Archive | December, 2009

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 24 December 2009 by admin

College scholarships available through DJCF

The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation scholarship program is now accepting applications from high school seniors, undergraduates and graduate students. The 30 scholarships, which range from $300 to $5,000, are available to Jewish and non-Jewish students for a wide range of schools and majors. An online application is available at www.djcf.org.

“Last year, we distributed more than $78,000 in scholarship funds to 39 individuals,” said Marna Edenson, senior development officer of the Foundation. “Since 1991, more than $1 million in scholarships has been awarded to help students prepare for their futures. We offer many general studies scholarships as well as scholarships specifically for careers in medicine, fashion and retailing and law.”

The DJCF program is the largest Jewish scholarship provider in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Students are chosen based on financial need, academic merit, community service involvement and other factors.

“Each year we get hundreds of applicants, and the committee has the difficult task of choosing those who are the best fit for each scholarship,” Marna said. “We are happy that the diversity of our available scholarships means that a wide range of students, all who have unique strengths and passions, are given the opportunity to further their education.”

Establishing a scholarship fund is just one of the many ways that DJCF donors can create a lasting legacy in our community. For more information on the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, visit www.djcf.org. To speak with a Planned Giving professional, call 214-615-9351 or e-mail info@djcf.org.

News ‘n’ notes

Elizabeth Kaner, 14, daughter of Marni and Joey Kaner, shared her 90-plus dreidel collection with visitors to the Renner-Frankford branch of the Dallas Public Library during Chanukah.

Elizabeth’s paternal grandmother, Janet Kaner, started the collection for her on her second Chanukah. Her family gives them to her as gifts each year for Chanukah. Her mom, Marni, still has a bag of them that her late mother, Faye Berkowitz, collected, and Elizabeth gets one from Bubbe every year!

Renner-Frankford Library moved their display case to the lobby and put a sign on it requesting donations, so Elizabeth and her mom signed up for the December slot. Elizabeth is also the granddaughter of Gary Kaner of Dallas, and the late Herby Berkowitz of Fort Worth.

New JWV officers to be elected

Post 256 of the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Jewish War Veterans and their Ladies Auxiliary will elect new officers at their 9:30 a.m. breakfast meeting this Sunday at the JCC.

Dick Lethe will describe his experiences with Type 2 Diabetes.

JWV nominees include Dick Lethe, Commander; Andy ­Lavigne, Senior Vice Commander; Leon Levin and Jeremy Prince, Junior Commanders; Larry Goldman, Adjutant; Harry Kabler, Judge Advocate; and Rabbi Murray Berger, Chaplain.

Anyone wanting to be placed on the ballot should contact Stanley Shulkin, 972-233-8896.

Nominees for the Ladies Auxiliary are: president, Dottie Garment; vice-presidents: Ethel Holiner, executive; Phyllis Rifkin, fundraising; and Rosalie Cohen, membership. Also, Flora Robin, treasurer; Lu Ann Bergman, recording secretary; Edith Epstein, corresponding secretary; Sandy Meinstein, chaplain; Lynn Teitelbaum, conductress; Fran Bergman, historian; and Ellen Feibel, Sunshine.

The usual lox and bagel brunch will be served at a modest cost.

Medicare D questions? Ask Jewish Famiy Service

Do you have questions about Medicare D? Do you need help evaluating your current policy or selecting a new one? Or, do you know someone who does?

Open enrollment for Medicare D ends Thursday, Dec. 31. The gerontology staff at Jewish Family Service can help you evaluate your options at no charge.

Call 972-437-9950 for an appointment. Jewish Family Service is located at 5402 Arapaho Road, Dallas.

New book club is a literary journey through Judaism
Modern Books, Jewish Themes, a unique new book club, will offer exciting readings on traditional Jewish themes — all in a modern format. The initial book club kickoff event will be held at 2926 La Vista Lane, Frisco, on Jan. 6.

Modern Books, Jewish Themes promises to be thought-provoking and inspirational while increasing Jewish knowledge in an enjoyable, social way.

Following each book, the group will meet for a stimulating and meaningful discussion on a Monday, 7:30 p.m., at the DATA Center of Plano, 3198 West Parker Road. At times, there may be a guest facilitator to help answer any questions.

The book club is open to everyone in the Jewish community, both men and women. For questions and location details for the kickoff event, please call or e-mail Staci Kimmel, 972-985-1520 or stacikimmel@hotmail.com.

