollander for becoming a Board Member of the Blair County Chamber of Commerce.  Neil is the Chief Commercial Officer of Altoona Pipe and Steel. 


Mazel Tov

Asher Kline and Deena Goldstein announce the birth of BODHI ALEXANDER, born April 27, 2019 weighing in at 9 # 12 oz 21 “. His Hebrew name is Boaz Aharon . Proud grandparents are Michael and Betsy Kline of Altoona of Altoona and Brian and Joy Goldstein of Philadelphia.


Baby boy Milo Oliver Krantzow born April 3, 2019, to parents Drs. Melissa Kivitz Krantzow and Michael Krantzow. Grandparents Drs. Vicki Sommer Kivitz and Alan Kivitz.





Condolences to the family of Paul Bellina, beloved husband, brother, uncle and friend.  Vietnam Veteran.  He and his wife Yvonne were members of Agudath Achim Congregation.

Click here to read the obituary



Condolences to the family of Anna Paikin, who passed away on April 16, 2019, at the age of 92.  She was a long time member of Agudath Achim Congregation and the beloved wife of Saul Paikin of blessed memory.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.




Condolences to the family of Bob Kline, age 95, died on April 6, 2019, in Teaneck NJ.  He lived and worked for many years in Altoona and was a member of Temple Beth Israel.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to Bruce and Lisa Covitch on the passing of Bruce’s dad, Mendle, aged 87, on April 4, 2019.

He was a life-long member of Agudath Achim Congregation.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.





Happy 90th Birthday to Judy Meisel.

If you would like to send Judy a card and we are sure she'd love receiving one, even if it is late, call the Federation office for her address.


Mazel Tov to Alan J. Kivitz. He recently traveled to Israel where he gave several lectures and participated in several other Rheumatology events.

He presented a lecture titled “A Novel IL-6i treatment for RA-Clinical Practice” at three Israeli Rheumatology Cen- ters in Petah Tikva and Tel Aviv. He also gave a presentation at the Israeli Annual Rheumatology Congress in Jeru- salem titled “The Role of IL6 in the Pathogenesis of RA and Associated Co-Morbidities”. He took part in an adviso- ry board discussion ”Smart Cycling in RA Management” and a Q & A session with Israeli Rheumatologists.

Click here to read more about the work of the Altoona Center for Clinical Research.



Condolences to the family of Marion Lebendig on the passing of their beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother Marion Lebendig on February 7, 2019.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



We send our condolences to Bernice Levinson and the Levinson family on the passing of Howard Levinson. The Levinson's were long time Altoona residents before returning to Bernice’s home town of Philadelphia 10 years ago.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Our condolences to the Cohen and Fishbaine families on the passing of Joel Cohen, 83, of Dorado Hills, CA, on December 4, 2018.  Joel was a native and long-term resident of Altoona, owner of The Young Men’s Shop and active in civil and community programs.  He is featured in the Altoona Mirror article.

We regret to inform you of the passing of Annette Rosch on December 17, 2018.

Hanukkah ceremony at Altoona Hospital 2018 and Celebrate Diversity celebrates it's 25th year.


Congratulations to Hugh Halpern.

He was one of three recipients of the John W. McCormack Award of Excellence, an award named for a kindly former speaker who was generous with credit for accomplishments and bestowed on longtime employees for extraordinary dedication to the House and to bipartisanship — recognizing in Hugh’s case a career that culminated two years ago when he became floor director for Speaker Paul Ryan — who chose him for the honor along with Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi.

      Jewish community's "Kadima" team was a powerful force at the American Cancer Society's Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Sunday, October 7th, at Peoples' Natural Gas Field in Altoona. Kadima raised over $3,000 - a team record - to help fund support services for patients, survivors and their families, and medical research to find a cure.  

Condolences to the Rosenthall and Holliday family on the loss of Jim Holliday, age 24, beloved son of Ed & Ronna Holliday and grandson of Audrey Rosenthall.  May his memory be for a blessing. Click here for the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Condolences to the family of Sarah "Lillian" Freedman, who passed away on Saturday, November 3rd, at the age of 93. Lillian passed away at her residence in Alexandria, Virginia, where she had moved in 1998 to be closer to much of her family. 

Condolences to the Goldschmidt family on the passing of Dr. Zvi Goldschmidt on 10/12/18.  He was a Nephrologist and developed the Dialysis Unit at Altoona Hospital.  He wife, Pauline, of blessed memory, was a Child Psychiatrist.  They are survived by their daughters Iris and Yael and their families. Click here for the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Mazel Tov to Dr. Steve and Lynn Auerbach
, whose granddaughter June, daughter of Fred and Gabrielle
Kaplan-Mayer, was called to the Torah as a Bat Mitzvah on September 2, 2018 at
Mishkan Shalom congregation in Philadelphia.

Condolences to the family of Freya Berger. Freya passed away on August 25, 2018. Funeral services were provided by Star of David Memorial Gardens Cemetery and Funeral Chapel of Pompano Beach, FL.



Congratulations to Altoona Community Cleanup Day volunteers from the Jewish community:

Jason Freedman

Benjamin Freedman

Eli Freedman

Betsy Kline

This event was organized by the City of Altoona to improve residential areas designated by the Blight Taskforce committee and the clean up day was chaired by Andrea Cohen. Check out the video here.



Welcome to Cantor Ben Matis. Cantor Matis is the new spiritual leader at Agudath Achim Congregation.

Cantor Matis is a native Long Islander and has previously served congregations in Kansas City, New York and New Jersey. He is married to Stefanie Stolzenberg and is the father of Jacob and Shoshana.

Read the feature about Cantor Matis in the Altoona Mirror.

Watch and listen to Cantor Matis performing in Poland this year.


Congratulations to our Federation Executive Director Bill Wallen. Bill has been honored by Penn State Altoona with the Outstanding Alumni Award.

Bill will be honored at Penn State Altoona on Thursday evening, September 13, 2018.

6:00 pm Rececption

7:00 pm ceremony

Misciagna Family Center for the Performing Arts Penn State Altoona

RSVP to JP Richardella at 814-949-5091

The Outstanding Alumni Award recognizes alumni of our college who have attained a significant level of accomplishment in their careers or contributed significantly to the betterment of society. Candidates possess a record of achievement that distinguishes them as leaders in their profession and/or community.




Condolences to the Family of Marilyn Muhlfelder.

  1. We are all saddened by the loss of our friend Marilyn Muhlfelder.  She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother and embraced Judaism and our whole community. Our condolences to her family and all who loved her.

Click here to read the obituary from the Stevens Funeral Home.


Yasher Koach to Mike Holzer for being named to the Altoona Mirror’s “20 under 40” for 2018. 

Mazel Tov and Yasher Koach to Rabbi Audrey Korotkin who has just earned her Ph.D. from Hebrew Union College.
Rabbi Dr. Audrey R. Korotkin, spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel, received her Ph.D. in Judaic, Hebraic, and Cognate Studies on Friday, June 1, 2018, in ceremonies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, Ohio. Conferring the degree was Rabbi Dr. David Ellenson, interim president of the College-Institute. Rabbi Korotkin wrote on penitential prayer postures in the Jewish worship tradition, through the dual lenses of liturgical history and anthropological studies.


Best Wishes to Rabbi Josh Wohl.

Rabbi Wohl, after 7 years as spiritual leader at Agudath Achim Congregation, has accepted a new position in Annapolis, Maryland.

Click here to read the Altoona Mirror's tribute to Rabbi Wohl.




Condolences to the family of Art Fishbaine. Art passed away on July 21, 2018.

He was a member of Agudath Achim Synagogue, Altoona, and a lifetime member and the first president of the Friends of the Altoona Area Public Library, an organization founded by Lynn in 1971. After pursuing two corporate executive jobs, one in Chicago and one in Bing­ham­ton, N.Y., Art returned to Altoona in 1969 as vice president of marketing of a major division of Warnaco. Years later, he was enticed to the financial industry by a friend, and, after a successful career as vice president of investments at PaineWebber, he retired in 1997.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Congratulations to Roz Sky. Roz will receive the Penn State Alumni Association’s Honorary Alumni Award at University Park on June 1 for her lifelong commitment to her community as a volunteer and philanthropist for numerous meaningful organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Blair County, the American Cancer Society, Agudath Achim Congregation, Greater Altoona Jewish Federation, Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation, Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Blair County Arts Foundation, and many others.

Click here to read more.


Congratulations to our 2018 Graduates:

Shani Evans is graduating from Hollidaysburg HS.

Ava Shayna Kline graduates from Altoona Area High School on June 1 2018!
She will be beginning her post HS graduate studies at University of
Pittsburgh this Fall 2018.  

Samantha Bilofsky is graduating Hollidaysburg High School and going to NYU
In fall Real Estate Major.

David Katz graduating from Shippensburg University with degrees in Marketing
and Finance.

Sophira Morris will be graduating from Hollidaysburg Area High School and
will attend Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, New York

Alex Schmidt just graduated from medial school & is starting her residency
through Drexel in Philadelphia in surgery!!

Felicia Devorris is graduating from Shady Side Academy in Pittsburgh. She
will be attending Boston University.

Robert Gessel, will be graduating High School in June from H-B Woodlawn
Secondary Program in Arlington, Virginia. Robert is the grandson of Mitzi Bailinger.

Mandy Sky is graduating from Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School and will
be attending the University of Delaware in the Fall 2018.  She will study
Exercise Science and plans to be a Surgical Physician's Assistant.  


Congratulations to Sandy Schocker on being honored nationally with the “Exceptional Friend” award for her dedicated volunteer work at Garvey Manor.  The award was presented at the Great Minds Gala in Washington DC in March.

We all wish Dr. Michael Kline a complete recovery over the coming months.  See the Altoona Mirror article for the story of his accident and how his good healthy lifestyle has helped him. Click here to read more about his recovery in the Altoona Mirror.

Our thoughts and sympathy to the Dembert and David families on the passing of Estelle Dembert on May 7, 2018. She and her husband Bernie, of blessed memory, had been long term residents and active members of our Jewish community.  Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Our condolences to Sherry and the Brett family on the passing of Don Brett.  He was a lifelong resident of Altoona, a prominent businessman and friend to all. Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Also read the Altoona Mirror's tribute to Don's role as a business leader in downtown Altoona.



Yasher Koach to Rey Altberg who is celebrating his 90th birthday.  He was honored by friends and family at Shabbat services at Agudath Achim Congregation on January 20, 2018.  He is known to many of us as “Schmelvis – the popcorn king” for his Elvis impersonation and help as popcorn maker at our Film festival.” Click to read his honor in the Altoona Mirror.

And to Shani Evans on her excellence in swimming. She is not only a star on the Hollidaysburg team but also an excellent swimmer for her team in Israel during the two years that she was living there.  Shani is the daughter of Dr. Matt and Dalia Evans. Click here to read her story in the Altoona Mirror.


Our condolences to the Rosenberg family on the passing of Emanuel “Manny” Rosenberg on April 15, 2018, at the age of 101. Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to the Family of Joanne Halpern. Jo-Anne (Orent) Halpern, 72, Hollidaysburg, passed away in the early morning hours on Friday, March 16, 2018, at The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg after an extended illness.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Congratulations to the Holzer family.

Captain Daniel Holzer and Elyse Leighty were married on December 31st, 2017 by Rabbi Audrey Korotkin at the Casino. 


Our condolences to Mitzi and the extended Bailinger/Mermel family on the passing of Jordan on January 27, 2018.  He was a friend to all who he met and a champion for social justice. Click here for the obituary at the Altoona Mirror.

  1. Yasher Koach to Michael Neidorff for his outstanding work for social justice.  He is the brother of Bob Neidorff.

He was named 2017 Citizen of the year in St. Louis. He is the CEO of Centene Corporation and leader in philanthropy in the St. Louis area.




Congratulations to HomeTown Favorite Award Winner Neil Port.

“My business partner, Neil Port and I along with our company, P&J Productions, were recently honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” at the Altoona Mirror’s “Hometown Favorites” award ceremony. It’s been a memorable run. Mazel Tov, sir!”-Will Jones


Our condolences to the Patt family on the passing of Jules Patt. Jules died on November 26, 2017, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Jules was a community activist, business developer and supporter of many charitable causes.

Read the complete obituary at the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the family of Don Devorris who passed away on Thursday, September 14, 2017. Don passed away peacefully at his residence, surrounded by his beloved family, after a seven-month battle with pancreatic cancer.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Devorris’ passing leaves ‘cavernous void’. Businessman remembered for his vision, generosity.


Congratulations to Dave Binus and his family for Altoona Candy and Tobacco becoming the Business Hall of Fame’s Heritage Hall Honoree for 2017.

Click here to read the link in the Altoona Mirror.

Our condolences to Jan & Jack Housman and family on the passing of Jan’s father, Joe Lurie, on October 29, 2017. Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.



Mazel Tov to Elliott & Kara Bilofsky on the wedding of their daughter Dina to Alex Castillo on July 15, 2017Congratulations to Barbara Hollander whose artwork is being displayed at the 321 Gallery in Hollidaysburg. Click here to read about her art in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the family of James “DeH.” Rosenthall, 81, who passed away suddenly on Wednesday, September 13, 2017, at his residence.

James was a 1953 graduate of Taylor-Allderdice High School, Pittsburgh, and a 1957 graduate of University of Pittsburgh Pharmacy School. He was the former owner and pharmacist of the Medicine Shoppe.

He was a member of Temple Beth Israel, Altoona, where he was treasurer for many years. He also was a member of Jaffa Temple, past president of Jaffa Oriental Band, past president of Jaffa Shrine Club, and a member of Mountain Lodge, Royal Arch and Pitt Alumni Association.

Read the complete obituary at the Altoona Mirror.


Congratulations to Phyllis and Steve Port on the wedding of their son Joe to Tessa Harnetiaux on June 24, 2017



Condolences to the family of Phil Sky who passed away on Friday, June 16, 2017. Our community has lost a community treasure and true friend. He exemplified the best of our values of love, family and service to others.

Phil was a business leader, philanthropist, beloved family man and a friend to all. 

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.

Friends and Collegues Remember Phil from the Altoona Mirror.



Condolences to the Thaler family on the loss of Dr. Bill Thaler on May 10, 2017, at the age of 86.  He battled Parkinson’s Disease for 5 years, and with the love and help of his family, he lived a full life until the very end. Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to Larry Bloom and the Bloom family on the passing of Mary Ann Bloom on May 2, 2017.  She was truly a great friend to the Altoona and Blair County community.

Many of us will always associate her with the great shows she produced at the JMC.  Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Mazel Tov to Rozzie & Phil Sky for being recipients of the Central Pennsylvania Community Foundation Philanthropy Award for 2017. 

Many members of our community were present at the ceremony to honor them on May 11th.

Here is the video that celebrated their award.

    P&J begins it's final season. Click here for more info on their Beatles tribute performance.  
  Congratulations to our 2017 Graduates        

Mazel Tov to Don Clippinger on his graduation from Concod Law School. Don was also a featured speaker for the Blair County Bar Association's 2017 Law Day program on Friday, May 5th, at the county courthouse. Click here to ready about his journey in the Altoona Mirror.



Marissa Dubrow, daughter of Philip and Victoria Dubrow,will be graduating with honors from Hollidaysburg Area High
School and be attending IUP where she will major in Early Childhood Education with a minor in


Emily Knepp, daughter of Sandra and David Knepp, will be going into the Navy after high school graduation.




Ethan Knepp, son of Sandra and David Knepp, will be graduating from Penn State. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with focus areas in Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Communications and plans to find a job in Marketing or Advertising.



Sarah Lipitz, daughter of Carol and Mark, Lipitz, graduated from Brandeis University.



