Archive | August, 2008

Rabbi Wendy Pein will usher in the new year at Plano’s Adat Chaverim

Rabbi Wendy Pein will usher in the new year at Plano’s Adat Chaverim

Posted on 28 August 2008 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Congregation Adat Chaverim’s new rabbi, Rabbi Wendy D. Pein “hit the ‘yes,’ ‘yes,’ ‘yes’ buttons as we checked off what we were looking for. We know she’ll bring a lot of vitality to both Adat Chaverim and our entire community,” said Barry Skolnick, chair of the congregation’s Rabbinical Search Committee who interviewed 13 candidates.  “In defining what we were looking for, we had to articulate it on paper and that took great thought.  Through meetings, focus groups, and open meetings, we came to a vision and Rabbi Pein is it.”

Born in New York and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, , Rabbi Pein recalls the influence of Temple Beth Israel’s Rabbi Al Plotkin.  “I definitely developed a strong positive feeling about my Jewish community in Phoenix,” said Rabbi Pein.  “I was close to my rabbi, I spent my summers at the JCC, and I believe that BBYO and Hebrew High had much to do with my strong, Jewish identity.”

While a student at Stanford University, the future rabbi was involved at Hillel and she taught religious school at Congregation Beth El where she first met a woman rabbi, Rabbi B. Elka Abramson.  “Until then, I knew women could be rabbis, I just hadn’t met one,” she said.  “Rabbi Abramson inspired me to follow in a similar path.”

As part of her studies at Hebrew Union College, Rabbi Pein spent a year in Israel and as an HUC Intern in Jerusalem where she trained incoming students.  While studying at HUC’s New York campus, Rabbi Pein was a student representative on the Rabbinical Admissions Committee.  Prior to joining Congregation Adat Chaverim, Rabbi Pein served as the Associate Rabbi at Congregation Emanuel, in Rye, New York, for six years.  She and her husband Howard have two daughters and she couldn’t be more excited about moving west.

“Rabbi Pein is very warm, empathetic, and knowledgeable about Judaism.  She has strong pastoral skills and a good heart,” said Rabbi Brian Zimmerman, director of the Southwest Region of the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ).   “I believe that Rabbi Pein will build on the sense of community that Adat Chaverim was founded upon and she will bring energy and a love of teaching Jewish values.”

Close to 300 people celebrated to welcome Rabbi Pein, on Aug. 15, when Rabbi Lawrence “Jake” Jackofsky, who served as director of Southwest Region of the URJ for 30 years, installed Rabbi Pein to her post.  Marcia

Grossfeld , assistant regional director of the URJ, Jean Callison, mayor pro tem of Plano, and Rev. Monsignor Henry V. Petter, pastor at The Catholic Community of Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, neighbor to Congregation

Adat Chaverim, all shared in the evening.

“We were thrilled to share this very special service within a service to honor and welcome her,” said Jill Russell, member of Adat Chaverim’s Board of Trustees.  “There’s been an overwhelming response to Rabbi Pein’s addition to Adat Chaverim and everyone, including the religious school, brotherhood, sisterhood, and our social action committee, looks forward to a new level of growth.”

“Rabbi Pein touches you, she is inspiring, and down to earth with an open door,” said Russell, noting that Rabbi Pein hosts a couch in her office, rather than chairs in front of her desk.  “Her vision meets our desire to go out into our community; both the Jewish community and the greater Plano/Collin County community.”

“Adat Chaverim is a warm, welcoming, and dynamic congregation and the commitment by its lay leaders is inspirational,” Rabbi Pein said.  “My mission, to teach and to reveal the beauty of the Jewish religion, makes us a match, and I know here I can fulfill that mission.”

“More than anything I hope to bring a deeper understanding of how Jewishness in ones life, how living a Jewish life, is rewarding and meaningful,” she added.

Joining Rabbi Pein on the pulpit, is Student Cantor Julia Rubin-Cadrain, a second year cantorial student at HUC’s School of Sacred Music.  Cantor Rubin-Cadrain will travel to Dallas for the High Holy Days and, beginning Sept. 5, approximately once a month.

The melody of the cantor, and the service and mission of Rabbi Pein, are certain to bring Congregation Adat Chaverim into the New Year with song, spirit, and sanctity.

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Still working, TJP Publisher Rene Wisch shares her secrets to staying active at 86

Still working, TJP Publisher Rene Wisch shares her secrets to staying active at 86

Posted on 21 August 2008 by admin

By Laurie Barker James
If you ask Rene Wisch, she’ll tell you that she’s loved almost every minute of her action-packed life. Since coming to Fort Worth over 60 years ago, the female half of the duo who published the Texas Jewish Post has done and seen some amazing things. Wisch and her late husband Jimmy took the circulation of the Texas Jewish Post, originally a monthly paper, to a weekly readership of nearly 20,000. Over the course of five decades, they took 10 trips to Israel together, often heading delegations of reporters. In addition to her professional career, Wisch served formally and informally with several local community organizations, and raised five children over the course of three decades.

