Archive | August, 2010

Thousands gather at Victory Plaza to celebrate Israel

Thousands gather at Victory Plaza to celebrate Israel

Posted on 26 August 2010 by admin

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By Rachel Gross

The message at Victory Plaza on Aug. 22 was loud and clear: Dallas supports Israel. More than 5,000 Jews and non-Jews from the Metroplex gathered in downtown Dallas in blazing 105-degree heat to celebrate the land and people of Israel and the contributions Israel has made to the world. As the temperatures soared, so did the spirit of the crowd.

“The Party on the Plaza: A Celebration of Israel” was the first public celebration of its kind. The free event, sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, featured activities for the entire family. It was co-chaired by Stephanie Hirsh and Charles Pulman, and co-produced by Jason Schwartz and Zev Shulkin.

Activities included a Dead Sea spa; displays about technological achievements and humanitarian contributions of Israel; a mock Kotel; letter writing to Israeli soldiers; live music and Israeli dancing; and much more. Various Jewish organizations were on location as well.

Frisco resident and Temple Shalom member Ray Farris said he was proud to be among fellow Jews.

“I’m in outside sales and often don’t feel comfortable wearing my kippah, but here I can wear it proudly,” he said. “It’s amazing to see everyone here and it makes me proud to be Jewish.”

Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert; Meir Shlomo, Houston-based consul general of Israel to the Southwest; Rabbi Adam Raskin; and Pastor Terri Pearsons of Eagle Mountain Church in Newark, Texas, all spoke about why it’s important to favor Israel.

Leppert said the celebration allowed people to see the innovations Israel has brought to the world and showed how Texas supports Israel and its endeavors.

“Today, we live in difficult times and I cannot think of another time in history better to support Israel than right now in 2010,” he said. “It’s not just one day; we need to support Israel 365 days a year.”

Rabbi Adam Raskin, president of the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas and spiritual leader of Richardson’s Congregation Beth Torah, highlighted what it means to be a Zionist and how publicly backing Israel is beneficial for everyone.

“Zionism is the essential hope for the Jewish people,” he said. “I am a Zionist because I love Israel. I want peace for my brothers and sisters in Israel, for the entire nation. I’m a Zionist because nowhere else in the world do skyscrapers make me cry. When I see that sprawling city line of Tel Aviv and imagine that just 100 years ago that bustling metropolis of ingenuity didn’t exist, my Zionist heart bursts with pride. Israel is a courageous, free, industrious Jewish state and 62 years later, we are here in Dallas celebrating.”

Raskin added that despite all of the anti-Israeli propaganda in the world, it is imperative to band together and share the knowledge of Israel. He said having Jews and non-Jews celebrate Israel’s gifts to the world is crucial.

He said he hoped attendees ­realized that upholding Israel isn’t only a Jewish issue, but an American one.

“We have the responsibility to educate our community, leaders, neighbors about the contributions Israel has made,” he said. “Israel gives us so much to be proud of…Am Yisrael chai. The people of Israel, the land of Israel, the state of Israel continue to live forever as a beacon for Jewish people, as a free society. I saw that today as a patriotic American, as a committed Jew and a person devoted to freedom for all people.”

Shlomo, who took the position of consul general last week, discussed that although Middle East peace talks will begin on Sept. 2, there are still threats against Israel and it’s significant to have support from the United States.

He added that anyone who champions Israel is precious, no matter who, and that message needs to be communicated.

“It goes beyond Dallas; this is an unshakable alliance between Israel and the United States,” he said. “The ties you have with Israel are so important. We need you to know the real Israel to tell your neighbors, colleagues, elected officials and everyone else what Israel really stands for. Israel is more than what we see on the news every day. It’s a cultural place, a place of innovation. Israel is small, but is on the cutting edge of technology, science and culture.”

Pastor Pearsons exemplified the strong relationship between Jews and Christians. She said Christians espouse Israel because they believe the Bible is the word of God, Israel has made contributions to the Christian faith and, most importantly, because of their love for God.

“Reasonable people should support Israel because it is a bastion of freedom,” she said. “They should see the enormous cultural, economic, artistic, scientific and moral contributions Jewish people have made to better humanity. We are in front of you to defend, we are beside you when you call and we are behind you to remind you that you are not like any other race of people.”

