Archive | October, 2009

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 29 October 2009 by admin

Hadassah to honor Bea Weisbrod at gala

The Dallas Chapter of Hadassah is pleased to honor Dallas philanthropist Bea Weisbrod at its Myrtle Wreath Dinner and Gala, Saturday evening, Dec. 5. Recipients of this prestigious award are selected for their significant contributions to state and national government, the arts, education, science, volunteerism and philanthropy.

Bea Weisbrod, third-generation Dallasite, is past president of the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah, presently serves on the board of the Greater Southwest Region of Hadassah as Speakers Bureau chair and is the Dallas Chapter historian. She is a member of the Golden Wreath Society of Major Donors of Hadassah and a member of the Golden Keepers of the Gate. She is a recipient of the Sara Susman Award and a past honoree of Bnai Zion.

This year, the Dallas Chapter is privileged to have Nancy Falchuk, national president of Hadassah, as its distinguished speaker. She will update the audience on the latest accomplishments of Hadassah and present Weisbrod with the award.

Prior to the gala, a kickoff event honoring Weisbrod will be held on Nov. 11, at the home of Carol and Steve Aaron, from 2 to 4 p.m. This “High Tea” features special guest Annette Sondock, member of the national board of Hadassah and chair of the National Hadassah Medical Organization.

The Hadassah Medical Organization (HMO) was nominated for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize. Research discoveries, including findings of genetic mutations linked to various diseases, are being made at HMO at groundbreaking speed. In the United States, Hadassah works on behalf of women in educating its members and their communities about issues such as domestic violence, voter participation and women’s health. Hadassah was a leader in lobbying efforts to win passage of the Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act of 2008.

For more information concerning the upcoming tea and gala, please contact the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah at 214-691-1948.

Veranda Preston Hollow announces new name, unveils new look

Veranda Preston Hollow has announced its official name change to The Legacy at Preston Hollow, according to Michael Ellentuck, president of the Legacy Senior Communities. The new name became effective Oct. 15. This decision came two years after the parent company, The Legacy Senior Communities, Inc., purchased the Veranda as a replacement location for the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged. In addition to the name change, the community recently completed an extensive renovation. “We remain committed to working diligently to provide a comfortable, nurturing environment for our residents to ensure the highest quality of life.”

In 1953, as a Jewish-sponsored, nonprofit organization, the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged was founded with a mission to serve seniors and the Jewish community. In August 2007, the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged sold its Golden Acres Campus and purchased Veranda Preston Hollow.

“This is a very exciting time for our organization,” said Cary Rossel, chairperson of The Legacy Senior Communities, Inc. “Our 55-year tradition of serving seniors and our partnership with the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas remains steadfast, and the new name change and look will reflect our commitment of enriching the quality of life for residents of The Legacy at Preston Hollow.”

Poverty Simulation Program at Beth Torah, Nov. 8

A powerful Poverty Simulation Program, co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council and Congregation Beth Torah, will be held on Sunday, Nov, 8, 9 a.m. to noon at Beth Torah, 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson.

Members of the Dallas Jewish community are invited to experience firsthand how those in poverty have to deal with hunger, disability, transportation and much, much more by simulating a month in the life of someone less fortunate.

Admission is free, but pre-registration is required. A donation of $5 to be given to an area homeless shelter is suggested, or bring paper goods and toiletries to be donated to Jewish Family Service.

For more information or to register to attend, please contact mjacobson@jfgd.org or 214-615-5261. Because of space limitations, early RSVPs are urged.

Brandnu Marketing wins two communications awards

Mazel tov to Melanie Hoffman, principal, and Addison marketing firm Brandnu Marketing which has been recognized with two Dallas Quill Awards from the Dallas Chapter of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) — one of the highest local honors for communicators. The company specializes in providing innovative solutions for branding and identity, print and Web, public relations and advertising strategies, all specifically tailored to help companies achieve their objectives.

Brandnu Marketing earned a Dallas Quill Award of Excellence for Communication, Creative-Organizational Identity, for its rebranding work with PepWear, formerly Music Ts, Custom Design and Diploma Plaques International. And, it garnered a Dallas Quill Award of Merit for Communication, Creative-Interactive Media Design-Internet, for its redesign of Christian Community Action’s Web site at www.ccahelps.org.

