Archive | February, 2010


Posted on 25 February 2010 by admin

Praying through Jerusalem and Sinai

By Rav Hanan Schlesinger

Everyone knows in which direction a Jew faces when he prays — we turn to Jerusalem, and in the case of Jews here in the United States, that means turning east. But where should the focus of our hearts be? That is a more difficult question. Surprisingly, many ancient and modern Jewish sources tell us that not only our bodies but our hearts as well should turn toward Jerusalem when we stand in prayer.

To understand why that might be so, we have to go back to this week’s Torah portion, Parashat Tetzaveh, and to the chapters in the Book of Exodus dealing with the construction of the Tabernacle, chapters which we first began to encounter in the Torah portion recited last week. The Tabernacle built in the desert after the Israelites heard the thundering Divine voice proclaiming the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai, was a veritable portable Mt. Sinai. In its inner sanctum were housed the tablets that record those Ten Commandments spoken by God at Sinai, and the Divine voice continually proclaimed additional laws and instructions from inside that inner sanctum even as it was transported through the desert, just as the Voice had earlier echoed from the pinnacle of Mt. Sinai. The Tabernacle was divided into three graduated regions of ascending holiness just as, during the Sinaitic revelation, the people remained at the bottom of the mount, the 70 elders went partially up toward the top and only Moses entered into the Divine cloud that rested near the summit. Just as God warned, during the giving of the Law at Mt. Sinai, that those who overstepped the boundaries and came too close would not live, so too it was constantly repeated that any who encroached upon the boundaries of the Tabernacle would forfeit their lives. And finally, animal sacrifices were mandated in the Tabernacle, just as they were offered at Mt. Sinai.

After 40 years in the desert and hundreds of years of conquest and settlement of the land of Israel, the Israelites, under the leadership of the wise King Solomon, built a permanent structure to replace the wandering Tabernacle. The Ark of the Covenant containing the tablets was transferred to the Holy Temple in Jerusalem along with the other furnishings of the Tabernacle. This fulfilled the prophecies of the Book of Deuteronomy that God would cause His name to dwell in one permanent place among the tribes of Israel, and it is to that place that all sacrificial offerings were brought. The Book of Deuteronomy mandated as well that the high court of the Jewish people that interpreted and applied Torah law, sit in that same Divinely chosen place, making the Temple in Jerusalem a continual source of Torah teachings, just as the Tabernacle had been. And so we trace a direct line from Mt. Sinai to the Tabernacle to the Holy Temple.

Now King Solomon, in his prayer at the dedication of the Temple, expressed a fervent conviction that this structure would serve as a focal point for the supplications of Jews around the world. Although we pray to God Almighty, our prayers should be directed “through this house.” The institution of prayer developed not as a replacement for animal sacrifice but as a supplement to it, and just as all sacrifices were to be brought to the Temple, so all prayers are to be “brought” there as well. King Solomon understood that our prayerful connection to the omniscient, transcendent God must be mediated by the physical reality of the Holy Temple, its symbolism and its memory.

So in our prayers to this very day, we are to turn not only our physical posture to the site of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem but our spiritual posture as well, and in doing so we symbolically turn to the memory of the greatest revelation of God in all of human history, the moment of the promulgation of the Decalogue. Just as millennia ago God concentrated His Presence in that place and turned His countenance towards u, bestowing upon us blessing and instruction, so we respond to Him and to the Law that we daily continue to absorb into our lives and beings, by directing our prayer back through that same holy place.

Rav Hanan Schlesinger is director of community education and community rabbinic scholar of the Community Kollel of Dallas, located on the Schultz-Rosenberg Campus. He can be reached at 214-789-7241.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 25 February 2010 by admin

17th Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff, March 14 at Tiferet Israel

The 17th annual Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff is scheduled this year for Sunday, March 14 at Tiferet Israel Congregation at Royal and Hillcrest. Chairman of the judges is volunteer extraordinaire Harry Kabler. The confirmed judges are: esteemed Mayor Tom Leppert; Jeff Kollinger, owner of Spice of Life Catering; Lowell Michelson, owner of Simcha Caterers; Michael Sweet, a valuable volunteer and ex-Marine who cooks the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post #256 annual Thanksgiving dinner at the V.A. Hospital as well as being one of the judges at the Terlingua Chili Cookoff; and Frank Seddio, general manager of longtime Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff sponsor, Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Homes. Tiferet’s President Ed Jerome said, “Our judges have cast-iron stomachs, but hearts of gold to come forward and help make this a successful event for our synagogue, which is celebrating its 120th year!”

This year’s recipients of a portion of the profits that Tiferet Israel awards annually to various charities are: the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post #256 of the Jewish War Veterans of America (a consistent team entrant), the Dallas Furniture Bank and the Jewish Family Service Special Needs Initiative.

Kinky Friedman, a candidate for election as agriculture commissioner of Texas, is expected to appear at the Chili Cookoff. He said he’d like to serve as a judge. Kinky received a copy of the DKCC DVD that was a popular souvenir of the 14th annual DKCC, when State Senator Florence Shapiro, an avid kosher chili fan, was one of the favorite judges.

This DVD was produced for Tiferet Israel by Barry Wernick, producer, screen writer and author of the popular best-selling comic book, “Bad Kids Go to Hell” (, who will also be available for book signing. Barry Wernick’s proud mom is Diane Benjamin.

For further information, volunteer and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Diane at or Tiferet Israel at 214-691-3611, or visit the Web site at

Dine with Hadassah

Eat, drink and be merry as Hadassah kicks off their 12 annual dining events, including brunch, lunch and dinner. All these lovely events are held in private homes for only $36 per person. Some of the “taste tempting” menus are: Mediterranean, Italian, seafood, Eastern European, Middle Eastern, Chinese and more!

