Archive | May, 2009


Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 15 May 2009 by admin

Federation’s ‘Israel Day’ is set for May 17 at CAS

After postponing the annual Yom HaAtzmaut celebration due to fears about a swine flu epidemic, the Federation has created an “Israel Day” to take its place. The program will be the same, but the date and place have changed. “Israel Day” will take place on Sunday, May 17 at 12:30 p.m. at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. The cost remains $6 for adults, $3 for children 3–12 and free for children under 3. Make your reservations now! (If you have already paid, you do not need to make another reservation, but if you cannot come to “Israel Day,” your payment will be refunded.)

“Israel Day” 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.

Laurie Werner to be honored as Jewish Person of the Year
B’nai B’rith’s Isadore Garsek Lodge #269 will hold their Jewish Person of the Year award banquet on Sunday, June 7, at Ridglea Country Club. Chosen for the significant honor this year is well-deserving recipient, Laurie Werner.

Cocktails and hors d’oeuvres will be served at 6:30 p.m., with dinner following at 7. Those desiring a kosher meal should request it in advance.

Fee for the evening is $25 per attendee for a great evening honoring a great person. There will be no charge for AZA and BBG youth.

For reservations and tickets, you can contact any of the following: Alex Nason, 817-346-3991; Foster Owen, 817-731-6606; Marvin Belek, 817-921-2438; Harry Kahn, 817-926-6566; Gerald Hecht, 817-924-8583; Robert Chicotsky, 817-294-2493; Dr. Carole Rogers, 817-569-0898; Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 817-731-4721; or Temple Beth-El, 817-332-7141.

If you wish to nominate someone for a future Person of the Year, please send nominations to P.O. Box 101234, Fort Worth, TX 76185.

Teens are confirmed at Beth-El
Thoughts of the beautiful traditional confirmation at Beth-El last Friday night brought many sentimental memories to mind, as I recalled those occasions for four of my children, who were just as happy then as this year’s confirmands. The excited group of teenagers who were confirmed in the traditional ceremony at Beth-El included Rebecca Allen, daughter of Sheri and Richard Allen; Matthew and Robert Beldon, sons of Lori and Robert Beldon; Brandon Bito, son of Roberta and Mark Gerrick; Jacob Bustillos, son of Melody and Guy Bustillos; Ben Cristol, son of Rebecca and Louis Cristol; Roee Hoffman, son of Yael Hoffman and Jim Forgey; Danielle Knust, daughter of Ilana and Kurt Knust; Michael Mann, son of Sherry and Howard Mann; and Dylan Shelby, son of Erika and Scott Shelby.

The families of the confirmands honored them at a reception following in the temple’s Great Hall.
Congregation Ahavath Sholom has scheduled their confirmation for May 29, during Shavuot.
Newborns and graduates

Did I tell you that Cynthia and Harry Labovitz and their parents, Miriam Labovitz and Sam Hayman, are celebrating a double simcha — the recent birth of Sheldon Alexander Miller, son of Darcy and Steven Miller, a first grandchild for Cynthia and Harry, and another link in the great-grandchild chain for Miriam and maternal great-grandfather, Sam Hayman? Sheldon weighed in at Baylor All Saints at 7 lbs. 4 oz. on March 10. In the meantime, the family is also celebrating the recent graduation of son and grandson, Eric Labovitz, from St. Mary’s School of Law. Recent guests of the Labovitz-Hayman families were Cynthia’s brother and sister-in-law, Howard and Claire Hayman, who took a quick weekend in Texas to meet and greet their new nephew.

When Jessica Gerrick receives her Bachelor of Science and Registered Nursing degrees from the University of Kansas, cheering her on will be a special group of boosters, her folks: mom, Carol Mandelbaum Gerrick; dad and stepmom, Mark and Roberta Gerrick; adoring grandparents, Joyce and Jack Gerrick and Sandy and Sam Mandelbaum; and sister, Rebecca Gerrick, who also plans a career in nursing and is matriculating at the University of Dallas.

Paschal High grads we’ve heard of include Matthew Aaron Blum, son of Lea Ann and Irwin Blum, who plans to start his college career at TCU. A four-year academic athlete, he’s the grandson of proud grandmom, Elsie Blum. Sara Lavi, daughter of Ebby and Linda Lavi, and Emily Cobert, daughter of Ann and Scott Cobert, will attend the University of Texas at Arlington. Steven Silverberg, son of Karen and Kal Silverberg and grandson of Elaine and Herb Silverberg and the late Audrey Kolker, will attend Rice University. Kathy Swartz, daughter of James and Patricia Swartz, a graduate of Fort Worth Country Day, will attend Smith College; Trinity Valley grads Margolit Slovin, daughter of Elliot Slovin and Lynn Millstone, will attend Ryerson University in Canada while Jillian Fenton, daughter of Dr. Bob and Phyllis Fenton, looks forward to attending Washington University in St. Louis. Jillian is the granddaughter of recent Fort Worth new resident, Adele Arensberg. As we go to press, last-minute additions to our high school grads list are Michael Fine, son of Susan and Kenneth Fine; Sam Trevino, son of Barbara Benjamin Trevino and Dr. Roberto Trevino; Rachel Alpert, daughter of Karen and Richard Alpert; Amit Krompass, daughter of Diana and Matthew Krompass; Shanah Watenberg, daughter of Dr. Isaac Watenberg; and Paige Rhinehart, daughter of Tammy Rhinehart.