In the beginning, Irene Gladys Radin (dubbed Rene by her future husband) met Jimmy Wisch at the Jewish Welfare Board in Boston during World War II. He was a soldier in the Army, and she was a pretty brunette with sparkling eyes.

“I was entertaining the soldiers,” she says. “Now, don’t go getting the wrong idea about that. It was the 1940s. Visiting with the soldiers was doing a mitzvah.”

Jimmy was a prolific writer even back then, and he charmed her away from Boston and her mother. Jimmy’s family was in Fort Worth, and after the war, the newlyweds came southwest, only to face a housing crisis. With the war over and Fort Worth barely beginning to boom, there was no place to stay.

Jimmy was working for the Railway Mail Service (an adjunct to the U.S. Postal Service), and Rene had a job with the War Production Board. Together, the two took over the then-monthly Texas Jewish Post in 1947. Wisch has referred to the Post as her “first child.” Production on the monthly paper grew to a weekly effort as the two began marketing in earnest. Jimmy covered the national news, while Rene focused on the “Dallas Doings” and “Around the Town.” The social columns were important, both to the paper and to the community.

“Names make news,” she says.

However, Wisch stayed away from writing anything that was deliberately harmful or simply gossipy, even when that kind of writing might have sold papers. Longtime friend Dr. Carole Rogers, who heads up Fort Worth’s Jewish Family Services, calls her “classy.”

“Rene truly walks the walk of Jewish values, from tikkun olam to refraining from gossip, and showing kindness to everyone,” Rogers says.

Wisch was heavily involved in the national women’s organization Theta Sigma Phi. Formed in 1909 the organization evolved from a collegiate honorary women’s journalism fraternity to become Women in Communications, a strong national network of communicators in a broad range of disciplines. Fellow WIC members Doug Newsom, a professor at TCU, and Bobbie Wygant, Emmy ® award-winning entertainment reporter for NBC5, came up through the ranks of the now-defunct Fort Worth chapter with Wisch.

“I can’t think of anything Rene Wisch can’t do,” Newsom says. “Although she was volunteering, she worked so hard you’d have thought she was getting paid.”

Wygant echoes that sentiment.

“We all respected her,” Wygant says. “She was an active journalist, an active mom, and still found time for her civic endeavors.”

Newsom says Wisch served in almost every capacity for the organization, including the presidency and a stint as treasurer.

“Oh, she was a fantastic treasurer,” Newsom says. “She got us started on the right path.”
Both Newsom and Wygant single out Wisch’s generosity. Although the group contracted with locations for their business meetings, sometimes they found themselves homeless. Both Wygant and Newsom fondly recall that at those times, and every summer, Wisch opened her Hulen-area home for meetings or a pool party.

“Rene was a wonderful hostess,” Newsom says. “She’d never let you leave hungry.”

Carole Rogers also speaks of Wisch’s generosity. Rogers says that many times, JFS approached Wisch for everything from donations to welcoming a lonely person into her home for a holiday celebration. Without fail, Rogers says, Wisch has stepped up to the plate.

Tricia Carter Haber can testify to that. Haber says that, when she was new to the area and married into a family that had been in Fort Worth for generations, Wisch would go out of her way at Hadassah meetings or social events to sit with her, and engage her in conversation. Haber, who was doing her best to remember names and who was related to whom, will be grateful for a lifetime.

“Rene is so dear,” Haber says. “She took me under her wing.”

Wisch became an expert at juggling her hostess duties, family commitments and the full-time job of running a weekly newspaper. There was no shortage of hard work, especially in the pre-computer days of linotype, when the paper had to be set and folded by hand.

“I worked seven days a week on the paper,” Wisch says. “It was a labor of love.”
Sometimes she did her work at home, and on more than one occasion, from her hospital room after the birth of a child. She says that the day she brought her second child Steve home from the hospital was also the day that the paper moved to its Fort Worth headquarters. With both parents working on the paper and on constant deadline, Wisch reports that often, the kids had to get used to their unusual schedule.

“We’d drop them off at Sunday school, then go work on the paper,” she says. “A lot of the time they would be the last ones picked up because we were working.”

Together, the Wisches raised five children, which is not unusual for a family of the 1950s. What is unusual, especially for a woman of that time, was that Wisch was a full-time working mother and gave birth to her youngest daughter when she was 43. Other people, especially her children, acknowledge that she seemed to be ahead of her time. However, she thinks nothing of it.

