Archive | August, 2009


In My Mind’s I

Posted on 27 August 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

This past week marked 40 years since Woodstock. Was I at that mad, musical gathering? In a way, because Mike Bloomfield was there.
I knew Mike almost a dozen years earlier, before he became “the great white rock guitarist,” the founder of the Paul Butterfield and Electric Flag bands, the one you can see riffing with Jefferson Airplane on the Woodstock film clips. I was his Sunday school teacher in 1957–58, in the ninth grade at a great Reform temple in north suburban Chicago.

My students there hailed from incredible affluence; when, the first week of class, I gave them an ethics problem involving how to spend a million dollars, I found that I was the only one in the room who didn’t know how to invest it all outside the United States, tax-free. Mike’s folks were rich, but he was not popular with his peers; the boys were out dirt-biking while he stayed holed up in his bedroom, listening to folk music and discovering the wild tunes of the black musicians who pioneered the then-fledgling rock genre. He knew so little about Judaism, and hated religious school.

My husband was a social worker. All Jewish social workers — or so it seemed in the ‘50s — were also folk singers. Jewish social workers’ wives taught religious school to augment the salaries of their pittance-paid spouses. And they sang along. Some of us weren’t bad — my husband and I made it to the informal stages of Chicago’s College of Complexes and Evanston’s No Exit Café. I “contracted” with Mike: If he’d stick out the year and make it through confirmation, I’d take him with us to our favorite venues.

We kept our bargain. I helped Mike buy his first guitar — the one he was still playing when he died. But I’m getting ahead of my story. He had $500 that he’d won in a poker game with his father and dad’s fellow big-businessmen, and that amount bought one heck of a good instrument a half-century ago. His mother pleaded with me: I was the only one who could talk sense to Mike; he should buy a dirt bike. I said it was his money. She didn’t talk to me any more after that. But Mike made it through confirmation.
After high school, Mike moved to San Francisco, where the early rock action was. Dick Christenson, music critic of the late lamented Chicago Daily News, went out there for the first big concert of its kind, and wrote about the great kid from “home,” also confirming for me that Mike was making magic with that same guitar.

He didn’t come back much, but Mike had a really important Chicago connection anyway: After the riots at the Democratic National Convention of 1968 — less than a year before Woodstock, and also triggered by a young people’s peace movement, particularly in light of the Vietnam War — he wrote the incredible music for “Medium Cool,” the 1969 film about the city and its political/police fiasco. It’s a theme, and a soundtrack, of its time — throbbing and thrumming and humming with all the music Chicago, and Mike, had in them. He was then just 26 years old.

Sadly, it was all downhill from there. Mike became a reclusive abuser of alcohol and drugs. I left Chicago late in 1980, and less than three months later, I picked up the Dallas Morning News and read his obituary. It didn’t say “overdose,” but everyone knew. In the same desk drawer with my essential printer cartridges and other writing-trade tools, I keep that yellowed scrap of paper from Feb. 16, 1981 — the day after Michael Bernard Bloomfield’s exit from this earth.

Every bit of information anyone could want is at our fingertips today. Google Mike Bloomfield, and you can hear some of his astounding music, or read a brief, straightforward biography of him by Barney Quick, published two decades after Mike left us. You can also rent “Medium Cool” — probably not at Blockbuster, but at some place with old films in stock. However, you’ll never know the pudgy, obsessed kid I did, the one who lived for music, and in a way died from it.

The average American passes away at 75 years, 8 months; the average age of a rock star at death is 36 years, 9 months. Mike was 36 years, 7 months. Just about on target.

He did call me before that. He told me “I owe you one.” I’ll forever be sorry that I could never collect.


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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 27 August 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
As the debate rages throughout the country about President Obama’s proposed health care reform, all the discussion I’ve heard has been about finances vs. individual rights. Is there a religious or Jewish perspective on this question?

Morris L.

Dear Morris,
Martin Feldstein, Harvard professor and chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Reagan, points out in his Wall Street Journal article of Aug. 19 that President Obama’s proposal is all about rationing. Rationing health care gives rise to numerous moral and religious issues.

On Aug. 18, the Agudath Israel, a national Orthodox organization, addressed a letter to President Obama and members of Congress, adding a new dimension to the debate over health care policy. Some of the points they made are the following: The conviction that the preservation of life and the promotion of good health and well-being are religious imperatives that emanate from the inherent sanctity of human life. This is a perspective shared by millions of Americans of all faiths. Any given policy proposal may have a tremendous impact on the religious freedoms of patients and providers.

Any medical decision making outside the doctor-patient relationship is inherently problematic. The further removed the decision maker, the more of concern their involvement becomes. It becomes even more disquieting when these decisions depend upon a government official’s understanding of the “quality of life” as a yardstick of whether or not to approve a given treatment. The “cost-benefit ratio” of a particular treatment, to be decided by anyone other than the doctor/patient, entails definitions which may greatly compromise the moral or religious beliefs of those involved.

