Archive | November, 2009


Dallas Doings

Posted on 26 November 2009 by admin

About Robin Teig, new Hillel director at UNT

Scott Wayne, UNT student and Hillel member, writes to the TJP:

“Who is Robin Teig? She’s the new Hillel director at the University of North Texas. The position consists of a three-pronged approach: fundraising, administration and communication. Teig has been assigned the arduous tasks of running UNT Hillel smoothly and raising money for the strong, yet small, Jewish community at UNT.

“And why Robin? She has lots of experience in the DFW Jewish community. She has a master’s in Jewish studies from Cleveland College and a bachelor’s in education from UT; she was the executive director of the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah for six years, the director of education for Tiferet Israel, a teacher/youth director at Shearith Israel and a summer camp director at Temple Emanu-El, among many other things. When asked why she took the Hillel job, she said, ‘It just fit me.’

“Teig, who lived most of her life in the Dallas area, has definitely rooted herself into the tapestry of the Jewish community. Raised in Richardson, she graduated from J.J. Pearce High School. She has taught at local schools, both public and private. Teig is married with three daughters — one of whom attends UNT, one who attends UTA (University of Texas at Arlington) and one who is an educator for the Richardson Independent School District.

“When asked about her goals as director, Teig mentioned four specific points: serving the board, strategic planning, raising funds for programming and strengthening the growth of UNT Hillel.

“She said she hopes to spotlight UNT Hillel in the general community, have more enriching programs working with other organizations and see a future devoted space for Hillel on the UNT campus.

“Hillel, despite its small stature, has been flourishing. This semester it has had numerous social action programs with disabled children and guest speakers including Dr. Gideon Fishman, as well as holiday celebrations and Shabbat services.”

Hadassah to honor Bea Weisbrod; Nancy Falchuk will speak

The Dallas Chapter of Hadassah will honor Dallas philanthropist Bea Weisbrod at its Myrtle Wreath Dinner and Gala on 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.

A third-generation Dallasite, Bea is a past president of the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah, presently serves on the board of the Greater Southwest Region of Hadassah as Speakers Bureau chair, is the Dallas Chapter historian as well as a member of the Golden Wreath Society of Major Donors of Hadassah and of the Golden Keepers of the Gate. A fourth-generation member of Hadassah, Bea is a recipient of the Sara Susman Award and a past honoree of Bnai Zion. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from Southern Methodist University; is a third-generation member of Congregation Shearith Israel and life member of its Sisterhood; and is a Society of Life sponsor of Jewish Family Service.

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

Ruth Hendelman, chair of the event, said: “Fifty percent of all medical research from Israel published in prominent medical journals in the U.S. and Europe comes from Hadassah Medical Organization. Hadassah College Jerusalem, with 2,200 students, is the only secular college in Jerusalem. Hadassah’s Young Judaea Year Course links our youth to Judaism and the land of Israel, assuring the future and Jewish continuity of our people. Hadassah is the second largest employer in Jerusalem, only second to the government. Our new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Inpatient Tower will be the future of medical treatment in Israel. The largest construction project in Jerusalem, it will be dedicated in 2012, the 100th year of Hadassah.”

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

Two CSI programs for kids

Shearith Israel’s Family Center will present two special programs next week for children.

On Tuesday, Dec. 1, Rabbi David Glickman will read his favorite Chanukah books at Barnes & Noble, Preston Road and Park Place.

On Wednesday, Dec. 2, Rabbi Joe Menashe will read his favorite Chanukah books at Barnes & Noble, Preston Royal Shopping Center.

Both programs will be held from 4 to 5 p.m., with children from the Weitzman Family Religious School performing during each story hour.

CSI hopes that all purchases will be made with the Shearith Israel code at not only local Barnes & Noble stores but others throughout the country. The Family Center will benefit from a percentage of the sales.

Community forum on immigration reform

NCJW and With One Voice Coalition invite interested persons to hear Ruben Navarette, nationally syndicated columnist, speak at a community forum on “The Business of Immigration Reform” on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at noon, at CityPlace Conference Center, 2711 N. Haskell.

A former Dallas Morning News editorial board member now based in San Diego, Navarette, in his twice-weekly column, offers new thinking about many current major topics, especially on thorny questions involving ethnicity and national origin.

For more information, contact Marsha Fischman, 214-739-0149,, or Julie Lowenberg, 214-352-4667,

Open house at the J Early Childhood Center

“As soon as you visit, you just know.” Find out why the J Early Childhood Center is a wonderful beginning for your toddler. The J ECC will hold an open house on Tuesday, Dec. 1. Drop in between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. or call for a personal tour. Meet and greet parents and teachers, enjoy coffee and cookies and take a tour of the J’s incredible early childhood program. The ECC’s new toddler class for children ages 12–24 months opens on Jan. 4, 2010. For more information, contact Tara Ohayon at 214-239-7157 or

Akiba Academy to welcome noted educator

The Early Childhood Education Department of Akiba Academy of Dallas will welcome back renowned educator and author Ann Lewin-Benham for a special workshop titled “Brain Gymnastics: How Parents and Teachers Can Help Raise Self-Driven Children” on Dec. 8 and 9.

Currently a consultant to John Hopkins University’s School of Education, and author of “Possible Schools: The Reggio Approach to Urban Education” (2006) and “Powerful Children: Understanding How to Teach and Learn Using the Reggio Approach” (2008), Lewin-Benham has strong credentials which have made her an expert in the Reggio educational approach, a method that is a strong element in the philosophy of early childhood education at Akiba.

Earlier this year at Akiba, Lewin-Benham defined the concept of significant work in preschool classes as work that is creative, complex and original. With many case studies supporting her recommendations, she described how each project, carried out using the Reggio approach, always relates to one of nine issues of critical importance to early childhood in the United States, including discipline, school-readiness, literacy, assessment and more.

In October, Lewin-Benham returned to discuss with early childhood educators the changing role of the teacher, and how to facilitate self-discipline. In addition, she introduced early childhood educators to techniques that help the children sustain focus while engaged in classroom experiences and lessons.