“I didn’t have a choice to work,” she says. “My husband needed my help, and I loved it then and I love it now.”

Tricia Haber says that one of the things she respects most about Wisch is that she served as a role model of what a strong, professional woman could be.

“She’s the heart and soul of the TJP,” says Haber.

JFS’ Carole Rogers says that Wisch was one of the first working professional women she knew. However, Rogers adds, work and family weren’t separated for Wisch.

Bobbie Wygant says that Wisch’s accomplishments in the career and family arena were “remarkable, but not unusual.” Many of the Women in Communications had families, careers and extensive volunteer commitments.

“These were tough women,” Wygant says.

At almost 86, Wisch still serves as the TJP’s publisher. The “mom and pop paper” she and her husband started over 60 years ago has grown from a staff of two to a three- generation Wisch family enterprise, with a staff of 10 to 12.

Wisch is justifiably proud of the paper’s tenure, as well as the TJP’s growth, bucking the national newspaper trends of shrinking readership and staff size. The “family business” survived both the ebb and flow of the newspaper trade, as well as challenges from at least two other news agencies which launched competing papers aimed at the Dallas Jewish market. Those efforts failed, while the TJP continues.

“I don’t think there was enough of a market to support two English-language Jewish newspapers in Dallas,” Wisch says, graciously.

Carole Rogers also singles Wisch out as a model for growing older gracefully. She says Wisch is not sad or frustrated, but very pragmatic about the changes aging brings. Until recently, the dynamic Wisch commuted from her Fort Worth home to the Dallas office three days a week. She is relocating to be closer to her four Dallas-area children and her grandchildren, and reports she’s looking forward to spending more time in the office.

“The lucky ones my age,” she says, “get to go to work!”

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Lone Stars of David: ‘The Immigrant’: from czarist Russia to small-town Texas

Lone Stars of David: ‘The Immigrant’: from czarist Russia to small-town Texas

Posted on 14 August 2008 by admin

By Laurie Barker James
“The Immigrant,” by Texas actor/writer Mark Harelik, tells the story of Jewish immigrant Haskell Harelik, who fled the pogroms of czarist Russia shortly before the Russian Revolution. Harelik’s grandfather Haskell arrived in Texas in 1909 during the “Galveston movement,” and pushed his fruit cart into the tiny Baptist community of Hamilton, Texas. Harelik fortuitously knocked on the right door, and was given shelter by the town’s banker and his wife. Eventually, Harelik impressed the couple with his hard work, and they backed him in his business ventures. He brought his wife from Russia, raised a family and made Hamilton his home.

The play, and the musical Harelik subsequently wrote, were inspired by photographs from a Harelik family album. Over the past two decades, both have been performed literally thousands of times on stages across the country, including several runs on and off Broadway.

Last year, Fort Worth’s Stage West staged the musical version of “The Immigrant.” This Sunday, Aug. 17, Stage West presents a concert version of their production during the 12th annual Jewish Arts Fest of Dallas at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center.

Judy Cohn, the JCC’s cultural programs director, produces the annual Jewish Arts Fest. This year’s theme is

“Discover and Celebrate Jews of the Lone Star State,” and Cohn thought that the theme of the play was a perfect match. She remembered the Stage West production and approached the company about producing the show for the Jewish Arts Fest.

“They’re producing a concert version of the musical,” Cohn says. “The actors will be accompanied by musicians, but there’s no set.”

The extended family of “The Immigrant” includes Hareliks, Siegels and Novits scattered throughout north and central Texas. Most of them have seen the play more than once. Harry Harelik is the son of Haskell’s oldest child, Sam. Harry said that Haskell and his wife, Matley, had three sons. Sam and Louis are now deceased. Milton Harelik, now in his 80s, is Haskell’s sole surviving son and is Mark Harelik’s father. Milton still lives in the same homestead in Hamilton.

“I left Hamilton to go into the service,” Milton says. “But I wandered back.” He has lived in the house since he returned from a stint in Hutchinson, Kan., where his first wife, Geraldine, passed away. He shares the

Hamilton house, built by Haskell and Matley, with his second wife, Dorothy.

Harry was contacted by the JCC’s Judy Cohn, and said it was a surprise that the family’s story would prove to be so interesting to so many. He has the unusually difficult task of coordinating arrangements so that all available Harelik descendents can sit next to each other at the show next Sunday.