Government policymakers will arrive at their decisions based upon broad, generalized notions of public policy. They will certainly assess the relevant medical factors. They will look at the social and economic implications. They will weigh overall costs and benefits. But what of other considerations that are normally part of a patient’s deliberations? How, for example, will a patient’s religious and moral beliefs figure in on the decision to provide medical treatment?

That this potential conflict is relevant and critically important to Jews can readily be seen. Jewish tradition places great emphasis on the preservation of human life, which retains its sanctity even under the direst of medical circumstances. As such, Jewish law may require medical interventions that others might not regard as “quality-enhancing” or “cost-effective.” This could lead to a severe abridgment of a Jew’s ability to engage in the free exercise of religion. It could affect religious health providers as well, who may be called upon to perform “cost-effective” or other procedures which they consider morally or religiously objectionable.

Respect for a patient’s religious conviction is far from foreign to the law. Most states have provisions for a range of religious accommodations that cover such medical issues as DNR orders, health care proxies, determination of death, autopsies/dissections and anatomical gifts. Will these provisions be present when they would override the “cost-effectiveness” of a given procedure?

For the full text of the letter and further comments, contact Rabbi Avi Shafran:

Perhaps in next week’s column we will discuss some of these issues in more detail. (I find it interesting that President Obama, in his recent pre-holiday conference call to rabbis on the subject of health care, failed to invite the entire Orthodox rabbinate. Like his meeting with Jewish leaders on the subject of Israeli settlements, he seems inclined to invite only those who share his views on the subject at hand.)

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 27 August 2009 by admin

Dear Families,
Camp is over and school has begun. As I prepare for the school year, I go to the many, many books and resources to find ways to make Judaism come alive for children and parents (and grown-ups of all ages!). There are two wonderful books for early childhood teachers (and parents, too) of which even the titles send an important message. “Jewish Every Day” by Maxine Segal Handelman and “What’s Jewish about Butterflies?” by Maxine Segal Handelman and Deborah L. Schein are amazing in both concepts and ideas for things to do.

First, however, think about the titles: “Jewish Every Day” — isn’t that what Judaism is about? We don’t just “do” Jewish on Shabbat or a holiday, but we are indeed Jewish all day every day, and how can we bring that into our lives? Take some time to think about where you can bring Judaism and its values into your life. Many years ago, a young woman told me about a time she was at the park with a friend and their children. There was a quick rain shower and then a beautiful rainbow. The woman talked with her son about the science of rainbows (he was 4) but the friend talked with her son about G-d’s promise and the wonder of the sign of the rainbow. The woman was sad that she missed the opportunity to bring G-d into her child’s life, but there are opportunities every day and that is what is wonderful about being “Jewish every day!”

The idea behind the book “What’s Jewish about Butterflies?” is very much the same but the book includes 36 lessons for teachers. Each lesson gives the big idea, the Jewish values, a connection to Israel, Hebrew, songs, blessings and a story. The 36 lessons are great, but each of us can take a moment to think about all the things we do and add the “Jewish piece.” Do we have to do it for EVERYTHING? Of course not, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

What is the hope with all of this? That we remember that being Jewish is part of our total being and not a segment of the day or week. Try it!

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

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Around the Town

Posted on 27 August 2009 by admin

Pearle Vision show: See what a ‘mensch’ is and purchase designer frames
My “Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition,” lists “mensch” as “a person, especially a man, regarded as being honorable, decent and responsible and having strength of character.” I could add a few more descriptive words, such as kind, compassionate and generous. Such a man is Alex Nason, whose days are full with not only his Pearle Vision Shop on Lancaster but with his many volunteer activities. A past president of the Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith, he currently serves on its board as well as the boards of Jewish Family Service and Congregation Ahavath Sholom. Years back, he was especially active in settling our Russian community when the about-to-be-Americans arrived here.

This Sunday afternoon, from 12 noon until 4 p.m., Pearle Vision will present an Eyewear Trunk Show at Ahavath Sholom. Frames from such famous designers as Ferragamo, Prada, Polo, Ray-Ban, Anne Klein, Vogue, Versace, Persol, Burberry, Brooks Brothers, Converse, D&G and DKNY will be featured. The Trunk Show special includes $50 off a complete pair of prescription glasses. Twenty per cent of the profit will benefit Ahavath Sholom. My friend, Debby Rice, a human dynamo, is fundraising chair for CAS.

Alex and his wife, Sophia, also active in Pearle Vision, are parents of two grown sons, Michael and Robert.