Meals are kosher or kosher-style, and this promises to be a very special and intimate dining experience. All will take place either before or after Passover. Dine at as many homes as you’d like … what a deal!

Please join in for an informal, fun-filled and social experience and support Hadassah at the same time.

For specific dates and locations, and to make your reservations, please contact the office at 214-691-1948 or at Reservations are limited, so first come, first served.

Steven Mintz receives B’nai B’rith leadership award

Steven Mintz, son of Sheryl and Howard Mintz of Dallas, a sophomore at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa., where he is majoring in mathematics, recently received B’nai B’rith’s Leadership Award.

“Established in 1992, the B’nai B’rith Hillel Leadership Award in memory of Morton R. and Myra D. Levy is given annually to a student who has demonstrated tangible evidence of promise in community leadership.… According to the award’s guidelines, winners should be active in a number of campus organizations, including Hillel, should have demonstrated leadership abilities and the respect of others, should have a strong sense of responsibility and self-motivation and be aware of the needs of the Jewish community on and off campus.”

Steven was nominated and then chosen for this award. He was required to write an essay answering a question submitted by a Jewish studies professor and then interviewed by a panel of judges.

He is currently the vice president of finance for Hillel and the Friday night minyan leader. He is also VP of finance for Mules United For Israel (an AIPAC student organization affiliate) and treasurer for the class of 2012. Steven serves as vice-president of recruitment for his fraternity, Sigma Phi Epsilon; works on campus as a calculus and Hebrew tutor; and is a member of a jazz ensemble and a jazz improvisation group.

Zachary Albert selected to go to Washington as college intern

Rhodes College senior Zachary Albert, son of Nancy and ­David Albert,  has been selected as an HUC-JIR/NATE College Intern for the 2010 NATE Convention taking place in Washington, D.C. March 11–14. HUC-JIR, the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion, and NATE, the National Association of Temple Educators, are sponsoring the conference, whose theme is “The More Justice, The More Peace: Effecting Change through Advocacy.”

The J Early Childhood Center: As soon as you visit, you know

Come see why the J Early Childhood Center is the very best beginning for your child. The JECC will hold an open house on Wednesday, March 10. Drop in between 9 and 11 a.m. or call for a personal tour. Meet and greet parents and teachers, enjoy coffee and cookies and take a tour of the incredible early childhood program. Registration for the 2010–2011 school year is now open and space is filling fast, so reserve your spot today. Call Tara Ohayon at 214-239-7157 or

Herzl luncheon will feature Harriet P. Gross

Herzl Hadassah is pleased to announce that Dallas’ popular Harriet P. Gross will review Rabbi Ron Isaacs’ newest book, “Have A Good Laugh: Jewish Jokes for the Soul,” at their Annual Lifesaver Luncheon on Wednesday, March 10 at 10:30 a.m. in Town Village North, 12271 Coit Road (just south of Churchill Way).

Gross, a much-sought-after speaker and book reviewer, has countless stories and jokes in her own repertoire. Her column in the Texas Jewish Post is well read and looked forward to each week.

A delicious salmon lunch with salad, veggies and desert will be served. The program will include an exciting raffle with fabulous prizes. Raffle tickets are $1 each or six for $5.

Transportation will be provided from the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center at 10 a.m. Parking space will be reserved at Town Village.

The annual Hadassah Life Saver Luncheon is a benefit for the ­Hadassah Medical Organization.

The event is open to all. Reservation deadline is March 1. Send your $15 check, payable to Hadassah, to Rose Biderman, 5813 Orchid Lane, Dallas 75230, or call 214-363-1911.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 25 February 2010 by admin

Herb Bogart visits his alma mater in Philadelphia

Herb Bogart returned from a long weekend trip to Philadelphia on Jan. 28. He graduated from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity Theta Chapter at Penn. Herb was invited back to ZBT for the initiation ceremonies of the new brothers and as a guest speaker at the banquet following the initiation. He was asked to recount stories of what life was like at Penn some 30 years ago. After the banquet, several of the current brothers invited him to the fraternity house for a casual dinner the following evening so they could hear more about life at ZBT “in the old days.”

Herb is currently serving as the webmaster for the Theta Chapter of ZBT at Penn. He’s the son of Ann Bogart and the late Louis Bogart.

Community Purim Carnival this Sunday at Beth-El

Be sure to bring your kids to the community-wide Purim Carnival this Sunday at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven, from 12:15 to 2:15 p.m.

The packed agenda includes the four mitzvot of Purim (fun activities): reading the Megillah, gifts for the poor (bring canned food), mishloach manot and the meal of Purim. Do all four and get five extra tickets. It’s even more fun if the kids are dressed in costume!

The carnival is a big attraction. What youngster can resist Mordechai’s Muffin Game, Shushan Shuffleboard, Purim Plinko, face painting and much more?

Admission is free. Activity tickets will be sold at the door for 25 cents each or 25 for $5. For more information, please call Mona Karten at the Federation office, 817-569-0892.

The Purim Carnival is brought to the community by the Jewish Federation with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation.

Texas Boys Choir at ‘Daytimers’

About 80 “Daytimers” enjoyed an exciting performance by the world-famous Texas Boys Choir at Beth-El Congregation. The Choir, introduced by Edythe Cohen, holds two Grammy Awards and a myriad of other awards including a gold medal in Mixed Boys’ Choirs at the 2004 Choir Olympics in Bremen, Germany.

The Texas Boys Choir has an illustrious background. It has traveled abroad to Australia, Japan, England, Mexico, Latvia and Germany. They’ve performed for the pope, the president, kings and heads of state. They’ve appeared on national television and radio broadcasts many times.

Their program last week included patriotic songs, an African number sung in Bembe, several humorous numbers and a medley of Old West songs. Emcee for the day was Dr. Irv Robinson.

