Archive | April, 2009

Dallas Doings

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 23 April 2009 by admin

Dallas Jewish youth improve the world through J-Serve program

Between 50 and 100 Jewish young people in Dallas are expected to participate in a day of community service and improvement projects as they take part in J-Serve, a national day of volunteerism and engagement, on April 26.

Teens will participate in several service projects around Dallas such as helping at two retirement homes, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Vogel Alcove, Jewish Family Services, E-Quest and (with USO) welcoming soldiers back home at the airport.

This year marks the fourth in which thousands of Jewish youth from coast to coast will turn out in force for J-Serve, designed to encourage Jewish service, community building and creation of connections across religious and societal lines.

J-Serve 2009 is a collaboration of PANIM: The Institute for Jewish Leadership and Values and the Jewish Coalition for Service, with additional support by partner agencies and foundations.

“What makes J-Serve so powerful is that it enables the entire Jewish community to act in a unified fashion, transcending denominational and institutional lines,” said Rabbi Sid Schwarz, president and founder of PANIM. “J-Serve empowers teens by making them aware that through service they can become positive change agents — fulfilling the Jewish mandate to bring tzedek, justice, to the world. The fact that thousands of teens participate in J-Serve annually shows the commitment of the Jewish people to service as well as the strength of the unified Jewish community.”

Approximately 12,000 teens will participate in service programs in 60 cities, large and small, from coast to coast.

J-Serve 2009 is the Jewish service component of the annual Global Youth Service Day of Youth Service America. J-Serve 2008 generated 65 community service projects across the country and attracted 10,000 teen volunteers.

Those interested in participating in a J-Serve project can find additional information on the J-Serve Web site, www.jserve.org.

JFGD names Paige Rothstein for Special Needs Initiative

A community organizer has been appointed for the Dallas Special Needs Initiative. Paige Rothstein comes to the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) from the Cincinnati, Ohio region, where she worked in the field of municipal government specializing in economic development. Her expertise includes connecting businesses with resources, leading the development of a downtown revitalization effort and overseeing a number of volunteers to accomplish the community’s goals. “I believe that Paige Rothstein brings the professional experience to this position that will enable us to bring together all of the diverse stakeholders in our community. I feel confident that Paige will successfully navigate the Special Needs Initiative from the strategic planning process to become a vital community resource impacting the lives of hundreds if not thousands in our community,” said Meyer Denn, executive director of the Center for Jewish Education.
JFGD’s Special Needs Initiative kicked off in 2008 with a community retreat meeting in June and a community awareness program in September. Louis Zweig, lay chairman of the ­Special Needs Initiative, said: “The Special Needs Initiative is making great progress as we bring together the best and the brightest to create a blueprint for the future. I look forward to our upcoming events and to building bridges between our special needs community and the resources they need to enhance their lives.”

Since the Initiative’s inception, a Leadership Committee has been established and identified five priorities to accomplish in 2009. Families with children who have special needs can look forward to upcoming outreach events; further teacher training in the preschools, religious schools and day schools; the establishment of benchmarks and standards for schools; and both an online and an in-house resource center within the Mankoff Center for Jewish Learning.

If you would like to participate in the Special Needs Initiative or have resources that will help provide children with a fulfilling Jewish education and Jewish life, contact Paige Rothstein at 214-239-7192 or prothstein@jfgd.org.

The Special Needs Initiative of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas is a consortium of several organizations working to assist children with special needs. This initiative is building on a small foundation of services already in existence for this population. A steering committee has been created to explore these services, as well as develop and implement a strategic plan that will reach out to the broadest definition of the special needs community.

Klezmer concert at Emanu-El, April 26

The Joy of Klezmer concert will feature The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas on Sunday, April 26, at 4 p.m. in Tobian Auditorium at Temple Emanu-El.

Comedian Jackie Mason said of the Little Klezmer Band, “They’re perfect! So authentic … they play it straight from the heart.” Violinist virtuoso Itzhak Perlman commented, “Now that’s good shlep! Your new CD’s a mamaloshen delight,” and composer-pianist Marvin Hamlisch added, “Your music lifts our spirits. Keep up the good work.”

What do you get when you combine the rollicking sounds of a Russian circus and the jazzy rhythms of the Roaring ‘20s and Swingin’ ‘30s?  — klezmer music! Enjoy this fantastic afternoon of spirited fun and music, the third installment of the Temple Emanu-El Arts Series (Showcase 2009).
Under the direction of Marcia Sterling and Dan Strba, The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas is dedicated to the presentation, preservation and revitalization of Yiddish culture through their live performances.
Like the blues, klezmer music’s roots are emphatically ethnic, but the emotions it expresses are universal.

Brought to this country by Eastern European Jewish immigrants, it endured decades of near-oblivion before being rediscovered in the mid-1970s by a new generation of musicians. The Yiddish word “klezmer,” from the Hebrew klei (instrument) and zemer (music or tune), originally referred only to musical instruments. Over time, the distinction between the musicians and their instruments blurred, and the term is now used to describe the whole genre of instrumental folk music native to Yiddish-speaking Jews.