The IABC Dallas’ 2009 Quill Awards program recognizes business communication excellence. Each entry was judged by two members from other IABC chapters who are business communicators from major corporations, agencies and other organizations. Entries scoring a combined average of 5.75 or higher receive the IABC Dallas Quill Award of Excellence. Those scoring between 5.25 and 5.74 receive an Award of Merit. To learn more about IABC Dallas and the awards, visit dallas.iabc.com. The 2009 Quill Awards were presented Sept. 30 at the Old Red Museum of Dallas County History and Culture in downtown Dallas.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 29 October 2009 by admin

A good deed

When Congregation Beth Jacob in Galveston lost their High Holy Days machzorim during Hurricane Ike last year, they were in desperate need of at least 50 books for their members. Congregation Ahavath Sholom came to the rescue by sending over 30 books, and Temple Beth Israel in Illinois also made a generous donation of some of their machzorim. Together, the two synagogues made sure Beth Jacob had their 50 books in time for Yom Kippur.

The mitzvah was led by the mother-daughter team of Jayne Michel and Elaine Bumpus, co-chairs of the CAS Social Action Committee, and Dr. Etta Miller.

Thinking of Ahavath Sholom reminds me that Ritual Director Dr. Javier Smolarz was surprised, shocked and moved to tears when he was given the significant honor of being named Chattan Torah at Shabbat services last Saturday. A similar honor was accorded my former son-in-law Eli Davidsohn (still considered a family member) at Congregation Beth Torah in Richardson. While I am not familiar with who is the Chattan Torah and what does he do, my informant tells me that “Chattan Torah,” the Groom of the Torah, is the title given to the individual who bought the honor at the auction or the person designated by that buyer (usually a highly respected member of the congregation). He is called to the Torah with a beautiful chant describing his greatness in glowing terms, and is given the honor of reciting the blessing over the last section of the Torah to be read in the current year, which is the conclusion of Moshe’s valedictory address to the Jewish people. For Javier it was a complete, but thrilling, surprise.

Connect to your Jewish heritage at Beth-El

You might have missed the first meeting of Batya Brand’s nine-week course on “Connecting to Our Jewish Heritage” which started last night, the 14th, at Beth-El, but you’ll be fascinated with the remaining eight sessions that will meet on Wednesday evenings at Beth-El at 7:30 p.m.

From what I remember about Batya as one of my Melton School instructors, she is a phenomenal storyteller and a fountain of knowledge.

She will bring literature, stories and songs that connect us to our past. The class will integrate fun with tradition. Telling the stories and singing the songs will keep our history alive.

“Connecting to Our Jewish Heritage” is an hour of leisure and storytelling. The stories will reflect on Jewish life in Europe and its historical roots for various customs practiced now and then. The purpose of the class is to evoke memories in addition to providing the pleasure of good literature. Everyone will have the opportunity to share thoughts with the class. The stories were written in Hebrew or Yiddish and will be told in English.

Additional information is available from either Ilana Knust, 817-332-7141, or the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, 817-569-0892.

The program is partially funded by the Jewish Federation of FWTC.

Posy McMillen to receive Bnai Zion award

Toni and Harold Gernsbacher will present the Bnai Zion America-Israel Friendship Award to Posy McMillen, tried and true friend of Israel, at this year’s gala on Sunday, Nov. 1 at the Westin Park Central Hotel. Posy has many of her Fort Worth friends attending and among the familiar faces I’m looking forward to greeting are Roz Rosenthal, Abe and Kim Factor, David and Rachel Cristol, Dr. Stanley and Marcia Kurtz, Laurie and Len Roberts, Naomi and Mark Rosenfield, Debby Rice and Rabbi Dov and Chana Mandel. And I’m sure there will be more of Posy’s friends at the gala. In the meantime, RSVPs can be made with Bnai Zion Regional Director Avrille Harris Cohen, 972-918-9200 or avrille.harris-cohen@bnaizion.org. Complimentary transportation from Fort Worth will be provided.

Press notes

Ladies, save the date of Monday evening, Nov. 2. It’s a stellar Hadassah program. The powers that be say, plan for encouragement and inspiration, for at least an hour, when Dr. Maria Sirois, a noted clinical psychologist, master storyteller and author of “Every Day Counts,” speaks at Beth-El. Her words about strengthening resiliency are most inspiring. She will discuss how women are the foundation of a community and how women together can accomplish great changes in the world. Debby Rice is among the Hadassah VIPs planning the program.

