Archive | October, 2008

Congregation Anshai Torah celebrates its 10th anniversary

Congregation Anshai Torah celebrates its 10th anniversary

Posted on 30 October 2008 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
The summer of 1998 was the beginning of a dream which, due to great effort, diligence and a lot of blessings, will result in the Nov. 7–9 weekend of celebration of Anshai at 10. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be filled with services and ceremonies, celebration and revelry, for the Plano congregation, its families and the entire community.

“Out of the ashes of yesterday the fountains of youth thrive today. Congregation Anshai Torah is a testament to the eternal vitality of the Jewish people. Today, we don’t merely celebrate the passage of time but 10 years of accomplishment by our dedicated community,” Rabbi Stefan Weinberg said. “The psalmist implores, ‘Teach us to number our days.’ Indeed, we at Anshai Torah have lived by that charge, dedicating ourselves to the creation of a vibrant Jewish community where every day and every person is considered infused with God’s presence.”

When the leaders of congregations Anshai Emet and Shomray Torah came together to form Congregation Anshai Torah, it was a priority to all that the two congregations could fuse spiritually. Ten years later, with 526 children under the age of 18, 230 students are enrolled in the religious and high school programs, 90 attend Dallas-area Jewish day schools and almost 200 take part in the congregation’s preschool and early childhood programming. With 31 b’nai mitzvah celebrations in the coming year, the learning for young and “older” continues. Anshai Torah’s seniors have built a strong source of learning, entertainment, and socialization under the banner of Hazak, with 96 members participating in bimonthly programs. The congregation’s adult education program offers classes, taught by leaders from throughout the community, year-round.

“Since we began, the families of Anshai Torah have been one, and everything about the congregation is a part of our lives,” said Debbie Katz, president of the board of directors. “The compassion and leadership with which Rabbi Weinberg has led us, in times of joy and sadness, and the way in which he makes sure that we all live the best Jewish life possible, are a true gift. Rabbi Weinberg, Wende, Danielle, Jordana and Adina have all set the example and they are the base for us all.”

From their first home on Village Creek to the current address at Parker Road, and with grand plans for growth and renovation in the coming year, Anshai Torah has found a way to meet the needs of its congregants, which have more than doubled in its first decade. In the coming year the congregation looks forward to an intense growth with the building of a new sanctuary and renovation of the current building. “The plans have been approved for me to sign the contract and we look forward to being able to seat more than 1400 people at some point in the not-too-distant future,” Katz said. The building that now sits on Parker Road will continue to be used for classrooms and offices, and the current sanctuary and social hall will be enhanced as a larger hall for gatherings.

The weekend’s events will begin with a Friday night service and oneg Shabbat, dedicated to Past Presidents Neil Rubenstein, Cindy Moskowitz, Richard Berry, Rusty Cooper, David Stanley and Andy Farkas. Previous past presidents from Anshai Emet will also be recognized on the congregation’s Wall of Honor.

On Saturday morning, members of Anshai Torah’s service groups including Hazak, Men’s Club, Sisterhood, tutors from the b’nai mitzvah program and others who have generously impacted the congregation, will be honored throughout the service. “There are so many people here who put their time and heart into making Anshai Torah what it is,” Katz said. “From those who led before me to the many who are involved in every aspect of everything we provide, it is a group effort at its best.”

That involvement is evident in the co-chairmanship of the celebration weekend by Cathy Brook and Cheryl Weitz, and the participation of many others including Dr. Amy Balis, Beth Berk, Michelle Meiches, Rob Shrell and the members of the congregation’s a cappella choir Kol Rina, Ilene Sporkin and Susan Zetley.
Saturday night’s gala, with cocktails beginning at 7:10 p.m. at the Fashion Industry Gallery (FIG) in Dallas, is an evening of dinner and dancing to the music of the Dave Tanner Band. Sunday at 11 a.m., the community is invited to share in a family celebration of the future of Anshai Torah with a lunchtime picnic, the creation of a time capsule, the painting of children’s fingerprint tiles to be used in the new building and an afternoon of festivities.

“As I review the past 10 years, I can only conclude, ashreinu mah tov helkeinu, how fortunate I have been with my lot in life,” Rabbi Weinberg said. “I thank the membership of Congregation Anshai Torah for having the confidence to elect me as their rabbi. It has been an honor to teach, prod, dream and celebrate with them during the course of our journey. Hizku v’imtzu — may we go forth with renewed vigor, knowing that the work of our hands is blessed by G-d.”

For more information, or to RSVP for the weekend’s events, call 972-473-7718.