Robbie Smith graduated from Altoona Area High School.



Carly Port, daughter of Leeanne and Josh Port has graduated from Syracuse University.




Mark Thaler, son of Phyllis and Bruce Thaler, graduated from the University of Virginia School of Law.



Tyler Rispoli, son of Tobi and David Rispoli, will be attending aviation school in Florida after high school graduation.




Abby Simon, daughter of Sue Port Berman and Doug Simon, will be attending Kutztown Univiversity and studying Criminal Justice.



Ben Scheinberg, son of Laura and Sam Scheinberg, has graduated from Drexel University with a degree in engineering. He is moving to California and will be building rocket ships.


Congratulations to David Halpern and Amy Seltzer. They were featured in the April 11th Altoona Mirror's Altoona Business Mirror.

Sandra Halpern was photographed in the Altoona Mirror's extensive Passover coverage.

Mazel Tov to Drs. Vicki Sommer Kivitz and Alan Kivitz on the birth of their granddaughter Nora Camille Krantzow.  Nora is the daughter of Drs. Melissa Kivitz Krantzow and Michael Kranztzow.  She is also the great granddaughter of Genia Sommer.

Kranich's is planning a new store in Altoona on Plank Blvd. Read about it in the Altoona Mirror.



Mazel Tov to Rachel Scheinberg (5/27/17), Jacob Dzikowski (6/17/17) and Zachary Dubrow (5/5/17) on their upcoming B'nai Mitzvot.

And mazel tov to Jack Werstil on his Bar Mitzvah and raising the roof.


"Moishe Morris “Mace” Bugen was quite a sight. Standing three-and-a-half feet tall, Mace could be spotted driving “Hadassah” — a Jeep custom-fitted with extra-long pedals — around Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley from 1940 to 1980. The Jeep was quite a sight, too: It was plastered with blue-and-white stars and sported its name across the front."

Our own Gab Kaplan’s new book was featured in the online publication “Jewniverse.” Bugen, the subject of Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer’s new book, The Little Gate-Crasher: The Life and Photos of Mace Bugen, was born with achondroplasia dwarfism — but, as Kaplan-Mayer, Mace’s great-niece, points out, he refused to let his disability impede a good life.


Congratulations to Barry Newborn for being featured in the Blair Business Mirror for his success with Newborn Enterprises.

Congratulations to Joellyn Zollman, curator of "Celebrate San Diego: The History & Heritage of San Diego's Jewish Community." Click here to read about the exhibit.



We regret to inform you of the passing of Saul Paikin.

Condolences to Anna Paikin and the Paikin, Kaplan and Nerenberg families on the passing of Saul on Monday, January 2, 2017. Saul was a kind and generous man who will be missed by many friends in the community.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


A phone call “right out of the blue,” Jerry Zolten says, and next thing he knew he was working as a consultant and ultimately co-producer on a documentary about gospel singers, “especially quartets, postwar and into the 1950s” that would be a major influence on doo-wop, R&B, and soul. And now that effort, How They Got Over, will be screened in February at Penn State Altoona before it has even made the round of film festivals.The movie with be screened on campus on February 16th. Read more here.

Mazel Tov to Tyler Rispoli and the AAHS Science Team for their success at the Saint Francis 23rd annual Science Day competition. Tyler and his teammate Gavin Williamson have also been our outstanding buglers at the Veteran’s Day salute. Click here to read more.


Yasher Koach and best wishes to Madelyn and Jeff Greenberg as they move to Dunedin, Florida, to join their son Bobby and family.

Many thanks to them both for their outstanding service to our community. Jeff was a vice-president at Agudath Achim and volunteer photographer for Synagogue, Federation and other events.

Madelyn was AAC Sisterhood President, editor of the Chronicle and computer consultant to the whole community. In their 18 years here, they became an important part of our lives.

Both served on the Federation board of directors and they will be missed.

Mazel Tov to Jason Freedman, Pam Blackmon and sons Ben & Eli for being featured in the Altoona Mirror article on Chanukah.


We regret to inform you of the passing of Jakob Golant, Father of Benjamin, Joseph, and Esther Golant and Debbie Badawi.

Jakob Passed away on Monday, December 26, at Maybrook Hills Health and Rehabilitation Center.

Jakob was a gabbai and minyonaire at Agudath Achim and a beloved long-time member of the congregation. He was devoted to his family and his synagogue. Jakob was a Holocaust survivor who helped all of our community to never forget the evils of that era and to always remember to fight bigotry.

The full obituary from the Altoona Mirror.

Friends will be received from 11:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, December 28, followed by a Funeral Service at 12:30 p.m., at Agudath Achim Synagogue, 1306 17th Street, Altoona, PA. Interment will be at Agudath Achim Cemetery



Congratulations to Mandy Sky and her soccer teammates for their win over Huntingdon and becoming District 6 champions.

Congratulations to Joellyn Wallen for her work on the exhibition chronicling the history of the Jewish community in San Diego. Here is a link to the exhibit.

Congratulations to Alex and Lisa Seltzer on Manpower Inc. of Altoona being honored by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce through induction to the Hall of Fame. The company was founded by Irv Seltzer in 1965 and has been owned and operated by Alex and Lisa Seltzer since 1999.



The 85th annual Interfaith Thanksgiving Service was held at Temple Beth Israel on Tuesday, November 22, 2016. Originally for Sixth-Ward congregations, the service now represents faith communities from throughout Altoona and beyond. Approximately 130 people attended; a dozen clergy of various denominations led prayers, Scriptural readings, and music; and generous donations were collected for the Altoona Food Bank.

Mazel tov to Sophie Morris, who garnered rave reviews in the starring role of Sandy in "Grease" at Hollidaysburg Senior High School November 10-13, 2016.

Congratulations to Bonnie Gordon and the ACT production of “Little Women”

  Our condolences to Neil Rudel and family on the passing of his mother, Charlotte Rudel, on Monday, September 19, 2017, after a lengthy illness. Charlotte was a leader in the Johnstown Jewish community for many years, a Head Start executive and devoted to her family. For the full obituary, click here.    

Congratulations to Hugh Halpern on his appointment by Speaker Paul Ryan as Director of Floor Operations for the United States House of Representatives. Hugh is the son of David Halpern and Jo-Anne Halpern.

Halpern, a graduate of Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School and a 29-year veteran of Capitol Hill, has served as staff director of the House Rules Committee since January 2005. During his career, he has worked for a number of committees, including Public Works and Transportation, Committee on Energy and Commerce and Financial Services Committee, as well as the first Select Committee on Homeland Security.


Members in the news:

Mazel Tov to Bonnie Gordon who is playing Jackie Cochran in the production of “Sky Girls” at the Church in the Middle of the Block Cultural Center during the weekends of July 15-17 and July 22-23. Click here to read the article from the Altoona Mirror.

"This spring, 17-year-old Tyler Rispoli received a private pilot's license - an achievement he said was more than a decade in the making - and he shared his first licensed flight with his grandfather, who has supported him along the way," Click here to read the article in the Altoona Mirror.



Mazel Tov to Gerald and Joan Bergstein. They celebrated their 65th Wedding Anniversary on Saturday, July 2, 2016 during Saturday Morning Shabbat Services at AAC.

Mazel Tov to Steve Seltzer for his charitable work to raise money for MS. He is gearing up for his 19th appearance in the Multiple Sclerosis Keystone Country Ride, a 150-mile bicycle ride over two days in July that raises money to support those with multiple sclerosis and the MS Society. "I think all of us need to do what we can to make the world a better place. I picked this because it was something I could do," said Seltzer, owner of Steve Seltzer Powersports, Pinecroft. Click here to read the article in the Altoona Mirror.

Mazel Tov to Jerry Zolten, American Roots music expert, who appears in a recently released documentary, “The Ballad of the Dreadnought” – celebrating the centennial anniversary of the famous guitar.

Congratulations to Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer on publishing her new book and her article appearing in the Altoona Mirror. “Man made career as a gate crasher”, Altoona Mirror, 6/26/16, Click here to read the article in the Altoona Mirror.



Congratulations to Joellyn Zollman. More than 200 Jewish community members attended her talk on the history of American delicatessens on Sunday afternoon, June 5, in San Diego.

Joellyn Zollman, a PhD who was educated at Brandeis University, has taught Jewish history classes at local universities and has been tabbed by the San Diego History Center to curate an exhibition in Balboa Park on the history, culture and achievements of San Diego Jews.

Her Sunday afternoon lecture, however, focused on New York City’s lower east side where German Jews had popularized combination delicatessens and grocery stores that specialized in smoked and pickled meats and fish of various kinds. Click here to read the entire article.

Congratulations to Salonge Lebovitz, mother of Michelle Schmidt, her story was recently profiled in the Jewish Chronicle.

Click here to read the details of her amazing story.


Congratulations to Neil Port. The P of P&J Theater Works is presenting the Tony Award Winning Best Musical, SPAMALOT, at the historic Mishler Theatre on June 16-19.

The two central themes of this musical comedy are King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table in their quest for the Holy Grail and You Won't Succeed On Broadway If We Don't Have Any Jews!

Neil summed up the show with this quote from the show:

"Put on shows that make men stare With lots of girls in underwear You may even have the finest of reviews--But the audiences won't care sir As long as you don't dare sir To open up on Broadway If we don't have any Jews." Sir Robin to King

Says Neil, "If you want to have a good time, and want to leave the theatre smiling and singing, take in a performance of SPAMALOT........"
Thurs, Fri,and Sat (June 16, 17 and 18) at 7:30 pm and Sunday, June 19 at 2:00 pm. All Tickets $15 plus Mishler Box Office Fee.
Stop at Mishler Box Office, M-F 11:30 am to 5pm.


Congratulations to AAC Confirmands: Adam Port, Casey Rispoli, Many Sky, Samantha Bilofsky and Ava Kline. They celebrated their confirmation on May 14, 2016 at Shabbat Services with the theme “Living in America! Being Jewish in the Land of the Free: A Year of Reflections and Looking Forward”.

Congratulations to Altoona Rotary on their 100th Anniversary and to Irv Seltzer, long term member and past District Govenor.

Mazel Tov to Justin & Emily Mandel on the birth of daughter

  Congratulations to our 2016 Graduates        

Scott Cohen will be graduating from Bucknell University cum laude with a BSBA in Global Management and a minor in Political Science.

He will begin his career at JPMorgan Chase in July as a Corporate Analyst. Scott will be moving to Philadelphia.


Claudia Devorris is graduating from Shady Side Academy in June.

She will be attending Penn State University Hotel School this Fall and has been accepted to Cornell Hotel School for Fall 2017.


Arielle Rose Port is graduating from University of Pennsylvania magna cum laude with a major in Sociology and a minor in Film Studies.

She plans to move to Los Angeles to pursue a career in Television and Film.


Jacob Samuel Port is graduating from Altoona Area High School and is matriculating to the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

His major is not yet determined.


Joel Schocker will graduate from Northwestern University in June 2016, summa cum laude, with majors in both mathematics and economics.

After a short respite in Hollidaysburg, he will be moving to New York City, where he will be working for an investment firm.


Samuel Sky is graduating from Hollidaysburg Area High School in June.

He has been accepted to Elon University and will be majoring in Broadcasting.


The Greater Altoona Jewish Federation held it's annual meeting on May 3, 2016 at the JMC.

Steve Port was honored for his leadership, his commitment to community building, and his generous gifts of philanthropy.

Steve has been an active member of virtually every Jewish organization, as a president, vice-president, committee chair, as well as a supportive board member and mentor. 

He was Federation president in 1971 and has led our Federation endowment committees. 

Steve has been a leader at B’nai B’rith and Israel Bonds. He was also president at Agudath Achim Congregation 1984. Mazel Tov to Steve.

Click here or on the photo to watch the video tribute.


Congratulations to our Graduates

Hayley Rosen, daughter of Mike and Lynn Rosen, is receiving her bachelor's degree from West Virginia University.

Janel Rosenthall, wife of Ethan Rosenthall, daughter-in-law of Holly Rosenthall and granddaughter-in-law of Jim and Audrey Rosenthall, is graduating from Mount Aloyisius College with an Associate of Science degree in surgical technology.

Congratulations to Sam Sky and his Hollidaysburg Area High School tennis team for winning the District XI Class AAA team championship. They defeating top-seeded State College, 3-1, in the District 6 Class AAA team championship match.












Congratulations to Colleen Devorris on the success of the Walkney Rocks the Jaffa concert. The concert featured the local rock band Walkney with local performers to help raise over $15,000 for Altoona Community Theater. Every year, the graduating class of the PSU Altoona Sheetz Fellows takes on a project that has the potential of leaving a legacy within the community.

Colleen paired the Sheetz Fellows with ACT, and she led the organizing and manageing team for this event that featured additional local dancers and musicians for an entertaining and philanthropic evening.

Photos on the right show Felicia Devorris singing and Alex Thaler playing the cello.



Congratulations to Alex Thaler. He recently participated in the 2015-16 Patriot's Pen essay contest, sponsored by the Veterans of Foreign Wars. His second place essay was based upon this year's theme, "What Freedom Means to Me."

Congratulations to Rabbi Audrey Korotkin. Her article " Reproductive Justice as a Jewish Moral Imperative," was recently published in Click here to read the article.

Congratulations to Julie Wohl. Her exhibit at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art, Julie Wohl: Tradition and Inspirationis on view January 22 through May 7 in the Museum’s George A. and Herbert T. Wolf Gallery. The exhibition comprises 44 paintings and mixed media works created over the last decade by Altoona artist Julie Wohl.

The Museum will celebrate the exhibition at a Wicked Wednesday reception on March 16. The program includes light supper and libations as well as a musical performance by The Amigos. Cost is $25 per person. Reservations are required by calling the Museum at (814) 946-4464.

Wohl will speak at a Lunch a l’Art program at the Museum on April 14. Cost for the program, which begins at noon, is $15 or $14 for SAMA members. Please call the Museum for reservations. Click here for more details.


Congratulations to Jake Port, winner of the MVP of the Jaffa Shrine Holiday Basketball Tournament. From the award winning Altoona Mirror, "Winning the MVP meant a lot," Port said. "It was nice but it was more important to get the home win because we really wanted it. It was our goal for the weekend.

"We never won our own tournament and it was important for us to do that," Port noted. "We lost a couple games early (in the season) we thought we should have won, so this should give us some momentum moving forward."


Enclosed is a letter we recently received and would like to share with the Federation community:

Dear Bill

On behalf of the Memorial Scrolls Trust, I write to thank the congregations Agudat Achim and Temple Beth Israel, as well as the Greater Altoona jewish federation of the respect and care they have given to our Sefer Torah MST#986 since 2000. Unfortunately the provenance of this survivor of the Shoah is unknown, however it is a legacy of the Jews of Bohemia and Moravia as well as all those who perished in the Shoah.

Thank you for completing the Scroll Tracker that enables us to validate our database. I am pleased to see you have mentioned the Sefer Torah and included a picture of the Certificate on your website which I greatly appreciate. May i ask for you to add the Torah Scroll number MST#986 as well as a link to our site We have started a project to link over 1000 scroll holding communities to the MST and to each other. The first can be seen on our website under MST Friends and I have already reciprocated your link.

Our long term project is for the MST, in addition to caring for the Torah Scrolls, to become an intra and interfaith organisation. The Torah is the one thing that binds all Jews together, regardless of their denomination. Torah is also the Old Testament of Christianity and the Al Tawrat of Islam. It would be wonderful if in some small way the MST could help people realise what they have in common rather than what divides them!

We are also planning to completely revamp the MST website so it becomes a repository of all knowledge concerning the 1564 Torah Scrolls, the Jewish history of the towns they came from, the Jews of those towns, their fate, survivors stories, photos etc. Also where the scrolls are now, how they are used and honoured etc.