Long before television, memories of Molly Goldberg go back to my childhood when my mother and I would sit in our kitchen and listen to “The Goldbergs,” Molly and her Jake, on the radio. The Goldbergs have been entrenched in my heart and mind for long years, and how I had hoped for a return visit from their family! I followed news of a documentary being presented in various communities in the country and lo and behold, it’s opening at Dallas’ Inwood Theatre. I hope you read Susan Wilkofsky’s review in this week’s issue of the TJP. Don’t miss it. It would be a great outing for the Daytimers and worthy of an extra program date.

Daughters of Abraham, an organization of members of three religions, will meet at Beth-El on Tuesday, Oct 20, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Guest speaker will be Mary Anderson, from the Tarrant Area Food Bank, who will speak about the problems her organization is facing. A donation of canned foods will be appreciated.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 29 October 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

When I walked out of the theater dark into the lobby light, I was thinking of my Boubby the Philosopher, who would frequently opine, on a variety of topics: “I don’t think this is so good for the Jews.”

The film I had just seen was Joel and Ethan Coen’s newest, “A Serious Man,” which most present-day pundits agree is a remake of that distressing old “favorite,” the Biblical Book of Job. A good man is suddenly beset by a stream of troubles. In Job’s case, they are really, truly terrible. In the case of Larry Gopnik, living the classic suburban life of a Jewish family man in a flatland Minnesota development circa 1967, they are world-shaking — for him. But we viewers tend to laugh, sometimes quite heartily, at Larry’s problems.

Or maybe we’re laughing to keep from crying, because his problems are ours. We know this man, with his divorce-demanding wife, his out-of-control children, his eccentric brother, his workplace and neighbor difficulties, his moral dilemmas. In short, the disintegration of his personal world. The kinds of things that have torn apart many of our personal worlds, or parts of them, in the past — and perhaps are doing so in the present. This is not a film for escape from our own cares, even though it’s funny. Sometimes if we don’t laugh, we’re close to doom.

I read two recent pieces about this film in the New York Times by A.O. Scott, who’s Jewish himself. His questions are on a higher plane than mine: He’s wondering if it’s a lesson in atheism, or if it actually shows God’s view of the world. Are the Coens “making fun of God, or playing on God’s side in a rigged cosmic game”? I’m worried less about philosophic meanings, more about practicality. Will non-Jews who see “A Serious Man” — which is now in venues other than Jewish film festivals — think that all rabbis are as distant and inept as those depicted in it? Will they take offense at the characterization of some “goys” (yes, they’re called that in the film) as literal Jew-hunters and shooters? Will they associate a disproportionate number of us with pot-smoking young teenagers, pedantic buffoons and sex-crazed housewives, since they’re all here, and all identifiably Jewish?

A few days earlier, I’d seen Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds,” which raised, at least for me, more than a few Jewish questions of its own, but of a very different type. The most important, I think: Is it possible to accept a Holocaust “fantasy”? I came away thinking of this film as a demented fairy tale (maybe better called an “ogre tale”), something that the Brothers Grimm, those aptly-named German writers of brutal fictions that have given nightmares to generations of kids, might have cooked up on a very bad day.

The beginning is a tear-jerker: A Righteous Gentile must surrender the Jews he’s been sheltering. But after that, everyone is a stereotype: the manipulative Gestapo officer; the stupid Nazis à la “Hogan’s Heroes”; the brutally brave band of Jewish revenge-takers under the leadership of Brad Pitt, preposterous as a drawling Southerner who collects German scalps; and the beauteous, Jewish Shoshanna, who escapes annihilation and lives on to die as the ultimate payback queen.

And the end? Well, if we could rewrite history, we’d like a certain segment of it to finish this way. The word “Holocaust” is derived from the Greek and means, literally, “sacrifice by fire.” And that’s what we have here — Hitler and all his major toadies consumed in a gigantic blaze from which there’s no escape (and which, of course, had it occurred in reality rather than on and by celluloid, would have been very good, indeed, for the Jews!).

And the end of our “Serious Man”? Well, Gopnik and all the others who are parts of his wretchedness are watching, horrified, as something comes out of the sky that looks like it has the potential to put a permanent finish on all his suffering, and on everyone else’s as well. But the Coen brothers, teasing us — as they do with their protagonist — to the very end, fade into black credits.