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 19 August 2010 by admin

MitzvahFest to welcome families planning for simchas

In its fourth year, MitzvahFest will be held this Sunday from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Lincoln Center Hilton, located at the southeast corner of LBJ and the North Dallas Tollway. For years, families who are in the planning stages of their b’nai mitzvah or wedding have found MitzvahFest an indispensable resource for their simcha. Absolutely the best of the best vendors will be in attendance, from party planners to party starters. The entrance fee of $10 per family will be donated to Jewish Family Service. MitzvahFest is not to be missed.

‘Party on the Plaza: Celebrate Israel’

After MitzvahFest, you can hop on the Tollway and head toward Victory Plaza for an afternoon to “Celebrate Israel.” Event organizers have assured the community that in addition to putting together a myriad of engaging activities, they are prepared for hot weather with cooling facilities and equipment, water and shading by tents and large umbrellas.

Dr. Mark Goldberg becomes UTSW neurology chair

Dr. Mark Goldberg, formerly of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, has become chairman of neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

Dr. Goldberg, who holds the Linda and Mitch Hart Distinguished Chair in Neurology at UT Southwestern, succeeds Dr. Steven Cannon, who was named associate dean for undergraduate education in June.

Dr. Goldberg was the founding director of Washington University’s Hope Center for Neurological Disorders, a campus-wide initiative promoting research on brain diseases of children and adults. At the Hope Center, he brought together researchers and clinicians from many specialties to work on complex nervous-system disorders. He plans to take the same interdisciplinary approach at UT Southwestern.

“I’m most interested in developing new treatments for neurological diseases,” Dr. Goldberg said. “Doctors and patients often think that conditions such as stroke and Alzheimer’s disease are untreatable. We need to recognize neurology as a discipline that improves the lives of our patients.

“UT Southwestern has long been a pioneering institution for brain science,” he said. “We have the opportunity to develop collaborative research initiatives that move these advances to patient care.”

At Washington University, Dr. Goldberg served as professor of neurology, neurobiology and biomedical engineering. He also was co-head of the Cerebrovascular Disease Section and was director of a Web education project that deals with stroke.

Dr. Goldberg’s research focuses on injury to the brain’s “white matter,” which contains the long “arms” by which nerves reach other areas of the brain. White matter gets its color from the insulating fatty coating that makes nerve cells more efficient. Several diseases and injuries, including stroke, trauma and multiple sclerosis, can damage this coating.

He also studies how nerve cells can form new connections to neighboring nerve cells after injury.

“He was identified as the best candidate for this position based on his exceptional accomplishments as a physician, scientist and teacher,” said Dr. J. Gregory Fitz, dean of the medical school, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at UT Southwestern. “Dr. Goldberg brings these considerable skills to UT Southwestern to focus on the continual development of multidisciplinary programs in neurology and neurosciences.”

Dr. Goldberg earned his medical degree from Columbia University after graduating from Harvard University with a bachelor’s degree in biology. He completed his neurology residency at Stanford University, where he also was a postdoctoral research fellow. He has received numerous awards from organizations including the Academy of Neurology, the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association.

“Dr. Goldberg’s early high priorities,” Dr. Fitz said, “will be to build clinical and academic programs in stroke and research programs in cerebral ischemia through the new Beatrice Menne Haggerty Center for Research on Brain Injury and Repair in Stroke.”

JSI to bring Rabbi Joel Zeff to Dallas as scholar-in-residence

The Jewish Studies Initiative, under the leadership of Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, is bringing to Dallas an exemplary scholar-in-residence for five days of classes and talks. Rabbi Joel Zeff, most recently the head of Yeshivat Torat Yosef Hamivtar in Efrat, Israel, will be in town from Aug. 25 to 29.

On Wednesday evening, Aug. 25, Rabbi Zeff will be welcomed to Dallas at a private dinner. Thereafter, his schedule will be:

Friday, Aug. 27, noon–1 p.m. — Class at Congregation Shearith Israel, 9401 Douglas Ave. (in the Sardas Beit Midrash; includes lunch, $5):

“Why Learn Torah: A Radical Rambam, Right for Our Age.” What is the goal of learning Torah? Join an intellectual roller coaster ride and attempt to understand the Rambam’s theory of Torah education. Grapple with a difficult passage from the Mishneh Torah in which the Rambam seems to deviate from the Talmud. The key will lie in an ultra-controversial passage in his “Guide for the Perplexed” that was consigned to the flames by his detractors. If you never understood why the Rambam was controversial, you will now!

Shabbat, Aug. 27–28 –

Rabbi Zeff will be scholar-in-residence at Congregation Shaare Tefilla, 6131 Churchill Way.