Haskell’s sister Hanna (who became known as “Annie”) also emigrated from Russia, along with her husband, Velvel “Wolf” Novit. Jan Siegel Hart, who is Annie’s granddaughter, says that her grandfather Velvel and grand-uncle Haskell left the old country before they could be conscripted into the czar’s army. At that time, Hart says, Russian Jews were forced to the front lines of the army, and used as “cannon fodder.”

Velvel Novit, Hart’s grandfather, actually came to the U.S. first, avoiding the conscription notice which would have meant certain death for a Russian Jew. Haskell followed soon after, bringing Velvel’s wife, Annie, and daughter, Fannie.

“Family legend says Haskell was a ‘rabble-rouser,’” Hart says. Apparently, Haskell must have been attending anti-czarist meetings, and was hustled out of the country “before he got into trouble.”

After Mark Harelik wrote “The Immigrant,” he encouraged Hart to chronicle her grandmother’s history. Hart tells the story of Annie in her book “Hanna the Immigrant,” and has told her mother’s stories in “The Many Adventures of Minnie.” The common theme running through both Mark Harelik’s play and Jan Siegel Hart’s books is one of growing up in the only Jewish family in a non-Jewish town.
Many of Haskell’s descendents are involved in Texas Jewish history. Harry Harelik, Milton and Dorothy Harelik and Jan Siegel Hart and her husband, Charles, are all members of the Texas Jewish Historical Society.

Jan is also active in telling the history of both her family and Jews who immigrated through the “Galveston movement.”

Hart credits the support and encouragement of legendary Rabbi Henry Cohen for the successes of her family and others who came through Galveston. Rabbi Cohen was a central figure in the movement that sought to route Eastern European Jews fleeing persecution away from the crowded cities on the East Coast of America.

And Hart and Harry Harelik are involved in keeping the history of the Galveston movement alive. The events of immigration into Galveston will be chronicled next year with an exhibition at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum. “Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America Through Galveston Island” will explore the dramatic story of Galveston as a significant transoceanic port of immigration into Texas and America between the middle 1800s through 1924. The exhibit will include pictures and information from both the Novit and Harelik families’ albums and memoirs.

“The Immigrant” shows at 12:30 p.m. Harry Harelik calls Stage West’s production “one of the best.” Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. There are no reserved seats, so plan to come early. Cohn says that the concert hall at the Meyerson, which seats about 200, will be opened shortly before the 12:30 start time.
“If you come early enough, you could get a chance to sit in the box seats, where Ross Perot usually sits,” Cohn says.

The Arts Fest, which runs from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m., highlights Jewish culture, including music, fine art, crafts and Judaica, children’s activities and delicious kosher food.

The Jewish Community Center of Dallas and Gold Metal Recyclers present
The 12th Annual Jewish Arts Fest of Dallas “Discover and Celebrate Jews of the Lone Star State”
Schedule of Events
Listen for the sound of the shofar announcing performances
Musical Performances – Main Stage
Mistress of Ceremonies – Linda Leonard

10:30 – 11:30 a.m.
Hot Peas ‘N Butter
A Multi-Cultural Family Concert with Danny Lapidus and Fransisco Cotto

Even if your kids don’t like peas, there’s no way they can resist this Nickelodeon and Noggin’ Channel favorite! Parents and grandparents will love them too as they sing in many languages including Hebrew, Spanish and more! For kids ages 2-10

12:30 – 2 p.m.
Stage West presents
“The Immigrant” – A New American Musical in concert
“The Immigrant,” based on the lives of playwright Mark Harelik’s grandparents, tells the story of a young Jewish immigrant who settled in Hamilton, Texas in 1909, and the local couple who befriended him. It is a true story of parents, children, Christians and Jews, and the realization of the American dream! It touches the heart, glows with humor and soothes the ear.– NY Times

4 – 5:30 p.m.
David Ross – The New Sound
in Jewish Music
An eclectic mix of R & B, Rock & Soul!
Joined by his 8-piece band, this electrifying performer, formerly with the a cappella group Kol Zimra, will delight you with his rich voice, evocative lyrics, powerful instrumentation and driving rhythms. Area youth choirs join David for a rousing finale you won’t want to miss!