JFS Senior Program honors their volunteers
The Jewish Family Services Senior Program was excited to honor their volunteers at the East Gourmet Buffet on Hulen Street. Almost 50 people were in attendance giving special wishes to Beverly Ross, outgoing chair of the JFS committee. The program has survived and grown these past few years under her leadership. Susan Luskey, who was not able to attend, is taking over as head of the committee. Hugs and kisses were given as favors to all those that attended. Mort House, Mary Frances Antweil, Gail Granek, Scott Sturman, Marla Sturman, Gail Berlin, Robin Stein, Roz Rosenthal, Adele Arensberg, Judy Horn, Ginger Humber, Mary Ann Slater, Gloria Putnam, Dr. Carole Rogers and their youngest volunteer, Molly Karten, were all there to get well-deserved thanks and to celebrate with the seniors. JFS hopes the rest of their volunteers can make it to their next event. Without volunteers the JFS Senior Program would not be able to serve as many seniors as it does.

Thanks to all! Remember, their program meets daily at Beth-El Congregation from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and all are welcome. Please call Hedy Collins at 817-296-3709 if any further information is needed.

Corrine Jacobson speaks at several gatherings
Corrine Jacobson has enjoyed giving talks on her favorite topics. She represented the Jewish faith with a group from Daughters of Abraham when they addressed educators working on their master’s degrees in a diversity class at TCU, then she spoke to the Network for Executive Women about Fort Worth and her service as a convention representative for the information booth at the FWCC. Early in September she will give a talk about her book, “A Handbook for Widows,” to a “boot camp” sponsored by Merrill Lynch at the Fort Worth Public Library meeting room.

Catching up with old friends
Last Sunday was my day to try and catch up with old friends. I succeeded with two out of three. After several attempts to reach Helen Beckoff, I caught up with Judy Beckoff Nussenblatt in Las Vegas, who told me that their entire family of Ivan Beckoff of Colorado, Leslie and Robert Beckoff of El Paso, Barbara and Andrew Leigh of the Los Angeles area, Judy’s husband, Alan, and his mother, Clara Nussenblatt of Galveston were having a fabulous time celebrating Helen’s 90th birthday in Vegas. I chatted with former ourtowner Lori Railenau, who told me they’ve moved and downsized to a new home in St. Louis, smaller but comfortable. Michael has renewed his contract with the school he’s at, their kids are happy in St. Louis and Gabriella plans to attend the University of Massachusetts in Amherst this fall.

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Yavneh Academy opens doors to 2009–2010; kids open books and minds for the new year

Yavneh Academy opens doors to 2009–2010; kids open books and minds for the new year

Posted on 27 August 2009 by admin

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By Deb Silverthorn
Summer 2009 skidded to a stop this month when Yavneh Academy of Dallas students came together for a back-to-school picnic on Aug. 13 and then found themselves book-bound and back at the Schultz Rosenberg Campus on Monday, Aug. 17.

Yavneh Academy is Dallas’ only co-ed Jewish college preparatory high school. The school is home to teachers that are nationally recognized for their excellence and expertise, championship-winning sports teams, mock trial, debate, Students Against Terrorism, national-award-winning Bulldog Print newspaper and other extracurricular activities, as well as small class sizes that guarantee individualized attention.

“When you start your day, and end your day, thanking and speaking to G-d, there’s not a lot of room for a bad day,” said Don O’Quinn, Yavneh Academy of Dallas’ head of school.

“The choices we make affect our lives and we believe it is our role to help our students make better choices,” said Rabbi Meir Tannenbaum, Judaic curriculum director. “Yavneh is a co-ed, college preparatory school that teaches mutual respect, that permeates Jewish life and that has students who go on to study in Israel, at Stanford, Harvard, University of Texas and around the country. Our children succeed beyond measure in their scholastic work and in who they are as human beings.”

Yavneh will host a picnic for all prospective families, including those with sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students, on Tuesday, Sept. 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Those interested should RSVP to The school is located on the Schultz Rosenberg Campus, at 12324 Merit Drive, in North Dallas. For more information, call 214-295-3500 or visit Yavneh’s Web site at

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 27 August 2009 by admin

JFGD seeks volunteer solicitors
The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) is looking for dedicated individuals to serve as volunteer solicitors in the 2010 Annual Campaign. Sunday, Aug. 30, at 9 a.m. will be the first opportunity for volunteers to participate in this noble endeavor. Community leaders Robert (Bob) and Robbe Epstein will host a kosher breakfast at their home, 6805 Bert Lane, including a presentation from United States Attorney Jim Jacks.

Jacks was the prosecutor for the Holy Land Foundation trial, which concluded in May of this year, with each of the five defendants receiving guilty verdicts for their roles in funneling money to overseas terrorists. Volunteers attending the breakfast will have the opportunity to learn more about the Holy Land Foundation trial, as well as Jim Jacks’ perception of the benefits of community service.
The Aug. 30 event will be one of a series of breakfasts to recruit volunteer solicitors for the 2010 Annual Campaign. Gary Weinstein, JFGD president and CEO, who is expecting a large turnout at the first breakfast, said, “Being Jewish comes with that inner spirit of caring, giving and sharing. Even in the midst of economic turmoil, we have a caring local Jewish community that understands the importance of community service.”