If it is possible and when convenient, please could you arrange for a photo of MST#986 of the 10 Commandments to be sent to us. One of our projects is to build a collection of these on our database.

Please take a look at the Education Pack we have on our website frontage. It may be freely downloaded and you might find it of particular use in your Hebrew classes.

Your members will receive a warm welcome if they travel to our side of the pond and visit our unique Czech Memorial Scrolls Museum where we not only have 130 Torah Scrolls, but also a unique collection of over 400 binders.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if there is any way I can be of assistance.

Looking forward to hearing from you.

??? ????

Jeffrey Ohrenstein
Trustee (Chairman)

Kent House, Rutland Gardens
London SW7 1BX United Kingdom
Tel: 0044 (0) 207 584 3741
Registered Charity No. 278900
Donate to the Memorial Scrolls Trust
Through American Fund of Charities
Charity AFC1056


Dr. Len Zimmerman to be honored by UPMC Altoona at the Winter Splendor event on January 15, 2016.

Dr. A. Leonard Zimmerman enjoyed a distinguished 40-year career as an ear, nose, and throat specialist. After his formal retirement in 2008, Len volunteered at the UPMC Altoona Partnership for Health Services, serving the underinsured and provided care to veterans at the James E. Van Zandt VA Medical Center. His work continued weekly through 2013.

He was a member of the active medical staff of Altoona Hospital in the Department of Specialized Surgery from June 1969 to July 20, 2007, and since then as an honorary staff member. During his tenure at Altoona Regional Health System, as a member of both Altoona and Bon Secours medical staffs, he served in various positions and supported many hospital departments. His work included actively supporting the Tumor Board and Medical Education programs. He also served as secretary-treasurer from 2002 to 2006, and as president of the Altoona Hospital medical staff from November 1993 through November 1998.

Len is a 1954 graduate of Bucknell University and a 1958 graduate of University of Pittsburgh Medical School. He completed an internship at San Francisco General Hospital in 1959 and his residency at the Mayo Clinic in 1962. He and his wife, Bonnie, married in 1958 and have a son, Josh, an orthopaedic surgeon in New Jersey; a daughter, Ilissa Zimmerman, an attorney practicing in Blair County, and five grandchildren.

Len is a Vice President of our Federation and has chaired the Film Festival Committee for many years.  We join with UPMC in congratulating and thanking him for his many contributions to our community.


As one door closed, another opened some other possibilities. A number of schools, particularly in the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League (WPIAL), have their games carried on the Internet, often with students doing play-by-play duties and gaining experience.

Hollidaysburg Area is one such school.

The Golden Tiger Football Association paid for the equipment to enable the student broadcasts.

"Our student-delivered broadcasts are going quite well," Kevin Sensenig, GTFA president, said. "They draw an audience of around 500 watchers (as both audio and video are streamed). It is a nice opportunity for students interested in a journalism, broadcast or sports broadcasting career."

Hollidaysburg students Sam Sky and Bronson Woodring have been handling the Tiger broadcasts.

"I am loving the opportunity to broadcast games online," Sky, a senior, said. "I love the thrill of being live, but I also love the experience of analyzing the game and what I see to the viewers. Having the opportunity to show my personality is great for me as a high school student and hopefully future broadcasting student." Click here to read more in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the family of Laura Scheinberg who passed away on Monday, Sept. 14, 2015, in Pittsburgh. Laura is survived by her sons Benjamin and Nathan.

A celebration of Laura's life will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 19, 2015, at The Good Funeral Home Inc., Alto-Reste Park Cemetery.

Laura graduated from Penn State University in 1985 with a B.A. in communications and retired from the Travelers Insurance Co. in 2011 as a bodily injury/liability claims adjuster. She spent countless hours volunteering within the Penn State Alumni Association and the Jewish and Altoona communities, and she continued to volunteer at the Van Zandt VA Medical Center in Altoona, logging in more than 300 hours before her health declined.

Laura was a beautiful, loving and caring woman who continued to spread her love to everyone who met her, even as her cancer progressed.



Condolences to the family of Sue Rosenberg. Sue passed away on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. She is survived by her husband Manny Rosenberg.

Funeral services will held on Sunday, October 4, 2015 at 11:00 AM at the E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home. A memorial luncheon will be held at the AAC Social Hall immediately. Following the interment at the Agudath Achim Cemetery.

Doug West and local celebrity.

Congratulations to Neil Port. From the Altoona Mirror, "A local artistic production company is going to try to pack a decade of memories and music into one night as it celebrates a milestone. P&J Productions and the Altoona Mirror will present "A Night of Music and Memories'' at the Mishler Theatre in Altoona on Sept. 10, 2005. P&J, which stands for the partnership of area businessman Neil Port and composer Will Jones, this year celebrates 10 years of bringing quality shows to Blair County audiences.Port, who is also a musician, met Jones in 2005 when both were auditioning for "The Music Man.'' Together they formed their production company, starting with performances of shows Jones wrote such as "Sherwood: The Musical Adventures of Robin Hood'' and "A Christmas Caroled,'' Port said."

"We've had hundreds of performances at the Mishler Theatre and we've had very positive feedback from literally tens of thousands of people over the years from the theatergoers who come to see the shows, many who return year after year,'' he said. "We also get great feedback from the actors in the shows. These kids, the people who are in the shows, this is something they'll remember for the rest of their lives.'' Click here to read more in the Mirror.

Mazel Tov to Jan & Jack Housman on the birth of their grandson Parker Finn Solomon.



Mazel Tov to grandparents Madelyn and Jeff Greenberg on the birth of Madison Kim Greenberg.

Condolences to the Parish family on the loss of Burton L. Parish, 90, who died on August 5, 2015. He was a WWII veteran who retired from the US Air Force as a Lieutenant Colonel. Burton is survived by his devoted wife, Betty, and son, Andrew.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


"For years when my mother, Lynn, said her evening prayers, she would include a prayer for the half-sister she never knew: If my sister is living, I pray that she is well. If my sister is not living, I pray that people remember her fondly.

When I was a teenager, my mother shared a complicated part of her family’s story. She explained that my grandfather, Georg Auerbach, who had died when I was 6, had been married when he lived in Europe — and had a daughter with his first wife. Mom didn’t know anything else — not her half-sister’s name or where she lived. But she sometimes imagined meeting her."

Read Lynn's story in the Exponent.


Mazel Tov to Don Devorris.

He was recently honored by Penn State University with the Distinguihed Alumni Award. Devorris, of Altoona, Pennsylvania, is president and chief executive officer of The Blair Companies. He received his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering in 1956.

Click here to read about Don's honor.


Condolences to the family of Charlotte Lee Morris. Charlotte, 90, died Monday, April 20, 2015, at Johns Hopkins Hospital, Baltimore, Md. She was a longtime resident of Altoona and a vibrant member of the Altoona community.

Charlotte's involvement with the community was legendary. She served on many boards that greatly contributed to the Altoona community, working in particular to improve the lives of children and adults. She served as president and vice president of the Blair County Civic Music Association and as chair of its artist and talent selection committee for many decades, which brought in nationally and internationally known performing artists to the Blair County area. She worked with New York booking agencies, including Columbia Artists and the William Morris Agency, to bring in five concerts every year at affordable prices, featuring artists such as Harry Belafonte, Beverly Sills, Marcel Marceau, Michael Feinstein and Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Subsequently, she helped to establish the Blair County Civic Music Foundation Scholarship, which awards scholarships to high school students who are interested in studying or training in the performing arts.

Click here to read the complete obituary at the Altoona Mirror.


Mazal tov to Mel and Sissy Kadane, on the occasion of their 68th wedding anniversary. Mel and Sissy were married on Lag b'Omer 1947. They celebrated with the Temple family at Shabbat services on Friday, April 17th.

  Congratulations to our 2015 Graduates        

Erica Binus is graduating from Duquesne University Mylan School of Pharmacy with at Doctorate of Pharmacy on May 23, 2015. Moving to Milwaukee, WI.


This June, Max Devorris will be graduating from Shady Side Academy, where he was a school ambassador and captain of the boys prep hockey team. Max will be attending NYU (New York University) this fall, majoring in Economics and playing on the NYU men’s hockey team.


Jacob Scheinberg is graduating in June and is undecided about his future plans.


Nathan Scheinberg is graduating from Altoona Area High School in the Class of 2015. He plans on attending Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA this fall as a Biology/ Pre-Med major with the aspiration of becoming a surgeon.


Our Jewish community was recently featured in the April 16, 2015, edition of the Altoona Mirror. Click here for link to the story at the Altoona Mirror. Or click here.


Jakob Golant was recently featured in the Altoona Mirror's April 10, 2015 edition, for coverage of Holocaust Rememberance Day.

Click here to read the article.


Congratulations to Dr. Jerry Zolten on his work on "The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records, Volume One (1917-1927)", which won a Grammy this year. Jerry researched and documented the stories of artists on the record. Mirror photo by J.D.Cavrich. Click here for link to the story at the Altoona Mirror.


Courtesy photo
Four generations of Jackson Seltzer’s family include (from left): Steve Seltzer of Altoona, grandfather; Adam Seltzer, holding Jackson Seltzer; and Irving Seltzer of Altoona, great-grandfather.

Our sympathy to Fay Schmitt on the loss of her dear friend and companion Bob Housel. Bob became an honorary member of our Jewish community through attending many social and Synagogue events with Snooky. Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Mazel Tov to Ron Zollman, out of town Federation member and son in law of Carolyn and Bill Wallen, for being honored by the Jewish Family Service of San Diego as a 2015 Mitzvah Honoree. Click here for a video about Ron's work with JFS.

"Ron Zollman is known within JFS and across the wider Jewish community as the consummate connector. Ron takes pride in building relationships among people, organizations, and companies to benefit the whole community. In his 12 years of leadership service to JFS, Ron participated as a member of the Task Force on Unmet Needs of the Jewish Poor, served as the founding Board Chair of Charitable Auto Resources, Inc. (CARS), and led JFS as President of the Board of Directors from 2007 to 2009. In recognition of his extraordinary dedication, Ron was twice honored with the Charles Zibbell Board Leadership Award."


Condolences to the family of Saul Savitz. Saul, 91, Altoona, died Wednesday at UPMC Altoona.

He was born in Philadelphia, son of the late Herman and Mary (Carp) Savitz. He married Blanche Citronberg on May 9, 1948, in Philadelphia, and she preceded him in death on Sept. 30, 2009.

Surviving are a daughter, Cheryl Joyce McConnell and husband, William, of West Grove; a daughter-in-law, Lucy Whitley Savitz of Falls Church, Va.; and four grandchildren: Jonathan, Douglas and Faith McConnell and Adam Savitz.

He was preceded in death by a son, Philip; and a sister, Selma Rosenberg.

Saul graduated from Central Philadelphia High School and Temple College of Optometry, where he received his bachelor's degree. He had his own business for more than 46 years as an optometrist. He was a member of Agudath Achim Congregation.

A graveside service was held at 2:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 13, 2015, at Roosevelt Memorial Park, Trevose.

Condolences to the family of Emma Berman Cohn. Emma Berman Cohn was preceded in death by her husband Hillis Cohn. She is survived and remembered in love by children Tela Cohn Zasloff, Burton Cohn, Howard Cohn, and Marilyn Cohn Posner, who all will offer remembrances of their mother at the funeral service. Emma also is survived by 13 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren. Emma is remembered as a loving and wonderful aunt by Morley and Carol Cohn.

Condolences to the Bergstein family. We regret to inform you of the passing of Pearl Bergstein Donshik, sister of Jerry Bergstein.

Pearl passed away on Friday, December 26, 2014 in Israel.


Teens from Agudath Achim Congregation and Temple Beth Israel, along with Rabbis Korotkin and Wohl, brought the joy and light of Hanukkah to the residents of the Lutheran Home in Hollidaysburg on Sunday, December 14th


Altoona Jewish Community Sunday School Hanukkah Party on December 14, 2014


Altoona Celebrates the first night of Hanukkah.

Dancing at the lighting of the menorah at Logan Valley Mall.

Rabbi Audrey Korotkin addresses a community gathering in the lobby of UPMC Altoona on the first night of Hanukkah.


Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, often falls in December. This year is no exception with the eight-day holiday beginning at sunset Tuesday. December is also a time when malls are decked out with greenry and lights for Christmas, and kids are making out wish lists for Santa.

For families where both parents are Jewish, the glitter and hype of the Christmas season, can be explained to their children as a Christian celebration, while Jews celebrate Hanukkah. In interfaith families, where one parent is Jewish and the other adheres to Christianity or another faith tradition, the answer may not be as easy.

Click here to read more from the Altoona Mirror.

      Congratulations to Rachel Hollander. Daughter of Barabara and Joel, Rachel was honored at the inaugural Hillel International: Global Assembly attended by over 500 of Rachel's colleagues in Orlando, FL on December 10, 2014. Rachel is the Associate Director of the University of Pennsylvania Hillel and was presented with the Richard M. Joel Exemplar of Excellence Award at the Global Assembly by Eric D. Fingerhut, President and CEO of Hillel International. This award is the highest award given by Hillel International for outstanding work and excellence. Click here to read the full article.  
  Condolences to Mike and Sam Scheinberg and the entire Scheinberg family on the passing of their sister, Leigh Ann.

Leigh Ann Scheinberg, 51, passed away unexpectedly Thursday at her residence in Miami, Fla.

She was born in Altoona, daughter of Esther L. Scheinberg and the late Albert L. Scheinberg, who preceded her in death on Oct. 24, 1998.

Read the complete obituary here in the Altoona Mirror.

    Congratulations to Jakob Golant on his 94th birthday.  
  Mazel tov to Lorelei Ebersole and her parents, Roy and Sara Ebersole, on her Consecration at Temple Beth Israel's Simchat Torah Celebration.    

Mazel Tov to Bill Wallen. Bill recently spoke at an Interfaith dialogue regarding Pope Francis. Click here to read his remarks.


Mazel tov to Louis Silverman. Lou spoke in support of Israel Bonds during the High Holidays at Agudath Achim Congregation.

Click here to read his remarks.


Condolences to Ardie Karp and the Grossman family on the passing of Eleanor Grossman, beloved mother, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother. Eleanor was 93 years old and a life-long member of Agudath Achim Congregation.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the Glucroft family. We regret to inform you of the passing of Shirley Glucroft, Mother of Ross Glucroft and Susan Rattner. Shirley passed away on Wednesday, November 5, 2014.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.




"Finding a way to celebrate life through a cancer diagnosis cannot be easy.

But Tobi Rispoli of Altoona wanted to find a way to do just that for her dad, Phil Sky, also of Altoona, a non-smoker recently diagnosed with lung cancer."

Best Wishes to Phil. His story was recently profiled in the Altoona Mirror.


Mazel Tov to Henry & Maxine Weinberg on celebrating 50 years of marriage and Mazel Tov to Howard & Bernice Levinson who are celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary.



Holocaust Survivor, Civil Rights Activist and a Friend of our community, Judy Meisel, has moved to Minnesota. She will no longer be traveling for programs, but would love to hear from everyone. Call the Federation Office for her new address.

  Condolences to the family of Shirley Nerenberg, sister of Saul Paikin. Shirley passed away on Monday, June 23, 2014 in Philadelphia, PA. At the request of the family there will be a grave site ceremony only and interment will take place at the AAC cemetery on Friday June 27, 2014, at 10:30 am.  

Condolences to the family of Norma Sevel. Norma passed away on the evening of Tuesday, June 17, 2014. Norma was a community leader in the secular and Jewish communities. She was a long tenured Federation board member, active in the Jewish Memorial Center and Temple Beth Israel.