10 a.m. – 6 p.m.    Art, Crafts, Jewelry Exhibition and Sale
Featuring select artists from the U. S. and Israel

(Lower Level)
Host: Jerome Stein
11:15 a.m.
Hollace Weiner, author “Deep in the Heart of Texas Jewry”
2:15 p.m.
Sherry Zander, author / artist / photographer
Little Gems of Beauty & Historical Insight: A Historical Photographic Presentation

3:15 p.m.
Ginger Jacobs, Dallas Native Pioneers & More: The Dallas Jewish Story

(East Lobby)

From the archives of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society

A Traveling Exhibit Courtesy of
the Texas Jewish Historical Society

Photographs Courtesy of the Meyerson Family

KIDZ KINGDOM – Lower Lobby

10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Creative crafts * Community Art Project *
Face Painting by Karen Weiss
Photo Magnets, Video Flip Books, Wax Hands by Mikey B.
12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Torah Time Puppet Theatre / Sing-A-Long
Mike Wurzman & Rabbi Adam Raskin

Noon – 4 p.m.
Handwriting Analysis – Main Lobby
Shawn Mash / Professional Dynamics

10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Photos by GladTower Live Productions – Main Lobby
GladTower is offering ONE FREE PHOTO.
Additional photos at $10 each will benefit the JCC.
11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Food Court – Simcha Kosher Catering – West Lobby
Burgers & Hot Dogs * Sandwiches
Israeli Plate * Desserts * Drinks

As you dine, be entertained by
A GOOD NOISE, an acoustic folk/pop duo consisting of Tiger Darrow and Josh Goldberg
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Synagogue and Organization Fair – Loge Level
Visit booths and find out what all of the Jewish organizations and synagogues in and around Dallas have to offer.

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Going for the gold


Going for the gold

Posted on 07 August 2008 by admin

Swimmers lead U.S. contingent of Jewish athletes in Beijing

By Marc Brodsky
NEW YORK (JTA) — For Jason Lezak, Ben Wildman-Tobriner and Garrett Weber-Gale, the marketing possibilities are endless — perhaps “The Three Chaverim” or “Jews in the Pool.”

All three Jewish sprinters are hoping to make a splash as part of the U.S. men’s swimming team heading to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Not only will they be competing as individuals, but they are expected to make up three-fourths of the 4×100-meter freestyle relay team.

“We joke about going to the Maccabiah Games and setting a world record,” Lezak tells JTA, referring to what is known as “the Jewish Olympics.”

Toss in 41-year-old Dara Torres, another Jewish swimmer and sprinter who will be competing in her fifth Games, and the possibilities rise even higher.

The swimmers are among the seven athletes believed to comprise the American Jewish contingent headed to China. They are a mix of veterans and newcomers, all with a realistic chance of acquiring medals at the Games, which begin with the opening ceremony Aug. 8.

Wildman-Tobriner and Weber-Gale already have their nickname: the “hyphenated Jew crew.” That makes for some good-natured fun around the pool, Wildman-Tobriner says, adding that he is proud to represent his heritage — along with the United States — in China.

Another Jewish athlete eyeing water-related success for the Americans is kayaker Rami Zur, who is making his debut as a member of the U.S. squad. He represented Israel in the 2000 and 2004 Games.
Some Jewish landlubbers also will wear the red, white and blue in Beijing: fencer Sara Jacobson and marathoner Deena Kastor. Both won bronze medals in ‘04 in Athens.

Lezak is competing in his third Olympics and has garnered four medals on relay teams, including a gold in the 4×100 medley in ‘04. At 32, he is the oldest male to qualify for an Olympic swim team.

“That’s an accomplishment in itself,” says Lezak, of Irvine, Calif.

At the recent U.S. Olympic trials in Omaha, Neb., the 6-foot-4, 215-pounder broke the American record in the 100-meter freestyle with a semifinal time of 47.58, setting himself up as the probable anchor on that relay team.

“Winning medals in the relays is such an amazing feeling, being a part of a team,” Lezak says, speaking to JTA by telephone.

In part, it was his disappointment as an individual competitor in Athens that spurred Lezak to keep his Olympic dreams. He failed to qualify for the finals in the 100-meter freestyle, though Lezak says he had a “great opportunity” to win an individual medal.

“I took the preliminaries too lightly,” he admits. “I was thinking about how many races I had to swim and I saved too much energy.

“I learned a horrible lesson, but it kind of got me going another four years. I kind of felt like I had unfinished business.”

Now Lezak, who will be competing in relays and in the 100-meter race, wants to mount the podium by himself.

“I’m a team-type player,” he says, “but to do something on your own feels pretty good. I have a lot to prove to myself. I know I’m capable, I just haven’t done it yet.”

He’ll have plenty of competition from Weber-Gale, of Milwaukee, and Wildman-Tobriner, a fellow Californian. Weber-Gale, 22, edged Lezak in the 100-meter finals in the trials.
Weber-Gale, who won the World Championships in 2005 and 2007, will be making his Olympics debut after narrowly missing a spot four years ago. He expects to compete in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle and on the 4×100 freestyle and medley teams.