Bus tour is tops

Among the stops for the Topsy Turvy Bus earlier this month was the Aaron Family JCC. The bus tour is part of the Jewish Climate Change Campaign (www.jewishclimatechange.org) – a national effort that was created by Hazon (www.hazon.org) with contributions from dozens of Jewish institutions.  The bus is equipped with vermicompost (worm), solar panels, human powered bicycle generator, solar ovens and a system to convert used vegetable oil to fuel for the bus.  The bus also made stops at Akiba Academy, Congregation Shearith Israel and Shaare Tefilla.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 24 December 2009 by admin

New bat mitzvah program comes to the Metroplex

Etta Korenman is really excited about a new program that has come from Israel to the young girls of Tarrant County and Dallas. On Monday, Dec. 7, Oshra Koren and Rebecca Linzer, from the Matan Program in Israel, met for a long day at Beth-El to train Batya Brand and Ilana Knust, from Tarrant County, and Annette Wolk and Sharon Weinstein, from Congregation Shaare Tefilla in Dallas. The Matan Bat Mitzvah Program consists of 10 two-hour sessions during which mothers and daughters study Jewish sources in preparation for the girl’s bat mitzvah. Centered on the theme “Jewish Women Through the Ages,” the program focuses on Jewish role models. The women studied in this program were selected because they embody positive attributes and values from which the girls can learn. At each meeting the learning session is accompanied by an experiential activity related to the relevant figure or subject. Each activity creates a different atmosphere and invites different modes of self-expression such as creative dance, music, theater, art and guided imagery. It is also a wonderful opportunity for mothers to be with their daughters. The Matan Program has been successful in Israel, the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia and Sweden. The program is suitable for girls from observant to secular. Etta added, “This description cannot do it justice; it is an amazing program.” Mothers and girls in Tarrant County can contact Ilana Knust, 817-332-7141, for further information and to sign up. The program was brought to Tarrant County thanks to the generosity of the Jewish Federation’s Endowment Committee.

JEA to honor the Zenicks

The Jewish Education Agency recently announced this year’s Bubbe and Zayde (grandparents) honorees, Ilene and Jerry Zenick, will be recognized on Sunday, Jan. 31, for their extraordinary dedication and service to Jewish education and Jewish day camping for the past 30 years.

“Our community has benefited immensely from the efforts of Ilene and Jerry. Their quiet, steady support, combined with their professional talents, has enabled families and especially children to experience the joys of being Jewish. Whether it was Jerry rolling up his sleeves to make holiday celebrations happen or ‘Miss’ Ilene’s creative classroom activities, they have enriched our lives tremendously,” said Rebecca Isgur, JEA board member.

According to Dr. Jen Ratner, JEA fundraising chair, “We are thrilled to be honoring the Zenicks. Ilene taught at Lil Goldman for 16 years and Jerry served as DDJCC president in the 1980s. Now they really are a Bubbe and Zayde, with their granddaughter Madison a Lil Goldman student and Camp Shalom camper. Our honorary chairs, Patty and Elliott Garsek, have a special distinction with the Lil Goldman preschool. Elliott was among the first students, their children attended as well and their grandchild-to-be is enrolled.”

In preparation for this wonderful event, the committee is gathering names and photos of Ilene’s former students, as well as photos of Jerry and his former JCC teammates. A Facebook profile has been created for the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center to check out happenings at the school and information about this wonderful tribute event. You can find information on Facebook at “Lil Goldman Early Learning Center/JEA/Camp Shalom/Hebrew Day School.”

If you, your children or grandchildren were among Ilene’s students, if you played sports with Jerry, or if you volunteered with either of them on a committee or board of the Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center, B’nai B’rith, Jewish Women International or any other organization, the JEA wants you to be a part of this tribute event. A tribute committee has been formed which includes: David and Greta Beckerman, Larry and Gail Berlin, Leon Brachman, Harry and Carol Bulbrook, Hedy Collins, Alvin and Jaclyn Daiches, Dr. Jason and Alice Finkelstein, Drs. Al and Nancy Faigin, Charlie and Cathy Freid, Dr. David and Elizabeth Friedman, Elliott and Patty Garsek, Tricia Haber, Ben and Suzie Herman, Gary and Shoshana Howard, Ben and Shoshana Isgur, Stuart and Rebecca Isgur, Jeff and Randee Kaitcer, Stephen and Valerie Kaye, Matthew and Diana Krompass, and Dr. Stan and Marcia Kurtz.

Also, Dr. Cory and Neta Mandel, Amy Matejka, Kendra McCown, Rafael and Marina Michan, Dr’s. Bruce and Etta Miller, Hal and Dr. Jen Ratner, Sam Reznikoff, Debbie Rice, Sam and Joan Rosen, Mark and Naomi Rosenfield, Al and Rose Sankary, Rick and Karen Savitz, Carol Schwartz, Daniel and Blanca Sherwin, Ken and Felice Sherwin, Robert and Cindy Simon, Nancy Spiegel, Sheila Stocker, Dr. Bruce and Hollace Weiner, Lon and Laurie Werner, and Rabbi Baruch and Graciela Zeilicovich. This extensive group of community members is representative of the love, respect and appreciation for the Zenicks.