Although klezmer music had its origins in Jewish tradition, it was strongly influenced by the folk music of the surrounding cultures and the joyous fervor of Chassidism, a Jewish religious movement. Once in America, klezmer musicians adopted techniques and rhythms associated with this country’s popular dance music. The music manages to capture the poignancy and fragility of life while emphasizing its joys.
The Best Little Klezmer Band in Texas brings the old world to life by reviving Yiddish music from the old country and America’s immigrant generation. The band infuses its spirited performances of Jewish folk songs and traditional wedding dances, haunting lyrical melodies of East European Jews, fiery virtuosic Gypsy showpieces, and dazzling theater music with an electrifying world-beat. Their album, “Schleppin’ West,” has received critical acclaim for its “enchanting musical renderings as clever as they are invigorating” and “the Texas spin making new inroads on Jewish swing.”

For ticket information, visit www.tedallas.org/showcase, or call 214-696-3273.

Boy Scout Troop 729 to hold open house on April 27

If you like fishing, camping, shooting compound bows, rifles and other outdoor activities, join in the adventure of Boy Scouts! Troop 729, sponsored by the Temple Emanu-El Brotherhood since 1919, will have an open house on Monday, April 27, at Preston Hollow Elementary, 6423 Walnut Hill Lane, at 7:30 p.m. You can also visit www.troop729.org for more information.

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Around the Town with Rene

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 23 April 2009 by admin

Andy Karsner receives award from Swedish king

On March 18, Jonas Hafstrom of the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C., wrote to Alexander “Andy” Karsner as follows: “It is my great pleasure to convey to you the decision by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden to bestow on you the insignia of Commander of the Polar Star. This is an acknowledgment of and a sign of gratitude for all that you have done to successfully strengthen and develop the cooperation between Sweden and the U.S. in the field of renewable energy.

“During the summer of 2007, Sweden and the U.S. began an official/private cooperation, the first of its kind in research and technology development for renewable energy, with a special emphasis on biofuels. A bilateral agreement was signed by Sweden’s Minister of Commerce Maud Olofsson and by you on behalf of the American government. The Swedish government at the same time designated a quarter of a million crowns to research and development of environmentally friendly vehicles — heavy transport vehicles in particular.

“The following summer, 2008, a new bilateral agreement between Sweden and the U.S. was reached, once again signed by Ms. Olofsson and you. The goal of this cooperation was to develop new technology for powering the plug-in hybrid cars, with batteries that can be recharged via the electrical system. The project was based on technology provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and a concept car from Volvo.

“Through these accomplishments, for which you took the initiative, and your interest in contacts with Sweden, our country has received unique opportunities to spearhead a sustainable energy future together with the U.S.

“After you left your post in the American government in 2008, you accepted a position on the board of directors for House of Sweden. You [have] already [been] shown to be a very valuable addition to the promotional activities of the Embassy, and from your seat on the board you continue to be involved and press questions on alternative energy and environmentally friendly vehicle technology, which is of central importance to Sweden.

“The Deputy Prime Minister, Maud Olofsson, will be in Washington on March 30 and I was hoping that you would agree to receive this Order at 5 p.m. at the Residence on that day. My office will contact you to work out the details.

“My sincere congratulations.”

Andy, his wife, Maria, and their daughters, Caroline Hope, Jennie Faith and Julia Love, who reside in Alexandria, Va., spent the Passover holiday with his folks, Blanche and David Karsner. Also holidaying with the Karsners were their son, Fred Karsner, and daughter, Sarah, of Plano and daughter, Danielle Young, and her children, Rachel and Russell.

‘Weddings and Ketubot’ exhibit at Ahavath Sholom

A Jewish marriage certificate, better known as a ketubah, is both a legal document and a work of art. The Fort Worth Jewish Archives has mounted a small exhibit, “Weddings and Ketubot,” displaying marriage certificates from the 1890s to the present. Some certificates are ornate, with colorful birds and flowers filling the margins. Some are bilingual, written in Hebrew and English. Others are entirely in Hebrew calligraphy.
The backdrop for the exhibit is a bulletin board covered in white satin and lace. It evokes the chuppah, the marriage canopy beneath which couples stand during their wedding ceremony. In an adjacent showcase are photos of couples with ties to the Fort Worth Jewish community. These include the 1916 marriage of Gertrude Fox and Archie Salsburg, who stood under the chuppah at the old shul on Taylor Street, a building demolished in 1951. Alongside the faded photo of the Salsburg wedding party is a newspaper article describing the “popular” couple.

Of particular interest in the exhibit are documents from the 1913 marriage of Etta Fram and Asher Freeman, the parents of Hannah Meyer Howard. Beneath the Freemans’ ketubah are two Western Union telegrams. One telegram is in Yiddish. The other is a rhyme comparing their marriage to Edison’s electric lights. It reads:

“With utmost felicity
“We extend our congratulations by electricity
“That your future life may be as bright
“As Edison’s electric lights”

Also in the exhibit are a wedding portrait of Ann Bogart’s parents, who were married in Poland in 1919; the wedding party of Brigitte Altman’s parents, who were married in 1921 in Lithuania; the bridal attendants at the 1940 marriage of Sadye Mae Carshon and Rabbi Isadore Garsek in Fort Worth; and sheet music for Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.”