Norma's family will be accepting visits of condolence on Friday, June 20th, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home, 2309 Broad Street, followed by a graveside service led by Rabbi Audrey Korotkin at Mount Sinai Cemetery, 3018 Washington Avenue.

Mazel Tov to the Housman family. Sean Isaiah Housmanwas born on April 22, 2014 to the proud parents, Ian and Danielle Housman,
Grandparents Jan and Jack Housman, and Great Grandfather Joseph Lurie in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Mazel Tov to Norma Sevel on her 85th birthday celebration. More than 85 family members, friends and fellow congregants joined Norma Sevel for a special Shabbat worship to celebrate her 85th birthday. Click here to see more photos from the celebration.


The Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art hosted its third annual Night of Distinction on April 26, 2014.

For the first time, the event was held at SAMA's Altoona facility as the museum celebrates its 35th anniversary in Blair County. SAMA also honored four individuals at the program, each of whom has strong ties to the Altoona community.

Night of Distinction was established as a platform to honor some of the museum's most dedicated and longest-serving benefactors. This year, SAMA presented Dr. Betty J. Lowell Cottle and Nancy Devorris with Service to the Arts awards, while Joseph Mack and Gerald P. Wolf were honored with Trustee Emeritus appointments.

Congratulations to Nancy, read more here in the Altoona Mirror.

Our friend Judy Meisel was recently featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Inquirer highlight's Judy's passion for civil rights as well as her story as a holocaust survivor.

Check Judy's story here.

Karen Rudel, sister of Neil Rudel, was recently featured in the Philadelphia Inquirer as well. Rudel, 45, is the proprietor of Sight Seeker's Delight, a company offering walking tours of Paris with a theatrical flair. Check out her story here.



Condolences to the family of Ida Schulman. Ida passed away on Monday, May 5, 2014, in Austin, Texas. Friends will be received at 10:30 am Friday, May 9th at E. Merill Smith Funeral Home with a service to follow immediately at 11 am. Internment will then take place at the Agudath Achim Cemetery followed by a meal of condolence at Agudath Achim Congregation.


  Congratulations to our 2014 Graduates  

Allison Cohen, graduates in May from Boston University with a degree in Public Relations.

She plans to move to NYC and get a position in public relations.

She currently is an intern with the ABC affiliate in Boston WCVB. She is the daughter of Andrea and Michael Cohen.


Adam Rudel graduated in December from Penn State University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Recreation Parks Tourism Management.

He completed internships with the State College Spikes (2012) and Kansas City Chiefs (2013) and is currently employed an a special events-marketing intern with the Baltimore Ravens, where he worked the team’s training camp in the summer of 2013. He is the son of Diane and Neil Rudel.


Ginger Glass will graduate from Hollidaysburg Area High School in 2014.

She will be attending Carnegie Mellon University in the fall. She has been accepted to the Mellon College of Science with a major in Physics. Ginger also intends to study Business.

The CMU girls golf team has a new player: GO GINGER! She is the daughter of Illisa and Scott Glass.


Mark Thaler graduates from Penn State University this May with honors in Political Science and a BA in Anthropology.

He will be headed to Law School in the fall. He is the son of Phyllis and Bruce Thaler.


Bill Greenberg graduates from Georgetown University with a Masters of Real Estate degree with a focus on real estate finance, urbanization and sustainability.

He is a private contractor for the U.S. Federal Government. This year, Bill and his girlfriend Marilu founded, at Puerto Rico based eco-travel and education non-profit with a mission of teaching college students across America the value of community service. He is the son of Madylen and Jeff Greenberg.


Alex Schmidt will graduate on May 18 from the University of Wisconsin Madison.

Alex will attend medical school at Marion University in Indianapolis in early August. She is the daughter of Michelle and Steve Schmidt.


Asher Kline graduates from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology.

He graduates Summa Cum Laude and he participated in Psy Chi which is a Psychology Honor Society. In August of 2014, he will begin graduate studies at Loyola University in Baltimore MD.

He will be holding “office hours” this Summer at Eat -n- Park Restaurant! He is the son of Betsy and Michael Kline.


Kara Schmidt is graduating from Lecom Medical School June 1st and will be doing her residency in Florida. She is the daughter of Michelle and Steve Schmidt.


Congratulations to Falon Morris who is graduating from Hollidaysburg Area Senior High School Class of 2014.

She is the daughter of Greg and Shannon Morris and the granddaughter of Charlotte Morris.

She will be attending Denison University in Granville, Ohio this fall..




Norma Sevel will be celebrating her 85th birthday with a special shabbat service at Temple Beth Israel on May 24th at 10 am.

A luncheon will follow services in Rabbi Nathan Kaber hall and will be sponsored by her daughters, Susan, Judi and Laurie.

Please RSVP to the Temple office by May 15th.

  Mazal Tov to Justin and Emily Mandel on the birth of their Son, Felix.

Felix was born on February 19, 2014.

We are pleased to report that the Mandel family is happy, healthy and full of joy.

Jayson Terdiman Bio

Hometown: Berwick, Pa.

How he got into luge: Been involved since 12, first part of a scouting event.

Major accomplishments: Fourth at world championship (team relay) 2012; 2010 world cup bronze medalist with Christian Niccum.

Sochi will mark: First Olympic Winter Games

On making the team: "It's everything I've been working for all of these years. It still hasn't hit me yet. But I'm going to be very honored to represent the red, white and blue."

You might not know that Jayson, along with current Sochi teammate, Chris Mazdzer, was a two-time junior national champ (2007-08).

Click here to read more.

Jayson Terdiman (grandson of Sharon Terdiman) is on the 2014 US Men's Olympic Luge team (Jayson is on the left).


Our Sunday School sent Hanukkah care packages to our soldiers in Afghanistan, and recently recieved this note:

Ms. Werstil--

I wanted to thank you for the care package you all sent to me! I received it a few weeks ago but had not had time to write. Please see the attached picture of a few of us celebrating Chanukah.

Your cards brought the holiday spirit here to Afghanistan. It is people and groups like you that bring a smile to our faces. I will never forget them.

Take care.


Matthew D. Bernstein, Esq.
Captain, Judge Advocate
United States Army


Condolences to the family of Shirley R. Levinson, member of Temple Beth Israel. Shirley passed away late in the afternoon on Monday, January 13th, at her home in Atlanta, Georgia, after an extended illness. She was surrounded by her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Read the complete obituary here.


We regret to inform you of the passing of Amie Witkin, Aunt of Adele Giller and Steven Deitch and Great Aunt of Phyllis Thaler. Amie Witkin passed away on Tuesday, December 10, 2013.Memorial Services will be held in Long Island, NY.


Friends and family gathered at Lena's Cafe on 12/2/13 to celebrate a milestone birthday with Phyllis Port.

Rachel Scheinberg, 9, lights a candle on the menorah while her sister Abigail, 8, watches in their Altoona home. The girls are excited about Hanukkah and Thanksgiving converging on the same day. Read the Altoona Mirror's article about Hanukkah.

Mazal tov to Don Clippinger for passing the first-year law students' exam of the State Bar of California, which accredits his law school. At the completion of all of his course work, he will be eligible to take the full California state bar exam



Robert L. Terdiman, also known as "Steve Kelsey," 56, Duncansville, died unexpectedly Sunday at UPMC Presbyterian, Pittsburgh, on November 17, 2013. He was born in Philadelphia, son of Sharon (Kelsey) Terdiman and the late Marvin Terdiman. Rob was a contributor to the Federation and was a past member of Agudath Achim Congregation..

Read the Altoona Mirror obituary here.


Volunteers about to tackle the many bags full of donated clothing to the AAC "Next to New" Sale.

Mazal tov to the four generations of the Rosenthall - Nedimyer family who gathered at Simchat Torah services for the naming and covenant service for Caitlin and Sean's son Memphis Johnathan. Memphis's Jewish name is Velvel, named after great-grandmother Audrey Rosenthall's father.


The Bubbies of Temple Beth Israel raised well over $1,200 in the fight against breast cancer, with their participation in the American Cancer Society's 2013 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk on Saturday, October 5, at Peoples Natural Gas Field. Pictured here are Mike Holzer, Sharon Smith, Heather Holzer, Rabbi Audrey Korotkin (a 15-year survivor), Don Clippinger and Joe Silverman, along with the Holzers' sons Ari and Ethan. Barry Allen also participated in the walk.

On Friday night, October 18th, 2013, Temple Beth Israel honored its past presidents and paid homage to its history with a special worship service that incorporated readings from prayer books the Temple has used over its 150-year history. Pictured here: front row (l to r): past presidents Melvin Kadane, Dr. Andrew Gurman, Alan Krier, and current Temple President Nancy Gurman
Back row (l to r): Rabbi Audrey Korotkin, with past presidents Michael Rosen, Barry Allen, Andrew Katz, and Sandra Weiss Knepp.



            In 2004, Curtis  Rupp established the Hollidaysburg High School  boy’s push up record with an impressive 90 push ups. The testing is part of the FITNESSGRAM program which was the successor to the Presidential Fitness Testing.
            In 2013, nine years later, that record was finally broken. GINGER GLASS established a new High School Push up record with 91 monitored push ups. The testing utilized the FitnessGram program with two physical education teachers on site. Michael Moore, the senior phys. Ed. teacher, explained that a CD counts and paces each push up. The program ended at an 85 count which required the staff to continue the count.
            The previous record for girls was also established by GINGER GLASS  in 2010.  She has now broken both the BOY and girl push up record. Moore noted that a minimum of 12 push ups are required to score 100% in class. “Glass said she would beat the boy’s record, and she did it.”
The record board displayed outside the Gym includes GINGER’S  fall semester pull up  record established in 2011, an impressive 14 pull ups. Remarkably she beat her own record in the Spring semester
with 20 pull ups. YOU GO GIRL!


Congratulations to Celebrate Diversity on their 20th anniversary. Celebrate Diversity was honored on the front page of today's Altoona Mirror. Read the complete article here.

Celebrate Diversity was established in 1993 to introduce diversity awareness programs into local junior highs to erase intolerance and raise awareness about attitudes of prejudice. There is an annual teacher training and four student education days, including a visit to the United States National Holocaust Museum in Washington, D. C. Approximately 300 seventh and eight graders each year participate. Federation is a co-sponsor and one of the founders of the program. The Federation funds the transportation costs for the annual trip to the Holocaust Museum. Over the years Celebrate Diversity has become a non-profit 501c3 and has established itself as a self-maintaining corporation with it’s own board of directors.

  Congratulations to Shirley Pechter for being inducted to the Blair County Arts Hall of Fame as a patron of the arts. We all honor Shirley for her support and generosity to so many projects and programs in both the Jewish and general community. Click here to read about this event in the Altoona Mirror.  
  Mazel Tov to Laura Schocker on attaining her position as managing editor of the Healthy Living section of the online Huffington Post. Laura is the daughter of Kathy Henderson and Dr. Jack Schocker. Click here to read more.  
  Mazel Tov and Yasher Koach to American Eagle Paper Mills on their 10 year anniversary. Special recognition to our members Don Devorris and Clark Adelman for their leadership in saving and reenergizing this important industry for our county.  
  Yasher Koach to Hazzan Michael Horwitz on completing his Clinical Pastoral Education Residency and being appointed to the Pastoral Care Department at the UAB Hospital in Birmingham, Alabama. He will be assigned to the Hospital's Oncology - Bone Marrow Transplant Center.  
  Condolences to the Allen and Herman family on the passing of Howard Allen. May his memory always be for a blessing. Click here for the complete obituary.

Mazel Tov to Julie Wohl who was interviewed by Behrman House as part of their Creative Jewish Educators series.

Click her to read more.

Mazel Tov to the bride and groom, Jessie Schocker and Scott Zolotsky, and to Jessie's parents, Kathy Henderson and Jack Schocker and their families. The wedding took place July 6, 2013



Mr. and Mrs. Phillip Sky of Altoona celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with their children and grandchildren at Rocky Gap Casino Resort, Cumberland, Md.

They were married July 7, 1963, in Pittsburgh. Mrs. Sky is the former Rosalind "Roz" Roth.

The couple have two children: Tobi Rispoli and her husband, Dave, and Izzy and his wife, Dana.

Rani Pimentel and Thomas Wise were united in marriage at 6 p.m. May 4 at Boston Harbor Hotel, Boston.

The bride is the daughter of Paula Pimentel of Altoona and the late Michael Pimentel.

Click here to read the complete announcement.




Mazel Tov to the Rosenthall and Nedimyer families
Welcome to the world, Memphis Johnathan Nedimyer, born Wednesday, August 14, at 1:13 PM, 6 pounds 6 oz and 18 inches.
The parents are Caitlin and Sean Nedimyer, grandmother Holly Rosenthall, great-grandparents James and Audrey Rosenthall.

  Condolences to the Goldschmidt family on the passing of Dr. Pauline Goldschmidt on August 14, 2013, at age 79 in Bethesda, MD.
Pauline was a native of France and a Holocaust survivor. She was a Psychiatrist who specialized in children and worked in the
Altoona area for many years. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Zvi, daughters Yael and Iris, and four grandchildren.
For the full obituary, see the Altoona Mirror.


Congratulations to Henry Weinberg.Henry recently graced the front page of the Altoona Mirror in an article about local cemeteries.

Click here to read the article.


Mazel Tov to Joellyn Wallen Zollman. Joellyn recently spoke at the Women of Reform Judaism Centennial Symposium in New York City and reconnected with former Altoona residents, Maggie & Harry Kaufman.

  Mazel Tov to Tommie Weinzierl-Binus on his naming ceremony at Temple Beth Israel, on June 7, 2013.

Mazel Tov and Yasher Koach to our most recent B'Nai Mitzvah and their families:
Ava Kline at Agudath Achim Congregation on May 25
Robert Smith at Temple Beth Israel on May 31
Amanda Sky at Agudath Achim Congregation on June 1
May they all go from strength to strength.


Sunday, May 12th was the final day of the Altoona Community Sunday School for the academic year, and the school recognized its teachers and gruduating students.

We have two preschoolers who are being promoted to Kindergarten.  They are Renna Charles and Mickey Nedimyer. Congratulations.

We have 5 students in confirmation who will not be returning to Sunday School next year. They are Jacob Port, Jacob Scheinberg, Nate Scheinberg, Tyler Rispoli and Sam Sky.  They will be missed.

Congratulations to our retiring Principal Ilissa Zimmerman and retiring teachers Bonnie Gordon and Ellen Kivitz.

Click below for tributes to our teachers:

Bonnie Gordon

Ellen Kivitz


Judy Meisel spoke to our Community Sunday School, and guests, totaling about 70 people, on Sunday, April 7, 2013 at Agudath Achim Congregation. This was her eigth visit to our community and she has spoken to over 8,000 young people of our community at junior high schools, high schools and colleges. Her visits have been spoonsored by our Federation. Read about her visit in the Altoona Mirror.

Read Judy's bio here.





Congratulations to our 2013 Graduates

Ian Bilofsky, son of Kara and Elliott Bilofsky, is graduating Hollidaysburg Area High School on June 5, 2013 and will be attending Drexel University.

David Katz, son of Sue Katz and Andrew Katz, is graduating from Hollidaysburg Area High School on June 5, 2013 and will be attending Shippensburg University.

Ethan Knepp, son of Sandra and David Knepp, will graduate from Altoona Area High School on June 10, 2013 and will be attending Penn State- Altoona.

Sara Lipitz, daughter of Carol and Mark Lipitz, is graduating Hollidaysburg Area High School on June 5, 2013 and will be attending Brandeis Univerity.