So the head-shakers congregate in the light of the lobby to ask many unanswerable questions of all kinds. But for me, my Boubby’s voice sounds out again in the background with hers: “Is any of this really good for the Jews?”

Maybe you have some answers. If so, please share them with me. My Boubby and I are both eager to hear them.

E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 29 October 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi,

What is the literal meaning of the word “Torah”? Some I’ve asked have conjectured it means “The Book” or is Hebrew for the Greek “Bible.” Someone else thought it meant tradition. Are these correct?

Stephanie L.

Dear Stephanie,

Although the word “Torah” does refer to the Five Books of Moses, or the Bible — at times it refers to the combination of the written and oral laws — that is not the literal meaning of the word.

The accurate meaning of “Torah” is twofold. Firstly, it comes from the word hora’ah, which means teaching. More precisely, it means “teaching with direction,” meaning the type of teaching which enables and empowers one with the direction with which to proceed. The same word could be used in Hebrew for such instruction in both the spiritual and secular realms.

The second meaning is from the word orah, which means light. One example of this is reflected in the verse which states, “ki ner mitzvah v’Torah ohr,” or “for a mitzvah is a candle and the Torah the light” (Proverbs, ch. 6). This is to be understood on multiple levels.

One thought is that the Torah is the source of spiritual illumination in the world. Besides it being the source of Judaism, through it and its teachings we serve as a light unto the nations. That is how the Torah serves as the foundation of much of Christianity and Islam.

It also, more importantly, serves as the source of illumination for our own lives. Like the Clouds of Glory which guided the Jews for 40 years in the desert, providing illumination and direction at night, the Torah lights our paths and provides the Jewish people with direction throughout our long period of exile even through the darkest of times.

The Torah also provides direction for each Jew in their personal lives. In business, family life or interaction with others, the Torah offers the light — the ethical and moral compass by which to navigate the most complicated and tempestuous, often thorny issues. Whether in guidance for the individual or for the Jewish people, the two meanings of Torah — teaching with direction and illumination — mesh together to form a broader meaning of the centrality of Torah to Jewish life.

In the deeper, Kabbalistic writings, we find a more profound meaning of Torah and its connection to light. Torah is not simply compared to light; in reality, it is a type of light. At its source, it is like a flaming spiritual fire. Its light actually provides the spiritual source of the physical light of the sun and all the constellations of the entire universe. All those luminous bodies will be dwarfed by the eventual unmasking of the hidden spiritual light to be revealed in the World to Come. This is the reason the Torah was transmitted on Mt. Sinai through fire. This was not only to create an effect; it revealed the essence of the Torah being given, that it is a spiritual fire, a brilliant light. Our souls and the Torah, both dazzling lights, were created from the same Source, and reconnect and ignite each other when a Jew deeply studies the Torah. When a Jew lights up his or her soul with the fire of Torah, they then truly become a “light unto the nations.”

Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 29 October 2009 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

I admit it — I am a biblioholic! That’s the addiction to buying books and I’ve got it bad. Every year at Simchat Torah (my favorite holiday), I try to absolve myself of guilt — we are the People of the Book and we never stop reading the Torah. That must make it OK to love books, read books and even buy books. Each new year, I shop before Rosh Hashanah to find wonderful books to take to shul. Yes, I read in shul!

This year’s top choice really made me think about life and I want to recommend it to you. It is a book for adults but it is also for teens and can be used with your whole family. The book is “The Seven Questions You’re Asked in Heaven” by Dr. Ron Wolfson. The questions provide the chance to look at where you are going and why. Not to “give away the book” but here are the questions, put very simply:

1. Were you honest?

2. Did you leave a legacy?

3. Did you set a time to study?

4. Did you have hope in your heart?

5. Did you get your priorities straight?

6. Did you enjoy this world?

7. Were you the best you could be?

These may not be the questions you might have imagined, so maybe start your family discussion on what you think are the questions you would be asked; would you keep some of these or find very different ones? The questions are the first step. Talk about why each particular question; what is really being asked of us? For the seven questions above, the answer is hopefully the same for each one — THE ANSWER WE WANT IS YES! But the real questions are how and what and why: how can you be honest, how do you leave a legacy and what will that legacy be, what should I study, why is study important, what is important about hope, and more questions about questions.

Keep reading and keep questioning — it’s the Jewish way!

