News Briefs, the Week of Feb. 9, 2017


Beth David Reform Congregation Installs Cantor

Lauren Beth Levy will be installed Feb. 11 as only the third cantor in Beth David Reform Congregation’s history since its 1943 inception.

Levy grew up in Voorhees, N.J., and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a bachelor’s degree in psychology, music and Italian studies. She completed her master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Miami and performed in operas in Europe and New York City.   

Levy was ordained from the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music (DFSSM) at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in 2016.

Rabbi Angela Warnick Buchdahl, senior rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City, and Rabbi Linda Holtzman, rabbinic formation specialist at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote, will participate in the installation at the Gladwyne synagogue.

Sportswriters Honor Former Villanova Coach

Former Villanova University track and field coach Marty Stern received a special achievement award at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association’s 113th annual dinner on Feb. 3 in Cherry Hill, N.J.

A member of nine halls of fame, including the 2005 Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame, Stern, 80, coached women’s track and field, cross country and indoor track from 1984 to 1994, adding the Villanova men’s teams to his resume the final four years.

During that span he was named NCAA Coach of the Year six times, with his women’s teams winning five straight NCAA titles. Stern’s athletes amassed 21 individual NCAA titles, while setting 12 NCAA records and 12 world records. He also coached at the 1998 Olympics in Seoul, Korea.

Known as “Uncle Marty,” Stern was inducted into the U.S. Track and Field and Cross Country Coaches Hall of Fame in 2016.

Holocaust-themed Play Debuts

First They Came For, a play described as “an immersive and surreal journey through the Holocaust,” debuts at 7 p.m. on Feb. 10 at the Asian Arts Initiative, 1219 Vine St., with additional performances on Feb. 11 and 12.

Written by Independence Charter School alumna Shannon DiStefano, who won the Philadelphia Young Playwrights Annual Playwriting Festival, the play was inspired by Elie Wiesel’s Night and the life of Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller.

It explores the rise of the Nazis, the horrors of concentration camps and the search for salvation.

First They Came For is being produced by the Found Theater Company.

Each performance will be followed by a talkback with Jay Gilman, the associate director for programs and productions at Philadelphia Young Playwrights.