Aaron Pielmeier, son of Brett Pielmeier, is graduating Hollidaysburg Area High School on June 5, 2013 and will be attending Mount Aloysius in the fall majoring in IT. Caroline Peilmeier, daughter of Brett Pielmeier, will also be attending Mount Aloysius in the fall majoring in nursing.

Carly Port, daughter of Leanne and Josh Port, will graduate from Altoona Area High School on June 10, 2013 and will be attending Syracuse University..

Noah Scheinberg, son of Laura and Michael Scheinberg, will graduate from Altoona Area High School on June 10, 2013 and will be attending the Merchant Marine Academy.

Ethan Rosenthall, son of Holly Rosenthall and the late Harry Rosenthall, graduated from Slippery Rock University in May 2013.

Nicole Hollander, daughter of Barbara and Joel Hollander, has graduated from George Washington University with a Master of Business Administration degree.

Tess Shiras, granddaughter of Charlotte Morris, graduated from Duke University in N.C. in 2013.

Mason McGill, grandson of Charlotte Morris, graduated from Brown University in Providence 2013.

Steven Weiss, son of Les Weiss, graduated from the University of Pittsburgh.

  Condolences to the family of Roselle Benjamin Fine, beloved sister of Charlotte Morris, who died on Sunday, May 5, at the age of 99. Roselle lived most of her live in the Scranton area, though she went to Syracuse University, where she graduated summa cum laude in 1935 with a major in English and a minor in music. She was an accomplished pianist and supporter of the arts.
Roselle was married for 61 years to Louis A. Fine until his death in 1997. Click here for the complete obituary.
  Congratulations to Zachary Zollman , grandson of Carolyn and Bill Wallen, on becoming a Bar Mitzvah on May 4, 2013 in San Diego, California.

Congratulations to Rabbi Audrey Korotkin, a featured speaker at "Law Day 2013"on May 4, 2013. She provided the following:

"The theme for the day was "Realizing the Dream, Equality for All." I spoke, first, of the commonality of American and Jewish law and their focus on equality, opportunity, and dignity, and of how our founders, even though they deliberately did not want a theocracy, clearly were influenced by Jewish ethical commandments. This was particularly noteworthy for the inscription on the Liberty Bell from Leviticus 25:10, "Proclaim Liberty throughout the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof," which just happened to be from the scriptural portion we read that night.

I also spoke of my own personal journey, growing up with the idea that I could become anything as long as I wanted it and worked for it. I spoke of both taking advantage of opportunities offered, and of creating opportunities, of my past successful and non-traditional careers breaking glass ceilings as a broadcast journalist and as a sports marketing executive. And I spoke about the commitments we make to one another in small congregations and small communities, and the way we take care of one another

  Mazel Tov to parents Julie and David Binus and grandparents Paula and Dave Binus on the naming of baby Zoe Leocadia on May 12, 2013, at Agudath Achim Congregation. Baby Zoe was born on Monday, March 4th, 2013.
  Congratulations to Shani Evans on becoming a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at Temple Beth Israel.
  Congratulations to Samantha Bilofsky on becoming a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday, April 20, 2013 at Agudath Achim Congregation.

Alternative Spring Break Trip 2013 Juniata College Hillel: The Dominican Republic

This March, Juniata Hillel hosted a service trip to The Dominican Republic. In coordination with the Jewish Organization, Repairing the World, and the Dominican host group, El Guanin, approximately 15 Juniata students worked together in a Dominican community called La Piedr.

Click here for the details of their trip and click here for their powerpoint.


Congratulations to Adele Giller for her service to the Hollidaysburg Area School District. She was recently featured in the Altoona Mirror. Click here for the details.

  Mazal Tov to Josh and Genevieve Patt on the birth of their daughter Sarah Jean. Sarah Jean was born at Nason Hospital late Monday afternoon, March 4, 2013.
  Our Jewish Community was featured in the religious section of the Altoona Mirror during Passover. Click here to read all about it.
  Congratulations to Mosey Port, our man in Hollywood, on the new season of Community. Read about his exploits here.

Congratulations to the Heather and Michael Holzer on the birth of son, Ethan Robert Holzer.

Proud grandparents, Sue and Russ Holzer are sponsoring a special Oneg after services at Temple Beth Israel on Friday, March 22, 2103.

  Condolences to Tina Sheetz and family on the passing of her mother, Renee Triff.

Condolences to Patt family on the passing of Bob Patt on Wednesday, January 30, 2013. Robert graduated from Altoona High School and served in the U.S. Army during WWII, where his duties ranged from guarding munitions barges in New York Harbor to entertaining troops in exhibition basketball games. He and his brothers operated Patt's Wholesale Produce before Robert left to start his own business as a commodities broker on the Chicago Board of Trade. He then started a real estate development company and, for more than 40 years, developed commercial, residential and retail properties from Pennsylvania to Florida.

Read the Altoona Mirror obituary here.

  Mazel Tov to Jean and Dave Dolinger on the birth of their granson, Jacob Andrew, born October 31, 2012. Jacob's parents are Michael and Stephanie Dolinger, who reside in Pittsburgh.

Yasher Koach to Neil Port and P&J Productions for their charitable work and Mazel Tov to Adam and Jamie Bergstein on the birth of their daughter Leah Jane, born on December 21, 2012.


Congratulations to the Pimentel family.


We regret to inform you of the passing of Helen Sandler, sister of William Thaler. Helen passed away on Sunday, January 6, 2013 and her interment was on Monday, January 7, 2013.


Condlolences to the family of Paula K. Benjamin, 83, St. Petersburg, Fla., formerly of Altoona, who died Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in St. Petersburg. Click here for a complete obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the family of Gerald B. Henderson, 84, State College, formerly of Altoona and Hollidaysburg, who died Tuesday at his residence after an extended illness. He was the son of the late Edgar M. and Augusta (Pasekoff) Henderson. Surviving are his longtime companion, Susan Hill of State College; three sons: Edward and wife, Kathy, of Hollidaysburg, Evan and wife, Linda, of Hollidaysburg and Matthew and wife, Brandee, of Weston, Mass.; a daughter, Megan of Boston, Mass.; three grandsons: Evan, Charles and Daniel Henderson; and two stepgranddaughters: Jessica and Laura Schocker. Read the complete obituary here.

  Mazel Tov to Don Clippinger on the publishing of his new cookbook. "Real Men Cook Kosher." There are more than 100 recipes that are low in sodium and fat: most can be prepared in 30 minutes or less. Call Temple Beth Israel to order a copy. Proceeds will benefit the Temple.

We regret to inform you of the passing of Melvin King Lurie, brother of Joe Lurie and Uncle of Jan Housman.Melvin was born and raised in Altoona. He was active in the Agudath Achim Congregation. Melvin attended Keith Jr. High School and Altoona High School.

Melvin was living in the Pittsburgh at the time of his passing. Funeral services and interment will be held in Pittsburgh, PA.


Condolences to Peggy Clark on the death of her sister Betty Katzner on November 16, 2012. Betty was an Altoona native, the daughter of the late Max and Hilda Wolk Lenson. May her memory be for a blessing.

Read the Altoona Mirror obituary here.


Altoona native Judy Petsonk has written a novel based on the life of Queen Salome Alexandra, who lived in the first century B.C.

Petsonk of Highland Park, N.J., will discussed her book "Queen of the Jews" during a meet-the-author event held from 10:30 a.m. to noon Sunday at Temple Beth Israel, 3004 Union Ave. Read more here.

  Mazel Tov to Heidi Solomon, daughter of Jack and Jan Housman. She was featured in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette about her contribution of breast milk for premature babies.

Esther Schwartz, 84, Auburn, N.Y., died Thursday evening, Nov. 1, 2012, at Auburn Memorial Hospital. She was born in Altoona and had been a resident of Auburn for more than 45 years.

Surviving are her husband of 57 years, Edward; two daughters: Susan (Donald) Cooke and Marla (Seth) Levin; a son, Michael (Cherry); five granddaughters; a great-grandson; and a brother, Dr. Sidney (Arlene) Merin. She was preceded in death by a brother, Samuel Merin; and three sisters: Dorothy Bloom, Helen Merin and Betty Eckard Strunk. Esther was a secretary for the Cayuga County Health Department until retiring. She was a member of Congregation B'nai Israel of Auburn.


Congratulations to Don Devorris. Don was selected to speak at the Blair County Chamber Role Models program on November 15th at the Blairmont Club.


Chamber members were surveyed in August and Don was selected as one of the two most rquested to participate.


Registration is available by calling the Chamber or registering online at the the Chamber website.

  Mazel Tov to Andrea and Rob Okonak on the birth of their daughter, Tenley Josephine, who was born on September 21, 2012.

Our Jewish Community was recently featured in the Altoona Mirror Religion Section regarding the High Holidays.

Click here to read the comple article.

  Condolences to the family of Bernie Covitch. Bernard, 96, of Ebensburg, passed away Thursday, September 13, 2012. He graduated from Ebensburg-Cambria High School in 1934 and earned a bachelor's degree at Penn State University, where he played violin in the symphony and, more importantly, wooed his sweetheart, Ruthie. The two married in 1943 while he served as a captain in the U.S. Army, and they shared a lifetime of love for travel, fine dining and even finer friends and family. He was an avid runner, a hobby he started in his 60s. Read the complete obituary here.

Mazel Tov the Greenberg family on the birth of Cooper Greenberg. Cooper was born Wednesday, September 5th at 12:35 PM. Baby and mom are doing well.

More photos to come!

Madelyn & Jeff


Condolences to the family of Sylvia Green. A graveside service was held August 21, 2012, at the Agudath Achim Cemetery.


  Condolences to the family of Bernie Schmitt who passed away on July 21, 2012 at Westminster Woods in Huntingdon.

He was an Altoona native and brother of Irving and Jack. He was married to Marcia Schwartz in 1940 at Agudath Achim Synagogue in Huntingdon. They had three children; Jack, Andy and Gail, 5 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren. Marcia died in 1983.

Bernie was a WWII veteran, serving in the Marine Corp in China. He graduated from Altoona High School and worked as an insurance agent/manager. He was a talented musician and played for many local bands.

Condolences to the family of Irene Newborn, 92, who died on Sunday, June 24, 2012, in Florida. Irene died after an extended illness. Memorial arrangements will be private. Letters of condolence may be sent to her son Barry. Zichrona livracha. May her memory be for blessing.


Condolences to the family of Jerry Wayne. Jerry, 82, Altoona, died early Wednesday morning, June 14, 2012, at Hahnemann Medical Center, Philadelphia, after a brief illness.

He was born in Latrobe, son of the late Morris and Ella (Goldman) Wayne. He married Janet Rosenberg in 1968.

Surviving are his wife; his loving children: Tina Berman and husband, Robert, of Haddonfield, N.J., and David and wife, Jessica, of Chicago; and four grandchildren: Ella, Charlotte, Natalie and Harrison, who were his pride and joy and to whom he was known as "Poppy."

Jerry was a graduate of Altoona High School and earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Penn State University after his service with the U.S. Army. He had a partnership with his father in the Altoona Glassware Supply Co. Together with his wife, they opened the Taylor Rental Center, later renamed The Rental Center, selling the business and retiring in 2001. Read the complete obituary here.

  Congratulations to Mel Kadane. Mel recently retired after 32 years with Caldwell Banker Real Estate, and 30 previous years in the business community . He was recently interviewed by the Altoona Mirror's Chamber Conversations.

Congratulations to Sarah Lipitz for being named by the Altoona Mirror as honorable mention in the 20 Under 20 - Future Leaders of Central PA. Sarah, daughter of Dr. Mark and Carol Lipitz will be entering her senior year at Hollidaysburg Area High School.

  Condolences to the family of Honey Covitch. Henrietta S. "Honey" Covitch, 79, of Tamarac, Fla., and Altoona, died Saturday, May 19, 2012, at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Read the complete obituary here.

Congratulations to Zachary Zollman (right), grandson of Carolyn and Bill Wallen and his friend have built a boat out of recycled bottles. He is a budding environmentalist.

Congratulations to Ben Scheinberg. Ben received the Presidential Academic Award and will be attending Drexel University this fall. He is pictured above with mother, Laura.

  Mazel Tov to Neil and Dianne Rudel on the birth of their grandson Dylan Chandler Johnston on May 24, 2012. He is the son of Nikki and Greg Johnston and brother of Dominik.

Condolences to the Housman Family. Memorial Prayers were recited at Shabbat Services, Saturday, May 19th in the Agudath Achim Chapel for the son of Deva and Heidi Solomon and grandson of Jack and Jan Housman, and great grandson of Joseph Lurie. Jonah passed away Monday, May 14, 2012.


Mazel Tov to Arielle Port and the AAHS Mock Trial Team for their outstanding work this year. The team advanced to the state semi-finals, an Altoona first. The team's rise to glory was frequently chronicled in the print version of our Altoona Mirror but has been omitted from the online version, therefore no link is available. The Federation is very disappointed in the Mirror.

Congratulations to Shirley Pechter. She was honored by Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art for her years of commitment to the Museum. Read about her honor here.


Mazel Tov to the Kadane and Binus families


Congratulations to Rozzie Sky on being named Community Service Volunteer for 2012 by Wise Women of Blair County.

One of her nominators stated "Rozzie brings her unique blend of enthusiasm, creativity and committment to everything she undertakes - and she undertakes alot! She is a tireless volunteer and her activities not only impact countless people in our community, but also spread far beyond our borders."

Some of the programs that Rozzie helps are Big Brothers/Big Sisters, American Cancer Society, Penn State Altoona, Agudath Achim Congregation and our Federation.

Read about Rozzie's honor in the Altoona Mirror.

She will be honored at a dinner on Wednesday, April 18th at 6:00pm at The Casino.


Congratulations to Neil Rudel. Neil, a long-time sports reporter and sports journalist who has covered high school and college sports since 1978, will be presented with the first Fran Fisher Award for Excellence in Sports Journalism.

Click here to read more about Neil's honor in the Altoona Mirror.



Congratulations to Julie Wohl. Her book, Siddur Mah Tov: A Family Shabbat Prayer Book, was recently published and available at

"Welcome parents and their children ages 5-10 to the joy of Shabbat morning prayer with this family-friendly siddur. Glorious original oil paintings add a new dimension to family Shabbat morning worship services--the visual and emotional resonance of art. Through the art worshippers will be inspired to think what the prayers mean to them, to create their own mental prayer images, and to share their vision with their family. Available in Reform and Conservative editions, in both paperback and hardcover, Siddur Mah Tov makes prayer accessible to all congregants. Full transliteration allows parents to easily participate in read-aloud Hebrew sections, and easy-to-understand English translations mean all family members can experience Shabbat in a dynamic, spiritually meaningful, and creative way." - Amazon



Congratulations to Joellyn Wallen Zollman, daughter of Carolyn and Bill Wallen. Joellyn, wrote a chapter on the film - Goodbye Columbus in the newly released book, "The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema," by Lawrence Baron. Good bye Columbus is a 1969 film based on the story by Philip Roth.

Joellyn holds a Ph.D. in Jewish history from Brandeis University. She has taught courses in Modern Jewish History, American Jewish History, and Religious Material Culture at SDSU and UCSD.


Condolences to the family of Yale Schulman. Yale, 88, passed away quietly Monday evening in Austin, Texas where he had moved two years ago. Click here to read Bill Wallen's eulogy.

He leaves behind his wife of 65 years, Ida; four children and their spouses; eight grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren. Click here to read a past Federation Blog about Yale and Ida before they moved to Texas.