In “Brain Gymnastics,” Lewin-Benham will share how using task-driven materials, specifically developed for children under 6, will help your child develop self-discipline while learning essential cognitive skills such as, but not limited to: restraining impulsivity, sustaining attention, planning, categorizing, analyzing, being precise and using the dimensions of time and space.

The community is invited to attend “Brain Gymnastics: How Parent and Teachers Can Help Raise Self-Driven Children,” on Tuesday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. in Pollman Hall at Akiba Academy, 12324 Merit Drive, Dallas, or on Wednesday, Dec. 9, at 8:45 a.m., also at Akiba. Admission is free. For more information, contact Mireille Brisebois-Allen at 214-295-3400.

This workshop is being promoted in partnership with the J Early Childhood Center and the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

Chabad of Plano to host talent show at annual menorah lighting

New for this year, Chabad of Plano/Collin County will host a talent show as part of the menorah lighting celebration on Dec. 14 at The Shops at Willow Bend. Children ages 4–12 are invited to participate. Children must audition prior to appearing on stage. A $500 cash prize will be given to the winner, which will be determined by the audience. For further information and to make an appointment to audition, please call 972-596-8270 or visit

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 26 November 2009 by admin

CAS announces film series

Congregation Ahavath Sholom is excited to announce its 2009–2010 Community Film Series starting Sunday, Dec. 6. There is no charge for the films, and complimentary popcorn and lemonade will be served. Their outstanding United Synagogue Youth members will sell drinks and candy. Come early and nosh with your friends at 2:30. The films will be shown at 3:30.

The first film, “The Lemon Tree,” described as “a film for all audiences,” won the award for Best Film at the Berlin International Film Festival. A movie directed and supported by both Israelis and Palestinians, it’s a shining, courageous and honest step forward for both peoples. It uses the media to support peaceful change rather than selling newspaper space and television time through the blood and tears of those who live among the lemons.

The Ahavath Sholom preview committee has given “The Lemon Tree” a resounding “Five Star of David Award.” Because the movie is thought-provoking and timely in its description of Israel and its neighbors, Batya Brand will facilitate a discussion following the film.

We know you won’t want to miss this inaugural event. In order to reserve babysitting, requests should be made to Garry Kahalnik, CAS executive director, at 817-731-4721. The film is rated parental guidance (PG-13) for viewing.

The film committee consists of Batya Brand, Elizabeth Cohen, Phyllis Gordon, Suzie Herman, Etty Horowitz, Shoshana Howard, Stuart Isgur, Garry Kahalnik, Peter Lederman, Walter Listig, Alex Nason, Marla Owen, Debby Rice, Naomi Rosenfield, Nancy Sheinberg, Dr. Javier Smolarz and Jim Stansbury. This Ahavath Sholom Film Series is funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

See you at the movies!

JFS Seniors enjoy the ‘Z Café’

After an exciting but exhausting shopping experience at the Target, Marshalls and Ross at Montgomery Plaza, the JFS Seniors had a chance to eat at the “Z Café.” Jewish Family Services of Fort Worth and Tarrant County collaborates with Senior Citizens Services, Meals on Wheels, Tarrant Area Food Bank, YWCA and now Samaritan House. The “Z Café” is located in the Community Arts Center and the staff is from Samaritan House. This café, besides having wonderful food, helps support this great facility with the proceeds from sales and the employment of the staff. They did a double mitzvah — feeding the JFS Seniors and helping Samaritan House. It was quite a treat! Our JFS village is growing and we hope the support continues. To all of you that support the Jewish Family Services Seniors “Village” — thank you!

92nd Street Y program, Dec. 7, on business in Muslim world

The 92nd Street Y Program “The Coming Commercial Revolution in the Muslim World” with Vali Nasr will be held on Monday, Dec. 7, 7:15 p.m. at Beth-El Congregation.

Nasr, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, argues that the great battle for the soul of the Middle East will be fought not over religion, but over business and capitalism. Learn why extremism has become such a problem and how it can be defeated, how regional stability can evolve and how Middle East–United States relations can be dramatically improved. Nasr is a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. He has been tapped to be a senior adviser to Richard Holbrooke, the Obama administration’s special representative to Pakistan and Afghanistan. He is the author of “Fateful Crescent: The Commercial Revolution That Will Transform the Muslim World.”

‘Daytimers’ honor WWII vets

A dozen World War II veterans were honored at the November luncheon for “Daytimers” last Wednesday, at Beth-El Congregation. Author Bryan Rigg held the group spellbound as he discussed how he came to write one of his books, “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: Question of Jewish Identity and Morality.”

Raised as a Protestant, in the Texas Bible Belt, Bryan Mark Rigg was surprised to learn of his own Jewish ancestry while researching his family tree in Germany. This revelation, as well as a chance encounter with a Jewish veteran of the Wehrmacht at a Berlin screening of “Europa Europa,” roused him to embark on a decade of research while a student first at Yale University and later at Cambridge University. “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military” was the result of his efforts.

Veterans who were honored in a presentation by Edythe Cohen were Tom Bessant, Ken Bobkoff, Bob Clemmer, Joe Coggan, Arthur Hofstein, Frances Kleiman, Herman Morris, Irv Raffel, Dr. Irwin Robinson, Seyman Rubinson, Arnold Schectman and Mort Werner. Rigg was introduced by Kenneth Baum.

He also brought copies of his books “Rescued from the Reich: How One of Hitler’s Soldiers Saved the Lubavitcher Rebbe” and “Lives of Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers: Untold Tales of Men of Jewish Descent Who Fought for the Third Reich,” all of which sold briskly after his talk.

Next event for “Daytimers” will be the Chanukah party on Wednesday, Dec. 16, featuring Darren Woods of the Fort Worth Opera Festival. The party will be a benefit for the Tarrant County Food Bank, and guests are asked to bring canned and packaged goods to help make a holiday for many needy families. Luncheon will be catered by Boopa’s Bagel Deli.