The event committee is creating a tribute book which will reflect the community’s gratitude for their service. Photos and personal messages will be available to the entire community and distributed at the event. The evening will be a most memorable one, beginning with wine and cheese in the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center school wing at Ahavath Sholom, and progressing to a sit-down dinner. Several presentations will be made followed by a delicious dessert buffet — just the way a Bubbe would want it.

As an added bonus, the JEA will draw a winning raffle ticket for a week (July 3–10, 2010) at a fabulous beachside resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Tickets are being sold for $1 each or 12 for $100. Ticket sellers will be happy to show you pictures of the hotel.

Best of all, all of the proceeds from the tribute book and raffle will help the JEA’s Tuition/Campership Program. “These are difficult times for many Jewish families and no youngsters will be turned away. With your help and support we will continue to provide the only intensive Jewish education programs and Jewish summer day camp experience in Tarrant County. This is an opportunity for all of us to come together, to honor deserving people and in the process to do the ‘right thing’ for our children. Let’s do it!” Jen Ratner concluded.

For additional information on purchasing ads, raffle tickets or tickets to the event, please contact the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center, 817-737-9898.

2010 Beth-El Film Festival schedule announced

Movies for the 2010 Beth-El Film Festival have been selected. For those wishing to participate, there will be an optional meal prior to each film at a cost of $12/person. There is no charge for those wishing only to see the films. Reservations for the meal must be made by calling the temple office at 817-332-7141. For all films, dinner will be at 6:30 p.m. with the movie following at 7:30 p.m.

Additional information on the films can be found at the Beth-El Web site (www.bethelfw.org) by clicking on “Lifetime Learning” under “Education.”

Saturday, Jan. 16: “Bart Got a Room” (PG-13). Children’s movies: “The Chosen” and “Something from Nothing.” Meal: Yucatan taco stand, roasted tequila lime chicken, chipotle mashed potatoes, braised Latin vegetables, Yucatan house salad with fried plantains.

Saturday, Jan. 30: “Sixty-Six” (suitable for ages 10 and up). Children’s movies: “The Prince Who Thought He Was a Rooster” and “Unsung Heroes.” Meal: Babe’s fried chicken, fried chicken tenders with honey mustard sauce/smoked chicken with BBQ sauce, mashed potatoes with cream gravy, Grandma’s corn, green beans, biscuit with honey and butter, banana pudding.

Saturday, Feb. 13: “Noodle” (suitable for ages 10 and up). Children’s movies: “The Frisco Kid” and “It Can Always Be Worse.” Meal: Pak-a-Pocket, grilled marinated chicken breast, basmati rice or red potatoes, cold green beans with tomatoes, onion and garlic or green beans with almonds, Greek salad, hummus, pita bread and baklava.

The Congregation Beth-El Film Series is funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 24 December 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Since our publication date this week coincides with Christmas Eve, I’ve been reminiscing about Christmas when I was much younger, before the “December dilemma.” During my childhood, we Jews knew we were Jews, looked at our neighbors’ colorful wreaths and lights, then went home to eat latkes (when the stars were also in the Chanukah conjunction).

The earliest Christmas Eve I can remember was when I was 4 or “rising” 5. Our next-door neighbors were Uncle Dan and Aunt Rose — not blood relatives, but such good friends of my parents’ for so many years that the titles were quite natural. Aunt Rose worked for a government office that had a holiday party, with Santa, every year; that year, since she and her husband had no children of their own, she asked for permission to take me. My folks didn’t object.

Prompted by that woman I loved, I stood in a long line of kids waiting to sit on Santa’s lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. When my turn came, I sat. But I didn’t ask for anything. Instead, I told him I was Jewish. I got a gift anyway, since Santa passed out presents to all the children. But I never went to that party again.

In kindergarten, we made Christmas gifts out of clay — ashtrays, not dreidels. Both the concept and the item would be verboten today in a public school like mine. But then, that’s the way things were. In grade school, we had to save the red and green foil caps that appeared on quart milk bottles during holiday season, and bring them in to turn into little pretend bells for the giant tree standing front and center in the main hallway. After we hung them, we sang Christmas carols.

There weren’t a lot of Jewish boys and girls in my school, but there were enough for our parents to have registered a real complaint if anybody cared to. Nobody did. Things were different back then. Probably our parents didn’t want to make waves. But maybe they were secure enough in their Judaism to figure we were, too, and they knew we wouldn’t become Christians ourselves because of a few days of bells and songs. I like to think that was the real reason, because the truth is, all of us are still Jewish.

