Archive | March, 2008

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Around the Town — March 2008

Posted on 09 March 2008 by admin

Around the Town with Rene
Federation allocates $8,600 to Taglit-birthright israel

Taglit-birthright israel received an allocation of $8,600 from Federation’s 2007 Campaign to ensure the continued existence of the Jewish people by strengthening Jewish identity, Jewish communities and solidarity with Israel. Birthright israel has been increasing the annual number of Jews visiting Israel by providing the gift of first-time educational trips to Israel for thousands of Jewish young adults, mostly unaffiliated with any Jewish community. Thus far, over 150,000 young adults, ages 18–26, have participated in this first-time peer-group educational trip of 10 days.

Research continues to show that a visit to Israel relatively early in life is one of the most effective ways to maintain Jewish identity and continuity. Participants in past birthright trips report consistently stronger feelings about “connection to local Jewish community, to Jewish history, to worldwide Jewry and to Israel.” Major goals being accomplished by birthright israel include:

• Making a significant difference in the lives of young Jews between the ages of 18 and 26

• Making a meaningful difference in the relationship between Israel and Jewish communities

• Offering tools to broaden the basis of Jewish education

On a recent birthright trip, one of our Tarrant County college students, Jared Snow, remarked, “The highlight of the trip had to be our visit to the Western Wall. Returning home, I knew I would always look back at this 10-day journey as one that helped me strengthen my Jewish roots and establish a true affinity towards Israel.”

For more information about Taglit-birthright israel or how to take advantage of this free experience in Israel, contact Federation Executive Director Mort House or Mona Karten at the Federation, 817-569-0892.

Taglit-birthright israel is only one of 47 recipient organizations which received allocations from the Federation’s 2007 Annual Campaign. Please support Campaign 2008 by contacting Mort or Mona at the Federation. Your support makes a difference in the lives of thousands of people and will make a difference in your life as well.

Five previous presidents of University Democrats at UT–Austin open Dobie office for Barack Obama

The past five presidents of University Democrats at UT–Austin have come together to open and manage an office in Dobie Mall for the Barack Obama campaign to help with get-out-the-vote efforts on campus and in student living areas. Recognizing Sen. Obama’s ability to energize the youth and college vote and his willingness to change the political atmosphere in Washington, the presidents are managing this public venue to help win Texas.

The past five presidents (and their presidential terms and contact) represent students from across the state of Texas:

• Marcus Ceniceros, El Paso (Fall 2004–Spring 2005), 915-383-2800

• Alex Hunt, Corpus Christi (Fall 2005), 361-533-1842

• Brandon Chicotsky, Fort Worth (Spring 2006), 817-800-1798

• Nick Chu, Grapevine (Fall 2006–Spring 2007), 817-773-6905

• Ben Trotter, Wichita Falls (Fall 2007), 940-631-0095

“We intend for this office to be the premier venue for students to phone-bank, take on campus visibility and get students to vote,” the past presidents said. “Sen. Obama has done a tremendous amount to mobilize the youth and get them excited about the political process; now it’s our turn to do our part. Barack Obama is a once-in-a-generation kind of politician and has the ability to shape the next generation of voters. We want his vision for America to come to fruition. This office will make that possible.”

University Democrats does not endorse presidential candidates as a group, but this group of student leaders felt it necessary to take their support to campus. The five previous presidents are ready to offer campus the opportunity to help Sen. Obama win the Democratic nomination and help press toward his victory in November.

“All five previous presidents have spent countless hours helping the Democratic Party and we will use our experience and resources to help Barack Obama win the nomination. This is our best effort yet.”

‘Daytimers’ hear Tamás Ungár

Over 60 “Daytimers” were impressed by a performance, last Wednesday, by pianist Tamás Ungár, executive director of Piano Texas Festival and member of the TCU piano faculty.

Dr. Ungár gave the “Daytimers” an intimate look behind the scenes to learn how a piece of classical music is constructed, and the various themes and keys developed. Roz Rosenthal commented at the “Daytimers” committee meeting what an impressive and educational program it was. Committee members thanked Rosanne and Bill Margolis for working the door, and Al and Sylvia Wexler for managing the luncheon buffet table.

