Archive | February, 2009

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 26 February 2009 by admin

B’nai Israel unites community
The B’nai Israel Religious School launched a new program in the Jewish community known as the “Flat Jacob” project. The program is based on the book “Flat Stanley” by Jeff Brown, and strives to help children all over the Dallas area experience synagogue life throughout DFW, as well as Jewish life all over the world. A “Flat Jacob” doll is mailed from synagogue to synagogue and his experiences are captured through photographs. They are then sent to Misty Lewin, the B’nai Israel Religious School director, where she posts his travels on Flat Jacob’s very own Web site. Children from synagogues in the DFW area and beyond will be able to log on and follow Flat Jacob’s journey while they experience synagogue life throughout the world. The directors of Dallas-area synagogues have all joined together in this amazing mission to unite the community.

In times like these, it is important to come together as a Jewish community and support one another. B’nai Israel is doing just that at their annual Purim carnival on Sunday, March 8 at noon. The synagogue will celebrate Purim with the theme, “We’re All In This Together!” featuring a Religious School musical based on the movie “High School Musical.” B’nai Israel invites everyone to join in the fun and spirit of Purim as the cast of “Hebrew School Musical” encourages all to unite and inspires all to join hands because “We’re All In This Together!” Tickets are now available. Please contact the B’nai Israel Religious School for more information at schooldirector@bnaiisraelnorthtexas.org.

Levine Academy students inducted into honor society
On, Friday, Feb. 6, Levine Academy inducted eight new members into the National Junior Honor Society. Levine Academy chartered its first chapter in 2005 with the goal of providing an avenue to further student leadership and commitment to tikkun olam, repairing the world. “We have great expectations of our Honor Society students,” said Wende Weinberg, NJHS advisor. The NJHS members organize the Levine Academy Annual Chesed Day and Mitzvah Madness Day, which are both devoted to helping those less fortunate in Dallas, and serve as academic tutors and teacher aids within the Academy. “As a result of programs such as Mitzvah Madness Day,” added K-8 Principal Dr. Susie Wolbe, “all of our students see the world beyond their own needs and discover the rewards of helping others in the greater Dallas area.” In the past, the students have prepared Thanksgiving dinners for the homeless and helped at many agencies.
A seventh- or eighth-grade student may be considered for membership in the NJHS only if he or she has achieved a cumulative grade point average of 85 or higher. Once that criterion is met, a Faculty Council evaluates each student based upon the following criteria: service, leadership, character, citizenship. Selected students meet regularly to plan and execute one or more school service projects, in addition to continuing their own social service endeavors.

Congratulations to the following Levine Academy students who were inducted into the NJHS: class of ’09, Talia Richman; class of ’10, Jordan Cope, Nathan Jajan, Sasha Kislak, Matthew Milner, Sylvan Perlmutter, Dania Tanur, Brent Weinberg. They join current members from the class of 2009: Jeffrey Diamond, Shelby Gadol, Rachel Goodman, Grace Horn, Justin Katz, Liz Livingston, Yosef Presburger, Kayley Romick and Dillon Shipper.

The NJHS has more than 5,000 chapters throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, many U.S. territories and Canada.

IDF careerist to speak at Bnai Zion event, March 4
Maj. Gen. (ret.) Uri Sagie, distinguished Israeli Defense Forces careerist, will be the guest speaker at a Bnai Zion event at Congregation Shearith Israel on March 4. Maj. Gen. Sagie, the president of Ahava Village for Children and Youth in Kiryat Bialik and a noted commander in the IDF, served as head of the Intelligence Directorate after a long list of military accomplishments. His visit to Dallas kicks off a promotion for the second annual brunch to benefit Ahava that will be held at Shearith Israel on Sunday, April 19, in honor of Carole and Joram Wolanow.

Ahava Village for Children and Youth, a Bnai Zion project, is a residential center for children at risk, ages 6 to 18, where they receive education, care and therapy to overcome their troubled past and become well-adjusted, productive members of society. Maj. Gen. Sagie, a published author and lecturer on strategic and national security issues, participated in the Six-Day War, the War of Attrition, the Yom Kippur War, the First Lebanon War, combat activities in the Security Zone (Lebanon) and the first intifada. He served as brigade commander in the renowned Entebbe operation in 1976 and retired from active service in 1995. As president of Ahava, Maj. Gen. Sagie heads up a committed board devoted to Ahava’s life-transforming work and plays an inspirational role for residents, staff and supporters alike. Yoav Apelboim, the executive director of Ahava, will also be in Dallas during Maj. Gen. Sagie’s March visit and will return for the April brunch. Bnai Zion, marking its centennial, supports humanitarian projects in Israel that improve the lives of many. Other current projects include the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa; the Quittman Center at Israel Elwyn in Jerusalem; the David Yellin Academic College of Education in Bet Hakerem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
For more information and reservations for this event on March 4, as well as for the brunch on April 19, please call the Bnai Zion Texas regional office at 972-918-9200 or e-mail avrille.harris-cohen@bnaizion.org. More details are available at www.bnaizion.org.

Community Kollel to offer free Hebrew reading courses
The Community Kollel of Dallas, in conjunction with the National Jewish Outreach Program, will offer crash courses in Hebrew reading at three levels.