Congratulations to all. Hopefully we’ll have more grads to report in future issues. Let us hear from you. You can either call 817-927-2831 or e-mail

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 15 May 2009 by admin

April has come and gone, taking with it four holidays: ancient Pesach and the modern Yomim trio: HaShoah, HaZikaron, HaAtzmaut. Now we’re in the middle of May, which for the fourth year — thanks to a 2006 proclamation by George W. Bush — is being observed as Jewish American Heritage Month. In its honor, and ours, here’s a story told by a very special man who was already old at the time President Dubya made his declaration:

Joe Velarde was a “Shabbos goy.” Do you know what that is — or, more likely, was? It’s not really P.C. these days for an observant Jew to seek out a Gentile willing to turn lights on and off, and take on other similar tasks s/he will not perform on the Sabbath. But the year was 1933, and Joe was a 10-year-old Catholic. It was winter. His family had just moved from Cuba into a multicultural part of Brooklyn, the first Spanish speakers in a neighborhood already filled with other languages: Greek, Polish, Italian and lots of Yiddish.

Joe says he first encountered the Jewish Sabbath when his mother sent him to Rosenthal’s store one Friday evening, just as the sky was starting to darken, to buy a pair of socks for his father. It was snowing heavily, and Joe was anxious to get inside. But Mr. Rosenthal wouldn’t open the door: “We’re closed already,” he said through the glass. “Can’t you see? Shabbos is falling! Go home!” Joe went home, thinking “Shabbos” was the Yiddish word for “snow.” But he soon learned otherwise, because from then on, Mr. Rosenthal and many of his co-religionists would send for “the Spanish boy” when they needed a furnace stoked, a stove lit, medicine picked up at the drugstore for someone who’d suddenly gotten sick, snow shoveled and ice chipped away to clear an unslippery path to synagogue.

Soon they started to call Joe “Yossel,” and soon after that he became the beloved diminutive “Yossele.”

Nobody gave him money on Shabbat, of course, but after he’d performed the tasks of the day, he’d always get some homemade goodies to take home with him. He decided Jews were the world’s smartest people the first time someone gave him a whole challah: “Who else could have invented a bread that had wonderfully crusted ends all over it — enough for everyone in a large family?”

“I developed a list of steady clients,” Joe remembers, “and thanks to me, my entire family became Jewish pastry junkies!” He admits to a continuing checkerboard cake addiction.

Joe was a Shabbos goy for eight years, all through grade school and high school and even beyond. But on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after Pearl Harbor when war was declared, he dropped out of Brooklyn College to join the service. In what was then the U.S. Army Air Corps, he flew 60 combat missions over Italy and the Balkans before being shipped home in June 1944. That’s when he found out that all his Jewish neighbors had been setting a place for him at their Shabbat tables the whole time, and saying prayers for his safe return. His memories: “What mitzvot! My homecoming was highlighted by wonderful invitations to dinner. Can you imagine the effect, after months and months of Army field rations?”

Also after the war, a mature Joe began to realize what he’d absorbed from those Jewish families he’d “done for” on Shabbat: The meaning of friendship, loyalty, honor and respect. Obedience without subservience. A strong work ethic. Love of learning. And caring about all living things. “None of this was the result of any sort of formal instruction,” he says as a man now in his 80s. “My yeshiva had been the neighborhood. One might even say I had experienced a special kind of bar mitzvah. Then, I couldn’t explain the concept of tikkun olam, but as I matured, I realized how well I had been oriented to apply it, and to live it … to incorporate the idea of tzedakah in my personal world.”

Joe says his Cuban home gave him shelter and warm affection, provided for his well-being and developed his self-esteem. But his Jewish experience gave him “a truly uplifting outlook on life, a genuine motivation to ‘repair the world.’ And along the way, I played on Williamsburg sidewalks with tough kids wearing payes and yarmulkes, learned chess and read Maimonides. I am ever grateful for having had the opportunity to be a Shabbos goy.”

A Jewish American Heritage, indeed!


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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 15 May 2009 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,
I appreciate your answer to my question how to explain the true ownership of Israel; I am reading and am contacting AIPAC as well, as you suggested. Another related issue is that of the “international status of Jerusalem” as so many on campus and in the political arena are espousing, pushing the issue of the separation of Jerusalem and making it the capital of the P.A. I would appreciate your insights on this issue as well.
Leigh A.

Dear Leigh,
On June 7, 1967, corresponding to 28 Iyar 5727, a seminal event in recent Jewish history transpired: the reunification of Jerusalem. The sources I mentioned previously will give you the geopolitical ramifications of that event. I will focus upon the spiritual importance of a unified Jerusalem.

