Archive | January, 2008

Branching Out: Tu B’Shevat seders gaining in popularity and spirituality

Branching Out: Tu B’Shevat seders gaining in popularity and spirituality

Posted on 17 January 2008 by admin

By Sue Fishkoff

When 24-year-old Adina Allen sits down Jan. 22 to the Tu B’Shevat seder she helped organize for young Jews in the San Francisco Bay Area, she and the others at her table will be celebrating the connection between environmental activism and Jewish teachings.

It’s a logical connection for a holiday known as “the New Year of the Trees.”

Although it was created by the ancient Israelites as a calendrical device to determine which fruit trees were old enough to be tithed in a given year, Tu B’Shevat of late has taken on a more overt ecological role, from Jewish National Fund tree plantings in Israel to synagogues and JCCs sponsoring composting lessons or cleaning garbage from riverbanks.

But most of the focus has been on families with young children. Quite recently, young Jews in their 20s and 30s have seized upon the holiday, running Tu B’Shevat seders that are more explicit in both their call to environmental activism and their reliance on Jewish text.

“It’s a holiday that’s easy to get behind, especially for our generation,” says Josh Miller, 33, who with Allen is part of the core group of Jewish activists that put together this year’s first community-wide Bay Area Tu B’Shevat seder specifically for young adults.

“The ideas of environmentalism speak to our personal spiritual values. So when there’s a Jewish celebration that resonates with those values, it’s a home run.”

Miller used to run Tu B’Shevat seders as the director of Jconnect, a Hillel program for post-college Jews in Seattle.

Green Zionist Alliance director Noam Dolgin, 31, who puts on seders in several North American cities, says Tu B’Shevat has special meaning for the many young Jews like himself who are active in the environmental movement.

“We call it the High Holidays,” he says.

These seders are happening all over:

•In Chicago, Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps is running its first community-wide Tu B’Shevat seder in the co-op apartment shared by this year’s seven young program participants, all in their early 20s.

•The Tu B’Shevat seder in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, held in Dolgin’s living room the past several years, is moving into a rented space to accommodate its growing numbers.

•The Kavod Jewish Social Justice House is having a seder in Boston for young adults with students from Hebrew College, alumni of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the Charles River Bet Midrash.

•In the Washington area, Shomrei Adamah will be co hosting a Tu B’Shevat seder and Shabbat celebration with Am Kolel, Jews United for Justice and the Shalom Center.

•Hazon, a New York-based Jewish environmental group, is running its sixth Tu B’Shevat seder at the JCC in Manhattan, and one is being organized for Limmud NY, a Jewish learning program taking place Jan. 17–20 in the Catskill Mountains.

Some of these seders are being run for the first time, and those that have been around longer report tremendous jumps in attendance this year.

That’s no coincidence, says Hazon’s director, Nigel Savage. He says a perfect storm in popular consciousness has occurred in the past 12 months, fanned by the fallout from Hurricane Katrina and the popularity of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“We’ve passed the tipping point in our consciousness of global climate change and food, and the way we celebrate Tu B’Shevat will change, too,” Savage says.

Tu B’Shevat appeals to younger Jews, organizers say, because unlike most other Jewish holidays, it has no set rituals beyond the four cups of wine representing movement through the four kabbalistic worlds and is not halachically time-bound. That leaves lots of room for creativity.

“Part of what’s appealing is that it allows people to come together with food and wine and create community,” says Rabbi Eve Ben-Ora of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, whose young adult group The Hub is a co-sponsor of the Bay Area seder. “It gives them a way to connect to their Jewish identity without a lot of heavy religious overtones.”

Allen, the assistant editor of Tikkun magazine, points out a more practical consideration.

“People don’t associate it with going home to their families, so 20s and 30s who don’t live at home” are a ripe audience for these communal celebrations, she says.

Some organizers are taking advantage of the fact that the eve of Tu B’Shevat falls this year on Martin Luther King Day.

Emily Rosenberg, the site director for Avodah’s service program in Chicago, says that’s why they decided to hold a seder this year for the first time.

“We’ll relate Tu B’Shevat to issues of environmental justice and environmental racism,” she explains. “Who benefits from the growth of trees? Why does toxic waste impact low-income people more than others?”

Many organizers are using the holiday to advocate for organic food and locally grown produce, favorite causes of the Jewish food movement. Savage says that at the Hazon seder, along with the “seven species” mentioned in the Torah as native to the land of Israel, they will serve winter produce indigenous to North America and discuss “why, as Jews, we are committed to Israel and to local organic produce.”

Most of the seders are kosher, even if few of those attending keep that mitzvah — it’s a matter of Jewish identity building, organizers explain.

The San Francisco seder is calling itself eco-kosher, meaning the food served was sustainably grown and produced in a socially just manner by workers who receive a living wage. That, too, combines progressive politics with religious imperative, Ben-Ora explains.

“Eco-kashrut is not under the auspices of the Orthodox rabbinate,” she says. “It allows people to say more loosely what it means while still maintaining an elevated sense of awareness of the food we consume,” which is an important tenet of Jewish tradition.

Miller expects about 100 attendees at $10 to $12 each — $2 back for those who bring their own cup and plate to reduce waste.

“It seems weird to eat kosher food off Styrofoam plates using plastic spoons,” he says.

Some of the organizers say that what distinguishes their seders from those run by young activist Jews 30 years ago is that the 1970s-era celebrations were focused mainly on political and environmental causes, while today’s seders include much more Jewish religious content.

“I have a feeling that my parents’ generation held Freedom Seders and Tu B’Shevat seders as secular events, and my friends and I are holding them as religious events,” says Margie Klein, the 28-year-old founder of Kavod House.

Klein was referring to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial Passover seder written by Shalom Center founder Rabbi Arthur Waskow in 1969 that in later years morphed into seders supporting liberation for various oppressed groups.

The increased religious tie-in “resonates with people’s growing interest in Jewish mysticism, Chassidism and Jewish spirituality in general,” she says.

If the religious overtones of these new seders are strong, the call to activism is even stronger.

Many of the organizers are alumni of Jewish social service programs such as Avodah, the Adamah Jewish environmental fellowship, and projects run by Hillel and the American Jewish World Service. They have practical experience they are eager to tie to the holiday.

So while “traditional” Tu B’Shevat seders may ask celebrants to consider what they might do in the coming year to help protect the environment, the Haggadah distributed this year by Philadelphia’s Shalom Center tells people to take out their pens and, at the seder table, write letters to lawmakers.

“As we drink the second cup, we commit ourselves to keeping the ethical dimension of the global climate crisis at the center of conversation and legislation,” the Haggadah reads, before instructing the seder guests to write to their senators supporting the Lieberman-Warner climate security bill expected to come up this year.

Rabbi Jeff Sultar, the Haggadah’s author and director of the Shalom Center’s Green Menorah campaign, has run activist seders, but says this marks the first time he is explicitly tying the holiday to global climate change.

The Green Menorah campaign is asking Jews to bring potted trees to their nearest Environmental Protection Agency office on Tu B’Shevat to protest the agency’s refusal this year to allow states to set their own stricter controls on CO2 emissions from cars.

Protests are already set for EPA offices in Philadelphia and Chicago, with a contingent from a Conservative congregation in Caldwell, N.J., making the trek to the agency’s New York City headquarters. The groups say they will hold actual seders on the steps of those office buildings, with four cups of grape juice standing in for the wine.

Sultar says a holiday that consciously combines Jewish tradition and environmental activism has the potential to bring young unaffiliated Jews back to Judaism.

That’s what happened to him. Two decades ago, he says, he was a “disaffected” Jew and environmental activist when he attended his first Tu B’Shevat seder.

“When I found out the environmental concern I already had was grounded in my Jewish tradition, it opened the door for my return to Judaism and led to my becoming a rabbi,” he says.

Dolgin agrees, saying he knows “many” young, previously disaffected Jews who have become more interested in Judaism after attending events like a Tu B’Shevat seder.

“We teach Jews about the environment, but even more, we teach environmentalists about Judaism,” he says.

The holistic connection is vital for today’s young Jews, Klein says.

“For many of us, we want Judaism to extend beyond Friday night, Saturday morning and the Jewish holidays to guide us in how we view the world and how we live our lives every minute of every day,” she says.

Sounds a lot like the traditional Jewish perspective, acknowledges Klein, a third-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College.

“Sometimes,” she says, “the best ideas are the oldest ideas.”

Becoming eco-kosher
By Mica Esquenazi and Elizabeth Weinstein

Hashinui presidents | Members, Class of 2009, Yavneh Academy of Dallas

The issues that have arisen due to the world’s increase in consumerism are growing substantially each day. As inhabitants of earth, humans must be active in caring for the earth. Does, however, the Torah ever command the Jewish nation specifically to protect the earth?

When approaching this question, many turn to Pirkei Avot to prove that Jews do not have an obligation to preserve the environment. In Pirkei Avot, a story displays a man who interrupts his Torah study in order to view the beauty of nature. This act, though seemingly harmless, proves sinful. Does then the Torah prohibit the acts of admiring nature?

One approach is simply to state that the Torah does accept the admiration of nature but holds in higher regard the study of Torah.

Another approach reveals the union of nature with Torah. The Torah includes the appreciation, as well as the preservation, of the natural world and the learned man’s separation of these ideals was erroneous.

Another instance in which the Torah shows human obligation to the environment is through the words adam (man) and adama (land). Without adam the word adama cannot exist. The structure of these words discloses that without man, the land cannot exist.

How then, as Jews, can we be environmentalists? How can we make our homes and offices eco-kosher?

An effective way to become eco-kosher is through the undertaking of small changes in your lifestyle. Changes such as disabling your computer’s screen saver will enable you to save resources and, in time, will slowly decrease the demands of consumerism. Wasteful behaviors can become more conservationist through the adoption of changes in one’s lifestyle.

This Tu B’Shevat (Jan. 21-22), begin to make small changes and become eco-kosher. The agricultural new year is a time for Jews to show their environmentalism.

This message has been brought to you by Hashinui, a student-run organization of Yavneh Academy of Dallas. Hashinui strives to use Jewish approaches to handle the world’s environmental issues while aiding the constant cultivation of Israel. To learn more about the Jewish connection to the environment as well as the changes you can make in your homes, offices, gardens, and more, visit www.hashinui.com or e-mail hashinuidallas@gmail.com.

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Branching out

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Branching out

Posted on 17 January 2008 by admin

By Sue Fishkoff

When 24-year-old Adina Allen sits down Jan. 22 to the Tu B’Shevat seder she helped organize for young Jews in the San Francisco Bay Area, she and the others at her table will be celebrating the connection between environmental activism and Jewish teachings.<br />

It’s a logical connection for a holiday known as “the New Year of the Trees.”

Although it was created by the ancient Israelites as a calendrical device to determine which fruit trees were old enough to be tithed in a given year, Tu B’Shevat of late has taken on a more overt ecological role, from Jewish National Fund tree plantings in Israel to synagogues and JCCs sponsoring composting lessons or cleaning garbage from riverbanks.

But most of the focus has been on families with young children. Quite recently, young Jews in their 20s and 30s have seized upon the holiday, running Tu B’Shevat seders that are more explicit in both their call to environmental activism and their reliance on Jewish text.

“It’s a holiday that’s easy to get behind, especially for our generation,” says Josh Miller, 33, who with Allen is part of the core group of Jewish activists that put together this year’s first community-wide Bay Area Tu B’Shevat seder specifically for young adults.