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Shalom from the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 30 October 2008 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Parents and Children,
The start of the school year is filled with so many wonderful beginnings. For a Jewish school, we add all the holidays that come one upon the other without a minute to spare. We have been sooooooo busy! And now, the holidays have ended … ALMOST.
Each year, I make sure to comment on a very special “American” holiday. Oct. 31 is a holiday that we do not celebrate at most Jewish schools. Halloween is not a Jewish holiday; although the religious aspects of the day have been long forgotten, Halloween is the eve of All Saints’ Day, which also was called All Hallows’ Eve. All Saints’ Day had its origins in 837 when Pope Gregory IV ordered the church to celebrate a day in honor of all saints. Over time, the holiday focused on witches, death, skeletons, etc. Today, however, the day is very much an American experience for most of us. The roots of the day have long been lost, yet the debate among Jews continues.
Rabbi Daniel Gordis, in his wonderful book “Becoming a Jewish Parent” (which I highly recommend), raises a number of issues but says: “In the final analysis, what we do about Halloween may not be important. How we think about it, how we talk about it, and what our kids’ reactions to the issue tell us about their identities — those are the crucial issues about which we ought to think and speak very carefully.” Rabbi Gordis questions: “If not participating is going to make our kids resent being Jewish, are we doing enough to fill their lives with positive Jewish moments, with a deep sense of identification, with supportive and loving Jewish community?” We want our children to have a positive Jewish identity and we, the adults in their lives, need to think and plan for wonderful Jewish moments to create memories and reasons to be proudly Jewish.
How you choose to handle this holiday is a family decision but I do have my yearly recommendation. On Nov. 1, RUSH to every store that sells costumes and get great ones for dress-up and especially for Purim — our time to dress up! The sales are fantastic!

Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 30 October 2008 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,
Maybe you can help me sort through my post-holiday emotions and confusion. On one hand, I feel exhilarated after such an uplifting High Holy Days season, topped off by the joy of Sukkot and Simchat Torah. On the other hand, I feel relieved that it’s all over; all the services, holiday meals, preparation, guests and eating were a strain. On the third hand, I feel sort of like a ship with the air out of its sails, as though just dropped back into the normal routine of the year, with no uplifting holiday or inspiration to keep me going. How do you hold on to what just happened?
Melissa K.

