Archive | October, 2010

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TJP Professionals Directory

Posted on 28 October 2010 by admin

Events/Simchas Catering

Sweet Tomatoes

www.sweettomatoes.com
Sweet Tomatoes catering provides entrée-size salads, freshly made soups, baked potatoes, hot pasta dishes, and hand-crafted muffins and focaccia bread, along with cookies and brownies.  Perfect for functions of all kinds and gatherings of every size! Available at all Dallas-area locations: 15225 Montfort Drive, (972) 385-7160; 4001 Matlock Road, (817) 557-1809; and 1820 Market Place Blvd., (972) 830-9200.  Call a restaurant today, or order online at www.sweettomatoes.com.

The Spice of Life Catering

Jeffrey Kollinger
Phone: (972) 417-1755
Fax: (972) 417-1733
sales@thespiceoflifecatering.com
www.thespiceoflifecatering.com
Spice of Life has been in business 25 years and caters to many corporations. We are on the preferred catering list at venues like Dallas Arboretum, Trammel Crow Asian Art, Discovery Gardens, Congregation Shearith Israel, etc. We cater all types of functions from 10-person events to 20,000-person events.

Entertainment

Mikey B’s – Wow VIP Events

Phone: (972) 300-4100
mike@wowvipevents.com
www.wowvipevents.com
A party just isn’t a party until the right entertainment is thrown into the mix. Whether it is a wedding reception, cocktail party, Bar/Bat MItzvah, festival or corporate function, WOW VIP Events will book quality Dallas/Fort Worth area vendors for your next event. We provide photographers, videographers, DJs, a/v rental, costumed characters, models, event coordinators, decor, carnival games, temporary tattoos, photo buttons, inflatable games and more ALL IN-HOUSE!!! We are the one-stop shop for your next event. For a detailed list of our services, check out our website!

Event Planners

Haute Happenings

Dana Eisenberg
Phone: (214) 683-1413
Fax: (972) 931-6174
dana@haute-happenings.com
www.haute-happenings.com
When you book your bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah, corporate event or milestone occasion through Haute Happenings you can expect nothing short of meticulous attention to every detail. We will create a one-of-a-kind event just for you; a memory to last a lifetime.

Weddings and Events by Ruth

Ruth Spirer
Phone: (972) 386-4519
Fax : (972) 386-4619
ruth@weddingsnevents.com
www.weddingsnevents.com
Your wedding is the most important day of your life and Ruth Spirer will make your wedding an occasion you and your family will always remember with a smile. Ruth offers high quality, professional and very personal service, bringing 15 years of event planning experience. Ruth Specializes in Jewish and Multi-Cultural weddings and creates unique events.

Venue

Maggiano’s Little Italy

Tasha Mullen
Phone: (972) 781-0716
Fax: (972) 781-0837
willowbend.banquet@maggianos.com
www.maggianos.com/banquets
Your event demands the right ingredients: the right environment, a touch of something special and, of course, spectacular food. At Maggiano’s Little Italy, that’s always understood. And whether it occurs once a month, once a year or once in a lifetime, Maggiano’s is the perfect place to host an event – no matter the size or occasion.

Senior Resources

Cemetery

Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home and Cemetery

Frank W. Seddio, Sr.
Phone: (214) 363-5401
Fax: (214) 363-9007
Frank.Seddio@sci-us.com
For over 100 years we have served the Jewish Community in the Dallas area with care and compassion, and we will continue offering our unsurpassed service and dedication. Please contact Frank W. Seddio, Sr., Chief Executive Officer for Sparkman Hillcrest, where he will personally see to it that you are taken care of. We are your friends and neighbors and we will always be here for you.

Funeral Homes

Dallas Jewish Funerals

Jill Bednar, Managing Funeral Director
Stan Friedman, Operations Manager
Phone: (972) 424-1141
Fax: (972) 424-1148
jill@dallasjewishfunerals.com
stan@dallasjewishfunerals.com
www.dallasjewishfunerals.com
Dallas Jewish Funerals is the only independent, Jewish owned funeral business in the Dallas area. Our philosophy is to treat your family as our own. Dallas Jewish Funerals was established to provide the Jewish community an alternative to the growing number of funeral homes operated by corporate giants.

Robertson Mueller Harper Funeral Directors

E. C. “Trey” Harper III
Phone: (817) 924-4233
Fax: (817) 924-4230
rmh@familyowned.net
Robertson Mueller Harper has been serving the Jewish community of Fort Worth and North Texas for three generations. Caring, understanding and compassion are the basis of the trust we have gained through the personal and professional relationships we have developed with the families we serve.

Sparkman Hillcrest Funeral Home and Cemetery

Frank W. Seddio, Sr.
Phone: (214) 363-5401
Fax: (214) 363-9007
Frank.Seddio@sci-us.com
For over 100 years we have served the Jewish Community in the Dallas area with care and compassion, and we will continue offering our unsurpassed service and dedication. Please contact
Frank W. Seddio, Sr., Chief Executive Officer for Sparkman Hillcrest, where he will personally see to it that you are taken care of. We are your friends and neighbors and we will always be here for you.