The Epsteins encourage everyone in the community to come out and support the effort to raise money for the agencies and organizations that are beneficiaries of the Federation. Bob says, “This breakfast series is a great opportunity to come together and strengthen our community. Robbe and I want to encourage everyone to volunteer and make a difference this year.”

RSVPs should be made with Sam Keneally, 214-615-5239 or .For more information, or if you are unable to attend but would like to volunteer, please contact Kathi Wenrich (men’s philanthropy director) at 214-615-5225 or via e-mail at

AJCommittee welcomes David Harris to Dallas
On Monday, Aug. 31, the American Jewish Committee of Dallas welcomes their National Executive Director, David Harris, to Dallas. He will address “Global Challenges for Jewish Diplomacy.”
AJCommittee’s mission is to safeguard the welfare and security of Jews in the United States, in Israel and throughout the world; strengthen the basic principles of pluralism around the world as the best defense against anti-Semitism and other forms of bigotry; and enhance the quality of American Jewish life by helping to ensure Jewish continuity and deepen ties between American and Israeli Jews.
For more information about this program please contact the AJCommittee office, 972-387-2943, or e-mail

Director of Richland senior program to speak at JWV meeting
Mitzi Werther Cohen will be the featured speaker at the Aug. 30 meeting of the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post 256 of the Jewish War Veterans and Auxiliary. Mitzi, the director of the Emeritus Program at Richland College, will talk about the many varied opportunities for continuing education that Richland offers to seniors.

The meeting will be held at 9:30 a.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas. A lox-and-bagels brunch will be served, for a nominal charge. All are welcome.

UNT Hillel offers 2010 Entertainment Books for sale
UNT Hillel, the Jewish student organization, will take over a longstanding tradition started by Pearl Klausner and her JWI chapter. As treasurer of the Big D chapter of JWI (formerly BBW), she was one of the first to sell the original Passbook; she sold hundreds of books each year through the store she ran out of her garage and later at Sunnyland Furniture. When UNT Hillel was established back in 2000, Pearl was instrumental in providing start-up money for Hillel by making generous donations to the UNT chapter from her Passbook proceeds. The Pearl Klausner Fund at UNT Hillel was established in her memory last winter. UNT Hillel is now selling the 2010 Entertainment Book for $20 at Sunnyland Furniture, just as Pearl did for JWI for nearly three decades, with all of the proceeds going to the Pearl Klausner Fund. Sunnyland is located at the northwest corner of Spring Valley and Coit. For questions, please call Brad at 972-239-3716 or e-mail

Temple Shalom Brotherhood prepares for fall softball
Temple Shalom Brotherhood is getting its Softball Fall League ready! The season begins Sept. 13 and ends Oct. 25. There will be 10 games plus single elimination playoffs. Cost to join the league is $55. For an application, go to and click on “Downloads & Information” at the left of the screen, then click on “2009 Player Application.” Complete and mail your form today! Application deadline is Aug. 31.

Allen M. Liebnick obtains CFF credentials
Overpaid Payables Recovery, Inc. has announced that Allen M. Liebnick has received his Certified in Financial Forensics (CFF) accreditation. His certification said: “The AICPA is pleased to inform you that your CFF Credential application has now been approved and you may use the designation in your professional materials. This credential indicates to the public that through your experience and knowledge in the forensic accounting discipline, you are a premier forensic accountant.” The CFF Credential is for CPAs who provide forensic accounting services. They are considered premier forensic accounting services providers and competent, trustworthy financial forensic experts, who promote a greater level of confidence for clients and employers and demonstrate commitment to continuously improving forensic accounting skills and expertise, resulting in increased professional competency.

Levenson & Brinker Public Relations selected by Texas Ballet Theatre
Levenson & Brinker Public Relations (L&BPR) has been selected as the public relations agency of record for the Texas Ballet Theater. L&BPR will promote and publicize the group as the premier professional ballet company in North Texas. Texas Ballet Theater has been the resident company at the Nancy Lee & Perry R. Bass Performance Hall in Fort Worth for 49 years, and the 2009–2010 season will be the first year for them as resident company at the new Dallas Center for the Performing Arts Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House.

“Texas Ballet Theater is already recognized for the graceful talent of its dancers and the energized expression of its Artistic Director Ben Stevenson,” said L&BPR CEO Stan Levenson. “We will focus on the company’s many cultural contributions and accomplishments within the dance industry as it continues to be recognized as one of the top ballets in the nation.”

Texas Ballet Theater, founded in 1961, features 38 professional dancers and operates two ballet schools servicing 400 students in both cities. The 2009–2010 ballet season will feature the Russian masters: “The Nutcracker,” “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Sleeping Beauty.”