Dear Melissa,
You succeeded, in a few brief lines, to describe very accurately how so many people feel after the High Holy Days. Firstly, rest assured, you’re in good company and certainly far from a loner in your feelings. The meals, amount of time spent in synagogue and emotional investment — staying on a “spiritual high” for such a long period of time — put a strain on even the most observant of Jews. It’s normal, so (as un-Jewish as it may sound): no guilt!
This period we passed through is certainly meant to be a source of inspiration for the coming year. Our Jewish hopes are to leave this season on a higher spiritual station than we were on the year before, in order to enter next year’s season in a way to take us yet higher. This is our climb up the ladder of kedusha, of spiritual growth, rung-by-rung, year-by-year, throughout our lifetimes.
The main generator of our spiritual energy is the High Holy Days period. With all our emotional and spiritual energy that we can garner at this time, we propel ourselves to new, elevated levels and see the world from a different vantage point, realizing our potential selves. The challenge now, as you feel, is to remain connected to the generator in some way, and to build smaller “booster generators” to keep the electricity flowing throughout our wires for the rest of the year, until we get re-energized the following year.
At this time, take a pen and paper, and list the prayers, experiences and ideas that gave you the most inspiration these past weeks. Then, focus on one or two of them, and consider how you might incorporate those same experiences into your prayers or observances throughout the year. Specifically label those things in your mind as “buttons” to push, that will get your mind back into the space of the High Holy Days. I once heard a leading sage in Israel speak of doing this with the Shabbat prayers, which are a special time for reflection and peace, to “return” to the High Holy Days, once a week, every week. Sometimes it can be done through an ongoing act of kindness to a family member or one in need.
The most powerful generator of all is the study of Torah. Use a new class, book or study partner as a way to build yourself up from the inside, that you yourself should become a source of inspiration for others like the High Holy Days were an inspiration for you.
The Torah says that the “Eyes of G-d are upon the Land from the beginning of ‘the year’ until the end of ‘year.’” The commentaries note the discrepancy between ‘the year’ and ‘year.’ Some explain, at the beginning of a new year, we say “this will be the year” — different, better, elevated, improved relationships with my spouse, family, with G-d. But, alas, by the end of the year it’s just “year,” no longer “the year.” Now’s the chance to take the steps to ensure that at the end of this year, we’ll say that was “the year”!
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 30 October 2008 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Sometimes luck falls into your lap. A bit of paper finds its way into your hand.
I was in a small antique mall, waiting for the person in charge to get off the phone, when I noticed an interesting pottery plate. I picked it up, and saw something even more interesting underneath: A bulletin from the Freehold, N.J. Hadassah chapter. Date: December 1995.
Among the news about the usual things every Hadassah chapter did then, and still does now (Chanukah party coming up — pitching for new members and for life memberships, etc.) was the Freehold president’s message of the month, reminding me with a smart slap to the brain of something I shouldn’t have forgotten. It’s from a woman identified only as “Ida”:
“On Saturday afternoon, Nov. 4, 1995, the world was stunned by the horrifying news that Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin had been shot. A short while later, the news that he had died on the operating table went through us like a knife. At his funeral, the gathering of dignitaries from all over the world had never been equaled before, and we came to the realization that this loss will impact the entire world…
“It was just three months ago that I sat with Hadassah friends, new and old, in the Jerusalem Convention center to hear Mr. Rabin accept the Henrietta Szold Award from Hadassah, and to apprise us of his ‘peace plan.’ … He was rudely interrupted several times by radical right-wing religious zealots. How were we to know that a short time later, a member of this group would take it into his hands to try to alter the peace process by assassinating Mr. Rabin…?
“While many of us listening were not wholly in agreement with all aspects of his plan, it would never occur to us to alter it through horrible violence…. We who live in the Diaspora cannot begin to know and understand how it is to live and work in Israel, but surely assassination is not the answer to any of Israel’s problems….”
Our Jewish holiday season is over now, again. The new year is here. There have now been 13 new years since Yitzhak Rabin died. In just five days, at least on our secular calendar, it will be his yahrzeit. A boy born on Nov. 4, 1995, the day of the assassination, may well be celebrating his bar mitzvah this coming weekend. Will he know anything, say anything, about Rabin unless we remind him? Will we remember to remind him?
Were you here when Dallas Jewry rallied at Congregation Shearith Israel to say Kaddish for Mr. Rabin? It was a very dark night, raining terribly. I was driving west on Walnut Hill; approaching Central Expressway, I felt a small jolt. I pulled over, got out of the car, saw that another woman had done the same. Had she hit me? Had I hit her? Who knew? There was no visible damage. We exchanged information, waved, went on. A few days later, the woman’s husband called, trying to extort some money, threatening to sue. I told him to go right ahead. Nothing ever happened.
Somehow, it also seems to me that, in matters of peace, nothing much has happened after Rabin, either. New prime ministers with new plans. Then, new disagreements. Very quickly, everything becomes old again.
When the antique-mall woman got off the phone, I asked her about this bulletin. She had no idea how it got there, not a clue what Hadassah is. She said I could keep it, if I wanted.
This bit of paper that is now mine really belongs to Frances Denowitz of Manalapan, N.J. — that’s the name on the mailing label. Betty Koplitz was the bulletin editor. Gloria Katz was chairing the donor dinner. Marcy Brahin was collecting donations of money and personal care items for the local women’s shelter. Michelle Wax, Freehold’s Jewish education chair, contributed an excellent short piece on the history of Chanukah. Members could call Carol Lercher for tribute cards and certificates. Beverly Tannenbaum sold the mah jongg cards: $4.50 each in 1995.
All these women are now memorialized in my mind, where they’ll forever be my reminders for the date of a tragic death. But it’s President Ida, she of no last name, who speaks to me most clearly. Despite her ambivalence about the prime minister’s plans, she ends with these words, so typical of Hadassah: “Let us remember Yitzhak Rabin as a true hero of Israel, and of peace.”
And let us all say, Amen.
E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 30 October 2008 by admin