The University of Texas All-American predicts an outstanding Olympics for the U.S. squad.
“I think this is the best Olympic swim team ever assembled,” Weber-Gale told the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle. “There are several events where we could get multiple medals, and we could win all three relays.”
Wildman-Tobriner, 23, also is making his Olympic debut. The Stanford University All-American will compete in the 50-meter freestyle and the relay.

“To finally be able to participate is going to be really exciting,” he told the j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California. “It still hasn’t really sunk in yet.”

Lezak, who has been coaching himself the last two years, says he met his younger Jewish colleagues at the ‘05 World Championships.

“They were in a different stage of their lives,” he says. “They were in college, and the international scene was more important to me.”

Lezak says they mostly talk to each other about their common Jewish identity.
“You don’t see that too often,” he says of three Jewish Olympians in the same events. “They’re both nice guys and we all get along.”

The younger duo hasn’t yet picked the brain of their more seasoned colleague, Lezak says.
“Once you start getting to the Games, to the Olympic village, people are more curious of the type of things to expect, more questions come up,” he says.

They can all learn from Torres, a member of the Jewish International Sports Hall of Fame.
Despite having a 2-year-old daughter, the Los Angeles native who now works out in southern Florida qualified in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle, though she will compete in only the former in Beijing.
Torres, who graces the cover of Time magazine’s Olympics preview, which touts “Dana Torres & 99 More Athletes to Watch,” is a nine-time Olympic medalist, including four golds. She established an American record at the trials finals in the 50-meter freestyle with a time of 24.25; Torres broke her own mark set in the semis.

“That she’s doing her best times is phenomenal,” Lezak says. “She’s pretty inspiring to all the athletes out there.”

Her success at an advanced age for athletes has brought suspicions of doping, but Torres has passed every drug test.

“I’ve gone beyond the call of duty to prove I’m clean, but you are guilty until proven innocent in this day and age, so what else can I do?” she told Time. “It’s a real bummer.”
Zur, the kayaker, is seeking his first medal in his third Olympics. While on the Israeli team, he failed to reach the finals as an individual in the 500-meter event or in the two-man 500- and 1,000-meter events.

In his U.S. inaugural, he is considered a contender as he vies solo in the 500, despite a severe spinal injury that jeopardized his career.

“I want to go there and come back with some hardware,” Zur, 31, told the j.
Zur, a 5-foot-9, 160-pounder, trains in the United States and says he feels a part of U.S. culture and society. He says the Israelis have been understanding of his choice to wear U.S. colors this time around.
Zur was born in Berkeley, Calif., but was adopted by a kibbutz couple near the Sea of Galilee. His proximity to the sea helped develop his love of water sports.

“Kayaking was the first sport where I could go wherever I wanted to,” he says.

The Israeli Olympic Committee cut back on funding for his training following the Sydney Games and he left the Jewish state for the Olympic Training Center in northern California, where he lived for free.

Kastor, 35, is another Jewish Californian bound for Beijing. A two-time Olympian, she holds the American records in the marathon and half-marathon. In April, Kastor won the U.S. Olympic trials in Boston with a time of 2:29:35.

Her bronze in Athens was the first medal for an American marathoner in two decades.
Jacobson, 25, of Dunwoody, Ga., brings a No. 1 world ranking in sabre to China. Her sister Emily was on the ‘04 Olympics fencing team; her father, David, was a member of the ‘74 national squad.
Jacobson, who attends Yale University, is a two-time winner of the U.S. women’s sabre championship.

Munich survivor Dan Alon carries scars of ‘72 Olympics

By Chanan Tigay

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — The Munich Olympics were meant to be a defining moment in Dan Alon’s life — but not the way they turned out.

Alon was one of five Israeli athletes who escaped the 1972 massacre of Israel’s Olympic team by Palestinian terrorists.

Thirty-six years later, he still can’t shake what happened.

In Berlin last year to deliver a lecture, Alon noticed several Arabs on the staff of his hotel. He changed hotels immediately.

“I don’t feel secure,” says Alon, 63, a former Israeli fencing champion. “I have a paranoia that they are looking for me.”

In the first years after the attack, Alon says he was perpetually nervous, afraid to be left alone in a room. When he traveled abroad, he always went with someone.

For more than three decades, he barely mentioned Munich.

“I really didn’t talk about it, not even to my family or my friends,” says Alon, who recently retired as director general of an Israeli plastics company. “I tried to stay busy with my business, with my family.”

That changed two years ago with the release of Steven Spielberg’s “Munich,” an epic film about the attack and Israel’s subsequent effort to hunt down those responsible.

“People started to call me and ask me questions,” says Alon, who lives in Tel Aviv.

Since then he has started writing a book about his experiences, and now he lectures at universities and in Jewish communities around the world.

