Archive | July, 2009


Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 24 July 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
I have had trouble reconciling my reading of Genesis with current scientific theory. When I read about the beginning of creation, it seems clear that God created the world whole, as well as the rest of the universe. But physics says that there was a primordial speck which exploded in what is known as the Big Bang, and from its expansion the universe and world came to be. Is there a way to integrate the two versions of the story?
Joseph W. T., Ph.D.

Dear Dr. Joseph,
In most translations, the first verse of Genesis/Beresheet reads something like this: “In the beginning G-d created heaven and earth, and the earth was astonishingly empty….” This rendering, which alludes to G-d creating heaven and earth directly and as a complete entity as you mentioned, is a flawed one. The correct translation, as explained by Rashi, the most classical of commentaries, is “In the beginning of G-d’s creating of the heaven and the earth….” The difference is a great one; it is simply introducing the story, not referring to anything created yet!

The continuing statement, “and the earth was astonishingly empty,” also loses its meaning in translation. Another classical commentary, Ramban (Nachmanides, 1270 CE), points out the difficulty implicit in the words “tohu vavohu,” which do not literally form the phrase “astonishingly empty.” Tohu indeed means “astonishing.” Bohu, however, means “all is in it.” The correct translation would be “it was astonishing in that all is in it,” which seems to make no sense.

Ramban explains as follows: “The Holy One, blessed be He, created all creatures from absolute nothingness (ex nihilo), which no other term in our holy tongue describes but ‘bara.’ Not all creatures in the spiritual realm or below the heavens were created ex nihilo; rather, He brought into being from absolute nothingness a very tiny basic material, which seemed as though it didn’t exist at all, but it had within it the power to bring forth other creations, prepared to receive shape, to develop from the potential to the actual … and all was created from it. This matter … is called in Hebrew ‘tohu’ … because if a man would attempt to assign it a name, he would be astonished … because it had no form which would accept a name. The form, which cloaked this matter, is called in Hebrew ‘bohu’ … meaning ‘all is in it.’” (Sefer Yetzira, the Kabbalistic Book of Creation). “He … made from nothing, something.” Ramban quotes similar passages from the Zohar and Sefer HaBahir.

We see from Ramban’s commentary that the verse from Genesis is exactly and precisely in line with Big Bang theory! For the past 700 or more years we were not able to fathom the meaning of the Ramban in physical terms. It defied human understanding to imagine that all the vast mass of the universe could be compressed into an infinitesimally small speck of matter which could not even be observed. One could not even imagine compressing a cup of water into a smaller cup! Only after Albert Einstein discovered relativity and the relationship between matter and energy could we comprehend this in physical terms. According to Stephen Hawking, this original, primordial speck is called a singularity, with infinite energy pulling in upon itself, not allowing any energy to escape. It was the ultimate “black hole.” This was considered a monumental discovery, but something that we have known, although not totally understood, from Torah literature for thousands of years!

One thing Hawking does not explain is how the Big Bang was possible. If there is an infinite amount of energy holding the singularity together, where did the even greater energy needed to pull it apart come from? He indeed does say that time and science had their beginnings only after the Big Bang. Our answer to all this is that the Creator, who was the architect of even the concept of infinity, had the energy beyond infinity to bring about the Big Bang.

As science progresses, we see much more clearly how the physical world and the spiritual world of Torah are one.

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 24 July 2009 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,
Each summer we focus on values that we can DO! At the J camps, all the children and the families get involved. There is a little learning, a little thinking and then a lot of doing! Get involved with us this summer. The value for this week is: nedarim, keeping commitments.

Judaism is a religion of words, and often we use words to make an oath or promise, saying, “In the name of G-d” or “I swear to G-d.” When we make a promise, we must keep that commitment. The Torah teaches that a person who makes a promise to G-d must carry out that promise (Numbers 30:3).
On the evening of Yom Kippur, we say a special prayer called Kol Nidre. It says that all the promises we have made to G-d that we didn’t do are null and void. Kol Nidre was originally created to protect the Jews who had been forced to convert to Christianity in order to save their lives. Although this prayer is to make the promises of the year “go away,” we should never promise things that we cannot do. A person’s word is important, and promises are meant to be kept!