Two grandmothers were kvelling at the presentation: Margo Feld and Trudi Post were excited at the performance of their grandson, Ben Feld.

Next event for the “Daytimers” will be a trip on TRE and DART to the AT&T Performing Arts Center to tour the Winspear Opera House and the Wyly Theatre on Wednesday, March 17.

The group will meet at the Intermodal Transportation Center, 9th and Jones, at noon to catch the 12:15 p.m. train to Union Station, then transfer to DART. There is a four-block walk to the AT&T Center. The hour-and-a-half tour will include both the opera house and the theater. Lunch and bottled water will be delivered to the ITC, and the group will lunch at the tables on the train. Cost is $10 per person, including lunch and train fare.

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.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 25 February 2010 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Purim, with its yearly dose of good food and good fun, is also a good and necessary time to think about enemies. While contemplating Haman, we should once again remember Amalek, Hitler, and all the bugaboos of our Jewish past, present and — sadly — projected future.

Currently, anti-Semitism is on the march once again, seemingly across the world. How to fight it effectively? Maybe we can’t. Maybe all we can do is keep doing our own best, keep being productive in all fields of endeavor, keep leading civilization in creative thought. And keep translating those thoughts into practicalities that benefit all.

I’m thinking of this because my husband and I are now planning a trip to Israel this year. We not only want to visit again — it’s been much too long since we were there — but it’s the only country outside the United States that we’d want to be in now, because with our checkered medical histories, Israel is the sole overseas location where we’re sure we could get first-rate care if needed.

Driving home this point: a recent article in, of all places, Parade magazine, the Sunday supplement to many daily newspapers across the country. Titled “Restoring the Power to Walk,” it told about Amit Goffer, an Israeli who’s making huge strides, quite literally, in providing mobility for paraplegics.

Goffer, wheelchair-bound himself since a 1997 accident, has used his considerable skills in electrical and mechanical engineering to invent ReWalk, a device now being tested here in the U.S. At this stage, it’s awkward and cumbersome. But it works. With ReWalk, someone like Goffer can actually rise up again.

The article quotes Dr. Alberto Esquenazi, who’s working with ReWalk’s dozen clinical trial participants at a Philadelphia rehab faciity. “It’s not moving fast or going long distances,” he says of Goffer’s invention. But it lets patients “move around in their own homes, giving them a form of exercise, and allowing them to interact with the world eye-to-eye.” This he calls “incredibly important.”

Maybe someday, Goffer will win a Nobel Prize for ReWalk. If so, he’ll join a pantheon of other Jews from all over the world who’ve made contributions of outstanding importance to humanity. Jewish Magazine’s list (not yet fully updated) includes 165 who have been so recognized since the turn of the 20th century. They break down this way: nine Peace Prize winners, 11 in Literature, 22 in Economics, 27 in Chemistry, 45 in Physics and an incredible 51 in Medicine — which might be where Goffer will someday fit, even though he’s an engineer rather than a physician.

Do you realize what this means? There are about 12 million Jews in today’s world, just 20 out of every thousand people around the globe, at most 2 percent of the total population. But Muslims, representing a full fifth of the world’s people — 20 out of every 100 — have stood on the Nobel platform only a half-dozen times: once each in Literature, Chemistry and Physics, and three times to receive the coveted Peace Prize.

And one of those latter caused controversy: When Yasser Arafat was named in 1994 along with Yitzhak Rabin, one Nobel Committee member, Kaare Kristiansen, resigned in protest. He was expressing in the strongest way possible his dismay, his opposition to the choice of a recipient whom he called, ‘way back then, “a terrorist.” We can pin a “20-20 Foresight Medal” — more elusive even than a Nobel — on him!

What’s the reason for this discrepancy between the numbers of Jews and Muslims recognized worldwide for their contributions to bettering humanity? Some cite a basic difference in the genes. But we’re both members of families descended from Father Abraham, so I wouldn’t attribute the difference to that factor alone. Others say Jews have always put more emphasis on education, and I do agree with that; we learned a long time ago that land and wealth and possessions of all kinds can easily be stripped away; only whatever has been planted in the brain is ours forever, not only not subject to loss by removal, but also portable!

But I really think the difference is a matter of what people concentrate on. Hate is singularly non-productive. I also think I can safely predict that when (not if!) Amit Goffer comes from Israel to Oslo to receive his Nobel Prize, he’ll be able to ReWalk to the podium on his own power to accept it.

May he, and we, remember Haman, Amalek and Hitler, look ahead and have a happy, gladsome Purim anyway!


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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 25 February 2010 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi,

I always have trouble feeling joyous on Purim. That salvation happened thousands of years ago, and we have had so many troubles since then; and we have scores of problems, here at home and in Israel. Any suggestions?

Martin W.

Dear Martin,

The miracle of Purim was one of a great “reversal.” What was going to be our destruction became our redemption. When Haman thought he was going to the king to have Mordechai deposed, he became the one who was ordered to lead Mordechai through the streets of the capital with the greatest honor. The enormous gallows he erected to have Mordechai hanged was the very same gallows he himself was hanged upon. The date that the Amalekites had decreed to kill every last Jewish man, woman and child murdered became the very same date that Israel’s enemies were destroyed. The Megillah of Esther calls the month of Adar, “the month that was reversed, from sorrow to rejoicing, from mourning to festival” (9:22).

The precedent to this phenomenon was the episode of Balaam, the Gentile prophet who, in the employ of the wicked Balak, sought to curse the Jewish people into decimation (Numbers, Ch. 22-24). Instead, all his curses were reversed into blessings. “But Hashem, your G-d, refused to listen to Balaam, and Hashem, your G-d, reversed the curse to a blessing for you, because Hashem, your G-d, loved you” (Deuteronomy 24:6).