Many artifacts in the exhibit were drawn from the collections of the Fort Worth Jewish Archives and the Beth-El Congregation Archives. These materials include wedding photos of Marion and Ito Perl, pictured in the small chapel at Beth-El in 1960; Stan and Deidra Bihari, married at Beth-El in 1974; and Fay Rosenthal and Leon Brachman cutting their wedding cake in 1941.

Two brides’ Bibles are in the showcase, including one on loan from Roz and Harvey Micklin. Each Bible is a pocket-sized book with a white leather cover embossed with gold lettering.
The oldest ketubah in the exhibit belonged to Ed Bond’s great-grandparents, who married in Colorado during the 1890s. Colorful ketubot of more recent vintage belong to Earl and Shirley Givant and to Rudy and Jan Myers Lambert.

The archival exhibit was designed by Adelene Myers and Ann Bogart, with text by Hollace Weiner and captions by Peppe Bailin. They were assisted by Hannah Howard, Joe Klein and Jack Gerrick, members of the Archives Committee. The exhibit, located in the hall outside the library at Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen St., will remain on display through next spring.

The Fort Worth Jewish Archives is funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. It is housed in the library at Congregation Ahavath Sholom.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 23 April 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Today I share with you something that greatly concerns me. It stems from a collision of modern-day journalism with a badly misunderstood aspect of Judaism.

A recent “Tech Blog Tidbit” in the business section of a local general circulation newspaper, set over a staff writer’s byline, read, in part, like this: “Jews who observe the traditional day of rest aren’t supposed to operate technology from sundown Friday till sundown Saturday … opening a refrigerator door and making the light turn on would violate this, which is why Sub Zero makes at least one fridge that keeps track of time and changes how it operates on the Sabbath….” The conclusion — and this is what raised the hair on the back of my neck — was: “I can’t quite understand how it’s possible for one person to think God is both smart enough to know which people among all the people on Earth keep the Sabbath, and stupid enough not to realize this is cheating….” (The italics are mine.)

This lack of Judaic understanding, and its injustice, moved me to contact the paper’s business editor immediately. Among the things I wrote: “The opening statement about technology in traditional Judaism is deeply flawed … the final sentence, about God, is a sad example of arrogance rooted in ignorance.” Here, I said, is the kind of thing that foments anti-Semitism. How might we go about making positive change? “This was a disservice to your readers,” I said, “but offers a chance for education about Judaism, and about respecting the feelings of others.”

The editor answered, but his response wasn’t at all what I had expected: The blog discussion, he said, was “balanced and enlightening”; had I read the whole thing, I would have felt differently!

So I e-mailed him again: I’m being asked to judge a snippet of writing in a newspaper column by a whole conversation I haven’t been a party to, or included in. Why must I (or anyone else) first have to read a blog in order to understand what’s in the paper I’m holding in my hands?

I’m not a blogger. What people offer in these most informal, minimally supervised settings is too often unverified personal opinion, which is why I’ve chosen not to become involved. Blogging isn’t anything like what I’ve tried my best to practice in a lifetime of print journalism: to be as complete and correct as possible. Fact-checking was once the hallmark of respected publications, but no such vetting is possible on a blog. When bits of blogs are excised for stand-alone repetition in the newspapers that sponsor those same blogs, there can no longer be the accountability that used to be expected, even demanded.

This moving of blog material to print is “journalistic shorthand,” I told the editor. He responded that he completely agreed with me, but offered no options for change or correction. Not even to tell his misguided blogger that traditional Judaism’s Sabbath prohibitions involve creativity rather than technology, that technology can actually be used to help make the Sabbath a more restful day than it might be otherwise, that adapting to modern times is not “cheating” and that God is certainly not “stupid.”

Everyone knows we’re in a sad new era for traditional metropolitan newspapers. Nobody looked far enough down the road when computers were first coming into wider and deeper use to foresee the inevitable. Hindsight may be 20/20; foresight seldom is, certainly not in this case. Today’s world is full of devotees of devices that foster instant communication, and reading is now an adjunct to talk rather than a provider of material to talk about. As general circulation papers die in city after city across the country, few seem to notice how much television news content is drawn directly from the work of their diminishing pool of investigative reporters. As they go, what passes for news becomes only what people post on blogs, or their internet relatives. “I don’t Twitter or Facebook,” a friend writes, “but my children use their cellphones like they’re oxygen lines.” How disconcertingly true!

In this single little column, printed in the shrinking business section of a once larger, more comprehensive newspaper, I find a frightening glimpse of communication’s future. Misunderstandings of all kinds will increase. And for Judaism, which has been the victim of so many hateful misunderstandings in the past, this may be the start of a new kind of distress. I hope I’m wrong. But my hope has already sunk almost to the Sub Zero level.
E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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Ask he Rabbi

Posted on 23 April 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
I would like to better understand the reason for the Jewish practice of waiting six hours after eating meat before eating milk products. Where is this in the Torah? Is eating them close together considered like cooking them together, which is very hard for me to digest (pardon the pun)?
Rochelle P.