“We look forward to contributing to the ongoing success of the Texas Ballet Theater as it celebrates its 49th season of bringing exquisite classical ballet to the North Texas area,” Levenson said. “Dallas has gained a treasure in the Winspear Opera House and the Texas Ballet Theater is a perfect cultural enrichment to enhance its greatness.”

Levenson & Brinker Public Relations is committed to providing its clients with experienced insight, sound public relations counsel and superior execution based on more than four decades of service and success. The firm’s vision to deliver added value is unmatched.

Photography exhibition at the Hamon
Noted photographer Loli Kantor’s exhibition, “There Was a Forest,” can be seen through Nov. 15 at the Mildred Hawn gallery at the Hamon Arts Library, Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University, 6100 Hillcrest.

The works, created mostly in Ukraine, 2005–2008, and in Poland, 2004, show a tangible reality of Jewish life in vivid, highly saturated color pigment prints and a more personal biographical sensibility with 21 small works in palladium.

Kantor will give a lecture presentation on Friday, Sept. 11, 6 p.m., at the O’Donnell Auditorium, followed by an opening reception at 7 p.m. at the gallery.

Special tour in the sukkah
A special tour of contemporary art glass, landscape paintings and lunch in the sukkah will highlight a happy Yom Tov.

The J invites you for a special viewing of more than 300 pieces of magnificent contemporary art glass by international master artists including Dale Chihuly, Dan Dailey, Lino Tagliapietra and many more that comprise the extraordinary collection of Barbara and Dennis DuBois. Savor the beautiful and mysterious landscape paintings of Veronique Jonas and enjoy a catered kosher lunch in the sukkah on Tuesday, Oct. 6. The schedule includes a morning glass tour, 9:45–11:15 a.m.; paintings and lunch in the sukkah, 11:30 a.m.–12:45 p.m.; and an afternoon glass tour, 1:00–2:30 p.m.

Space is limited to 20 people for each glass tour. The cost for J members is $40; for the public, $45.

For more information and to make your reservation, please check out the J Web site,, or call Bev Broman at 214-239-7112 or Judy Cohn at 214-239-7115.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 20 August 2009 by admin

Nishmat Am families make a difference in the lives of children in need
Families of Congregation Nishmat Am in Plano joined in the back-to-school shopping spirit, only these compassionate families were out shopping for a cause.

Nishmat Am families joined the Frisco Family Services Center to clothe a child in need for their very first day of school. Five loving families proudly adopted five precious children to clothe for the fall, while teaching their own children about the many blessings in their lives and their beautiful responsibility to make the world a better place for everyone! A special thank-you to the Buys, Hobbs, Lewin, Roth and Schentes families for dedicating their time to make a difference in the lives of children.

Harmon Schepps chosen as Bnai Zion honoree
Harmon “Hymie” Schepps, well-known but most humble Dallas humanitarian, has been unanimously chosen as one of the honorees for this year’s Bnai Zion gala. He will receive the Bnai Zion Community Service Award. According to Avrille Harris-Cohen, director of the Texas Region of Bnai Zion, “Bnai Zion Foundation’s Texas Region will be able to enjoy the good name that Harmon Schepps has earned through his gracious and caring deeds done mostly through anonymity.”

Former honoree Diane Benjamin said, “I know that I am joined by hundreds, perhaps thousands, who have benefited by this kind gentleman’s continuous deeds of loving kindness which have helped so many of us and, in turn, he has been an example to be sensitive to the needs of others.”

The ninth annual Bnai Zion gala, “Over 100 Years of Making a Difference,” is scheduled at the Westin Park Central on Nov. 1. All proceeds from the gala will benefit the Bnai Zion Medical Center, the foremost hospital in Northern Israel for rehabilitation of IDF soldiers, residents of Haifa and the surrounding areas. Bnai Zion, founded in 1908, focuses on improving the human condition by providing aid with its universal contributions to the health and well-being of both Israel and the United States. Its numerous humanitarian, nonpartisan projects and causes include the well-known Ahava Village for Children and Youth that tends to the care of children who are physically and emotionally abused.

Harmon is known as Hymie to his adoring large Dallas family, which includes former Mayor Pro-Tem Adelene Harrison, Martin Golman, Julius “Red” Coleman, the late Stanley “Joe” Schepps and Julius Schepps and other civic leaders in the Dallas Jewish community who are exemplary in their volunteer work. They are proud to honor a man of great generosity and one of the cherished branches on this family’s already gilded Tree of Life. Julius “Red” Coleman, a Dallas humanitarian legend in his own right, upon hearing that his cousin will be honored, said: “He is a man who deserves to be recognized anytime by anyone, for he does so many good deeds without any fanfare — mostly behind the scenes — and never, ever asked for any recognition for doing that which comes naturally to him.”

Bnai Zion will also honor Monica “Posy” McMillen with Bnai Zion’s America-Israel Friendship Award for her unending love of Israel and educating so many on anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. She is truly the example of a Righteous Christian.