“Beginner’s Luck: A Hebrew Reading Primer” is a seven-part course at the beginner level. It will meet Tuesdays, 8:15–9:15 a.m., in the Library Conference Room of the Schultz Rosenberg Campus. Course dates are March 3, 10, 17, 24 and 31, and April 21 and 28.

“Why Is This Night ‘Different’ for Hebrew Readers?” will be given at both the intermediate and advanced levels. It will improve Hebrew reading skills through guided study of Passover seder texts. The six-part intermediate level course (basic knowledge of Hebrew letters and vowels required) will meet Mondays, 2:30–3:30 p.m.; course dates are March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30, and April 6. The five-part advanced level course meets Wednesdays, 2:30–3:30 p.m.; course dates are March 4, 11, 18 and 25, and April 1. Each meets in the Boardroom of the Schultz Rosenberg Campus. All courses are free. To register, contact Shirley Rovinsky at the Community Kollel of Dallas, 214-295-3525 or kollelofdallas@sbcglobal.net. The Schultz Rosenberg Campus is located at 12324 Merit Drive, Dallas.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 26 February 2009 by admin

Chevrah Kaddisha dinner takes place at Ahavath Sholom
Mitzvot were the focus of the Chevrah Kaddisha dinner at Congregation Ahavath Sholom on Sunday evening, Feb. 22. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the “Star-Spangled Banner,” led by Nancy Stansbury, synagogue President Harry S. Kahn welcomed the gathering of congregants and guests who had come to honor the members of the congregation’s Men’s and Ladies’ Chevra Kaddisha and the members of its Cemetery Committee. Kahn pointed out that the work that these dedicated congregants do is chesed shel emet, the ultimate mitzvah, in that it is a service done that can never be repaid. A sumptuous dinner, lovingly prepared by Elsie Blum and her catering committee and served by the congregation’s Midrasha students participating in the mitzvah of community service, was followed by the evening’s program.

The members of the Ladies’ Chevra Kaddisha and Men’s Chevra Kaddisha were introduced by the respective chairs of each, Marcia Kurtz and Glenn Garoon. Members of the Ladies’ Chevra Kaddisha also include: Elsie Blum, Ceil Cantor, Natalie Cohn, Jetti Cole, Hedy Collins, Jaclyn Daiches, J.R. Faigin, Elizabeth Gordon, Sonia Hecht, Hanna Hochster, Cynthia Labovitz, Miriam Labovitz, Linda Landy, Carmen Lederman, Melissa Morgan, Debby Rice, Sonya Stenzler and Sandra Williams. Members of the Men’s Chevra Kaddisha also include: Ed Bond, Tom Collins, Alvin Daiches, Al Faigin, Earl Givant, Morton Herman, Jack Rubin, Chaim Saadon, Phil Sawyer and Dan Sturman. The introductions were followed by the Cemetery Committee report given by Chairman Garoon on behalf of his committee, Scott Cobert, Karen Kaplan, Earl Givant and Marcia Kurtz. In doing so, Garoon spoke of the great mitzvah performed by the entire Ahavath Sholom community, which, during this past year, raised the funds that enabled the Jewish burial of a community member who otherwise would not have been able to afford one. He thanked the members of the congregation as well as the funeral directors from Robertson, Mueller and Harper, who were instrumental in making this happen.

Rabbi Baruch Zeilicovich spoke of the great mitzvah available to the Chevrah Kaddisha in the post-shiva period. He pointed out it is often the love and support offered by Chevrah members to mourners during shloshim and the entire 11-month mourning period that makes it possible for them to reintegrate into the routines of everyday life after the death of a loved one. The rabbi was joined by Dr. Javier Smolarz in leading a memorial service followed by the mourners’ Kaddish. The evening ended with the singing of “Hatikvah,” led by Dr. Smolarz. Anyone interested in finding out more about the Chevrah Kaddisha or Cemetery Committee at Ahavath Sholom or in receiving information about membership at Congregation Ahavath Sholom should contact the synagogue office at 817-731-4721.

Arlington ‘TAG’ entertains
A large crowd of “Daytimers” enjoyed a delightful presentation by Theatre Arlington Guild (TAG) at the February luncheon. The 11 seniors presented “A Breath of Spring,” the hilarious story of a group of seniors trying to save their retirement hotel and their home. They turn to a highly illegal operation to raise the money and have an exciting experience at the same time.

Members of Daytimers also had an opportunity to sign up for computer classes at Beth-El and for a special conference being conducted by S.A.L.T. (Seniors and Law Enforcement Together), Friday, March 6, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Masonic Temple, 1100 Henderson. This conference is designed to assist people in avoiding victimization by criminal activities. The program includes both a free breakfast and a free lunch. To reserve a seat at the program, call Barbara Rubin at 817-927-2736.

On Wednesday, March 18, Daytimers will hear David Vaughan of Computers Made Easy. David is the instructor-in-residence at the new Annette and Sol Taylor Technology Center at Beth-El. He will tell the group about things they can do with digital cameras, the very basics of using a computer and the Internet, how to use e-mail or shop on eBay. There are already various computer classes available at Beth-El. For information, classes and dates, contact Beth-El Congregation at 817-332-7141.

