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An artistic vision

It is well-known that famous composer Ludwig van Beethoven was deaf, but many of the most creative individuals throughout history suffered from disabilities as well. 


Remnants of a catastrophe

Pieces of lost lives.


The science of sweet dreams

Cancer. It’s a word with so much meaning.


Ner Zedek returns to Broadway

The Congregations of Ner Zedek is getting ready for what has become a really popular Labor Day tradition.The synagogue, located at 7520 Bustleton Ave. in Rhawnhurst, will offer a holiday concert for the 15th year on Monday, Sept. 5.For the sixth time in seven years, the congregation has arranged for a performance by the Broadway Sings concert production.More than 600 people turned out last year to hear the professional singing company.The buzz starts each year in January, and many ticket orders include notes of thanks for scheduling the entertainers, all of whom are current or former Broadway stars.“People are just thrilled that they come back,” said Jack Belitsky, chairman of the concert committee.The public is invited to attend. Guests will hear songs from shows including Guys and Dolls, West Side Story, Fiddler on the Roof, South Pacific, A Chorus Line, Les Miserables and Jersey Boys.The concert starts at 1:30 p.m., and Firstrust Bank’s Krewstown Branch is back as the prime sponsor. Veteran bank executives Mort Kolman and Joe Sweeney have been helpful in the decade-plus that Firstrust has sponsored the concert.Tickets cost $36 for general admission, and about 450 have been sold already. The cost is $50 for tickets that include admission to a reception.The concert serves as a successful fund-raiser for Ner Zedek, but Belitsky also calls it a “fun-raiser.” Word of mouth has helped crowds grow through the years.“We attract a lot of people, particularly older people,” he said. “The concert is in the afternoon. You get home early and don’t have to drive at night. It’s a day’s outing.”Belitsky will be presented with the synagogue’s Distinguished Service Award. Besides chairing the concert committee, he has served as synagogue president on and off for nine years since the 1970s. He has also chaired all of Ner Zedek’s major committees.One prominent person who will be missing this year is Mike Brown, who co-chaired the concert committee with Belitsky, his brother-in-law. He died last October.Brown passed on his love of Broadway Sings to his son Cliff, who is chairing a concert planned by the group on Oct. 30 at Temple Beth Sholom in Cherry Hill, N.J.The Broadway Sings performers became close to Brown over the years. In fact, Charles Bergell sang at his funeral.“Mike was somebody I learned a lot from,” said Don Agriss, chairman of the publicity committee, adding that Brown was an effective salesman for the advertising book.“He led by example. The energy he exhibited made me want to do more.” ••Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twaring@bsmphilly.com


The art of Frankford

Sometime next spring, muralist Cesar Viveros will put Frankford’s story on the walls along the neighborhood’s business corridor.


Heiress of History

Having grown up in central New Jersey and lived the last two decades in Bethlehem, Pa., Meg Sharp Walton can rightly be considered a newcomer to the Far Northeast.


Lawmakers give state grant to USO for programs

In his 28 years in the military, Pennsylvania Army National Guard Col. Michael Konzman has been deployed to Iraq, Germany, Korea and elsewhere.At each stop, he’s been able to count on the USO for support, whether it’s offering live entertainment shows or morale-boosting comforts of home.“You name it, the USO is there,” he said. “The USO is a fantastic organization.”Konzman, deputy commander of the 28th Infantry Division’s 55th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, was at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory recently as the Liberty USO — which handles all of Pennsylvania and south and central New Jersey — received some really good news.State Sens. Mike Stack and Larry Farnese delivered a $100,000 check, courtesy of the state Department of Community and Economic Development.Konzman said the USO deserves the money. He’s especially impressed by the organization’s assistance to the families of fallen soldiers. Staff and volunteers work with Philadelphia International Airport security, airlines and car-rental companies to lessen the stress on families en route to Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base, where those who have given the ultimate sacrifice are taken.“There is no finer organization in the world. Period. End of story,” he said.The funds will be used to provide meals to 65,000 soldiers and their families at the Liberty USO center at Terminal A-East on the tarmac level of the airport.The 5,000-square-foot facility provides services to soldiers and their families who are departing to, or coming home from, overseas military service.Around the clock, military personnel and their loved ones have access to meals, Internet, showers, laundry, bunks, a library, game room and a home theater.Liberty USO has been serving the needs of active duty, reserve and National Guard personnel for more than 60 years.“What the USO does is so, so important,” Farnese said at the July 13 news conference.The armory, at 2700 Southampton Road, is located in Stack’s district.The lawmaker, a lawyer, is a member of the Army National Guard, serving in the Judge Advocate General Corps. He credited Gov. Tom Corbett and former Gov. Ed Rendell with supporting efforts to deliver funding for the USO.The way Stack sees it, the organization provides the “niceties of home.”“The USO makes a huge difference in the soldiers’ and their families’ lives,” Stack said.In 2010, Liberty USO served more than 135,000 soldiers and their families.Joe Brooks, a Pine Valley resident who serves as president and chief operating officer of Liberty USO, explained that the USO’s territory includes nine military bases and more than 20 National Guard armories and Reserve readiness centers.“The USO’s never closed,” he said.Besides offering day to day support, the USO engages in special projects.As an example, it is celebrating Christmas in July by sending stockings with DVDs, CDs, beef jerky and Sudoku puzzles to overseas troops.In addition, the organization teamed with Farnese to collect soccer balls for soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and the youths of both countries.Also, the initiative provided phone cards for soldiers. Brooks was touched by an e-mail he received from a member of the Tennessee National Guard, thanking the organization for allowing him to be able to talk to his daughter on the day she graduated from kindergarten.“That was from a phone card from South Broad Street,” he said.Liberty USO has a staff of six that serves all of Pennsylvania, along with New Jersey from Trenton to Cape May. There are 300 volunteers who donated 35,000 hours in 2010, keeping the airport location open well beyond the typical 9-to-5 time.Brooks stressed that the USO is a non-profit agency that relies on donations from the public and grateful VFW and American Legion posts.“We don’t receive one dollar from the federal government,” he said. ••Reporter Tom Waring can be reached at 215-354-3034 or twaring@bsmphilly.com


It’s a bewitching literary debut

Lori J. Schiele, a 40-year-old from Somerton, likes to say that she’s never far from paper and pen.


It’s a bewitching literary debut

A Far Northeast author’s first novel is rooted in something she knows plenty about … Wicca, and the practice of witchcraft.


Embracing history

A person can learn a lot of interesting, perhaps unexpected, tidbits by attending a meeting of the Northeast Philadelphia History Network.