Dr. Edward Goodman will be recognized with Bnai Zion’s Humanitarian Award for his service to Israel. He is part of the Galilee Project, which has philanthropic local doctors volunteering their time and medical expertise in Israel to help out in case of an emergency.

Larry Strauss, president of the Texas Region of Bnai Zion Foundation, encourages everyone to contact Avrille Harris-Cohen, “who can be reached at 972-918-9200 for early discounted reservations paid before Sept. 28 and to list your greetings in the Gala Tribute Book.”

Hadassah opening meeting to feature Rachel Lyon
Save the date, Sunday, Aug. 30, when the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah holds their opening meeting and luncheon, 11:30 a.m. at the Park Lane Ranch, 8787 Park Lane, featuring guest speaker Rachel Lyon.

Lyon is chair of cinema/television at SMU and an Emmy Award–winning director and producer. After filming in Italy this summer on an archaeological dig, bringing stunning images of a work-in-progress for Hadassah, she will present a unique view into the life and work of a documentary filmmaker in our community.

Help the poor of Israel through Yad Eliezer
Yad Eliezer is in trouble — and when Yad Eliezer is in trouble, the people of Israel are in trouble. The organization, which in the past was responsible for supplementing the diets of more than 12,000 of Israel’s neediest families, has been forced to cut down due to a lack of funds.

While many of us bemoan our lower standard of living in the United States, none of it compares with what is going on in Israel.

Consider the mother of four who begs the butcher to give her some scraps of bones and skin for free. Or the woman whose baby is losing weight instead of gaining because she is unable to nurse and cannot buy sufficient formula.

What is a concerned Jew to do? Many in America cannot, in all conscience, do nothing. Following the lead of Amy Baynash of Congregation Ohev Shalom, the Dallas Chapter of Yad Eliezer held two garage sales to raise money for this award-winning charity. The first one made $700 and the second, held Aug. 2, made $1,800.

Chayamiriam Taurog, the chair of the committee, though happy with the results, wishes they had made more. “This is great,” she said, “but the need is so immense….”

Anyone who wishes to help with this incredibly worthy cause or would like more information, please contact Chayamiriam at

A meaningful way to teach children the importance of lovingkindness is to have your son or daughter who is becoming a bar/bat mitzvah think of his/her peers in Israel who come from impoverished homes. Contact Jackie Shafron at for more information.

Notables in sports
Good luck to 15-year-old Yavneh student Ilana Wernick, daughter of  Sheryl and Stuart Wernick and granddaughter of Diane and Jerry Benjamin and Mary Stevenson.  Ilana will compete next week in France as part of Team USA in the International Rock Climbing Championships.

Mazel tov to Jeff Agoos, who was inducted into the National Soccer Hall of Fame on Sunday, Aug. 2, in his first year of eligibility.  A  J.J. Pearce graduate and five-time MLS Cup champion, Jeff is currently the sporting director of the New York Red Bulls.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 20 August 2009 by admin

Sixty years for the Givants
It was some 62 years ago when Earl Givant of Des Moines, Iowa, spied the beautiful Shirley Fried of Council Bluffs on a double blind date — not with each other, mind you! The sparks on Earl’s side were ignited, and within several weeks, the two were dating. Earl was a gob in the U.S. Navy and a handsome one, at that; soon after his release, history was made when they pledged their vows on Aug. 6, 1949.

The Givants had several things in common: They loved each other dearly, they came from close areas in Iowa and both were raised in strict Orthodoxy that they still adhere to today.

After his release from the Navy, Earl became associated with the Sears Roebuck Co. a connection which lasted through the years and took him to California and Omaha before coming to Fort Worth 42 years ago.

The Givants have entrenched themselves in the community. Both are firm supporters of their synagogue, Ahavath Sholom, and Earl gives generously of his time to Jewish War Veterans, B’nai B’rith and Jewish Family Service, among others. My first recollection of Earl Givant is when shopping for school clothes for my kiddoes, long years ago; he was pointed out to me as the big boss at Sears, The Manager.

The Givants have been my good friends and among my most appreciative supporters of the TJP.
Several years back when I was recuperating from a broken femur at The Plaza at Edgemere in Dallas, both Earl and Izzy Bloomberg stopped by to cheer up an aging hurting friend.

Perhaps one of the greatest joys Earl and Shirley have is their grandson Matt Nover, son of Maureen Givant Nover and Ken Nover.

Even as a small child, one could tell Matt had inherited his love for Judaism from his grandparents. In his growing-up stages, he was a leader both academically and in his peer groups.

Matt, home for the summer, has been working at Country Day School as a technology director. When asked, he leads services and davens at Ahavath Sholom. A junior at Rutgers University in Brunswick, N.J., he has been doing research for his professor of Judaic studies. His honors at Rutgers are many. He is a Dean’s List and Rutgers Honors Program participant. His Hillel awards include Outstanding First Year Freshman, Outstanding Service to the Community and Hillel Board

Conservative Chairperson for 2009–2010. Upon his return to Rutgers, he will be teaching classes at Anshai Emeth Congregation.