The life of Yale Schulman was defined by determination, faith and enormous generosity. He was born in Altoona and lived there most of his life. At the age of 19, he volunteered for the U.S. Army and landed on Normandy Beach on D-Day in 1944. After serving throughout Europe, he returned to Altoona, where he married Ida Karp on April 20, 1947, and rejoined his family's business. Click here to view an interview of Yale by Ginger Glass.

While working as a salesman, first with his brothers and then managing his own clothing, appliance and building supply stores, he always found time to give back to his community. He held numerous leadership roles in local, regional and national volunteer organizations, including Agudath Achim Synagogue, United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, AMBUCS, Improved Dwellings for Altoona and the Shriners. Click here to read a 2008 Altoona Mirror article about Yale's work in our community.

Friends will be received from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Friday, Jan. 20, 2012, at E. Merrill Smith Funeral Home Inc., 2309 Broad Ave., Altoona (, followed by a funeral service at 10:30 a.m.


Condolences to the family of Allen L. Goldberg. Allen, 80, Bethesda, Md., formerly of Altoona, died Sunday, January 8th, in Naples, Fla. Click here to read Neil Rudel's eulogy.

Shown here at 80th birthday, Allen (front) was the center of his family, which included three children, three grandchildren and many extended family members and friends.

He was born in Altoona, son of the late Harry and Tessie (Livschitz) Goldberg. He married Marilyn Karasek on June 16, 1953, at Temple Beth Israel, and she preceded him in death on March 21, 1994.

Allen was a graduate of Altoona High School and received his bachelor's degree in business from Penn State University. He was a U.S. Air Force veteran, receiving the rank of lieutenant serving in Cheyenne, Wyo. He was the co-owner of Altoona Welding Supply for 40 years and was a member of Temple Beth Israel in Altoona.

Allen enjoyed tennis, downhill skiing, traveling, classical music, watching Penn State football and spending time with his family. He was loved for his big heart and great sense of humor.

Read the complete obituary here.


Rosenthal Named Big Ten Gymnast of the Week
Junior broke the Penn State program still rings record in season opening win over Army

Jan. 16, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State junior Scott Rosenthal (Clearfield, Pa.) has been honored as Big Ten Gymnast of the Week, the conference office announced on Monday. He was recognized with the award for the second time in his career for his record-setting performance in the No. 6 Nittany Lions' convincing victory over No. 14 Army on Saturday.
Rosenthal helped Penn State post the nation's highest team total in the season's first week (349.800), capturing the still rings title in milestone fashion. The 2011 All-American shattered the Nittany Lion record and tied the NCAA FIG-scoring era rings mark, recording a 16.300.

As a sophomore in 2011, the local central Pennsylvania product established himself as one of the nation's top still rings performers. Rosenthal won titles in the event in nine of 10 regular season meets and finished second at the Big Ten Championships, earning Second Team All-Big Ten honors. At the National Collegiate Championships qualifier, he helped Penn State set a program record as a team in the still rings (62.300), placing second with a score of 15.850.

Scott is the son of Dr Sheldon Rosenthal and of Judy Rosenthal, of blessed memory.


Condolences to the family of Harry Rosenthall, who died, Wednesday January 4th, at Altoona Regional Health System, Altoona Hospital Campus.

He was born in Pittsburgh, son of James D. and Audrey S. (Sigel) Rosenthall. He married Holly D. Green in Altoona on Aug. 29, 1982.

Surviving are his wife; three children: Brynn N. Hansard and husband, Aaron, and their child, Avery Hansard, Caitlin A. Nedimyer and husband, Sean, and their children, Kadince, Keirnan and Mickey Nedimyer, and Ethan J. Rosenthall, all of Altoona; his parents; his brother, Michael of Indianapolis, Ind.; his sister, Ronna Holliday of Altoona; his dog, Bianca; and his cat, Aurora.

Harry was a 1977 graduate of Altoona Area High School. He was employed as a pharmacist technician for the past 20 years at The Medicine Shoppe. He was a member of Temple Beth Israel and also belonged to Mountain Lodge 281.

Harry enjoyed spending time with his family, watching the Pittsburgh Steelers, music and animals.

Read the complete obituary here.


Condolences to the family of David G. Trude. David, 54, Hollidaysburg, died unexpectedly Sunday, November 13,2011. He was born in Altoona, son of Myrl Caldwell and Anna Caldwell Paikin.

Surviving are a son, Ryan in Delaware; a daughter, Amber of Ebensburg; three grandchildren; his mother, Anna Paikin and husband, Saul; three brothers: Jeffrey of Altoona, Mark in Virginia and Patrick Caldwell of Plum; and several nieces and nephews. David was a 1974 graduate of Altoona Area High School, and he worked at the Jewish Memorial Center. Read the complete obituary here.


Condolences to the family of Bernard G. "Bernie" Dembert. Bernie, 88, Hollidaysburg, passed away peacefully Monday at The Lutheran Home at Hollidaysburg.

Bernie was a 1940 graduate of Altoona High School and a 1943 graduate of Penn State University and passed the state CPA examination in 1949. He was a U.S. Navy veteran of WWII, serving in the Pacific theater and attaining the rank of lieutenant junior grade aboard the destroyer tender USS Whitney (AD-4). He then served in the Korean War as a contracting officer in the naval aviation supply depot in Willow Grove. Bernie began his professional career as a CPA at Laventhal-Krekstein & Co., Wilkes-Barre. He formed his own practice in 1953 in Altoona, which is now known as Dembert & Hoyne CPA. He was a member of the American and Pennsylvania Institutes of Certified Public Accountants and a member of Temple Beth Israel. Read the complete obituary here.


Congratulations to the Billig family on the induction of Altoona Shoe Company into the Blair County Business Hall of Fame in the Heritage category. Read about their honor and story in the Altoona Mirror.



It's Sevel Time

The Sevel Family - Scandinavian Cruise July 2011
1st row - Laurie, Elizabeth, Brian
2nd row - Sue, Norma, Dominic, Mike, Heather, Jessica, Judy, David, Russ

  Mazal Tov
To Liz Benjamin and Adam Lardieri
on the birth of their daughter,
Ava Margaret
who was born on
the 2nd day of Rosh Hashanah,
September 23rd, 2011.

Mazel Tov to Tyler Rispoli. He and his family celebrated his Bar Mitzvah at the wall in Jerusalem this summer.


Mike Holzer has been busy. Check him out:

Article published in Reform Judaism Magazine

Mask Making


Condolences to the family of Ruth Covitch who passed peacefully on Friday, September 9, 2011, at Rebekah Manor, surrounded by family.

As co-owner of J. Covitch & Son clothing store, Ruth created the Ladies Custom Corner and produced fashion shows for the Ebensburg community. She also served as president of the Ebensburg Woman's Club and Cambria County Woman's Club, board member of Children & Youth Services and docent at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art and the Cambria County Historical Society.

As a child, Ruth danced under local ballet legend Ruth Barnes and, later, in the thespian club at Penn State, where she earned a degree in social work and met her husband of 68 years - on a blind date. Her poise and kind humor, as well as her love of gardening, jelly making, gourmet cooking, world traveling and, of course, dancing, live on in the many people she touched.

Read the complete obituary here.


Congratulations to Mickey and Neil Port. They celebrated 50 years of marriage on August 6, 2011.

Mike and Heather Holzer visit the Peitav Shul in Riga, Latvia while on a Jewish Heritage Tour of the city.


Mazel Tov to the Housman family on the engagement of Ian to Danielle Ascher.

You are invited to an Aufruf on Saturday, July 2, 2011 at Agudath Achim. Service begins at 10 am.

A Kiddush luncheon will be served after services.

RSVP is helpful by June 15th.



Mazel Tov the Weinberg family on the birth of twin daughters, Addie Hana & Marnie Paige, born on May 21, 2011, to Ellen and Ken Marowitz, daughter and son- in-law to Maxine and Henry Weinberg.

Also read about Henry's honor from United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism in the Altoona Mirror.


Congratulations to Joe Port. Comedy writer-producers Joe Port and Joe Wiseman, creators of the 20th Century Fox TV-produced comedy pilot Family Album, have signed a two-year overall deal with the studio. Under the pact, the two will join New Girl, 20th TV's hot new comedy series for Fox, as co-executive producers. Additionally, their pilot Family Album is in strong contention at Fox for midseason.

Read more about the up and coming star here.


Good luck to Greg Werstil. He is running for Frankstwon Township Supervisor and needs your vote on May 17th. Every vote counts.

Greg is a Federation Board Director and owner of the small conglomerate, The Werstil Companies. He promises to make us proud.

He has been highlighted in Member Profile. Check it out here.


Happy Birthday to Steve Port

1. Wife

2. Cake

3. Guys and Dolls

4. Old Guys


Shayna Punim

Mira Kaplan, granddaughter of Lynn Kaplan and daughter of Jon .

Footnote to the english-yiddish dictionary by Marty Krivoy and memories of being pinched on the cheek by my great grandmother.


Whereas, whereas, whereas, whereas:

Mazel Tov to Rabbi Leonard I. Beerman on his recent 90th birthday. This favorite son of Altoona was honored with "Rabbi Beerman Day" on April 9, 2011.

Leonard Beerman is the founding rabbi of Leo Baeck Temple in Los Angeles, where he served for thirty-seven years until his retirement. He has taught at Claremont Men’s College and lectured widely in universities, churches, synagogues, and mosques. Throughout his career, the primary focus of his concern has been on the issues of justice and peace, and he has worked to bring conscience and faith to the forefront of many difficult and controversial social questions. He has been awarded honorary doctorates by the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, Lafayette College, and Washington & Jefferson College.

Rabbi Beerman interview.


Mazel Tov to our community members for these recent accomplishments.

Henry Weinberg will be honored by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism for his many years of devoted service as Cemetery Chair and Religious Chair at Agudath Achim Congregation. The award will be given on May 11 in Penn Valley, PA.

Neil Port and P & J Productions had their film Ghosts - The Musical presented at the Buffalo Niagra Film Festival on April 15.

Barbara Hollander was honored on Wednesday, April 20th, with a WISE Women of Blair County Arts and Letters Award. It's the third year for WISE, which stands for Women Involved in Scholarship and Empowerment, which honors women in the community.

Read more about Barabara's honor in the Altoona Mirror.

In the community

Welcoming Bishop Bartchak. Bill and Rabbi Audrey attended the installation of the new Bishop on April 19. The Federation also sponsored an ad in the Altoona Mirror congratulating and welcoming him.

Passover programs, "A Taste of Passover" was condicted for 9th grade students at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Huntingdon. We also participated in the 4th annual Freedom Seder at Juniata College, sponsored by their Hillel group.


Gantse Mishpucha, a Sevel Family reunion.

L - R, Jessica, Judy, David, Elizabeth, Brian, Laurie, Don
Middle, Russ, Norma, Sue
Bottom, Dan, Michael, Heather, Ari


Mazel Tov to the family of Ellen and Charles Kivitz on the engagement of their son, Jason, and Jamie Walter. A wedding date is set for June 5, 2011.


The Confirmation Class of our Community Sunday School recently attended a Panim el Panim seminar in Washington DC.

Congratulations to Ginger Glass, Fallon Morris, Carly Port, Sarah Lipitz, Ethan Knepp, Noah Scheinberg and Ian Bilofsky.

In Panim el Panim seminars and programs, teens learn from and become friends with a broad network of Jewish teens from around the country. Together they receive advocacy training, participate in service learning and have the opportunity to lobby their elected officials on Capitol Hill, putting what they have learned into action. All Panim el Panim seminars include interactive sessions in which students relate Jewish texts and values to the world around them.

For twenty years, PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values has been empowering Jewish teens to a lifetime of activism, leadership and service. Now, as a division of BBYO, PANIM offers its high-quality content and experiences to significantly more Jewish institutions and teens. By providing relevant educational resources and curriculum, in depth immersive teen experiences and professional training for Jewish educators across North America the PANIM Institute of BBYO is creating a movement of young activists ready to take on the challenges facing society and the Jewish community.

Click here as our confirmands write about their experiences at this conference.


Congratulations to Scott Rosenthal. He is the number 2 ranked gymnast in the country in the still rings and has helped Penn State become the number 5 team in the country.

Scott of Clearfield, grew up watching the national powerhouse Nittany Lions and dreamed of joining them one day. Since his high school did not have a team, he trained with Gemini Gymnastics in Altoona. Even after success with Gemini, including his career highlight so far of winning a regional title in 2009, not one college recruited him.

Click here to read more about Scott and watch the video from WTAJ.


We regret to inform you of the passing of Bernard (Bernie) Heller (89), last night in Philadelphia. Bernie was a Past President of the Agudath Achim Congregation from 1968-1971 and aWorld War ll veteran and partner of Stanley Electric. He is survived by his wife, Ruth and 2 children, Jeff & Judy.

Click here for the complete obituary in the Philadelphia Inquirer.


Condolences to the family of Moe Antikol, who passed on Friday, February 18, 2011. Moe was a beloved family man, great friend, and leader of our Jewish community. is love of life and Judaism was an inspiration to all. To most of us, he was Agudath Achim Congreagtion. He will be greatly missed. Read about Moe in the Altoona Mirror.

Click here to see Moe intereviewed by Ginger Glass.

Click here to read the obituary in the Altoona Mirror.


Condolences to the family of Art Cohen, who passed away peacefully Friday at his home. He was born in Wilmington, Del., the eldest child of the late Joseph Cohen and Beatrice (Bell) Cohen. He was a member of Agudath Achim Congregation of Altoona.

Growing up in Wilmington, Steve was a natural athlete, talented at every sport he tried, but his true passion was baseball. Steve was also a very gifted debater and writer, which led him to study political science at the University of Delaware. While there, Steve played soccer, participated on the debate team and was very active with his fraternity. His next step after college was law school, but he decided halfway through that he would enlist in the United States Army and served during the Vietnam War.

Read the complete obituary here.


Mazel Tov to Janet Wayne on her recent milestone birthday celebration.

Congratulations to Joe Silverman, Don Clippinger, Neil Rudel and Phil Dubrow for their participation during the adult ed program entitled, "An Evening with the Media." Topics included the role of the media as watch dogs, issues concerning news versus commetary or entertainment, the role of anti-semitism in the news, and the future of the media and news industry.

Congratulations to Miss December, Jewish Girl of the Year. Click here for details.


Mazel Tov to Jakob Golant on the celebration of his 90th birthday.

Condolences to the family of Ruth Roth, mother of Roz Sky, who passed away on November 25, 2010.


Mazel Tov to Barbara and Joel Hollander on the wedding of their daughter Nanci to Ben Caplan on November 27 in Washingdon D.C.

Nanci and Ben were honored at an Auf Ruf at Agudath Achim Congregation on October 2nd and they plan to live in Chicago.


Mazel Tov to Hazzan Horwitz

"On Sunday November 7th, 2010 I ran the New York City Marathon. It was a beautiful day. This was my 5th New York City Marathon and 30th overall. The experience was exhilirating and the 26.2 mile race was extra special because of the Achilles Athletes I met and ran with throughout the 6 hour 13 minute jaunt through the 5 boroughs of New York City. Years ago, my marathon times were under 4 hours but I guess I no longer the spring chicken I used to be and I decided to really enjoy the crowds and experience this year and not worry about how fast I was going.

Thanks for your support of Achilles and my running efforts. I am now training for the Dec. 5th Nittany Valley Half Marathon in State College which is on Sunday Dec. 5th. It will be my 4th year in a row running this challenging and hilly course. But nothing can compare to the New York City Marathon course and experience. My only regret is that I did not see on the course also running or get to meet Jared from Subway, the Chilean Miner, Al Roker, Bobby Flay, Amani Toomer, Robin Quivers or any of the other famous people who ran the Marathon. Happy Running or whatever makes you happy."


Mazel Tov to Andrew Arlick and the Arlick family.