Dear Rochelle,
Truth be told, the Torah prohibition of eating meat and milk applies only when they were actually cooked together. (In that case, not only the eating, but the cooking itself, is forbidden by the Torah. If they were cooked together, even deriving benefit from the mixture is forbidden, such as feeding it to a pet.) Cooking meat in a milk vessel if it was used for milk within the past 24 hours, or vice-versa, amounts to cooking meat and milk together on the Torah level.
Strictly speaking, even to eat a deli sandwich of meat and cheese would not break the Torah law, as it was not cooked together. Since, however, when we eat meat and cheese together it is very easy to come to cook them together, especially since we can and do cook either of the two on its own, the sages instituted a system of rabbinical prohibitions of mixing meat and milk. These rabbinic “fences” set out to accomplish a great degree of separation between meat and milk, to ensure no mistakes are made in their being cooked together or consumed once cooked.
The foundation of the system of rabbinical prohibitions is to not consume meat and milk together, i.e. the deli sandwich, as consumption of meat and milk together would most likely lead to their being cooked together. The sages went one step further and required a separation between their times of eating, to wait for a while after eating meat before consuming milk. This is for two reasons: (1) Meat takes longer to digest and therefore the taste of the meat is assumed to remain much longer. To consume milk while the taste of the meat is still strong would feel like eating them together, leading to a slippery slope of actually consuming them together and then cooking them. (2) Meat often remains stuck between the teeth, and eating milk while meat is still present is like eating them together.
Since milk products are digested faster and don’t remain between the teeth like meat does, the prohibition doesn’t apply to meat after milk (with the exception of some hard, aged cheeses of strong taste; Ashkenazi custom is to wait after them to eat meat). Some have a custom to wait for a half-hour or an hour after milk before meat, based on a teaching of the Zohar.
The prevalent custom is to wait six hours between meat and milk, which is the opinion of the Code of Jewish Law. There were different customs in Europe; in Holland the custom was to wait only one hour after meat, and in Germany, three hours. Some continue those customs until today, and they all have a basis in halachic literature.
There are many intricacies within the structure and application of these laws, which would not be within the scope of this column to address.
As with all “rabbinic fences,” besides the surface reason for the decree, there’s an underlying, more profound reason. The Kabbalistic understanding for the prohibition of mixing meat and milk is that meat and the color red signify din or G-d’s trait of strict judgment. Milk, with its white color, represents G-d’s trait of chesed, lovingkindness. Only G-d Himself has the ability to mix these two traits when He deems it proper, but we cannot do so, and we therefore keep them at a distance.

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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Shalom from the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 23 April 2009 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,
One of the best parts of being the J camp director is the time I spend with the campers, and best of all is when we sing together. Each summer I update our camp songbook, keeping the songs we love and adding new ones. Songs teach lessons and this one, “Inside,” from the Peter, Paul and Mary album “Around the Campfire” with words and music by Paul G. Hill and Noel Paul Stookey, not only is a great camp song but teaches a lesson from Pirke Avot 4:27. Rabbi Meir says: “Do not look at the jug, but at what is in it; there is a new jug filled with old wine, and an old jug that does not even contain new wine.”
‘Inside’
Say you’re at a pie contest. Let’s say that you’re the judge
And there’s lemon, lime, and watermelon rind, And one that looks like fudge.
You can’t tell which pie you like the best, if you only eat the crust.
In order to complete the test,
A bite of filling is a must (a bite of filling is a must).
CHORUS: Inside, inside, that’s the most important part.
Inside, inside, that’s the place you’ve got to start.
Inside, inside, that’s where you’ll find the heart of the matter.
Let’s say you’re at a birthday party and let’s say you’ve just turned eight.
And there are presents everywhere and all of them look great.
You can’t tell which one’s your favorite by just looking at the bow.
To pick one out from all the rest, unwrap each present, then you’ll know.
(Unwrap each present, then you’ll know.) (CHORUS)
Let’s say you’re at a library and there’s stacks and stacks of books
There’s even stacks on top of stacks everywhere you look.
There are stories about mystery and sports and famous lovers.
To pick one out from all the rest, you’ve got to open up the covers.
(You have to open up the covers.) (CHORUS)
BRIDGE: Children are the very best, each one a joy and pride
Just how we know, I bet you guessed. We took the time to look inside… (CHORUS)

Every Jewish home needs a Tanach (Bible), a siddur (prayer book) and Pirke Avot (Sayings of the Fathers, Talmud) — and that is just a beginning. You can find Torah everywhere you look — start looking at the songs that touch you. What are the messages? Peter, Paul and Mary came from a specific era but the messages they sing come from those of our sages.

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

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Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut to be commemorated at the J

Yom HaZikaron, Yom HaAtzmaut to be commemorated at the J

Posted on 23 April 2009 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

Dallas’ Jewish community will come together at the end of this month to remember and revel in the history, heroes and heart of the state of Israel. The “Israel, A Multi-Cultural Mosaic” commemoration and celebration of Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut will take place Tuesday, April 28, beginning at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesday, April 29, from 4:30 to 8 p.m., rain or shine. Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) with organizations from throughout the Dallas Jewish community, both events will be held at the Aaron Family JCC.

Folks in Fort Worth and Tarrant County will mark Yom HaZikaron on April 27 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom at 7 p.m. The service is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Dan Danciger/ Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation.
Yom HaAtzmaut will be celebrated in Fort Worth on May 3 from 12:15 to 3 p.m. at Beth-El Congregation. A professional Israeli dance instructor will be on hand for the festivities, which also include a political forum, an archaeological dig and a keepsake to take home. Traditional Israeli fare will be served. The cost is $6 for adults and children over 12 and $3 for children 3–12. Children under 3 are free. This cost includes all food and activities. Reservations are a must and can be made by contacting the Federation office. The celebration is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation and Hartman, Leito, and Bolt, LLP. For more information, call the Federation office at 817-569-0892.