Shirley and Earl’s close family includes their daughter, Maureen; son, Michael of Arlington; and grandson, Matt.

Shirley and Earl are warm, loving mensches. I wish them more happy special occasions and I’m especially proud to call them my friends.

Growing older and celebrating life!
Some of you may have seen the following item in the Hadassah magazine that came to my desk recently. I thought it was especially interesting and an inspiration for all seniors.

“Dr. Bertha Fineberg walks with a quick step, dresses in a sporty fashion, is personable and witty — a real dynamo. Recently, she celebrated her 100th birthday with the Hadassah Hadar chapter in Netanya, Israel.

“A Hadassah life member, Dr. Fineberg made aliyah last year at the age of 99.

“At her birthday celebration, Dr. Fineberg — one of the first Jewish women ophthalmologists in the United States and a mother of three — shared the secrets of her success: ‘I never recognize obstacles in life, I just concentrate on moving forward.’

“‘I was born in the year Hadassah founder Henrietta Szold made her first visit to Palestine,’ Dr. Fineberg continued. ‘It just took me longer to become a Zionist.’

“Dr. Fineberg graduated from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Mass. in 1931 and then Boston University. In 1940, she became one of the first female physicians at the renowned Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary. At age 45, she learned to play the cello, and she celebrated her bat mitzvah at 74.”
Along the same lines, my colleague Violet Spevack, who after 40 years still continues writing her “Cavalcade” column in the Cleveland Jewish News, wrote recently. “Incidentally, I [Violet] chalked up my 93rd birthday last week. Busy, busy time; David, my ever-loving spouse (age 97) made a speedy move from our old digs to a new apartment where we’ll probably sign a 10-year lease.” Keep the wheels turning, Violet! This scribe, at the age of 86, bought a very comfortable house in Big D. Better to be optimistic than pessimistic, I say.

News and notes
Happy birthday greetings to Brigitte Altman, who was honored by her family and friends for her 85th birthday at the Sabbath Kiddush at Beth-El Friday night. Call it double luck and a mazel tov to newlyweds, Dr. Irv Robinson and his bride, Jackie Loeb, who were married by Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger in his study on Aug. 12. Another cheer for the Robinsons: After four days on the market, Irv’s house on Black Canyon was sold on his wedding day. You can send a card to Evelyn Evans or stop by and see her at Trail Lake Nursing Center at 6707 Bluffview. She’s as happy as a lark there and said it was the right time for her to make the move. Mimi and Hal Klotz share the joy of their son, Alan, and his bride, the former Gretchen Duque, on both their recent marriage and their home at 4501 Pershing. Miriam Labovitz was one surprised cookie when she was honored by friends at the Shabbat service and Kiddush at CAS last Saturday. Sharing some of Miriam’s glory was her pal, this scribe. The beautiful birthday cake for both ladies was the gift of friends Gerry Brown and Horty Deifik. Our thanks to all.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 20 August 2009 by admin

Robert Browning wrote this almost 150 years ago: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?” An apropos sentiment for a man I know who heads the maintenance crew at a large Jewish school. He’s chosen to earn his living with his hands, but that doesn’t keep him from writing some interesting personal-experience stories, like the one below:

“My wardrobe includes a pair of blue pants and a green T-shirt, both adorned with large splotches of light brown paint. I keep these articles of clothing because they are still quite serviceable. And, more importantly, these fabric works of art serve to remind me of a time I ignored my internal voice of reason, the day I broke not one, but two of my basic rules: Use the proper tool for a job, and use it correctly.

“Our staff is small, and we wear the hats of many trades. During the summer, we do repairs not possible amid the three-ring circus of the school year. On a sultry July day, I had donned an artist’s beret. One of the bathrooms was to receive a fresh coat of ‘Almost Beige,’ a shade like a cup of good coffee with too much cream. Off we went, my co-worker Joe and I, armed with brushes, rollers, a five-gallon institutional-size bucket of paint and a ladder.

“We do not have a large variety of ladders from which to choose. Ours was an eight-foot stepladder. Joe and I gave the walls their clean new finish and turned our attention to the ceiling. The shiny ‘A’ of the open ladder was rather wide at the bottom. This posed no problem in the unobstructed middle of the bathroom; it caused us only minor headaches while we worked above the row of sinks jutting out like so many taunting tongues as we jockeyed the ladder around them. But the opposite wall, with its narrow toilet stalls, was an unmitigated disaster. There was simply no way to position the ladder to reach the ceiling above them.

“Now I made my tactical error. I decided we could close the ladder, stand it against the inside wall of the first stall, and climb it that way to mount the attack. I’m taller than Joe and my reach is longer, so we decided I would make the ascent. The paint tray sat almost wobble-free, and the ladder seemed stable. Our strategy appeared to be working.

