Archive | October, 2008

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 23 October 2008 by admin

J.R. Fagin one of the newest members of Fort Worth’s finest
Congratulations to J.R. Fagin, 31-year old daughter of Dr. Nancy Faigin and Al Fagin, D,O., and sister of Jennifer Faigin, who was one of 30 dedicated men and women who became Fort Worth’s newest peace officers on Sept. 25.
After many months of rigorous training and testing at the Fort Worth Police Academy, Class 121 was sworn in at a ceremony attended by Fort Worth Mayor Mike Moncrief, Fort Worth Police Chief Patricia J. Kneblick, Arlington Police Chief Dr. Theron Bowman, several other Fort Worth dignitaries as well as police officers from several departments around Fort Worth. Family and friends attending the ceremony were parents, Al and Nancy Faigin, Jennifer Faigin, Sergeant Danny and Officer Blanca Sherwin, with their twins Matt and Seth, Stuart, Rebecca Isgur, Sam Reznikoff, Rabbi Alberto Zeilicovich, Jerry and Sylvia Weiner, Annie Alvarez, Shelly Harmon and Jake Carleson, Officer Sara Stratten, Melissa Weiner, Sheryl Saxton, Lisa Arnold and Amy Williams.
J.R. had aspired toward law enforcement most of her life As an Explorer Scout at age 15, she was in a police Explorer post in Lake Worth, Texas under the direction of Officer Danny Sherwin, now Sergeant Sherwin of the Mansfield Police Department. (He and his wife Officer Blanca Sherwin, are also members of Cong. Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth with the Faigin family.) After being sidetracked in IT (Information Technology) at Verizon Wireless for several years, J.R. finally realized her dream of attending the Fort Worth Police Academy. Not only attended but excelled.
J.R. and sister Jennifer studied penal codes situations, traffic laws, drug cases, court case law, Spanish, etc., etc., well into the wee hours and most weekends. J.R. and 100 percent of her class passed the TCLOSE (state license exam) on the first try.
J.R. excelled on the gun range, earning “TOP GUN,” as the best of her class. She is the second woman to earn the “TOP GUN” honor in the history of the Academy. She also joins two others of the 53 classes that have passed through the Academy over the years who have shot perfect 100s on their three qualification tests. She is the only one ever to add a fourth perfect 100 score for the nighttime shooting test.
The 30 new graduates and new cops in Fort Worth are to be honored for their commitment and we thank all the police officers for the work they do and the sacrifices they make to keep us safe.
In the words of Mayor Mike Moncrief, please, each and every citizen, take time to stop and thank the officers you see for the job they are doing.