Next event for the “Daytimers” will be a trip to the Amon Carter Museum to see the exhibit, “Intimate Modernism: Fort Worth Circle Artists in the 1940s.” Following a docent-guided tour of the exhibit, the group will gather in the Carter Members’ Lounge for lunch catered by Ol’ South Pancake House.

Lunch and museum tour are $8/person. Guests have a choice of kosher salami, turkey breast or tuna salad sandwich. All include chips and cookie, soft drink or bottled water. Or guests may attend for just the tour for $3.

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.

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With stepped-up attacks, Gaza war enters new phase

With stepped-up attacks, Gaza war enters new phase

Posted on 06 March 2008 by admin

By Roy Eitan

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A surge in bloodshed over the past few days has pushed the battle in the Gaza Strip into a new phase, with Hamas militants expanding their attacks on Israel to include a sizable city and Israel responding with a military operation in Gaza.

Though the Israel Defense Forces ended its limited operation Monday, Palestinian rocket fire from the territory continued this week and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made clear he would not hesitate to strike at Gaza again to stem the fire.

Hamas “is uninterested in any structure of understanding with us,” Olmert said. “We are in the midst of a combat action. What happened in recent days was not a one-time event.”

On Sunday he told his Cabinet, “The State of Israel has no intention of halting counter-terrorist actions, even for a second.”

The paroxysm of violence has brought new challenges to Israel’s strategy of containing violence from the Gaza Strip while maintaining peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority.

After declaring Sunday that peace talks with Israel were off due to Israeli “aggression,” P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas offered Monday to negotiate a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.

Olmert rejected the idea of a cease-fire and said Israel would continue to engage in negotiations with the Abbas-led Palestinian Authority while striking at terrorists in Gaza. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said Tuesday that Israel might be forced to reoccupy the Gaza Strip.

During a visit to the region Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urged the Palestinian Authority and Israel to resume peace talks.

Israel launched its operation after Hamas rocket crews in Gaza fired several Katyusha-type rockets into Ashkelon, a coastal Israeli city of 120,000. Two Israeli soldiers and more than 100 Palestinians, including numerous civilians, were killed during the raid.

The high death toll prompted condemnation from the European Union and the United Nations secretary-general.

The latest surge in fighting began when Hamas fired dozens of rockets at Israel late last week after the Israeli Air Force bombed a van carrying five Hamas militiamen who recently had returned to Gaza after undergoing specialized military training in Iran.

The Hamas rocket attacks claimed their first fatality in nine months: a 47-year-old father of four who was undergoing job training at Sderot’s Sapir College after recovering from a kidney transplant.

The fatality in Sderot and the Katyusha attacks on Ashkelon prompted Israeli politicians to call for a massive military operation in Gaza to counter what they described as Hamas’ escalation of the conflict.

The Katyushas, which have a longer range than the homemade Kassams regularly fired at Sderot, likely were brought into Gaza when the border between the Palestinian territory and Egypt was breached several weeks ago.

After Olmert returned from a trip to Japan, Israel stepped up its attacks in Gaza, increasing its airstrikes, flattening the Hamas-run Interior Ministry and sending Israeli ground troops into areas of eastern Gaza City. The operation concluded Monday, and Palestinian militants fired more rockets into Ashkelon after Israeli troops withdrew. No one was reported hurt.

Israeli officials described the crackdown in Gaza as a “war” but said a full-scale invasion of the strip was still a way off. The objective, it seemed, was to kill or capture as many Hamas rocket crewmen as possible and perhaps target the Islamist group’s leadership as well.

“The ultimate objective is to bring an end to the firing of Kassams,” Defense Minister Ehud Barak said.

Though Israel said most of the Palestinian casualties were combatants, the dead included many children and other civilians, and television images of the violence drew censure in the Arab world and beyond. A Dubai news anchor wept during a live report on the burial of a Gazan baby. Angry Palestinians in the West Bank clashed with Israeli troops.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accused Israel of “excessive” force, and Slovenia, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, condemned the Israeli attacks as “disproportionate.”