The March luncheon will be catered by Rosa’s Cafe, and guests have a choice of beef burrito, Mexican plate (taco and enchilada) or cheese enchilada. Luncheon cost is $9. Guests may attend the program only for $4. 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. 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.

Come to the Community Purim Carnival on March 8!
Don’t miss this year’s big, banner Community Purim Carnival on Sunday, March 8 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen. Festivities will start at 12:30 p.m. and last until 3 p.m. Lunch is $2.50.
Participate in the four fun mitzvot of Purim: reading the Megillah blessings, gifts for the poor (bring canned food), mishloach manot and the meal of Purim. Do all four and get five extra tickets.
Carnival highlights for the younger set include Mordechai’s Muffin Game, Shushan Shuffleboard, Purim Plinko, bounce house and much more.

Admission is free. Activity tickets will be sold at the door for 25 cents each or 25 for $5.
For more information, please call Mona Karten at the Federation Office, 817-569-0892.
The event is made possible by the Jewish Federation with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation.

Open house and dedication of ComputerLab at Ahavath Sholom
Congregation Ahavath Sholom has had plenty of reason to celebrate lately. An open house on Feb. 1 showed off the new Rose and Al Sankary ComputerLab, an exciting addition to the already active shul. The ComputerLab, audio-visual enhancements and other electronics make CAS a state-of-the-art facility for entertainment, research, exploration and presentation. About 70 congregants came to the open house, where they reminisced while watching a slide-show presentation of recent and archived photos of members on the Zale social hall’s new 12-foot screen. The capabilities of the new CAVE (ComputerLab, Audio-Visual, Electronics) project were further demonstrated in the Brachman Parlor, where a movie edited by Danny Zeilicovich showed an oral history interview with R.D. Moses and Jerry Berger, Haftorah recitations by Sarah Alpert and Mollie Karten and an interview with Rabbi Baruch Zeilicovich. The movie showed some of the ways this project will be used to benefit all members of the congregation. David Saul spoke about the Greek influence on the world since the fourth century BCE to demonstrate the effective use of the equipment that can turn an ordinary presentation into a lively, interactive workshop. Ahavath Sholom’s USY and Kadima members helped introduce some of the congregants to surfing the Web in the ComputerLab with its 13 new computers and smart desks. Farther down the hall, Debby and Michael Schwanz served up freshly popped popcorn to enjoy while watching movies on the big screen with surround sound in the fun room of the education wing. Refreshments were provided by the catering staff and volunteers, led by Elsie Blum. Later that same evening, 65 people enjoyed the Super Bowl on the Zale’s 12-foot screen broadcast over cable while munching on hot dogs and chips provided by the CAS Men’s Club.

Al Sankary had just been released from the hospital (another reason to celebrate) on the day of the open house, so the actual dedication of the CAVE project was delayed until Feb. 15. On this day, Al and Rose, along with Yoseph Yaacobi, whose design and construction supervision brought the CAVE to fruition, affixed a beautiful mezuzah that Rabbi Z had just brought back from Israel. A plaque acknowledging the contributions of Al and Rose Sankary and Yoseph Yaacobi was unveiled and a ribbon-cutting ceremony took place. Guests were then invited to the Zale social hall, where Al and Rose’s many contributions to the synagogue over the years were remembered and Al shared some of his thoughts with the crowd. Bagels and cream cheese were then enjoyed by the 120 guests.

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Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 26 February 2009 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,
This week was Rosh Chodesh Adar — we have officially entered a really great Jewish month! Purim is not until March 14 but that gives us lots of time to get ready. Purim is a holiday with so many layers — lots of fun and lots to learn! However, the month of Adar has another important date: the seventh of Adar. Moses was born on the seventh of Adar and also died on the seventh of Adar. While Haman may have thought that the month of Adar would be a sad time for the Jews because of Moses’ death, we celebrate Moses’ birth and life as well. The story goes that when Haman was drawing lots for when to destroy the Jews, he saw the date of Moses’ death. Haman felt that the date would cause misfortune for the Jewish people. He didn’t realize that the birthday celebration would actually make the month a very positive one (and lead to his demise!).
From the website www.askmoses.com, I got another interesting piece of information. “The Lubavitcher Rebbe points out that a person’s soul shines stronger on his or her birthday. The aspect of the soul that is contained within a person is actually a spark of the person’s root neshamah (soul), which stays above. This neshamah that is above the earthly Neshamah is called ‘mazel.’ A person’s mazel is stronger on the birthday because the mazel, which drips vitality into the soul, and the soul are in perfect alignment on that day.” Think about this on your own birthday but especially on March 3 this year when we remember Moses’ birth and death — this is the collective birthday of the Jewish people. Make this new month a very special one!
At the J, we have chosen a particular Jewish value for each month and for the month of Adar; our value is ometz lev. We usually translate this as “courage” but the literal translation is “strength of heart.” To be courageous is not about physical strength and it is not about being fearless. It is about doing what is right even when — or especially when — it is hard. The story of the life of Moses and the story of Purim are great occasions to talk about being courageous. Talk about our Jewish heroes of the past and present and what they did in their lives that took courage. And, with our children, we must talk about the things we can do to stand up to those who try to hurt others. Use the stories of our tradition to talk about the challenges everyone faces 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 26 February 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
Thank you for your help last week for our confirmation assignment to answer the question “Who am I?” In a nutshell, we understood from your answer that everyone has a life-force, like the animals, called nefesh, which pulls a person towards physical pleasures. They have a soul called neshamah, which pulls a person to heaven. And the connection is called ruach, which is the struggle between the two sides, and that is “I” in this world. This explains a lot, but it leads us to another question: Why would God create us in a struggle? Why not just create us with neshamah, and not have to have us be “referees” in a fight between two opposing pulls? Thanks for your time.
Jessica, Amber and Leigh