Joan Katz Breast Center
now in operation
The Joan Katz Breast Center is now a functioning important part of the Andrews Women’s Hospital, Baylor All Saints.
Traditions the newsletter of All Saints Health Foundation and Baylor All Saints Medical Center recently said “For many, being diagnosed with cancer is like a voyage through turbulent waters encountering both challenges and uncertainty.
“Joan Katz began this journey 26 years ago when she was first diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 30. Joan was treated at  a cancer specialty hospital outside of Tarrant County and recently remarked, “I have always been a patient in  a comprehensive center with integrated services where everything from lab work to x-rays to doctor appointments to chemotherapy to genetic counseling and testing were done on the same campus. I have always received reports and results in a  timely manner and benefited from a multidisciplinary team approach. And this is what I want for the women and men of Tarrant County who face breast cancer. Using her experiences to help others, Joan has quietly worked behind-the-scenes to support and encourage many. Now with the Joan Katz Breast Center, her advocacy for breast cancer patients continues on a  much larger scale. The care for breast cancer requires the interaction of multiple specialists with services ranging from screening, diagnosis, surgery, radiation, oncology, plastic surgery, behavioral medicine and nursing. As a patient moves from one service to another, record keeping and navigation can be daunting. The Joan Katz Breast
Center at Baylor All Saints Medical Center will include a multidisciplinary breast tumor board of physicians and surgeons, patient navigation, education wellness, social services, and a resource center complete with prosthesis, wigs, garments and make-up.
“…The Joan Katz Breast Center at Baylor All
Saints Medical Center will be a unique place of hope and healing for patients and their families’ said Sherree Bennett, nurse navigator, who added, “We will exist to educate and empower patients and their loved ones with compassionate expertise.’
“Though reluctant to let the spotlight fall on her Joan Katz is honored to connect her name with such a bold and important vision. ‘I am one hundred ad ten percent behind a patient-centered campus’ she said.
Tried and true community leaders, Arnie and Harriette Gachman, have agreed to serve as chairs for the Joan Katz Breast Center Campaign that has as its goal $2.4 million for construction and operational expenses and an $11 million endowment campaign to invest in the long-term operational and program needs of The Center. Arnie recently completed serving as president of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Currently a Trustee for Baylor All Saints Medical Center said that a campaign committee is being organized as ‘this is the most critical aspect. You cannot form something like this without the help of good people.’
“In addition to the fact that Mr. Gachman’s mother is a long-time breast cancer survivor, a motivating factor in the Gachman’s decision to serve is their respect for Joan and Howard Katz According to the Gachmans, ‘Joan and Howard are special people, Joan has exhibited immense strength and strives for positive outcomes. She has always been an inspiration to others and earns instant respect She has also given of herself and is one of the heroes in our community.’
“The Gachmans are both entrepreneurs and enjoy many civic and community roles, as well as spending time with family. Their son Iric and his wife Susan are parents of Lexi and Jordan; their daughter Lesha and her husband John Carlson are parents of Ben and Gabbi.”
The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever ™ launches In Fort Worth
Elliot Goodman and his wife Heather have come up with the perfect gift idea for the person who has “everything.”  Last year during the holidays, Elliot was feeling a little frustrated with the avalanche of gift and toy catalogs coming through the Goldman mailbox.
Goldman said to Heather (“half jokingly”) that there were no catalogs featuring what the Goldmans prefer most: a donation to a good cause. Heather’s response: “Well, why don’t you create one?”
And so, The Greatest Gift Catalog Ever ™ was born. The catalog showcases 30 different programs from 10 Tarrant County organizations, including Meals on Wheels, the Tarrant Area Food Bank, and the Mental Health Association of Tarrant County.
At the launch party, hosted by chef Jon Bonnell at his Fine Texas Cuisine restaurant on Sunday Sept. 28, Goldman explained his organization’s goals.
“We want to convert traditional retail dollars – things people would buy – into contributions for charitable organizations,” he said. “So, you can spend $30 on the Sex and the City Season Two DVD, or you can buy 30 minutes of tutoring at Lena Pope Home for that same $30.”
Instead of shopping for gifts at Lands’ End or the Sharper Image,  Goldman hopes that people who are buying might use the catalog to “purchase” things such as 175 meals for families in need ($35), or a month’s worth of meals for a homebound person ($100). People can either buy a “gift” from the catalog, or buy a “gift card” which would allow the beneficiary to select from among the 30 different programs.
Goldman credits parents Rachel and Mike Goldman for instilling in him both the desire to be generous and the responsibility that Jews fulfill mitzvot.
“It’s mitzvah and tzedakah, and it’s the right thing to do,” Goldman said.
The Goldmans say they are inspired by the “front-line volunteers, staff, social workers and institutions who are providing social service and education programs.” The selection of beneficiaries reflects their family’s personal respect for each organization and the work that they do.
So, whether you buy a gift card or make a contribution online, the charities will send an acknowledgement, along with a tax donation letter, to both donors and recipients.
For more information, visit www. thegreatestgiftcatalogever.com
News ‘n Notes:
The invitation is for the entire  community and guests to attend an Art Exhibition and Auction this Sunday evening, the 26th, at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, 1300 Gendy Street Host for the event is the Isadore Garsek B’nai B’rith Lodge #269. The exhibition can be viewed at 6:30 p.m. with the auction following at 7:30. Wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served.  Admittance is $10 per person or $15 for two people. The event is a benefit for B’nai B’rith Youth Scholarships. For further information you can call Foster Owen, 817-731-6606 or Dan Sturman, cell-817-996-9424 or office, 817-429-2496.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 23 October 2008 by admin