Sunday, Aug. 29, 9:45 a.m.–12:10 p.m. — High Holy Day ReJEWvenation! A morning of camaraderie, study and preparation for the High Holy Days season at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road:

9:45–10 a.m., registration, bagels and coffee. 10–11 a.m., Rabbi Joel Zeff: “We Were as Dreamers: Dreams as a Tool for Teshuva.” Dreams constitute a major theme in the Bible, as well as the Talmud, yet few of us take our dreams seriously. Discover just how serious dreams can be and how they can be a profound tool for personal renewal during this lead-up to the High Holy Day season. 11:10 a.m.–12:10 p.m., Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger: “Cosmic Evolution and Personal Improvement.” The way we understand the world may be a key to the ability to accomplish our personal goals. Too many of us see ourselves as fighting against natural tendencies and inborn instincts which we think are holding us back from becoming what we wish to become. But there may be another way: Look deeper and discover the inherent Godliness of everything around us and the grand movement of the universe and of nature toward God and toward betterment. All we then need do is to plug ourselves into this nature movement and ride on its wave. In this way we may help ourselves to evolve into more of what we know we can be.

Sunday, Aug. 29, 4–6 p.m. — High Holy Days Seminar at Congregation Adat Chaverim, 6300 Independence Way, Suite A, Plano:

4–5 p.m. Rabbi Joel Zeff: “Life After Life: Jewish Perspectives on Death and the Afterlife.” In this pre-High Holy Days season of introspection, Jews revisit ultimate issues and ask ourselves hard questions about how we are using our limited time on this earth. A serious examination of the issues of death and the afterlife will help refocus on the meaning of life and redirect our energies in the most fruitful manner possible. 5–5:45 p.m.: Choice of sessions. Session with Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger: “Will the Real Rosh Hashanah Please Stand Up?” This presentation will debunk the myth that Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year, and will try to explain why many have adopted this mistaken notion. The truth is that the Passover season in the spring actually marks the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is something else entirely. Come discover how to focus your prayers on Rosh Hashanah by learning what the holiday is really about! Session with Rabbi Wendy Pein: “Why We Wear a Tallit During Kol Nidre and Other Rituals and Historical Facts About This Powerful Prayer.” Come learn the background and meaning of Kol Nidre and why it evokes such powerful emotions within us.

Sunday, Aug. 29, 7:30 p.m. — Class at the Intown Chabad, 2723 Routh St.:

“Life After Life: Jewish Perspectives on Death and the Afterlife” (see above).

All programs are open to the public and are free of charge. For more information, please contact Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger at 214-789-7241 or ravhanan@sbcglobal.net or contact the co-sponsoring institution.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 19 August 2010 by admin

Ahavath Sholom Film Series will open with a bang

And you thought Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s movies were good last season? Wait till you see “Waltz with Bashir” on Sunday, Aug. 29 at 3:30 p.m. at CAS. You will be waiting with bated breath for more of what’s going to be the best season yet.

“Waltz with Bashir” is a fabulous film and shouldn’t be missed. It is a 2008 Israeli animated documentary written and directed by Ari Folman. It depicts Folman in search of his lost memories from the 1982 Lebanon War. This movie, among the first Israeli animated feature-length films, premiered at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival where it entered the competition for the Palme d’Or, and since then has won and been nominated for many additional important awards while receiving wide acclaim from critics.

The film goes back to 1982 when Ari Folman was a 19-year-old infantry soldier in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). In 2006 he meets with a friend from his army service period, who tells him of the nightmares connected to his experiences from the Lebanon War. Folman is surprised to find that he does not remember a thing from that period. Later that night he has a vision from the night of the Sabra and Shatila massacre, the reality of which he is unable to tell. In his memory, he and his soldier friends are bathing at night by the seaside in Beirut under the light of flares descending over the city. Folman rushes off to meet another friend from his army service, who advises him to discuss it with other people who were in Beirut at the same time in order to understand what happened there and to revive his own memories. Folman converses with friends, a psychologist and a reporter who was in Beirut at the time. The film ends with animation dissolving into actual footage of the aftermath of the Sabra and Shatila massacre.

This is an important Israeli film and to view it is to help understand an Israeli view of conflict, among individuals as well as nations.

Remember, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, the movies are free. Popcorn and lemonade are free as well. Cold drinks and candy bars are on sale with the proceeds going to the Shul’s United Synagogue Youth organization. The next film will be “Ajami,” showing on Sunday, Oct. 24 at 3:30 p.m.

CAS thanks the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for generously funding its film series. Stay tuned to enjoy and be a part of Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s ‘Til 120 and Beyond experience.