Keeping commitments is also called keeping promises or keeping one’s word. Another way we talk about this is making a vow or an oath. When we make a vow to G-d, we must keep that vow.
A person who utters a vow places a burden on his neck. — Jerusalem Talmud
Be careful what you vow, and don’t get into the habit of making vows, for if you get in the habit, you will, in the end, sin by breaking your oath, and anyone who breaks his or her oath denies G-d without hope of pardon. — Tanchuma, Mattot 79a

Talk with your family about the importance of keeping promises. Start keeping a list of the promises that each family member makes during the week. At the end of the week, talk together about which ones were kept and which were not. Why are some promises harder to keep?
Why should we think before we make a promise? What should happen to someone who breaks a promise?

Do something ‘Jewish unplugged’
Create a family journal. Label the sections/pages: trips, important events, holidays, family discussions, whatever. For family discussions, think of a question and then write down everyone’s answer, e.g. “What is your favorite Jewish holiday and why?” The dinner table is a great place for family discussions!

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

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Rabbi Alberto Zeilicovich becomes president of Fort Worth South Rotary Club

Rabbi Alberto Zeilicovich becomes president of Fort Worth South Rotary Club

Posted on 24 July 2009 by admin

By Rachel Gross

“Service Above Self.” This is the motto of the Fort Worth South Rotary Club and something Rabbi Alberto (Baruch) Zeilicovich, of Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth, lives by every day. He was installed as president of the Fort Worth South Rotary Club on June 30 so he can contribute to making the world a better place.

Zeilicovich believes he is the first rabbi to become Rotary president in the state of Texas. As president, he is in charge of club projects, responsible for its growth and educating people on what Rotary is about.
The Fort Worth South Rotary was chartered on April 18, 1955 and began because Fort Worth businesses were spreading out and local Rotary membership was increasing. Today, the club boasts more than 120 members. There are about 1.2 million Rotary members worldwide.

Zeilicovich said being president of the club allows him to repair the world and take part in mitzvot every day.

“Rotary is about a lot of people helping a lot of other people around the world,” he said. “I believe in tikkun olam and feel our purpose is to become partners with God in recreating His creation for the better. Being part of this is the Jewish thing to do.”

The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. The club has met for the past 25 years at Fort Worth’s Colonial Country Club, with luncheon meetings held each Tuesday. Members participate in many community service projects throughout the year.

He said he is most looking forward to making a difference for everyone around him.

“I want to make this a better place for everybody, which includes my children, my congregation and the Jewish community,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s really about quality rather than quantity of the ultimate product. I want to reinforce the idea of service above self.”

Zeilicovich has been at Congregation Ahavath Sholom for 10 years. He was born and raised in Argentina and graduated from the University of Buenos Aires with a degree in psychology. He received a degree in Jewish education from the Latin American Seminary and finished his studies at the Schechter Institute in Israel.
Before coming to America, he worked as a rabbi in Colombia and Puerto Rico. He and his wife, Graciela, have been married for 27 years and both of their children are Levine Academy graduates.

Zeilicovich said he will use the skills he has learned as a rabbi to help him succeed as Rotary president.

“Being a Conservative rabbi in the Jewish community where not everyone is Conservative, demands an extra effort and I try to pass along the right message to people. This will also help me to meet the challenges of Rotary,” he said. “I want people to realize that doing less is not easier. I’m grateful that my congregation stands by me in this. At the end of the day, being a rabbi is about bringing service to your congregation.”
Putting service above self is something Zeilicovich truly prides himself on. In addition to Rotary, he is a member of B’nai B’rith and the Cook Children’s Hospital Institutional Review Board.

He said he is most passionate about his Judaism and tikkun olam.

“My passion is my love for the Jewish people and the Torah. I want to be a matchmaker between my congregation, the groom, and the Torah, the bride,” he said. “My other passion is to have people understand that we are all here to make the world better. As we say in Texas, leave it better than the way you find it.”
Zeilicovich added that coming to America from another country has allowed him to understand diversity, which helps him relate to others. He feels that this experience will also help him succeed in his new position.
“Because I am so deeply rooted in my culture and the fact that I am a committed Jew, I can better understand other people’s beliefs and diversity,” he said. “This country is based upon diversity and being an American citizen doesn’t diminish your Judaism. We are all entitled to eat from our own plates, but we shall always remember that we share the same table.”

Garry Kahalnik, executive director of Ahavath Sholom, said Rabbi Zeilicovich brings a different perspective to the Rotary Club that will allow him to be successful.

