Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

PITTSBURGH RABBI TO WORK AS JEWISH FEDERATION SCHOLAR IN CHARGE OF ADULT EDUCATION Series: THE HANDSHAKE AND THE FISTS

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

PITTSBURGH RABBI TO WORK AS JEWISH FEDERATION SCHOLAR IN CHARGE OF ADULT EDUCATION Series: THE HANDSHAKE AND THE FISTS

Article excerpt

Rabbi Danny Schiff was quietly observing Shabbat ? the Jewish Sabbath ? in Pittsburgh when Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated in Israel, so he didn't get the news until after nightfall, when his family turned on the news.

"I remember the tremendous shock and horror that we experienced, as did everyone else," he said, noting that the Jew Ishmael's slaying of Jewish regent Gedaliah 25 centuries ago is still mourned annually with a fast after Rosh Hashanah.

Mr. Rabin's assassination is being remembered in Israel today, on its 20th anniversary according to the Hebrew calendar. Some observers view the killing as a pivot point in the 67-year-old country's history, after which progress toward peace with the Palestinians withered in the face of violence and settlements. Rabbi Schiff, though, said it's "too simplistic to think of 1995 as a turning point."

There have been subsequent bids for compromise, he pointed out. And if the argument is that the assassination led to unprecedented political strife in Israel, that ignores thousands of years of tumult.

"It's a Middle Eastern society. It's a Jewish society," he noted, as he sat in the lobby of the Hilton Garden Inn, in Oakland, a week after returning to Pittsburgh from Jerusalem. Debate, he noted with wry understatement, "is going to be robust."

Rabbi Schiff, an Australian, now 55, came to Pittsburgh in 1992 because his wife, Anne, was on the faculty of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. They settled in Shadyside and he became a community scholar at the Agency for Jewish Learning, as well as White Oak's rabbi.

In 2008, the family spent months in Jerusalem, a place he already knew well, but which proved exhilarating to Mrs. Schiff. In 2009, they moved to the Jerusalem neighborhood known as the German Colony.

Their son, David, was 14 and their daughter, Adina, was 12. …

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