Though the Abbas administration stopped short of declaring dead the peace process revived at the U.S.-led peace conference last November in Annapolis, Md., the P.A. president irked Israelis by saying in broadcast remarks that what was happening in Gaza was a “worse holocaust” than what befell the Jews in World War II.

Some Israelis have suggested that toppling Gaza’s Hamas regime might be a perfect opportunity to hand the territory back to Abbas, whose Fatah forces were routed from Gaza last June by Hamas militants who wrested control of the strip.

Israeli analysts cited this theory in explaining Abbas’ sudden bouts of anti-Israel rhetoric.

“Abu Mazen cannot afford for Palestinians to think he is riding back into Gaza on the backs of Israeli tanks,” Tzvi Yehezkeli of Israel’s Channel 10 news said, using Abbas’ popular name.

Last week, Abbas went so far as to suggest that violence might one day be the way for Palestinians to achieve statehood.

“At this time I am against armed struggle because we cannot achieve it,” Abbas said in an interview published Feb. 28 in the Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustour. But, he added, “things might be different in the coming stages.”

Palestinians, including Hamas, generally use the terms “struggle” and “resistance” for any type of attack against Israelis whether they are soldiers or civilians.

Abbas further boasted in the interview that his Fatah faction, which now controls only the West Bank, “taught many in the region and world about resistance — how and when it is useful, when it is not useful.”

On and off since Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Israel has grappled with how to contain violence from the strip. Despite calls by opposition politicians for a major ground assault in Gaza, Jerusalem officials privately say Olmert is reticent to launch a wide-scale operation in Gaza with no clear exit strategy or effective means of halting the incessant rocket fire on Israeli communities.

“We could go in, kill or capture thousands of Hamas terrorists, even eliminate the Hamas administration once and for all,” one defense official said. “But what then? We would fully expect a few thousand Hamas members to escape our dragnet and go into hiding to await their next chance to strike. There’s no one to hand over to.”

Alon Ben-David, Israel analyst for Jane’s Defense Weekly, said the aim of Israel’s offensive in Gaza was to “break apart this formula whereby Hamas responds to a liquidation by launching rockets at Ashkelon.”

Other Israeli officials said the priority was keeping a lid on the Gaza crisis. There was some speculation that Egypt could be asked to broker some kind of unofficial cease-fire with Hamas. But the Egyptians, still reeling from the blow their security and prestige suffered several weeks ago when Hamas breached Gaza’s border with the Sinai, look reluctant to weigh in.

Omar Suleiman, an Egyptian spymaster who was scheduled to fly to Israel this week for talks with the Olmert government and visiting U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, postponed his trip indefinitely.

Meanwhile, Olmert said the attacks on Hamas strengthen the chances for peace.

“Naturally we are interested in continuing the diplomatic negotiations,” he said. “When the diplomatic negotiations began, we made it clear that they would not, in any way, be conducted at the expense of our right to defend the residents of Israel against the intolerable actions of the terrorist organizations.”

“Nobody would deny that striking at Hamas strengthens the chance for peace. The more Hamas is hit, the greater the chances of reaching a diplomatic agreement and peace.”

Abbas seems ready to talk peace again
Mahmoud Abbas signaled a readiness to resume peace talks. The Palestinian Authority president had suspended the talks in protest of Israel’s offensive in the Gaza Strip. “I call on the Israeli government to halt its aggression so that the necessary environment can be created to make negotiations succeed, for us and for them, and to reach the shores of peace in 2008,” Abbas said Tuesday following talks with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Ramallah. “We have reaffirmed more than once that peace and negotiations are our strategic choice.” Rice, who arrived in Israel hours earlier and was due to leave Wednesday after meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, defined the objective of her trip as salvaging the peace process. Abbas suspended negotiations over the weekend at the height of an Israeli offensive against Hamas rocket crews in northern Gaza in which approximately 110 Palestinians were killed, including dozens of civilians. Olmert said Israel wanted to pursue diplomacy with Abbas in parallel to its crackdown on Hamas. It was not immediately clear from Abbas’ comments when he might agree to meet Olmert again.