Thanks go to the Shul Film Committee for working on this project and when you see Batya Brand, Elizabeth Cohen, Phyllis Gordon, Suzie Herman, Etty Horowitz, Shoshana Howard, Stuart Isgur, Garry Kahalnik, Peter Lederman, Walter Listig, Alex Nason, Marla Owen, Debby Rice, Naomi Rosenfield, Nancy Sheinberg, Nancy Spiegel and Jim Stansbury, tell them how much you enjoy their work. And please keep coming!

Big crowd is on hand for tailgate party and outdoor movie

A large, enthusiastic crowd enjoyed the first-ever Tarrant County community Outdoor Movie event on Saturday, Aug. 7. The successful evening was sponsored by B’nai B’rith Isadore Garsek Lodge No. 269.

Jewish families from all over Tarrant County brought their lawn chairs to the parking lot of Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth and enjoyed a cartoon and a screening of “Bye Bye Birdie” on a giant inflatable outdoor movie screen. The event was preceded by a tailgate party with music, food and classic cars.

Dr. Stan Kurtz and wife Marcia displayed Stan’s recently purchased mint condition ‘57 two-door Chevy Bel Air aqua/white hardtop, a high-performance souped-up “muscle car.” Dr. Bruce Weiner and wife Hollace arrived in Bruce’s ‘67 Green Ford Mustang convertible. Bruce is the original owner and has been driving it for over 43 years. This Mustang was the first new car Bruce ever bought.

Concessions were handled by a contingent of BBYO teens who kept 100 percent of the profits, which they will use to subsidize some of their upcoming fall programs.

The event was chaired by Jim and Elaine Stanton and Rich and Terri Hollander. Dozens of B’nai B’rith members showed up to assist with parking, concession supervision and greeting the crowds.

The Tarrant County lodge is the largest in the Southwest and one of the most active in the United States. Lodge activities include sponsoring an annual Jewish Person of the Year Awards Dinner, scholarship awards, Passover seder and Thanksgiving dinner for seniors, Christmas breakfast, lunch and gift distribution for the homeless and dozens of other programs.

News and notes

Recently, Corrine Jacobson was the guest speaker at the Lions Club in Cleburne. She addressed the topics in her book, “A Handbook for Widows,” to the group, who were interested in her concepts.

Congregation Beth Shalom will hold a game night on Aug. 28 at 8 p.m. in the synagogue’s social hall. Admission is $3 per person and includes snacks.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 19 August 2010 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

It used to be that I’d have to go to the library, or pick up the phone, or at least consult my encyclopedia, to find out something I wanted to know. Today, I just sit at the keyboard and Google.

And when I’m not Googling myself, people are sending me things that they’ve found. Some are bits of trivia. Some are whole compilations. I enjoy reading them, uncoupling and recombining them, and passing on the good parts. Here’s a collection with Jewish connections. Some of these I already knew to be fact; others need to be checked out — perhaps with the help of Google. So, let’s play some true-or-false today. If you don’t know: your guesses are at least as good as mine.

Joseph Stalin’s original name was Joseph David Djugashvili, a last name translating to “son of a Jew.” All of his wives were Jewish (he had three of them).

Lillian Friedman’s husband was Cruz Rivera. Their son is Geraldo Miguel Rivera. (Back in Chicago a long time ago, we called him Gerry Rivers!)

More famous folk than you’re probably aware of are at least religiously, technically Jewish, since their mothers are at least supposed to have been Jewish themselves. Among them: Fiorello LaGuardia, Winston Churchill, Peter Sellers, Robert DeNiro, David Bowie, Shari Belafonte, Harrison Ford and Cary Grant. Quite an array, yes?

Let’s take a look at medicine. We all should know that Drs. Jonas Salk and Albert Sabin developed the first polio vaccines, and that Sigmund Freud is the father of psychiatry. But Dr. Abraham Waksman came up with the word “antibiotics”; another Dr. Abraham, this one surnamed Jacobi, is considered the founder of pediatrics as a medical specialty; Dr.Simon Baruch was the first to successfully remove an appendix; Dr. Paul Ehrlich won the Nobel Prize in 1908 for discovering a cure for syphilis; and biochemist Casimir Funk did pioneering research on vitamins. These last all check out as Jews. Also purported to be Jewish is one Dr. Sicarry, who debunked a once-pervasive myth by proving that the tomato is not poisonous. I’ve been unable to find his first name anywhere, but I say a thank-you to him anyway every time I have a Caprese salad.