“The ideas of environmentalism speak to our personal spiritual values. So when there’s a Jewish celebration that resonates with those values, it’s a home run.”

Miller used to run Tu B’Shevat seders as the director of Jconnect, a Hillel program for post-college Jews in Seattle.

Green Zionist Alliance director Noam Dolgin, 31, who puts on seders in several North American cities, says Tu B’Shevat has special meaning for the many young Jews like himself who are active in the environmental movement.

“We call it the High Holidays,” he says.

These seders are happening all over:

•In Chicago, Avodah: The Jewish Service Corps is running its first community-wide Tu B’Shevat seder in the co-op apartment shared by this year’s seven young program participants, all in their early 20s.

•The Tu B’Shevat seder in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn, held in Dolgin’s living room the past several years, is moving into a rented space to accommodate its growing numbers.

•The Kavod Jewish Social Justice House is having a seder in Boston for young adults with students from Hebrew College, alumni of the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem and the Charles River Bet Midrash.

•In the Washington area, Shomrei Adamah will be co hosting a Tu B’Shevat seder and Shabbat celebration with Am Kolel, Jews United for Justice and the Shalom Center.

•Hazon, a New York-based Jewish environmental group, is running its sixth Tu B’Shevat seder at the JCC in Manhattan, and one is being organized for Limmud NY, a Jewish learning program taking place Jan. 17–20 in the Catskill Mountains.

Some of these seders are being run for the first time, and those that have been around longer report tremendous jumps in attendance this year.

That’s no coincidence, says Hazon’s director, Nigel Savage. He says a perfect storm in popular consciousness has occurred in the past 12 months, fanned by the fallout from Hurricane Katrina and the popularity of Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“We’ve passed the tipping point in our consciousness of global climate change and food, and the way we celebrate Tu B’Shevat will change, too,” Savage says.

Tu B’Shevat appeals to younger Jews, organizers say, because unlike most other Jewish holidays, it has no set rituals beyond the four cups of wine representing movement through the four kabbalistic worlds and is not halachically time-bound. That leaves lots of room for creativity.

“Part of what’s appealing is that it allows people to come together with food and wine and create community,” says Rabbi Eve Ben-Ora of the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, whose young adult group The Hub is a co-sponsor of the Bay Area seder. “It gives them a way to connect to their Jewish identity without a lot of heavy religious overtones.”

Allen, the assistant editor of Tikkun magazine, points out a more practical consideration.

“People don’t associate it with going home to their families, so 20s and 30s who don’t live at home” are a ripe audience for these communal celebrations, she says.

Some organizers are taking advantage of the fact that the eve of Tu B’Shevat falls this year on Martin Luther King Day.

Emily Rosenberg, the site director for Avodah’s service program in Chicago, says that’s why they decided to hold a seder this year for the first time.

“We’ll relate Tu B’Shevat to issues of environmental justice and environmental racism,” she explains. “Who benefits from the growth of trees? Why does toxic waste impact low-income people more than others?”

Many organizers are using the holiday to advocate for organic food and locally grown produce, favorite causes of the Jewish food movement. Savage says that at the Hazon seder, along with the “seven species” mentioned in the Torah as native to the land of Israel, they will serve winter produce indigenous to North America and discuss “why, as Jews, we are committed to Israel and to local organic produce.”

Most of the seders are kosher, even if few of those attending keep that mitzvah — it’s a matter of Jewish identity building, organizers explain.

The San Francisco seder is calling itself eco-kosher, meaning the food served was sustainably grown and produced in a socially just manner by workers who receive a living wage. That, too, combines progressive politics with religious imperative, Ben-Ora explains.

“Eco-kashrut is not under the auspices of the Orthodox rabbinate,” she says. “It allows people to say more loosely what it means while still maintaining an elevated sense of awareness of the food we consume,” which is an important tenet of Jewish tradition.

Miller expects about 100 attendees at $10 to $12 each — $2 back for those who bring their own cup and plate to reduce waste.

“It seems weird to eat kosher food off Styrofoam plates using plastic spoons,” he says.

Some of the organizers say that what distinguishes their seders from those run by young activist Jews 30 years ago is that the 1970s-era celebrations were focused mainly on political and environmental causes, while today’s seders include much more Jewish religious content.

“I have a feeling that my parents’ generation held Freedom Seders and Tu B’Shevat seders as secular events, and my friends and I are holding them as religious events,” says Margie Klein, the 28-year-old founder of Kavod House.

Klein was referring to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial Passover seder written by Shalom Center founder Rabbi Arthur Waskow in 1969 that in later years morphed into seders supporting liberation for various oppressed groups.

The increased religious tie-in “resonates with people’s growing interest in Jewish mysticism, Chassidism and Jewish spirituality in general,” she says.

If the religious overtones of these new seders are strong, the call to activism is even stronger.

Many of the organizers are alumni of Jewish social service programs such as Avodah, the Adamah Jewish environmental fellowship, and projects run by Hillel and the American Jewish World Service. They have practical experience they are eager to tie to the holiday.

So while “traditional” Tu B’Shevat seders may ask celebrants to consider what they might do in the coming year to help protect the environment, the Haggadah distributed this year by Philadelphia’s Shalom Center tells people to take out their pens and, at the seder table, write letters to lawmakers.

“As we drink the second cup, we commit ourselves to keeping the ethical dimension of the global climate crisis at the center of conversation and legislation,” the Haggadah reads, before instructing the seder guests to write to their senators supporting the Lieberman-Warner climate security bill expected to come up this year.

Rabbi Jeff Sultar, the Haggadah’s author and director of the Shalom Center’s Green Menorah campaign, has run activist seders, but says this marks the first time he is explicitly tying the holiday to global climate change.

The Green Menorah campaign is asking Jews to bring potted trees to their nearest Environmental Protection Agency office on Tu B’Shevat to protest the agency’s refusal this year to allow states to set their own stricter controls on CO2 emissions from cars.

Protests are already set for EPA offices in Philadelphia and Chicago, with a contingent from a Conservative congregation in Caldwell, N.J., making the trek to the agency’s New York City headquarters. The groups say they will hold actual seders on the steps of those office buildings, with four cups of grape juice standing in for the wine.

Sultar says a holiday that consciously combines Jewish tradition and environmental activism has the potential to bring young unaffiliated Jews back to Judaism.

That’s what happened to him. Two decades ago, he says, he was a “disaffected” Jew and environmental activist when he attended his first Tu B’Shevat seder.

“When I found out the environmental concern I already had was grounded in my Jewish tradition, it opened the door for my return to Judaism and led to my becoming a rabbi,” he says.

Dolgin agrees, saying he knows “many” young, previously disaffected Jews who have become more interested in Judaism after attending events like a Tu B’Shevat seder.

“We teach Jews about the environment, but even more, we teach environmentalists about Judaism,” he says.

The holistic connection is vital for today’s young Jews, Klein says.

“For many of us, we want Judaism to extend beyond Friday night, Saturday morning and the Jewish holidays to guide us in how we view the world and how we live our lives every minute of every day,” she says.

Sounds a lot like the traditional Jewish perspective, acknowledges Klein, a third-year rabbinical student at Hebrew College.

“Sometimes,” she says, “the best ideas are the oldest ideas.”



Becoming eco-kosher
By Mica Esquenazi and Elizabeth Weinstein

Hashinui presidents | Members, Class of 2009, Yavneh Academy of Dallas

The issues that have arisen due to the world’s increase in consumerism are growing substantially each day. As inhabitants of earth, humans must be active in caring for the earth. Does, however, the Torah ever command the Jewish nation specifically to protect the earth?

When approaching this question, many turn to Pirkei Avot to prove that Jews do not have an obligation to preserve the environment. In Pirkei Avot, a story displays a man who interrupts his Torah study in order to view the beauty of nature. This act, though seemingly harmless, proves sinful. Does then the Torah prohibit the acts of admiring nature?

One approach is simply to state that the Torah does accept the admiration of nature but holds in higher regard the study of Torah.

Another approach reveals the union of nature with Torah. The Torah includes the appreciation, as well as the preservation, of the natural world and the learned man’s separation of these ideals was erroneous.

Another instance in which the Torah shows human obligation to the environment is through the words adam (man) and adama (land). Without adam the word adama cannot exist. The structure of these words discloses that without man, the land cannot exist.

How then, as Jews, can we be environmentalists? How can we make our homes and offices eco-kosher?

An effective way to become eco-kosher is through the undertaking of small changes in your lifestyle. Changes such as disabling your computer’s screen saver will enable you to save resources and, in time, will slowly decrease the demands of consumerism. Wasteful behaviors can become more conservationist through the adoption of changes in one’s lifestyle.

This Tu B’Shevat (Jan. 21-22), begin to make small changes and become eco-kosher. The agricultural new year is a time for Jews to show their environmentalism.

This message has been brought to you by Hashinui, a student-run organization of Yavneh Academy of Dallas. Hashinui strives to use Jewish approaches to handle the world’s environmental issues while aiding the constant cultivation of Israel. To learn more about the Jewish connection to the environment as well as the changes you can make in your homes, offices, gardens, and more, visit www.hashinui.com or e-mail hashinuidallas@gmail.com.

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Top Democrats poised to face-off for White House

Posted on 10 January 2008 by admin

From Suha embrace to Iran hawk, Clinton now most favored by Jews

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) – “People here are going to be happy to hear that,” the campaign worker said, learning that U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) had top approval ratings in the field of presidential candidates among Jewish Americans.

The news, delivered by a reporter last month, was especially welcome in the Clinton camp because her lead in nomination polls – nationally and in early state polls – was slipping.

Seven years of hard work cultivating the Jewish leadership in New York and nationally had paid off for Clinton. Her approval rating among Jewish Democrats, according to the American Jewish Committee poll, was 70 percent. Among all Jews it was 53 percent.

As first lady, Clinton’s pro-Israel record at times seemed one note, even superficial, against the breadth and depth her husband brought to the issue.

Whereas Bill Clinton could name the streets of Jerusalem’s Old City, opine on Zionist history and deliver a persuasive “Shalom chaver” at Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral, Hillary Clinton’s repertoire was limited to introducing an Israeli early childhood education program to Arkansas.

As late as December 1998, during the couple’s visit to Israel, the first lady’s affiliation with the Hebrew University’s Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters, known as HIPPY, was the centerpiece of her leg of the visit.

It didn’t help her profile among Jews that the Clinton administration used her as a stalking horse to advocate for a Palestinian state. Then in 1999, on the eve of her first bid for the U.S. Senate, she embraced Suha Arafat after the Palestinian leader’s wife accused Israel of deliberately poisoning Palestinian children. Clinton said later she hadn’t been paying close attention to the simultaneous translation.

It soon became clear, however, that she was willing to listen. Some of the signals were politics-as-usual horse-trading. President Clinton’s final pardons included four residents of the Chassidic enclave in New Square, N.Y., who had been convicted of defrauding the government. She received overwhelming support from the town during the election.

Once elected to the Senate, Clinton reached out to Jewish organizational leaders and soon became a staple of the Jewish circuit. Hardly a Washington event run by a national Jewish group does not include an address by Clinton – often on Tuesday morning, just before delegates go to the Capitol to lobby.

On many issues, particularly in the domestic arena, little gap existed between Clinton and the predominantly liberal Jewish organizational community. As first lady, Clinton had an established record promoting universal health care, and as senator she worked hard to stop Bush administration rollbacks on the Medicare program, which is almost universally favored by a Jewish population aging more rapidly than other Americans.