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

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TJPets! Who’s Who of North Texas’ Jewish Pets

TJPets! Who’s Who of North Texas’ Jewish Pets

Posted on 29 October 2009 by admin

Last week’s Torah portion, Noach, reminds us of the importance of our pets. See next week’s TJP
to read about pet blessings around the community.

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Paula Joyce lecture series starts Nov. 2 at CSI

Paula Joyce lecture series starts Nov. 2 at CSI

Posted on 22 October 2009 by admin

Joyce copyConnecting with God always has been a driving force in Jewish tradition. Today we do it mostly through formal prayer and Torah study. Starting Nov. 2, Paula Joyce will teach a course open to the public at Congregation Shearith Israel that will help you see, feel and know God in your daily life.

Paula Joyce, Ph.D., is a Life Coach, speaker and author. She has been teaching adults for over 40 years, was listed in “Who’s Who in World Jewry” and was the first Melton Adult Mini-School chair in Dallas.

Feeling God’s presence has become more challenging in our sophisticated and intellectual society. About 20 years ago, Paula chose to visit her mother to reclaim what seemed natural in her childhood. She remembered standing in awe as her mother poured out her deepest desires and longings to the one source she knew was listening and would provide solace, even when her wishes didn’t come true in a fairytale fashion.

On that visit, Paula and her mother had no deep theological conversations. Paula never even divulged the real reason she came. Merely by observing, she discovered her mother’s unfaltering connection with God. In her mother’s circle of friends, “God willing” and “Thank God” were ubiquitous. Their words were heartfelt. When they invoked God’s name, they were truly speaking to God. No matter what hardships they had experienced, they never doubted God’s presence in their lives.

In those few days, Paula’s relationship with God transformed from existing only in formal prayer to being a constant in her life. As with any relationship, the more she gives to it, the deeper and more profound it becomes. That visit set Paula on a lifelong journey of discovering increasingly meaningful ways to see, feel and experience God as a positive force in her life.

This path has led to profound changes and healing on the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels. Paula’s belief, like Einstein’s, that we live in a friendly universe, has helped her half-empty glass become overflowing. Now when things are not as she wishes, she looks for the learning and feels the greater ease provided by calling on God for guidance, strength and wisdom. Paula sees life’s difficulties as action steps that are necessary for developing the character and knowledge needed to recognize and appreciate the blessings she has asked for in prayer. Each challenge offers an opportunity to make wiser, healthier and more self-loving decisions that lead her to what she wants. Seeing the answers to prayers as occurring step by step has resulted in peace of mind and a happier, more fulfilling life.

Hearing and believing the still small voice within, the part of us that can only be felt, takes trust because the logical, verbal, “I’ll only believe it if I can touch it” part of our mind speaks so loudly and so convincingly. We can get back in touch with that part of ourselves that knows God, knows the truth and holds the seed of who we really are.

In this course, Paula will teach simple techniques that will help you connect more deeply with your soul and God. Participants in her classes have this to say: Jackie Waldman, “Paula has wonderful presentation skills. Her talent, expertise and passion shine brightly.” Miriam Friedman, “Paula’s insights are profound — she has led me out of the dark night of the soul into the light of spiritual trust.”

“Connecting with God” will enrich your life and your spirit. The weekly topics are: “Talking to God”; “Listening to and Receiving from God”; “Moving Beyond Fear, Blame and Guilt”; and “Co-Creating with God.” The sessions will be held the first four Monday nights in November (2, 9, 16 and 23) from 7 to 9 p.m. in Shearith Israel’s Fonberg Chapel. The total cost is $36. Please register by Oct. 26 with Jo at jreingold@shearith.org or 214-361-6606 to ensure that the minimum of eight participants is met. For questions, contact Paula at paula@paulajoyce.com or 972-788-2393. Additional information about Paula is available at www.paulajoyce.com.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 22 October 2009 by admin

Dr. Ed Goodman to receive Bnai Zion award at Nov. 1 gala

Bnai Zion, celebrating “100 years of Making a Difference,” has named Dr. Ed Goodman, respected board certified specialist in infectious diseases, the 2009 recipient of the prestigious Bnai Zion Humanitarian Award. The honor will be given at the Bnai Zion gala on Nov. 1 at the Westin Park Central Hotel.

