Community Briefs: Synagogue Vandalized, Seeking Survivors, More

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Rebbetzin Susan Isaacson Dies at 73
Rebbetzin Susan Isaacson, whose husband Rabbi Solomon Isaacson founded Congregation Beth Solomon in Northeast Philadelphia about 50 years ago, died on Aug. 8. She was 73.

Rabbi Isaacson said his wife of nearly 53 years grew up in Crown Heights, New York. After they married, they moved to the Philadelphia area and opened the synagogue in their basement. The synagogue remained there for 30 years until the current location on Tomlinson Road was built.
Rebbetzin Isaacson believed strongly in community, prayer and helping others, Rabbi Isaacson said.

“She believed greatly in giving charity to those in need. She gave even when we didn’t have it,” he said, recalling times where she sent him out in the community to raise money, while she entertained the people in need.
Rebbetzin Isaacson also spent several hours each day in prayer. Rabbi Isaacson said that in going through his wife’s belongings, he found lists of names in her prayer book. That was typical of her desire to help others, he said.


“She was very much involved in the synagogue early on in the basement with the Sisterhood,” he said, describing times where she’d go knocking on doors to get the numbers needed for a minyan. “She was an inspiration to many people. She would even care for strangers.”

The House of Kosher supermarket in Northeast Philadelphia, which is owned by her son, Rabbi Shloime Isaacson, and his wife, Rivky, noted Isaacson’s death on Facebook:

“Our grandmother was an integral part of the Philadelphia Community for over 50 years and was the driving force behind the development of House of Kosher, Philadelphia Hatzolah, and many other local organizations,” the post read. “Her loving, warm, and supportive presence will be missed.”

Rebbetzin Isaacson is survived by her husband, Rabbi Solomon Isaacson; son Rabbi Shloime Isaacson of Philadelphia; daughters Malka Miriam Deutsch of Borough Park, New York, and Esther Nisenbaum of Lakewood, New Jersey; 21 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren.

Gratz College Debuts Online Human Rights Program
Gratz College announced the debut of an academic program in human rights, with courses beginning in the fall semester.

The program, which can be completed online, offers a degree-completion bachelor’s degree or master’s degree in Judaism and human rights.

Undergraduates with 60 credits can enroll in the BA/MA program, graduating with both degrees in as little as three years. Students who have completed a bachelor’s degree may directly enter the master’s program.

“This program is especially urgent in today’s troubled world, and for students from all religious and ethnic backgrounds,” said Ruth Sandberg, the Leonard and Ethel Landau Professor of Rabbinics at Gratz and director of the new human rights program.

The program combines Jewish studies and a human rights curriculum with courses in civil rights, women’s rights, children’s rights, sexual identity and gender rights, refugee rights and others. Courses offered this fall are “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights” and “African Americans and Jews: Alliances and Struggles.”

For more information, contact Rebecca Chabrow, director of enrollment management, at 215-635-7300, ext. 150, or [email protected]

Stockton Holocaust Center Seeks South Jersey Survivor Stories
The Sara and Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center at Stockton University seeks area Holocaust survivors and family members for a new project that will compile and create a digital archive on the lives of survivors who settled in South Jersey.

The “South Jersey Holocaust Survivor Digital Archive and Exhibition” will focus on survivors from Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland counties.
University faculty, staff and students are identifying and interviewing survivors and/or their family members, and reviewing memoirs written by survivors.

About 250 survivors have already been identified, with about 20 interviewed through Zoom since the spring, said Gail Rosenthal, executive director of the Holocaust Center.

The project will focus on “displaced persons,” immigration to the United States, the Jewish chicken farms of South Jersey and contributions survivors made to southern New Jersey.

Anyone with information can contact Rosenthal at the Holocaust Center at 609-652-4699 or at [email protected]

Harrisburg Synagogue Vandalized with Swastikas
Two red swastikas were found painted on the exterior walls flanking the front entrance of Kesher Israel Congregation in Harrisburg on Aug. 10, pennlive.com reported.

“It’s sort of disappointing to know there’s people out there who want to behave in this kind of way,” said Rabbi Elisha Friedman, who found the vandalism. “I don’t think it’s in any way a reflection of our Harrisburg community. The community is very supportive — the Jewish and the non-Jewish community, law enforcement, elected officials and neighbors.”
The vandalism was removed from the synagogue walls, and the incident is being investigated by Harrisburg police.

A community vigil organized by the Mayor’s Interfaith Advisory Council was held two days later outside the synagogue.

The Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition, the Anti-Defamation League in Philadelphia and the Jewish Federation of Greater Harrisburg all condemned the incident.

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