The name “Yerushalayim” is actually the combination of two separate names, “Yeru” and “Shalem.” The second name was assigned to it by Shem, a son of Noah, who served as its spiritual leader for many generations and led a yeshiva there for Torah study. This name means peace, like shalom, and also means completeness. The name Yeru means “the awe of G-d” and was given by Abraham. The Midrash relates that the Almighty savored both names and the message therein; therefore, He combined them into one name, Yerushalayim.

Geographically, Jerusalem has a ridge running from north to south which divides the city into the lower eastern and upper western sections. The lower city, which included the eastern slope of the Temple mount, was known as Shalem in ancient times. The upper city, which included the western part of the Mount and the place of the altar used by Abraham, was known as the land of Moriah, and renamed by Abraham as Yeru. Its reunification reflected the first hints of Jerusalem being returned to its original grandeur.

The spiritual roots of Jerusalem run very deep. The Midrash and Rashi explain that the place of the altar in Jerusalem is, in fact, the very spot from which G-d took the dust out of which he formed Adam, the first man. This was in order that man should have a place to repent from his very essence if he should succumb to the earthly, mundane side of his being. In that place he could again be elevated to G-dliness. Adam built an altar there, the same one where Cain and Abel later brought their offerings. Noah rebuilt the altar there after the flood, and next to it his son and great-grandson, Shem and Ever, established their study halls. This was the altar where Abraham offered Isaac, Isaac later prayed and Jacob saw the vision of the ladder in his sleep next to it. King David was shown this place prophetically when he established the site of the Temple to be built by his son Solomon. In the Kabbalistic sources we find that there is a stone on the mount at the place of the altar which was the beginning of G-d’s creation of the universe, and from there emanated all of creation.

All this reflects the essence of the two concepts: the awe of G-d through His service and Presence, and the peace among the Jewish people when they would come together as one family thrice yearly for the three Jewish holidays to worship together in the Temple.

Throughout our exile we pray three times daily for the rebuilding of Jerusalem, and mention it in our blessing after meals and in our Sabbath prayer service. Under the marriage canopy a glass is broken and ashes are placed upon the head of the groom in solemn remembrance of Jerusalem at the time of greatest joy. The entire Jewish people end the Passover seder with “Next year in Jerusalem.”

The reunification of Jerusalem gave us the ability to again pray at the Western Wall and live with some modicum of peace in Jerusalem. Those who seek to re-separate it seek the downfall of Israel. We should do all we can in our efforts and our prayers to keep Jerusalem unified. “Next year in Jerusalem!”

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

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Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 15 May 2009 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

As the school year comes to an end, our Pre-K class finishes a year of “Torah with Laura.” Especially as we get to the end of the Torah stories, I ask, “What do we do when we finish reading the Torah?” And the children know the answer, “We begin again!” Jews have been reading and struggling with this book for centuries — is it really possible to find something new in it? The answer is — OF COURSE! Our goal of reading and then rereading and even more deeply reading is to find the messages for how to live our lives.

As our daily lives change, we continue to look for different answers. It is amazing that the Torah is filled with different messages every time we read. Jews read with commentary — we look to what our sages (ancient and current) have to tell us, but then we must mesh those ideas with our own. Reading Torah is a creative process and we must make it our own.

Roger von Oech is an author of books on creativity, including one titled “Expect the Unexpected (or You Won’t Find It).” Today as we worry about the economy and the swine flu and a million other things, lessons on preparing for the unexpected are essential. He writes, “When we go off the beaten path, we often find something better or more exciting than we were originally looking for…. How can we prepare ourselves for the unexpected? I suggest that we: (1) loosen our preconceptions about what we expect to find in any given situation; (2) pay special attention to the anomalous rather than ignoring it; and (3) use what we discover as stepping stones to something very different.” He could have been writing on how to read Torah. Think about this as you read this week’s parashah and look for the meaning to bring to your life — you will find new ways of looking at everything.

Although I read many commentators as I study Torah, sometimes the most creative approaches come from our Pre-K children. Remember: “Who is wise? The one who learns from everyone.” — Pirke Avot 4:1

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

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Jewish Heritage Day at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is May 31

Jewish Heritage Day at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington is May 31

Posted on 15 May 2009 by admin

By Rachel Gross

Every baseball fan knows the seventh-inning stretch song: “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” On May 31, it’s time to head out to the ballpark and root for the Rangers during the annual Jewish Heritage Day.

In its second year, Jewish Heritage Day began as a way to unite the Dallas Jewish community in a non-religious way. Last year, 600 tickets were sold in conjunction with this event and the goal for this year is 1,000 tickets. Prices begin at $15 and go up to $40.

There will be a kosher food stand, TJP Executive Editor Sharon Wisch-Ray will throw out the first pitch and all kids in attendance will have the opportunity to take photos with the team after the game. The Rangers will play the Oakland Athletics; the game will begin at 2:05 p.m.

Andy Silverman, executive vice president of sales for the Rangers, said this is a nice way for the Jewish community in Dallas and Tarrant County to come together.

“It is significant to reach out to the Jewish community and this allows for a nice bonding experience,” he said. “Bringing your kids to a baseball game is special. This is an opportunity for Jewish families to get together outside of the synagogue setting.”