“When the unpainted area was out of range, we set up again in a midway stall and I returned to playing Michelangelo. The end of our task loomed on the horizon; just this one last section. I was leaning over and reaching out — way out — when the sensation hit: that familiar roller-coaster feeling just before a drop. The ladder was going over, and I was going with it. The ladder was standing at too steep an angle for its steps to support my size 13 feet, and I found myself on the floor.

“Time seems to slow down for me when something bad happens quickly. I looked up, watching helplessly as, in slow motion, the ladder tipped the paint tray off its precarious perch above me. I closed my eyes and felt the ecru shower.

“Fortunately, the damage was relatively minor. I had played dropcloth and was wearing most of the downpour. Latex paint cleans up with water, so except for a few spots on the wood baseboard, we successfully eliminated all traces of the debacle. I did what I could to clean myself off, and spent the remainder of the day avoiding contact with anything while my new paint job dried. My ego was only slightly bruised, my buttocks a little more so. My co-workers and other school staff were kind enough not to laugh too loudly at me.

“I learned my lesson: There are proper ways to use tools, and very good reasons to stick to them. Next summer, when it’s time to paint these bathrooms again, I’ll find another, safer way to get up over those stalls. But I’ll wear the same pants and shirt — just in case.”

Dear readers: Does the style of this story seem similar to that of the tales I often tell you? It should! That ladder dropped its apple close to the tree. Browning wrote his famous line about a painter. The “painter” here, the man who used his hard-working hands to write this piece, the one whose reach definitely exceeded his grasp, just happens to be my own son!


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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 20 August 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
I have noticed that when some Jews meet each other, they greet one another with the phrase “shalom aleichem.” What is the meaning of that phrase, and why is it the greeting Jews use?

Jonah W.

Dear Jonah,
That phrase means “peace unto you,” and has been the traditional Jewish greeting for thousands of years, as we find in various places in the Tanach/Bible. (Interestingly, it’s been adopted in Arabic as well as the traditional Arabic greeting of “salaam aleikum.”)

The word “aleichem” is actually in the plural, although one is only addressing an individual, as the plural reference in Hebrew is used as an expression of respect. This is a fulfillment of the rabbinic injunction to always receive another with warmth and respect.

This greeting of “shalom ­aleichem,” or the shorter version of “shalom,” is truly much more than just a greeting. It is a blessing that peace should be upon the other. Peace is considered the greatest good of all. The Talmud declares that peace is the “vessel that contains everything within it.” This means that the benediction of peace contains all others within it; when one is not at peace, it is difficult to feel or receive other blessings. For this reason, many prayers we recite end with the blessing of shalom. In the Torah itself, the prayer/blessing recited by the Kohanim/priests to bless the Jewish people, containing all physical and spiritual benedictions, ends with the blessing of shalom (Numbers 6:22-26). The Amidah/silent prayer recited three times a day ends with “Blessed are You, Hashem, Who blesses His people Israel with peace.” The Kaddish, recited numerous times daily in our prayer services, concludes with: “May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life upon us and upon all Israel; now respond, amen. He who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace upon us and upon all Israel; let us respond, amen.” Even the Mishnah, the work comprising all of Jewish law, ends with the message that shalom is the vessel which holds everything.

A deeper understanding of this is that Shalom is one of the Names of G-d. It is unique among the other Names in that it is not considered a Name of G-d when written; hence, most authorities permit it to be erased. Only when it is uttered between two Jews, when a Jew wishes shalom to another, the Name of G-d, the Shechinah, rests between the two of them as a result of the peace between them. That is why the Temple was destroyed due to baseless hatred among Jews: When there is no shalom between Jews there is no Shechinah in klal Yisrael, and no place for the Temple, the dwelling place for the Shechinah.

A well-known story is told of a great scholar and sage, Rabbi I.Z. Meltzer, who was invited to Jerusalem from Europe to become the dean of a prestigious yeshiva in the early 1900s. As he was riding his donkey up from Motza toward Jerusalem, a distinguished group of leading rabbis rode down to meet and greet the sage, followed by many hundreds of Jerusalemites. When they met up, each rabbi greeted R’ Meltzer with the traditional “shalom aleichem,” which he returned warmly.

When one rabbi, with a long, white beard, gave his “shalom aleichem,” R’ Meltzer automatically replied with the verse, “There is no shalom, says my G-d, to the wicked” (Isaiah 57:21). The rabbi was terribly embarrassed, and R’ Meltzer apologized profusely, not knowing what had come over him to give such a response. This caused quite a buzz among the crowd, and an investigation was conducted on that rabbi, who later was discovered to be a hidden missionary! The Al-mighty, whose Name is Shalom, wouldn’t allow such a great sage to utter the blessing of shalom upon a wicked man!

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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