How about the worlds of art and entertainment? It’s common knowledge that Emma Lazarus penned the poem gracing the base of the Statue of Liberty, that Irving Berlin contributed the ever-popular “White Christmas” to our country’s religious majority, that Florenz (“Flo”) Ziegfeld fathered American burlesque, and that the most successful filmmaker in filmmaking history is the Jew whose mother is quoted as saying, “You have a son. You do the best you can raising him. And then he turns out to be Steven Spielberg…”). But did you know that movie mogul Louis B. Mayer originated the Oscar?

A bit more obscure: In 1918 in Detroit, Max Goldberg opened the first commercial parking lot. Eight years earlier, Louis Blaustein and his son had opened the first gas station. I don’t know what happened to Goldberg, but the Blausteins went on to found Amoco and make a true fortune in motor fuel.

And here’s something fun to think about: Thomas Edison is credited with inventing the phonograph, but the Jewish Emile Berliner patented the gramophone — a recording device that uses a disc rather than Edison’s cylinder. That famous dog listening to “his master’s voice” as the trademark of Victor Talking Machine Company (now RCA) was actually looking at Berliner’s creation, not Edison’s.

What about business? The Altmans, Gimbels, Kaufmanns, Lazaruses, Magnins and Mays — to say nothing of the Neimans and the Marcuses — were department store giants and geniuses. The Strauses, Isidor and Nathan, built a retailing empire as Abraham and Straus, later becoming Macy’s; Isidor lost his life on the Titanic after deciding not to accompany his brother to Palestine following a European trip. Some say God was involved in that. Some joke that a poor Jewish needleworker went into partnership with God to form the top fashion firm known as Lord and Taylor. But this has yet to be proved.

And some also say that the early discount chain success, E.J. Korvette (or Korvetts), founded in New York in 1948, was actually named not for any single person, but for “Eight Jewish Korean (War) Veterans.” Google this one with a question about its truth, and you’ll get this definitive answer: “There is no answer.”

Isn’t it fun to be part of that slim one-quarter of 1 percent of the world’s population that’s Jewish?

E-mail: harrietg@texasjewishpost.com

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 19 August 2010 by admin

Rabbi,

There is just something uncomfortable about your position regarding “Women at the Wall,” and with your response to Richard R., the matter may require even more fleshing-out.

The fact of the matter is that in Judaism, among Jews, there has always been a hierarchical structure of adherence to ritual. Whether ritual and liturgy are prescribed in the Torah, Talmud or Midrash, the fact of the matter is that we — and you — have no personal knowledge of the “detail” of Temple worship. The texts simply do not operate in the doctrinaire way you seem to believe; any knowledge we claim to possess is grounded only in belief. I do not mean to discount belief — yours or others’ — but to recognize its presence in this calculus of “Women at the Wall,” and the need to respect and allow for belief. As you know, even “Orthodox” liturgy in the various siddurim has differences in content, wording and order. In fact, the true detail of Temple worship will not be known until the advent of the Messianic age. For you or others to contend to already have knowledge is an affront to all the streams of Judaism.

—Norton R.

Dear Norton,

Your remarks seem to evade numerous tractates of Talmud which describe in great detail the worship in the Temple. In fact, an entire order of Mishnah is dedicated to the Temple worship and many other sections of Mishnah and Talmud as well. Please keep in mind that many of the sages quoted in these teachings were rabbis who lived during the Second Temple and related firsthand information of what they actually witnessed. Although there are disagreements on minutiae, these concern only the minutest of details. With regards to all major issues, the sages are in agreement of what transpired in the Temple worship.

These details apply not only to the rituals observed in the Temple, but to the actual physical structure of the Temple as well. An entire tractate, called Midot, is dedicated to the construction and constitution of the structure of the Temple. Some details, such as the balcony for women to separate men and women during the Temple worship and ceremonies, are outlined in the Talmud based upon verses in the Torah (see Tractate Sukkah 51b-52a). This is all a matter of knowledge, not of belief.

I’m not sure why you maintain that our knowledge of what transpired in the Temple should be an affront to any “stream” of Judaism. All Jews should be proud of our history and the knowledge that we have. It would seem that those streams are choosing to do what they do despite that knowledge, not out of ignorance of it. And even if some stream would take offense to that knowledge, I hardly think this would be a reason to erase hundreds of pages of Mishnah and Talmud to alleviate those feelings.