“As a rabbi, he is a speaker, and as president, he represents the club. I think he is very capable to do this job,” he said. “He brings a Jewish perspective … and has had experience working with a variety of people. He is very outgoing and gregarious and that will help him immensely.”

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 16 July 2009 by admin

Akiba Academy to honor Dr. Rick Hodes at INSPIRE gala
Akiba Academy will honor Dr. Rick Hodes for his humanitarian actions, which have touched countless lives, at the INSPIRE gala on Sunday, Sept. 13, 5 p.m. at the Westin Park Central, according to Marilyn Rutner, Akiba’s director of development.

Dr. Hodes, past Akiba parent, serves as director of medical programs in Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). In addition to managing medical clinics that provide treatment, immunization, nutritional support, family planning and community health for tens of thousands of immigrants, he has directed the medical care for Ethiopian Jews making aliyah to Israel since 1990. His humanitarian accomplishments include Operation Solomon in May 1991, which airlifted over 14,000 Ethiopians to Israel in 48 hours. He has been in charge of the health of about 1 percent of the population of Israel before they became Israeli.

Dr. Hodes cared for the health of 50,000 refugees from Rwanda who had fled to Zaire in 1994 and 1995. He spent Yom Kippur 1994 working in Kibumba Refugee Camp. He has also worked with Kosovo refugees in Albania and Zairean refugees in Tanzania, all on behalf of JDC, and lent his medical expertise to the Swedish Red Cross in Eritrea and the U.S. Peace Corps in Ethiopia.

In a non-sectarian JDC program, Dr. Hodes is an attending physician at the Mother Teresa’s Mission, working with the sick and destitute with heart disease, spine disease and cancer. He directs a program which sends Ethiopians to India for heart surgery and Ghana for spine surgery.

Dr. Hodes lectures extensively around the world and has published many articles. In 2007, CNN selected him as one of its “CNN Heroes” in the “Championing Children” category.

After graduating from the University of Rochester Medical School, he trained in internal medicine at the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Hodes was a Fulbright Lecturer in Medicine at the Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia. He holds an academic appointment at University of Texas Medical School in San Antonio. The American College of Physicians has awarded him the rare title of “Mastership,” in recognition of “exceedingly stellar career accomplishments.” He received an honorary Doctorate in Science (D.Sc.) from Middlebury College.

Dr. Hodes lives with his family in Addis Ababa.

Proceeds from this prestigious event will benefit scholarships, educational programming and professional development at Akiba, the first Jewish day school in Dallas, founded in 1962. Event Co-chairs Sharon Blumberg and Dana Feinstein invite Akiba friends and family to be a part of the celebration and to consider sponsorship and advertisement in the commemorative tribute journal that will be presented to Dr. Hodes, dinner attendees and supporters of the school.

“We are so excited to be a part of an event that will celebrate a true hero. Dr. Hodes is making the world a better place and inspiring our children to have a positive impact on others. We hope that everyone in the community will join us in honoring him. ‘INSPIRE’ is sure to inspire!” Blumberg and Feinstein said.
For more information about this event and its sponsorship opportunities, please contact Marilyn Rutner at 214-295-3400,

Dr. Jerrold Grodin to be July 26 JWV speaker
Members and guests at the Sunday, July 26 meeting of the Jewish War Veterans and Auxiliary look forward to the return visit of acclaimed cardiologist Dr. Jerrold Grodin. He will talk about his second trip to Iraq, where he tended to the medical needs of our troops.

The usual lox and bagel breakfast will be served, for which there will be a charge of $4 per person. Members of the community are welcome. Dr. Grodin was highly recommended as a speaker by Jerry Benjamin.
JFS Employment Networking Group session on employment outlook in Richardson
John Jacobs, senior vice president of economic development for the Richardson Chamber of Commerce, will speak about the employment outlook, today and in the future, in the city of Richardson, on Wednesday, July 22, 9:30 to 11 a.m. Mr. Jacobs directs the day-to-day activities of the Richardson Economic Development Partnership, a joint Chamber and City effort involved in business recruitment, retention and start-ups. He is the immediate past chairman of the DFW Marketing Team, a consortium of more than 40 DFW cities that markets the Metroplex nationwide for the purpose of economic development. For more information, contact Allison Harding at or 972-437-9950.

JFS offers networking group especially for new grads

If you’re a recent college grad looking for employment, Jewish Family Service is starting a new Job-Search networking group just for you.