Ron Gruen shares insights into Congregation Beth Torah’s
Ark and Ner Tamid
At its recent meeting, the Beth Torah Men’s Club asked long-time member Ron Gruen to tell about his work in designing and building the synagogue’s Ark and Ner Tamid.
Gruen, who gives his age as “93 and a half,” began leading services for Beth Torah soon after its founding in 1975, and quickly became a member himself. He had been recommended by Shearith Israel, where he sang in the choir, as someone who could help the new, young congregation in Richardson. There he not only conducted services, but started teaching Beth Torah’s members how to do it themselves, shaping the intimate informality that has remained the congregation’s hallmark to this day.
Harking back to his childhood in Czernovitz, Austria-Roumania, Gruen says, “My father always sang. I was raised with holiday melodies. I can’t remember when I didn’t know them.” Still following Gruen’s lead, all recent High Holy Days services were conducted by trained volunteer members of the congregation.
Music was Gruen’s avocation; a machinist and tool-and-die maker, he came to the U.S. in 1934. In New York he met and later married his wife, Ethel; the couple moved to Dallas in 1952. Son Dan, one of the couple’s four children, has in recent years taken over his father’s previous honored post as the congregant who chants Kol Nidre on Yom Kippur.
In its early days, Beth Torah met in a Lutheran church on Lookout Drive, Richardson, then built its own facility, now enlarged, on land next door. Gruen was the congregation’s first Building Committee chair, helping with both land acquisition and building design. For Men’s Club members and many other congregants at the recent meeting, Gruen talked about designing and hand-decorating the ritual essentials that have been synagogue fixtures since Beth Torah first moved into its own building in the early 1980s.
Beth Torah now has three Arks, but Gruen’s original remains on the bima of the main sanctuary, under the Ner Tamid of his design. Over its doors he carved his favorite words from Psalm 145: “G-d Is Near To Those Who Call Upon Him.” His Men’s Club presentation was filmed for the congregation’s archives.
Ron Gruen earned his college degree from City College of New York, did graduate study at Columbia University, and has received an honorary doctorate from Yeshiva University in recognition of his many contributions over many years to Jewish education.
Temple Emanu-El Choir      cares for its ‘mishpachah’
Members of the Temple Emanu-El Choir always say they are a family, and this tzedakah story really proves it! It comes to us from Frances (“Frankie”) Schwartzwald of Grand Prairie, a long-time member of the choir’s tenor section.
Frankie writes, “On Sept. 1, Karen Moyer suffered a stroke. She is a vibrant, beautiful women in her 40s who sings (beautifully!) with the sopranos in the TE Choir. You may also have heard her voice on WRR radio, where she works.
“Immediately after learning of this, Mike Medley, a baritone soloist in the choir, set up a website where other choir members could track Karen’s progress and leave messages for her. In addition, he organized four areas to be manned by choir members:
“Rita Newman, soprano, is in charge of “love,” monitoring visits so Karen is not overwhelmed by friends; Colleen Oates, soprano soloist, is “communications officer,” making sure all choir members are advised of Karen’s progress; Kathryn Krause, soprano, takes charge of chores, seeing that all errands are done, laundry taken care of, and other necessities addressed; and tenor Alan Lummus is seeing to legal and financial matters.” Because Karen has few relatives in the Dallas area, the choir truly has become her family at this crucial time.
“Colleen and Mike went to Baylor, Karen’s rehab facility, on a Friday evening to help her welcome the Sabbath, and Colleen returned on Saturday to assist Karen in the farewell to the Sabbath by singing the Havdalah prayers.” Frankie herself visited on Rosh Hashanah along with her daughter Ann, an alto in the choir, and Cantor Richard Cohn and his wife Marsha were among Karen’s visitors in rehab.
All arrangements for volunteers to help Karen at home after she left rehab were completed in time for her discharge from Baylor on Friday, Oct. 10. “Baylor sends a conveyance for her so she can continue therapy there, and she will be doing some therapy at home, too,” according to Frankie.
“Cognitively, Karen is fine. Her vision and right side have been affected but are responding to therapy. And choir members are lining up to bring food to her!”
A fund has been established so choir members and others can make donations to defray Karen’s medical and care costs in lieu of flowers or gifts. Checks should be made out to “Alan Lummus, nominee for Karen Moyer,” and mailed to him at 18935 Westwood Palce, Dallas 75287.
Still time to join
new Girl Scout troop
There is a new Girl Scout troop at the JCC. It was founded by Mahra Fox Pailet, who wanted to start a troop for her daughter. The troop is open to all girls in the 3rd through 5th grades regardless of J membership. Non-Jewish girls are welcome, but the group will focus on primary Jewish values. The troop will operate under Jewish guidelines by not having meetings on Saturdays and no non-kosher snacks will be allowed.
This is the first Jewish affiliated Girl Scout troop in the Dallas area. An information meeting was held on Sept. 21 where parents received information packets. The next meeting will be on Sunday, October 26 at 1:30 p.m. at the JCC, 7900 Northaven Rd. There are currently about 18 girls in the troop, but membership is still open.
For more information, contact Mahra Fox Pailet at 214-363-0429 or email her at mahrafox@hotmail.com.
Michelle Samuels joins
Jaffe Associates’
Jaffe Associates, Inc., a leading public relations agency for law firms, announced that Michelle Samuels has joined Jaffe’s public relations team as an account supervisor. Samuels is based in New York.
Previously, Samuels spent nearly four years at the New York and Chicago offices of Edelman, a global public relations firm, where she specialized in raising the visibility of law firm and professional services companies through strategic media relation’s campaigns. On behalf of her law firm clients, she has conducted successful national and trade media relations outreach campaigns for attorneys in a range of practice areas, including financial services, investment management, mergers and acquisitions, capital markets, litigation, intellectual property and products liability law.
“I’m excited to join Jaffe’s talented team of legal PR practitioners,” Samuels said. “Law firms are always seeking new ways to enhance visibility and reach key audiences, and Jaffe is a leader in consistently providing fresh thinking and new service offerings to meet client needs, with traditional and Web 2.0 tools.”
“Michelle’s strong background in media relations and law firm positioning will be a great asset to our team,” said Liz Lindley, director of Jaffe’s public relations group. “She is highly regarded by clients and media alike, and we’re confident she will deliver excellent results for our clients.”
Michelle is the daughter of Stanley and Irene Fogel, members of Chabad of Plano. She attended Akiba Academy from 1984 to 1993, and Yavneh Academy from 1993 to 1995, the first two years of Yavneh’s existence.
She started her career as a writer/editor for Yeshiva University’s communications department in New York, where she utilized her strong writing skills to edit and write news and feature stories for the university’s various newspapers, magazines and newsletters. She also led marketing efforts, special events and community partnership outreach for the Srochi Museum in Atlanta, Ga.
Samuels holds a dual B.A. degree in English communications/journalism and political science from Yeshiva University in New York. She is a member of the Legal Marketing Association in New York.
Jaffe Associates is a leading public relations firm serving the legal industry in North America and Europe, offering media relations, crisis communications, strategic consulting and creative support. Established 30 years ago, Jaffe operates as a fully virtual company with a staff of experienced law firm marketers located nationwide.