On Sept. 5, 1972, at 4:30 a.m., Alon and his roommate, fellow fencer Yehudah Weinstein, were awakened by gunfire and frantic shouting. Several bullets blew through the wall over Alon’s bed. They were the shots, he says, that killed weightlifter Yossi Romano, who had been staying in the adjoining room.

Alon hurried to his window below, where he spotted a man in a white hat toting a machine gun. Several feet away, wrestling coach Moshe Weinberg lay dying on the ground.

Alon and four teammates — Weinstein, along with two marksmen and a speed walker — huddled in his room. The marksmen suggested shooting the gunman with their pellet guns.

“We decided not to do it,” Alon says. “We didn’t know how many terrorists there were, what kinds of weapons they had, what hostages they had.”

Eventually they agreed to sneak downstairs and outside as quietly as possible. One by one, treading lightly on a creaky, wooden staircase, the athletes descended the single flight of stairs, slipped through a glass door, and went over a first-floor balcony and through the garden to freedom. It took about 15 minutes.
One of the terrorists spotted them as they ran, Alon says, but he did not shoot.
Several hours later the Israelis’ teammates were dead.

“I blame the Palestinians, and I blame the Germans for the failure to [achieve the] release of the athletes,” Alon says. “But I don’t blame myself. I was only surprised that I survived.”

Four years before the attack, Alon took part in the Six-Day War as a technician securing bombs to fighter jets. Just a year after Munich, he did the same in the Yom Kippur War.

Since then he married — his wife, Adelle, is a nurse — and had three children: Meir, 30; Pazit, 23; and Arik, 28, who has become a champion fencer.

Arik quit to attend college, Alon says, “so I quit, too. I play golf now all the time.”
After the killings in 1972, the Munich Olympics paused for a day, then resumed. Alon says it was the proper move. Not only would it have been unwise to “surrender to terror” and unfair to deny athletes the chance to compete, he says, but the world would have blamed Israel had the Games been canceled.
“For me, the Olympics are a sacred space for sportsmen,” he says. “I believe still that the Olympics are very, very good at trying to unite people around the world. Maybe we need more than one [Summer] Olympics every four years.”

Jews in the Olympics
By JTA Staff
NEW YORK (JTA) — The following is a list of Jewish athletes competing in the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing:

United States
Fencing, Women
Sara Jacobson, sabre

Rami Zur, 500-meter individual

Swimming, Men
Jason Lezak, 100-meter freestyle, relays
Garrett Weber-Gale, 100 freestyle, relays
Ben Wildman-Tobriner, 50 freestyle, relays

Swimming, Women
Dara Torres, 50-meter freestyle, relays

Track and Field, Women
Deena Kastor, marathon

Artistic Gymnastics, Men
Alex Shatilov, all-around

Canoeing, Men
Michael Koganov, K-1 500 and 1000 meters

Fencing, Men
Tomer Or, foil

Fencing, Women
Dalilah Hatuel, foil
Noam Mills, epee

Judo, Men
Ariel Ze’evi, 100 kg
Gal Yekutiel, 60 kg

Judo, Women
Alice Schlezinger, 63 kg

Rhythmic Gymnastics, Individual
Ira Risenzon
Neta Rivkin

Rhythmic Gymnastics, Team
Kayta Pizatzki
Racheli Vidgorcheck
Maria Savnakov
Alona Dvorinchenko
Veronica Witberg

Sailing, Men
Gidi Klinger and Udi Gal, 470
Shahar Tzuberi, windsurfing

Sailing, Women
Vered Buskila and Nika Kornitzky, 470
Nufar Eledman, laser radial
Ma’ayan Davidovich, windsurfing

Doron Egozi, 50-meter rifle 3, 10-meter air rifle
Gil Simkovich, 50-meter rifle 3, 50-meter rifle prone
Guy Starik, 50-meter rifle prone

Swimming, Men
Itay Chama, 200-meter breaststroke
Gal Nevo, 200 and 400 individual medley
Guy Barnea, 100 breaststroke
Tom Be’eri, 100 and 200 breaststroke
Allon Mandel, 100 and 200 butterfly
Nimrod Shapira Bar-Or, 200 freestyle

Swimming, Women
Anya Gostamelsky, 50 and 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly

Synchronized Swimming
Anastasia Gloushkov and Ina Yoffe, duet

Bat-El Getterer, 57 kg

Tennis, Men
Andy Ram and Yoni Erlich, doubles

Tennis, Women
Shahar Peer, singles
Tzipora Obziler, doubles with Peer

Track and Field, Men
Alex Averbukh, pole vault
Niki Palli, long jump
Haile Satayin, marathon
Itai Magidi, 3000-meter steeplechase
Hockey, Women
Gisele Kanevsky