The differences you mention in the traditional siddur (prayer book) are similar to the above. The basic foundation of the siddur is outlined in the Talmud, mainly in Tractate Brachot, and was codified by the Men of the Great Assembly in the beginning of the return from the Babylonian exile, during the time of the building of the Second Temple. Among that assembly were the final prophets of Israel. There may be some very minute differences between siddurim (some based on Kabbalistic thoughts), but the basic structure remains the same with all. Any traditional Jew would be comfortable praying in any type of synagogue — Ashkenazi, Sephardic, Chassidic — and would find his or her place in the siddur despite different tunes, etc. May we all remain united in this way!

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 19 August 2010 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

Jacob takes his journey away from his home, falls asleep with a rock for a pillow and has a dream. He wakes up and says, “G-d was in this place and I did not know it!” The Hebrew word that is used is makom (place) and it is repeated in order to emphasize that this was a sacred place where Jacob experiences G-d. How do we create a sacred space? What is your sacred space where you feel G-d’s presence?

Here are some ways to look for G-d in nature — find your makom:

•Look up and around. What do you see?

•If you were a bird, where would you build a nest?

•Take off your shoes and walk barefoot — feel the different types of ground cover.

•Close your eyes and listen for three natural sounds.

•Pretend you are a rock.

•Close your eyes and explore a tree.

•Talk about these texts:

“As civilization advances, the sense of wonder declines. Such decline is an alarming symptom of our state of mind. We will not perish for want of information, but only for want of appreciation.” —A.J.Heschel

“In order to serve G-d, one needs to access the enjoyment of the beauties of nature, such as the contemplation of flower-decorated meadows, majestic mountains and flowing rivers. All these are essential to the spiritual development of even the holiest of people.” —Maimonides

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and G-d. Only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that G-d wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As long as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow…. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” —“Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank

  • Put your hands on the ground and make a wish for the earth.
  • In your own way, take a moment to thank G-d for the gift of living!

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

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Carole and Joram Wolanow establish medical equipment gemach lending program for Dallas Jewish community

Carole and Joram Wolanow establish medical equipment gemach lending program for Dallas Jewish community

Posted on 19 August 2010 by admin

By Rachel Gross

Imagine having to buy an expensive piece of medical equipment for short- or long-term use. For many people, this is reality, not something imaginary. Now, community members have the chance to borrow donated medical items through a new gemach set up by Carole and Joram Wolanow.

A gemach (the Hebrew acronym for gemilut chasadim, acts of loving kindness) is a recycling program common within the Orthodox community. They are popular on the East Coast as well as in Israel, where gemachs can be found for baby carriages, clothing, anything people may need.

The Sarah Shannahoff Memorial Gemach is named in memory of Carole’s mother, who died earlier this year. The Wolanows have all of her medical equipment left over at their home and want the community to have access to it.

The following items are available: an electric scooter, a collapsible wheelchair, a transport companion wheelchair, walkers and two shower seats. Carole said she wants the items to continually flow and be useful for those who need them.

“I hope people will donate more items and keep the cycle flowing,” she said. “This is important because not everybody who needs these items is eligible for Medicare. Some people can get it paid for, but others need to buy it and it’s expensive.”

She added that this is not only for senior citizens, but for those who have surgery or need the equipment for a couple of months.

Wolanow got the idea for this from Rachel Leah Rosenberg, who has a gemach for modest simcha dresses. After meeting Wolanow and hearing her story, she believed this would be an asset to the community.

“Carole already had the equipment and I told her to make something to honor her mother’s memory and offer a service,” Rosenberg said. “This is a nice way of borrowing something and helps people who need assistance. It’s a great idea; I’m glad she’s doing it.”

A $1 consideration is needed to get the items and that releases the Wolanows of any liabilities. The dollar constitutes a lease; borrowers can get as many pieces as they want for however long they need them. This is required under Texas state law.

Wolanow said she hopes people create other gemachs in the area to help those in need.

“This is a mitzvah,” Wolanow said. “These items become an expense and can add up. When there are extras in the community, we should let people use them.”

They have already received two walkers from Temple Emanu-El and added an electric scooter to their other items from community member Deborah Baum, who is excited that others can use it.

“We didn’t need the scooter anymore and it was pointless for it to sit around,” she said. “I know how expensive they are, and some people don’t have the insurance to pay for it. We are thrilled that someone else may be able to use it.”

For more information, call Wolanow at 214-890-7583 or e-mail her at carole.wolanow@sbcglobal.net.

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Levine Academy welcomes Rabbi Eve Posen to campus

Posted on 18 August 2010 by admin

By Rachel Gross

Eve Posen was ordained in May. Fast-forward three months, and she can be found as the new campus rabbi at the Ann and Nate Levine Academy, bringing her passion for Jewish education to the forefront.