You’ll learn:

• How to build a resume with only a sparse job history

• The best way to answer tough interview questions

• How to write an effective cover letter

• What employers are really looking for in today’s difficult market

• The “dos” and “don’ts” of Facebook, Twitter & LinkedIn

• All about local networking opportunities

Allison Harding, a Jewish Family Service Employment Specialist who has 15 years’ experience as a human-resources recruiter, will facilitate the group.

The Grads Networking Group held their first meeting on July 14. Future meetings will be held every Tuesday, 1:30 to 3 p.m., at Jewish Family Service, 5402 Arapaho Road. There are no fees, nor is it necessary to RSVP.
Please bring a copy of your resume if you have one. Friends are welcome. For added information, contact Allison Harding at 972-437-9950 or

An evening with actor George Takei, July 19
The Crow Collection will present “An Evening with George Takei” on Sunday, July 19. The lecture begins at 6 p.m. in the Horchow Auditorium at the Dallas Museum of Art with a reception to follow at the Crow Collection of Asian Art.

Long before he traveled the universe as Lt. Sulu on board the USS Enterprise, as a child George Takei was trapped behind the barbed wire fences that surrounded the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. He and his family were among the 120,000 U.S. residents of Japanese descent who were interned during the war.

Mr. Takei, who was born in Los Angeles, spent most of his childhood at Camp Rower in the swamps of Arkansas and at the windswept Camp Tule Lake in northern California. He will speak about his childhood experiences as well as his life as a Japanese American in the United States.
The lecture is being presented in conjunction with a special exhibition, “The Return of the Yellow Peril: A Survey of the Works by Roger Shimomura,” which can be seen at the Crow Collection through Aug. 9.
The event is sponsored by the Crow Collection, the Japan-America Society of Dallas/Fort Worth and American Airlines. Tickets are $15 for Friends of the Crow Collection, Japan-America Society of DFW members and students with valid ID; $30 for non-members. Reservations are required. Call 214-979-6438 or visit to register.

You can call 214-979-6430 for more information. The Crow Collection of Asian Art is located at 2010 Flora St. in the heart of the downtown Dallas Arts District. The Dallas Museum of Art is at 1717 Harwood, across the street from the Crow Collection.

The Crow Collection, dedicated to the arts and cultures of Asia, was founded in 1998 by Trammell and Margaret Crow in an effort to share their love of Asian art with the people of North Texas. It was also their hope that this museum will help bridge the gap between East and West.

On the business scene
Salli Goldstein has renewed her membership in the Association of Bridal Consultants. A full-service wedding planner, she operates Salli G, serving brides in Dallas, Fort Worth and surrounding towns.
As an Association member, Goldstein works to improve her professionalism and that of others in the wedding business. She has been a member since March 1990. At Salli G they do a spectacular job with day-of-wedding coordinating!

The Association of Bridal Consultants is located in New Milford, Conn., and is the only organization specifically designed to serve wedding professionals worldwide with over 4,500 members in 30 countries.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 16 July 2009 by admin

Mazel tov to the Luskeys
Congratulations to Bennie and Sonya Luskey, who will be celebrating his 90th birthday on July 23 and their 63rd anniversary on Aug. 18. Their children, Henry and Jeanie Luskey of Fort Worth and Rossi and Dr. Gary Solomon of Dallas, will co-host a family luncheon on July 25 at Cousin’s Bar-B-Q in Fort Worth.
Bennie Luskey, a member of a well-known local family, has lived in Fort Worth his entire life and has been a member of Congregation Ahavath Sholom for about 60 years. The Luskeys have four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

The Luskeys are blessed with everything in their life. One of the highlights of their time together over the past 63 years are the many bus tours they have taken to Las Vegas and throughout Canada and the United States.

Sonya and Bennie have been happily married for the past 63 years and are looking forward to the future.
Mazel Tov to the Luskey-Solomon families.

On the calendar at CAS
On Wednesday, July 29, at 9 p.m., Congregation Ahavath Sholom will hold a special service in observance of Tisha B’Av. Participants are invited to bring a flashlight with them. At the morning minyan at 6:45 on Thursday, July 30, the observance of Tisha B’Av will continue.

On Saturday, Aug. 1, there will be a special Kiddush luncheon following Shabbat morning services at Congregation Ahavath Sholom honoring Leon Brachman on his 89th birthday. Anyone interested in wanting to honor Leon by co-sponsoring the Kiddush, should contact Elsie Blum at 817-923-6197 or the shul office at 817-731-4721.