In other areas Clinton exhibited a subtle grasp of issues that concern the community, strongly backing discretionary Homeland Security funds to help protect nonprofits from terrorist attack. The bulk of those funds have gone to Jewish institutions.

She also has adopted as her own a campaign to press Arab governments to remove incitement against Jews and Israel from their textbooks.

Clinton took a hit this fall from her party’s base when she voted in favor of a nonbinding amendment that recommended sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps. Bush eventually ordered the sanctions, favored by the pro-Israel lobby as a means of pressing Iran to give up its suspected nuclear weapons program.

That drew sharp criticism from her competitors, who said the vote would embolden the Bush administration into waging war against Iran. She stood her ground.

“Iran is seeking nuclear weapons,” she said in an Oct. 30 MSNBC-sponsored debate. “And the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is in the forefront of that, as they are in the sponsorship of terrorism.”

She added: “I prefer vigorous diplomacy, and I happen to think economic sanctions are part of vigorous diplomacy.”

It was straight from the pro-Israel playbook, and it illustrates what has attracted not only Jewish voter support but, perhaps even more substantively, Jewish fundraiser support.

Two of her major backers in this campaign supported polar opposites among the Democrats in 2004: Lonnie Kaplan of New Jersey went for Sen. Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut and his tough foreign policy, and Steve Grossman opted for ex-Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who was fiercely anti-war.

At a National Jewish Democratic Council candidates’ forum last spring, Grossman and Kaplan, both former presidents of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, sat next to each other and conferred occasionally on their favored candidate: Hillary Clinton.

Throughout his career, Obama has reached for
Jewish support

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) – Ask about Barack Obama’s natural constituencies and you might hear that he’s the first black with a viable shot at the White House, or about his Kenyan father and his childhood in Indonesia, or the youthfulness of his followers, or the millions of Oprah junkies swooning over his candidacy.

What you might not hear is that the Illinois senator, who made history last Thursday by winning the Democratic caucus in Iowa, has made Jewish leaders an early stop at every stage in his political career.

In his first run for the Illinois state Senate in 1996, he sought the backing of Alan Solow, a top Chicago lawyer. Eight years later, running for the U.S. Senate – long before he became the shoo-in, when he was running in a Democratic field packed with a dozen candidates, including some Jews – one of his first meetings was with Robert Schrayer, a top Jewish philanthropist in Chicago.

When he launched his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in late 2006, he named as his fundraising chief Alan Solomont, the Boston Jewish philanthropist who helped shepherd Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) to the Democratic candidacy in 2004.

And he chose a March gathering of the pro-Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, to deliver his presidential candidacy’s first foreign policy speech.

“Some of my earliest and most ardent supporters came from the Jewish community in Chicago,” Obama told JTA in 2004, after his keynote speech galvanized the Democratic convention in Boston.

Three years later, addressing the National Jewish Democratic Council’s candidates’ forum, he made the same point when he was asked about his ties with Arab Americans and Muslim Americans in Chicago.

“My support within in the Jewish community has been much more significant than my support within the Muslim community,” Obama said at the April forum, adding that “I welcome and seek the support of the Muslim and Arab communities.”

His Jewish followers are fervent, distributing “Obama ‘08” yarmulkes early in his campaign.

His rock-star status and the relationships Obama has built in the community have helped avoid murmurings about his otherwise notable divergences from pro-Israel orthodoxies.

In his AIPAC speech, for example, Obama favored diplomacy as a means of confronting Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons program.

“While we should take no option, including military action, off the table, sustained and aggressive diplomacy combined with tough sanctions should be our primary means to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons,” he said.

AIPAC does not oppose diplomacy in engaging Iran, but dislikes it as an emphasis, believing that talks could buy the Iranian regime bomb-making time. But his words did not stop the Chicago hotel ballroom packed with 800 AIPAC members from cheering on Obama.

A few weeks later, Obama drew more rubberneckers than any other candidate attending AIPAC’s policy forum in Washington, drawing away onlookers from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), although she outpolls Obama among Jewish voters.

No one winced when he said that Palestinian needs must be considered in working out a peace deal – hardly standard AIPAC pep talk.

He made the same point at the NJDC event.

“It is in the interests of Israel to establish peace in the Middle East,” he said. “It cannot be done at the price of compromising Israel’s security, and the United States government and an Obama presidency cannot ask Israel to take risks with respect to its security. But it can ask Israel to say that it is still possible for us to allow more than just this status quo of fear, terror, division. That can’t be our long-term aspiration.”

Early in his campaign, Obama handily killed an Israel-related controversy in its early stages. At a chat he had said that “no one has suffered more than the Palestinians.”

Blame the leadership was what he meant, explaining later during an MSNBC debate, “What I said was, nobody has suffered more than the Palestinian people from the failure of the Palestinian leadership to recognize Israel, to renounce violence and to get serious about negotiating peace and security for the region.”

Obama tempers his deviations from pro-Israel orthodoxy by going the extra mile in areas where he agrees with groups such as AIPAC.

He has led the effort in the Senate to pass legislation that would assist U.S. states that choose to divest from Iran. His top Middle East adviser is Dennis Ross, who had the job during the Clinton administration and who since has principally blamed the Palestinian leadership for the failure of the Oslo peace process.

And in recent speeches, Obama tweaked his pro-Israel rhetoric to echo the recent drive by the Israeli government and pro-Israel groups to insist on recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

“I think everyone knows what the basic outlines of an agreement would look like,” he said in a speech redistributed by his campaign. “It would mean that the Palestinians would have to reinterpret the notion of right of return in a way that would preserve Israel as a Jewish state. It might involve compensation and other concessions from the Israelis, but ultimately Israel is not going to give up its state.”

On domestic issues, Obama is savvy about Jewish social justice commitments and is on a first-name basis with two of the top Jewish religious lobbyists in Washington – Rabbi David Saperstein of the Reform movement and Nathan Diament, who represents the Orthodox Union.

That connection, however, is not enough to supplant Clinton among Jewish voters. In a recent American Jewish Committee poll, Obama’s favorable rating was 38 percent, while Clinton’s was 53 percent.

Clinton also is being backed by most of the Jewish congressional delegation. Her years as first lady and senator have made her a more familiar presence among Jews. Public policy groups are likelier to favor her uncompromising approach to pushing universal health care, as opposed to Obama’s appeal to build consensus on the issue.

Obama’s appeal is in his broader vision, according to Solomont.

“This election will be about change: a change in government and the way politics is conducted,” he told JTA in May. “There is a connection between gridlock and the smallness of our politics.”

Edwards’ openness to Iran worries some pro-Israel Jews

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) – In 2004, John Edwards lost the Democratic presidential nomination because he was considered a foreign policy lightweight. He won the vice presidential slot because his social policies had depth.

Four years later, Edwards’ social and domestic positions remain pretty much the same – positions that are favored by the vast majority of American Jewish voters.

His foreign policies now have substance, too. That’s what worries some Jewish voters.

Off the record, Jewish organizational leaders say they are alarmed by Edwards’ about-face on Iran.

In January 2007, the former North Carolina senator spoke via videocast to the Herzliya Conference, the annual gathering of top Israeli and U.S. foreign policy specialists.

“For years, the U.S. hasn’t done enough to deal with what I have seen as a threat from Iran,” Edwards told the conference, known to be top heavy with neoconservatives. “To ensure that Iran never gets nuclear weapons, we need to keep ALL options on the table. Let me reiterate – ALL options must remain on the table.”

Such views were not inconsistent with mainstream candidates in both parties. No serious candidate favors attacking Iran in the near future. Rudy Giulani, the former New York mayor, has even distanced himself from advisers who favor a short-term attack.

However, neither did any major candidate at the time want to remove the military option from the menu.

Still, Edwards’ remarks set off a firestorm on the Democratic Party’s left, particularly among bloggers. This was just the element of the party base Edwards was cultivating with his “two Americas” domestic policy rhetoric on poverty; he could not afford to lose them on foreign policy.

Two weeks later Edwards told the American Prospect, a liberal monthly, that attacking Iran “would have very bad consequences.” He went on to elaborate: “It would be foolish for any American president to ever take any option off the table.” But above all, he favored direct negotiations with Iran.

“I think that we have lots of opportunities,” he said. “We’re not negotiating with them directly.”

Edwards’ stance is anathema to much of the pro-Israel establishment, which views direct negotiations as a means for Iran to buy time and develop a nuclear weapons program.

He has not retreated from that stance, taking hard shots at U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) in recent months for joining a nonbinding resolution calling for terrorist group sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps.

President Bush ultimately imposed the sanctions by executive order. Clinton and others noted the alleged involvement of the group in training insurgents in Iraq and terrorists in Lebanon.

Critics said it marked the first time a statutory military corps had been declared “terrorist” and saw it as a way for the Bush administration to create an excuse to attack Iran.

In an American Jewish Committee poll taken in November, Edwards scored 38 percent in approval ratings, in a dead heat for third with Democratic rival Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.). Clinton led with 53 percent, followed by Giuliani at 41 percent.

It probably didn’t help that Edwards’ campaign chairman is David Bonior, a former member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Michigan who at times was a tough critic of Israel’s settlement policies. Shortly after announcing the choice in late 2006, Bonior sent out feelers to top pro-Israel donors assuring them that his focus was not foreign policy.

In March 2006, at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, the candidate had cultivated just that establishment.

“For years I have argued that the United States has not been doing enough to deal with the growing threat in Iran,” Edwards said at that AIPAC parley. “While we’ve talked about the dangers of nuclear terrorism, we’ve largely stood on the sidelines as the problems got worse.”

Significantly, he included his “two Americas” pitch on poverty in the same speech – a curious pitch to a crowd that is all foreign policy all the time.

Or maybe not so curious: No American sub-electorate, save perhaps for blacks, is as attuned to Edwards on domestic policy as is the Jewish community. The tough talk on Iran and on poverty drew applause at the AIPAC confab.

Edwards strongly favors universal, mandatory health care and expanding tax credits for child care and higher education – issues that resonate with domestic Jewish lobbyists in Washington.

He has drawn strong Jewish support; his top fund-raiser is Fred Baron of Texas, like Edwards, a prominent trial lawyer.

No one talks the talk like Edwards, said Marc Stanley, a prominent Edwards backer and the vice chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council.

“It’s disgusting that we live in a prosperous and healthy country and we have more than 40 million people without health care and 37 million in poverty,” Stanley told JTA at the NJDC candidates’ forum in April. “For me, John Edwards brings clarity on those issues.

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Assimilating the best Jewish movies of 2007

Assimilating the best Jewish movies of 2007

Posted on 10 January 2008 by admin

By Michael Fox

Jewish characters and concerns were unusually well represented on movie screens in 2007. However, you needed a sharp eye to pick up on them, for assimilation was this year’s dominant theme. From Seth Rogen’s smart-mouthed shtick in “Knocked Up” to Russell Crowe’s unaccountable Star of David in “American Gangster,” Jews were simultaneously everywhere and nowhere.

There was no dominant Jewish (or anti-Jewish) figure, which was a relief of sorts after shrinking violets Sacha Baron Cohen, Mel Gibson and Steven Spielberg dominated the headlines in recent years. Back on New Year’s Day, though, it seemed like a lock that megawatt celeb Angelina Jolie would be the face of 2007 for her portrayal of Mariane Pearl in “A Mighty Heart.”