Live from the 92nd Street Y
at Beth-El
Beth-El will continue its popular Live from the 92nd Street Y programming. The next series will begin on Thursday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m. at Beth-El, where the topic will be “How Should Jews Vote?” Ed Koch, William Kristol and Rabbi Michael Lerner will express their unbridled opinions on issues ranging from regime change to climate change, Tibet to Darfur, and Israel to Iran AND discover which presidential candidate is the frontrunner for the “Jewish” vote! The program is graciously funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and Beth-El Congregation. Everyone is welcome! A scrumptious desert buffet will be provided, and babysitting will be available if requested in advance. A $3 suggested donation is appreciated. If you have any questions, feel free to call 817-229-9357.
Camp Impact: Just imagine!
Close your eyes and just imagine taking children who have lived a life of hardship and often neglect, and immersing them into a carefree, youthful day camp environment where they can experience the childhood pleasures that they so greatly deserve. Listen to their laughter as they chase each other on the grass and play Marco Polo in the swimming pool. Notice the genuine smiles as they build their own one-of-a-kind tool box, sing funny songs at the lunch table with their new best friends, or finally score their first goal in soccer. Now open your eyes and realize how much Camp Impact has “impacted” these children’s lives in just five days! New friends, added self-confidence, boundless aspirations, lifelong memories and a different view of life are all offered to the youngsters who attend Beth Shalom’s Camp Impact.
Each year, the Youth Group of Congregation Beth Shalom sponsors and operates the nationally recognized Camp Impact, a weeklong summer camp for underprivileged children in Dallas/Fort Worth. Camp Impact’s mission is twofold:
First, they hope to break the cycle of violence and despair perpetuated by the neglect of the children they serve.
Second, they are working to promote social responsibility in the Congregation’s Youth Group as well as in the greater community. It is their desire to continue providing this experience, instilling both hope and a social conscience in the children they serve so that they will carry it with them into adulthood.
This is your chance to help and be a part of the excitement as the camp staff, campers and family celebrate with friends and guests on Saturday, Nov. 8, at 7 p.m. Your tax-deductible contribution will assist Congregation Beth Shalom and Camp Impact in continuing these worthwhile efforts. Please visit www.bethshalom.org/member-involvement/arfty/camp-impact/ for more information.
The same evening, Nov. 8, Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington cordially invites you and your guests to their annual Casino/Auction Gala Night, at 7 p.m. The evening will include Vegas games, music, and live and silent auctions. Delicious appetizers will be prepared by incredible Chef Philippe Lecoq, who will astound everyone with fabulous hors d’oeuvres. Relax and enjoy the evening in “dressy casual.”
You can make a difference for Beth Shalom’s nationally recognized Camp Impact by attending the gala at $35 per person, tax deductible. Invite others to share in the magic of the night by donating and gathering items to be auctioned at the gala.
You can buy raffle tickets for a chance to win a Toshiba 42-inch LCD HDTV or, perhaps, become a corporate or individual sponsor.
If you would like additional information about the gala, please call Jeff Rothschild at 972-814-7279, or Janet Aaronson in the CBS office at 817-860-5448.
‘Daytimers’ hear about
dybbuks
Several of the “Daytimers” talked about some of their grandparents’ superstitions when Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis spoke about “Demons and Dybbuks and Golems, Oh My!” on Oct. 22 at Beth-El Congregation. Rabbi Dennis was introduced by his friend and associate, Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger.
Rabbi Dennis, who used to be a registered nurse working in cardiac and hospice, reminded the group that prior to 1932, there was no known cure for infectious diseases, and people depended on many superstitions for cures.
The speaker for next month’s “Daytimers” will be former City Manager Doug Harman, who served during the late 1980s when Fort Worth’s downtown went from being a shuttered Main Street to the amazing upheaval of Sundance Square. He is chairman of the Lakes Trail Region for the Texas Historical Commission, which includes most of North Texas.
His program will highlight important and lesser-known Fort Worth history. He was a key developer of the Fort Worth Heritage Trail, which was designed to feature many of the key elements that make Fort Worth more interesting as a tourist destination. Lunch is catered by Freebirds. Guests have a choice of steak burrito, chicken burrito, or bean and cheese burrito. For reservations, 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. There has been a change in the credit card processing. “Daytimers” can now accept Discover cards in addition to MasterCard, Visa or American Express. Each card must include the mailing ZIP code and the three- or four-number security code from the card. The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Congregation Beth-El with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 30 October 2008 by admin

