News Briefs: Essen Bakery Among Beard Award Semifinalists, Gratz Debuts New Master’s Program, and More


Gratz Debuts Master of Arts Program

Gratz College announced that it has launched a master’s program in interfaith leadership.

The 36-credit program, which can be completed online, “focuses on the practical and professional skills needed to become informed leaders and engage in meaningful dialogue involving the Abrahamic faiths of Judaism, Christianity and Islam,” the college said in a news release.

The program includes courses in religious studies, interfaith understanding and organizational leadership.

“There is a growing need for these skills, especially given our fractured political climate and justified fears about escalation of violence between religious groups,” said Ruth Sandberg, the Leonard and Ethel Landau Professor of Rabbinics at Gratz.

RFP Issued for Israel-Pennsylvania Collaborative Industry R&D Program

Proposals are being sought to promote joint industrial research and development projects between Israeli and Pennsylvania entities, the Philadelphia-Israel Chamber of Commerce announced.

The RFP is the result of the Memorandum of Understanding signed between the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and the Israel Innovation Authority on Nov. 6.

The deadline for submission is May 1. For details, visit

Locals are Semifinalists for James Beard Award

Tova du Plessis, owner of Essen Bakery, is one of 20 semifinalists for a James Beard Award in the Outstanding Baker Category.

Du Plessis was featured in a March 2016 Jewish Exponent article shortly before she opened the bakery in South Philadelphia. Essen means “to eat” in Yiddish.

In addition, Rich Landau of Vedge is a semifinalist for Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic.

In a January 2015 Q&A with the Exponent, Landau discussed his Jewish heritage.

“Judaism is great because of its leniency and flexibility,” he said. “You can make of your life what you will.”

And the much-lauded Israeli restaurant Zahav is a semifinalist in the Outstanding Service and Rising Star Chef of the Year categories, the latter with chef Camille Cogswell.

All of the semifinalists received the same honor a year ago.

Jewish Snowboarder Wins Bronze Medal for US

Arielle Gold, 21, a Jewish snowboarder from Steamboat Springs, Colo., won a bronze medal Feb. 13 in the women’s halfpipe competition at the 2018 Winter Olympics, JTA reported.

At the event in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Gold performed a 1,080-degree trick involving three full rotations.

Gold finished behind teammate Chloe Kim, who won the gold medal, and Chinese silver medalist Jiayu Liu.

It’s not even the results,” Gold told The Denver Post. It’s just like the whole experience, the whole process has been so much more enjoyable for me.”

Sunday School Receives $15K Grant

The Jewish Sunday Children’s School at KleinLife was awarded a $15,000 grant from The Jewish Education Project and the Genesis Philanthropy Group, the school announced in a news release.

The grant will fund additional educational programming and cultural excursions for students and their parents. The school is part of the Russian family outreach program at KleinLife and embraces Hebrew studies, Jewish history, culture and ethics.


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