As it turned out, Michael Winterbottom’s dramatization of the events surrounding Daniel Pearl’s kidnapping in Pakistan made little impact on the summer box office, and Jolie’s performance was a well-integrated supporting role instead of a star turn. The film was attacked in some circles for not asserting (despite an absence of proof) that the Wall Street Journal reporter was murdered because he was Jewish. In fact, Winterbottom made a powerhouse movie (from Mariane’s memoir) that takes every conceivable opportunity to remind viewers that Danny’s Judaism was central to his identity. “A Mighty Heart” was not only the Jewish film of the year, but one that will stand the test of time.

Jewish moviegoers took consolation in the modest hit “Freedom Riders,” starring Hilary Swank as a newbie teacher in multi-culti L.A. who uses “The Diary of Anne Frank” to inspire her students. The plot (based on a true story) was largely formulaic, but writer-director Richard LaGravenese won accolades for working a Holocaust lesson into a mainstream Hollywood movie aimed at teenagers.

In case its significance escaped you, the uneven comedy “Knocked Up” established Seth Rogen as the first Jewish leading man of the 21st century. (What, you’re waiting for the second coming of Paul Newman?) Rogen’s blend of smarts, verbal pyrotechnics, self-deprecation and self-confidence made Ben Stiller’s manic screen persona — on display this year in the remake of “The Heartbreak Kid” — seem shallow and annoying. Alas, Stiller isn’t going away, nor is Zach Braff (the blink-and-you-missed-it “Fast Track”).

Primarily, though, the place to find Jewish romantic leads was in independent films. Interfaith love affairs ruled the day, from Jeff Lipsky’s intimate talkfest “Flannel Pajamas” to the winning New York romantic comedy “Ira and Abby” (written by and starring Jennifer Westfeldt) to the Jewish- Kurdish fable “David & Layla.” Writerdirector- star Jeff Garlin (of “Curb Your Enthusiasm”) did hook up with a Jewish girl in “I Just Want Someone to Eat Cheese With,” but she was played by the resolutely anti-romantic Sarah Silverman.

Indie filmmakers also offered the most compelling views of the American Jewish experience. Jeffrey Blitz mined his New Jersey adolescence for the painfully awkward high-school-debate-team saga “Rocket Science,” and Frank Langella played an old-school New York novelist in Andrew Wagner’s “Starting Out in the Evening.” “The Savages,” Tamara Jenkins’ sharply observed tale of two children thrust into the job of caring for their elderly, estranged father, was a bittersweet fable of adulthood and responsibility. How Jewish are the Savages? You be the judge.

For the record, an animated version of “The Ten Commandments” was released this year. It is not to be confused with “The Ten,” a hit-and-miss satire of lust, dishonesty, ego and envy broadly inspired by the Ten Commandments and aimed at the 20-something crowd.

The roll call of Jewish characters in mainstream movies — although they were rarely identified as such — included Sydney Pollack as senior law partner Marty Bach in “Michael Clayton,” Alan Arkin as a U.S. senator in “Rendition,” Natalie Portman as a hottie in “Hotel Chevalier” (the short that served as the prelude to “The Darjeeling Limited”) and the aforementioned Crowe as cop Richie Roberts in “American Gangster.” Bob Dylan provided the inspiration for “I’m Not There,” but neither his name nor his Jewishness received a mention.

Speaking of hard-to-believe true stories, it was another excellent year for documentaries. Dan Klores’ jaw-dropping “Crazy Love” revisited one of the most bizarre New York (love) stories of all time. “The Rape of Europa” detailed the Nazis’ campaign to pilfer and/or destroy the art of Europe, providing an unusual angle on the Holocaust. (“Rape” made the short list for the Documentary Oscar, as did the upcoming “A Promise to the Dead: The Exile Journey of Ariel Dorfman”). Also worth a look was “Jimmy Carter Man From Plains,” Jonathan Demme’s record of the “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” book tour.

It was a terrific year for Israeli cinema, with prizes at every major international film festival. “Beaufort,” “Jellyfish” and “The Band’s Visit” will open here in the next few months, allowing a window to catch up via DVD with the grittily realistic Israeli drama “Close to Home,” about two teenage girls thrown together during military service, and the musical family melodrama “Three Mothers.” “The Bubble,” the latest polysexual pop drama from leading Israeli director Eytan Fox (“Walk On Water”), centered on a trio of good-looking 20-something roommates — two gay men and a straight woman — whose apolitical lives are upended when one of the guys begins an affair with a Palestinian man.

The highlight of the international film scene was “Black Book,” Paul Verhoeven’s (“Basic Instinct”) pulpy, crude and entertaining wartime thriller about a gorgeous Jewish woman who joins the Dutch Resistance. The lowlight, arguably, was another historical epic, “O Jerusalem.” Argentine director Daniel Burman scored with “Family Law,” about a Jewish lawyer’s complicated relationship with his attorney father. French actress-writer-director Julie Delpy cast Adam Goldberg as her assimilated New York Jewish boyfriend in “2 Days In Paris,” a repartee-fueled look at a relationship strained by jealousy.

The list of obituaries was small in 2007, but noteworthy. Melville Shavelson, the writer-director-producer of “Cast a Giant Shadow” (1966) and author of the 1971 memoir of that shoot, “How to Make a Jewish Movie,” died at 90. Joey Bishop was known as a comedian but he’ll forever be immortalized in the Rat Pack heist film “Ocean’s Eleven.”

The playwright and novelist Ira Levin won fame and fortune with “Rosemary’s Baby” (brilliantly adapted by Roman Polanski) and “The Boys from Brazil.” Finally, Norman Mailer’s contributions to the movies as a writer and director were less than impressive, but we mourn his passing nonetheless.

The last three men were recognizably Jewish, even if they never talked about it. For a number of characters that graced movie screens this year, that was their defining characteristic.

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Around the Town — January 2008

Posted on 09 January 2008 by admin

Around the Town with Rene

Polly Boardman
A garden in memory of

Polly Boardman

Polly Boardman was a young girl who was born and raised here in Fort Worth. She was the daughter of Ceil Boardman Canter and Dr. Bill Boardman. She attended Paschal High School and Temple Beth-El Religious School, studied dance with TCU Ballet and was an active member of Alton Silver BBG.

On July 4, 1975 at the age of 16, Polly’s life was tragically cut short after being struck and killed by lightning but her smile lived on.

At the time of her death, her friends, the Jewish youth of Fort Worth, planted a tree and dedicated a plaque in her memory at the Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center, located off Old Granbury Road. Since the closing of the JCC, the plaque has been cared for by Dr. Al Faigin until a new home could be found.

That home has now been found.

At this time, Polly’s family is creating the Polly Boardman Memorial Garden at the Sonnenschein Chabad Jewish Center of Fort Worth. The garden, being designed by Mrs. Etta Korenman, will be located in the backyard playground area of the center where today’s Jewish youth will have a place to play and learn.

At this time, the family asks you to help make this tribute to Polly a reality. If you would consider a $100 donation, they would be that much closer to their goal.

Please make your tax-deductible check out to Chabad of Fort Worth, and make a note that it is for Polly’s garden. You can mail it to: The Sonnenschein Chabad Jewish Center, 5659 Woodway Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76133.

All donations will be greatly appreciated.

An official dedication of the garden will take place on its completion.

Any questions can be directed to Polly’s brother, Aaron Boardman, at 817-292-5018.

‘Daytimers’ enjoy Nasher trip

Fifteen intrepid “Daytimers” braved the cold winds to visit the outstanding exhibit at Dallas’ Sculpture Center, “Woman: The Art of Gaston Lachaise.” This was the first major museum retrospective of the artist’s work to be shown in Texas.

Led by an outstanding docent, Gerry Balsley, a volunteer at the Nasher Center, the group heard about Lachaise’s inspiration, his muse, his lover, his wife, Isabel Dutaud Nagle. Even though Isabel was small and slim, his passion for her inspired some of the most beautiful sculptures of voluptuous women that have ever been created; more than 40 of them are on view at the Nasher.

Those attending included Mike Blanc, Michael Cohen, Roberta Corder, newcomer Martin Isadore, Adelene Myers, Roz Rosenthal, Barbara Rubin, Rosalie Schwartz, Len Schweitzer, Sonya Stenzler, Barbara Weinberg, Sylvia and Al Wexler, Richard Yentis and Bernard Zilberg.

Next event for the “Daytimers” will be a performance by pianist Tamás Ungár, executive director of Piano Texas Festival and member of the TCU piano faculty. The program is scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 20, noon, at Beth-El Congregation. Lunch at $8/person will be catered by Potbelly Sandwich Works.

For reservations for “Daytimers” events, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Sylvia Wexler, 817-294-1129, or checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Jewish Federation, 4049 Kingsridge Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109. The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Congregation Beth-El with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

Around the Town with Rene
Tzedakah Sunday is Feb. 3 — please answer the call

Once again, Tzedakah Sunday volunteers will be calling you asking for your gift to the Jewish Federation Annual Campaign.

By now you know that programs at Lil Goldman Early Learning Center, Jewish Family Services, Tarrant County synagogues, UNT Jewish Studies Program, Melton Adult Mini School, BBYO, Jewish War Veterans and other local programs are funded by the Annual Campaign.

In fact, 50 percent of the allocable dollars raised in Tarrant County stays in Tarrant County.

The other 50 percent is used to fund regional and national agencies including university programs (Hillel), birthright israel, Jewish Children’s Regional Service, Jewish Council for Public Affairs — to name just a few. The largest portion ($312,000) of allocable funds from Campaign was sent overseas to fund programs of the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, aiding needy Jews in Israel and around the world.

So now that you know where the money goes (47 different places) and the thousands of lives the Annual Campaign contribution affects everyday, PLEASE ANSWER THE CALL. It’s for you; it’s for all of us. Better yet, why not join the Mitzvah Corps at Beth-El, Sunday, Feb. 3, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.? Volunteers are needed to help make phone calls, do administrative tasks or assist with refreshments. Shifts are three hours in length. Call the Federation at 817-569-0892 to learn how you can help our community.

Live generously. It does a world of good.

Marcy Paul hired as YMCA racial equality director

Congratulations to Marcy Paul, who was recently hired to be the director of the Department for Racial Equality at the YMCA in Fort Worth/Tarrant County. It’s a really interesting position and a pretty big deal.

The department focuses on education, advocacy and public policy in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. “Dialogue on Race” is the foundation of the education program. It is a four-week workshop which encourages people to learn from one another about how racism diminishes us all. The hope is that by participating in the program, people can change, grow, celebrate and participate in their communities in ways that create positive changes.

Marcy said, “This position/job was a 50th birthday gift to me. As I look at who I am — my values, beliefs, politics and ideological perspectives — it all comes down to my upbringing in Evanston, Ill., which borders Chicago, and my Reform Jewish education with its foundation in social justice and human rights. I gave a sermon at my synagogue in high school, in the early 1970s, about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous speech, “I Have a Dream.” My dream was that one day we would all be able to sit in a sanctuary and pray together — black, white, heterosexual, gay and lesbian. While I didn’t realize the impact of what I was saying then, I certainly understand this now at 50.”

Michael Railenau wins award

Former Fort Worth Hebrew Day School top brass, Michael Railenau, Solomon Schechter Day School adult educator in St. Louis, came in for a special award when JProStl named him among the recipients of the 2007 Peer Excellence Awards. The six honorees will be acknowledged at a Recognition Luncheon at the Jewish Federation Building in St. Louis on Jan. 29.