Dr. Goodman has been at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas since 1975 where he serves as the chief of infectious diseases and medical director of infection prevention and antibiotic management. He is a core faculty member in the hospital’s Internal Medicine Residency Program and is also a clinical professor of internal medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical School Of Dallas. A Columbus, Ohio native, he attended Cornell University and its Medical College. He also served in the United States Army Medical Corps at Fort Hood.

Dr. Goodman has been honored by election to Fellowship in the American College of Physicians, the Infectious Disease Society of America and the Society for Hospital Epidemiology of America. He has served as president of the Texas Infectious Disease Society. In addition to various professional awards and designations, Dr. Goodman has served the community as a translator for new Americans, and is a board member of Jewish Family Services and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, chairman of the Teacher Learning Center of the Jewish Education Committee and a member of the board of the Dallas Foundation for Psychoanalysis.

In 2002, Dr. Goodman became co-chairman of the Emergency Response Group (ERG) for the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya, Israel. Under the auspices of the Jewish Federation’s Partnership for Israel, this program trains non-Israeli health care workers in disaster response so they can better serve their home communities. In addition, these professionals train as replacements for their Israeli counterparts in the event of a military crisis and mobilization of Israeli health care workers. The ERG includes health care workers from 12 communities across the United States and Europe. Dr. Goodman has participated in nine ERG programs in Israel to date.

This year’s gala will also honor celebrated educator and righteous friend to Israel, Monica “Posy” McMillen, who will receive the Bnai Zion America-Israel Friendship Award. Her award will be presented by prominent Dallasites, Toni and Harold Gernsbacher. Civic leader, philanthropist and businessman, Harmon “Hymie” Schepps, will receive the Bnai Zion Community Service Award. Schepps will be presented his award by Dallas’ renowned citizen, Pete Schenkel. Philanthropist and civic leader, Ross Perot, is the honorary chairman of this year’s annual event. The Honorable Tom Leppert, mayor of Dallas, will give a presentation. For more information on securing tickets or to place a congratulatory ad in the Tribute Book, please contact Bnai Zion Regional Director Avrille Harris-Cohen, 972-918-9200.

Josh Greenfield to play ‘Snug’ in Shakespeare work at DTC

Josh Greenfield, son of Nancy and Richard Greenfield, was recently selected to be in Dallas Theater Center’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” by William Shakespeare, directed by Kevin Moriarty. The production will be the opening DTC show for the brand-new Dee and Charles Wyly Theater in the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Josh plays the role of Snug and is one of five students at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts who were selected to be in this special production. This will be Josh’s first professional role. The show runs from Oct. 24 through Nov. 22.

JCRC presents MK Uzi Landau

Join the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Dallas on Sunday, Oct. 26 for a special evening featuring Israeli Knesset member, Uzi Landau, minister of national infrastructure. Minister Landau is an insider on diversifying Israel’s energy resources and Israel in the context of the Middle East. He will discuss the current situation in the Middle East and the problematic potential of a nuclear Iran.

This special program is open to the Jewish community but RSVPs are required to attend.

Please RSVP your attendance to Meghan Traxler, JCRC program associate, at mtraxler@jfgd.org or 214-615-5254.

Israeli dance: not just for Israelis!

Depending on what day you stop by Congregation Beth Torah in Richardson, you might find the people there in prayer, gathered to address congregation business or, on Wednesday nights, filling one of the largest rooms in the synagogue with Israeli folk dance. The first hour, instructor Linda Kahalnik teaches those new to Israeli dance, moving slowly through the basic steps which are common to many of the dances. Throughout the evening, the dances grow progressively more difficult, although most beginners move beyond the simple ones within a few months.

Each year, RikuDallas hosts a special weekend event with internationally renowned dance instructors, and this year’s event, the weekend of Oct. 30, will feature Yoni Carr, a choreographer and instructor of jazz, ballroom, ballet and Israeli dance. The RikuDallas annual workshop typically attracts about 50–70 attendees of all ages, and the plan this year promises to be another memorable weekend. It includes a day and a half of instruction by Ms. Carr, dinner, a Saturday night party and dancing until the wee hours of the morning, and more.

Israeli dance is an entertaining, high-energy folk dance, upbeat and fun for people of any or no faith tradition, and geared to dancers at any level of experience. The community is invited to this fun-filled weekend with Yoni Carr, as well as to the Wednesday night sessions at Congregation Beth Torah.

Registration for the weekend activities is required prior to the event. For questions and registration information, contact Linda Kahalnik at rikudchik@gmail.com or 972-867-7780.