Sderot Strategies program
at Levine on Monday, Nov. 3
The Ann and Nate Levine Academy and Congregations Anshai Torah, Beth Torah, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Shalom, Shearith Israel, ATID, and Yavneh Academy are proud to present Sderot Strategies. This event will take place at the Levine Academy, 18011 Hillcrest Road, on Monday, Nov. 3 from 7:30to 9 p.m. This interactive discussion program will be led by Jeremy Maissel, a Sderot area resident who is a member of Kibbutz Alumim, a community in the Western Negev on the Gaza border, an internationally renowned speaker and senior educator. The program will also include multimedia presentations, exploration of the dilemmas of everyday life in the shadow of Kassam missiles and discussion of Israeli military strategies. There will time to for participants to answer questions and express opinions. For more information and to RSVP, contact Wende Weinberg, wweinberg@levineacademy.org.
Andy Schultz presents four
scholarships to Yavneh Academy
The TJP joins Yavneh Academy in proudly announcing the recipients of the Andy Schultz Scholarship awards, the first merit-based student awards in the school’s 15-year history. Recipients are Leigh Bonner ‘11 ($2,500), Zoe Klein ‘09 ($5,000), Josh Karnett ‘10 ($5,000) and Micah Steinbrecher ‘10 ($2,500).
“I’ve learned many lessons in life from my parents, Leslie and Howard Schultz, and with their support this program was established,” said Yavneh benefactor, Andy Schultz. “I’m so proud this has become a reality. I look forward to watching it grow and I hope it might inspire others to start their own scholarship opportunities for Yavneh students.”
“The Schultz family has long been a supporter of this campus and this school, and we are honored that Andy has created this scholarship,” said Head of School Donald O’Quinn. “To give the opportunity of an education to a child is the greatest gift of all and the students who will benefit will long make us all proud.”
Each of the 17 students who submitted an application did so with three letters of recommendation and an essay regarding “What role do you believe your Jewish education will play in your life?”
“We increased the number of scholarships because of the outstanding submissions,” Schultz said. “The students made it difficult to determine the winners. So many applicants were strong in academics, athletics and community service and, when you combine those, you get magic and that’s called leadership.
“This had been incredibly rewarding to me as I get to know the students of Yavneh,” Schultz said. “I have a nephew here and I’ve known most of the freshman class for most of their lives. I certainly hope our own four children will someday walk these halls.
“As adults, we have to teach our children how to give and in creating this opportunity, I want to reinforce that. Yavneh is an amazing school and I’m very proud to be a part of it.”
Yavneh Academy is Dallas’ only co-ed Jewish college preparatory high school. The school is home to teachers that are nationally recognized for their excellence and expertise, championship winning sports teams, mock trial, debate, Students Against Terrorism and other extracurricular activities as well as small class sizes that guarantee individualized attention.
Yavneh will host a Prospective Parents Open House for the families of prospective sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students on Wednesday, Nov. 5, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The school is located on the Schultz Rosenberg Campus, at 12324 Merit Drive in North Dallas.
You can visit the Yavneh Web site at yavnehdallas.org or, for details regarding the 2009–2010 Andy Schultz Scholarship, contact Sandy Freling at 214-295-3502.
Three-part series on mourning
to be given at Temple Shalom
Paul K. Chafetz, Ph.D., will present three sessions on “Is There a Right Way to Mourn? Healthy and Harmful Patterns of Grieving” on Tuesdays, Nov. 4 and 11 at 7:45 p.m., and Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m., at Temple Shalom, 6930 Alpha Road.
Since 1982, Dr. Chafetz has maintained a private practice of clinical gero-psychology in Dallas. He serves adult clients through his office practice, in hospitals and in senior living settings. He is the founding director of the Dallas Gero-Psychology Symposium and has twice been president of the Dallas Psychological Association. Dr. Chafetz is a consultant in the care of persons with dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, at facilities across the country and has served as gero-psychology faculty at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas for 20 years.
Women’s Only Swim at the J
The J is opening its indoor pool at the Aaron Family JCC for a Women’s Only Swim on Saturday, Nov. 8, 8–9:30 p.m. Fee is $5 in advance or $10 at the door for individuals; $20 in advance or $40 at the door per household. Deadline is Nov. 5. The program, for all women 10 years old and up, is open to non-members at the member price for a limited time only.
Interested women or girls should come to the J Sports and Fitness Entrance. Check in at the desk and go through the locker room directly to the indoor pool.
Please bring your membership card or another form of identification in order to check out a locker.
Auditions being held for ‘Oliver’
The J Players announce auditions for “Oliver,” Charles Dickens’ touching tale of an orphan boy who runs away from the orphanage and tries to pick a pocket or two for Fagin, but gets caught. As Fagin tries to save him, all Oliver wants to do is go to his uncle and live a good life.
Musical numbers include: “Food, Glorious Food,” “Oliver,” “Where Is Love?” “It’s a Fine Life,” “I’d Do Anything,” “Oom-Pah-Pah,” “As Long As He Needs Me” and many more.
Auditions are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 17 and 18, 8 and 10 p.m. Callbacks are set for Wednesday, Nov. 19 at 6:30 and 10 p.m.
All auditions and callbacks will be held in the Zale Auditorium, Jewish Community Center of Dallas, 7900 Northaven Road, Dallas. Call for appointment: 214-239-7115 or 7112.
Rehearsals will begin Jan. 11, 2009 with production dates set for Feb. 19, 21 and 22.
Composer, lyricist and librettist is Lionel Bart; director/choreographer, Linda Leonard; and musical direction is by Kevin Gunter.
Roles available include Oliver Twist, the Artful Dodger, Fagin, Nancy, Bill Sykes, Mr. and Mrs. Bumble, Widow Corney, the Sowerberrys, Noah Claypole, Bet, Mr. Brownlow, Mrs. Bedwin, Dr. Grimwig, Old Sally, Annie, Orphans, Watchman, Rose Seller, Tavern Maid, Barmaid, Milkmaid, Fagin’s gang, Caitlin the Orphan.
Requirements for the audition: Prepare 16 bars of an upbeat number from traditional musical theater (accompanist provided). Cold readings from the script. Bring current photo/resume. Dress to move.
‘Super Nanny’ to speak, Nov. 11
The Dallas Chapter of Hadassah and the Ann and Nate Levine Academy will present Dallas’ “Super Nanny” Tiffany Collins, LPC, on Tuesday, Nov. 11, 7 p.m., at Levine Academy. Collins, a popular professional counselor and experienced nanny, will discuss such important childhood problems as bribing children, sibling rivalry, sleep issues, tantrums and meltdowns, food and nutrition, potty training and more.
Questions and RSVPs should be sent to amy.seidner@hadassah.org. Be sure that your questions are addressed properly.
For those needing childcare, bring your youngsters for a fun pajama party. Fee is $5 per youngsters; RSVPs are mandatory.