Federation major givers gather

Despite the championship football game being played, Jeanie and Henry Luskey’s beautiful home was packed on Sunday, Jan. 20 with some of the Jewish community’s most generous folks. They were treated to four wonderful speakers who emphasized the good works that are being funded by the Jewish Federation. Cheryl Kimberling began the evening by speaking about the Multicultural Alliance, of which she is president. Following Cheryl, Al Fratina described the amazing tikkun olam (repairing the world) that the youth group at Beth Shalom performs every year with Camp Impact. Brandon Chicotsky gave an impassioned speech about Hillel and how it transformed his life. Lastly, Len Cole, liaison to birthright israel from UJC, painted an exciting picture of ever-increasing numbers of young adults going to Israel and standing by on waiting lists to go. He suggested that getting the parents and grandparents of birthright alumni involved in discussion groups might be an advantage for both birthright israel and the Federation.

The speakers were well received, and everyone enjoyed the delicious food catered by Bistro Louise. It could have been the frigid weather or most probably, the delightful company that kept people shmoozing well into dessert. As in the past, a good time was had by all as the Annual Campaign of 2008 began. Please follow the example of these generous donors as you make your 2008 pledge.

‘Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?’ Jewish Style

Back in ourtown, the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County is sponsoring a game of “Are You Smarter than a Fifth-Grader?” Jewish style during “JCC Without Walls” Week 2008. It will take place on Sunday, Feb. 10 at 1 p.m. at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. The religious schools of Tarrant County are supplying the fifth-grade participants, but at least four adult contestants are needed. Send nominations for those four spots by e-mail to Mona Karten at m.karten@
tarrantfederation.org. The chosen four will be announced via e-mail. Make sure to come and cheer the four fifth-graders (one from each synagogue) and the four adults.

Lunch will be on sale for $5 at Ahavath Sholom between noon and 1 p.m.

Symphony League note cards

In 1969, the Symphony League started a very successful fundraiser that lasted over 30 years — Oktoberfest. For many years it was the major fall festival in Fort Worth. The Oktoberfest logo was created to honor Tarrant County Medical Examiner Dr. Feliks Gwozdz. Feliks and his family performed at Oktoberfest for many years. Later their mascot was named Feliks.

With the discontinuation of Oktoberfest in 2000, Feliks was given a new haircut, mustache trim, a tuxedo instead of lederhosen — and Feliks became Manny the Maestro. Manny is a tribute to symphony supporter and longtime Symphony League member, the late Manny Rosenthal. His wife Roz contributed a tux of Manny’s for the Maestro’s wardrobe. You will see Manny the Maestro at Bass Hall helping to sell Children’s Concerts raffle tickets.

The Symphony League had local artist Mary Apple design note cards as a fundraiser many years ago. Mary sketched FWSO musicians and used four designs for the cards. These are for sale at various league functions during the year.

‘JCC Without Walls’ Week 2008

Sun., Feb. 3

Yom Limud –
Religious-school teachers in Dallas;
no religious school

8 a.m.-5 p.m.: Tzedakah Sunday
(at Beth-El)

10 a.m.: Adult Education
(at Beth Israel)

Mon., Feb. 4

Noon: Downtown Torah Study – Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger
(at Haltom’s)

7:30 p.m.: “The Split Between Early Christianity and Judaism” – David Saul
(at Beth-El)

Tues., Feb. 5

7:15 p.m.: Jewish Learning Institute – Rabbi Dov Mandel
(at Chabad House)

7:30 p.m.: “Hereditary Cancer
in the Jewish Population:
What You Need to Know”
– Sara Pirzadeh
(at Ahavath Sholom)

Wed., Feb. 6

7 p.m.: “Proving The Bible Through Archeology or The Development of the Alef Bet” – Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker (at Beth Israel)

7:30 p.m.: “Tips for the Sandwich Generation” – Dr. Carole Rogers and Lynell Bond (at Beth-El)

Thurs., Feb. 7

10 a.m.: Melton class
(at Ahavath Sholom)

7 p.m.: Beth Shalom Sisterhood
Card-Making Class (at Beth Shalom)

7 p.m.: “Judaism and Psychology,
Part II” – Rabbi Baruch Zeilicovich
(at Ahavath Sholom)

8 p.m.: “A Page of Talmud: Unraveling Its Mysteries”
– Rabbi Sidney Zimelman
(at Ahavath Sholom)

Fri., Feb. 8

8 p.m.: “Synaplex” Service
(at Beth-El)

8 p.m.: Scout Shabbat Service (at Ahavath Sholom)

Sat., Feb. 9

10 a.m.: Tot Shabbat
(at Beth-El)

9:30 a.m.: Torah Troop and
FWUSY Produce to Reduce Service
(at Ahavath Sholom)

10:30 a.m.: Davening and Donuts (at Ahavath Sholom)

6:45 p.m.: “Great Chefs of Tarrant County” demonstrations, tastings, discussion
(at Beth-El; reservations required by Feb. 6)

Sun., Feb. 10

9:30 a.m.: WRJ Hamantaschen Bake-In (at Beth-El)

Noon: Informal lunch
(at Ahavath Sholom)

1 p.m.: “Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? Jewish style”
(at Ahavath Sholom)

1 p.m.: Ahavath Sholom Men’s Club Film
(at Ahavath Sholom)

Info:

‘JCC Without Walls’ Week is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. All events are free and open to the public. For more information or to RSVP for the “Great Chefs” event, please call the Federation office at 817-569-0892.

Around the Town with Rene

Edythe Cohen
Reception Jan. 11 to honor Edythe Cohen for turning 80, but not elderly

To celebrate Edythe’s 80th birthday Jan. 11, her friends are planning a Kabalat Shabbat reception from 5 to 6 pm at Beth-El Congregation preceding Friday evening services. Edythe’s many friends – accumulated during decades in the business world, in the Jewish community and on the tennis court – are invited to celebrate her fourscore years of success. Co-chairing the birthday reception are Jacquelyn Loeb and Joan Brotman, who plan to serve light hors d’oeuvres. Rabbi Mecklenburger and Edythe will lead participants in the Sabbath blessings over the candles, wine, and challah.

For those not acquainted with Edythe, she earned her spurs as a western wear executive, operating the Rodeo Shop, at one time the nation’s largest wholesale chaps company. She simultaneously volunteered backstage as president of the Stage West Support Group. Her success extends to the tennis court, where her forehand still guides many doubles teams to victory. At Beth-El, Edythe has chaired the Adult Education Committee, served on the board, and worked as the Temple’s first paid program director. As manager of the Judaica Shop since 2003, she has moved the gift shop to greater profitability.

Born and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y., Edythe Kunen Cohen and her husband Noel moved their chaps manufacturing business to Fort Worth in 1964 to be closer to their customer base, which included country-western celebrities, rodeo riders, ranchers, and motorcyclists. Noel passed away in 1981, leaving Edythe to operate the business, located on Camp Bowie Blvd. West.

Within five years, Edythe was president of the Western and English Manufacturer’s Association, quite a notch in her belt. “As owner of a relatively small company in the industry,” she recalled, “that position enabled me to learn a lot from the major corporations, such as Justin and Panhandle Slim.” Also, as a newly single adult, Edythe became president of Jewish Women on Their Own, a B’nai B’rith interest group geared to widowed, divorced, and unmarried women. Later, she served as president of Fort Worth’s Jewish Women International, formerly called B’nai B’rith Women.

On the regional level, Edythe has taken leadership and study workshops offered by the Union of American Hebrew Congregations-first in New Orleans and later in Princeton. She has served on the local boards of such diverse groups as the Daytimers and the Miss Rodeo Texas Pageant and is a volunteer usher at the Van Cliburn Amateur Piano Competition. In her younger days, she was a volunteer teacher at the National Council of Jewish Women’s Americanization School, teaching English and civics to immigrants. Travel, both overseas and across the U.S., has always been part of her active schedule, including visits to see her sons – Jim, who lives in Estes Park, Colo., and Bill, who lives in Bethesda, Md., with his wife, Michelle, and their 3 children.

What is next for Edythe Cohen? “My current goal,” she says, “is to get older, but not to be elderly.”

‘Shabbat Lady’ to speak on provocative topic at WRJ brunch

Laura Seymour is known throughout the Metroplex as “The Shabbat Lady” – which, coincidentally, is the title of her column in this newspaper, the Texas Jewish Post. Beth-El Congregation’s Women of Reform Judaism featured Seymour in 2004 as part of their annual meeting. She addressed the issue of “Keeping Your Children and Grandchildren Jewish,” to wide acclaim from congregants of all ages.

Beth-El’s WRJ is proud to bring back Laura Seymour as the keynote speaker for the 2008 Donor Brunch and Silent Auction. However, her topic this time is a little juicier, according to Roberta Gerrick, WRJ’s program chair.

“We heard Laura speak at the WRJ biennial convention in Dallas,” Gerrick said. “Her topic was ‘Women in the Torah: Sex and Power,’ and she had the room full of women rolling with laughter.”

Seymour’s vast knowledge of Judaism and love of study combine to enhance this particular topic. She presents ideas that allow women (and men) to change their perspective on biblical events. As an example, Seymour challenges the audience to review their thoughts on Adam and Eve. If Eve wasn’t present at the beginning of creation when God gave the directions about what fruit not to eat, whose job was it to tell Eve?

“Laura’s take on the story of Esther was hysterical, but might be a little too risqué to be repeated here,” Gerrick said.

In addition to hearing Seymour’s dynamic presentation, attendees have the opportunity to bid on a host of fabulous items during the silent auction. Previous auction items have included memorabilia from the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers and Dallas Stars, concert and symphony tickets and more.

The annual Donor Brunch benefits the Beth-El Religious School and other WRJ causes. Tickets for non-members are $25, and there will be no on-site registration. Checks payable to WRJ can be mailed to Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109. Please include the name, address and phone information for each attendee. All reservations must be in by Jan. 22.

Daughters of Abraham to meet Jan. 15

The regular meeting of Daughters of Abraham will be held Jan. 15 at 7 p.m. at the Muslim Mosque on Diaz St. Please contact Corrine Jacobson at 817-294-7844 if you need further information on to arrange for a ride. Pilgrimage will be discussed with one of the Muslim women just returned from Mecca. Jews and Christians will discuss trips to Israel and what it has meant to them and their religious beliefs.

‘Daytimers’ programs

The “Daytimers” group will travel to the Nasher Sculpture Center to see the outstanding exhibit, “Woman: The Art of Gaston Lachaise.” The group plans to meet Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Intermodal Transportation Center at Ninth and Jones at 11:45 a.m. Box lunches from Jason’s Deli will be delivered to the train station, and participants will have lunch on the train. From there, the group will take DART to the Nasher Sculpture Center, where a docent-guided tour of this show’s sculptures of beautiful, full -bodied women will begin at 1:45 p.m. In addition to this exhibit, there are nine new sculptures in the garden that have never been publicly viewed before.

Lunch choices are turkey breast on white, chicken salad on whole wheat, and tuna salad on rye. The cost for the lunch, bottled water, train and DART fare and the guided tour of the exhibit is $15 per person.

Barbara Rubin tells the TJP they hope to limit the group to about 20, so please get your reservations in early. For reservations for “Daytimers” events, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Sylvia Wexler, 817-294-1129, or checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Jewish Federation, 4049 Kingsridge Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109. The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Congregation Beth-El with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

Bingo fun!

There will be a bingo night for Jewish singles and the rest of the Jewish community on Sunday, Jan. 20, 4 p.m. at Congregation Ahavath Sholom on Hulen Street in Fort Worth. Carol Schwartz is the contact for this event.