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Dallas Doings — March 2008

Posted on 01 March 2008 by admin

Lili Feingold presentation set for March 16

Paul H. Lewis tells the TJP that Lili Feingold, who was unable to keep her December commitment, because of an electronics failure, to speak to JWV has been booked for a return engagement on Sunday, March 16 at the JCC at 9:30 a.m. She talked to JWV members and their Ladies’ Auxiliary on June 27, 2004 when she showed ink and watercolor drawings done by her father, à la Bill Mauldin in style.

Lili will show a recording of the historic flight over Auschwitz by the Israeli Air Force in 2004. Among those attending the ceremony on the ground were Al Weber, who bombed one of the Auschwitz buildings in 1944, and Yitzhak Cohen, who was in Auschwitz at the time of the bombing. Cohen is a Holocaust survivor who lives in Israel.

Bernie Dworkin and Sig Liberman recommended Lili.

As usual, a lox and bagel breakfast will be served.

Lifesaver luncheon open to all

Herzl Hadassah will hold its annual Lifesaver Luncheon on Wednesday, March 12 at10 a.m. in the Senior Assembly Room at the Aaron Family JCC.

A delicious baked salmon/noodle kugel Lunch with salad, vegetable and dessert, all for $15, will be served. In addition to lunch, included in the cost is a donation to Hadassah Medical Center and one raffle ticket. Additional raffle tickets for great prizes are priced at six for $5.

Reservations must be made by March 7. Please call Mary Ruback, 972-239-1586

BBYO dedicates Phase 1 of its ‘Bricks for BBYO’ program

The Dallas-area B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) will culminate Phase 1 of its “Bricks for BBYO” program on Sunday, March 9, from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas, located at 7900 Northaven Road.

The program will help support Dallas-area BBYO’s annual budget and help continue to provide the quality programming and leadership development that has been a tradition for many years.

“Bricks for BBYO” is an opportunity for parents, alumni, advisors, current members and corporate sponsors to purchase a personally engraved brick that will be mounted on the walls outside the BBYO office area. Sherrie Stalarow, BBYO senior executive regional director, said that “these bricks will serve as a permanent testament to what BBYO has meant to the generations of teens who were and are members of BBYO in addition to the organization’s impact on the entire Dallas area Jewish community.”

Phase 1 raised over $10,000. Alissa Goodman, Dallas area BBYO adult board chair, said that “support for the program has been amazing” and that “Phase 2 is expected to exceed Phase 1’s results in a relatively short amount of time.”

The event will also include recognition of staff member Sharon Baron, who is retiring after 29 years of service. Stalarow added that “Sharon, who was the rock of the organization here in Dallas, will be greatly missed by both the professional staff and the kids.”

Stalarow asks that friends of BBYO who would like to contribute to Phase 2 call the BBYO office at 214-363-4654. The office will e-mail the order form to compose a personalized message. RSVPs for the dedication can be made through Alex Aronoff, Dallas director, at aaronoff@bbyo.org.

BBYO is known as the largest and most effective provider of identity-building and leadership development programs for Jewish teens. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., BBYO encompasses over 40 regions across North America, as well as Central and South America, Europe, Israel, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It includes more than 130 employees and over 800 volunteer advisors. BBYO has helped thousands of Dallas-area Jewish teens for over 50 years.

Protect yourself against identity theft

Bnai Zion and Congregation Tiferet Israel will be co-hosts when the United States Secret Service (a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) presents “How to Avoid Identity Theft in Your Business and Personal Life.” The program will be held on Wednesday, March 19, 7 to 9 p.m., at Tiferet Israel, 10909 Hillcrest Road.

A Q&A will follow the presentation. Those attending will receive a 46-page reference book that includes vital information prepared by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. A $10 donation is requested. To register, call Avrille Harris Cohen, 972-918-9200.

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