For reservations, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Sylvia Wexler, 817-294-1129, or checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109.

The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

Meanwhile, down at the ranch … in Israel

When friends told Texan Eitan Ginsburg he’d feel surprisingly at home in Israel, he didn’t realize that his year would include an assignment in the Israeli desert working with horses. But Ginsburg, from Fort Worth, chose an initial volunteer stint at the horse ranch in Israel’s rustic desert town of Arad. He cleans stalls, takes out mares and foals and helps new riders, including kids who need riding as a form of rehabilitation. “I love it,” says Ginsburg, who shares an apartment with other teens from England and the United States. He takes classes in Hebrew and Jewish history in the afternoons.

Ginsburg is one of 300 Young Judaeans spending their gap year between high school and college in Israel on the Hadassah-sponsored program of volunteering and education. Ginsburg arrived in September, and will remain in Arad for three months. He’ll spend additional three-month stints in Jerusalem and in Bat Yam, a city south of Tel Aviv.

JFS to offer new Matan program

Jewish Family Services is starting a new program, Matan, for bat ­mitzvah–age girls and their ­mothers. It was brought to the community’s attention by Etta Korenman.

Etta, who spends most of her time in Israel, is always looking out for our community and trying to find ways to help us learn and grow. The program is funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Ilana Knust, director of Beth-El Congregation’s Religious School, is coordinating the program. Batya Brand, teacher extraordinaire, is being trained on the course material and will teach the girls and their mothers. It is open to all members of the Jewish community. Anyone interested can call Ilana at 817-332-7141.

Greet the troops

Barbara Rubin mentioned to me last week that if individuals, families, youth or senior groups would like to greet soldiers returning from Iran or Afghanistan, the opportunity is available. Troops arrive daily in the early morning.

Barbara said it brought tears to her eyes when she saw the young soldiers greet loved ones, knowing they would be home for only two weeks.

You can call 972-574-0392 for information. Free parking passes are given.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 26 November 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Ah, Thanksgiving! A holiday for us all!

Some say that we Jews originated Thanksgiving, long before Pilgrims and Indians. Isn’t Sukkot, with its homage to fall hospitality, the prototype of what’s now considered a classic American celebration?

But every people, every culture, every faith, has a Thanksgiving of its own. Try this bit from Buddha:

“Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot today, at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die, so let us all be thankful.”

Well, that’s kind of a minimalist Thanksgiving. Not to belittle or make light of Buddha, but I think we can do at least somewhat better than this, can’t we?

Maybe Thanksgiving is a man’s holiday, since the guys get to laze around, drinking beer and watching football, while the women are whisking around the kitchen, getting the feast ready for the table. Or maybe Thanksgiving is a woman’s holiday, since stuffing a turkey in thankful testimony to those Indians is better than sitting in front of the TV and watching a bunch of Cowboys. Or perhaps, in these days of extreme political correctness, the men will leave their flat-screen long enough to deep-fry a turkey in the backyard.

Well — let’s think about that turkey for a minute. Or a couple of turkeys. The great comedienne Gracie Allen had this recipe for her Thanksgiving bird: “One large turkey. One small turkey. Take the two turkeys and put them in the oven. When the little one burns, the big one is done.” That was probably the prototype of a much later “recipe” that called for stuffing a turkey with unpopped popcorn and waiting for the firecracker results.

Remember Julia Child? I recently visited her kitchen, now on display in Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian National Museum of American History. What could be more historic than the famous televised cooking show episode in which she dropped a turkey on the floor while pulling it from the oven, then picked it up, put it on a platter, and called her behind-the-scenes underlings to “take it away and bring in the other bird”? A second turkey waiting in the wings? Sure! (I once had a flying pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, when I pulled out the oven rack with far too much enthusiasm, but I had to bake another one.)

All this concentration on cooking may be a bit misplaced. The Pilgrims and Indians shared food as a way of giving thanks to God for survival, at least, if not for plenty. They were blessed, they were blessing, they were asking for continued blessings. That’s the spirit I like. That’s why I particularly like this lovely little Thanksgiving piece I found last year in Skirt!, a magazine for women in America’s South, and saved to share with you today:

“Bless the month of November with a turkey in the oven. Bless the penny found on the ground, and the minutes left on the parking meter. Bless the lowly turnip, married to sweet cream butter….

“Bless the sweat on your yoga mat. Bless yesterday’s mistakes before you let them go. Bless canned tomatoes on a frozen winter night. Bless the spatula that flips the egg over easy, so tenderly. Bless the taken-for-granted light in the refrigerator.

“Bless the goose that gives up its down. Bless the bulbs dreaming underground. Bless the lesson learned the hard way. Bless the tooth that didn’t need a filling. Bless every part of the pumpkin, from its toothy Halloween smile to its toasted seeds.

“Bless the extra leaf in the table for being needed. Bless the people who know your name, and the heart’s GPS that finds the road home….”

I treasure an old newsprint clipping of my daughter, dressed up as that quintessential kindergarten Pilgrim — some school function that made the local paper back when she was 5 years old. Now she’s pushing 10 times that, and I have a newer picture in my mind’s eye: She hasn’t traveled the heart’s road to my home for today, nor I to hers, but I can see her in her own kitchen, a thousand miles away, stuffing the holiday turkey for her little family there while I’m baking the pumpkin pie for mine here. She learned a few tricks in my kitchen, like being gentle with the oven rack when the baking’s done.

Bless the loving Thanksgiving telephone call!


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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 26 November 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi,

In last week’s column you explained the story in the Talmud of Moses ascending the mountain and finding God writing crowns on the letters of the Torah. That reminded me of a question I’ve had for the last several months, when I read what an Orthodox rabbi also commented on that passage. He pointed out that God got his timing wrong, that he wasn’t quite done with writing the Torah by the time Moses got up there to receive it by God’s own invitation. If God could mess up on that one, who’s to say he doesn’t mess up on more things and get the timing wrong?

Bart V.

