Pittsburgh Main Notes
Like many others, I was struck by the vibrant, tight-knit nature of the Pittsburgh Jewish community. Therefore, I wasn’t surprised when even a quick search revealed that a number of famous Jews were born and raised in Pittsburgh or mostly grew-up there. I’m sure I have missed many. But here’s my “quick list”: Actor JEFF GOLDBLUM, 66; high-tech and sports businessman MARC CUBAN, 60; LORIN MAAZEL (1930-2014), violinist, composer, and conductor of many top orchestras, including the Pittsburgh Symphony; reporter HOWARD FINEMAN, 69, and NY Times editor BARI WEISS, 34.
Both Fineman and Weiss grew-up in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood and noted in recent TV news appearances that they attended the neighborhood’s Tree of Life synagogue and were confirmed bar/bat mitzvah there. Weiss wrote (Oct. 27) a moving op-ed piece for the Times about the shooting-- “A Massacre in the Heart of Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood: Squirrel Hill will continue to live by the values that Jews have sustained for more than 2,000 years. They can never be gunned down.” (Her title references that Fred Rogers lived most of his adult life in the Squirrel Hill neighborhood).
On Oct. 29, Jeff Goldblum posted to Instagram a photo of a statement he handwrote on a plain piece of white paper. It said: “I was born and raised in Pittsburgh. Near Squirrel Hill. These events are devastating. And infuriating. I send my love and deepest sympathies to everybody who’s grieving. What can we do that’s positive, active? I just made a gift to HIAS. Perhaps that. And vote. I’m searching.”
As recently noted, BIANNA GOLODRYGA, 40, is now a CBS Morning News show anchor. By now, everyone knows that the Pittsburgh synagogue shooter said he was enraged by the role of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS) in helping refugees. On Oct. 28, Golodryga told her CBS colleagues how HIAS helped her family. HIAS, she said, bought her family’s airline tickets to America from the former Soviet Union, and, therefore, “This story [the shooting] hit’s close to home.” She added, “I remember my parents every month, as much money as they could, maybe $20 a month, they would write checks to pay HIAS back for bringing us here.”
The Sports Connection--Pittsburgh
By now, everybody knows something about the brothers CECIL and DAVID ROSENTHAL, who were killed in the synagogue shooting. They were “sweet” guys. They were devoted to their temple, never missing a Shabbat service at their Tree of Life synagogue. The brothers were developmentally disabled and lived in a group home. However, their rabbi said, “That was where they slept. Tree of Life was their home.”
You probably saw that some Pittsburgh Steeler football players attended their joint funeral. Actually, two full busloads of Steeler players and coaching staff went to the funeral. ESPN reports that the Steelers felt a special connection to the brothers because their sister, MICHELE ROSENTHAL, used to be the Steelers community outreach director.
Pittsburgh is one of the smallest cities/areas to have a pro football, baseball, and hockey team. This “smallness” creates a stronger connection to the local community than in many other cities. This is reflected in a statement by Art Rooney II, the 3rd Rooney family member to co-own the Steelers: "Our hearts are heavy, but we must stand against anti-Semitism and hate crimes of any nature and come together to preserve our values and our community.”
The Steelers and the (hockey) Penguins showed how they felt through arm patches that read “Stronger than Hate”; moments of silence before their games, and large donations to the Jewish Federation.
Schwimmer Innocent, Broderick Guests, Gelt Flows
Recently, the Blackpool, England police posted a video of a suspect wanted for stealing a wallet and cell phone from a restaurant. Tips flowed-in, many identifying the subject as “Ross Geller”, the character DAVID SCHWIMMER, 51, played in “Friends” (there is a strong resemblance). On Oct. 24, Schwimmer tweeted to the police: “Officers, I swear it wasn't me. I was in New York. To the hardworking Blackpool Police, good luck with the investigation. #itwasntme.”
MATTHEW BRODERICK, 57, joined the cast of the ABC show "The Connors" on Oct. 30 as a guest star. He'll appear in an arc of episodes as the boyfriend of Jackie (Laura Metcalf). By the way, “Variety” is out with their estimated salaries of about 100 top TV actors/actresses and SARA GILBERT, 43, who plays Darlene on “The Connors,” is a leader. She gets $375K per episode.