Rabbi Posen joined Levine Academy last month as part of the Schechter Residency in Educational Leadership (SREL) program, a three-year fellowship designed to create a career path to day school professional leadership.

She said her goals are to provide kids with a fun, meaningful Jewish experience and to strengthen the Jewish identity of the Levine community.

“If kids have a place where Judaism is fun, they are going to grasp onto concepts and it will become important in their lives,” she said. “If I can create the connection for these kids and they like coming, then I’ve done my job. [This position] gives me the opportunity to teach people that are open and willing to learn … it will allow me to make a difference in Jewish education.”

Posen added that other objectives for this year are to rework tefillah (prayer) to focus on depth and meaning; have experiential services with yoga, meditation and art projects; and work with the Early Childhood Center to infuse Judaism into the lives of Levine’s youngest students.

Other components of her will job include teaching seventh- and eighth-grade Judaic studies classes that will center on the ethical covenant; typical rabbinic duties like officiating b’nai mitzvah and giving divrei Torah; and also being a liaison to different synagogues in the area.

She believes that creating a strong community and a Jewish environment is vital for students.

“This is a Conservative school with a pluralistic attitude,” she said. “We have kids from Chabad and Reform synagogues. My job and the school’s role is to make sure that when the students are in social studies, there is a Jewish component. We have the core seven values to live by that are distinctly Jewish. If we put that into everyday living, we are living a good life inspired by Judaism and that’s what day school is about — providing that foundation.”

Judaism has always been an important part of Posen’s life. Growing up in West Bloomfield, Mich., she attended shul weekly with her family; she said that’s where she fell in love with Judaism. In sixth grade, she learned about shiva and mourning after her grandfather died and was interested to learn more.

In college at the University of Michigan, Posen was the conservative minyan leader at Hillel and the religious life committee chair; it was then she knew she wanted to be a rabbi. She received her master’s degree in Jewish education from the Fingerhut School at AJU in Los Angeles.

Posen began teaching during her sophomore year in college and taught at LA Hebrew High during rabbinical school. She credits this as heightening her love for teaching.

“I love working with kids. When they start to understand something, you can see their brain working; it inspires me every day,” she said. “Being here for three years will allow me to see them grow up. I get to work with the ECC, all the way up to eighth grade. The most adorable thing is going to the ECC and watching them do the Sh’ma. To hear them saying it and seeing the parents and grandparents getting nachas from them, it’s inspiring and really makes everything worth it.”

Posen said she is looking forward to building relationships with the students, parents and faculty and getting to know Dallas.

She hopes to be relatable and to bring a fresh face to the table. As the first female rabbi at Levine, Posen said she wants imbue egalitarianism.

“I grew up not being able to be in a minyan or lead services and was the first female at my shul to wear tefillin on a regular basis at age 12,” she said. “Being here speaks to egalitarianism to the fullest extent. Since my bat mitzvah, everyone said I was going to be a rabbi. It’s inside me and there is nothing else I could be doing in life that would make me this happy.”

When she’s not at school, Posen enjoys reading, cooking, walking and spending time with her husband, Duncan Gilman.

Posen said she is excited for school to start next week and is anxious to see what these next three years will bring. She added that this job allows her to delve into many different areas while still staying true to her passion.

“I want to create a place that when the kids come out of Levine, they have a well-rounded education and an inherent love of Judaism,” she said. “This is a great community and the school is willing to move forward and try new things. That’s a blessing in a first position — to do what I love in a place that’s open to going through change. It’s wonderful.”

Wende Weinberg, director of Jewish studies and programs, said Posen is a dynamic, engaging and passionate teacher and believes she will make an impact on everyone.

“She embodies all that we were looking for at Levine — warmth, knowledge, wonderful interpersonal skills and the ability to lead,” she said. “Rabbi Posen will formally and informally be involved in educating all of our students, from the very youngest to the oldest. She will touch the lives of our students on a daily basis and be a role model for them.”

Randy Fleisher, president of the Levine board of trustees, added that he believes Rabbi Posen will engage the students and provide them with knowledge, leadership and vision.

“She is an energetic, charismatic person, and I believe she will engage the children, faculty and staff,” he said. “We are excited to start off our 31st year. We are looking forward to the next 30 years and beyond, and have a strong team in place.”