“People have come from the four corners of the earth to create the land of Israel,” said Congregation Shaare Tefilla’s Administrative Director Rabbi Benjy Myers. “That mosaic, the design in who we are, also means that people from around the world have given their lives in the name of our state. On Yom HaZikaron, we will turn to those who have fallen in our defense.”
There are more than 3,000 Israelis now living in Dallas, few of whom have not been touched by or known of a downed soldier. Also remembered is the late Ari Weiss, a beautiful young man who lived his childhood in this community.

“Every day for us is a ‘Yom HaZikaron’ as we remember Ari [constantly],” said his father, Rabbi Stewart Weiss, formerly of Congregation Tiferet Israel in Dallas and Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth. “Ari serves as an inspiration, a model of devotion to Israel and striving to be the best that one can be. Knowing that so many people all over the world are connected to Ari is a great tribute to him, as he has brought together thousands of Jews who unite in love of Israel and respect for our fallen heroes.”
“It is important as American Jews that we show our appreciation for the dedication of those who have fallen,” said Gary Weinstein, JFGD president and CEO. “This is an event to stand in solidarity.”
“I look forward to emceeing the Yom HaZikaron program, one that gives us time to remember the sacrifices that so many have made over the last 61 years,” said Glenn Geller, Marketing and Strategic Planning Committee chair for the JCC, who also serves on the JCRC’s Executive Committee. “We must recommit, in this time when world opinion is so against Israel, so that our homeland might remain a vibrant one for our people everywhere.”

Tuesday night’s program, at its end, will segue into the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut. On Wednesday, the cheer of the crowd and voices of the community will be heard in song as all are invited to gather again at the Aaron Family JCC for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. There will be pita baking in a Bedouin tent, an opportunity to send a message to the Western Wall, Israel advocacy workshops led by Gil Elan of the American Jewish Congress, bounce houses, a climbing wall, carnival games, a petting zoo, information about the Anti-Defamation League and “Israel on Campus: What Parents and High School Students Need to Know,” mosaic art activities, “Going Green” artwork with recycled products, roving historical figures and musical performances.

While all activities are free, snacks, dinner and drinks will be sold; American and Israeli foods will be catered by Simcha Kosher Catering. With a new layout for food services to alleviate mealtime traffic, the JCC will be hosting a Kiddie Café, Café Israel (an Israeli-style coffee house) and snack kiosks throughout the campus.
Participating organizations are the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, Adat Chaverim, Akiba Academy, Ann and Nate Levine Academy, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), Community Kollel of Dallas, Congregation Anshai Torah, Congregation Beth Torah, Congregation Nishmat Am, Congregation Shaare Tefilla, Congregation Shearith Israel, Congregation Tiferet Israel, Dallas Kosher, Greene Family Camp, Hadassah (Dallas chapter), Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Jewish National Fund, Jewish War Veterans Post 256, The Legacy at Willow Bend, Rabbinic Council of Greater Dallas, State of Israel Bonds, Temple B’nai Israel, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Shalom, Torah Day School of Dallas, Tycher Library, Veranda Preston Hollow and Yavneh Academy.

“This is the community event to remember and to celebrate Israel. There’s no better chance for everyone to come together,” said Craig Prengler, who is co-chairing the events with his wife, Tami, Amy and Steve Schachter and Krista and Craig Weinstein. “The staff at the J and the community representatives have put so much effort into making these nights to remember. We hope to see kids with their parents and grandparents, friends and families.”

“This is a wonderful time of year for all of the community to show their support. These are events for solidarity and commitment, of ruach [spirit] and good fun,” said Laura Seymour, director of camping and youth services. She and Rachelle Weiss Crane, JCC director of the Melton and Gesher Graduate programs, have been working with community chairpeople.

“These events are important because of the emphasis on family, learning and connection to our Jewish community in Dallas — secular to Torah traditional under one umbrella — and our community as Jews worldwide,” Weinstein said. “We have a magnificent opportunity to gather in the name of our heritage, with a sense of belonging.”

Events
“Israel, A Multi-Cultural Mosaic”: Tues., April 28, 7:30 p.m. & Wed., April 29, 4:30 p.m., Aaron Family JCC
Tarrant County: Yom HaZikaron Service, Mon., April 27, 7 p.m.; Ahavath Sholom;
Yom HaAtzmaut Celebration: Sun., May 3, 12:15 p.m., Beth-El

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Dallas Doings

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 15 April 2009 by admin

Karen Katz honored in N.Y.

According to Gary Weinstein, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Women’s Wear Daily reported last week:

“Although the mood in retail and fashion is dour, a sense of hope and a willingness to help prevailed at [the April 1] UJA-Federation of New York fashion division luncheon at The Plaza.
“The event, which drew 500 guests and raised more than $700,000, honored Karen Katz, president and chief executive officer of Neiman Marcus Stores, and Allen Sirkin, president and chief operating officer of Phillips-Van Heusen Corp.