Andrew Arlick will become a Bar Mitzvah on Saturday, November 27, at Agudath Achim Congregation. He is the son of Jay and Debbie and brother of Sarah and Rachel Arlick.


Condolences to the family of Helen Edelman.

Helen C. Edelman, 88, Chico, Calif., passed away Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010, in California.She was born in 1922 in Altoona, daughter of the late Pinchus and Sarah Cazen. She married Jack Edelman in December 1946 in Altoona. He preceded her in death on March 19, 2010.

Surviving are her son, Dr. Samuel Edelman, professor emeritus and executive director of Scholars for Peace in the Middle East; her daughter-in-law, Dr. Carol Edelman, professor emeritus; and her grandchildren: Sharonne and Ari Edelman.

Helen was a longtime member of Agudath Achim Congregation.


The Mirror is very proud to unveil our new book, "They Know Joe," which chronicles Joe Paterno's illustrious career through the memories of some of the country's most famous football figures and PSU program insiders.

It was written by Neil Rudel, the longest-tenured Penn State beat writer (since 1977), and Cory Giger, winner of nearly 20 national and state sportswriting awards covering the Nittany Lions.

The book is 38 chapters and includes forewords by Bobby Bowden and President George H.W. Bush.

Congratulations to Neil Rudel. If you'd like to order, call Neil at 946-7527 and he'll arrange to deliver your copy personally.


The Coal Country Hangout Youth Center kicked off its project Friday to renovate the 85-year-old B’Nai Israel Synagogue to provide offices for United Way agencies and storage space for the borough and Susquehanna Historical Society.

The project also includes research into the history of the synagogue and the Jewish families that immigrated to the area after World War I by 15 junior and senior class students at Northern Cambria High School. The research project is a continuation of the school’s “Cambria Re-coal-lection” series that enables the students to learn about local history in addition to the regular social studies curriculum.

The synagogue was built in 1925 and has been vacant since 1968, when it was closed because only one Jewish family remained in the area. Click here for more details.

Paula Pimentel and her father, Ben Root, are pictured in the foreground.


Thank you to Roz and Phil Sky for donating Altoona Curve tickets for our annual Federation Night at the Curve. Over 40 members enjoyed each other's company as well as peanuts, kettle corn, Curve burgers and drinks.

Also, thanks to Neil Rudel for organizing the event. Although the Curve lost 3-2 to the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, the weather was warm and the beer was cold.


  Condolences to the family of Boris Belenitsky, who passed away on September 27, 2010.

Condolences to the family of Bernard Shapiro, who passed away on Wednesday, August 18, 2010, in Miami Florida.

Bernard M.”Bernie” Shapiro, 92, of Miami, FL, formerly of Altoona, died Wednesday, August 18, 2010 in Miami. He was born on March 13, 1918 in Pittsburgh, the son of the late Joseph J. and Jeannette (Lilenthal) Shapiro. Bernie married Ethel G. Price on March 3, 1940 in Pittsburgh. She preceded him in death on March 15, 2002. He attended Temple Beth Israel. Bernie retired in 1983 as a sales representative with National Chemsearch, Inc. He was a member of Temple Beth Israel Brotherhood, B’nai B’rith, Hiram Lodge F&AM, Altoona Consistory, Scottish Rite Bodies, Jaffa Temple, Hollidaysburg Sportsmens Club, and Park Hills Country Club. Bernie is survived by his children, Leslie S. Shapiro of Edwards, CO and Sheldon L. Shapiro of Miami, FL, 4 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren and his brother, Irving H. Shapiro of Simi Valley, CA. A graveside service will be held at 1:00pm on Sunday, August 22, 2010 at Mt. Sinai Cemetery officiated by Rabbi Audrey Korotkin.

A graveside service will be held at 1:00pm on Sunday, August 22, 2010 at Mt. Sinai Cemetery officiated by Rabbi Audrey Korotkin.


Mazel Tov to the Holzer family on the birth of Ari Bernard Holzer. He was born on July 22, 2010. Ari's baby naming will be on August 27th, 2010, during Shabbat services at Temple Beth Israel and there will be special oneg afterwards. Everyone in the community is welcome! RSVP to Jen at the Temple is encouraged.



Congratulations to Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer on her new book, The Kitchen Classroom. Below is a note from Gabrielle and a link for more information on her book.

Dear Friends,

Who is your favorite person to cook with? When I was growing up, it was my Grandma Min, who made amazing briskets, roast chicken and chocolate cakes and always let me work with and learn from her as she stirred, measured and mixed.

Nowadays, my very favorite people to cook with are my children George, 7 and June, 4. We often make a simple recipe like a fruit salad or batch of cookies together in the late afternoon. In the kitchen, we reconnect after they have been at school and I have been at work. We make cakes together for each other's birthdays and experiment with new recipes based on our favorite spices and flavors.

For George, who has autism, cooking has been an important way for him to develop his fine and gross motor skills, gain essential sensory input, and work on language and literacy. Cooking has also helped him to develop a longer attention span and to engage in sharing joint attention with me.

But more importantly, cooking is just fun! And so is eating good food! Whether you are a parent, teacher, grandparent or friend of a child, I hope that you will enjoy my new book. Kitchen Classroom is a unique cookbook that features 32 visual recipes, broken down into small steps written in words and depicted in photographs of George and June hard at work! Next month, I'll be launching my "Kitchen Classroom 4 Kids" website, featuring weekly recipes & tips.

In the meantime, stay cool and happy cooking!

Click her to read more about this book.


Welcome to Audrey Korotkin, the new Rabbi at Temple Beth Israel.

Click here to read more about Rabbi Korotkin.




Congratulations to our high school and college graduates, Dina Bilofsky, Allison Cohen, Jacob Gordon, Ian Housman, Asher Kline, Dana Holliday, Adam Rudel, Alex Schmidt, Kara Schmidt, and Mark Thaler .


The Altoona Jewish community, friends and family mourn the loss of Rabbi Berger. Celebrate his life and legacy by going to the following links:

Altoona Mirror Obituary

Ginger Glass Interview Series

The Jewish Chronicle


Condolences to the family of Norman Glucroft. Norman passed away on Thursday May 27, 2010.

He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., son of the late Raphael and Sadye (Siegel) Glucroft. He married Shirley Marcus on July 4, 1943, in Altoona. Surviving are his wife of 66 years; two children: Susan Levin of Newtown and Ross and wife, Ellen, of State College; and six grandchildren. Norman was a U.S. Army Air Corps veteran of WWII with the rank of lieutenant, serving with the Strategic Air Command. He was a member of Agudath Achim Congregation, and he retired as owner of Roaring River Mills, Altoona.


Congratulations to Jordan Bailinger on his recent 80th birthday celebration!


Congratulations to Heidi Soloman, daughter of Jan and Jack Housman for her work at WVU Hillel chapter. Read about Heidi in action in a recent article in The Jewish Chronicle.


You Go Girl!

Lynn Kaplan and Harvey Fierstein at Fiddler on the Roof - a birthday present from her son, Jon.



Old Friends. Phyllis and Steve Port catch up with Altoona native Howard Shapiro. Howard is the son of Minnie and Max Shapiro and lives in Philadelphia. He joined The Philadelphia Inquirer in 1970 and has held many writing and editing positions, including cultural arts editor and travel editor. He now writes for The Inquirer’s features section.

His “On Travel” column appears occasionally on Sundays in Travel, and his theater reviews appear in the Daily Magazine and Weekend. Read more about Howard and his work.


Congratulations to Phyllis and Steve Port and the Port family on the engagement of their son Joey to Amy Schwartz.


Congratulations to Nancy Devorris. Nancy will be honored on Tuesday, April 6th, with a WISE Women of Blair County Tribute Award for her role in the community volunteer work. It's the second year for WISE, which stands for Women Involved in Scholarship and Empowerment, which honors women in the community.

The award is the continuation of the YWCA's Tribute to Women Awards, which recognized women whose contributions included economic empowerment of women and the elimination of racism.

Read more about Nancy's honor and her community work in the Altoona Mirror.


Mira Kaplan is enjoying her first Passover book from the PJ Library Program. It is never too late to join the program.

Call the Federation office to join now at 814-515-1182.

Read more about the PJ Library program from The Werstil family

or click on the icon below:


Shalach Manot bags from the Agudath Achim Sisterhood arrive in Israel.


Condolences to the family of Jack Edelman.

Jack M. Edelman, 86, Chico, Calif., passed away Friday. He was born in Altoona and married Helen Cazen in December 1946. Surviving are his wife of 64 years; his son, Dr. Samuel Edelman; his daughter-in-law, Dr. Carol Edelman; and his grandchildren: Sharonne and Ari Edelman.

Jack served in the New York National Guard from 1943-45. His career spanned more than 60 years as a salesman and buyer for Sky Brothers Inc. He later moved to Imler's Poultry and was Director of Sales and Marketing until his retirement at the age of 80. He moved to Chico, Calif., to be close to his son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren six years ago.Jack was strongly committed to volunteerism. He was a volunteer for the Altoona Lions Club and a longtime member of the Jaffa Shrine. He also was very involved in B'nai Brith and was a longtime member of Agudath Achim Congregation in Altoona. He was a passionate golfer and loved sports of any kind.

Jack will be remembered by his immediate family and his numerous nephews and niece as a compassionate, humorous, fun-loving, generous man. No matter what happened, he could bring a smile to your face and joy to your heart. He will be missed. Read the complete obituary.

  Congratulations to Bob Neidorff. Bob was recently installed as a national Board of Director for ORT America. ORT supports a global network of schools and high tech training programs that provide innovative curricula and strategic educational initiatives to over 300,000 students globally in 63 countries. ORT seeks to help students be productive citizens and be assests to their community.
  Rabbi Yossi and Chanale Stein and Hazzan Michael Horowitz were in the Kosher food section at Giant Eagle on Sunday, March 14th to help with Passover preparations, explain and demonstrate different aspects of the holiday.

Paula Pimentel was recently interviewed about the history of the It was 1968 when all but one Jewish family had left the town of Barnesboro. The Roots were the only Jewish family left, so the synagogue, which was built in 1925, closed its doors forever.But it is to occupied again. The structure is to be restored and used by the United Way and other social services.

When it closed 42 years ago, each of the four Root children was given a piece of the synagogue's stained glass, which they display proudly in their homes. One of them, Paula Pimentel, who now lives in Altoona, cherishes the stained glass, a reminder of the synagogue. Read more from the Altoona Mirror.


Mazel Tov to the family of Janine and Greg Werstil on the birth of son Adam.


The Agudath Achim Sisterhood held a "High Tea" to prepare shalach manot packages for Israeli soldiers. Chanale Stein led an enlightening discussion about Esther and her heroism, and games were played about the story of Purim.

Mishloach manot (pronounced "mish-LOH-ach mah-NOTE,", literally, "sending of portions"; also spelled mishloach manos and sometimes shortened to shalach manos), and also called a Purim basket, are gifts of food or drink that are sent to friends, relatives, neighbors, teachers, business associates, and any other acquaintances on Purim day. The mitzvah of giving mishloach manot derives from the Book of Esther. It is meant to ensure that everyone has enough food for the Purim feast held later in the day, and to increase love and friendship among Jews as a counter to Haman's assertion that the Jewish people are characterized by strife and disunity.


Congratulations to Byron Lasser, Les Weiss and Jerry Zolten. They each have been featured in the Altoona Mirror for their contrbutions to their professional fields and our community.


Byron Lasser , owner of the Lasser's Shoe Fly stores, which now includes Lasser's Shoe Fly, New Balance Altoona and Shoe Fly Boot Outlet, moved to Pleasant Valley Shopping Center in 2003, and recently celebrated it's 100th year in business. Click here to read more about Byron and Lasser's Shoes.

Les Weiss is a licensed clinical social worker at Van Zandt VA Medical Center, Altoona, and works with veterans experiencing post-traumatic stress. Click here to read more about Les and his work.

Jerry Zolten, an associate professor at Penn State Altoona, has been fascinated by black musical culture since the 1950s and has produced for black music groups, performed with them, written about them, studied their work and taught about them. Click here to read more about Jerry and his work.


Morris M. Levine, 92, Tyrone, died Tuesday evening at the home of his daughter, Nancy Siegel, in Teaneck, N.J. He was born in Altoona, son of the late Jacob and Ida (Frank) Levine. He married Bessie Quint on Dec. 30, 1945, in Philadelphia. She preceded him in death April 29, 2001.

Morris was a 1936 graduate of Altoona High School. In 1936, Morris and his brother, Nate, opened their men's and boys' clothing store in Tyrone, which they operated together until Morris entered the service in 1942. He served in the U.S. Army, landing on Utah Beach on D-Day Plus 2, and he served in France until he was relieved of duty because of battle fatigue and a flareup of allergies. On his return from the military, Morris and his wife, Bess, started the Morris Levine Family Shoe Store. They served the area faithfully for 52 years and sold their business in 1988 upon their retirement. Morris and Bess were dedicated to and active participants in the life of the Tyrone community.

Morris was a member of Agudath Achim Synagogue of Altoona. Click here for the complete obituary.





Mazel Tov to the family of Karen and Barry Allen on the engagement of their daughter, Rachel, to Jeff Dickson, son of Don and Judy Dickson, Burlington, VT. Rachel has earned a B.A. in English from Washington and Jefferson College and she is now a student at the University of Montana School of Law, with a focus on domestic violence and family law. Jeff earned a B.A. in Art from Colby College and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Montana School of law. He is a civil attorney in Missoula, MT.


Best Wishes to Ida and Yale Schulman on their move to Austin, Texas.

Mazel Tov to the Anne and Jakob Golant on their 60th wedding anniversary.


Mazel Tov to the family of Michelle and Steve Schmidt, and Barry Newborn, on the engagement of their daughter Danielle to Bob Kaniewsky. They are planning a 2010 wedding.


Mazel Tov to the Wallen family on the birth of Eli Alexander Wallen. Eli is the son of Kevin and Jamie Wallen and the grandson of Carolyn and Bill Wallen. Eli weighs in at 7 lbs and 2 ozs.

  Mazel Tov to the Kaplan family. Mira Lee Kaplan, born October 4, 2009. Daughter to Jon Kaplan and Stephanie Martin of Arlington, VA, Granddaughter to Steve and Lynn Kaplan.

Hyman Leo "Hy" Adelman, 88, Juniata, passed away Thursday. He was born in Altoona, a son of the late Samuel and Rose (Meldorf) Adelman. Hy married Jennie Rachel Swonger Dec. 4, 1942, in Nebraska. She preceded him in death Dec. 31, 1988. Hy was a 1939 graduate of Altoona High School and attended Penn State Altoona in 1952. He was a U.S. Army Air Corps veteran of WWII with the rank of corporal, serving in the Asian Pacific Theatre.

He worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad and retired from the Penn Central Railroad as a shipper/receiver. Hy was a member of Agudath Achim Congregation, Jewish Memorial Center, a charter member of the AZA, Jewish War Vets and VFW Post 8685. He was a former president of the Altoona Taxpayers League. Click here for complete obituary.




Martin "Marty" "Ba" Weinstein, 91, of Duncansville, formerly of Altoona, died Saturday at his residence. He was born in Altoona, son of Israel and Bertha (Wilenzik) Weinstein.Marty married Regina Goldberg on June 23, 1946, in Carnegie, Pa. She preceded him in death on July 26, 1995.

He is survived by his daughter, Judith L. Weinstein, who cared for him at home with all the love possible until the end; a son, Phillip R. in Tennessee; granddaughters: Krystle L. and Miranda M. Cruthers, whom Martin raised since birth as if he was their father, and he could not have loved them more; proud great-grandfather of Eva Joy Deleo, who was born March 9, 2008, and they celebrated his 91st birthday together. He was a member of Agudath Achim congregation.Marty retired from the United States Postal Service in Pittsburgh in 1980 after being employed for 21 years as a postal worker. Click here for complete obituary.