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Shalom from the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 16 October 2008 by admin

Dear Families,
The fall is a great time to be Jewish — we have so many wonderful holidays! After the introspection of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, we get to enjoy special holidays that seem to be designed with kids in mind. Sukkot is a holiday with symbols that children love and are fun for all to experience. Here’s all you need:
The sukkah
There are many laws for building a sukkah but basically you need three or four walls, a roof that must be something that grew from the ground, and you should be able to see the stars at night through the roof. We are commanded to live in the sukkah but usually we just eat there; some sleep in their sukkah. Part of the reason is historical, reminding us of our wandering through the desert with Moses and also how we lived when we made our pilgrimages to the Temple. Today it is an opportunity for us to remember that life is fragile — many use this time to help the homeless who are in temporary dwellings. It is a time to be thankful.
The lulav and etrog
The Torah tells us to gather the four species — lulav (palm branch), hadaseem (myrtle), aravot (willows) and etrog (citron) — and rejoice. We bind the hadaseem and aravot together with the lulav, and shake the lulav and etrog each morning. The story we tell the children is that each part is like part of the body and we use our entire body to remind us that G-d is everywhere.
The ushpizin (guests)
The ushpizin are biblical guests that we welcome into the sukkah. The custom comes from a mystical tradition that our leaders helped our people during their times, so may G-d shelter us today beneath wings of peace. The traditional guests are: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Aaron and David. Modern feminists also include Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Leah, Miriam and Esther. Another new tradition is to ask your guests who they would invite and what question they would like to ask that person. I have told the children that I would invite Superman and asked them what he would talk about — as you see, everyone is welcome in the sukkah!
Buy and put up a sukkah when your children are young. It is a very special experience for the whole family. But more important, don’t stop putting up your sukkah (or doing other Jewish rituals) when your children are grown — by continuing to do things, we are showing that Judaism grows with us throughout our lives.
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 16 October 2008 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
I have often wondered if there’s a reason that the holidays of Yom Kippur and Sukkot fall so close together. Is it a coincidence, or is there some connection between the two?
Lee W.

Dear Lee,
The two holidays are actually intertwined in a deep way. We’ll try to touch on some of the connections.
When sitting in the sukkah, according to one opinion in the Talmud, we celebrate the booths the Jews sat in when leaving Egypt. Another opinion is that we commemorate the miraculous Clouds of Glory which protected and shaded the Jewish people during the 40 years of travels in the desert.
Those Clouds of Glory disappeared when they Jews lost their deep connection through the sin of the golden calf. They were almost destroyed due to this sin, equated to idol worship, so soon after receiving the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. Then began a three-month period of prayer and repentance, eventually leading up to the day when G-d finally uttered to Moses, “I have forgiven as you requested.” This was the day which became known as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.
Although the Jews were forgiven, G-d’s Divine Presence, the Shechinah, still remained removed from them. This was a deep source of sorrow to the Jews, not to have the loving connection they had enjoyed since they left Egypt, feeling G-d’s tangible Presence among them. Their chance to return the Shechinah to the camp of the Jews was by building the Tabernacle, a kind of movable golden Temple that would travel with them throughout their sojourn in the desert.
The commandment to build the Tabernacle was given to Moses the day after Yom Kippur. The next day, Moses transmitted the commandment. The following two days, the Jews began gathering the necessary materials to construct this edifice, and the day thereafter, they began the long, difficult process of building the Tabernacle. That was five days after the first Yom Kippur, the 15th of the month of Tishrei. On that day, G-d, to show His pleasure that the Jews had fully repented and desired His Presence so badly, returned the Clouds of Glory that had been missing since the golden calf. That was a day of incredible joy and ecstasy among the people, as they saw their repentance was complete, their eternal connection to G-d irrevocable.
That day, the 15th of Tishrei, is the first day of Sukkot. It is the day of celebration of the Clouds of Glory — not the clouds that accompanied the Jews from the day they left Egypt, but the clouds that returned after their repentance at Yom Kippur.
This is one reason that Sukkot, more than any holiday, is referred to in the prayer book/siddur as “THE time of our joy.” All the Jewish holidays carry with them a mitzvah to be joyous, but Sukkot transcends the others in this way. I’ll illustrate it with an example. Imagine a mother sitting in the waiting room, her eyes filled with tears, not knowing if her son’s risky operation will work, his life holding on barely by a thread. Suddenly, the doctor emerges, “Lady, a miracle’s happened, it worked! Your son’s going to live and be fine!” Those tears of pain and fear are transformed into tears of joy, her joy and ecstasy going far beyond the joy many could imagine.
The Jews were nearly destroyed due to the golden calf, their existence held by a thread. Their tears of repentance were finally replaced by tears of joy when those Clouds of Glory were returned. It was the ultimate celebration of Yom Kippur’s message of mercy and forgiveness, that their eternity is secure. This remains our joy on Sukkot until today. It is the joy that, year after year, generation after generation, G-d continues to forgive us on Yom Kippur, and despite every attempt to destroy us and all we’ve done wrong throughout our history, the miracle of Jewish survival is still intact and we’re still here to sit in our booths today.
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 16 October 2008 by admin