Jewish Heritage Day is not uncommon in Major League Baseball. Other teams like the New York Mets, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants have all done something like this and have drawn big crowds, due in part to the large Jewish population in each of those cities.

With the Jewish populations in Dallas and Tarrant County not being as large as some other places, Silverman said this shows people that the Rangers are taking the extra steps to reach out to the Jewish community.

“This is not just a baseball game; it has a much deeper meaning,” he said. “As a Jew, it makes me proud that I can be at a baseball game with people from other synagogues in the area. It is important to feel proud that you are Jewish.”

A portion of every ticket sold will benefit the Dallas Jewish community through the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and its partner agencies. All ticket prices include a free Rangers cap.

The kosher food stand will be provided by Simcha Kosher Catering, which is supervised by Dallas Kosher. Jeri Finkelstein, executive director of Dallas Kosher, said this allows everyone to feel welcomed and know they can enjoy an afternoon out without having to worry about finding a kosher meal.

“We want to be inclusive in our community and 99 percent of all Jewish organizations in Dallas have a policy that any kind of event with banquet service has to be kosher,” she said. “It’s part of the environment of our community to make anything in the Jewish community available to everyone. That’s the main goal.”

Available at the kosher food stand will be typical ballpark treats like hamburgers, hot dogs and sausage on a stick, all cooked on-site at the booth, which will be kashered prior to the game under Dallas Kosher supervision.

Lowell Michelson, owner of Simcha Kosher Catering, said many people came to the booth last year who didn’t even know the food was kosher. He wants people to know they have options at a baseball game and his goal is to provide good food.

“It’s my commitment to continually support the community and provide service that wouldn’t otherwise be available,” he said. “It gives me great pleasure and joy to see families coming out to enjoy a baseball game and be able to order kosher food at the same time … it’s a really good feeling. This is a great way to promote community unity and it is wonderful of the Rangers to initiate something like this. It’s nice to blend in instead of stand out.”

“It’s been a lifelong dream of mine to participate in some way in a big league game,” said Sharon Wisch-Ray, TJP executive editor. “I have been a Ranger fan for as long as I can remember, and love to run the bases at the ballpark with my three boys, also avid fans. Now, I’ll actually be able to ‘take the mound and bring the heat.’ It is especially great that the Rangers have two of the top-performing Jewish major leaguers on their team this year in Ian Kinsler and Scott Feldman. Hopefully, they’ll have big days along with the rest of the team. It’s going to be a great afternoon at the ballpark.”

The deadline to order tickets is May 18. For more information or to order tickets, call Taylor Bergstrom at 214-234-1650.

My weekend in KC with George, Frank, Willie, David and Reggie
By Henry Sack

You know how marriage is full of compromises? When it comes to holiday weekends, it usually comes down to “my family” or “your family”; the twain, it seems, never meet. Well, after visiting my family in the warmth and comfort of Florida and Hotel Naomi (and at least one dinner of my mother’s homemade onion soup brisket) the last few years, I had agreed (almost compliantly) to go west and have “Passover at the Biltmore” with my wife Jana’s family this year. I believe there is some metaphor at play about Passover in the desert and wandering Israelites, but maybe not.

The day before the trip, Jana got an e-mail from the Kansas City Royals inviting her and Jill to be a part of the unveiling of a statue of their father, Dick Howser. But, we had long-made plans for Arizona. Which way to go, which trip to take? Well, it was obvious the KC trip was a once-in-a-lifetime gig, so we checked plane schedules, made the appropriate changes and away we went.

Skip forward two days — Friday, Opening Day — Royals vs. Yankees (boo!).

Opening Day in Kansas City and we’re at the ballpark three hours early. As we entered the new outer building housing the administration offices, the Yankee players’ bus arrived and the procession of Yankee players walking past us was amazing: real-life Mariano Rivera, Johnny Damon et al. As a Red Sox fan from way back, all I could say is, “Ugh.” Anyhow, we were taken upstairs to a conference room until everyone arrived. Who’s everyone, you ask? After waiting 15 minutes, the door opened and in walked (ho hum, happens to me every day) George Brett. Yeah, I know, George Freaking Brett — 3,000 hits, .305 career average including 1980’s amazing .390 season. George Brett. He greeted Jana and Jill and said his hellos all around. And Jana, my angel, did the best thing she’s ever done for me since the last time she was an angel — which is always. She introduced me to George Brett. We shook hands. I tried not to give him the “butcher” hand-squeeze and drop him. It was all very polite. Just as we finished shaking hands, I averted my eyes from his greatness and I looked down. And what did I see? George Brett wearing a sweet pair of purple velvet Gucci loafer/slippers. Only a Hall of Famer who had led the league in triples (you have to hit and have wheels for triples) could pull these puppies off. Wow. I was in awe.