Dear Jessica, Amber and Leigh,
Great question! Keep on thinking and asking!
I will answer your question the Jewish way, with a question! If the eternal part of us is our neshamah, our soul, and everything else is just here for a while, why did G-d put our souls into this physical world altogether? Why even create a physical world? Let there just be a world of souls.
The answer is given by the Kabbalistic masters: G-d is a giver, and created our souls to be recipients of His giving. When G-d gives, He wants to give to the ultimate, to allow the recipients to receive His goodness with the ultimate joy and ecstasy possible.
Whenever one receives a present from another, as incredible as it may be, it always comes with a postscript which hinders one’s ability to enjoy it completely: that it is a gift. What I mean is, that when you receive a present, by definition of its being a gift (and not a payment for services, etc.), you did nothing to deserve it. Deep down is a tiny feeling of embarrassment at having received something for nothing.
The Kabbalists call this nahama d’kisufa, or “bread of shame.” If G-d had created souls only, and put them in a “world of souls” which would be a place to receive G-d’s bliss and goodness, they would truly enjoy all the goodness bestowed upon them. This enjoyment, however, would not be complete, because it would be “bread of shame” as the souls would know that they did nothing to deserve this kindness. Since they did nothing to acquire it through their own efforts, it doesn’t really “belong” to them.
The only way for G-d to enable the souls to have complete enjoyment and pleasure in His kindness would be for Him to give them an opportunity to do something to earn the goodness He wants to bestow upon them. For that, they need to be in a world where the souls can overcome something and end up on top. They need to struggle against something antithetical, and by winning that battle, to earn a portion in that goodness.
That is why G-d created a world of physicality and “forces” the soul to leave its spiritual environs to be wed to a body completely antithetical to its very existence, the nefesh. Now the conflict begins, to see which one comes out on top; or as we saw last week, is the rider controlling the horse, or the horse the rider?
For this reason, G-d purposely created an imperfect world. He wanted to give the soul a job to do in this world: to perfect it. It does so by overcoming the pull to physicality and making itself, and the world, a more spiritual, more G-dly place. This is the true meaning of tikkun olam, “fixing the world,” as it appears in its source in context: “letaken olam b’malchus Sha-dai” or “fixing the world, making it a kingdom of the Al-mighty.”
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 26 February 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Is there some intrinsic relationship between gardening and human service? Between helping people and making things grow?
I’m wondering about the connection now because I’ve recently reconnected with a cousin who’s 20 years my junior, whom I haven’t seen since he was a child. Today, he’s a lawyer — something I knew. He’s also something of a farmer — which I didn’t know. Well, not exactly, anyway.
Rob was away at college when I last visited his family in North Carolina. That was a long, long time ago. His dad then showed me a centerfold article in the New York Times Sunday Magazine with a diagram of how to lay out a backyard vegetable garden. Uncle Sol was intrigued. There was lots of ground behind the house, and he was poring over that paper, already making plans. “Rob and I will do this when he gets home,” my uncle said.
When Rob did, the two of them got to work. I heard that their first backyard project produced a bumper crop, and the work was so satisfying that they doubled the garden’s size the following year. Then more produce was produced than their family could consume, so all the friends and neighbors became happy beneficiaries.
Well, Uncle Sol and his wife, my dear Aunt Polly, are long gone. Rob’s older brother died young, too many years ago. Rob’s older sister more recently passed away, and he was in touch to give me the sad news. Now he’s alone in the old family house, part residence, part headquarters for his law practice. He tends both with remarkable care and compassion, I’ve learned.
When Rob graduated with his J.D., he chose to work for Legal Aid in eastern North Carolina. After a few years, he began doing criminal defense work for the indigent, plus assisting some people with disabilities. “As time passed,” he says, “fewer area attorneys did disability cases. They sent them to me. It got to the point that I was spending all day, every day, in the criminal courts, and nights and weekends with my disability practice.” After 20 years laboring at the law, Rob dropped everything else to concentrate on intense work on behalf of the disabled.
“In 2005, the North Carolina State Bar authorized Social Security disability practice as a recognized specialty,” Rob told me. “I had enough experience, continuing legal education, and peer review recommendations to sit for the first exam, which was given in 2006.” He passed, and now toils exclusively in this somewhat rarefied legal vineyard. He says “It’s a generally low level area of law, but it suits me. Each case is like writing a mini-medical and vocational biography, trying to piece together a person’s story.”
And of course, there is the garden, which is a story of its own.
“I enjoy ‘farming’ more than the law,” Rob confesses. “I’ve expanded the backyard garden. The old section is twice as big as it used to be, and after a few trees died and I had them removed, I added another section as large as the first. My next-door neighbor and I also garden together on about a half-acre at the edge of town, on the remnants of her family farm. She is 86 years old and a lifelong farmer; she supervises and advises me, and we ‘share-crop.’ She’s still quite active, still gets on her small tractor to keep her lawn cut. In good years we fill our freezers and give large quantities of fresh vegetables to friends and family.”
My father was a physician with what some would call a “low-level” practice: Sometimes he’d see patients in our house, and accept a chicken or a couple of home-grown cantaloupes instead of the $2 he charged for an office visit. He could hardly wait to get out of his office and back to his backyard flower gardening; I was a bride in that yard, married under a chuppah in the midst of his beautiful roses. Rob’s mother, my beloved Aunt Polly, a Hebrew teacher in her synagogue and a whiz in the kitchen, came from North Carolina to bake my wedding cake.
Love of service, and nurturing people and other growing things. In my father, I saw them go together. In Cousin Rob, I see them together again.
Oh — one more thing: Rob ended his descriptive e-mail, quoted above, this way: “If you thought this message was long, don’t get me started about my bees. I think I’ll hit ‘send’ now, and save them for the next time.”
I can’t wait!
E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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Tiferet Community Garden plants the seeds for a flourishing growth