Rabbi Zvi Berger to discuss Israeli Masorti movement

Congregation Shearith Israel is proud to welcome, direct from Israel, Rabbi Zvi Berger, who will be with the congregation for Shabbat Lech Lecha (Oct. 30–31). This special Shabbat program, sponsored by MERCAZ and the Jewish Agency for Israel, is part of their Link to Israel Month. Rabbi Berger will offer divrei Torah during Kabbalat Shabbat and Shabbat morning services and lead a teaching session, “Difficult Dilemmas — Israel as a Jewish and Democratic State.” Following a Kiddush lunch from 12:45 to 1:45, he will deal with issues like the question of the place of halachah in the public sphere (i.e. businesses being open or closed, public transportation being available on Shabbat, etc.), religious pluralism in Israel, our relation to non-Jewish Israelis (specifically Israeli Arabs) and much more. Rabbi Berger will also bring in the particular perspective and involvement of the Masorti movement in reference to such issues.

For the last 11 years, he has served as the rabbi of HaMinyan HaMishpachti HaMasorti, the Masorti Family Community, in Kfar Vradim, a village in the Western Galilee. In addition to his work with the congregation, Rabbi Berger actively promotes interfaith dialogue between Jewish and non-Jewish communities in the region, and lectures on Jewish holidays and traditions at Nes Ammim, a nearby Christian village. A native of Minneapolis, Minn., Rabbi Berger worked for many years as a Jewish educator in Israel before being ordained a Conservative/Masorti rabbi in 1996. He is pursuing a doctorate in Israeli Jewish education at Haifa University. Rabbi Berger will also speak this coming weekend at Beth Torah in Richardson.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 22 October 2009 by admin

JWV Post 755 assists Liberty House with furnishings

On Sunday, Sept. 27, Ron Sloter, senior vice commander, Martin Hochster Jewish War Veterans Post 755, Fort Worth, presented a check to Nikki Hatley, executive director of MHMR Visions, to purchase bedroom furnishings for Liberty House. A project of MHMR Tarrant County and the Veterans Administration, Liberty House will provide 30 beds and transitional services for homeless veterans. Almost one-fourth of all homeless persons in Tarrant County are veterans. Nearly 90 percent were honorably discharged.

Post Commander Dr. Julian Haber says that this is only one of many projects of the group. Others include greeting returning veterans at DFW Airport, magazines for the Fort Worth VA clinic, sending toiletries and snacks to the USO for troops returning to combat from DFW Airport, providing gift packages for soldiers in combat zones, and Operation Freezer Pops, more than 3,500 pops sent to the troops at Camp Tajii, Iraq. Post 755 also distributes the book “They Were Soldiers in Peace and War” to all bar and bat mitzvahs for five congregations in Tarrant and Denton counties. The book is the story of 54 local veterans who served their country from World War II through our current conflicts. It also contains a brief history of Jews who served their country during the early days of America.

Community-wide women’s celebration on Monday, Nov. 2

Don’t be left out of an evening of fun, laughter and inspiration on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, when Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah presents an inspirational community-wide women’s celebration for all ages, featuring renowned author and noted clinical psychologist Dr. Maria Sirois.

With her warmth, humor and storytelling par excellence, Dr. Sirois, whose work focuses on the capacity we all have to thrive — no matter what — in any circumstance, will engagingly discuss how and why women make a tremendous difference in terms of the health of our communities and families.

Dr. Sirois was trained at the New England Deaconess Mind/Body Clinic and at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She received her doctorate from the Massachusetts School of Professional Psychology in 1993.

A dessert reception and meet-and-greet opportunity with Dr. Sirois will follow her talk. There is a $10 admission charge.

Area women can learn more about Dr. Sirois and her work, plus listen to her clips, at www.mariasirois.com.

Do it now … mark Nov. 2 at 7 on your calendar for an evening of inspiration and learning. For additional information, please contact Dolores Schneider at: 817-294-7626 or Karen Kaplan at 817-922-8600.

Local women to hold book signing

On Sunday, Oct. 25, from 9:30 a.m. to noon, Fanny Brooks, who wrote “Thoughts,” and Corrine Jacobson, author of “A Handbook for Widows,” will hold a book signing in the lobby of Beth-El Congregation. Jacquie Robinson and Jenny Solomon are handling the arrangements. “Thoughts” is $10 and the “Handbook” is $8, or both may be purchased together for $15. These are two talented late bloomers! Fanny Brooks is 91, and Corrine, just a youngster of 82.