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DATA hosts Kosher Month

DATA hosts Kosher Month

Posted on 23 October 2008 by admin

By Rachel Gross

Mark your calendars: November is Kosher Month. This is a month dedicated to different events and classes in the area for anyone who is interested in learning all about kosher.

This 30-day kosher experience, hosted by the Dallas Area Torah Association (DATA), will give participants kosher supermarket tours at Tom Thumb, a challah baking class, children’s contests and programs, 10 percent off at kosher establishments and a free copy of the “Kosher for the Clueless, but Curious” cookbook.
Registration is $45 per person or $60 per family. During Kosher Month, people can expect to learn everything they need about keeping kosher, from separating their dishes to locating different items in the supermarket.

Rabbi Yogi Robkin, co-director of DATA of Plano who is in charge of Kosher Month, said many people don’t realize how readily available kosher items are.

“For almost any product people are interested in, there is a kosher form of it,” the 28-year-old said. “Without a guide, keeping kosher can seem daunting. By the end of the month, people learn that they can do everything they have always done and enjoy the same foods they have always enjoyed.”

Around 65 people attended different Kosher Month events last year. Almost none of those people were fully observant. They came from various synagogues and some were even unaffiliated.

Robkin said they don’t expect people to start keeping kosher after this, but it is intended to inform them about kosher products.

“This really is for anybody … it’s for someone who has to cook meals because their kids go to day school, or someone who has a son or daughter that keeps kosher, or for anybody that is just curious,” he said, eating a kosher spicy tuna roll from Tom Thumb. “Many people want to keep kosher and think it’s beyond them, but this shows them that it’s really in their reach.”

The first event will take place on Nov. 3, when Rabbi Robkin will discuss how he became kosher. Growing up, he kept kosher at home but did not become fully observant until age 16.

Robkin said he wants people to know that he understands what it’s like to adapt to a new lifestyle.

“It’s a new year and everyone is searching for their resolution. What better way then to take on learning about kosher?” he said. “There is no expectation for someone to become kosher, only that they come in with an open mind and open heart, and learn about the Jewish way of eating.”

Rabbi Sholey Klein, administrator of Dallas Kosher, will also be in charge of some of the Kosher Month events. He said people attended Kosher Month last year solely for the learning experience.

“Nobody turns around the next day and makes their home kosher,” Rabbi Klein said. “We just want to educate them.”

Klein said people don’t realize that about 70 to 80 percent of the items in their kitchen are already kosher. By taking the supermarket tour, they can see that ordinary items like Coca-Cola and Cheerios are kosher. Everything people learn from this has a lasting impact.

“I usually get calls from people a year or two later saying they want to make their homes kosher,” he said. “This is an experience that plants seeds and gives them the opportunity to make a decision down the line.”
Some of the people who previously attended Kosher Month already keep kosher. One of those people is Valerie Granat, a local Dallas resident, who is helping plan some of the events this year.