This happening is a sine qua non for much of Jewish history and, truth be told, for the Jewish outlook on life. The Talmud speaks of a pious man nicknamed Nachum Ish Gamzu. He was called that because his motto in life was “Gam zu l’tova,” or “This is also for the good.” No matter how negative a situation he found himself in, he would utter, with complete faith and trust in G-d’s goodness, “Gam zu l’tova.” Only later would the others around him see how the seemingly horrendous situation was actually the best circumstances they could have found themselves in. Through his remarkable trust in G-d, he lived a life of reversals.

I once read an account of German Jews who had gained transport on a British ship to escape the Nazis to England at the outset of the war. They were treated very roughly by the British crew, who stole many of their valuables. Their hearts sank when they passed England, obviously rerouted to another undisclosed locale. During the long trip they were harassed, and the remainder of their belongings stolen from them. All they had left were their pictures and letters from their loved ones, their final vestige of humanity. Then the British confiscated from them that final remnant of their past, and cast the Jews’ letters into the sea. At that point the Jews sank into depression, and felt that with that loss all was lost. As soon as they disembarked and the ship returned to the high seas, it was blown up by a German submarine. After the war the commander of that submarine was interviewed and asked to explain why he blew up the ship full of Jews only after they disembarked. He explained that they were about to sink it when it left England’s waters, but suddenly they noticed the sea was full of papers. They pulled the papers onto the submarine, and, although were very blotted and impossible to read, they could at least tell that the letters were written in German, making them realize the British had a ship full of German nationals. They decided to guard the ship, rather than destroy it, until they were sure the Germans on board had gotten to safety. Little did they imagine they were protecting a ship full of Jews! What those Jews had thought was their destruction was actually their salvation!

The reversal of Purim is a Jewish paradigm; we need to rejoice in G-d’s love for us and look for the reversals in our own lives today. A joyous Purim to you and all the readers!

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 25 February 2010 by admin

Dear Families,

As I write this week, I am preparing to go to the American Camp Association Conference. I will write about how important camp is for Jewish identity formation and commitment to community, but not this week. This week I am thinking about traveling. There is a wonderful prayer called “Tefillat Haderech” which is called the traveler’s prayer although the literal translation is “prayer of the road.” It asks G-d to protect the traveler from the dangers faced on a journey. Today the dangers are much different than in the past; however, reciting this prayer gives us the opportunity to think about the journey ahead and prepare for the experience. Every trip brings adventure and learning but our approach is important — are you ready?

The Tefillat Haderech traditional prayer is this:

May it be Your will, Adonai, our G-d and G-d of our ancestors, to lead us in peace, to keep us in peace, to direct us to our destination in health and happiness and peace, and to return us to our homes in peace. Save us from all enemies and calamities on the journey, and from all threatening disasters. Bless the work of our hands. May we find grace, love and mercy in Your sight and in the sight of all who see us. Hear our pleas, for You listen to prayer and supplication. Praised are You, Adonai, who hears prayer.

A contemporary version is from Debbie Friedman’s “And You Shall Be a Blessing”:

May we be blessed as we go on our way,

May we be guided in peace,

May we be blessed with health and joy,

May this be our blessing, Amen.

May we be sheltered by the wings of peace,

May we be kept in safety and in love,

May grace and compassion find their way to every soul,

May this be our blessing, Amen.

I can’t wait to begin this journey — it is a yearly trip for me and always a growing and learning experience. My prayer for travel includes the prayer for wisdom to take in all that is offered.

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

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It’s Purim, let the revelry commence

It’s Purim, let the revelry commence

Posted on 25 February 2010 by admin

By Linda Morel

NEW YORK (JTA) — Purim is a busy holiday. It starts with an evening reading of the Megillah of Esther, followed the next morning by the second reading of a story that rivals the pace of a best-selling novel. The plot features a brave and beautiful heroine, a despotic king, a clever uncle and a villain who is destroyed by his own evil plans.

After the morning reading, many people visit family and friends to distribute mishloach manot, packages filled with two baked goods and a drink. They also give matanot l’evyonim, donations to the needy.
Finally comes the highlight of any Jewish holiday — a delicious meal. But unlike most Jewish celebrations, where dining occurs at night, the Seudat Purim is a feast served midday, often lingering until evening.

The idea of consuming a meal during daylight hours was decided in the fourth century by the scholar Rava, who thought the timing would prevent Purim from becoming a regular workday.

Bearing out Rava’s worst fears, the lavish luncheon now passes under the radar screen of many, and it is mostly observant Jews who throw Seudat Purims. However, because Purim falls on a Sunday this year, Feb. 28, it’s an opportunity for the celebration to reach a larger audience.

But how do you get started?

“There’s no such thing as a traditional Seudat Purim,” says Janet Andron Hoffman, a social worker from Teaneck, N.J.

Hoffman finds that most families develop their own style of hosting the celebratory lunch. However, the meal begins like other Jewish holidays — by breaking bread and reciting blessings.

If you’re thinking of guidelines, the Seudat Purim must start after midday and end at sundown. Most important, the luncheon should be joyous because it commemorates the Jews of ancient Persia defeating their enemies.
Drinking plays heavily in the Purim story, which opens when King Ahasuerus of Persia gets drunk at a party and asks his first wife to show off her good looks. She refuses, so the king banishes her.

Ahasuerus then holds a contest to select a new wife. From hundreds of applicants he chooses a nice Jewish girl named Esther. She’s the niece of Mordechai, a prominent Jew who suggested that Esther enter the contest. He warns her not to reveal her religion at court.

In the next scene, Mordechai overhears that the King’s vizier, Haman, is plotting to annihilate the Jews. Mordechai implores Esther to save the Jewish people by intervening with her husband. She organizes a three-day event at which everyone gets drunk.

Ahasuerus becomes enraged when people he has not summoned request an audience, but Esther gathers her courage and approaches him.