Last call for ‘Deep in the Heart’

This is your last reminder for the Jewish Federation’s free community performance this Sunday, the 25th, 1:30 p.m. at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. “Kids Who Care” will perform “Deep in the Heart,” a vignette by Hollace Weiner and Riki Zide and community player, Ben Feld.

Come and enjoy this lively performance followed by dessert. Don’t forget to bring canned goods for the Tarrant Area Food Bank.

The program is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 22 October 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Last week I talked movies, and whether or not certain big-screen portrayals are good for the Jews. I questioned the ending of “A Serious Man,” a fast-approaching, amorphous something caused by nature — or by God — emerging from the sky. Definitely not good for the Jews.

By contrast, the incredibly impossible ending of another current film, “Inglourious Basterds,” may be devoutly desired — not only because it’s a huge act of imagined revenge against top Nazis by Jews of their time, but because, had events actually happened this way, there might have been a much quicker end to Hitler’s war against us.

Some other “what ifs,” also with strange premises and stranger endings, came our way not too long ago. Two of them are best-selling books by highly respected, prize-winning Jewish authors. In “The Yiddish Policemen’s Union,” Michael Chabon posits a major Jewish settlement — not in Israel, not even in Russia (as was actually tried at one time), not in Africa (where land was once seriously offered, but rejected), but in Alaska. Of all places! And in “The Plot Against America,” Philip Roth challenges us to consider what life might have been like for our country’s Jews if Charles Lindbergh had been elected president of the United States.

Of the two, Roth’s tale has the edge on sound historical ground. There was a time when Lindbergh, the great aviator who was also a devoted supporter of Hitler and an avowed Jew-hater, might indeed have come to be nominated for that office. Roth plays off realities: much of pre-Pearl Harbor America was in isolationist mode, dead-set against entering a war seen as belonging to people across a vast ocean, without the kind of connection to the United States worth taking up arms for. And certainly dead-set against saving Jews. American attitudes changed only when the attack came unexpectedly from that ocean in the other direction.

Chabon toys with something most of us have feared, but hesitated to talk about. (Maybe we can cast this in the present tense without offending too many people? We fear, and hesitate to talk about, the possibility that Israel will someday cease to exist.) But not acknowledging something doesn’t mean it will go away; remember that head-in-the-ground ostrich. Chabon goes head-on, destroying the baby state not long after its birth, leaving a band of Jewish refugees to carry out some secret contingency plans made in the deep-freeze that is Sitka.

Two fantastic (as in “fanciful”) stories with genesis in real events, or at least real possibilities. So let’s try for a third. How about three men who run away from danger by hiding in a dense wood, and somehow get the word out that others in the same danger are welcome to join them in their tree-bound existence? But — wait! This tale is true! It happened in real time! Those three men were the Bielski brothers, and one of those who accepted their invitation recently came to speak at a local congregation, whose copious sanctuary was brimming with people eager to hear her.

Yes, her. A woman. Leah Bedzowski Yonson, now Americanized as Johnson. After everyone saw the HBO documentary “Jerusalem in the Woods,” which made it quite clear that some unbelievable things are indeed to be believed, she spoke — or rather, read a prepared speech — to the group. She’s no longer young, you know; her heavily accented voice is not strong, not even with a mike. But the fact that she and her husband married under a chuppah in that forest in 1943 was — and is — a grabber.

Leah’s son, Dr. Murray Johnson, was even more eloquent, telling the group that the Bielski partisans had the most powerful of all motivators — survival — and found more meaning in rescuing other Jews than in killing those who were out to kill them and the ones they rescued. Imagine his children’s b’nai mitzvah celebrations, attended by two living Bielski widows, others of that hardy band with numbered arms, and their very own grandma, whose son lovingly calls her “the ultimate partisan.”

Back now to Quentin Tarantino — not Jewish. He chooses to send his band of Basterds out for revenge, saving indirectly rather than as the Bielskis did it. Some of those men died in their fictional efforts, as did some of the partisans in their real ones. But enough of the latter lived to add at least 20,000 to today’s Jewish population.

“Life goes on,” Leah said. “We must live.” And that’s the message that’s definitely good for the Jews.

E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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