Tiferet Community Garden plants the seeds for a flourishing growth

Posted on 26 February 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross
It’s not the Garden of Eden yet — not by a long shot. But the Tiferet Community Garden is well on its way.
Already earmarked for planting: about a half-acre of the ample land behind the synagogue on Hillcrest Road near Royal Lane, with some cultivation currently underway. “Right now we have two 12-by-20-foot beds planted,” said Ed Jerome, congregation president, “and two more are ready. In our ‘Grand Plan,’ we’ll ultimately have 20!”

This project is officially named TIKVA, Tiferet Israel Kosher Vegetation Association, and it’s offering a very green opportunity to anyone and everyone wanting to grow, harvest and share. According to the fledgling effort’s mission statement: “In the spirit of tikkun olam, the Tiferet Community Garden uses plants to catalyze relationships between individuals, the congregation, the community and the natural world, in a beautiful and productive garden.”

You don’t have to be a Tiferet congregant — not even Jewish! — to take part; TIKVA is reaching out to the church next door and the public school behind its land to invite wide participation. The garden is planned as “a visible expression of the congregation’s values and beliefs … linking with the secular and religious communities throughout Dallas of which Tiferet is a part.”

This project is the “baby” of congregants Jan Ayers, Sonia Meltzer and Steven Goldfine, who now make up the official Garden Committee. Last fall they saw an article about a church garden, passed it around to assess interest, and received a go-ahead from Tiferet’s Board. Plans call for vegetable and fruit production that will “make a shiduch,” according to Jerome: The people who work the beds will get to keep most of what they produce, with a minimum 10 percent of every harvest required for donation to a food bank or other charity approved by TIKVA, which will handle the distribution.

Beds may also include flowers and herbs, according to planters’ personal preferences; a compost stockpile for all will welcome everyone’s lawn clippings, leaves, and peelings from raw fruits and vegetables.
Professionals from MESA Design Group have worked with the committee on the garden’s layout, which will include fencing and tree plantings as well as the growing beds. Costs to participants — individuals, families, and groups — will be $200 per bed for the first year to offset the actual price of construction, and $50 per year afterward to pay for water. Those who don’t want to garden themselves but would like volunteers to work beds for them and split the harvest, or who want to sponsor beds for others, may do so for the same amount.

Donations are also being accepted for trees, with costs ranging from $100 for each fig, peach and pomegranate, to $500 per pecan or magnolia. A “Green Fund” in support of all garden purchases as needed is receiving donations in any amount.

TIKVA has set up garden guidelines that include use of organic growing methods, appropriateness of crops planted, installation of structures such as trellises, and supervision of children. No pets will be permitted. TIKVA will also provide help for gardeners including a list of successful plants for the area and a planting schedule, which may take the form of an illustrated calendar with children’s art work. And for those interested, Tiferet’s Rabbi Shawn Zell will teach the Hebrew words for all plants in the garden!

A look at the garden and full information about future plans and participation will be available to all attendees at the 16th Annual Kosher Chili Cookoff, scheduled for Sunday, March 22, at Tiferet Israel.

According to the garden’s planners, “We are a small but rapidly growing group of people who saw a need for community involvement, family interaction and spiritual fulfillment. Your planting bed is your personal vision: flowers for your home and for sharing, growing that 100-lb. pumpkin you’ve always wanted, or nutrient-rich vegetables for your family and for the local food bank. It’s up to you….

“The Tiferet Community Garden will be a welcoming and beautiful refuge where individuals and groups find fellowship and solace … a venue for linking, celebrating and learning from the seasonal rhythms of the secular and spiritual worlds.”

Not quite Gan Eden, but with almost infinite potential!

For answers to questions, call Tiferet Israel’s office, 214-691-3611.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 19 February 2009 by admin

Emanu-El’s Showcase 2009 begins with ‘SMU Meadows Live!’ March 1
Calling all lovers of music, theater and dance; followers of the arts at SMU; people interested in Jewish literature and culture; families with children studying the arts — this year’s opening program of the Temple Emanu-El Arts Series (Showcase 2009) is for you! Faculty and students associated with the distinguished Meadows School of the Arts at SMU will offer a colorful afternoon of Jewish works evoking our diverse artistic heritage, from short stories to French song (and much more).