When I moved up to middle school, I began finding a present, brightly wrapped in red and green, inside our kitchen storm-door every Christmas morning. This lasted through junior high. After that first year, I would get up early to open the door and see what “Santa” had left for me. That’s what the little “To-From” tag said, anyway: “From Santa.” I knew the gift was from Mrs. Connolly, the mother of my good friend Shirley, up the block. (An embroidery set was my favorite.)

As the two of us grew older together, Mrs. Connolly started a campaign to convince my mother that I should go to Ursuline High with Shirley. My mother said no. She didn’t stress religious reasons, rather said — rightly enough — that she didn’t see any need to pay private-school tuition when there was a perfectly good public high school within walking distance. Again: I’m sure she didn’t want to make an enemy of a friendly neighbor, and not sending me to a Catholic school was such a given, there wasn’t any need to mention it. The Santa stuff stopped when Shirley and I didn’t attend the same school any more.

One old childhood memory was reprised in somewhat newer times: 25 years ago, when I celebrated my first Chanukah in a new city. Then a Christian woman from our neighborhood bridge game stopped by my house with one of those red-and-green presents. I thanked her warmly, invited her in for coffee and saw she was totally nonplussed because I hadn’t yet put up a Christmas tree. I wasn’t going to, I told her, with the reason why. I also told her our Chanukah story, showed her my menorah, and explained how it “works.”

So when we walked toward the door to say goodbye, I was congratulating myself for my contribution to furthering interreligious understanding — but prematurely, I found out. Because as I thanked her once again for coming, and for the gift, she turned around, looked back into my living room, and said incredulously, “You really mean it, don’t you? You’re really not going to have a Christmas tree!”

Yes, Virginia: I really did mean it!

E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 24 December 2009 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

It has always been my understanding that Orthodox Jews, unlike the view of progressive Judaism, are pro-life and share the Catholic view that abortions are strictly prohibited. On the other hand, I recently heard of a case of an Orthodox woman who was granted an OK to have an abortion. What is the Orthodox viewpoint?

Jessica M.

Dear Jessica,

Neither the standard interpretation of pro-life or pro-choice accurately describes the Torah viewpoint. (The Torah is most certainly “pro-life,” as the verse says “choose life,” and we value life over nearly all other values; even the most important of Torah laws are trumped by the slightest concern of danger to life. Only a few exceptions exist.)

With regard to abortion, however, the concept of pro-choice, which puts the decision of whether or not to discontinue a pregnancy in the hands of the mother, does not jibe with the Torah decision-making process. We will see why. The Catholic edict that one can never terminate a pregnancy even to save the life of the mother is equally at odds with traditional Torah thought and practice.

Jewishly, the question of abortion is a very complicated one, and partially depends upon the current stage of the pregnancy. Judaism considers the unnecessary termination of the life of a fetus to be murder, albeit a category of murder not punishable in a court of law (beit din). This applies from the 40th day after conception, since according to Jewish tradition the soul enters the body of the fetus on that day. From then and forward the fetus is deemed a fully living human being. Before the 40th day, according to most opinions, killing a fetus is a lesser transgression than actual murder, but a transgression nonetheless unless a number of criteria are fulfilled.

To say that a mother can, herself, decide matters of life and death for another human being based on her own rationales, convenience or other reasons would run contrary to the entire halachic process by which matters of life and death are decided. On the other hand, there are situations where the health or the life of the mother is sufficiently compromised by the fetus; this allows us, or requires us, to intervene. For example, the Talmud discusses the case of a woman put in danger of her life by her pregnancy and the ruling of the Mishnah to terminate that pregnancy in order to save the mother’s life. This is explained by the Talmud and Maimonides to be based upon a difference in the “level of life” experienced by the mother vis-à-vis the fetus. Although the fetus is considered a living person, the mother’s life (for reasons we don’t have space to cover in this column) is considered a “complete life” whereas the fetus’ life is only a “partial life”; consequently the mother’s life trumps that of the fetus and we perform an abortion. Once the head or the majority of the body of the fetus is presented, the mother and baby are then considered as equals and one doesn’t trump the other.

There are numerous unfortunate life questions which arise, such as Tay-Sachs pregnancies, pregnancies as a result of rape or seduction and the like. In all such cases, which depend upon numerous Jewish legal questions, must be referred to a competent rabbinic authority who is well-versed in the life-and-death implications and ramifications of a decision made in this area.

The unique, timeless approach of halachah, Jewish law, is profound and often breathtaking in its scope, and something for all of us to take great pride in.

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 24 December 2009 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

Recently the Dallas Jewish community experienced the Topsy Turvy bus, and we learned all about being powered by veggie oil and so much more. As a confirmed biblioholic, I, of course, picked up every pamphlet and bought two books: “Torah of the Earth — Exploring 4,000 Years of Ecology in Jewish Thought,” Vols. 1 and 2. In addition, the Teva Learning Center has great programming going on plus CDs to sing about the earth. For children (and adults), singing gets the message deep inside us. How can we learn more?