Granat grew up keeping kosher and keeps a kosher home for her family. She said she went to Kosher Month last year simply to learn more about what items she can use on a daily basis.

She said that, sometimes, things that are kosher don’t have the hechsher (kosher certification symbol) on them, and that’s something people learn from the rabbis during the supermarket tour.

“Often you pass things by in the grocery store, like certain Mexican foods, because you don’t know they are kosher,” she said. “I found that really interesting. In the past, I wouldn’t think to use something because I really didn’t know it was kosher.”

Granat said her favorite part of last year’s events was the challah baking class. Here, people learned how to bake delicious challah and were taught the specific prayers to recite.

She also liked how entertaining all of the events were. One thing she wants people to realize is that no matter how observant they are, they can still learn so much.

“If you have friends who keep kosher, this will teach you what to bring to their house, and shows that there are kosher supermarkets and restaurants out there,” she said. “This brings in so many people from different levels of observance. It doesn’t matter what step you’re on, Kosher Month just makes you aware of what’s out there.”

To register, call DATA at 214-987-3282 or go to www.dataofplano.org.

How to keep kosher at home
Keeping kosher is more than just not eating meat and milk together; it is a whole lifestyle. At first, it may seem overwhelming for some people. However, with the right guide, it can be easier than you think. Here are some rules on how to kasher your kitchen.

Dishes and silverware: It is essential to have a separate set of dishes and silverware for dairy products and meat. Most people have two distinct patterns, so as not to confuse them. To make things easier, a lot of people sometimes use paper goods and plastic utensils.

Cabinets, drawers, and trays: To avoid confusion, it is best to assign different cabinets for dairy and meat equipment. For starters, it may be easiest to label cabinets on the outside.

Tablecloths, napkins, and placemats: As with the kitchen, the eating area should be separate as well by using separate tablecloths, napkins and placemats for milk and meat products.

Refrigerators: When placing food in the refrigerator, care should be taken to avoid contact between open packages of meat and dairy products.

Ovens: The oven should not be used for dairy and meat at the same time. Between using the oven for dairy and meat, it should be cleaned if spillage occurred.

Dishwasher: There is a difference of opinion when discussing the dishwasher. Some Orthodox authorities say that you cannot use the same dishwasher for meat and dairy utensils, even if they are washed at different times. Other authorities say that you can use the same dishwasher as long as the utensils are washed at different times. Some also say that it must be given a thorough cleaning and that separate racks must be used between meat and dairy cycles.

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Shalom from the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 23 October 2008 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,
We’ve just finished up the season for Jewish holidays and each of us has a “favorite.” Joel Lurie Grishaver, in “40 Things You Can Do to Save the Jewish People,” asks, “After the Messiah comes and people only have to celebrate one Jewish holiday, which one will it be?” (In fact, this question should be asked today, when so many Jews celebrate only one or two holidays.) Talk about this important question with your family. Look at each of the Jewish holidays and at the importance of each. How should we decide (if we really had to)?
The Shabbat Lady votes: With no hesitation or doubt, my vote goes to Simchat Torah! The reasons are endless. Simchat Torah is the ultimate joyful community celebration to bring your children and dance with them; Simchat Torah is the ultimate celebration of learning, focusing our attention on the cycle of study and reminding us of the centrality of Torah to our lives; Simchat Torah will ultimately keep us Jewish, as the Torah is the center of our Jewishness.
So I hope you went to a synagogue on Simchat Torah to dance! Grishaver gives us one final thought: “Celebrate every Jewish holiday like it is the only one you will get to celebrate, and pack all your Jewish feelings into it.”
Dayenu — the literal translation of this wonderful expression that we remember each Passover is — “It would have been enough!” If you took your children to the synagogue for Rosh Hashanah — Dayenu! If you also took them to hear the shofar blown at the end of Yom Kippur — Dayenu! If you ate a few meals in a sukkah (and maybe built your own) — Dayenu! If you danced with the Torah on Simchat Torah — DAYENU! But that really isn’t enough — there is so much more. So when do we begin? TODAY!
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 23 October 2008 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi,
Although we just celebrated Simchat Torah, and I brought my three children to synagogue to participate, my 10-year-old son asked me why we celebrate this particular holiday. I was at a loss to explain and surprised that he didn’t learn this at Sunday school.
Beth G.