Dear Bart,

Firstly, there must be some misunderstanding either in the understanding of the article you allude to or its author as an Orthodox rabbi. An Orthodox rabbi, who believes in the basic 13 Maimonidean Principles of Faith which form the foundation of traditional belief, knows that G-d is all-knowing and above time and doesn’t “mess up” and come late to appointments! He would also know that every section of the Talmud, including the Aggadic portions, contains profound messages to be learned from; even the most minuscule feature of each story carries meaning for our lives. It is incumbent upon us to delve deeply enough into those stories to extract their significance and then to apply them.

It is actually quite noteworthy that G-d chose to be writing the “crowns” on the Torah letters at the moment in time that He asked Moses to ascend Mt. Sinai. Sinai was a teaching experience where, together with transmitting the laws of Torah, the Al-mighty conveyed the essence of those laws.

One message being expressed to Moses was the attention to details. It’s a well-known adage that “the devil is in the details.” Judaism teaches the opposite: “G-d is in the details!” G-d was teaching us for all time that the minutiae of every command are critical for its implementation. Imagine calling a friend in Chicago and someone answering in Los Angeles. You call the telephone company to complain that you dialed the entire number correctly, only changed one small detail in the area code! You obviously must get all the details right to hook up to where you want to connect to.

Another example in life is a symphony. In order to appreciate the beauty of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony in C minor, the orchestra must get every detail right. Each note, each instrument, must be perfectly timed or it’s just not what Beethoven meant and you can’t hear his music.

The same applies to the mitzvot. They are our “hotline” to connect directly to the Al-mighty, but if we dial one digit wrong, we will connect to the wrong number. Moreover, the beautiful music contained in the mitzvot will be off by a note, often sounding sour to the trained ear. The lesson of the crowns is that “G-d is in the details.”

Another lesson to Moses was that, as the story went, he was shown that there are reams of information encoded in every little crown, and certainly in the words themselves. Each crown, letter and word is like part of a super-disk with megabytes of knowledge ready to be played out, given the right “software” in the minds of scholars dedicating their lives to understanding, knowing and observing all of “G-d’s Mind” related in the Torah. It was the lesson of the infinite nature of Torah, and hence, the Jewish people who study and represent it.

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 26 November 2009 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

Since Adam and Eve, parents have been telling their children all sorts of things that may not make sense to kids, but for which there are usually deeper reasons. Marc Gellman wrote a wonderful little book giving us the reasons. “Always Wear Clean Underwear! And Other Ways Parents Say ‘I Love You’” is the name of the book (unfortunately, it is out of print). The first story tells about clean underwear and the big lesson. The famous line that most of us have heard is, “You should always wear clean underwear because if you ever get into an accident and an ambulance has to take you to the hospital and the doctors have to take your pants off, if they see that you’re wearing dirty underwear, they will think that you are a dirty person or worse.” (Plus, parents are afraid it reflects badly on them!)

So what does Rabbi Gellman say the “big deep reason” behind this is? He says, “The big reason for wearing clean underwear is to teach you this: What people don’t see about you should be just as good as what people do see about you. We all try to look good outside. The hard part is to look good inside.” A similar thing that parents say is, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” The sages said it yet another way. In Pirke Avot, Chapter 4:27, Rabbi Meir says: “Do not look at the jug, but at what is in it; there is a new jug filled with old wine, and an old jug that does not even contain new wine.” Rabbi Meir is telling us not to make judgments based on the outside of something. (There’s a lot more to it, so get “Pirke Avot, the Sayings of the Fathers,” to have on your Jewish bookshelf and study!) Talk about all these important messages together. And, remember, these conversations are not just for little kids!

Rabbi Gellman has many chapters in his book that you will recognize as things your parents said — or maybe that you say. Talk about these (and any favorites that may be unique to your family) and try to find the “big reason.”

*Don’t talk with your mouth full.

*Money doesn’t grow on trees.

*If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.

*I hope that when you grow up, you’ll have a kid just like you.

Keep thinking and keep talking — that is how we learn. In Pirke Avot, yet another rabbi said, “Who is wise? The one who learns from all people.”

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

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Deli-ghtful! Man on a mission to save the Jewish deli

Deli-ghtful! Man on a mission to save the Jewish deli

Posted on 26 November 2009 by admin

By Sue Fishkoff

SAN FRANCISCO (JTA) — Chicago and Cleveland have the best corned beef. Detroit is tops for rye bread. The best smoked meat is in Montreal, and for pastrami, you can’t touch New York and L.A.

When it comes to Jewish delicatessen, 30-year-old David Sax is the go-to guy. A longtime deli aficionado, the annoyingly trim Sax spent three years eating his way through more than 150 Jewish delis to research “Save the Deli: In Search of Perfect Pastrami, Crusty Rye and the Heart of Jewish Delicatessen,” a wistful, riotously funny paean to this quintessential slice of American Jewish history.

The book, which was published in October by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, is a delicious romp through a fast-disappearing world.

In 1931, Sax reports, there were 2,000 delis in New York City, three-quarters of them kosher. Today, Sax says, his research turns up 25 Jewish delis in the city, two-thirds of which are kosher. A similar pattern has followed across North America, with city after city sounding the death knell for its last traditional deli. Sax guesses there are just a few hundred left worldwide, most of them in the United States.

“The Jewish deli is dying,” Sax told JTA. “Each time I hear a deli closes, something inside me dies.”

German immigrants brought the deli to New York in the 1820s, Sax reports. By the 1870s and ‘80s, German Jews had made their own, kosher modifications to the traditional traif recipes: shmaltz, or rendered chicken fat, instead of lard; ptcha, or jellied calves’ feet, instead of pig trotters. The origin of the first pastrami sandwich is shrouded in mystery, although writer Patricia Volk told Sax her great-grandfather was the first to slap pastrami between two slices of rye bread at his kosher butcher shop in New York in the late 1880s.