“‘I think people need help now more than ever,’ Katz said. ‘I am delighted to help, and that we were able to raise that kind of money in this kind of economy. I am very fortunate to work with a company that believes in community support.’

“Pamela Fiori, editor in chief of Town & Country, introduced Katz by saying that she rose to the top of the luxury chain ‘like cream — naturally. Not because she clawed her way through the ranks. Good things happen to Karen organically.’

“Donald Trump introduced Sirkin, a friend whom he likes to kid. ‘When I got here, it didn’t seem like anybody cared to ask about Allen,’ Trump said. ‘All they wanted to know about was why I fired Dennis Rodman’ from his ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ show on NBC. Turning serious, he called Sirkin ‘a great marketer, but he’s a better friend.’ The two have collaborated on Trump merchandise that sells at Macy’s.

“‘This is a very amazing honor,’ Sirkin said. ‘But, really, I represent a platform of friends and business associates that I can call upon. In these difficult times, a spokesperson with a platform can make a difference.’

“He said the luncheon would help the UJA-supported Kaplan House in Manhattan, a home for troubled teenagers. ‘We recognized just how special the people working there are.’ Sirkin cited the luncheon’s ‘ying-yang’ character by highlighting the needy in the world and the ability to help those in need.

‘Somewhere in the middle is the UJA. It’s a perfect trifecta.’

“The luncheon will help support the UJA’s network of 100-plus health and human service agencies in New York. UJA-Federation’s mission is to care for those in need, rescue those in harm’s way, and renew and strengthen Jewish people around the world.

“Among those attending were Hal Rubenstein, In Style’s fashion director, who opened the event with a special tribute, and Roger Farah, John Pomerantz, Gilbert Harrison, Brendan Hoffman, Mallory Andrews, Abbey Doneger, Burt Tansky, Ann Stordahl, Vincent Ottomanelli and Paul Charron.”
Added Gary, “On behalf of the Board of the Federation, I would like to congratulate Karen for this huge honor. For Neiman Marcus and its president and CEO this demonstrates commitment to their Jewish Heritage and Excellence in their industry. The fact that the NYC Federation through this National Retail and Fashion Dinner recognizes these attributes in Karen makes our Jewish Community proud. Karen and Alan Katz have been generous supporters of our general and Jewish communities in Dallas for years; this honor is truly deserved.”

Don’t ‘PASS’ this up!

Oak Hill Academy and Congregation Anshai Torah will present a free program, PASS (Parents Acquiring Special Skills), on Wednesday, April 22 at 9:15 a.m. The program’s objective is to provide practical strategies for parenting children challenged by learning differences and developmental delays.
Congregation Anshai Torah will host this event. If you are interested in attending, please contact the Early Childhood Office at 972-473-7718 to reserve your seat.

Dubin’s cameras still rolling

Most times when I’m watching a TV movie I search the film credits to see if there’s a familiar name. The one I always hunt for is that of Mitch Dubin, one of the busiest cinematographers in Hollywood. Sure enough, Sunday night, after I watched “How to Make an American Quilt,” which starred Winona Ryder in the lead role and featured such luminaries as Anne Bancroft, Ellen Burstyn Kate Capshaw, Jean Simmons and Maya Angelou, among others, there was Mitch Dubin’s name as camera operator. The film garnered four nominations and is worth seeing. Mitch, a native Dallasite, is the son of the late Dr. Joe Dubin and the late Charlotte Dubin Binder. They were so proud of Mitch, and justly so. He is also the stepson of Bill Binder of Dallas.

Flower Mound Coffeehouse presents Susan Colin in rare concert appearance

Susan Colin, a local cantorial soloist and award-winning composer, will perform at the Flower Mound Coffeehouse, Saturday evening, April 18. “I’m very excited to be asked back to the Flower Mound Coffeehouse. It’s a charming, intimate venue and the audience is warm and open to new music,” she said.
Colin is a cantorial soloist with two Jewish congregations in the Dallas area. Her crystal-clear voice and elegant delivery create a warm and uplifting listening experience. Her voice has been likened to those of Judy Collins and Joan Baez and critically acclaimed as “angelic, with a clarity that is breathtaking and rare.”

This concert is a rare opportunity for her to break out and embrace her mainstream roots. “I’ve been a professional singer since I was 17, recording commercial jingles, rock operas, country songs, you name it, and I’ve been a classical choral singer since I was 9. In the past 10 years I’ve focused on spiritual and worship music, but I love it all.”

Karen Haesemeyer will accompany Susan Colin on piano. The show will be held at the Flower Mound Coffeehouse at 1887 Timber Creek Drive in Flower Mound, which is also the address of Congregation Kol Ami. Plenty of free parking is available. Admission is $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Doors open at 7:30; coffee and desserts are available for nominal prices. The show begins at 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.flowermoundcoffeehouse.com. To hear Colin’s music, visit www.cdbaby.com/susancolin3.

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Around the Town with Rene

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 15 April 2009 by admin

Story of Comandante Enrico at 2009 Yom HaShoah program and service

On Monday, April 20, 7 p.m. at Congregation Beth Shalom, the Tarrant County community will commemorate the Holocaust with its annual service and program. The program will feature Mark Wygoda sharing the story of his father, Hermann Wygoda, a Polish Jew who commanded a division of resistance fighters in the mountains of northern Italy during World War II. His mother, brother and only son were murdered by the Nazis at Treblinka in 1942. He escaped the Nazis and made his way to Savona, Italy where he remade himself into Comandante Enrico, the scourge of local Nazis. He received military decorations from three nations and wrote his memoirs, “In The Shadow of The Swastika,” in 1945.