Risking her life, she drops two bombshells: She reveals her religion and exposes Haman’s evil plot. Upon hearing the news, the king becomes so outraged, he hangs Haman on the gallows that the vizier had prepared to murder the Jews.

An ecstatic Mordechai and Esther host a huge celebration. From then on, they want Jews to observe Purim by exchanging packages of food and drink, and by making charitable donations.

“This is what I love about my religion,” Hoffman says. “Even in the act of rejoicing, we’re still thinking about people in need. It’s built into the holiday.”

The foods eaten at Seudat Purim luncheons are rife with symbolism. Seeds and nuts are customarily cooked into holiday foods. The Talmud relates that Esther as queen ate only seeds and nuts in the palace of King Ahasuerus because she had no access to kosher food. Some experts believe she subsisted on chickpeas, too.
Many families buy an especially long, braided challah, commemorating the rope used to hang Haman. As turkey is generally known as a stupid animal and Ahasuerus was a foolish king, turkey is often the entrée of choice on Seudat Purim menus.

Hamantaschen are the most well-known Purim food because their shape is reminiscent of Haman’s triangular hat. While hamantaschen are often filled with preserves and chocolate, poppy seeds were the traditional filling.
The drinking of alcoholic beverages is not only suggested but encouraged. In the Talmud, Rava said that people should drink on Purim to the point of not remembering whether it is Mordechai or Haman they are praising or cursing. If that degree of drunkenness is not appealing, a Seudat Purim is an occasion to serve your best wines.
Among all Jewish celebrations, this special meal is a time to express joyous revelry and release.
The bottom line is, a Seudat Purim is great fun.

Hoffman has a large house and more than 20 in her extended family, so she has hosted the festive lunch many times. With her three children now in their 20s, her Purim celebrations have evolved as her children have grown.

“The Seudat Purim is an opportunity to be with my family,” Hoffman says. “We love each other and have fun together; we’re lucky in that way.

“We celebrate with food, wine and merrymaking. We’re all together. What could be better than that?”

Below are some recipes for a Seudat Purim menu.


Because the liqueur in this recipe is cooked through, the alcohol has lost its potency and thus is safe for children to eat.

Turkey ingredients:
  • No-stick vegetable spray
  • 3- to 3-1/2-lb. turkey breast
  • 1/4 c. orange liqueur
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Orange sauce ingredients:
  • 1/4 c. orange liqueur
  • 1-1/2 c. orange juice
  • 3/4 c. orange marmalade
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 6 Tbsp. honey
  • 2 tsp. balsamic vinegar
Turkey preparation:

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat a roasting pan and rack with nonstick spray. Place rack inside of roasting pan.
Rinse turkey breast under cold water and pat dry with paper towels.

Place breast skin side down on a plate. Douse with 1/8 cup orange liqueur. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and 1/8 tsp. garlic powder. Place breast skin side up on rack and repeat, seasoning with remaining orange liqueur, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the breast, avoiding any bones. Slide roasting pan inside the oven.

Meanwhile, place orange sauce ingredients into a medium-sized pot. Stir well to blend. Bring to a boil on a medium flame. Reduce flame and simmer sauce for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. If sauce returns to a boil, reduce heat again. Cool to warm and reserve.

After breast has roasted for 1-1/2 hours, remove it from oven. With a ladle, drizzle orange sauce on breast, reserving the remainder. Then return turkey to the oven.

Breast is ready when temperature on the thermometer reaches 170°, which takes about 2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Remove from oven and wait 5 minutes before slicing. Serve with orange sauce. Yield: 6 servings


This recipe from Hungary reminds us of Queen Esther’s plight in King Ahasuerus’ court.

  • 1 (16-oz.) package of extra-wide egg noodles
  • A few drops of cooking oil
  • 2 shallots
  • 6 Tbsp. butter or margarine
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • White pepper to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley, garnish

Prepare noodles according to package directions, adding cooking oil to the boiling water. While noodles boil, chop shallots finely and sauté in butter or margarine until translucent, about 2 minutes. Reserve.
When noodles reach the desired tenderness, drain them well in a colander. Place noodles in a large mixing bowl. Pour shallot butter (or margarine) over them. Add salt, pepper and poppy seeds; stir until blended. Move noodles to an attractive serving bowl and sprinkle parsley over the top. Serve immediately. Yield: 6 servings (as a side dish)


This recipe tastes best when made 24 hours in advance.

  • 2 (19-oz.) cans chick peas
  • 15 cherry tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1/2 c. pitted Kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 medium-sized red onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

Drain chick peas in a colander. Place chick peas and remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss until well combined. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Toss again before serving, adding more olive oil and vinegar, if necessary. Yield: 6–8 servings


Like hamantaschen, this pastry reminds us of Haman’s three-cornered hat.

  • Nonstick vegetable spray
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c. dark brown sugar (hard lumps removed)
  • 1 tsp. almond extract
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 1 c. blanched, slivered almonds, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat an 8-inch square baking pan with nonstick spray.

In a large mixing bowl, with a wooden spoon, hand-mix the egg, brown sugar and almond extract. (Don’t use an electric mixer in any step of this recipe.) Fold in flour, baking soda, salt and cardamom, mixing well. Add almonds and stir until well blended.

Place batter in prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for 18–20 minutes, or until edges brown and top surface is slightly firm to the touch but soft and spongy underneath.

Remove from oven and cool to room temperature on a wire rack. With a knife, cut across the pan, making 3 horizontal but equal strips. Then cut down the length of the pan, making 3 equal vertical strips. You’ll have 9 squares.

Remove these squares from the pan and cut them in half diagonally, creating triangles. Recipe freezes well. Yield: 18 triangles

Make some Hamantaschen

Purim begins on Saturday night, Feb. 27, with a grand feast the following day. You’ll eat until you’re stuffed with wonderful foods, including the triangular-shaped ones that remind us of Haman’s three-cornered hat, or his
bribe-filled pockets. When we eat his hat (or his pockets), we annihilate him (symbolically, that is).