News from the Kaye family
The Steve Kaye family in Fort Worth is doing well and keeping busy. Valerie and the kids, Dorie (14, who will go to Paschal in the fall) and Brian (10, who will be a fourth-grader and will continue his studies at Fort Worth Academy) just got back from a wonderful week in Houston visiting with family. While the family was in Houston, Stephen Kaye continued to work hard, along with his partners, Daniel “Red” Goldstein and Adam Deem, at their new capital management company, Teaktree. Stephen, Red and Adam opened their doors in April 2009, and are doing very well. Company headquarters are at 1300 S. University Drive, Suite 407, Fort Worth, TX 76107. You can reach Stephen at 817-744-8450 or visit them online at
Valerie also has exciting news to share about her work with Professional Caretakers, Inc. Valerie, a longtime gerontologist/licensed master social worker, is excited that Professional Caretakers just moved to a new location in Fort Worth. The new address is 6050 Harris Pkwy.

Professional Caretakers has now opened the Rose Cottage of Texas in Fort Worth. It is an adult daytime care center by the people known for excellence in home care and personal assistance since 1988. They are still providing quality in home care for seniors and for folks who just need a bit of care to recuperate from an illness or surgery. Some of their clients even live in other facilities and just want some additional one-on-one attention. Valerie said, “We are excited to introduce it in Fort Worth. The Rose Cottage of Texas will offer a wonderful alternative for families who would like for their loved ones to have a social, fun and active place away from home with an experienced and caring staff.” The center is open Monday–Friday, 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. Valerie would be pleased, along with the Professional Caretaker staff, to give a tour any time. Valerie can be reached at 817-921-9500. Please look them up at

Press notes
Greta and David Beckerman will have as their guests this weekend, daughter and son-in-law, Iris and Sid Newman of Andover, Mass. In the meantime, the Beckermans’ son and daughter-in-law, Neil and Lisa Beckerman, are house-hunting in Big D.

Welcome visitor at the home of Mona and Les Kaitcer was their son, Steve, of Oklahoma City, who delighted his folks with his four-day visit.

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In My Mind’s Eye

Posted on 16 July 2009 by admin

I love birthdays! Especially big ones, which I define as any with numbers that end in zero or five. And I marked one of these yesterday.

Notice, I don’t say “celebrate.” When one reaches a certain age, it seems to me that every birthday is actually a big one. Especially when, as a cousin who is a couple of years older likes to remind me, we’ve stepped right up to the head of the family line.

So I “celebrate” with an evening of theater and an ice cream cake treat, but “mark” the occasion with looks backward to memorable birthdays of the past.

I start with my first zero — birthday number 10. All my friends were gathered around the table. Mother cut the cake and dished out the ice cream, and I opened the presents. I almost cried when the book I’d hoped to get — “Anne of Green Gables” — turned out to be “The House of the Seven Gables.” It took me a few years to realize that the second would serve me much better in the future than the first.

At 20 — “only 20,” everyone kept remarking — I was a bride. They were right; that was far too young. At 30, my mother presented me with a gold charm, its raised Hebrew letters reading “mazel” — what a woman needs after three decades of living, she remarked. It is still hanging on my favorite bracelet (along with the miniature mah jongg tile she sent me five years later. Only the Joker and Seven Crack tiles came as charms; she declined the first, saying that being 35 was nothing to joke about.).

At 40, I was single again, having a modest amount of mazel at work and with my children. My best friends tossed a little party for me on my own patio, with wine and wise words, and one of them gave me a silver Parker pen trimmed in gold. I still have that, too, but I use it only at home; I’m too afraid that I’ll lose it if I take it outside anywhere.

Before I turned 50, I started hinting that what I really wanted for that occasion was black balloons! They seemed funny to me at the time, because 50 somehow seemed “young” at the time — as of course it does now, when it seems even younger. (But I have always considered “old” to be five years older than I am, at whatever age I happen to be.) However, it turned out that I reached 50 in the hospital, recuperating from my first breast cancer surgery. So much for black balloons, which had suddenly taken on a new meaning, much more ominous than humorous.

I wanted the black balloons again at 60, but a funny thing happened on my way to that milestone — and when I arrived at it. Everyone but me forgot! Oh, my husband and children and friends remembered that it was my birthday, but not that it was a BIG birthday. So I didn’t get the balloons, or anything else out of the ordinary, to mark the day. (A few weeks later, I was visiting with a treasured old friend who lived a thousand miles away, when I felt moved to mention my disappointment to her. And much to my own surprise, I found myself crying.