Dear Beth:
Simchat Torah is the day that Jews complete the yearly cycle of reading the Torah in synagogues around the world. It is a joyful holiday that brings great satisfaction and simcha (joy) that we have again studied the entirety of Torah, all the Five Books of Moses. This is also a celebration of true Jewish continuity, the eternal nature of our people. Despite all attempts to destroy us and our Torah over the generations, and even despite rampant assimilation in our own generation, we still are completing the study of Torah.
We also celebrate the beginning of reading the Torah again. We complete the book of Deuteronomy (Devarim) and immediately begin the book of Genesis (Beresheet), reading the story of creation. Our Torah never really ends, but is a CYCLE of study, like the cycle of life itself, as the Torah is the life of our people, the “People of the Book.”
To parents who attend synagogue only twice a year with their children, I often encourage them to bring their children on Purim and Simchat Torah rather than Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Let them see the joy, beauty and happiness of our Torah and traditions! Keep up the good work.
Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 23 October 2008 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Virtually all of us have gone off to some other city to joyously “reune” (as in “reunion”) with family and friends for a wedding or bar mitzvah, generally staying in some large, centrally located hotel.
Few of us have experienced, at just such a time, what Berenice and Herb Kleiman went through recently. And that’s a very good thing.
I met Mrs. Kleiman a couple of years ago through a cousin of mine, who thought I should take a look at her friend Berenice’s then-new book, “One Stroke, Two Survivors.” It detailed life after Herb suffered a massive stroke and his wife decided to bring him home rather than consign him to a nursing facility. The Cleveland Clinic, Herb’s care center, was its publisher, and has since issued Berenice’s second book, “Lessons Learned: Stroke Recovery from a Caregiver’s Perspective.”
What’s in both volumes is well worth learning, but the new lesson that Berenice wants to teach hasn’t been printed yet. She hopes it soon will be, since she’s submitted this tale for possible publication as a Newsweek magazine “My Turn” essay.
On the last weekend of September, the Kleimans were in suburban New York City for the bat mitzvah of a great-niece, staying — along with many relatives and friends — in a major chain hotel.
“When we reserved, I requested a handicap-accessible room,” Berenice reports. “At check-in, the desk clerk assigned us to the fifth floor. I questioned how they might deal with us in an emergency; since his massive stroke on July 14, 2001, my husband Herb has been paralyzed on his right side and is confined to a wheelchair. ‘Not to worry,’ said the desk manager. ‘We’ll know where you are.’”
Fire alarms sounded at 11:20 p.m. that Friday, followed by instructions to evacuate. “The loudspeaker blared continuous warnings as we waited to be rescued,” continues Berenice. She made three calls to the front desk, always getting the same response: “We know where you are. Security will be up to help you.”
“Isolated, with continuing sirens and warnings, we watched from our window as guests poured from the hotel’s 439 rooms,” according to Berenice. “We saw the fire trucks pull up, saw the battalion chief assess the situation, observed some people point up to us.” When she called the desk for the fourth time, she got a recorded message: Even the staff had evacuated.
Imagine the Kleimans’ plight! “We were probably the only people left in the building, trapped without assistance should smoke and flames reach our room.” They didn’t panic; rather, “The emotion we both experienced was overwhelming vulnerability: In this emergency rush to vacate hundreds of guests and staff, we were expendable. Through 25 minutes of intense isolation, my husband resigned himself to dying, but I decided that if it became necessary, I would break the window, get the fire company to spread a canopy, and somehow toss Herb over and out.”
When the phone finally rang, the desk clerk reported a false alarm. She and others downstairs had known it much earlier, but failed to inform the Kleimans. Her apology was perfunctory. Later, Berenice learned that with no functioning elevators, her sister-in-law and another elderly woman, both bent almost double from severe rheumatoid arthritis, had gone down five flights of stairs without any assistance.
Berenice has some practical ideas for hotels to implement in emergency situations, but the management of the hotel where she and her husband stayed, and top officials of the chain, have as yet been unresponsive. “They say they have policy and protocol on the books,” she says. “But unfortunately, staff isn’t trained to follow them.
“Our experience raises a red flag. I want to get the word out to make families with elderly grandparents and disabled members aware of the hit-or-miss protection provided in high-rise hotels. There is no standardization. We must insist that they do better.”
The next “unlikely event” will undoubtedly occur some day, Berenice says, so she’s now asking all hotel managements, “Why house the wheelchair-bound on upper floors with no means of escape? Why not retrofit a designated elevator to enable the aged, infirm, disabled, to find their way out without waiting for rescue? And how about communicating critical information to your guests?”
Herb has been sick since the Kleimans’ recent experience; both he and Bernice expect they’ll remain traumatized for a long time to come. But the caregiver is now on a crusade, to make sure no future family simcha ever turns into a life-or-death situation.
E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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