Having barely caught my breath from the Greatness of George, I saw the door open again and in walked Frank White, former deft-fielding second baseman for the Royals. When you’ve won eight Gold Gloves, do you know what your handshake is like? Smooth as butter. No pressure, all feel. It was an honor, Mr. White.
OK, so they removed the ventilator and my head cleared. We were told to get on the van and were driven around the back of the stadium to the statues (remember the unveiling of the statue?) on the outfield mezzanine deck beyond the outfield wall. As we walked the 200 feet from the van to the statue, I ended up walking next to (I don’t know how else to type his name) George Freaking Brett. I must, I mean I MUST ask him something, right? Just to be hospitable, friendly, right? I wondered what to say. My mind locked up (as it often does) and I couldn’t pull a cogent stat or game memory out of my *##. Not even, “You trade Christmas cards with Tim McClelland?” So I went all milquetoast and asked, “How is it possible you can walk around inside Kaufman Stadium, fans all around, and not get mobbed”? (UGH! I’ll have to double up on Yom Kippur services atoning for asking such a stupid question.) Like a change-up hanging out over the plate, he swatted it back through the middle, replying, “Oh, these people are bored with me.” George (yeah, we’re on a first-name basis) was patient and allowed me to take a photo near his statue. A true gentleman.

OK, and now on to the main event: the unveiling. I’m not much for these presentations. They always seem forced, hokey and lacking genuineness. But as has been the case in the previous two situations in which Jana’s father was being given a public honor, his warmth, honor and sincerity were recalled in every speech.

Finally, the wrap came off the statue. I must give the artist his (her?) props. Not only did the statue look just like its intended subject, it didn’t look all interpretive either. The artist made a likeness without injecting his/her own ego. And the pose, one foot on the dugout step above the other, was perfect for a manager. Pictures were taken and interviews done, and we headed back to the van and then our seats in a suite near the press box (thanks, Royals!).

At this point, having not known what to expect from this weekend, I was blown away. Little did I know my day would get even better a little later.

You know how difficult it is to turn down the request of a child? Jana’s niece Michelle asked if she could go down on the field. Smart kid. So the Royals escorted us downstairs, through the stadium underground walkways and into the tunnel leading to the dugout and the field. As we were about to walk up the stairs into the dugout, Royals Manager Trey Hillman was walking down. Everyone was introduced and Trey, an hour from the first pitch in only his second season, took a good 10 minutes talking to Jana and Jill. A quick picture and then we headed back upstairs for the start of the game. Except, along the way, we came across a Royals alumni gathering (they were about to be introduced pre-game) and I was introduced to centerfielder Willie Wilson. Years ago, Bill James, in the third or fourth edition of his “Baseball Abstract,” made the case for Willie Wilson as one of the most productive two-way outfielders ever. Impressive stuff. Thank you, Mr. Wilson.

Finally we were upstairs watching pre-game and the first pitch. As you know, Andy Pettitte rolled and Sidney Ponson stumbled, but it was a good game. The Yankees won on a couple of Jorge Posada hits.

The fun came later, after the game. Since it had been a long day, we decided to go back to the hotel and chill. After dinner in the hotel restaurant, we were winding our way through the bar back to the elevator and I spotted David Cone. Coney. Owner of a perfect game, a Cy Young and nearly 200 wins. Since he pitched for Jana’s father, I introduced him to Jana and Jill and he was thrilled to meet and chat. In fact, he asked for a piece of paper and a pen. I obliged and he proceeded to volunteer his personal phone number. No sh*t! “Call and come to New York sometime,” he said. “In the new Yankee Stadium there are photos everywhere, a couple of your [Jana and Jill’s] dad.” And then, unbelievably, he wrote down his e-mail address. “E-mail me sometime,” he said. Ha! Like I’m going to trade e-mails with David Cone.

This doesn’t happen to me very often. Wow. I reflected on who I had met that day. One Hall of Famer, two guys with their own statue, about 10 total Gold Gloves, an MVP or two and Cy Young. I was blown away.

What a great start to the baseball season, I thought. But the best was yet to come.

We finished bothering Coney and as we spilled out of the bar into the lobby, I noticed a guy wearing a fedora. It wasn’t 1925 and men wearing fedoras are rare, so I took a second look and B-I-N-G-O! It’s Reggie Jackson. No *^%$!. Before I could get Jana’s attention, Reggie turned towards her and she said hello. As soon as Reggie heard her last name he was surprised and happy. Also, contrary to public perception, real quiet. He told of how crazy it was being in the middle of the Bronx Bombers of the mid to late 1970s but how Jana’s father was a calm and friendly influence. So we talked for a few minutes and left him alone. The weekend had just started and was already one of the most amazing ever.

So that’s it. Pretty cool huh? I think 2009 is going to be a wonderful baseball season for me. It already has been.

And you know what the moral of the story is? That’s easy. I married well. Right, Jana?
Henry Sack is married to Jana Howser, daughter of Dick Howser and trustee of the College Baseball Foundation.

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Around the Town with Rene


Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 07 May 2009 by admin

Tarrant County commemorates Yom HaZikaron, fallen soldiers
On Monday, April 27, the Tarrant County Jewish community gathered at Ahavath Sholom to commemorate Israel’s fallen soldiers. Garry Kahalnik welcomed the crowd of over 100 people and introduced the program. BBYO members marched out with Israeli flags as an honor guard, accompanied by the drums of Bradley Chatman. Kim Factor played taps on her trumpet, and Javier Smolarz sang the “El Male Rachamim” and led the Mourner’s Kaddish. Jakub Brand, flanked by his grandchildren, Samantha and Gabriel, laid the wreath at the bottom of the Israeli flag.