Judaism has long been a promoter of saving the earth — matter of fact, since the world was first created! Today we have a renewal of efforts and energies to save our environment and to teach our children so that they will be stewards of the earth throughout their lives. We want to teach them to value the earth, and that begins with wonder. Think about this from Rabbi Marcia Prager:

“Imagine if at every moment we each embraced the world as the gift it is: An apple is a gift; the color pink is a gift; the blue sky is a gift; the scent of honeysuckle is a gift…. We are called not merely to notice casually now and then that something is special and nice but to sustain and deepen a profound and sustained gratitude. Indeed, the more we acknowledge our gratefulness, the more we temper our tendency to be users, despoilers, arrogant occupiers. We are on the way to kedushah [holiness].”

So how can we learn more so that we can DO more? Here are some great Jewish Web sites to find out:

tevacenter.org

gogreeninisrael.org

coejl.org

greenzionism.org

hazon.org

jnf.org

And, read the Torah — find the texts that speak to you about the earth and the value of tikkun olam — healing the world! “Mah nora hamakom hazeh — how awesome is this place.” (Genesis 28:17)

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

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‘Can do’ spirit evident at Bnai Zion gala

‘Can do’ spirit evident at Bnai Zion gala

Posted on 24 December 2009 by admin

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Recently, the Dallas and Fort Worth communities demonstrated at the most successful Bnai Zion Foundation’s annual Gala Award Dinner that, in spite of a poor economy, their devotion simulates the busy bee, which defies the laws of aeronautics, and continues to fly and make a bit of honey each day. National Bnai Zion President George W. Schaeffer stated it best: “Although it hasn’t been the best year for Jews, or for the Western world as a whole, we look at the challenges that face us as a person looking at a glass that is half-filled….” This ‘can do’ spirit was evident as over 400 devoted Bnai Zion supporters came out to demonstrate, in meaningful ways, their concern and appreciation of the organization’s work for Israel and to pay tribute to this year’s honorees: Monica “Posy” McMillen, Dr. Ed Goodman and Harmon Schepps.

As approximately 300 guests mingled amongst the tables displaying the equipment desperately needed for the gala, they were given firsthand knowledge. They were also able to view items that would be up for bids during the live auction so brilliantly executed by Larry Strauss, president of the Texas Region of Bnai Zion. Each person who took the time to stop and talk to Bnai Zion’s volunteers was entered into a drawing for two diamond rings, without even having to buy a raffle ticket.

There was an excited buzz throughout the evening as guestd ate, drank and waited for the live auction. Thanks to Bnai Zion’s wonderfully generous and philanthropic supporters, the organization was immediately able to send to Israel a check larger than any that had gone in past years.

Strauss, along with past honoree Diane Benjamin and Texas Regional Director Avrille Harris-Cohen, secured the fine honorees for their unique contributions to our community here and in Israel.

Monica “Posy” McMillen was the recipient of the America-Israel Friendship Award. She graciously accepted this from Toni and Harold Gernsbacher. Posy has led numerous missions to Israel. She is a gifted writer and a treasured teacher who facilitates a 22-week course titled “Anti-Semitism and the Church,” and is the founder of the Fort Worth branch of Yad B’Yad, an organization of reconciliation between Christians and Jews which she started in 1998.

Harmon Schepps is a much-loved community leader who formerly served as president of the Dallas Crime Commission. He is instrumental in “Crime Stoppers” and was a key principal owner of Schepps Dairy. He has shown devotion to making our community safe, having aided many less fortunate who claim him as their personal “godfather.” Harmon humbly accepted the Bnai Zion Community Service Award, presented to him by Pete Schenkel, president of Schepps Dairy.

Dr. Ed Goodman, this year’s recipient of the Bnai Zion Humanitarian Award,  has served on various boards and medical societies, and has given his time generously to several community organizations. He received Hadassah’s Doctor of Distinction award and was included in D magazine’s list of “Best Doctors in Dallas.” From 2002 to the present, Dr. Goodman has led the Emergency Response Group, which trains American physicians in disaster preparation, in readiness to serve hospitals in the state of Israel and at home. The honor of this presentation was given to Jim Hogue, president, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.

The Presentation of Colors by the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post #256 of the Jewish War Veterans was a patriotic display that joined the attendees as they welcomed an entourage of dignitaries who graced the podium. Included in the evening’s program were Rabbi William Gershon; Mayor Tom Leppert; the Hon. Ann Margolin; Dr. Amnon Rofe, director-general of the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, Israel; Dr. Mickey Kafka, head of the Emergency Department; Lyora Kalish, chair of Israeli Friends of the Bnai Zion Medical Center; Jack Grunspan, executive vice president of Bnai Zion’s national headquarters in New York; the Hon. Allen Clark; and this year’s chairpersons, Gwen and Martin van Brauman.