The program is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation, Brite Divinity School and TCU Jewish Studies Program, Martin Hochster Memorial Post #755-Jewish War Veterans, Multicultural Alliance, TCU Hillel/ University Ministries, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation, Congregation Beth Shalom and Congregation Beth Israel. For more information, please call the Federation office at 817-569-0892.

‘Daytimers’ to hear about Jews in World War I

Bruce D. Cohen will tell the Story of “Jews in the Great War” — Jews who fought in World War I for Germany, Great Britain and the United States — at the luncheon for the “Daytimers,” Wednesday, April 22, at noon at Beth-El Congregation. The PowerPoint presentation includes photos, letters, posters and newspaper information from the time.

Cohen is associate general counsel for Verizon and a member of Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound. He made this presentation at his synagogue, and Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis suggested that “Daytimers” would enjoy it as much as they did. Cohen is an attorney, father of two young children, Kol Ami board member and Sunday school teacher.

At one time Cohen was a Captain in the U.S. Army Field Artillery. He is a graduate of Virginia Military Institute and is now pursuing a master’s in history at University of North Texas. Hence, the special interest in military history, especially Jewish military history.

The luncheon is catered by Ol’ South Pancake House. Guests have a choice of kosher salami on rye, breast of turkey on wheat, or tuna salad on wheat. Luncheon cost is $9 or guests may attend for 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.

B’nai B’rith Isadore Garsek Lodge hosts 150 for seder

Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai Brith International hosted the best Passover seder for the Jewish Family Services Senior Program yet. Over 150 people from the Metroplex attended — including the Sylvia Gray Chavera from Arlington. The food was fantastic, cooked and prepared under the supervision of Harry Kahn. Volunteer cooks and servers with Harry included Rich Hollander, Marvin Beleck, Ebi Lavi, Earl Givant, Barbara Rubin, Foster Owen, Alex Nason, Dr, Irv Robinson, Marla Sturman, Scott Sturman, Ellie Cooper and her sister-in-law, Coco from Boston, and Alvin Daiches and his brother-in-law Ed. Gail Granek snapped photos and helped out as well. Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger led the service with Javier Smolarz and Garry Kahalnik assisting. Especially delicious was the charoset made by Leslie Kaitcer.

The daily program attendees have been treated to special Passover holiday baskets, including a gift certificate to Kroger, donated by our local Hadassah chapter. Thanks are also given to the sisterhood of the Colleyville’s Temple Beth Israel for donating the matzah for the baskets. The generosity of the Tarrant County community is just incredible. Please come and check out the Senior Program for yourselves. They meet Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–1 p.m., at Beth-El.

Art benefit: ‘Where Glass Rules the Runway’

“Vitro Moda — Where Glass Rules the Runway” will celebrate the founding of SINaCA Studios–School of Glass at a benefit on Saturday, April 18, 6 to 9 p.m., at the Fort Worth Community Art Center, 1300 Gandy St. It should be a stunning event, with several magnificent pieces created by SINaCA artists. Evelyn Siegel, distinguished and talented Fort Worth artist, serves on the board of SINaCA. We know too that Debby Rice, one of the founders of the group, will be in attendance. This is one of her favorite expressions of art. The public is invited. For tickets, visit wwwsinacastudios.org or call 817-899-0024.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 15 April 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

The only time Abraham ever spoke directly to Isaac — at least in the Bible — was when father gave directions to son, making it pretty clear that some not-nice things were about to follow.

So said Jon D. Levenson, Ph.D., Jewish studies professor in Harvard’s Divinity School, delivering his recent Nate and Ann Levine Endowed Lecture at Southern Methodist University.

Its full title was “The Binding of Isaac and the Crucifixion of Jesus.” Now, at the end of Passover, with Easter already over, seems a good time to review what he has given us to think about.

I’m used to Christians harking back to Isaiah for validation of their belief that Jesus is a “hidden” presence whose later coming is actually foretold in Torah. But Dr. Levenson examined something else: a lesser-noted comparison of Isaac’s near-sacrifice to Jesus’ actual death.

We associate the Akeda, the binding of Isaac, with the second day of Rosh Hashanah, when Genesis 22:1-24 is our Torah reading. “God promised Abraham that he’d be father of a great nation,” Levenson reminded us. But what would happen to that promised “great nation” if Isaac actually died as a sacrifice? He had to be saved, or there’d be no more to our story!

In Exodus, God tells the Israelites that their every firstborn male must be redeemed by sacrifice. This may sound like, but isn’t the same as, the pidyon haben, which redeems baby boys from priestly service with a few silver coins. The redemption in Exodus is the saving of Hebrew firstborns’ lives through the sacrifice of a lamb, whose blood — spread on the lintels and doorposts of the slaves’ Egyptian homes — becomes our symbol of their redemption. It is foreshadowed in Genesis, when Isaac is redeemed with the offering of a ram — like the lamb, a member of the sheep family.