Sax chronicles the rise and decline of the “kosher-style” deli, an American innovation that originally differed from its kosher counterpart mainly in hours of operation (they did not close on the Sabbath) and lack of rabbinical supervision. Reaching its heyday in the 1950s and ‘60s, the kosher-style deli eventually succumbed to economic pressure and popular tastes and began putting cheese on turkey sandwiches, offering milk with coffee and using non-kosher meats. From there, it was an easy hop to serving bacon with French toast. Today few such delis use the term “kosher-style,” preferring to call themselves Jewish or New York delis.

Sax bemoans the rise of glatt kosher, a stricter standard for kosher meat that demands round-the-clock oversight by a mashgiach, or kosher supervisor. He says it puts financial demands on deli owners that most cannot meet. That’s why most new delis are not kosher, he claims — it’s just too expensive.

“There’s a lot of money in hechsher,” he says, using the Hebrew for kosher certification. “It’s a turf war that uses religion as leverage.”

But most of this book is about food, the gloriously fatty, heart-stopping Ashkenazi cuisine that is the signature of the Jewish deli: braised brisket in wine sauce; pickled tongue; cabbage rolls in sweet-and-sour tomato; matjes herring; and, of course, the litany of “k’s,” the knishes, kreplach, kugel and kvetching.

He saves his highest praise for the deli meats: corned beef pickled and boiled in vats of brine; pastrami, lovingly rubbed with secret spice mixtures, then smoked and steamed to perfection. The way to suss out a good deli, he says, is to order the matzah ball soup and whatever deli meat the city specializes in, be it corned beef, tongue, pastrami or smoked beef, a softer, gentler Canadian variant.

Although delicatessen originated in Europe, American Jews put their own stamp on it. Pastramia, for example, was in its native Romania a method of preparing any meat or poultry, and was in fact originally used most often for duck or goose. In the United States, Romanian Jews applied the same technique to beef, which began pouring in from the great Western plains and was much cheaper than game poultry.

“The Jewish deli is rooted in the flavors of the Old World,” Sax says. “Some things are the same, like the chopped liver, the chicken soup. Others are amalgamations, like the sandwich, an American thing that the Jewish delis appropriated.”

A big part of Sax’s mission is to encourage young Jews to take over delis at risk of closing or open new ones, a goal that might seem counterintuitive in today’s economic climate. But he insists the market for deli food is there, as a new generation looks back nostalgically to a cuisine that represents an earlier, simpler, more comforting era.

“People aren’t really looking for innovation in deli,” he insists. “The best things I see in the new delis are a return to tradition.” His favorite new Jewish delis are taking advantage of the organic, do-it-yourself movement that is influencing the country’s restaurant scene. “It’s ‘innovative’ today to pickle your own meat or make your own kishke.”

In his effort to give props to these newcomers, Sax glosses over the sad but very real possibility that the Jewish deli may not survive outside a few key cities. New York’s deli scene has imploded, he says, and new delis in Portland, Ore. and Boulder, Colo., may be just flashes in the matzah brie pan.

His hopes for the San Francisco Bay Area seem particularly Pollyannaish. Two of the four Jewish delis he describes in his book have closed since he visited them, and of the remaining two, only Saul’s Deli in Berkeley rates as a real destination; David’s on Geary Street, near San Francisco’s Union Square, is a dilapidated version of its former self.

Two delis to serve a region with more than 350,000 Jews? It’s a shanda.

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Table talk for a Jewish Thanksgiving

Table talk for a Jewish Thanksgiving

Posted on 19 November 2009 by admin

By Edmon J. Rodman

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — When it’s time to talk turkey, what do Jews have to say?

There is little Jewish liturgy for Thanksgiving dinner; not even seconds. You could say HaMotzi, the blessing over the bread, and after the pie sing Birkat Hamazon, thanking the Eternal Thanksgiving-giver for the food you ate.

You could do that.

You also could sit at the Thanksgiving table, throw the dice and blurt out one of those conversation starters that at first causes a lot of throat clearing and foot shuffling, earning you peeved looks from your host — but has the potential of stimulating an intellectual appetite or two.

Here’s my modest starter: On Thanksgiving, what do Jews have to be thankful for?

We are thankful for our families, homes and health; maybe even a national health plan.

We are thankful for all that. But there’s more, isn’t there?

So, Jewish America, I am sitting at the Thanksgiving table with all of you, thanks for the invite, and the question’s been asked. Considering it’s my question, you would think that I could nail the answer.

I want to say as a Jew what I’m thankful for, but I can’t find the words.

Too personal a question? Maybe I’m just hungry.

Then I just blurt out, “Thank God I’m a Jew.”

Complete silence. Not everyone at the table is Jewishly involved, and I’ve taken what basically is a national nonsectarian meal and turned it into a Jewish conversation.

With no postmodern irony or sarcasm, I said it because I’m really thankful that’s who I am. Among the morning blessings, Jews say “praised is God who has made me a Jew.”

So why can’t I say it at the Thanksgiving table?

“Shouldn’t the question really be,” a teacher from Binghamton, N.Y., says, “on Thanksgiving, what do people have to be thankful for?”

“No,” I respond, working the peas around in my plate. “Let’s slice this turkey; what do Jews have to be thankful for?”

“Not the turkey,” says a woman from Philly. “I am definitely not giving thanks for the turkey. I’m a vegan.”

“Not necessary,” I answer. “There’s no special blessing, no brachah for poultry, meat or fish.”

“A brachah is one of those ‘baruch atah’ things,” I add, seeing a couple of quizzical looks at the table. “It’s a Jewish formula for praising and giving thanks, acknowledging God’s presence in the world. They are said over different types of food and drink, when experiencing something exceptional and when fulfilling a commandment.”

“Look who went to Hebrew High,” a teacher from Phoenix comments.

A software salesman from Seattle joins the conversation.

“I’m thankful I have a job,” he says. “Is there a brachah for when I make a sale?”

“In the Birkat Hamazon, there’s a blessing for parnasah, sustenance,” a woman from Los Angeles responds, adding that “I’m very thankful to my iPhone for that answer.”

“How about a brachah for hangovers?” a college student from Queens asks.