Culminating the March 1 presentation will be new choreography for KlezMuzik, an exciting composition in the klezmer style for clarinet and piano by Simon Sargon, longtime director of music at the temple and professor of composition at SMU. For this performance, the choreography is being composed by Danna Reubin, an MFA graduate of SMU and now associate professor of dance at Collin College, in collaboration with Tawanda Chabikwa, an SMU graduate student and recent alum of College of the Atlantic in Maine.
Ms. Reubin will also appear in a solo dance work from the repertoire of the renowned Anna Sokolow (1910-2000), set to Maurice Ravel’s musical interpretation of the Kaddish for High Holy Days. Created in 1945, Sokolow’s “Kaddish” evokes not only the pain of our people’s suffering in the Holocaust, but also our enduring strength. Cantor Richard Cohn will sing the vocal part, with Mr. Sargon at the piano.

Complementing the “Kaddish” will be a famous vocal selection by Leonard Bernstein, the “Lamentation” for mezzo-soprano from his “Jeremiah Symphony.” It will be sung by Virginia Dupuy, Professor of Voice at SMU, one of the finest recital and concert singers in the United States, with Mr. Sargon as pianist.
Ms. Dupuy, Cantor Cohn and Mr. Sargon will also interpret a delightful cycle of six Hebrew folksongs (“Chants Populaires Hébraïques”) by Darius Milhaud (1892-1974), composed in 1925. The songs, sung in French, are entitled “Havdallah,” “Song of the Watchman,” “Song of Deliverance,” “Lullaby,” “Glory to God” and “Chassidic Song” (the latter a “counting song” in the style of “Who Knows One?”).

Woven throughout the program will be staged readings of Jewish short stories, presented by students in the Meadows Division of Theatre, coordinated by Professor of Theatre and Division Chair Cecil O’Neal. Featured will be selections from “In My Father’s Court,” the renowned collection of stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer (1904-1991), winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize in Literature. Singer chronicles life in and about the Jewish Quarter of Warsaw in the period just prior to and during World War I. Characterized by a redemptive sense of humor and an honest appraisal of human nature, “In My Father’s Court” preserves and illuminates the heritage of the great European Jewish community.

“SMU Meadows Live!” is a presentation of the Temple Emanu-El Music Committee, reaffirming the close relationship between the congregation and the university. Ticket information may be found at www.tedallas.org/showcase.

From Ed of Ed’s Deli: a farewell and a new beginning
“Closing the doors at Ed’s Deli for the last time was one of the most difficult things my wife Ann and I had to do,” said Ed Brandt, who had opened the deli in 2005. “We had put every part of us into the store for almost four years and were unaware of the impact that we had made.

“Within two days after closing, the phone calls and the e-mails came pouring in. We received over 300 e-mails and have no idea of how many phone calls we answered. We still get at least three or four calls each day, many unaware that the store had closed. When we tell them, they all express their sadness and offer such warm wishes for our future success.

“I will save the e-mails forever. The care and concern they show to Ann and me is unbelievable. Aside from the job offers and those wanting to help finance us to open another deli, the mails were just filled with so many good wishes and compliments that made us believe, for the first time, that all of our work and the care we had given had made a difference.

“But life goes on. At my age, I wasn’t sure where to go or what to do. I did know that Ed’s had established a wonderful catering operation, much in part to our Catering Manager Randy Meltzer. We were delivering breakfasts, lunches, mid-afternoon snacks and even dinners to businesses and private homes all over the city. We were also doing Kiddush lunches at many temples for bar and bat mitzvahs. Ann and I particularly enjoyed that part of it. We attended every party and by the end of the event we were being treated like one of the family.

“So, the decision was easy. Randy and I got together and Totally Catering was born. We were able to take over one of the finest catering kitchens in Dallas and brought with us the key people from Ed’s.

“Our first week in business we catered over 400 lunches and it has gone up from there. We are also developing a delivery service to temples located 75 to 150 miles from Dallas. So many of these people had come to Dallas and bemoaned the fact that there were no good delis in their town. Working with this, we are now affiliating with seven temples away from Dallas and beginning our delivery service. We are also developing a home delivery service for the Dallas area. Responses to our e-mails indicated that there are so many former customers that would like the convenience of having some of our foods delivered to their homes and with minimal delivery fees. We can utilize our delivery staff that is now growing to help facilitate our home delivery service.

“So, Ed’s Deli may be gone but it did accomplish much and we are very proud to be a part of it. We feel that Totally Catering will, in many ways, fill a void and a memory that Ed’s left.”

Dallas Chevra Kadisha to hold 13th annual Zayin Adar dinner, March 2 at Ohr HaTorah
The Chevra Kadisha, or Jewish burial society, consists of volunteers who prepare the body, halachically and with dignity, before interment. This includes performing the taharah (ritual cleansing) and dressing the body in tachrichin (shrouds). Jewish burial societies traditionally hold their annual dinners on Zayin Adar, the seventh day of Adar, because that is the yahrzeit of Moses.