It’s not Purim without hamantaschen. The sugary, equilateral triangles stuffed with pureed dried fruits, poppy seeds or chocolate are the menu item. In Hebrew, hamantaschen are called “oznay Haman” — Haman’s ears. And now, some foods for the feast!


Pine Nut Brittle
  • 1 c. pine nuts
  • 2 c. sugar
  • 1 c. water
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 325°. Spread the pine nuts on a baking sheet and bake for about 5–10 minutes until light golden. Set aside to cool.

Line a large sheet pan with a silicone mat or with foil. If using foil, spread a light layer of vegetable oil over the foil.

Cook sugar and water in heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring, until the mixture begins to color. Stir in the pine nuts and salt and cook until the sugar syrup becomes golden (if using a candy thermometer, the temperature should reach about 300°). Pour the mixture onto the prepared pan and tilt the pan to spread the mixture. Cool completely before breaking up the brittle. Makes about 12 or more servings.


Kreplach can contain any filling: chicken, cooked chopped brisket, mashed potatoes, cooked mushrooms — anything. This recipe uses simple ground beef for the filling.

  • 2 c. flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil or melted chicken or goose fat
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • Filling:
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 c. finely chopped onion
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic (optional)
  • 8 oz. lean ground beef
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Prepare filling:

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onions and garlic until softened. Add the meat and cook until browned and dry. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside to cool.
Make dough: Place flour on a clean surface (such as a counter or cutting board) and make a well in the center. Place eggs, oil and salt in the well. Use your hands to work the flour, little by little, into the well. When all the flour is incorporated, knead the soft dough for several minutes until it is elastic (when you pull a piece of the dough it should stretch a bit).
Assemble the kreplach: Flour a dry surface and roll the dough into a very thin sheet (if the dough is not thin enough, it will not yield enough for the filling and will be too thick and gummy when cooked). Cut the dough into 3-inch squares. Place a tablespoon of filling on each square and fold them over to form triangles. Use a bit of water on the edges and pinch them to seal the triangles — they should be well sealed so as not to open during cooking. Makes about 24 kreplach.

Hamantaschen (Parve)
  • 5-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3/4 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 c. orange juice
  • 1 to 2 c. good-quality fruit preserves or spread, any flavor (not jelly, and the preserves must be mostly fruit) or Solo-type filling or nut spread, such as Nutella

Preheat oven to 350°. Line two or more baking sheets with parchment or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
Beat together eggs and sugar with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the oil and orange juice and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix well.

Place half the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll with a floured rolling pin to a 1/4-inch thickness (if the dough is too soft, knead in more flour).

Use a cookie cutter (my mother uses a drinking glass) to cut 4-inch circles (or smaller if desired to make smaller hamantaschen) of the dough. Place a spoonful of filling into the center of the circle and raise and pinch the circle to form three triangles (pinch well so that the cookie doesn’t open during baking). This takes a little practice.

Place the hamantaschen on the baking sheet and repeat. Bake about 12 minutes (or more, depending on your oven), until the cookies are golden. Allow to cool before removing from the baking sheet. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

Hamantaschen (Dairy)
  • 4 c. flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c. butter or margarine
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 to 2 c. good-quality fruit preserves or spread, any flavor (not jelly, and the preserves must be mostly fruit) or Solo-type filling or nut spread, such as Nutella

Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl and whisk well. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°. Line two or more baking sheets with parchment or spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine butter and sugar in a large bowl and, using an electric mixer, mix until creamy. Add the eggs and beat until uniform. Mix in the milk and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat until a dough is formed. Divide the dough into three equal pieces.

Place one piece on a lightly floured surface and roll with a floured rolling pin to a 1/4-inch thickness (if the dough is too soft, knead in more flour).

Use a cookie cutter (my mother uses a drinking glass) to cut 4-inch circles (or smaller if desired to make smaller hamantaschen) of the dough. Place a spoonful of filling into the center of the circle and raise and pinch the circle to form three triangles (pinch well so that the cookie doesn’t open during baking). This takes a little practice. Place the hamentaschen on the baking sheet and repeat. Bake about 12 minutes (or more, depending on your oven), until the cookies are golden. Allow to cool before removing from the baking sheet. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 18 February 2010 by admin

Akiba event takes the cake!

Last month, over 100 Akiba annual fund contributors were treated to a lighthearted presentation by cake maven Bronwen Weber, executive chef at Frosted Art, Dallas’ premier kosher bakery.

Celebrated on the Food Network as one of the top pastry chefs in the nation, Ms. Weber entertained her audience with the personal stories behind the elaborate cakes she has designed for almost twenty years. Born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Bronwen Weber grew up in Houston before relocating to Dallas in her late teens. She surprised her geophysicist father when she announced that she wanted to “make cakes,” and learned her trade from the ground up. “I am an 18-year ‘overnight success,’” Ms. Weber declared. Today, she creates every cake at Frosted Art Bakery, and has won numerous awards, from America’s Favorite Cupcake to several Food Network Cake Challenges.

Akiba’s annual fund appreciation event was organized by Marilyn Rutner, director of development, in recognition of the generosity of donors who contributed to this year’s annual fund by Dec. 31, 2009. And since a foodie presentation would be incomplete without sampling, every guest had the opportunity to savor delicious mocha, white chocolate and red velvet cupcakes, three of the award-winning flavors offered at Ms. Bronwen’s bakery.

A new season of the Food Network Challenges featuring Ms. Weber recently made its debut.

Hall of Fame luncheon honors three special women

On Jan. 20, Leah Beth Kolni, Pauline Kress and Bette Morchower became the newest members of the Women of Reform Judaism Hall of Fame — initiated in 1986 to recognize women who have shown, in countless ways, their dedication to Temple Emanu-El and the Dallas community.