To become involved in this incredible organization which not only supports The Bnai Zion Medical Center but also Ahava, a village for abused and neglected children, please contact Texas Regional Director Avrille Harris-Cohen at 972-918-9200.

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Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, I made them out of… Everything

Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel, I made them out of… Everything

Posted on 17 December 2009 by admin

This year the theme of Levine Academy’s annual Chanukah art contest in the lower school was dreidels! Shown here are some of the spectacular spinners.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 17 December 2009 by admin

CHAI rededicates two homes for adults with cognitive disabilities

Did you know that the Community Homes for Adults, Inc. (CHAI) hosted the rededication of their Miller I and Miller II homes on Sunday, Dec. 6?

The event, honoring CHAI’s founder, Carmen Miller Michael, and CHAI Task Force Coordinator Barbara Gutow, included a mezuzah hanging ceremony led by Rabbi Howard Wolk, community chaplain.

CHAI Board Member Brett Diamond said, “The rededication of Miller House and the mezuzah event is a great opportunity for us to invite members of the community to our CHAI home and introduce them to our amazing residents who live fulfilling and meaningful lives.”

The mezuzahs serve to remind people of the presence of God in the home. In Jewish tradition, they are placed at an angle at each of the doorways to and within the house. According to Lea Rosenthal-Bond, executive director of CHAI, “Miller Houses I and II first opened in 1984 and have been recently remodeled. We felt that it was time to rededicate the homes with this event and have new mezuzahs hung to celebrate the beauty of the new homes.”

CHAI is a nonsectarian, nonprofit corporation under Jewish auspices that provides programs and services to enable adults with cognitive disabilities to live full, rich lives in a safe environment and to meaningfully participate in the community.

Benji Rubin designated as BBYO future leader

Mazel tov to Benji Rubin, son of Terri and Gary Rubin, who was named one of B’nai B’rith Youth Organization’s Future 50 Leaders. A member of Rubin Kaplan AZA, Benji is a senior at Richardson High School, where he has been active in the Communications Magnet program. Benji won a high school short film festival; he is a lifeguard and swim instructor, and a service learning award winner. He is passionate about Holocaust education and would like to be a studio head one day. He is the moreh for Kaplan AZA.

Poker tournament Dec. 25 to benefit Golman/Dallen Fund

On behalf of the Gladys Golman/Faye Dallen Education Fund, Louis Zweig will host the first annual Lox and Bagels Poker Tournament on Friday, Dec. 25, 8 a.m. at the JCC, sponsored by HBR Technologies.

Entry fee for the day of the tournament is $50 cash (all fees paid out to players). In addition, a $150 fee, paid by check to the Golman/Dallen Fund, will cover a gourmet breakfast from Simcha Catering.

All proceeds will benefit the Golman/Dallen Fund, which funds teacher training and special needs resources in Jewish religious schools, day schools and early childhood centers throughout the community.

RSVPs should be made to lzweig@glazers.com to reserve your spot. You may also RSVP by fax to 972-702-8516. If you have questions, please call Louis at 214-213-5664.

Checks should be made payable to the Gladys Golman/Faye Dallen Education Fund and mailed to 5220 Ambergate Lane, Dallas, TX 75287.

Dallas Holocaust Museum names Alice Murray new CEO

Alice Murray, a highly-regarded executive in Dallas’ real estate and nonprofit communities, is the new chief executive officer of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.

Murray, who has served as president and CEO of DowntownDallas, the Downtown Improvement District and The Real Estate Council, Inc., assumes the newly created post at the museum effective immediately, said Jim Hogue, president of the board of directors of the Museum/Center.

“Alice Murray is a talented executive and a highly-respected community leader who is the right person at the right time to lead the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance,” Hogue said. “Her background and experience is critical for the museum as we put together plans for a capital campaign to realize the long-awaited construction of a best-in-class, nationally-recognized museum/center for all the citizens of North Texas.”

Founded 25 years ago in the basement of the Dallas Jewish Community Center, the museum moved to its interim location at 211 N. Record St. in Dallas’ West End Historic District in 2005. More than 40,000 students and teachers and another 15,000 visitors tour the museum annually. The museum has purchased land along the DART rail line, across from the Sixth Floor Museum, at the corner of Houston and Pacific streets for the new building.

“I am thrilled, honored and excited to have the opportunity to work with the museum board and staff to take the museum to its next level, especially the construction of a new museum,” Murray said. “The museum’s mission — to teach the moral and ethical response to prejudice, hatred and indifference — is unduplicated in its importance for all residents of our city and region.”