Both stories, Levenson emphasized, derive from the same underlying ritual. In Genesis, a ram substitutes for a son. In Exodus, a lamb saves many sons. And later, for Christians, Jesus’ crucifixion becomes a symbol of one sacrifice for many redemptions. The paschal lamb was our ancient sacrifice. A sacrificial lamb saved the Israelites in Egypt. And Christians today often refer to Jesus as “the lamb of God.”

So far, pretty standard stuff. But now come some matters that were new to me, at least. Isaac couldn’t have been the child we see illustrated in kids’ Sunday school story books, the trusting young boy holding his dad’s hand. He had to be old enough to know about sacrifice, and to believe in it, because a Talmudic discourse gives us this: “At the time that Abraham sought to bind Isaac, his son said to him, ‘I am a young man, and I am afraid that my body might flinch from fear of the knife, and I will cause you distress, and the slaughter will be invalid and thus not count for you as a sacrifice. So bind me very tightly.’”

The Talmud pegs Isaac’s age as 37, and Levenson asks us this question: “Could anybody tie up a man 37 years old except with his consent?” Isaac not only recognized what was happening, he accepted it, and actually warned his father not to let his own inadvertent movements ruin the precision required in sacrificial cutting (and still required today in kosher slaughter of animals for food, another kind of “sacrifice”).

Christians also recognize the requirement of sacrificial perfection. The New Testament notes that the legs of Jesus’ two crucifixion “companions” were broken when they were taken down from their crosses. But not his. Exodus requires that no bone of the paschal lamb can be broken; the apostle John says “These things took place that scripture might be fulfilled,” another foreshadowing similar to what’s so often read into Isaiah.
Levenson’s message: Isaac is the prototype of the Jewish martyr who shows devotion by being a willing participant in his own destruction, who obeys God even to death. And Christians echo this in the Book of Maccabees: “Remember, it is for God’s sake you were given a share in the world and the benefit of life, and accordingly you owe it to God to endure all the hardship for his sake….”

Now I remember Hannah and her seven sons, whom I usually think of only at Chanukah, willingly giving up their lives for the sake of their beliefs, and our Holocaust martyrs, who sang “and still I believe” even as they went to their deaths. Levenson’s lecture also sharpens my recall of the primitive painting above the altar of Rome’s ancient St. Clement’s Church, where a sheep with the face of Jesus leads a flock of lamb-like disciples to holy slaughter.

E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 15 April 2009 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

For the first time, this year, I sold my non-Passover products to a Gentile through a rabbi, after attending a class which taught that not only can we not eat leavened items on Passover, we can’t even own them, which I never knew before (despite over four decades of observing Passover!). What I had trouble understanding was the veracity of the sale. If I know that the Gentile knows that I know that he’s not going to really keep all the stuff sold in the synagogue, and will be coming in to the rabbi right after the holiday is over to “sell” it back, it looks to me like some kind of subterfuge just to get around the problem. How does this sale fulfill the Torah’s requirement to truly release ownership of your bread-products, in keeping with the spirit of the law? I’ve asked this of many and not received a satisfactory answer, so your comments will be appreciated.

Micheal T.

Dear Micheal,

Great question, one actually raised by early commentaries to the Code of Jewish Law! The answer goes deeply into the crux of the Torah’s requirement to relinquish ownership of chametz, or all leavened products made from the five species of grains.

Any chametz that we own, we are commanded to destroy by burning or in some other way, or to remove from our possession, in which case we would not need to destroy it, as the Torah only requires one to destroy chametz he owns. (See Exodus 12:15, 17-20.) The Talmud explains that underlying theme of this mitzvah is the Torah’s very stringent attitude towards one who consumes chametz during Pesach. The Torah itself, to help ensure that one would not come to eat that very chametz which is permitted all year, erected “fences” around the prohibition of eating chametz, to say one should not even own it or see it in their home.
What you are referring to, the sale of chametz, is not actually an enactment per se, rather a method devised by the rabbis to essentially remove the chametz from one’s possession through sale to a non-Jew. It was initially devised to help those who would sustain a considerable loss to destroy their chametz, such as the owner of a liquor store or a flour mill. It later became customary for all Jews, especially as our home storehouses of food have grown considerably over recent years, rendering it quite difficult and expensive to remove it or destroy it all.

In order to make sure the sale is real, both halachically and by secular law, they instituted a number of methods of acquisition to be performed between the rabbi (as agent of all those who appointed him to sell their chametz) and the Gentile. This assures a completely legal sale.

To answer your specific question, there is another act we do with our chametz, called bitul. Bitul means to declare null and non-existent all chametz still remaining in your possession that you may not have found, with a special statement uttered the night of bedika and the morning before Pesach. This is based upon a statement in the Talmud, that the Torah itself proclaimed all Jewish-owned chametz to be essentially ownerless on Pesach, as it forbade any benefit from chametz whatsoever. If so, how could one ever transgress owning chametz if the Torah proclaims it ownerless? Answers the Talmud, the Torah itself, to emphasize the stringency of this law, made it as if owned by the Jew, enough to violate the transgression, if he flagrantly does nothing to remove it from his possession.

To do the act of a sale shows one’s desire to have the chametz out of one’s possession, showing that he indeed cares and takes seriously the Torah’s obligation. Although he may reacquire it after Pesach, he has upheld the spirit of the law.

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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