After moving inside to the Barnett Sanctuary, the service was begun by Naomi Rosenfield followed by Rabbi Baruch Zeilicovich and Rabbi Sidney Zimelman reading Yizkor. Debby Rice and Rachel Niv lit the memorial candle. Noam Ben David sang “Song of Friendship” accompanied by Elli Meir on the harmonica. Monica Braverman and Angie Kitzman sang “We Will Not Leave Again” accompanied by Dennis Finley. Readers for the evening were Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Rivka Marco, Hal Ratner, Yosi Yaacobi, Rebecca Cristol, Helith Sofer, Sol Brody, Yael Hoffman, Stan Dolginoff, David Amsellam, Corey Mandel and Ilana Knust. Belle Marco sang a lovely rendition of “You Are Like A Country to Me.” Javier Smolarz concluded the program with “Hatikvah.”

Chairs of the event, Ruthy Erez, Shoshana Howard and Sima Meir, did a tremendous job choreographing the occasion and putting together the PowerPoint presentation that was shown. This event was 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.

Hail to our grads, and congratulations!
Our list of graduates is a bit sparse this year, though it is most welcome news. On the college level, among those we’ve heard of are Eric Labovitz, son of Cynthia and Harry Labovitz and grandson of Miriam Labovitz and Sam Hayman, and Danny Collins, son of Hedy Collins, who both received law degrees from St. Mary’s School of Law in San Antonio; two of Barbara and Dennis Schuster’s sons received accolades for their achievements, Matthew, who graduated from Columbia University with an executive master’s degree, and Terry, who graduated from University of Texas Law School. Amy Hofberger, daughter of Marilyn McGee and the late Dr. Richard Hofberger, received her degree from Texas Weslyan Law School.

It’s double excitement for Alicia and Donny Buescher, and mom, Horty Deifik. The Bueschers’ No. 1 daughter, Blair, and her husband, Adam Lee, made them first-time grandparents with the birth of their son Gage and gave Horty another most welcome great-grandson. Added to their joy is the graduation of Stacy Buescher from Texas Christian University.

Greta and David Beckerman look forward to celebrating the triple graduation of three of their grandchildren: Drew from high school, his sister Michelle from Lehigh University in Pennsylvania and cousin Jill from the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. The family will gather at the home of Drew and Michelle’s parents, Lisa and Neil Beckerman in New Jersey. Jill’s family joining in the celebration are Iris and Sid Newman.

Mazel tov to all the grads and their proud families. While our list of high school grads is still in the formation process, we would like to hear about more of them as well as added college grads. You can either e-mail or call 817-927-2831. Please let me hear from you!

Mock wedding at the shul
Ahavath Sholom’s sixth-grade Sunday school class held a mock wedding, tied into studying the Jewish lifecycle. Ariella Listig, who caught the bouquet last year, was the bride. Zack Cristol was the groom. Parents of the bride were Molly Karten and Isaac Landy. Acting as the groom’s parents were Amanda Leventhal and Ben Darling. Best man was Aaron Lax, and maid of honor was Hannah Stansbery. Sarah Silverberg and Eric Kuptsin, the bridesmaids, were escorted by Elliot Watenberg and Cody Berman. Jackie Herman made a trail of roses for the bride as the lovely flower girl. The bride’s dress was pre-worn and donated by the owner for this special event. Flowers were designed by Michael’s on Oakmont; the bride’s beautiful veil with blusher was made and designed by Gail Berlin and Robin Stein. The wedding rings were designed by Dollar Tree, and the delicious kosher cake was made by Albertsons of Hulen Street. Guests came from all over Tarrant County.

An aufruf luncheon was catered by the sixth-grade class the week prior to the wedding. It featured the children’s favorite foods: guacamole, matzah ball soup, teriyaki salmon, latkes, salad, broccoli and ice cream pies for dessert. Over 30 people were in attendance and the chefs did a terrific job.

‘Daytimers’ talk about World War I connections
Bruce D. Cohen told the story of Jews who fought in World War I for Germany, Great Britain and the United States at the April 22 luncheon for the “Daytimers.” Several members of the group mentioned members of their families who fought for the U.S. in World War I.

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, thus the special interest in military history, especially Jewish military history. Both Hannah Howard and Joe Klein brought memorabilia from their families. Jewish War Veterans Commander Rich Morris attended. When emcee Edythe Cohen introduced newcomer Rosalyn Rosenthal, who is moving here from St. Louis, both she and Fort Worth’s Roz Rosenthal stood up, as they were seated at the same table!

Next event for the “Daytimers” will be a May 20 trip to Fossil Rim Ranch in two 15-passenger vans that have been provided by Jewish Family Service. The group will depart at 9:45 a.m. Cost is $15/person.

For reservations, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Sylvia Wexler, 817-294-1129, or checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109.
The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Congregation Beth-El with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

Henry Luskey cited by Barron’s
On the business scene, Henry L. Luskey, senior vice president, financial adviser in Morgan Stanley’s Global Wealth Group’s Fort Worth office, was named as one of Barron’s “Top 1000 Advisers: 2009 State-by-State.”