At the request of the museum board, current Executive Director Elliott Dlin, an internationally-recognized Holocaust expert, will assume the new title of museum director and focus his duties on its educational, archival and content-related programs and services, especially for the new museum. “When the new museum is built, we want it to be recognized as the finest teaching museum in the region, if not the country,” Hogue said.

In addition to her nonprofit background, Murray has extensive experience in commercial real estate. Her first development project was the remodeling of the historic Kirby Building, a Main Street fixture since 1913, into a downtown residential high-rise that reopened in 1999. Other development projects included the finish-out construction of the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences, as well as premier hotel projects in San Diego, Calif., and Milwaukee, Wis., which were accomplished during her service as vice president of development at Gatehouse Capital Corporation in Dallas.

Murray has logged thousands of volunteer hours as a member or officer of nonprofit organizations, including the board and Executive Committee of DowntownDallas, the Executive Committee of the State Fair of Texas, the Executive Committee of the Trinity Commons Foundation, the board of the Dallas Summer Musicals and many others. Former Dallas Mayor Laura Miller appointed her to the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness from 2004 to 2006.

More information can be found at www.dallasholocaustmuseum.org.

Tina Wasserman on KERA

Did you see Tina Wasserman featured Tuesday, Dec. 8, on KERA’s “Think”? If you didn’t have the opportunity to hear her discuss her new book “Entree to Judaism: A Culinary Exploration of the Jewish Diaspora,” you can visit www.kera.org/think to hear a replay of the broadcast.

If you’re lucky, you might be able to get a discount price on Tina’s newest cookbook ($35) at Temple Emanu-El’s Judaic Treasures. While supplies last, of course!

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 17 December 2009 by admin

Noah Rubin’s bar mitzvah

The fall bar mitzvah of Noah Blake Rubin, son of Sandy and Dr. Alan Rubin of Houston, was of special interest to many ourtowners. Noah was called to the Torah at Congregation Beth Yeshurun on Oct. 17 with Rabbi Brian Strauss and Chazzan David Propis officiating. He is the grandson of the late well-known Fort Worthians, Dr. Norman and Carolyn Rubin and Elaine Betcher and Dr. Stuart Brown of Dallas. Officiating at the simcha was Rabbi Brian Strauss, son of Dallas community leaders Shirley and Larry Strauss.

Noah is a seventh-grade student at The Crossroads School of Houston.

For his bar mitzvah projects, Noah assisted with weekly bingo at the Vosswood Nursing Home and collected several hundred books for his school’s library. He is participating in the rabbi’s 10-percent program with donations going to the rabbi’s discretionary fund and the National Dysautonomia Research Foundation.

The weekend events began with a Shabbat dinner at Canyon Café hosted by his grandparents Elaine Betcher and Dr. Stuart Brown. Following an incredible Saturday night party, a Sunday brunch was hosted by aunts and uncles Arthur Rubin of Fort Worth, Andrea and Michael Hopkovitz and Tonya and Barry Brown of Dallas, Dr. Alec and Dana Rubin of Florida, and Candy and David Goldstein of Austin.

Among the ourtowners enjoying the simcha were Elaine and Dr. Allen Schuster, Ricki and Stuart Schuster and daughter Melinda Hahn with children Reed and Taylor, the Mark Schusters and Kyron Wylie, Nancy Sheinberg and daughter, Lori Durbin, Barbara Rubin, and Ethel and Arnold Schectman with sister, Sydelle Schectman of Big D.

Out-of-towners also included Californians: Harriet and Dr. Alan Shumacher and daughter Susan Doole of San Diego, Arlene Hecht of Orange County, and Rick Shumacher of Calabasas; Matt Schuster and Howard Schrott of San Francisco. From Maryland were Dr. Ron and Abby Shumacher, Suzanne and Josh Schonfeld and family, Andrea Kay, Rozzie and Marvin Kay, Hon. Josef and Gloria Brown, and Caren and Bo Mitchell. Others included Rachel Goldstein, Evan and Zachary Rubin, and Sylvia Haftel of Florida; Ilene Carson, Delaware; Wendy and Rob Marcus and family, New Jersey; Jan and Josh Feinstein, Massachusetts; and Helene Schrott, Virginia. Other Texans were Leah Goldstein, Sharon Krumholtz, Cantor Marie and Jon Betcher, Austin; Sherwin Rubin, Arlington; and Cookie and Dr. Gregg Silverman and family from Corpus Christi. Dallasites included Susan Mandel, Davi Hopkovitz, Jeb Brown, Cindy, Bruce and Ryan Yablonsky, Abe Esquenazi, Felicia and Robert Rubin, May Sebel, Vicki and Gene Itzkowitz and Neil Beckerman, who surprised his good friends with his presence at the simcha.

And there were many more!

Mazel tov to the Rubins and their celebrating families.