I had fought back the tears at 10, but somehow couldn’t do so a half-century later. How embarrassing, to weep where we were at the time, in the fine gifts department of Marshall Field’s flagship Chicago store. The dear woman promptly bought me a beautiful Belleek butter dish, to “grease” my road to happiness, she said. I have never used it, but it’s in a special place in my living room where I can see it all the time, and remember.)
And then, when I was 70, the little miracle happened. The mailman rang my doorbell and asked me what in the world could be in the two huge but incredibly lightweight boxes he’d just unloaded from his truck. I invited him in to help me find out. One box from my daughter, far away; the second from my son, even farther away. We opened them together, and out of both flew — black balloons, helium-filled, still able to fly high after their long, confined journey! A 20-year delayed treat, something to enjoy then and to savor forever after as I mark new birthdays — including yesterday’s — by looking backward on fond, fond memories.


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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 16 July 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
I’m trying to sort out a feeling I’m experiencing: I’ve studied about Judaism in Sunday school, was bat mitzvahed and have studied Judaism as a student of comparative religion, but never actually studied Jewish texts. It always seemed like some intellectual pursuit, no different than studying about Buddhism. Now, for the first time, I’m actually studying Jewish texts after being introduced to them on a recent trip to Israel, such as the Chumash. What I’m experiencing is a strange, but nice, feeling of “coming home.” Do you have any comment on this?
Melanie K.

Dear Melanie,
It is a universal human experience that when one is away from one’s home, and particularly from the home of one’s youth, one longs to be back there. The Torah teaches that all of our emotions and experiences are this-worldly parallels of higher experiences. If so, what is the message of the longing for one’s home?

The answer is, the neshamah, or soul, is derived from a higher world; its true place, its true home, is that world where it enjoyed indescribable closeness with its Creator. It is sent into this world, immeasurably distant from that place of origin, to reside in the body of a mortal human being. But it never forgets its home; it forever yearns with a most powerful longing to return. The Midrash compares this to a princess forced to marry a simple peasant. Whenever a royal procession marches by, she peers out the window with great longing and homesickness, wanting nothing more than to join them and reconnect with her inborn royalty.

A most fascinating analogy of this concept is migration. Birds and butterflies have a built-in recognition of their place of origin which beckons to them to fly, literally across the world, to return to the very same locale and even the same tree that they were hatched in, in order to father the next generation. Fresh-water salmon come back from the oceans and fight Herculean battles upstream to get back to the same ponds to lay eggs where they were themselves spawned.

The closest place we have to the original home of the souls in this world is within the Torah. In the Kabbalistic writings we find that the souls and the Torah were created together and have the same spiritual roots. Furthermore, all Jewish souls, including those who were not yet born into this world but were destined to be, were present at Mt. Sinai for the presentation of the Ten Commandments and revelation of the Torah. That, in a sense, was the final “birthplace” of the Jewish souls, as they began in heaven and were completed at Sinai, now ready to enter the world and fulfill their missions as Jews.

From that time onward, the Jewish souls are in a state of longing to be in their original home. When a Jew studies Torah, the neshamah can take a deep breath and bask in the enjoyment of “being home.” The neshamah is our true self-within-ourselves, and our emotional feelings will often mirror or reflect its spiritual feelings.

To study “about” Judaism from the outside, especially as a comparative religion, will never provide this feeling. Although it may spark curiosity to seek further, it will never provide the joy the neshamah feels when it is immersed in the other-worldly pleasure of authentic Torah study. Torah is the “mind of G-d” in a sense, a glimpse into the upper spiritual worlds. Only with that type of immersion does the soul feel it has returned to its place. Welcome home!

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 16 July 2009 by admin

Dear Families,
Each summer we focus on values that we can DO! At the J camps, all the children and the families get involved. There is a little learning, a little thinking and then a lot of doing! Get involved with us this summer. The value for this week is: tzedakah, the righteous way to give.

The Hebrew word “tzedakah” is often translated as “charity.” However, the word “charity” comes from a Latin word that refers to the love of one person for another. The word “tzedakah” comes from the word “tzedek,” which means righteous or just. In Judaism, we use the word that means the righteous way to give and we give to try to eliminate the injustice in the world.