Leah Beth Kolni has been actively dedicated for the past 25 years to Temple Emanu-El, WRJ, Greenhill School and Children’s International Summer Villages. She thanks her husband of 29 years, Dr. Harold Kolni, for the opportunity to focus on raising their daughters, Hannah, Esther and Miriam, while volunteering. At Temple, Leah Beth was co-president of the Preschool Parents Association, Preschool Steering Committee chair, Preschool Director Search Committee chair, Caring Congregation co-chair and Confirmation Class chair, and is currently College Committee co-chair. The Greenhill School Parents Association presented Leah Beth with the Ann Perryman Award for many years of support for the school and students’ families. With CISV, she held leadership roles for Dallas delegations to an organization promoting world peace through international youth programs. Leah Beth has held numerous roles in WRJ, currently as financial secretary and College Committee liaison, and her creativity is in demand for event centerpieces and decorations.

Inspired by Rabbi Levi Olan and then supported by Rabbi Gerald Klein, Pauline Kress has long been committed to social action at the community level, beginning with the East Dallas Health Coalition for Asian Refugees. After Pauline served on the Martin Luther King Center Board, she and her late husband, Marvin, recognized the needs of southern Dallas and assisted in the development of the MLK Family Clinic. As an advocate for Dallas seniors, she has also focused on the needs of the working poor, both children and the elderly. One of the results of that advocacy was the development of 11 Dallas area dental clinics. Pauline has received several awards, including the American Jewish Congress Women of Spirit award. She is also the proud mother of son, Sandy, and daughter, Debra, both lawyers based in Austin.

Bette Morchower has dedicated more than 30 years of service to the community to ensure the rights and dignity of those in need. She has worked on major fundraising projects for WRJ, Temple Emanu-El, JCC, Vogel Alcove, Lakehill Preparatory School, NCJW and Komen Foundation and served on the boards of the JCC, St. Marks Parents Association, The Legacy, Hadassah, NCJW and the AMC Cancer Research Center. Bette taught English to Jewish Russian immigrants new to Dallas, volunteered with the March of Dimes and continues to volunteer weekly in the Continuing Care Nursery at Parkland Hospital to screen newborn hearing. Bette and her husband of 32 years, Dr. Gary Morchower, volunteer together with the Richardson and Plano Special Olympics. Their son Andrew is a fourth-year medical resident at UT Southwestern and their daughter Karen is a newly graduated veterinarian.

Jane Guzman to participate in interfaith panel on Texas’ religious leaders

Noted local historian, Dr. Jane Guzman, will participate in a panel discussion on “Religious Leaders of Texas” when the East Texas Historical Society and West Texas Historical Society will hold a joint meeting at the DFW Marriott at Champion’s Circle next week. Guzman’s topic will be Rabbi David Lefkowitz. She will be joined by two other panelists: Patrick Foley, who will discuss “Father Jean-Marie Odin: The First Catholic Bishop of Texas,” and Judy Falls, who will share insights on “Charles Alexander: Searching for Saints and Sinners.” For more information, visit

Singles Shabbaton April 16–18 at Shaare Tefilla: Save the date

Shaare Tefilla is planning a Singles Shabbaton to be held at the synagogue April 16–18. Singles age 35–55 from all the major cities in Texas — Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, Austin and San Antonio — are expected to attend.

Singles interested in attending the event should contact Congregation Shaare Tefilla, 6131 Churchill Way, Dallas 75230.

According to our grapevine, the two-day event will be an awesome weekend and the first such statewide singles event. For information, contact Rabbi Ari Perl, 972-661-0127.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 18 February 2010 by admin

Tzedakah Sunday is Feb. 21: Please answer the call

Once again, Tzedakah Sunday volunteers will be calling you asking for your gift to the Jewish Federation Annual Campaign.

By now you know that programs at Jewish Family Services, Lil Goldman Early Learning Center, Tarrant County synagogues, the UNT Jewish Studies Program, BBYO, Jewish War Veterans and other local programs are funded by the Annual Campaign.

In fact, 50 percent of the allocable dollars raised in Tarrant County stays in Tarrant County.

Another portion (42 percent) of our allocable funds from Campaign was sent overseas to fund programs of the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, aiding needy Jews in Israel and around the world. The last 8 percent was used to fund regional and national agencies including university programs (Hillel), Birthright Israel, Jewish Children’s Regional Service, Jewish Council for Public Affairs — to name just a few.

So now that you know where the money goes (35 different places) and the thousands of lives the Annual Campaign contribution affects everyday, PLEASE ANSWER THE CALL. It’s for you; it’s for all of us. Better yet, why not join the Mitzvah Corps at Ahavath Sholom that Sunday from 8:30 to 4:30. Volunteers are needed to help make phone calls, do administrative tasks or assist with refreshments. Shifts are three hours in length. Call the Federation at 817-569-0892 to learn how you can help our community.

Live generously. It does a world of good.

Camp Shalom has big plans for the summer!

Patty White, director for more than five years of Camp Gan/Camp Shalom for our community’s youngsters, is planning a banner program for the kids. Children in the preschool through grade five age group can sign up for a week or the whole summer. Camp dates are June 22 through July 17 and July 27 through Aug. 21.

This scribe remembers long years ago when our children — three of mine, Linda Wisch Davidsohn and Steve and Judy Wisch — were among those who traveled to the outskirts of Fort Worth for the community’s first day camp experience. It was rugged, but the kids had a wonderful experience. The late Dr. Frank Cohen, beloved community leader and pediatrician, was always on call and the first to see the need for a summer camp program for our youngsters.

Through the years we’ve had a series of summer camp programs and it’s still ongoing.

You can be sure that at Camp Shalom, your children will be well cared for.