CAS Film Series a smash hit

Movies come and go. But “Lemon Tree,” the first of Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s ‘Til 120 and Beyond Jewish Film Series, was a box office smash. Over 90 people from the community came for popcorn, drinks and to see an award-winning Israeli film that addressed current social and political issues in Israel. Heated debate on those issues followed the movie.

No less is expected from the second in the series, “Praying with Lior,” which will screen Sunday afternoon, Jan. 17, at 3:30. Doors open at 3 for those who want to come early for a good seat.

Remember, the films, popcorn and lemonade are free. Cold drinks and candy bars will be on sale, with proceeds going to the shul’s United Synagogue Youth organization. Babysitting is available by calling Joann English in the congregation office at 817-731-4721.

Thanks to the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for generously funding this film series.

Come enjoy and be a part of Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s ‘Til 120 and Beyond experience.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 17 December 2009 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Did you ever make a little dreidel out of clay? I never did. I never even saw one, although I have seen wax crayons in dreidel shapes. These, and that little ditty that seems the essence of Chanukah to many, reinforce the notion that the dreidel is “just” a simple toy.

Not so, according to Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, whose new little book, “The Dreidel’s Hidden Meanings,” is the latest in his extensive “Mysteries of Judaism” series. It’s an explanation of the toy through an exploration of the numbers related to it — an exercise in gematria, the ancient Jewish art and practice of assigning numerical values to letters, words and phrases, and drawing ever-deeper meanings as a result.

So Rabbi Ginsburgh begins with the holiday itself: “The eight days of Chanukah commemorate the miraculous lighting of the seven-branched Menorah in the Holy Temple for eight days,” he says, “connecting the numbers 7 and 8. In Jewish tradition, the number 7 represents a state of natural perfection (for example, Shabbat is the seventh day of the week); the number 8 represents a state of supernatural perfection (for example, circumcision is done on the child’s eighth day). Thus Chanukah unites the natural with the supernatural, the finite with the infinite.”

And here’s how the dreidel comes to fit into this scheme: The numerical values of the Hebrew letters nun, gimel, hei and shin, initials in that popular Chanukah phrase translated into English as “A great miracle happened there,” add up to 358, which is also the total value of the letters in the word Mashiach (Messiah). So “The recurring motif found in the dreidel is that of changing the world and making it a worthy dwelling place for the Almighty,” the rabbi says.

Now: what about the letter change in Israel, where nun, gimel, hei and PEI represent “A great miracle happened HERE” rather than THERE? Well, “Their numerical sum would come to 138,” according to Rabbi Ginsburgh. “But you cannot escape the dreidel’s inner meaning; 138 is the value of Menachem and Tzemach, names of the Meshiach according to the sages and appearing in the Bible….” So every spin of the dreidel, whether there or here, is an invitation to, and a promise of, redemption.

Speaking of spinning: The Hebrew word for our Chanukah toy is sevivon, which comes from a root word meaning “to spin.” And the numerical value of sevivon’s letters is 130, also the value of the Hebrew word for “eye.” So “Sevivon represents the eye that sees the Divine spinning within the natural world,” according to the rabbi. “This connection between the dreidel and eyesight is best illustrated by the mitzvah of lighting Chanukah candles…. Our obligation is simply to look at their light, letting it shine into the depth of our souls….”

The Yiddish “dreidel” also comes from a word that means “to spin,” and its numbers equal 248, which is the gematria — the numeric equivalent — of Abraham, who “spun” around the world to reveal God’s presence. “In this sense,” Rabbi Ginsburgh tells us, “every Jewish soul descended from Abraham is a dreidel….”

And in English, the most descriptive word is just plain “top,” which holds some not-so-simple linguistic surprises. “Transliterating ‘top’ into Hebrew yields the word meaning ‘infant’ or ‘child,’” which links the dreidel to its most common perception as a youngster’s toy. But the numerical value of “top” in Hebrew is 89 — also the number equivalent of Chanukah itself! So, Rabbi Ginsburgh reminds us, we’ve come a full, spinning circle back to where we started: “The best time to play with a top is indeed on Chanukah — and with children, of course!”

And this is by no means all. The word for “falling over,” as the dreidel does when its spin runs down, is a grammatical relative of the word for “wonder”:

“The spinning dreidel reminds us of wandering to and fro, like the Jew who, while exiled from the Land of Israel, travels through the world searching for a spark of holiness…. The dreidel tipping over suggests that we are all in need of support from above…. The last stage, falling, is usually associated with something negative, but here represents our wondrous and surprising return to God.”

Yitzchak Ginsburgh’s writings were blessed for publication by the great Lubavitcher Rebbe himself almost 40 years ago. Visit www.inner.org to learn more about this rabbi and his teachings. “The Dreidel’s Hidden Meanings” is newly published by Gal Einai Institute (www.innermedia.org) at $8.95. Read it to celebrate more deeply!

E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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