Admission is only $5 and includes a T-shirt, your first game (1 board) and a dauber. Additional games are $3 each. The jumbo kosher hot dog dinner is only $5. Great prizes will be awarded during the program.

The community is urged to come join the fun and excitement!

CJS will have reserved seating. Call Carol, 817-731-3186, and tell her to save you a seat.

Rabbi Sharon Brous to visit Beth-El as scholar-in-residence Jan. 24

Noted rabbinical leader and guest lecturer Rabbi Sharon Brous will be the Larry Kornbleet Memorial Scholar-in-Residence, Thursday, Jan. 24, 7:30 p.m., at Beth-El Congregation.

Rabbi Brous, founder and rabbi of IKAR, a vibrant new Jewish spiritual community in Los Angeles, will speak on “When the World is on Fire: Jewish Responses to Catastrophe.”

She was included in the Forward’s annual list of the 50 most influential members of the American Jewish community in 2004, 2005, and 2006. It described her as “one of the most dynamic religious leaders to be ordained in recent years.” She is a regular commentator on National Public Radio, and speaks and writes frequently about emerging spiritual communities, human rights and conflict resolution. Ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary, she received a master’s degree in human rights from Columbia University.

The program, free to all, presented by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, will be followed by a dessert reception. No reservations are necessary.

Save the date: ‘JCC Without Walls’ week coming

Starting Sunday, Feb. 3, the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County is sponsoring a week of informal Jewish education and culture for all ages to be held at the four congregations of Tarrant County. Watch for the schedule in a flyer in January as well as your synagogue bulletins in February. All events are free. For more information, please call the Federation office at 817-569-0892.

‘Daytimers’ Nasher trip scheduled

An aerial view of the Nasher Sculpture Center
Photo: Tim Hursley, 2003
“Woman: The Art of Gaston Lachaise” was selected by the Star-Telegram as one of the top five exhibits to visit the Metroplex this year, and the “Daytimers” are going there. This is the first major museum retrospective of the artist’s work to be shown in Texas.

The group will meet Wednesday, Jan. 16, at the Intermodal Transportation Center at Ninth and Jones at 11:45 a.m. Box lunches from Jason’s Deli will be delivered to the train station, and participants will have lunch on the train. From there, the group will take DART to the Nasher Sculpture Center, where a docent-guided tour of this show’s sculptures of beautiful, full-bodied women will begin at 1:45 p.m.

The singular woman in the title of the exhibit is in reference to Lachaise’s inspiration, his muse, his lover, his wife, Isabel Dutaud Nagle. His passion for her inspired some of the most beautiful sculptures of women that have ever been made, and more than 40 of them are on view at the Nasher. In addition to this exhibit, there are nine new sculptures in the garden that have never been publicly viewed before.

Lunch choices are turkey breast on white, chicken salad on whole wheat, and tuna salad on rye. The cost for the lunch, bottled water, train and DART fare, and the guided tour of the exhibit is $15 per person.

The group will be limited to about 20, so please get your reservations in early. For reservations for “Daytimers” events, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Sylvia Wexler, 817-294-1129, or checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Jewish Federation, 4049 Kingsridge Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109. The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Congregation Beth-El with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

Hanukkah Heroes a success
Shoshana Thoma-Isgur tells the TJP that this past month the JEA (Jewish Education Agency) successfully completed its first Hanukkah Heroes fundraising campaign, which raised $4000 for the JEA kids!

By sending Hanukkah Heroes cards to loved ones, donors honored and remembered the heroes in their lives while becoming Hanukkah Heroes to the kids of the JEA. For each $25 donation, the JEA sent out a custom-designed holiday card with a personalized greeting to the donor’s chosen recipient. Many generous folks took advantage of this opportunity to give a profoundly meaningful gift to family and friends while supporting the JEA’s programs, including the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center and Camp Shalom. When you go by the LGELC, you will also see a special art piece crafted by the Pre-School kids in honor of the Hanukkah Heroes, with some very creative assistance from Miss Diana (Krompass). Everyone’s participation in the Hanukkah Heroes campaign is appreciated, and according to future plans this will be an annual event to support JEA programs.

The Hanukkah Heroes campaign would not have been possible without the hard work of the Hanukkah Heroes Committee: Lisa Clark, Jen Ratner, Naomi Rosenfield, Shoshana Thoma-Isgur and Monika Worsley, as well as Director Paddy White. They especially want to acknowledge the work of Lisa Clark, who designed the beautiful Hanukkah Heroes card with handprints from LGELC students. A heartfelt “thank you” to the Hanukkah Heroes Committee and dedicated JEA staff who supported the committee’s efforts.JEA’s first Honorary Bubbie and Zaydie:
Rose and Al Sankary
On Dec. 7, the JEA held its first Honorary Bubbie and Zaydie event, a Chanukah Kabbalat Shabbat and dinner, to thank Rose and Al Sankary for their years-long generous support of the JEA. The children performed Chanukah songs and skits for Rose and Al, their guests, and parents and supporters of the JEA. The JEA also presented the Sankarys with a special gift, a beautiful glass chanukiah. Rose and Al led everyone in saying the Chanukah blessings, and everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to Al in both English and Hebrew. After the program, guests enjoyed a special Chanukah dinner, including potato latkes and sufganiot (jelly doughnuts!). Rose and Al also brought a delicious birthday cake for everyone to share.

The JEA thanks all the folks who helped make the Chanukah Kabbalat Shabbat so special, including Morah Rachel (Yaacobi) and Shoshana Howard, by working with the children to put the program together. The JEA thanks its board members who volunteered, including Suzie Herman, Marcia Kurtz, Hal Ratner and Yossi Yaacobi. They also thank Cindy Simon and Ann and Scott Cobert for their invaluable help.

Although the Sankarys have never had children at the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center or Camp Shalom, they have helped make the JEA what it is today. Al said he and Rose donated because they believe in excellent Jewish and secular education for children. At the Chanukah Kabbalat Shabbat event, Al and Rose demonstrated their support is stronger than ever, by making another $10,000 donation to the JEA. What a wonderful Chanukah gift to the JEA kids! Accolades to Rose and Al Sankary, the JEA’s Honorary Bubbie and Zaydie.

Robert Simon and the JEA board extend a hearty mazel tov to Shoshana Thoma-Isgur, fundraising chair of the JEA, for all of her hard work and leadership.

Yasher koach to Shoshana.

News and notes
Hadassah prez, Mona Karten, is on the job! It’s that time again for mah jongg cards. If you would like to buy one, please send your check for $6.50 (regular) or $7.00 (large print) to Barbara Weinberg, 4600 Westlake, Fort Worth 76132. Please make check payable to Barbara.

Hadassah has changed the date for the Girls’ Night Out to Jan. 17 at Mi Cocina. Look for the invitation in the next few weeks.

Speedy recovery wishes to Cynthia Labovitz.

Karen and Kal Silverberg and their kids, Stephen and Sarah, are ecstatic. They’ve finally convinced his folks, Elaine and Herb Silverberg, to become our-towners, after long years in Corsicana and Waco. The senior Silverbergs are comfortably residing at Broadway Plaza. The TJP adds our “welcome” greetings.

Michael Mooney, who has been stationed aboard a submarine carrier, spent the weekend here with his folks, Ruthie Bogart and Larry Currie, grandmother Ann Bogart, and members of their family. Michael is enroute back to his new station in New Hampshire, accompanied by his mom, who is sharing the driving for the long trip.

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Dallas Doings — January 2008

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Dallas Doings — January 2008

Posted on 09 January 2008 by admin

Some 200 people attended a breakfast Monday, Jan. 21, the holiday honoring the memory of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Senior Rabbi Wiliam Gershon of Shearith Israel and the Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson, senior pastor of Highland Hills, were the morning’s speakers. Among other religious dignitaries present were the Rev. Charles Grahmann, bishop emeritus of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, and Muslim Imam Muhammad Shakoor.

Past JCRC Chair Andrea Weinstein welcomed the crowd, then called for a “Pledge of Nonviolence” as the breakfast ended. During the program, Temple Shalom’s Cantor Don Alan Croll led the singing of “God Bless America” and “We Shall Overcome.”

Dr. Patterson’s son Christian, who attends Greenhill School, read a selection from Dr. King’s writings during the event. Levine Academy students Ali Feinstein and Tori Weinstein, daughter of Jewish Federation CEO/Executive Director Gary Weinstein, offered some words from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel.

To highlight awareness of the current crisis in Darfur, -Daniel Bonner, a student at Yavneh Academy, read “Rivers Are Full,” a poem written by one of the Lost Boys of Sudan.

38 Emerson Fellows to advocate for Israel on 38 campuses

University of North Texas sophomore Adam Rosenfield, son of Sturt and Andi Rosenfield, has been designated an Emerson Fellow, a new initiative from Stand With Us, the nonprofit, international Israel education organization.

The annual fellowship, funded by philanthropists Rita and Steve Emerson, selects and trains students from campuses across the U.S. and Canada to run events that teach about Israel. Thirty-eight student leaders from campuses throughout the United States and Canada have been selected for the 2007–2008 school year.

Dallas resident Rosenfield is majoring in international studies, with Arabic and Jewish studies minors. He is president of the new organization Mean Green Mensches for Israel, sergeant at arms for the Student Government Association and an avid fan of Mean Green Sports. His goal is to “present Israel programs at UNT. The North Texas community needs to know of the Jewish and pro-Israel presence here. Also, putting on these programs will hopefully lead to the campus as a whole becoming more politically active.”

The Fellows began by participating in SWU’s annual student conference, “Israel in Focus.” They heard from experts who focused on skills and facts to help clarify Israel’s image on campus, combat anti-Israel propaganda, build coalitions and deal with media. During the year, the Fellows will build relationships with campus groups to ensure a steady flow of clear information and activity. They will report back to SWU campus coordinators to evaluate program effectiveness and network among themselves to ensure quality of program and dynamic vision.

Ron Kutas, SWU Emerson Fellowship director, remarked, “The fellowship is unique. It targets committed student leaders with established track records. They have access to SWU’s resources and a network of students from around the world to communicate and collaborate with. The fellowship will prepare many for jobs in Israel activism.”

Stand With Us hosts speakers and conferences, offers Web site resources and creates brochures and materials widely distributed in universities, libraries, high schools, churches and communities that teach about Israel. Based in Los Angeles, the organization has offices in New York, Buffalo, Michigan, Seattle, Chicago, Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Orange County (Calif.), Davis, Israel and the U.K. SWU was founded in 2001 in response to the second intifada and the misunderstandings about the challenges that Israel faces. Stand With Us Campus (www.standwithuscampus.com) helps college students fight anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias on campuses.

Memorial for Ari Weiss: Ohel Ari

We share this note from former Metroplex rabbinic leader, Rabbi Stewart Weiss, and his wife, Susie.

“Dear Friends:

“It is now 5-1/2 years since our precious eldest son Ari z”l was killed in battle, while fighting against Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists. A member of the IDF’s elite Palchan unit in the Nachal brigade, Ari died fighting for what he so deeply believed in — the security of Israel and the safety of the Jewish people.

“Since his death al Kiddush HaShem, many amazing tributes have been paid to Ari. These include two Torahs written in his memory, a Ra’anana city park (‘Gan Ari’) named for him, and seven baby boys that now bear his name.