“Yes, there’s one,” the iPhoner responds. “There’s a prayer particularly good for this time, called Modeh ani, of literally having your soul returned to you — though you may not feel that way. The prayer acknowledges the miracle of being alive every day.”

“Is there a brachah over pain, ignorance, hunger?” asks the table skeptic from Berkeley, waving his fork.

“Nobody blesses that,” I respond. “But there is a prayer for teachers, students and study, Kaddish d’Rabanan; another to help the needy, Ozer dalim; and a Mishebeirach, a blessing to bring healing and restore to health.”

“I’m thankful for getting engaged,” a guy from Florida says. “At our wedding, friends and family are going to recite seven blessings. Our rabbi told us that the blessings connect us to the lives of all those Jews who were married before us.”

“In the Jews-by-choice class I took,” he continued, “I found there’s a brachah upon seeing a rainbow, hearing thunder, getting good news and bad. Traditionally, Jews say 100 blessings every day.”

“Many brachot are included in the day’s three prayer services,” I add. “Whether you pray them or not, the idea of 100 blessings does get you to look for the positive — definitely a countercultural mindset.”

Then finally, just as the turkey platter was passed to me, I had the answer to my original question — as a Jew I’m thankful for all this:

Shalom bayit — peace in my house — the thoughtfulness, respect and love there. For books, especially Jewish friends with books. For herring of any kind — it’s proof of intelligent design.

I’m thankful for a roof over our heads and the doorposts as well; when Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door, I explain expansively about my mezuzah. That an Israeli player made the NBA. That all our cars started and brought us back to the table safely to say Shehechiyanu for another year.

And for Thanksgiving guests, there’s one more blessing: In Birkat Hamazon, there’s a brachah for eating at another’s table. That one counts for plenty.

Edmon J. Rodman is a JTA columnist writing on Jewish life from Los Angeles.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 19 November 2009 by admin

Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen to be recognized for 40 years of service

This Sunday evening, Nov. 22, Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen will be honored for his 40 years of service in the Dallas community. The festive reception, which will also celebrate his 60th birthday, will be held at the Addison Conference Center, 15650 Addison Road in Addison, at 7 p.m. Hundreds are expected to join in this tribute to Rabbi Cohen, who for 35 years served first as cantor and then as rabbi of Tiferet Israel in Dallas, and for the last four years as founder and rabbi of Congregation Nishmat Am in Plano.

Since coming to Dallas in 1969, Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen has served as cantor, rabbi, educator, counselor and communal leader. For four decades his leadership, his unique personality and his loyal service to hundreds of people and their families have contributed immeasurably to the growth of Jewish life in Greater Dallas.

The son of Holocaust survivors, Rabbi Cohen was born in Cracow, Poland in 1949 and raised in Jerusalem. There he received his education; there his vocal talent was uncovered and cultivated.

In short time, he was dubbed a “wunderkind” and invitations to perform started to arrive from Europe and America. In America, Rabbi Cohen performed on the concert stage and in the Yiddish theater, and shared the stage with such icons as Molly Picon, Jan Peerce and Richard Tucker.

At the age of 17 he was appointed cantor of Congregation Ohev Shalom in Washington, D.C., and won the distinction of being the youngest person ever to hold a senior cantor’s position at a congregation in North America.

In 1970 Rabbi Cohen and his wife, Rosie, came to Dallas, where he began his career as cantor and rabbi at Congregation Tiferet Israel.

In 2005, after serving Tiferet Israel for 35 years, Rabbi Cohen, along with a small group of supporters, established Congregation Nishmat Am to serve the growing Jewish population of Collin County. In 3-1/2 years, Nishmat Am has created a distinct brand of prayer, outreach, education and affiliation, bringing to its congregants and many visitors Rabbi Cohen’s unique style of embrace into Jewish life.

Throughout his life, Rabbi Cohen has had a special place in his heart for the state of Israel. Raised as a “Yerushalmi” in the streets of Machane Yehudah, he has a natural love for Israel as his homeland, as his place of birth and as the home to hundreds of friends and family.

Rabbi Cohen is most proud of the family that he and Rosie have raised — their daughter Hannah and her husband David; their daughter Sharon and her husband Israel; and their son Jacob and his wife Mara. They have blessed them with seven beautiful grandchildren — Marisa and Jordan Loev; Gavriella, Eden and Dov Ashkenazy; and Orly and Avi Cohen.

Countless families and innumerable people have had their lives influenced by Rabbi Cohen; have developed a friendship with him and his wife, Rosie; and have been blessed by his counsel and presence whenever and wherever needed.

On Sunday, the community will have the opportunity to celebrate the extraordinary life and career of Rabbi Cohen and to thank him for his outstanding service.

For more information about the event, please call Congregation Nishmat Am at 972-618-2200.

Dr. Gideon Fishman visits Dallas as part of JFGD’s Partnership with Israel

Dr. Gideon Fishman, president of Western Galilee College (WGC) in Israel, recently visited several cities in the United States, including Dallas. While here, he was hosted by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) and visited and lectured at Southern Methodist University and the University of North Texas. A meeting with Dr. Fishman at the University of North Texas included several professors in UNT’s Jewish studies program and university provost and vice-president for academic affairs, Wendy K. Wilkins. It resulted in a commitment to collaborate with WCG on pertinent research and in the creation of scholarly publications.

A passionate educator, Dr. Fishman has worked hard to elevate the status of Western Galilee College, which serves 3,900 students and recently received independent accreditation. The school is also creating two new departments, one in conservation and archaeology, the other in theater and dance. Many students at WGC are the first in their families to attend college; when necessary, up to a year of remedial education is available to those who need to improve academically before beginning college-level studies. No one is turned away because of inability to pay.

JFGD has been able to allocate $293,150 this year to fund such programs in an ongoing initiative, Partnership with Israel, because of the generous support of its donors. As one of 16 U.S. Jewish communities that join to collaborate with the Western Galilee, JFGD makes a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of Israeli citizens.