For Yom Kippur, I’m adapting the d’var Torah I gave at the first annual Hadassah Shabbat service last Friday evening. May we all continue to think together and learn together in this promising new year!

In my long life, I’ve sat through many classes and seminars, but I’ve learned the most from aphorisms — the compressed wisdom of those who’ve turned what they most believe in, into a few brief words.
So from an old friend I found out all I need to know about housekeeping: Neat is better than clean. And from the mother of an active trio came this: The recipe for a perfect child is, have three, throw away the first two — because with No. 3, you’re finished worrying.
But the aphorism that’s stuck with me the longest is this: “You can’t go back to where you’ve never been.” More than a quarter-­century ago, a reality therapist said this while grinding his ax about pre-birth regressions and other psychoanalytical techniques of that experimental time. But for me, his words resonate with Judaism.
Last Shabbat was Shabbat Shuvah, the inter-holiday Sabbath of turning, of return to — what? We’re supposed to go back to a kind of faith many of us have never had, to a kind of behavior that for many has never been a way of life.
And on that Shabbat, I thought especially in terms of women, in the professions and politics and business and in Hadassah itself, now accomplishing things once totally out of female reach. But these accomplished women are moving forward into new territories, not going backward to places they’ve never been before.
For me, it comes down to wearing a tallit, which I do not do. I’ve chosen not to do so because of my childhood Judaism, which I can and do return to, often, in my mind’s eye. When I was growing up, girls went to Sunday school but not Hebrew school. A girl did not become a bat mitzvah, was never recognized as a Jewish adult in the synagogue milieu. I wanted very much to learn the ancient language of my faith (there was no modern, spoken Hebrew then), to read Torah, to sing with the choir on the High Holy Days. But my desires were dismissed, not because of any lack of ability, but solely because of gender. Only males could wear the tallit, I was told, and only those who wore the tallit could do those things.
Conservative Judaism is my religious home. Our Reform sisters came to put on the tallit even before some of their Reform brothers ever wanted to; our Orthodox sisters still do not, and probably never will. But the Conservative movement offers choice. I applaud the grown woman who takes it; I envy the young woman who receives a tallit at her bat mitzvah, for she’s never known a time when this celebration of her inclusion wasn’t even a dim possibility.
But I can’t bring myself to wear the garment that men told me so long ago I could not put on. It seems to me wrong, somehow, that I can now have the opportunities I used to be denied, but only if I don that once-forbidden male tallit. My gender has not changed. I cannot go back to where I’ve never been.
Is there any way to accomplish this? I think of the conundrum of Amalek, who struck the very old, the very young, the most vulnerable at the back of the Exodus line when the Hebrews came out of Egypt. Blot out his name, the Torah tells us. But remember him forever. How can we remember and forget at the same time, as we’re instructed?
My gender question is another conundrum. All Jewish souls, we’re told, were present at Sinai to hear the shofar and receive the commandments. Not just the people living at that time, but those who would be born as Jews into the farthest future — and those who, while not born as Jews, would choose to cast their lot with the Jewish people. Are women fully counted among those souls? Maybe, if I went back there, I could find out. And if we were all there, together, then it would not be going back to a place I never was, would it?
So: In 5769, I’ll try for that ultimate return, following the aphorism of the Firesign Theatre, the magnificently edgy comedy team of the ‘60s and ‘70s: “Forward into the Past.” Does anyone want to try this journey with me?
E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 16 October 2008 by admin