Rabbi Moses Maimonides (the Rambam) believed that tzedakah is like a ladder and each step you climb brings you closer to Heaven.

•The person who gives reluctantly and with regret

•The person who gives graciously, but less than one should

•The person who gives what one should, but only after being asked

•The person who gives before being asked

•The person who gives without knowing to whom he or she gives, although the recipient knows the identity of the donor

•The person who gives without making his or her identity known

•The person who gives without knowing to whom he or she gives; the recipient does not know from whom he or she receives

•The person who helps another to become self-supporting by a gift or a loan or by finding employment for the recipient

Talk about these texts:
When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap the edges of your field. Also, do not gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not pick your vineyard bare or gather its fallen fruit. Leave them for the poor and for the stranger. I am Adonai, your G-d. — Leviticus 19:9-10
Even a poor person who lives on tzedakah should practice tzedakah. — Talmud
The person who gives only a little honestly earned money to tzedakah is better than the person who gives lots of money that has been gained through fraud. — Kohelet Rabbah 4

Have a family discussion and set up a tzedakah fund. Decide where to donate the money.

Volunteering is another way to help others. Find a place that your family could help.

Do something easy: Every time you shop, buy a few extra cans of food for the food bank, or simply clean out your closet and donate toys or clothes.

Do something ‘Jewish unplugged’
Every time you go shopping, buy something extra to give to the food bank. Make it a conscious decision — look for things needed and keep a box in a special place in your home.

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

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Zella Sobel:  Wherever the road takes her

Zella Sobel: Wherever the road takes her

Posted on 16 July 2009 by admin

Wherever the roads have taken her through the years, Zella Sobel is loved, respected and cherished. She embodies all the traits humanity loves best. She is gracious, kind and generous to a fault.

Her familiar greeting on the telephone of “Hello, hello” is anticipated by all who know her, as is her parting goodbye to visitors, “I’m glad you got to see me.”

Zella has had a stellar and phenomenal career and reputation in catering in many parts of Texas as well as sending food as far away as California, Florida, England and Israel.

She was recently honored at a 90th birthday luncheon at Bent Tree Country Club given with love by her friends, Janet Beck, Carol Gene Cohen, Ann Levine, Cherie Small and Maxine Waldman. In lieu of gifts, donations in memory of Zella’s beloved husband were made to the Isaac Sobel Fund at Congregation Shearith Israel.

Zella has a wonderful, loving family. Her daughter and her husband are Marcia and Fred Fox. Their children are Marla Fox and Gregory Fox and his sons, Isaac and Evin. Her daughter Gail Golub is deceased. Gail’s children and their spouses are Jeffrey and Jeryl Golub, Leonard and Hannah Golub. Zella’s son-in-law, Steve and his wife, Cheryl, are the parents of her granddaughter, Jennifer and her husband, Ray Marcus. Her great-grandchildren are Isaac and Evin Fox and Orly, Olivia, Abigail, Asher and August Golub.

If you’re lucky enough to have a copy of Zella’s “My Favorite Stories and Recipes,” for sure it will be among your treasures.

We, at the Texas Jewish Post, add our best wishes to our friend, Zella Sobel.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 09 July 2009 by admin

Behind the scenes with Wernick and Spradlin
On June 24, Keith’s Comics sponsored a signing at the Studio Movie Grill of the much anticipated and highly acclaimed new comic book series “Bad Kids Go to Hell,” written by Dallas natives Barry “Bazza” Wernick and Matthew Spradlin. The lucky ones in attendance met the writers and received advance copies of the not-yet-released comic book published by Antarctic Press. A second event at SMG was held on July 8.
Wernick, who graduated from St. Mark’s School of Texas, is a diehard Texas Longhorn and an SMU Law School graduate. He began his acting career as a child, in improv/sketch comedy and musical theater. He later studied under Uta Hagen at HB Studio in New York and joined the Screen Actors Guild in 1999. Bazza has been in numerous commercials and has played various roles on TV and in movies. He will be seen later this year, alongside co-stars Christine Elise and Lance Greene, in the starring role of Rex Wagner, the naïve Jewish cowboy, in the outrageous comedy “Shoots & Ladders,” which he produced, co-wrote and co-directed.