Through relevant educational and cultural exchange programs, Partnership with Israel promotes the goals of developing Israel’s peripheries, increasing Jewish identity and helping Jews in the Diaspora to develop a significant relationship with Israel. For more information about the overseas programs of the Federation, contact Deborah Fisher at 214-615-5250 or

JFGD is the central coordinating agency for the Dallas Jewish community, raising funds for Jewish organizations locally, in Israel and around the world. The Federation supports local and national and overseas agencies, and unites Jews for a common purpose: to ensure that Jewish people live in safety and in an environment of spiritual, educational and cultural enrichment. For more information about JFGD, call 214-369-3313 or visit

Robert Edsel to speak on stolen art and Holocaust

Robert Edsel is a man on a mission: to tell of the greatest art theft in human history and the great “untold story” of the men and women who tried to make things right again. There are two opportunities to meet Robert, the intelligent, engaging, well-spoken 2008 Hope for Humanity honoree of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, and author of the just-released book, “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” (Center Street, 2009).

Tonight, Thursday, Nov. 19, at 7:30 p.m., at the Horchow Auditorium of the Dallas Museum of Art, Edsel will be the featured speaker at Arts & Letters Live. Tickets are available at

On Monday, Nov. 23, at 6 p.m., at Prothro Great Hall at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, Robert will deliver an interactive presentation and lecture as part of the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s series “Holocaust Legacies: Shoah as Turning Point.” More information is available on the free lecture and series at

Please plan to attend these events!

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 19 November 2009 by admin

Hannah Stansbury to celebrate bat mitzvah at Ahavath Sholom

Mazel tov to Hannah Stansbury, daughter of Nancy and Jim Stansbury, who will be called to the Torah as a bat mitzvah this Friday night and Saturday morning at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. A very talented young lady, Hannah, who will conduct both services, is an honor roll student at Fort Worth Academy.

Looking forward to the special occasion are proud grandparents, Georgia and Keith Stansbury of Ballinger, Texas, and Nancy and Sidney Reed of Arlington. Guests will also include family members Jack and Yeing Reed of Mansfield, Sandy and Shannon Stansbury and Bernadette and Keith Stansbury and their youngsters, all of Dallas.

After the service on Friday evening, friends of the Stansburys, Naomi and Mark Rosenfield, Nancy and Al Fagin, Rose and Al Zackary, Obi and Linda Lavi, Susie and Ben Herman and Rabbi Baruch and Graciela Zeilicovich will be co-hosts at a Shabbat dinner.

Hannah will be honored by her parents at a party at the shul on Saturday evening.

The Stansburys are most appreciative of Hannah’s teachers, Batya Brand and Dr. Javier Smolarz.

Hear music, help shelter at JWI meeting Dec. 2

For long years, nine to be exact, Ina Singer has been the dedicated president of the Simcha Chapter of Jewish Women International (formerly B’nai B’rithWomen). On the first Wednesday of each month, usually close to 30 women will show up for the 9:30 a.m. meeting at Temple Beth-El. Ina serves a delectable breakfast; sometimes it’s lox and bagels, kugel, or it could be blintzes, with plenty of coffee and sweets — and, at the next meeting, latkes could be on the menu. There’s usually a program, speaker or games. At the Dec. 2 meeting, members will bring holiday gifts for residents of Women’s Haven and hear a musical program from Rabbi Baruch Zeilicovich and CAS Ritual Director Javier Smolarz.

Guests are always welcome.

Chanukah party at Thistle Hill

One of Judy Cohen’s favorite projects has been her association with the Fort Worth Historical Society, which she has served in an executive capacity. In fact the FWHS honored Judy at a special event several years ago.

It was through the FWHS presentation of Christmas at Thistle Hill that Judy originated the first Chanukah at Thistle Hill program last year. It was an overwhelming success!

This year’s chairmen, Corrine Jacobson and Adelene Myers, tell me, “For great Chanukah entertainment, plan to come on Dec. 6 from 2 to 6 p.m. While Christmas is at Thistle Hill, 1509 Pennsylvania, the Chanukah party will be at Art Brender’s law office in the old Mitchell Schoonover House at 600 8th Ave.”

Park at Thistle Hill, enjoy the house and then take the carriage ride to the Chanukah party. The program will include a medley of Chanukah songs sung by Angie Kitzman, Genie Long and Linda Hoffman; music played by guitarist Scott Sloter; the dreidel game; decorations by Jan Lambert; and table arrangements by Ann Bogart. The menorah will be blessed by Linda Hoffman, Karen Kaplan, Barbara Rubin and Genie Long. Cindy Simon will showcase her latkes and provide her recipe. Giving favors will be Nancy Ginsburg and daughter, Perry; Laurie James and daughter, Kaylie; Jenny Solomon, Rhoda Solomon, her daughter, Gayle Biemeret and her daughter, Brittany Ackerman. Trudy Oshman will be at the punch bowl and Adele Arenberg, we hear, is a first-rate assistant.

Hostesses at Thistle Hill will include Bobbie Dubbs, Judith Sherer, Jane Oderberg and Dr, Etta Miller.

Admission is $15 or half-price with a press pass; children are $7.50. “With all the food, favors and entertainment, it’s a bargain and you help the Fort Worth Historical Society support Thistle Hill,” Corrine said.

When I phoned Judy Cohen Tuesday morning and asked about her husband, Don, I was thrilled to hear that after two months of his recuperating from arduous heart surgery in Houston, they were so happy to arrive home last weekend. On Thanksgiving, the Cohens will enjoy a holiday dinner at their daughter Dana Berk’s home in Plano with her four youngsters, Kevin, Jeffrey, Sam and Sarabelle; daughter and family, Dede and Dr. Brian Kaplan and their daughter, Joanna and son, Steve and Amy Cohen and their precious 3-year old, William.