The program includes eight weeks of nonstop outdoor activities including crafts, swimming and sessions, full of Jewish values and summer fun.

Registration for camp starts in March. You can get additional information from Patty White by calling the camp office, 817-737-9898.

The program is part of the Lil Goldman Early Childhood Center.

Benjamin Darling to celebrate bar mitzvah this weekend

Mazel tov to Benjamin William Darling, who will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah during Shabbat services this weekend at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. He will lead both the Friday night and Saturday services. Rabbi Alberto “Baruch” Zeilicovich will deliver the charge to Benjamin,

A seventh-grade Honor Roll student at Fort Worth Academy, Benjamin was inducted into the National Junior Honor Society this year. He has played football since age 5 and was on the Fort Worth Academy team which went to the playoffs this school year. Benjamin, who currently plays basketball for his school, has other interests including reading, travel and computers.

Mazel tov also to his parents, Michael and Betsy Darling, and his sister Rachel. On the maternal side, he is the grandson of Frances Kleiman and the late Albert Kleiman. On the paternal side, he is the grandson of Selma Darling and the late Irving Darling. Benjamin also has three pet cats, Max, Leah and Angus.

He will be honored at a series of events during his special weekend including the Kiddush luncheon hosted by his parents and other celebration activities.

Benjamin and his family are looking forward to the joyous occasion with family, friends and the congregation.

News and notes

Mazel tov to proud parents, Tamara and Kevin Garsek, on the recent birth of their son Melvin and to delighted grandparents Ava and Marvin Beleck and Patty and Elliott Garsek. Rabbi/uncle Eddie Garsek of Cincinnati will perform the circumcision ceremony.

Karen Nogen and her husband, Alex Zamansky of Sacramento, Calif., are house hunting for a new home in Texas, preferably in the Fort Worth/Dallas area. Good friend Toni Gernsbacher took them on a tour to see what’s available here.

Welcome guest at the home of Dr. Bernard Zilberg is his son Jonathan from Indonesia. Barbara Rubin recently went on a skiing trip with family to Colorado over the Presidents’ Day weekend. Good news that Mike Blanc and Alex Hoffman are on the mend. Happy birthday greetings to one of my favorite valentines, Debby Rice, who celebrated her birthday in true Debby style.

Words that have stayed with me through the years: Each year, the late Rabbi Robert J. Schur would say to his students. “This summer, I want you to take a long walk, read a good book and make a new friend.” It’s good advice. I’ve never forgotten it.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 18 February 2010 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Last Sunday, on Valentine’s Day, a dear friend returned something to me that I’d given to her many years ago on the same occasion: a yellowed bit of newsprint, four-and-a-half lines of one standard column, taped down on a pierced, heart-shaped, pink paper doily. It reads:

“When the coffee is hot, and the talk is good, and the feeling is easy, and the laughter is light, and the memories are many but the time is too short, you know you are with a friend.”

I wonder where I first got that. I wonder if maybe I wrote it myself, part of an old column in an old paper in my personal “olden days.” It rings nicely, and I do hope it’s my original work. But even though I pride myself on having an exceptionally good memory, I’m not sure about this. And journalism has taught me an important lesson: If you fall in love with something you’ve put down on paper, do a search to make sure it isn’t the product of someone else — something you read or heard and liked so much, you stored it up in your brain, and now you’ve pulled it out and are on the dangerous verge of using it without attribution!

Well, today I use Google, so the searches are faster. But sometimes I still can’t find what I’m looking for. That’s the case here. So I may never be sure about who wrote this little sentence that meant so much to my friend, she saved it for several decades before returning it to me.

Valentine’s Day brought me a poem, too, from another friend. Actually, it’s “verse,” well below the standards of recognized “poetry.” My daughter, who’s not at all fond of standard greeting card rhymes, would call this a “de dum de dum” offering, and she’d be right. But the friend who sent this is as much a sucker for sweet things as my clipping friend is for sentiment. So here is Emily Matthews’ “Poem for You”:

“A lifetime of love in a hug and a smile,

A reason to visit and stay for a while —

The strength of a bond that’s destined to last,

The joys of the present, the warmth of the past —

These are the treasures a fortunate few

Are lucky to cherish all their lives through.

These are the blessings on which we depend,

For these are the gifts of a very good friend.”

Every Valentine’s Day, I look at my Feb. 14 gift from a very good friend ‘way back when we were sentimental high school students together, fancying ourselves a pair of well-read “intellectuals.” It’s a beautiful copy of “The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam,” certainly not the work of a “de dum de dum” versifier. Inside the front cover, she inscribed the start of a William Butler Yeats poem (its title is its first four words):

“When you are old and gray and full of sleep

And nodding by the fire, take down this book,

And slowly read, and dream of the soft look

Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep…”

Yeats was a real poet, which is why his words continue to speak to me as I get older and grayer and need more sleep, and slowly reread the words given to me so many years ago by a true friend who didn’t live long enough herself to lose that soft look and the deep shadows of unfulfilled promise in her young, jet-black eyes.

I think it’s fine for Jews to mark Valentine’s Day, even though it’s named for a lovesick someone who later became a Christian saint. It’s a nice day for giving and receiving chocolates, sharing a delicious dinner and some good wine with someone who really matters to you, laughing with little kids as they delightedly send and receive the silly little holiday cards made especially for them.

But I myself prefer hearts and flowers. Which is why I’m now saving the pierced pink paper heart with its border of cut-out flowers, on which my friend hand-wrote the following above the friendship clipping: “Roses are Red, Violets are Blue, I’m recycling this message I received from you! Happy Valentine’s Day!” I’ve tucked it into my “Rubaiyat,” to reread each year — until I decide it’s time to send it back again. After all, neither of us is getting any younger…

(And if you happen to know where that clipped friendship quote comes from, please let me know!)


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