News Briefs, the Week of June 8


Bernard Lens, Holocaust Speaker, Dies at 96  

Frequent Holocaust speaker Bernard Lens, 96, died of heart failure May 21 at his home in Bucks County.

The retired Army private first class was known for frequent talks at schools and community centers that chronicled his experience liberating Dachau concentration camp.

Students, moved by the presentations, sent Lens more than 200 handwritten notes expressing gratitude for his time. He kept every letter, niece Kathleen Lens said.  

“It was his purpose,” she said, of sharing his experience in the Holocaust. “He lived in such a positive way. It was his way of making the best of it.”

During his military tenure, he served for a time under Gen. George S. Patton in Patton’s Third Army, witnessing countless wartime atrocities. One experience Lens never forgot occurred when he helped liberate Dachau concentration camp.

Lens spoke about his experiences up until the end: He was scheduled to give a speech to elementary school students on the day of his funeral.

Many of his talks were given in conjunction with the Holocaust Remembrance Program of Post 697 of the Jewish War Veterans in Levittown. In 2015, he won the group’s Person of the Year award.

Anti-Semitic Message Found Near Pittsburgh

The words “kill the Jews!” and a swastika were found May 30 spelled out in pine cones on a street curb in the Pittsburgh suburb of Mt. Lebanon, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

The anti-Semitic message was the third occurrence in seven months in Mt. Lebanon, the paper reported.

Four swastikas were drawn into a girls’ bathroom windowsill at a middle school in December and a racial slur was found painted outside on a football tackling dummy. And in October, a swastika was drawn into mulch near an elementary school playground; a middle school student admitted drawing it.

A police official indicated juveniles likely were involved in all the incidents.

Earlier this year, the Mt. Lebanon School District said it would work to educate students and reinforce its non-discrimination policies.

Philadelphia Lawyer Elected New Chair of Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition

Marc J. Zucker, a partner at the law firm of Weir & Partners LLP, was unanimously elected chairman of the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition.

The coalition represents Pennsylvania’s Jewish communities before state government and other Pennsylvanians. Issues of importance include public social policies and the funding and regulation related to how human services are delivered.

Zucker succeeds Matthew Handel, who served six years as chairman and will remain on the coalition’s board of directors.

Zucker’s law practice focuses on complex commercial litigation, alternate dispute resolution and appellate advocacy.

He serves on the national board of the Jewish Council of Public Affairs. He is former chair of the Board of Governors of the Philadelphia Bar Association and remains an elected member of its cabinet.

Zucker was a trustee and member of the board of directors of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia from 2007 to 2010 and chaired the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) during that same period.

Two Pennsylvanians to Participate in Global Summit

Jenna Benn Shersher of Philadelphia and Beryl Frankel of Spring Valley will join more than 150 of the Jewish world’s leading young change makers from 31 countries in Jerusalem from July 2 to 6 for the 2017 ROI Summit.

The summit, which is the flagship program of ROI Community, an initiative of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, is designed for participants to seek knowledge, partnerships and inspiration that will empower them to help reshape the Jewish future.

A cancer survivor, Shersher is a civil rights advocate and world traveler who started Twist Out Cancer, a nonprofit that supports cancer sufferers and their families with creative arts programming.

Frankel founded Chabad’s CTeen program, a movement led by teenagers in more than 300 locations worldwide. 


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