Community Briefs: Former US Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick Dies at 56 and More

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Former US Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick Dies at 56

US Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (Mike Fitzpatrick, Official Portrait, 2013.jpg by NovaNation16 licensed under CC0 1.0)

Mike Fitzpatrick, a former Pennsylvania congressman known for his strong support of Israel and ties to the local Jewish community, has died. He was 56, the Associated Press reported.

Fitzpatrick, of Levittown, spent eight years in Congress as well as a decade as a Bucks County commissioner. In 2016, the Republican decided against running for a fifth congressional term; his brother, Brian, won the election and still holds the seat.

In 2016, Fitzpatrick received the Friend of Zion award from the Greater Philadelphia Zionist Organization of America.

In 2013, Fitzpatrick was among several local members of Congress pressing the State Department over funding for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, the controversial organization that assists Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

He held an honorary life membership in Jewish War Veterans Post 697.

Hilary Levine Promoted at AJC

AJC Philadelphia/Southern NJ announced the promotion of Hilary Levine to associate director.

Levine, who has been the assistant regional director since 2014, will continue to manage AJC Philadelphia’s advocacy, interreligious/intergroup and programmatic initiatives throughout the region (Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey and Delaware) and will also take on a role with donor cultivation
and fundraising outreach.

“AJC is delighted to offer Hilary this opportunity for advancement in her career,” Regional Director Marcia Bronstein said. “She is an asset to the field of Jewish communal service and a strong leader among her peers.”

During her tenure, Levine was noted for helping to grow the regional office’s advocacy and interfaith work and enhancing AJC’s community presence, according to a news release. Her achievements included receiving the AJC Staff Excellence Award at the 2016 AJC Global Forum in Washington, D.C., and representing AJC on the 2018 Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs Diplomatic Seminar for Young Jewish Leaders.

Prior to joining AJC, Levine served as associate for the Community Relations Committee of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ.

Two From Area Participate in Teen Israel Leadership Institute

Blake Fox of Penn Valley and Rebecca Wilson of Allentown were among 32 teens who participated in the Teen Israel Leadership Institute hosted by the Center for Israel Education and Emory University’s Institute for the Study of Modern Israel from Dec. 6-8 in Atlanta.

Participants got to explore several topics, such as Israel’s birth and growth; culture and society sessions on poetry, dance and religion; and political issues, including Israel’s electoral deadlock and the United States-Israel relationship.

There also were Emory campus tours, Shabbat dinner and services at Emory Hillel, and “Chopped: Hummus,” in which teams learn about Israeli food and culture while making their own hummus from a basket of surprise ingredients.

Heather Barbera Receives 42-Year Prison Sentence

Heather Barbera, 43, who pleaded guilty in October to aggravated manslaughter and murder in the 2018 deaths of her mother and grandmother, was sentenced Jan. 9 to 42 years in prison, 6ABC reported.

Barbera was apologetic in court, saying, “I never wanted any of this to happen,” while her lawyer told the judge his client’s family was “toxic.”

In an Atlantic County courtroom on Oct. 15, Barbera explained how a verbal fight in July 2018 with her mother, Michelle Gordon, 67, turned physical in a Ventnor, New Jersey, condo. Through answering questions from her attorney, Barbera said that Gordon first hit her in the head with a flashlight. Then Barbera got a nightstick — which had belonged to her late father who worked as a police officer — and hit her mother repeatedly in the head.

After Gordon became incapacitated, Barbera’s grandmother, Elaine Rosen, 87, tried to intervene. Barbera struck her grandmother multiple times.

Barbera will be eligible for parole in 40 years. She also must pay $7,000 in restitution, according to The Press of Atlantic City.

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