Judo, Women
Daniela Krakower

Swimming, Men
Damian Blaum
Table Tennis
Pablo Tabachnik

Weightlifting, Women
Nora Koppel

Table Tennis
David Zalcberg

Soccer, Women
Tal Karp

Adam Stern

David Zilberman, 96 kg
Ari Taub, 120 kg plus

Tennis, Men
Nicolas Massu

Great Britain
Josh West

How to do Jewish in Beijing
By Alison Klayman
BEIJING (JTA) — Below are some tips on how to do Beijing “Jewish style” during the 2008 Olympic Games:
Three davening and dining options on Friday night:
Chabad (Lubavitch)
Chabad Beijing has two venues (, both near many hotels
Main location: King’s Garden Villa, 18 Xiao Yun Rd Villa No. F1
During the Olympics, this location will have daily services three times a day. After Friday night and Saturday morning Shabbat services, the community walks 10 minutes to the kosher restaurant for meals.

Additional location: Jian Guo Men Diplomatic Building, Building 3, 2F, Room 23
This is a sub-branch that serves the Russian community and others staying in the Central Business District.
Contact: Rabbi Mendy Raskin: e-mail,; phone, 86-13366701744

Kehillat Beijing (Egalitarian, lay-led, Reconstructionist)
Location: Third floor, Capital Club Athletic Center in the Capital Mansion
Go to the Web site ( for a thorough explanation of the location and a pronunciation guide for getting your taxi there. This building is well known by most cabbies and hotels, and is centrally located.

Note: On Saturday morning, Chabad is your only choice. Also, Kehillat will not have services on Friday night, Aug. 8, the night of the opening ceremony of the Games.

Dini’s Kosher Restaurant is a glatt kosher, non-dairy restaurant serving Chinese, Israeli and Jewish foods. ( has the menu). Dini’s will be open 24 hours a day during the Games and can deliver to hotels across the city. It can also vacuum-pack your food to bring to other cities on a China tour.
Several completely vegetarian restaurants in Beijing are Buddhist or Buddhist-themed with serene decor. The Pure Lotus chain has lavish interiors, food served in conch shells or platters brimming with dry ice, and oversized glossy menus that dedicate half the pages to poetry and photos of blades of grass as opposed to food.

A favorite is Baihe-Lily, a simple courtyard restaurant down a poorly marked alley. Baihe-Lily also has a location near the tourist site the Summer Palace.

To find vegetarian restaurants and shops in Beijing, go to The site provides a quick table of vegetarian traveler phrases.

Many supermarkets sell imported food that includes kosher-labeled items. Look for the chains April Gourmet, Jenny Lou’s and Lo Hao Organic, which are almost entirely stocked with imported foods.

Dates in Chinese Jewish history
By Alison Klayman
BEIJING (JTA) — The following are key dates in Chinese Jewish history:
1920: Ohel Rachel Synagogue is established in Shanghai (still standing).
1928–49: The first Lubavitch rabbi in China, Meir Ashkenazi, leads Shanghai’s Congregation Ohel Moshe. Built in 1927, Ohel Moshe is now the site of the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum.
1938–45: 20,000 Jewish refugees from Germany and Austria escape to Shanghai.
1939–40: Approximately 1,000 Polish Jews escape to Shanghai, including about 400 teachers and students of the Mir Yeshiva.
1941–45: Japanese occupying powers intern recent Jewish immigrants from Allied countries in Hongkou ghetto for “stateless refugees.”
1949: Communists win civil war; by now most of 24,000 Shanghai Jews and other Jewish populations across the country leave China.
1978: Deng Xiaoping announces China’s “open door policy” with the West.
1980: First community seder in Beijing is led by founders of the liberal Kehillat Beijing minyan.
1992: Israel and China establish diplomatic relations.
1995: Kehillat Beijing begins regular Friday night services in permanent home, Beijing’s Capital Club.
Oct. 25, 1996: The first community bar mitzvah is held in Beijing for Ari Lee, the son of community founders Elyse Silverberg and Michael Lee.
1998: The “Jewish Shanghai” guided tour begins; it is currently being run by Israeli journalist Dvir Bar-Gal (
September 1999 In Shanghai, a Jewish New Year service is held at the Ohel Rachel Synagogue for the first time since 1952, when the synagogue was closed.
2001: Chabad opens its first center in Beijing.
2006: Beijing mikvah Mei Tovah opens.
2007: Beijing opens its first kosher restaurant, Dini’s (
May 2008: Israel donates 90 tons of medical supplies, more than $1 million, for Sichuan earthquake relief.

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