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Dallas Doings


Dallas Doings

Posted on 07 May 2009 by admin

New Mt. Zion section at Restland to be consecrated
On Sunday, May 10, at 11 a.m., the Mount Zion section of the new United Jewish Cemetery at Restland will be consecrated. Rabbis Menachem Block, Mendel Dubrawsky, Aryeh Feigenbaum, Ari Perl and Howard Wolk are acting as the planning committee for the consecration. All Orthodox rabbis and the members of the Chesed Shel Emes Chevra Kadisha are urged to attend and participate in the consecration of this new halachic burial section serving the entire Dallas Jewish community.

Ryan Karpel graduating from Texas State, to pursue master’s
Congratulations to Ryan Karpel, who will graduate on May 15 from Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in health administration. He was recently named the recipient of the Noone Award for Outstanding BHA Student for 2009. Ryan was selected for this prestigious award in recognition of his outstanding leadership, service, classroom performance and academic achievement as determined by the school faculty.

This award is made possible through the generosity of John B. Noone, a former member of the school faculty, in honor of his son, Mark Noone, and is awarded each year to the outstanding healthcare administration undergraduate student. Ryan has been on the Dean’s List numerous times, was inducted into the National Honor Society for his major and was the first student to do a presentation at the annual Health Administration Ethics Conference last October. He was also nominated to be student commencement speaker for the 2009 graduating class. Ryan will pursue his master’s degree in health administration at Texas State University.

Ryan is the son of Karen Karpel and Edward Alonzo and grandson of Margery Karpel and the late Frank J. Karpel.

Rabbi Shlomo Riskin is coming to Dallas, May 14–18
The Community Kollel of Dallas will bring Rabbi Shlomo Riskin here as community scholar-in-residence, May 14–18.

Rabbi Riskin, chief rabbi of Efrat, Israel and chancellor of Ohr Torah Stone Institutes, is an internationally renowned educator, speaker and author. He is the founding rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue in New York City, a strong advocate of leadership roles for women within traditional Judaism, a pace-setter in the movement to build bridges between religious and secular Jews in Israel and a champion of social justice and humanitarian concerns.

In collaboration with Congregation Shearith Israel, Rabbi Riskin will speak on “The Ethics of War” on Thursday, May 14, 8 p.m., in Shearith Israel’s Beck Family Sanctuary, 9401 Douglas Ave. This special event is free and open to the public.

On Saturday morning, May 16, at 11:15 a.m., following 9 a.m. services at Congregation Shaare Tefilla, Rabbi Riskin will discuss “Making Sefirah Count: The Meaning Behind The Omer.” That evening, at a 6:15 p.m. service at Shaare Tefilla, he will have as his topic “Where Modern Orthodoxy Differs.” Congregation Shaare Tefilla is located at 6131 Churchill Way. Both programs are free and open to the public.

The Community Kollel of Dallas, in collaboration with the Rabbinical Association of Greater Dallas, will have a special event, by invitation only, on Monday, May 18, 8:30 a.m.–12:30 p.m., at the Legacy at Willow Bend. At the Spring Day of Learning for rabbis, cantors and senior educators, Rabbi Riskin will discuss “Zionism Today.”

For further information, contact Shirley Rovinsky, 214-295-3525, or
Rabbi Michael Rovinsky is honored at scholarship dinner

Congratulations to Rabbi Michael Rovinsky, who was honored by the Louis and Sarah Block Yeshiva High School, St. Louis, Mo., at their 31st annual Scholarship Dinner on March 15. He received the Israel and Yetra Goldberg Community Service Award. Rabbi Rovinsky, the son of well-known Dallas community leaders Shirley and Erven Rovinsky, was raised in “Big D” and has actively served the Jewish community for more than two decades.

“Rabbi Mike,” as he is affectionately known, is currently the director of both the National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) and the Jewish Student Union (JSU), an organization that strives to engage unaffiliated teens through programming in public and private high schools, in St. Louis. There are currently over 400 teens in this program.

As a mohel, recognized by the state of Israel, he has been practicing for 20 years servicing the St. Louis area as well as throughout the United States. A teacher in the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School program, he serves as the director of Camp Nageela Midwest located in Marshall, Ind.

Rabbi Rovinsky received his rabbinic ordinations from the Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, Md. and the Kol Yaakov Torah Center in Monsey, N.Y. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Talmudic law from Ner Israel. He also received a master’s in administrative sciences from Johns Hopkins University and is currently pursuing a degree in psychology and counseling.

Rabbi Rovinsky and his wife, Selina, are the proud parents of Saara and her husband Moshe (Moskowitz), Avi, Ariella and Yossi. Also honored at the event were Jackie and Howard Oppenheimer of St. Louis.

Congratulations to young gymnast, Layla Novin
Layla Novin, 13, daughter of Lewis and Bobbie Novin of Little Elm, brought home Silver from the recent Level 7 Texas State Gymnastics Championships, taking seconds on Bars, Floor and All-Around. In gymnastics since age 6, she earned her place in the state title race as North State All-Around Champion. She’s now hoping to capture Gold in 2010.