Beth-El WRJ holds
two great events
Laurie Barker James tells the TJP that Beth-El’s Women of Reform Judaism held two wonderful events prior to Yom Kippur. The “First to Join” party celebrated the 100 women who joined WRJ in August and September. Held at the WineStyles Camp Bowie location, members got to renew acquaintances, meet new friends and wish each other Shanah Tovah with round challah and cupcakes from Fort Worth’s Cupcake Cottage. They also sampled five excellent wines: New Age White, an Argentinean vintage; Dry Creek Vineyard–Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc/Fume Blanc; Ravenswood Zen of Zin; (red) Zinfandel, Sonoma, Calif.; and another red called Educated Guess.
Linda Hochster especially liked the New Age White, saying the “bottle was as delicious-looking as the wine was delicious-tasting!” Luann Feld said she “loved the Zen of Zin!” However, many described the strongest red (Educated Guess) as “like licking an oak tree.”
The next week, WRJ Programs Chair Roberta Gerrick invited WRJ members (and their husbands) to Lightcatcher Winery for wine and jazz in the vineyard. A dozen members gathered under the shade of patio umbrellas on the winery’s flagstone terrace. The beautiful afternoon was complemented by good friends and the incredible atmosphere.
Fort Worth’s JEA celebrates High Holy Days
The Jewish Education Agency and Lil Goldman Early Learning Center celebrated a sweet Rosh Hashanah last week. The kindergarten class created honey pots with apple-topped spoons.
JEA preschoolers and kindergarteners also made tashlich at a local park. Led by the JEA’s HaMorah Rachel Yaacobi and Chabad Rabbi Dov Mandel, the children and parents heard the shofar and talked about the meaning of the rituals behind tashlich.
Ahavath Sholom to host
two holiday events
From Susan Fine we hear that Congregation Ahavath Sholom will host two outstanding holiday events. The first will be on Sunday, Oct. 12, 9:30 a.m. at CAS, 4050 S. Hulen. Rabbi Baruch Zeilicovich will teach an adult education class on Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah, the three pilgrim festivals when historically the Jewish populace traveled to the Temple in Jerusalem. For information, contact Joann English, at 817-731-4721.
The second event is set for Tuesday, Oct. 21, 6 p.m. The Simchat Torah celebration will feature a return engagement of the Kalinka Duo. Celebrants can dance with the Torah and hear the wonderful music of the Kalinka Duo. A spaghetti dinner and ice cream dessert are the menu for the event for only $5 per person. RSVP to CAS at 817-731-4721.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 16 October 2008 by admin

Hadassah town hall meeting Oct. 16: Be an informed voter
We all need to understand how the upcoming election will affect us at home and here in our community. The Dallas Chapter of Hadassah will hold a town hall meeting, in the Zale Auditorium of the JCC, on Thursday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. The chairs of both the Democratic and Republican Parties of Dallas County will answer your questions, from the parties’ perspective, on the issues that are important to you. The event will be moderated by Dr. Calvin Jillson, professor at the Center for Political Studies at SMU.
A very large number of Jewish voters remain undecided at this time. In additional, there are very small percentage points separating the candidates. Your informed vote could truly sway the outcome of the election.
Never before have the issues been as critical as they are today. For Jewish voters the election is about many things: the economy, the environment, Iran, Iraq, health care, prescription drugs and, of course, Israel. The most pressing issue on most people’s minds is which leader will be most capable in handling the economy. The meltdown on Wall Street, debt, job losses, bank failures and retirement losses are at the forefront of most American voters’ concerns.
This town hall meeting will be your opportunity to ask the representatives exactly how they stand.
Each attendee will be handed a card to write down their questions to the moderator. The chairs will give equal time to answer the issues that are important to you.
There are basic Constitutional rights at stake with this election, among them: Roe v. Wade and the principle of separation of church and state. There seems to have been an erosion of the separation of church and state, and candidates are too often now required to demonstrate their support of a particular religious belief in order to win political support from church leaders to be vetted as a “credible” candidate.
From this political forum, all who attend will learn how the candidates will go about reducing our dependence on oil from unfriendly countries in the Middle East and elsewhere around the world. The goals of energy conservation, reducing oil dependency and stepping up the fight against global warming are major policy concerns of the American Jewish voter.
We have the opportunity to ask these representatives about their party’s strategy on these issues. This will help ensure that our choices will be intelligent.
Attend and become an educated voter.
Beth Torah Men’s Club
wins prestigious award
Congregation Beth Torah’s Men’s Club has won the Quality Club Award from the National Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs.
The Richardson synagogue was recognized for activities and accomplishments during the 2007–2008 program year. They included a breadth of programming ranging from monthly Sunday breakfasts with engaging guest speakers, to the World Wide Wrap to promote use of tefillin, to the Remember the Names Holocaust memorial.
Only about 30 synagogue men’s clubs throughout the country received the honor.
“We’re delighted and thankful to be recognized, and we’re proud to be a meaningful and vital component of the Beth Torah community,” Men’s Club President Rusty Dworkin said. “It inspires us to achieve even more this year.”
Dworkin said the award helps emphasize two main themes in Men’s Club planning: that its programs aren’t just for synagogue members, and that they aren’t just for men.
“I hope people will join us to find that out,” he said.
Lisa Fleisher attends Women’s League Leadership Institute
Lisa Fleisher, of Shearith Israel Sisterhood, Dallas, recently attended the Women’s League Leadership Institute in San Leandro, Calif., Aug. 3–5. Lisa was selected as a candidate for the three-day Leadership Institute based on her volunteer experience, her desire to serve her community and her participation in her Sisterhood. Women’s League for Conservative Judaism is the umbrella organization of 600 Sisterhoods in the Conservative movement, with a membership of 150,000 worldwide.
Together, the 27 women from Sisterhoods across the United States and Canada participated in lectures, seminars and study groups that combined ­acquiring both leadership skills and Jewish knowledge. They studied with Rabbis Bradley Artson and Harry Manhoff, and Educator Carol Booth. They defined their own leadership styles in dynamic interactive workshops and created personalized leadership paths for the future.
The expectation is that those who attend this and future Leadership Institutes will forge a new generation of leaders for the women of the Conservative movement; women who are well prepared and Jewishly knowledgeable. “The purpose of the Institute,” said Women’s League International President Cory Schneider, “is to strengthen the foundation of leadership in the organization as well as to empower Conservative Jewish women to assume active roles in their communities.”