Mazel Tov to the family of Dianne and Neil Rudel on the engagement of Gino Rudel and Jess Lightner as well as becoming grandparents with the birth of Dominik Joseph Johnston, son of Nikole and Greg Johnston.

Dominik Joseph Johnston, Born July 7, 2009, 8 lbs 1 1/2 oz, 19 inches

  Congratulations to Neil Port for receiving the 2009 John Riley Service Award. This award is presented to an individual who has performed outstanding and meritorius service to our community through personal efforts by enhancing the dignity and worth of its citizens. The award is named after the late Big John Riley who gave his time and untiring efforts in furthering the purposes of The Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission. Click here to read Bill Wallen's introduction speech.

Congratulations to the Port and Sky Families. Frozen Farm Products has received the Heritage Award and has been inducted into the Blair County Chamber of Commerce Business Hall of Fame. Click here to read about this prestigous award in the Altoona Mirror.

Congratulations to Ethan Knepp for his work to create awareness and to fundraise on behalf of Autism/Asperger's Disease. Ethan just completed his third year of support through an annual walk fundraiser.  Funds were raised for the American Lung Association, Bloomin’ Youth Autism Program, and American Syringomyelia Alliance Project.  Click here for more details about his project.

Condolences to the Patt and Hand families. May their memories be a blessing.

Pam Patt March 3, 1943 - September 18, 2009
Ed Hand July 1, 1927 - October 13, 2009

Edward Hand, 82, Hollidaysburg, passed away Tuesday at Altoona Regional Health System, Altoona Hospital Campus.

He was born in Brooklyn, N.Y., son of the late David and Lillian (Halberstadt) Hand. He married Harriett Trazenfeld June 27, 1948, in Rockaway Park, N.Y.

Surviving are his wife of 61 years; two children: Susan Bauder and Steven Hand, both of Hollidaysburg; and four grandchildren: Andrea Hand, David Hand, Nathaniel Hand and Brandon Bauder. Complete obituary

Pamela Jean Patt, 66, Hollidaysburg, died Friday afternoon at Altoona Regional Health System, Altoona Hospital Campus.

She was born in Rosedale, Allegheny County, the daughter of the late Joseph and Eleanor (Clegg) Proksa. She married P. Jules Patt in November 1964 in Altoona.

Pamela is survived by her husband; a son: Joshua R. of Hollidaysburg; two daughters: Maggie Patt of State College and Samantha Patt Ocelus of Hollidaysburg; three grandchildren: Eleanor "Ellie" Ocelus, Grace Patt Biddle and Jane Patt Biddle; and a brother: Joseph Preston of Ridgefield, Conn. Complete obituary

An American Rabbi in Warsaw by Rabbi Burt Schuman - Reform Judaism Fall 2009 Issue

Michael Cohen Throws out the First Pitch

Sammy Port, son of Marty and Barbara Port, Live in Concert!

Levi & Greg Werstil at the Shabbat Service at the Presbyterian Home (8/28/09)

Adam & Suzanna Seltzer - recently married.


click here for the Matter of Faith PDF

On behalf of the Temple Adult Ed Committee, I want to express appreciation for your participation. The turn-out was highly respectable, thanks to you. At a minimum, those who were present learned something that many people seem to be unaware of: Someone else's beliefs may seem very odd to you--and your beliefs may seem odd to others. THAT DOESN'T MEAN THAT THE "OTHER" IS BAD AND WORTHY OF YOUR ANGER AND EVEN HATRED. We can certainly appreciate that the "other" may be a lovely person and that we and they can co-exist, like each other, and even become good friends. Ms. Anwar LOVED the folks she met! She was impressed with us on several levels, I am happy to report.

Joe Silverman


Edward M. (Eddy) Petsonk died Friday, May 22, 2009, in Somerset, NJ, at the age of 93.  The son of Polish Jewish immigrants, he grew up in New York City, and in 1937 received a degree in electrical engineering from the City College of New York.  In 1941 Mr. Petsonk came to Altoona, where he met Julia Leopold of Hollidaysburg.  They wed the next year and were married for 57 years until Julia passed away in 2000.  During the Second World War, Ed served his country as an aeronautical engineer.  After the War, he entered the electrical contracting business in Hillside, New Jersey, and shortly thereafter established Electrical Contractors Associates and Blair Electric Service Company in Altoona.  Subsequently those companies provided electrical construction services for many industrial facilities, schools and hospitals in the central Pennsylvania region.  

Ed was a charming, dynamic man who relished life and was devoted to his family and community.   He cared greatly about youth, supporting the Boy Scouts as a scoutmaster and member of the Scout Council.  He supported programs for disadvantaged young people by establishing college scholarships and providing leadership for Tomorrow’s Citizens, a program that offered gainful employment for troubled youth, many of whom went on to become community leaders. 

Mr. Petsonk was very active in Altoona’s Jewish community and was a dedicated supporter of Israel.  Over the years he served as president of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, Temple Beth Israel, the Jewish Memorial Center, and chaired the Israel Bond drive on several occasions.  With his wife, he initiated a Holocaust Education program in Altoona schools, a program that continues today. 

A lifelong supporter of athletics, he helped promote tennis and other racquet sports in Altoona.  He continued to enjoy playing tennis until the age of 91.  Ed also was an avid skier, and was the principal developer of the Blue Knob Ski Resort in 1963. 

Ed loved music, and participated in and led singing programs after he moved to West Virginia in 1995, and later in New Jersey, where he resided for the last year of his life.  

Mr. Petsonk is survived by his older brother George Shire, of Millersville, PA; four children:  Judy, journalist and author of two non-fiction books; Lee, physician and researcher for the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; Andy, environmental consultant in Sweden; and Carol Annette, international environmental lawyer; and seven grandchildren.  

He will be deeply missed. 

Services will be held on Tuesday, May 26, at Temple Beth Israel in Altoona, Pennsylvania, commencing at 11:00 a.m., followed by interment at the Mt. Sinai Cemetery. Rabbi David Feder of Tree of Life Congregation, Morgantown, WV, will officiate.   Visitation with family members prior to the service will begin at 10:00 a.m. at Temple Beth Israel.  Members of the community will also be welcomed at the home of Phil and Roz Sky from 7:00-9:00 p.m. Tuesday evening.  Those wishing to make donations in Ed’s memory are encouraged to give to the charity of their choice. 

Congratulations to Andrea Dotan and Michael Rudnet on their engagement!

Condolences to the Devorris and Cohen Families on the passing of Ruth Scott on Thursday, March 19, 2009.

Congratulations to Rob & Andrea Okonak on the birth(s) of their twin sons:
Connor Robert & Grant Jonah
Born: Saturday March 7th at 4:38am

Welcome to the Evans Family. Matt Evans is a political science professor at Penn State Altoona. He and his wife, Dalia and three children—Shani (8), Daniel (6) and Gilad (6)—have moved to Hollidaysburg. Dalia and all three children were born in Israel. Matt worked there as an urban planner for a decade and received a degree from Ben Gurion University. He is a New York City native who graduated from Columbia and the University of Wisconsin. Dalia is currently completing her Masters of Social Work degree. The children have enrolled in our Sunday School and the family has joined Temple Beth Israel.

We also welcome another professor at Penn State Altoona, Eric Charles, who teaches Psychology. He and his wife, Christi, and daughter Marin have moved to Altoona and are neighbors of Jerry and Janet Wayne.

Alex Nidetch has returned to Hollidaysburg, where he is residing with his mother, Jeanne Heinbaugh, and helping with the operation of the Old Canal Inn. Alex attends services at Agudath Achim Congregation regularly and even devoted time to their Nearly New Sale.

Best Wishes
Best wishes to Bill Rosch in his new home in Florida, where he recently moved to be closer to his sisters Debbie and Leah.

Several of our community residents have moved into the beautiful new Graystone Apartments overlooking Pleasant Valley. New apartment dwellers are Norma Sevel, Shirley Levinson and Manny and Sue Rosenberg. Also living there are community friends George Strobert and Helen Casey. A Chanukah program was provided for them and about 20 other residents there led by Hazzan Horwitz.

Darryl Newton, our man in Iraq, arrived there during the first week in February following additional training he received in Kuwait. He welcomes greetings and news from his friends in Altoona. His e-mail address is

Thanks to Marilyn Muhlfelder and Carolyn Wallen for coordinating our 4th annual Love Feast held on Dec. 27, 2008 at Simpson Church. Special thanks to Paula and Dave Binus for leading our cooking brigade and to all our adults and children who contributed money, desserts and their time for this mitzvah. We served about 125 meals, sent another 50 home and we gave all leftovers to St. Vincent De Paul soup kitchen. We are already signed up for Dec. 26, 2009.

Our Jewish community was well represented at the Interfaith Signs of Justice program on Jan. 18. Phil Devorris was a featured speaker and Hazzan Horwitz led an interfaith children’s choir in singing Shalom B’Olam. Featured in the choir were Howie Keenan, soloist, and Felicia Devorris, Abigail Simon, Samantha Bilofsky and Jacob and Noah Scheinberg. The program began with Elliott Bilofsky sounding the Shofar as a call to social justice.

Our local SAVE Darfur Chapter recently sent over $16,000 to Jewish World Watch to benefit their backpacks for kids and solar cooker projects in the refugee camps in Chad for the Sudanese genocide survivors. Total donations from our group now exceed $17,000. Our local teens and adults have shown again that we can really make a difference.
Community activities. Congratulations to Mickey Port and Allison Cohen for their efforts with SAVE Darfur.

L’Chaim Milestones

Mike Holzer and Heather Drier were married on November 1 in St. Marys, PA. The ceremony was officiated by Rabbi Burt Schuman. Mike is the son of Russell and Sue Holzer and the grandson of Norma Sevel. They are now residing at 50 Seneca Avenue in Altoona.

Nikole Rudel and Greg Johnston, on February 7, 2009 at the Blairmont in Hollidaysburg. Nicole is the daughter of Dianne and Neil Rudel and granddaughter of Charlotte and Dave Rudel.

Josh Patt and Genevieve Moyer became engaged in November 2008. He is the son of Pam and Jules Patt and grandson of Bob Patt.

Harrison Daniel Cole Berman on October 17, 2008, son of Tina and Robert Berman and grandson of Janet and Jerry Wayne.

Jessica Shiloh Handmaker on August 15, 2008, daughter of Brett and Alisa Handmaker and granddaughter of Sandi and Charles Kaminsky.

Special Birthdays
Bob Patt celebrated his 90th birthday on January 15, 2008

Shirley Pechter was honored on her birthday, October 28 with becoming Mayor for the day in Hollidaysburg followed by a reception and party with family and friends.

Recent B’nai Mitzvah
Ethan Knepp, son of Sandra and David Knepp and grandson of Bobbi and Joel Weiss, October 24, 2008 at Temple Beth Israel.

The Dolinger family on the death of HR “Dick” Dolinger of Cherry Hill, originally from Huntingdon.

The Klevan family on the death of Dr. Karl J. Kaufman of the Philadelphia area, originally from Altoona

The Aryev family on the death of Moshe Shalom Aryev, father of Boris Aryev. He resided in Bat Yam, Israel and was a Holocaust survivor of the Dauchau camp.

Paula and David Binus and their family on the death of Paula’s mother, Margaret “Maggie” Cooney. She was an honorary member of Agudath Achim, where she frequently helped with catering and baking.


Louis “Spider” Small
Lou Small, age 84 died on January 27, 2009 in Altoona. He was an Altoona native who graduated from Altoona High in 1942 and lived and worked here his entire life. He first worked in his father’s tailor shop next to Roosevelt Junior High and later for the PA Dept of Revenue.

Lou along with his brothers Meyer and Fred and sister Sylvia were the children of Henry and Minnie Small. They were a loving and religious family, active at Agudath Achim Congregation. Lou loved sports, especially basketball. He earned his nickname “spider” because of his height and good hands. He played for the AZA team and later officiated around our area. Lou was a faithful minyonaire and a devoted brother and uncle. He will be missed by his neighbors, friends and family.

Esther Thaler Nederlander
Esther, age 80 died on December 12, 2008 in Altoona. She was a native of Windber, the daughter of Morris and Gertrude Thaler and sister of Helen and Bill. She married Nevin Nederlander in 1950 and was married for almost 54 years when he died in 2004. They had two daughters, Renee Marks and Sandra Weber and four grandchildren. Sandra passed away in 2007.

Esther retired as office manager and “top sergeant” for her brother’s dental practice after 30 years of service. She was an active member of Agudath Achim, a devoted fan of Altoona High sports, a bowler at the JMC and a bingo player. She was a devoted wife, loving mother and proud grandmother.

Helen Kessler Rosch
Helen Rosch, age 91 died on October 3, 2008, her late husband Bernard’s birthday, in Altoona.

She was born in Czechoslovakia and came to New York City at age 3. She grew up in Brooklyn remaining there until 1942 when she married Dr. Bernard Rosch and moved along with him to various Army bases where he was stationed in WWII. They later moved to Altoona where he established his dental practice. Helen and Bernie had three children, Bill, Deborah and Leah who all grew up in Altoona. Bernie died in 1983 after 41 years of marriage. Helen and Bernie were both deeply involved in Agudath Achim Congregation. She was a Board member, Sisterhood president and Hebrew teacher.

Helen committed much of her life to serving others in the community. She was a leader in Jewish organizations including Hadassah and Israel Bonds and in general community programs including Altoona Hospital, Easter Seals and Home Nursing Agency.

Helen worked diligently to ensure compassionate care for individuals with terminal illnesses through helping to establish the Palliative Care Unit at Altoona Hospital and Hospice program at Home Nursing.

Helen was a loving mother, grandmother; friend, volunteer and community advocate who is missed by all.

Louis E. Leopold
Lou Leopold, age 86 died on January 6, 2009 in his home in Hollidaysburg.

He was an Altoona native who graduated from Altoona High and the University of Pennsylvania. He did graduate work at the University of Chicago, the school for Asian Studies and The Hague. He served in the Navy in WWII.

Lou originally worked in real estate and insurance before becoming a Political Science professor at Penn State Altoona. He focused his community life on political science, photography heritage and was an activist for equal rights. He was a member of Temple Beth Israel.

Leopold wed Anna Shaffer in 1947 and they were married for 61 years at the time of his death. He is also survived by 2 children, John and Louise, 1 granddaughter and 2 great grandchildren.

Lou was active in local politics and many historical and photographic societies. He was an avid writer publishing many articles in historical publications and an avid photographer with pictures displayed in various magazines and other journals.

Rabbi Nathan Kaber
A Gentleman and a Scholar
On the 50th anniversary of his ordination, Rabbi Kaber stated “teaching by example is the heart of Judaism.” He taught and lived by that high standard during his entire life. Rabbi was the spiritual leader of Temple Beth Israel for over 30 years and served as emeritus since his retirement in 1978. He taught three generations of our children and guided our adults according to Jewish ideals and principles. Rabbi Kaber was committed to the betterment of his community and was widely respected for his knowledge and ability. He participated in interfaith dialogues including a regular program on local TV. Kaber was active in Rotary and Red Cross and in the development of Mental Health and Aging Services in the community. He was one of the founders of Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Blair County.

Rabbi was devoted to Irene, his wife of 56 years who died in 1998 and to his sons Joel and David as well as their families. Kaber died on December 26, 2008 at the age of 95. He will always be remembered for his grace and dignity by the thousands of people whose lives he touched and helped to guide.