“But the central project that our family has chosen to honor the spirit and strength of Ari and the soldiers of Israel is Ohel Ari, a community learning center and bet knesset [synagogue]. It will be a spiritual home for thousands of Jews of all ages and backgrounds who wish to study and come closer to G-d. Ohel Ari will not only be the largest congregation in Ra’anana (among the 68 shuls in the city!), but also a warm and welcoming place where classes and cultural events will be offered seven days a week to the entire city.

“Thank G-d, Ohel Ari is now 80 percent complete. I am appealing to you to help us reach the 100 percent mark and realize our dream.

“I know that so many of you have already contributed to this effort, and we thank you with all our heart — we could not have gotten this far without you. Now, we are appealing to you to join with us as partners in the final stage of Ohel Ari. If you have already given, please consider giving once again. If you have not yet contributed, please try to do so now. I know that, in Heaven, Ari will bless this project and all its supporters with success.

“Contributions are tax-deductible in the USA and Israel. They may be sent to Ohel Ari, POB 211, Ra’anana or POB 1044, Teaneck, NJ 07666.

“Susie and our entire family join me in thanking you for your generosity, friendship and love.

“Please see the picture below for a glimpse of Ohel Ari in construction at the corner of Ravutsky and Zifman streets.

“May Hashem bless you with life and health,

“Rabbi Stewart and Susie Weiss and family

“P.S. Susie and I will be in New York Feb. 4–8 if you wish to meet personally with us.”

Denton gymnast shines at Pan-Am Maccabi Games

Denton Gymnastics Academy is proud to announce the results of the recent competition at the 2007 Pan-Am Maccabi Games, which took place in Buenos Aires, Argentina, from Dec. 26, 2007 through Jan. 2, 2008. Sarah Vizel, a Denton Gymnastics Academy team member, brought home three bronze medals — in vaults, beams, and floor competitions.

Yavneh students named with high honors

Yavneh Academy seniors Daniel Bonner and Michael San Soucie each scored in the top 5 percent nationally on the 2006 PSAT and have received the honor of “Commended Student” by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation.

Yavneh’s 2007 graduates Vitali Azouz and Rebecca Peiser each received the AP Scholar Award, in recognition of their exceptional achievement on the college-level Advanced Placement Program Exams, by the College Board AP. Azouz, who scored a three on the English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, and United States History exams, is a freshman at UT-Austin. Peiser, who earned a score of four on the English Language & Composition, English Literature & Composition, and United States History exams, is a freshman at the University of Maryland.

On Sunday, Jan. 27, from 10:30 a.m. to noon, Congregation Tiferet Israel will host their annual Sisterhood community brunch. This year the theme is �Going Green� and all women from Jewish temples and synagogues are invited to attend. Councilwoman Linda Koop, the environmental chair of the city, will educate the guests about what the city of Dallas is doing in order to help the environment. The guests will also hear Carissa Cox from the MESA Group and the educational representative from Current Energy, which provides energy-efficient solutions that are environmentally friendly.

Besides a good kosher brunch and interesting information about what we can do to help the cause, there will be an opportunity to shred all the unnecessary papers lying around the house. From 10 to 11 that morning, the company Cut 2 Shreds will provide this service free of charge.

State Sen. Florence Shapiro to speak at Hadassah event

Dallas Hadassah will start their year off with a very special guest, State Sen. Florence Shapiro, who will speak to members and guests on Wednesday, Jan. 30 at Bucca di Beppo. Sen. Shapiro, a lifetime member of Hadassah, will speak about her professional experiences and obstacles she has encountered in her career.

Feel free to bring a friend to this luncheon.

Reservations are required to attend, and can be paid for online at www.dallas.hadassah.org. You can also RSVP by calling the office at 214-691-1948 or e-mail chapter.dallas@hadassah.org.

Beyt Midrash of North Texas offers spring courses

The spring 2008 semester of courses offered by Beyt Midrash of North Texas is already under way.

Billed as �the community�s independent, interdenominational, egalitarian Jewish study center,� Beyt Midrash provides a selection of in-depth learning experiences for adults. All classes meet at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center and are taught by ordained clergy and Ph.D.-level professors and scholars.

Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger,�rosh kollel�of the Community Kollel of Dallas, has already begun a continuation of his popular �Introduction to Jewish Thought� series. This course will run through early June; its topics are �Zionist Philosophy from the Talmud to Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook� and �Judaism�s Relation to Other Religions, Converts and Conversion.� It meets on Thursday mornings, 10 to 11:30, through June 5.

Beginning Feb. 4 for 10 Mondays from 9:30 to 11 a.m., �The Making of a King: The Biblical Narrative of David�s Rise� will be taught by Professor Serge Frolov, who holds the Ann and Nate Levine Chair of Jewish Studies at Southern Methodist University. This will be a reading/discussion circle based on the Hebrew Bible�s First Book of Samuel.

Also beginning on Feb. 4 will be �Jewish Culture in Motion Pictures,� taught by Nils Roemer, assistant professor of Jewish studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. This six-week watch-and-discuss series will meet on Monday evenings from 7 to 9.

Rabbi Howard Wolk, Jewish Family Service�s community rabbi, will present �Women in the Bible and Talmud� on four Wednesdays, 12:15 to 1:45 p.m., beginning Feb. 6. And on four Wednesday evenings in March, from 7 to 8:30, he will offer a course on �Modern Problems and Ethical Issues,� covering a range of topics running the gamut from stem-cell research and evolution to gambling. Rabbi Wolk�s classes emphasize question-and-answer discussions.

Fees for Beyt Midrash courses run from $48 to $228 depending on the number of class weeks, with significant discounts offered to students and seniors. Interested individuals are invited to sample courses by attending a first session of any class at no charge; those who wish to continue may make registration payment at the next scheduled class time.

Beyt Midrash of North Texas is �the next step in Jewish learning� for students of all races, colors, religions and national and ethnic origins. Eileen Rosenblum, Ph.D., is its board president.

For further information, visit www.beytmidrash.org or e-mail info@beytmidrash.org.

Blood drive Feb. 18 for�Bill Burns� granddaughter

Yavneh Academy of Dallas will host a blood drive, through Carter BloodCare, at the Schultz Rosenberg Campus (12324 Merit Drive) Monday, Feb. 18, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. This blood drive is open to the community.

While the service will help many, this is in the name of Madalyn White, the granddaughter of Bill Burns, who does printing for many organizations in Dallas� Jewish and wider community. Mr. Burns has been a great friend through the years, and his 8-year-old �princess� granddaughter is a patient at Children�s Hospital who has been diagnosed with a combination of two blood disorders; hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) and thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).

In addition to many pints of whole blood, Madalyn has already used more than 81 pints of plasma, receiving transfusions of between six and eight pints each day, and will likely need well over 500 during her treatment. Blood products (including whole blood, plasma and platelets) donated in her name will be credited to her �account,� helping the family significantly in many ways.

To make a definitive, scheduled timed appointment to donate at the blood drive, to receive a �planned designation form� to use if making a donation at another time/location or for any questions, call Deb Silverthorn at 972-839-6916 or e-mail mamatex@aol.com.

New JLI course:��Beyond Belief�

Questions such as �How does G-d communicate with us?� � �How can we know what G-d wants?� � �Does G-d rule the world?� � �What do you believe?� are among the topics to be discussed at the Lang Chabad Center, 3904 West Park, Plano.

�Beyond Belief: Reflections on Jewish Faith, Reason and Experience� will be held on six Tuesdays, Feb. 5�Mar. 11, 7:30�9 p.m. A repeat of the program will be held on six Sundays, Feb. 10�Mar. 16, 9:30�11 a.m.

The class will also be held on six Wednesdays, Feb. 6�Mar. 12, 7:30�9 p.m., at Collin County Community College, Frisco campus.

Fee for the entire six-session course is $100.

For more information, visit www.myjli.com or call the Chabad office, 972-596-9270.

Important changes to Super Sunday
Due to the Cowboys Divisional Playoff game on Jan. 13, Super Sunday has been postponed until March 23. The important community-wide event will be held at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center. Volunteers are needed for all three shifts: 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 1:30 to 5 p.m. and 4:30 to 8 p.m.

Our community needs your help to raise funds for vital services and life enhancement programs and to ensure the strength and continuity of our people.

It’s a win-win opportunity. Join in and enjoy fabulous food, great prizes and free T-shirts while performing an important mitzvah.

To help reduce costs and maximize results, bring your cell phones. You will be entered into a special prize drawing.
For more information or to volunteer, contact CathyWeinblatt, 214-615-5227 or cweinblatt@jfgd.org.

Beth Torah Men’s Club and Sisterhood welcomes Larry North
Larry North, Dallas’ nationally renowned fitness guru, will be the guest of Congregation Beth Torah’s Men’s Club and Sisterhood at their annual joint breakfast on Sunday, Jan. 13.
North won�t be talking about exercise and nutrition. He is well known as an author, radio host, motivator and owner of state-of-the-art fitness centers bearing his name. But many people aren’t aware of his remarkable rise to success that began in Richardson, where he and his family overcame setbacks and tragedy with incredible perseverance, dedication and forgiveness.

He’ll tell his amazing story in an unforgettable multimedia presentation that has inspired audiences of all ages around the country. The public is welcome at the lox-and-bagel-and-dessert breakfast, which begins at 9:30 a.m. Admission is $7 for Men�s Club and Sisterhood members, $10 for non-members.
Beth Torah is located at 720 West Lookout Drive in Richardson. For more information, call the synagogue at 972-234-1542.

Dallas leaders roll up their sleeves as Yeshiva University adds executive approach to rabbinic training
Business and the rabbinate may seem to be disparate areas of study, but as Yeshiva University Center for the Jewish Future (CJF) is demonstrating, a rabbi has much in common with a business executive.
At two three-day long seminars held Nov. 16-18 and Dec. 16-19, CJF teamed up with YU�s own Sy Syms School of Business (SSSB) to focus on the rabbi�s role as an executive of his synagogue and his partnership with its lay leaders. The objective of this program is to tackle the traditional challenges of the Modern Orthodox rabbinate by applying contemporary business management skills where appropriate.

Rabbi Ari Perl, David Radunsky and Robert Liener of Congregation Shaare Tefilla joined more than two dozen other rabbis from across the United States and Canada and key officers from their respective synagogues� lay leadership at the workshops at the Hyatt Regency Bonaventure Conference Center in Weston, Fla. The participants learned management techniques that will help them enhance their leadership skills, increase avenues of communication and improve the governance of their congregations.

The seminars are part of CJF’s Legacy Heritage Fund Rabbinic Enrichment Initiative (LHREI), which is supported by the Legacy Heritage Fund Limited in New York City.

The program’s facilitators included Steven Nissenfeld, Ph.D., and Brian Maruffi, Ph.D., both clinical professors of management at SSSB, and Robert Leventhal, a senior consultant at the Alban Institute, which helps religious congregations address their needs in a changing world.

“The concept is outstanding – a real breakthrough. It creates a model of the rabbi-lay leader team which, from a management and organization perspective, can be used to build a truly successful, high-performing synagogue,” said Dr. Nissenfeld. “The support and collaboration of CJF and SSSB has proven to be exceptional.”
Dr. Maruffi pointed out that ‘rabbis are in a difficult position because they are at the same time both leaders and employees. The benefits that a program such as LHREI gives to individual rabbis should be admired and replicated.’

J Players present ‘Guys and Dolls’
The well-known and popular J Players will present four performances of the Broadway smash hit ‘Guys and Dolls’ on Thursday, Feb. 14, 7:30 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 16, 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Feb. 17, 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. All performances will be held in the Zale Auditorium at the Aaron Family JCC.