Spradlin graduated from Highland Park High School and moved on to study film at Chapman University. He later moved on to Hollywood, where he honed his skills at GNOMON, immersing himself in CGI, 3D animation and digital compositing. He has worked as an EFX supervisor and EFX editor for over seven years on films as big as Paramount’s “Beowulf” (with EFX giant Sony Imageworks) and as small as his own award-winning comedy “The Thunder Pussies” (2001). This past year, Spradlin sold two comic book–related film properties, one of which was the TV pilot “True Believer” (SciFi Channel; Rosario Dawson, producer).
Spradlin introduced Wernick to the exciting world of comic books when he recommended turning the screenplay and upcoming movie they wrote together, “Bad Kids Go to Hell,” into a comic book. It didn’t take long for Wernick and Spradlin to make their mark. Their first comic book franchise has already been named the STAFFpick by Diamond Comics’ monthly trade magazine Previews, and more recently received rave reviews in a full-page write-up in the definitive magazine of the horror genre, Rue Morgue.

Yoy can keep up with news and events regarding BKGtH on Facebook and follow them on Twitter @BadKidsGoToHell.

Blake Eltis joins Ben Jones Group
Blake Eltis is proud to announce his affiliation with the Ben Jones Group at Allie Beth Allman and Associates. With over seven years’ experience in the Dallas market, he is taking his expertise to a new company that commands market share in the Dallas area. By joining the Ben Jones Group, Blake has a “team 10” to back him up. Give Blake a call if you need any assistance buying or selling a home at 972-207-6060.

Temple Shalom Sisterhood garage sale begins July 19
Temple Shalom Sisterhood is bringing back the garage sale to Temple for three days starting Sunday, July 19. You might just find a special treasure at this three-day event benefiting Temple Shalom! Whether you’re searching for a bargain, furnishing or decorating your home, there is something for everyone at the garage sale. There’s just a $2 donation to shop on Sunday, July 19; FREE admission on Monday and Tuesday. Don’t miss these great deals!
Most folks know that Temple Shalom is located at 6930 Alpha Road.

Ladies, come shoot some hoops at TDSD!
Women’s drop-in basketball is held every Sunday evening at Torah Day School of Dallas, 6921 Frankford Road. You can enter off of Hillcrest and go around to the back of the building; the gym door in the back east corner of building will be propped open. (If you can’t get in, call 214-563-4539.)

It is suggested that those interested come just before 8 p.m. Open to all ladies and high school girls. Call Becky, 214-563-4539, with any questions.

Local teens star in ‘Oliver’
There’s still time to catch community members, talented teens Cam Wenrich and Ben Westfried, in the Richardson Theatre Center’s production of “Oliver,” which runs through July 12. Cam, 14, son of Marshall and Kathi Wenrich, plays the Artful Dodger and will attend Jasper High School in the fall. Ben Westfried portrays Fagin in the production directed by Rachel Lindley.

College 101 Workshops offer early preparation
Attention rising seniors! Prepare your college applications, essays and resumes early! Attend a College 101 Workshop and be in the best possible position to earn scholarships for college. Four-day, morning (9 a.m. to noon) or afternoon (2–5 p.m.) workshops will be offered on the following dates: Mon., July 20–Thurs., July 23; Mon., July 27–Thurs., July 30; Mon., Aug. 3–Thurs., Aug. 6; Mon., Aug. 10–Thurs., Aug. 13; Mon., Aug. 17–Thurs., Aug. 20. All sessions will be held in the Levy Building at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Road, Dallas. For more information and to register, e-mail Catherine L. Marrs at or visit

TAASA luncheon honors Sen. Florence Shapiro, features Rabbi Irwin Katsof as speaker
State Senator Florence Shapiro came in for well-deserved accolades when she was recently honored for her extraordinary efforts as a champion for sexual violence survivors in Texas. Keynote speaker at the TAASA exclusive fundraising luncheon at Gleneagles Country Club was Rabbi Irwin Katsof.
A dynamic leader for positive social change, Rabbi Katsof is the founder of and the executive director of The Jerusalem Fund of Aish HaTorah. He is the author of the well-received “How to Get Your Prayers Answered,” which was originally published in 2000 and republished in 2002.

The Texas Association Against Sexual Assault is the statewide organization committed to ending sexual violence in Texas. A nonprofit educational and advocacy organization based in Austin, TAASA member agencies comprise a statewide network of more than 80 crisis centers that serve rural as well as metropolitan areas. Founded in 1982, the agency has a strong record of success in community education, youth outreach, law enforcement training, legislative advocacy and curricula and materials development.

Additional information about TAASA can be found at

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