News and notes

On Tuesday, Oct. 27, seventh- and eighth-grade band students from the Fort Worth Independent School District gathered at Wedgwood Middle School. Molly, daughter of Mona and Steve Karten, who plays the clarinet, and Isaac, son of Linda and Bill Landy, who plays the trumpet, were to have the opportunity afterward to attend a clinic at Western Hills High School on Nov. 6 and 7 which would conclude in a concert. Unfortunately Isaac became ill and could not participate in the weekend’s activities. Molly played her little heart out and was treated to ice cream by her dad after the concert. Molly, Isaac and Sarah Silverberg (daughter of Karen and Kal Silverberg) competed again on Nov. 14 for the All-Region Band. None of them were lucky enough to be chosen.

Annual Thanksgiving reunion

I was amazed when Barbara Rubin told me who would attend their Thanksgiving holiday weekend in Fort Collins, Colo. To me it was astronomical and yet she said sometimes, they’ve had as many as a hundred. Of course Barbara’s daughter and son-in-law, Nina Rubin and Ron Vaughn, live in Fort Collins, but the whole entourage will be housed at the Hotel Armstrong.

Joining in the annual event are her children, Janice Rubin and Charles Wiese and son, Jacob of Houston, Paul and Jewel Rubin and son, Joshua of Roswell, Ga.; Nick Vaughn and Jay Margolin, New York City; Sherwin Rubin and Susan Held of Dallas; Joel and Linda Mosko and children, Samantha and David of Marlton, N.J. and his folks, Sol and Brenda Mosko of Oak Ridge, Tenn. Also from Oak Ridge, Albert Good. Fran Redich from Atlanta and her daughter, Allison of Washington, D.C.; Mona Good Waitzman, New York City, and Marsha and Jay Menushkin of Chattanooga, Tenn. — and I know I missed a few.

Mazel tov

She’s a beauty! Harry Kahn is a proud great-grandfather with the birth of his first great-grandchild, Rose Zicherman. She’s the daughter of Ruth Vexler and Stuart ­Zicherman, granddaughter of Carrie Kahn and Stuart Vexler of Austin and also the great-granddaughter of the late Doris Kahn.

Stylish pet

Shayna Punim is the pride and joy and a “princess” at the home of Ina and Mike Singer. She’s four year old, part chihuahua and dachshund and has to be one of the best-dressed dogs you’ve ever seen. Her wardrobe of costumes is extensive, all made by the very talented Ina Singer. By the way, did you know that Ina is a very early riser, 6:30 a.m., every day, just to feed the more than 200 ducks in the lake behind the Singers’ apartment?

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 19 November 2009 by admin

We’re into that season that, for me, is heralded by taking a deep breath late in October that’s finally let out on Jan. 2.

When I lived up north, Halloween was the line of demarcation. Fall was glorious, with beautifully colored leaves, crisp-air days and harvest moon nights. But what lay ahead was always hovering at the edge of my consciousness; a few days before Oct. 31 I’d look at that still-benevolent sky and say to myself, “I know what’s coming.” And sure enough, it would come, often on Halloween itself, so the winter coats and scarves and hoods and boots had to come out of hiding just in time to cover the costumes that proud little kids wanted to show off while they were trick-or-treating.

Well, now I live in a gated complex with few young children, so trick-or-treating hasn’t amounted to much for me in years, and the weather makes other outdoor activities not only possible, but really different. This year, for example, I spent Halloween at the Buddhist Center of Dallas. Hard to believe that after almost 30 years here, I only recently learned that there’s a Buddhist Center of Dallas — and it’s less than a 10-minute drive from my home! (Makes me wonder how many non-Jews drive on Northaven Road, past the entrance to the JCC-Federation complex every day, and don’t even know what’s there.)

Anyway, what was happening at the Buddhist Center on Halloween was the Loy Krathong Festival, something that occurs annually on the occasion of the full moon of the 12th lunar month on the Buddhist calendar. Of course we Jews know something about lunar months, and the fact that holidays move around from year to year because of them. Same with the Buddhists. But this year’s festival coincided with a warm night and a gorgeous full moon on Halloween.

Loy means water, and krathong is a little boat. There is a large pool on the property of the Buddhist Center, with many golden koi swimming in it. On the night of this festival, people launch their own floats, made of paper in pretty colors and decorated with flowers; they center them with sticks of incense and set their fondest wishes, hopes and dreams off in them, on the water, to hoped-for fruition.

Of course the occasion is a big party: a couple of huge buffets of many Thai foods, and entertainment, Thai music played by an ensemble including both Western and Eastern instruments, vocalists and dances. The latter involved pairs of exotically costumed women: The first two, with long metallic extensions gracing their fingertips, presented movements native to northern Thailand; then they were joined by two more with fans, representing the country’s east; next, another two from the south; and the final two from the northeast (I must find out if there is really no western Thailand!), until the eight filled the outdoor stage at one end of the pool, performing their various dances at the same time, to the same music.

But after all, it was still Halloween. And in a bow to the Western world in which these Thais live, their children — many American-born — entered a massive costume contest. A quartet of trophies was awarded to the winners in four different age groups, starting with babes-in-arms (would you believe an Elvis, with sideburns!), followed by small children (a pretty-in-pink princess took that prize), “middle-aged” kids (I was seated at the same table with the winner, a girl dressed and fang-toothed as a convincing Dracula, and her family) and, finally, teens (a boy with a cleverly constructed, life-size puppet head standing high over his own was a shoo-in). And all so quiet and well-behaved!

Some strange juxtapositions, too: Four young women closed the program by performing several Hawaiian hulas; their dancing, and the moonlit poolside setting, gave the evening’s end the look and feel of a Thai luau. And there’s something a bit jarring about a saffron-robed priest bustling around the pool, firing up tiki torches and kathrong incense sticks with one of those no-match barbecue lighters.

I was standing, watching, next to a man who divulged, rather shyly, that he was there because he was Thai, but he was actually Christian, not Buddhist. So I said that I wasn’t Buddhist either (although there were many Caucasian Buddhists there), but Jewish. And together, the two of us watched our wishes and hopes and dreams float on the pool in their brightly fragile paper boats, upright, not sinking into sleep with the fishes.


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