An honor student at Lakeside Junior High, Layla trains at Infinite Bounds in Plano and participates in LEISD’s off-campus physical education program, which allows her to work out 26 hours each week.
Layla is the older sister of Modesty and Benton Novin and the granddaughter of Joyce Greenberg of Dallas.

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We love Israel!

We love Israel!

Posted on 07 May 2009 by admin

The Dallas Jewish Community knows how to celebrate! Over 3,000 people joined together for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas-sponsored Israel Independence Day at the J on Wednesday, April 29. Heavy rains did not deter anyone from honoring the Jewish state. In a true community event, over 25 organizations worked throughout the year planning and preparing for the extravaganza. Each organization offered activities for different ages and sent volunteers to man their booths. Yasher koach to this year’s chairs, Amy and Steve Schachter, Tami and Craig Prengler and Krista and Craig Weinstein, who worked to bring it all together, making the evening a wonderful success.

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Shalom from the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 06 May 2009 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,
A very important concept in Jewish life is kehillah — community! It is so important to us that even rain and swine flu didn’t keep thousands of people from coming to the Israel Independence Day Celebration last week. We also had a memorable evening for Yom HaZikaron. As a people, we have always mourned together and celebrated together. This is the lesson we must teach our children — no one is alone and each of us is responsible for one another.

How do we teach this important concept? From the Torah to the ancient sages to the lessons today, we have stories to help us learn. Beginning in the book of Genesis when Cain asks, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” we hear the answer loud and clear: YES! The lessons of giving tzedakah demonstrate that we are to help all those in need, and even the one who receives tzedakah must give back to the community. Our children sing in preschool “Hiney Ma Tov u-Ma Nayim” — they learn the message of “how good it is for all people to live together in peace.”

The best thing we can do to teach our children is to live this value. Be part of the community: Go to your synagogue, participate at the JCC and take a trip to Israel. What makes our Dallas celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut so unique is the way our entire community comes together to plan and to enjoy. The need to belong is a basic need for all of us. Let us give our children their connection to the Jewish community and to Israel. Let us also create an environment, in all of our organizations, that is welcoming.

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 06 May 2009 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi,

I am often faced with kids and groups on my campus who have only negative things to say about Israel and are always defending the Palestinians. Overall, they feel that the Israelis stole the land from the Palestinians who were there before them. Besides needing historical material to answer them (and, at times, even the professors), I also would like to have a better understanding of Israel and what it represents to me Jewishly, not just politically. Do you have any suggestions?

Leigh A.

Dear Leigh,

Firstly, I would recommend doing some reading to get caught up on the key historical and political facts concerning Israel’s history and right to exist. Two excellent books on the subject are “A Place Among the Nations” by current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and “The Case for Israel” by attorney and professor Alan Dershowitz. In addition, I suggest you contact the important Israel lobby organization AIPAC, which has a special arm for the training of college students in exactly what you are asking, to have the ability to defend, and to reach out and create positive feelings for, Israel on campus.

In his classical commentary on the first verse of the Torah, Rashi poses the question: The Torah is not meant to be a history book, rather a book of law. If so, why does the Torah begin at the time of creation rather than with the first law given to the Jews in Egypt? Rashi offers a timeless answer, chilling us with today’s goings-on: “If one day a nation will come and claim that Israel doesn’t belong to the Jews and they stole it, they can produce the Torah which states that G-d created the earth, it belongs to Him; He gave it to Abraham and his offspring forever.”

In the classic text of Jewish philosophy “Kuzari” (R’ Yehuda Halevi, 12th-century Spain) the verse is quoted stating that Israel is the land that “G-d’s eyes are upon constantly” (Deuteronomy 11:12), and from time immemorial it was the chosen land, the desire and jealousy of the world. The fight between Cain and Abel was over its ownership, as was the dispute between Isaac and Ishmael. When Abraham merited to father the Chosen People, he was gifted the land by G-d as the custom-made place for him and his offspring to fulfill their mission, at the “gate of heaven.” Only a nation which is dedicated to the fulfillment of G-d’s will in the world would merit this land.

There are numerous prophecies that if the Jews will not fulfill their mission, they will temporarily be taken out of the land. At the same time, those prophecies foretell that as long as the rightful owners — the Jews — are off the land it will lie barren (Leviticus 26:32-33, Deuteronomy 29:21-22, Jeremiah 9:10, Ezekiel 33:28-29). Nachmanides (12th-century Spain) explains that this is a blessing in disguise, proclaiming that throughout all our exiles, our land will not accept our enemies. This is a proof and assurance to us of our eventual return, that since the time we left, it was completely in ruins, and many had attempted to conquer and settle it to no avail. Mark Twain and others in the mid-1800s who traveled to Israel wrote at length about its astonishing emptiness of flora, fauna and humans in the land that was once flowing with milk and honey. Only with the return of the Jews, its rightful owners, did it begin to again flourish and blossom, once more becoming the stage for us to perform our holy mission — may it truly be used for that mission!

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

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