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Shalom from the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 16 October 2008 by admin

Dear Families,
I have a confession to make (it was that time of year just last week): During the holidays I bring a book to shul. This year at Rosh Hashanah I brought a new book by Shimon Apisdorf titled “Beyond Survival: A Journey to the Heart of Rosh Hashanah, Its Prayers, and Life.” It is filled with so much to think about and truly enhanced my prayer experience. Prayer is something that takes practice but it is well worth the time and effort. Jewish educator Joel Lurie Grishaver says, “I learned to make brachot at the dinner table and I learned to pray on the ball field.” There are times when it is natural and necessary for us to reach out to G-d. It is best to build the relationship before we need it!
There were so many things that touched me in my reading, but this final story gives all of us direction for the coming year. It is a story told about Rabbi Israel ben Eliezer, also known as the Baal Shem Tov. He was the founder of the Chassidic movement.
Once, shortly before Rosh Hashanah, a student came to the Baal Shem Tov and said that he wanted to meet Elijah the prophet. The Baal Shem Tov instructed him to travel to a small, ramshackle cottage deep in a faraway forest. After an arduous three-day journey, he finally arrived. There, the student found only a poor widow and her children. A kind woman, she invited the man to spend Rosh Hashanah with them, though she had barely a piece of bread to offer for the holiday meal. Fortunately, the man had brought food for his journey, and this he shared with the family. For two days, the student anxiously awaited the appearance of Elijah; it never came to be.
Disappointed, the student traveled back to the Baal Shem Tov, who assured his student that Elijah had been there, and that if he would go back for Yom Kippur, he would meet him. Again, the student made the long, difficult journey. This time, he arrived shortly before sunset on the eve of Yom Kippur. From inside the home he could hear the children crying bitterly: “Mother, we have nothing at all to eat. How will we prepare for Yom Kippur? We’re starving.” “Be calm, my children,” she said, “Just like G-d sent Elijah the prophet to visit us for Rosh Hashanah, surely he will do so again.” Hearing that, the student knew why the Baal Shem Tov had sent him on the journey.
May you do your part to make the world a better place this year!
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 16 October 2008 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
I’ve often been bothered by something I have noticed on Simchat Torah in synagogue, that people who are not dancing are sitting. I know that when a Torah scroll is removed from the ark, say at a regular Shabbos service, everyone stands in honor of the Torah. It was once explained to me that whenever the Torah is moving from place to place, we stand in honor of the Torah. Why is it that on Simchat Torah, when the Torah is being moved from place to place as part of the celebration, people are sitting in its presence?
Marvin J.