Reservations for the 6:30 p.m. dinner are required to be prepaid by Feb. 23. Cost is $35 per person, adults only. Checks should be made payable to Dallas Chevra Kadisha, Inc. and mailed to Dallas Chevra Kadisha, Inc., c/o Leni Hirschberg, 11770 Preston Road, Suite 660-226, Dallas, TX 75230.

A musical introduction to Goldstein Youth Village
Virtuoso piano music and an introduction to a youth-serving Israeli institution will come together Tuesday, Feb. 24 at a 7:30 p.m. dessert party hosted by two Dallas couples: Evelyn and Andy Rosemore, and Gail and David Greenberg.

The recital will be given by 17-year-old Russian pianist Lev Chebotarev, who recently made aliyah and is now living and studying at the Dr. Israel Goldstein Youth Village, a residential middle and upper school in Jerusalem.

For almost 60 years, Goldstein Village has provided a warm, loving home to hundreds of young Jewish immigrants from around the world, and to Israeli-born, at-risk youth. Judy Segal, the village’s development director, will be at the party to explain its work and answer questions. This stop is part of an informative, fundraising tour including stops in California, Florida, and London, England.Judy’s husband, Benjy Segal, a Conservative rabbi in Israel, is a former Camp Ramah director.

The Dallas event has come about, Mrs. Greenberg explained, because “Judy is the sister of Susan Grumer, my dear Hebrew school teacher when I was a young teen in Corpus Christi. That is how we made the connection.” Ms. Grumer also hopes to be present on Tuesday evening.

People interested in attending this event are invited to call Mrs. Greenberg at 972-407-9470 or e-mail gailgreenberg@sbcglobal.net for full details. Information about Goldstein Youth Village is available on its campus Web site, www.hava.org.il.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 19 February 2009 by admin

Sweet dreams for kids at Congregation Beth Shalom
“An Evening of Sweet Dreams,” a special program for kids, will be held at Congregation Beth Shalom on Friday, Feb. 20. The evening will start at 6 p.m. at a Tot Shabbat Service. Dinner will follow at 6:30 p.m., and the program will begin at 7 p.m.

Congregation Beth Shalom is located at 1212 Thannisch Drive in Arlington.
RSVPs for the “Jewish Bedtime Rituals for Young Children” program should be made as soon as possible with Stephanie Posner, 817-468-4439 or 817-675-4353.
The evening will take place in the Assembly Room of the Religious School and is free to all participants.
The program is funded by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

Andy Karsner testifies before Senate Energy Committee
Andy Karsner, son of Blanche and David Karsner, was in the news last week when he testified before the Senate Energy Committee. The Washington Times said: “‘Fundamental reform of the means and mechanisms for disbursing loan guarantees that enables consistent and continuous capital formation in the markets is indispensable if the new administration has any hope of achieving its stated goals for doubling renewable energy production in the next 36 months,’ said Andy Karsner, the former assistant energy secretary who is now a distinguished fellow at the Council on Competitiveness.

“Mr. Karsner, who directed the program under the Bush administration, said he plans to tell senators Thursday that a ‘clean energy bank’ should be established to administer the loans.”
The Wall Street Journal said on Thursday: “Andy Karsner, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy under President George W. Bush, told a Senate panel that a combination of ‘bureaucratic dysfunction,’ ‘organizational intransigence,’ and ‘institutional barriers’ had contributed to the agency’s ‘painfully slow’ progress on loan-guarantee applications in recent years.”

Cnnmoney.com, in their piece, said: “The last administration’s Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Andy Karsner, said the loan program — and the DOE at large — face bigger problems than money. Karsner advocated for the creation of a clean energy bank — a new government entity that could relieve the DOE of responsibilities it was never meant, and is not equipped to handle: namely, the actual rollout and financing of technology. ‘The guts of what we do at the DOE well is science and technology,’ he told the Committee. Once things get out of the R&D phase, he said, the DOE is ‘handcuffed’ by its position as a civil service agency.”

Hadassah members have a ‘Date with the State’
On Sunday and Monday, Feb. 8–9, 50 members of the Greater Southwest Region of Hadassah ascended the State Capitol to meet with state legislators and other state officials for a “Date with the State.”
Issues important to Hadassah members and brought to the attention of our state leaders included:
• SCHIP — a bill to help the
nearly half million uninsured
Texas kids get health insurance
• Stem cell research
• Texas nursing legislation to
prevent nurses from working
excessive hours
• The creation of the Texas
Holocaust and Genocide
Commission
Thanks to the efforts of Senators Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa and Florence Shapiro, a State Proclamation was introduced acknowledging the work of Hadassah. Hadassah leaders were invited to the floor of the Senate to be recognized and congratulated. The group met with Governor Rick Perry and newly elected Speaker of the House Joe Straus from San Antonio.

Representing the Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah were “Date with the State” Co-Chairs Laurie Werner, Debby Rice and Rhoda Bernstein.

With 8,600 members in the Greater Southwest Region, Hadassah’s visit provided an opportunity to bring their collective voice to key influential leaders. For more information about Hadassah, the largest women’s volunteer organization in the U.S., call Debby Rice, 817-706-5158, e-mail debbyb@sbcglobal.net or go to the Web site at www.hadassah.org.