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Stolovitsky takes lead as new Levine Academy head

Posted on 18 August 2010 by admin

Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series on changes at area day schools. Next week: Akiba Academy

By Rachel Gross

Mark Stolovitsky has spent his life in Jewish education as a student, teacher and headmaster. This year, he is back in the saddle as the new head of school at the Ann and Nate Levine Academy.

Stolovitsky started on July 1 and has been preparing for the school year, which begins Aug. 18. His job is to run the day-to-day operations of the school and be the go-between person for the staff and board.

Stolovitsky said his immediate goals for the upcoming year are to finalize the strategic plan, get the message out about Levine and its appeal, and grow the school; 419 students are enrolled for the 2010–2011 school year. He believes this can be accomplished by everyone working together.

“I want the year to get off to a smooth start with everyone on the same page,” he said. “One of the things I’m going to do is look at the ethical covenant and make sure it’s deeply felt amongst everybody who’s associated with the school. I want the kids to be able to reflect on their own behavior and as they go through life, say they learned about integrity. It’s about building on a sense of ‘we.’”

Stolovitsky came to Dallas in 2004 and was headmaster at Akiba Academy until 2009. There, he increased enrollment, participated in all recruitment and retention efforts and worked to achieve a balance between Modern Orthodox and community elements of the school, among other things.

Previously, he worked at Kadimah, in Buffalo, N.Y.; the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy in Kansas; and Akiva Academy in Calgary, Canada.

Although Stolovitsky considers himself Modern Orthodox and is a member of Congregation Shaare Tefilla, he said that doesn’t play a factor in how he will run Levine, a Conservative school. He believes Jewish day schools don’t focus much on denominations today, but more on inclusion.

“Jewish education has gone past pure denominationalism,” he said. “It’s not as black-and-white as people want to believe. We want to focus on what’s common and want kids to be mensches, love the Torah and Israel, and be future leaders. This is an inclusive approach and our goal at Jewish day schools is to get committed Jews who love being Jewish. That which divides is not as important as what unites. That’s a core value of mine.”

In addition to serving as head of school, Stolovitsky will teach eighth-grade Jewish history. He was a substitute in the fifth and sixth grades last year and knows many of the kids. He taught Melton courses, mentored a new teacher at Yavneh Academy and taught algebra at the Dallas County Detention Center last year as well.

Stolovitsky has also volunteered in the Dallas Jewish community. He is the chair of the interreligious committee at the American Jewish Committee, and has worked with the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

Stolovitsky, or “Mar S.” as he is referred to by students, said his biggest challenges will be making day school affordable in the current economy and delivering the best education possible. With his past experience, he is confident he can achieve this.

So, what does it take to be a successful headmaster? He said it’s about business, fundraising, marketing and, most importantly, education.

“A headmaster needs to be open, communicate the message of the school, lead both on the educational and board side and do it with joy,” he said. “People ask what type of Jew I am and I say I’m a member of joyful Judaism. It’s a great job. Learning should be enjoyable and the more you are invested in it, the more something positive happens.”

Stolovitsky added that he is most looking forward to meeting all the kids. He recently hosted a pizza party for the eighth-graders and visited the Early Childhood Center camp, where he led a service with them.

He said his love for education and growing up at day school got him where he is today. Stolovitsky holds two law degrees, but said education is where he wants to be. His wife, Gail, whom he met at a Jewish high school, is involved with Melton and is a special needs educator.

Overall, Stolovitsky hopes to provide kids with the same experience that he had, allowing them to become well-rounded people and develop a greater sense of Jewish identity.

“What I love most about teaching is watching students grow their minds and take in concepts,” he said. “I enjoy watching them develop skills they didn’t know they had. By creating an open learning environment, you get real learners. I love teaching and learning law, but I love education. The worst day in education is still a great day and I have very few bad days.”

Levine Academy Principal Susie Wolbe anticipates that Stolovitsky will lead Levine to excel and improve.

“Mark has an incredible sense of who our stakeholders are and the ways to help them see all of the magical things we do at Levine. He will be able to convey that message well, along with a sense of calm, well-being and fun,” she said. “We were lucky to have him teaching our kids last spring, so he is able to see us from many points of view: former head of a different day school, as a teacher here, and now Levine head of school. It’s going to be a year of excitement.”

Randy Fleisher, president of the Levine board of trustees, said Stolovitsky will bring a sense of warmth.

“Mark will bring tremendous passion and energy,” he said. “He knows Dallas and is an experienced educator. He is the driving force to advancing Levine to the next level, executing the mission statement and strategic plan, and will provide leadership to the faculty and staff.”

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