Based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon and set in the 1950s, ‘Guys and Dolls’ is a romantic comedy that soars with the spirit of Broadway as a cast of vivid characters takes you from the heart of Times Square to the caf�s of Havana and even into the sewers of New York City. The music and lyrics are by Frank Loesser and the book, by Joe Swerlin and Abe Burrows. Hailed by many as the perfect musical comedy, this hilarious show is ideal for audiences of all ages. The Frank Loesser score features classics such as �Luck Be a Lady,� �A Bushel and a Peck� and �Sit Down, You�re Rocking the Boat.�

Tickets are: adults, $15 in advance/$20 at the door; students and seniors, $12 in advance/$15 at the door. To order, call 214-739-2737 or purchase online at www.jccdallas.org.

Emanu-El’s Showcase Series announces program
The popular Showcase Concert Series, sponsored by the Temple Emanu-El Music Committee, will begin its 18th season on Feb. 24. Each year the series offers four concerts bringing the finest in Jewish, classical, jazz and pop music by outstanding musicians to the community at large.

Sunday, Feb. 24, 3 p.m.: Amid the festive spirit of the ever popular Champagne Pops, Dallas� own Denise Lee headlines the opening of this year�s Showcase Series mixing R&B with classic popular tunes and jazz.
Sunday, March 16, 3 p.m.: The Power of Music features The Vocal Majority, who have enthralled and inspired audiences for more than three decades. They will offer an evening of their signature blend of Broadway, American standards and more. Eleven-year-old piano prodigy Evan Ritter, who has performed at the 2006 Basically�

Beethoven Festival and with the Plano Symphony, opens the program.
Sunday, April 13, 3 p.m.: A gala Jewish music celebration, an afternoon of Jewish music will be presented by Cantors Richard Cohn of Temple Emanu-El, Don Croll of Temple Shalom and Itzhak Zhrebker of Shearith Israel along with their choirs, and joined by Cantor Jacob Cohen of Congregation Nishmat Am. This will be a not-to-be missed, �super-sized� afternoon of inspired music-making.

Saturday, May 3, 7:30 p.m.: At the closing concert one of Dallas� leading entertainers, Doc Gibbs, and his band will bring you a �feel-good� evening of your all-time favorites by way of dancing, song requests, comedy and singing impressions.

All concerts will be in Tobian Auditorium at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Road.

For season or single tickets, call Yvonne at Temple Emanu-El, 214-706-0000 ext. 120; Sarah Yarrin, 214-361-0486; or Rosalee Cohen, 972-233-2001.

Dallas filmmakers speak about new project

Filmmakers Allen and Cynthia Mondell
Filmmakers Allen and Cynthia Mondell

Allen and Cynthia Mondell, award-winning Dallas filmmakers, spoke to a full room at Congregation Beth Torah on Dec. 16. The Mondells have written, produced and directed several dozen documentaries and educational films ranging from Jewish immigration, medical and mental health issues to the State Fair of Texas. They are most proud of their films making a positive difference in people�s lives, thus their slogan, �Changing lives with film since 1978.� Currently they are working on �The Monster Among Us,� which examines the alarming increase in anti-Semitism in today�s Europe. They showed a 20-minute excerpt from their work, followed by questions and answers.

Allen Mondell noted, �This is not simply Europe�s problem or the problem of the Jewish communities �there�; this is our problem. Every North American, Jew or non-Jew, every person or foundation, committed to the freedom and tolerance that stand as the fundamental foundation of a democratic, civil society needs to be not only alarmed but also mobilized to do something about it.�

Here is an opportunity for those of us in Dallas to �do something about it.� The Mondells started Media Projects, Inc. a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, in 1978. Its work is financed by contributions from foundations, corporations and individuals. The Mondells are now trying to raise the final $100,000 to complete the production budget. All funders for �The Monster Among Us� will be included in the credits of the film and in the Discussion Guide that will accompany the film in distribution.

Remember the phrase, �Never Again!� This is one way for those of us in Dallas to try to help ensure nothing like the Holocaust ever occurs again.

You can contact the Mondells at Media Projects, Inc., 214-826-3863 or www.mediaprojects.org.

Greater Dallas Section of NCJW to celebrate at birthday lunch

The Greater Dallas Section of NCJW is proud to celebrate 95 years of service and advocacy to the Dallas community. In commemoration of their success, they will honor four people for their outstanding commitment to NCJW and the community at their Birthday/Awards luncheon on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The award recipients are: Sharan and Lynn Goldstein, the Hannah G. Solomon Award; Rhona Streit, the Janis Levine Music Make-A-Difference Award; and Marla Bane, the Emerging Leader Award.

Friends and members are invited to join in honoring these deserving awardees at the Park City Club, 5956 Sherry Lane on the 17th floor. Registration will begin at 11:15 a.m. and the luncheon will begin promptly at 11:45. The cost is $54 per person with patron categories available at $100 and $200 per person.

There are several ways to make a reservation by Jan. 8: online at www.ncjwdallas.org/calendar.html; e-mail at info@ncjwdallas.org; or phone at 214-368-4405.

NCJW ‘Tortilla Curtain’study group
Also on NCJW�s calendar, plan to join them for their upcoming study group Wednesday, Jan. 23 at 10 a.m. The cost is $10 and includes a continental breakfast.

D.J. Kasanoff, professor of English at SMU and a member of NCJW, will lead a discussion of T.C. Boyle�s novel, �The Tortilla Curtain.� It is the story of two Los Angeles couples whose paths cross on a collision course. One couple, who are liberals, live in a newly gated hilltop community; he is a sensitive nature writer, she an obsessive real estate agent. The other couple, who are Mexican illegals, cling to their vision of the American dream as they live in a makeshift camp deep in a ravine.

NCJW has long been involved with the area of immigration, and current advocacy for humane immigration reform ties in perfectly with discussion of this timely work.

Copies of the book, available though the office for $14, are also available at Borders Books.

The study group will be held at 6515 Meadow Road, Dallas.

To RSVP, e-mail info@ncjwdallas.org or call 214-368-4405.

‘Lifting the Veil of Sleep’
NCJW and Hadassah invite you to attend �Lifting the Veil of Sleep� (a program for both men and women) on Tuesday, Jan. 8, 7 p.m. at Tiferet Israel, 10909 Hillcrest Road in Dallas.

Topics will include snoring, sleepwalking, sleep apnea, trouble sleeping, sleeping during the day and restless leg syndrome. The speaker is Dr. Philip Becker, president and founding partner of Sleep Medicine Associates and medical director for the Sleep Medicine Institute at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

The $5 admission fee includes light refreshments.

Your payment is your reservation. Checks should be mailed to Hadassah, 10830 Central Expwy., Suite 265, Dallas, TX 75231. You can also e-mail chapter.dallas@hadassah.org or call 214-691-1948.

Texas Hold’em tournament on Jan. 12
Temple Emanu-El Brotherhood will sponsor their first Texas Hold�em tournament on Saturday, Jan. 12. For those who enjoy a game of cards or those who would like to learn how to play Texas Hold�em with some great prizes as enticements, this will be the opportunity.

More detailed information about the tournament will be forthcoming.

Documentary honors WWII vets from Metroplex
Jewish War Veterans will view a documentary which honors World War II Veterans from Dallas JWV Post 256 and Fort Worth JWV Post 755 on Jan. 12 at the Dallas Children�s Theatre, Rosewood Center for Family Arts, 5938 Skillman Road, Dallas.

The documentary is based upon personal interviews and experiences of these men from our �Greatest Generation� who now live in our community. This is a tribute to all of our veterans who served our wonderful country.

The documentary, the culmination of a bar mitzvah project by Daniel Hersh and Ryan Kline, honors the sacrifices of our veterans and recognizes them in our community. The results are outstanding.

The video presentation will begin at 7 p.m. followed by a panel discussion by the veterans. Questions will be entertained.

Everyone is invited to attend. There will be no charge for admission. Please bring your family and friends

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News from Aggieland

Posted on 03 January 2008 by admin

News from Aggieland
Texas A&M Hillel announces scholarship winners

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — Each year, Texas A&M Hillel awards two scholarships to its students. Rabbi Tarlow announces each scholarship at the end of each fall semester as close to Chanukah as possible.

One is the Brian Goldberg scholarship, named after a student who died during his sophomore year at Texas A&M. His parents set up the scholarship to go to a sophomore (either by hours or by semesters) who reminds Rabbi Peter Tarlow of Brian. Any sophomore can simply tell Rabbi Tarlow that he or she would like to be considered.

The other is the Jack Forman scholarship, which can be awarded to a student of any classification from freshman to graduate student. It can also be divided among several students. The exact amount of each scholarship depends on how much income these funds generated in the previous fiscal year. It is also judged on a one-page essay, “What Hillel means to me,” but the writing is assessed differently depending on the applicant’s classification (harder for seniors, grad students, etc.).

This year’s winners for the Brian Goldberg scholarship were Mindy Prengler and David Rahmani. Mindy is a psychology major from Dallas and the social chair for the Hillel student board. David is a physics major from Plano, the recorder for Sigma Alpha Mu, the local Jewish fraternity, and a member of the Hillel student board.

The Jack Forman scholarship went to Asif Avshalumov and Jacque Siegel. Asif is a senior finance major from Plano. Jacque is a freshman education major from El Paso and the person who organized the Hillel Chanukah events. Both are members of the Hillel student board.

Chabad at Texas A&M makes kosher a reality

In order to increase the availability of kosher food in the region, Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff, co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center at Texas A&M, has been working closely with the university in establishing a kosher dining program that adheres to the highest level of quality and kashrut. Recently, the local Albertson’s on University Drive has been bringing in fresh kosher chicken and meat at the request of Rabbi Lazaroff. “I am excited about being able to bring a greater selection of kosher products into our store!” exclaimed Bonita Hebb, Albertson’s store director.

Kosher food accessibility has been a determining factor on whether or not some people decide to attend Texas A&M. It is Chabad’s goal to make kosher products more available; whether at the university or in the local grocery. “This is really great news,” said Ruth Clearfield, president of Congregation Beth Shalom. “Rabbi Yossi is doing a fantastic job in promoting Jewish life on campus and we are very appreciative.”

“We hope that with the kosher meals that our Chabad Center provides, as well as our concerted effort in bringing kosher dining to A&M and more kosher food to local groceries, Texas A&M will be a school of choice for many that would love to gain from the exceptional education at the university without compromising their religious values,” Rabbi Lazaroff said.

For more information about Kosher in College Station, visit www.jewishaggies.com or contact Rabbi Yossi or Manya Lazaroff at 979-220-5020.

In Brief

Young Judaea Year Course expands at tremendous rate

Year Course, Young Judaea’s gap-year program for post high-school graduates in Israel, is experiencing a joyful explosion of programming and registration numbers. According to the latest figures, registration for the 2008-9 array of Year Course programs is nine times greater than at this time last year.

This 800 percent upsurge in enrollees – from 25 last year at this time to 225 now – is the result of a number of factors, not least of which are additional programs with particular appeal to 18- and 19-year-olds interested in spending a year in Israel.

Specialized tracks were developed several years ago and this year include two tracks for religiously observant Jews, five international tracks and five special-interest tracks all in Israel: Performing or Visual Arts, Culinary Arts, Medicine, Design and Athletics.

For more information, please contact:

israelprograms@youngjudaea.org

800-725-0612

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