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Shalom from the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 18 February 2009 by admin

Dear Families,
The time of year has come for me to begin talking about camp. I must be honest — I do think the J camps are the best (what kind of director would I be if I didn’t think that?). However, Jewish camp is such a powerful experience that I am ready to say it doesn’t matter where you go, as long as it is a Jewish camp (and it is accredited by the American Camp Association so that you know the safety and quality are proven). There is a great book telling of important studies on the importance of camp: “How Goodly Are Thy Tents: Summer Camps as Jewish Socializing Experiences” by Amy L. Sales and Leonard Saxe. Let the studies and the authors speak:
• “A community’s unity, strength, and continuation depend on its capacity to socialize new members — to build commitment to the group and to transmit its knowledge and values to each succeeding generation. Socialization is thus critical to the Jewish enterprise which is based in community.”
• “Jewish tradition says that the study of Torah is equal to all of the other mitzvot because it leads to them all. So, too, is fun equal to all of the other purposes of camp because it leads to them all. … these purposes also include immersing children in Jewish life, inspiring them to greater identification with the Jewish people, and instilling in them the joy of Judaism.”
• “If children come to associate Jewish life with sweetness — the smell of pine trees, the closeness of friends, laughter in the bunk — what they practice and learn at camp will remain with them for a lifetime.”
• “At the camps we visited, Judaism was ‘in the air.’ We found it in everyday ritual practices, in Shabbat and in the symbolism that defines the physical environment of the camp as Jewish space. When Judaism is in the air, as it is at many camps, children take it in as effortlessly as breathing.”
If reading these words has not convinced you of the wonder, joy and importance of a camp experience, let me tell you stories of the memories and friendships from former campers and staff members. At the camp I grew up at, my husband and I were the 13th camp marriage (the first between former campers) and at Camp Chai, we boast of five camp marriages so far. The experiences connect us to community and it is especially wonderful when that is our Jewish community. Camp traditions come from Jewish traditions and then live on in our campers’ homes and hearts.
P.S. Need a list of great Jewish summer camps? E-mail me: lseymour@jccdallas.org
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 18 February 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
Our confirmation assignment in religious school is to write an essay on “Who Am I?” The idea is to find the Jewish view of what someone means when they say “I.” We’ve spoken to some teachers and rabbis and are still looking for more clarity. We’d appreciate your thoughts.
Jessica, Amber and Leigh

Dear Jessica, Amber and Leigh,
This is an excellent, thought-provoking assignment, something that every Jew should think about!
The answer to the question of “who am I” is a very Jewish one: It depends. What I mean is, it is a matter of perspective, if we’re discussing one’s life in this world or one’s eternal life.
Let’s start by defining what human life is. The Kabbalistic masters have broken down our basic existence to three parts: nefesh, ruach and neshamah, or life, spirit and soul.
Nefesh means life force. This life force, we share with the animals: our hearts beating, eating and digestion, etc. This basic physical existence is not our entire being. This is borne out by thousands of testimonies of near-death situations when the person reported afterward being above themselves, seeing themselves from a distance and being brought along a long, bright corridor.
We’ll skip to level three, ­neshamah, our soul, which G-d breathed into the nostrils of the first man (Genesis 2:8). This is our spark of G-dliness, our eternal existence. The root of this existence, unlike nefesh, is from the highest spiritual worlds, from the Al-mighty Himself. When I say “I” from the viewpoint of eternity, I mean the neshamah, because it will live forever, and its time in this world is a relatively small slice of the pie of time compared to forever.
The most important “I,” however, during our lives in this world, is our ruach, or spirit. Ruach is what fuses together nefesh and neshamah. Ruach, literally, means wind. Wind is caused by the tension between high- and low-pressure areas in the atmosphere. At times this causes gentle, pleasant breezes, and other times it can bring on tropical storms and tornadoes. In a way, we, in our lives, also have an internal high- and low-pressure tension, between the body and the soul. Each one exerts its own pull: one toward base physicality, lusts and desires, the other drawing us heavenward toward serving G-d and being more spiritual. That is why the connection between body and soul is called ruach, which is a spiritual wind.
The struggles in our lives — whether or not to do the right thing, to make the right choices — are in the arena of ruach. Sometimes this causes a gentle, pleasant breeze in our lives, and we are happy with our choices. At times, however, our lives are hit by a tropical storm, when the dichotomy between our spiritual side and our desires hits a high-pressure area. Adolescence, early college years, sometimes can find people in a state of rebellion, or confusion, or identity crisis, as they try to ride the waves and winds of ruach. No two people are alike, and no two times are the same in our lives, when it comes to the challenges and tests of ruach. It is not uncommon to find a person who rebelled against her spiritual side in her youth, and near the end of her life became very spiritual.
Our challenge in life is to allow our sechel, or intelligence, to hold the reins over our physical bodies. The Midrash compares this to a horse and a rider; who is in control, the horse or its rider? That is our challenge, the challenge of our ruach. Our ruach is our “I” in this world. The Torah provides the wisdom to allow the rider to control the horse so he can fully enjoy the pleasant and fragrant pastures without being led off the cliff.
Good luck on your project, and please feel free to be in touch with further questions!
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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