Dear Marvin,
Many years ago I posed this exact question to my mentor, the late Rabbi Shlomo Zalman Aurbach of Jerusalem, the leading halachic decisor of the past generation in Israel. He smiled, indicating he, too, was bothered by this question in his youth. He said that he had observed rabbis far greater than anyone in our generation who also sat during the seven hakafot, when the Torah is being taken around the circle of dancing and celebration on Simchat Torah.
Rav Aurbach then said, cryptically, that in his opinion the answer is the following: The need to stand for the honor of the Torah scroll is only when the Torah is taken from its stationary place and moved from place to place. On Simchat Torah, the entire synagogue is its place!
To me, this was a very profound analysis of what Simchat Torah is all about, as well as an important message for our lives as Jews. We often look at the Torah as something foreign to the world we live in, and in many ways it is foreign to our society. We try to add in a little bit of Torah and Judaism, here and there, deep down knowing it’s not the central theme of our lives. In a sense, we are taking the Torah out of the ark, out of its place, and moving it into our lives a bit until we return it back to its place.
On Simchat Torah, the real celebration is that everywhere is the Torah’s place. Torah, for those who choose to make it so, is central to our lives and permeates every area of our existence. “…because they [the words of Torah] are our lives and the length of our days…” (Siddur/Prayerbook).
When the Tablets were given to us at Mt. Sinai, the Torah says that they could be read from either side (Shemot/Exodus 32:15). This was a great miracle, because letters cut all the way through stone should be readable only from the front; in the back they would be backwards. What was the point of this miracle, what lesson was G-d teaching by doing so? R’ Samson R. Hirsch explains a penetrating message. Often Jews feel that Judaism is something “to do” in synagogue or on holidays, rendering it a religion. But Judaism is not only a religion; it is a way of life. There are mitzvot which apply to every area of business, domestic, family and community life. Whichever way you turn, there are mitzvot which show us how to live our lives Jewishly and infuse them with holiness. That is the message of the Tablets: Whichever way you turn them, they can still be read.
This is the joy and celebration of Simchat Torah.
I have often quoted one of America’s outreach leaders who tells audiences, if you’re going to take the family to synagogue twice a year, instead of it being Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, make it Simchat Torah and Purim! Show the family the joy of being Jewish!
Wishing you and all the readers a joyous, meaningful Simchat Torah.
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 16 October 2008 by admin

I’m starting 5769 on an ecumenical note. Actually double-ecumenical, since what I’m passing along to you here originated with an Evangelical Protestant, then was relayed to me by my friend the Gallimaufry Lady, who is Catholic.
What the Lady calls “a good piece of writing” also has a nonpartisan political component that’s particularly appropriate as we approach the presidential election coming so early next month. (You will remember to vote, won’t you?) And it has a sweeping moral message in the best tradition of what used to be called, in all good faith, America’s shared Judeo-Christian values.
The Rev. Jim Wallis, who wrote this good piece, contributes regularly to the magazine Sojourners: Christians for Justice and Peace. But nobody has to be Christian, and even Christians of other denominations don’t have to agree with his particular religious views, to add “Amen!” to what he said in this article, published just before Rosh Hashanah. He began:
“We are all familiar with the crazy-looking street preacher in some public square, haranguing every passerby with a message of doom and gloom while holding up a sign that reads ‘Repent! The end is near!’ Well, as members of Congress go home to their districts in honor of the Jewish holiday, it might be appropriate for their constituents to welcome them with just such a placard….
“And I can’t think of a better thing for the members of Congress — Jewish or not — to do while at home than repent….”
The week before, Wallis had suggested to his regular readers that “…the financial managers who helped precipitate [the current] economic crisis be paraded down Wall Street in sackcloth and ashes. Now it may be time for their Congressional colleagues to join them.
“In the midst of a crisis that is both structural and spiritual, it is indeed appropriate for us all to reflect on what repentance means. Biblically … a turning around, a reversing of one’s course, beginning to walk an entirely new path….”
So, what might our congressfolk repent of? According to Wallis:
“1. Putting ideology, re-election, partisan advantage and public posturing ahead of the national interest and the common good…
“2. Looking after their own interests, including their own financial success and career goals, over the interests of their most ordinary constituents…
“3. Paying more attention to the benefits to the country’s financial institutions (that significantly benefit them) than to the benefits coming to the average Americans who vote for them…
“4. Focusing more on a Wall Street bailout than on the relief of those suffering disastrous housing foreclosures or loss of jobs, preferring a top-down rescue rather than a bottom-up one…
“5. Substituting political calculation for political leadership, crying for credibility, and partisan blaming for moral authority, and rejecting imperfect solutions for no solutions at all…”
Those were Wallis’ suggestions for the first five of the Ten Days of Repentance. Here are the other five, his reflections on needs for forgiveness intended not just for people in high public office, but for all Americans:
“1. For being seduced into lifestyles beyond our means…
“2. For living on far too much credit rather than within our limits…
“3. For sometimes putting economic values ahead of family values…
“4. For letting the relentless assault of advertising, and a culture of consumption, seed in us the sin of covetousness…
“5. For valuing our lives too much by the cultural values of worth instead of by the values of God…”
Wallis explains to his Christian readership that Rosh Hashanah begins those days “during which Jews spend time in self-reflection and repentance, particularly in seeking to mend relations with those they may have wronged during the year.” The culmination, he goes on, is “Yom Kippur, when one repents of sins against God. Judaism believes that while God forgives sins against God, each person must repent and seek forgiveness from other people against whom they have sinned.
“Maybe we should all go to synagogue or church in those ten days,” he concludes, “in order to repent. Because if we don’t, the end of a lot of things may indeed be near.”
And in a bit of a coda that I find particularly charming, Wallis adds this: “For the students at Harvard, where I sometimes teach, the fact that half of you want to go into investment banking as a career is a sign that something has gone wrong with the culture. Repent, and make sure your vocation benefits the common good.”
Please join me in that “amen” as we start our new year!
E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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