Home Health

Apple Care and Companion

Laurie Miller
Phone: (469) 619-5474
info@applecareandcompanion.com
www.AppleCareAndCompanion.com
Are you the caregiver for an elderly loved one, and feel you need a break? Apple Care & Companion is your solution.  Our experienced caregivers provide meal prep, light housekeeping, companionship, personal care, transportation and more. We work hourly, live in, short term or long term. We will work in a residence, assisted living and skilled facilities, and even hospitals. Please call for more information!

Hospice Services

VistaCare Hospice

Elise Power
Phone: (214) 231-3914
Fax: (214) 630-4032
Elise.power@vistacare.com
www.vistacare.com
VistaCare Hospice provides quality end of life care that focuses on spiritual, physical and emotional needs of each patient and family. VistaCare Hospice is a preferred hospice provider to the Jewish community and has an agreement with JFS of Dallas, Inc. In addition, VistaCare Hospice received its Accreditation from The National Institute for Jewish Hospice. www.nijh.org.

Monuments

Spradling Monument Service, Inc.

Don Spradling
Phone: (214) 398-4459
spradlingmon@aol.com
www.spradlingmonument.com
Spradling Monument Service, Inc., a family owned and operated business, has been serving the North Texas Jewish community since 1957.

Senior Living

The Legacy at Preston Hollow

Lucy Brown
lbrown@thelegacyph
www.thelegacyph.org
The Legacy at Preston Hollow is a premier senior residence for those who want to remain close to friends, family and the city’s vibrant culture. The Legacy maintains a strong tradition of serving the Jewish community, with the Dallas Home for Jewish Aged recently relocating to the modern and elegant surroundings of the Legacy.

Youth

Education

Akiba Academy of Dallas

Karen Hazan-Cohen, Director of Admissions
Phone: (214) 295-3419
kcohen@akibaacademy.org
www.akibaacademy.org
Akiba Academy provides a superior general and Judaic education to children in preschool through 8th grade. We invite you to visit classrooms (low student-teacher ratio), meet our outstanding faculty (caring and experienced), and visit our modern, inspirational campus (nurturing environment). We offer Discovery, a comprehensive after-school program: experience the adventure!

Ann and Nate Levine Academy, A Solomon Schechter School

Mireille Allen, Director of Admission
Phone: (972) 248-3032
mallen@levineacademy.org
www.levineacademy.org
Ann and Nate Levine Academy, serving students from early childhood through 8th grade, is an inclusive Conservative Jewish day school which inspires a passion for learning and graduates confident, ethical, Jewish citizens and leaders.  It tailors its teaching to each child’s need and strength, and not to class average.

Congregation Beth Torah Preschool & Kindergarten

Esther Cohen
Phone: (972) 234-1542, ext. 222
Fax: (972) 680-9047
preschool@congregationbethtorah.org
www.congregationbethtorah.org
Beth Torah Preschool & Kindergarten and Camp Chaverim provide year-round programs in a nurturing Jewish environment. We offer a full-day option for school. Camp offers a seven-week experience. Both programs offer physical activities: Mr. Donovan, My Gym & Stretch-n-Grow. Flexible schedules available. Call for an appointment or stop by.

Yavneh Academy of Dallas

Donald R. O’Quinn
Phone: (214) 295-3500
Fax: (214) 295-3505
info@yavnehdallas.org
www.yavnehdallas.org
Yavneh Academy is Dallas’ only co-ed Jewish college preparatory high school. The school hosts small classes that guarantee individualized attention and teachers that are nationally recognized for their excellence and expertise. Students participate in championship sports teams, mock trial, debate, theatre, music and other extracurricular activities.

Educational Consultant

Cohen’s College Connection

Carol Gene Cohen
Phone: (972) 381-9990
Fax: (972) 381-9997
carolgene@cohenscc.com
www.cohenscollegeconnection
Cohen’s College Connection is THE college advantage!  Your students deserve the most accurate information and premier expertise. We provide essay coaching, application assistance, and college and career planning.  CCC is associated with the Independent Educational Consultants Association, the Higher Educational Consultants Association and the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

College and Career Kon-ver-SAY-shuns

Barbara Benjamin- Trevino
Phone: (817) 946-6162
www.collegeandcareer.bentiva.com
College and Career Kon-ver-SAY-shuns offers individualized consulting and mentoring services to help you create an action plan for the future – a plan that is compatible with your interests and best meets your needs.  College services are available for perspective students and families. Career services are available for career seekers at all levels.

Medical

Forest Lane Pediatrics

Dr. Ron Blair, Dr. Chris Straughn, Dr. Chris McGonnell, Dr. Ann Liu,  Dr. Michelle Kravitz, & Dr. Damien Mitchell
Phone: Dallas: (972) 284-7770
Plano: (972) 526-0700
Fax: (972) 284-7780
www.forestlanepediatrics.com
We are here to care for your children from birth until college. We are a team of board certified pediatricians whose aim is your child’s good health and your satisfaction. Please call us for a prenatal visit or parent consult.

Healthy Texan Pediatrics & Family Medicine

Shelley Weiss, MD & Simma Weiss, MD
Phone: (972) 566-4286
Fax: (972) 566-8634
www.healthytexan.net
Conveniently located at Medical City Hospital, Shelley Weiss, MD board certified pediatrician, and Simma Weiss, MD board certified family physician proudly provide health care to the families of our Jewish Community. We care for patients of all ages and all stages.

Summer Program

URJ Greene Family Camp

Loui Dobin, Director
Stefani Rozen, Rabbi Ana Bonnheim, Scott Braswell, Asst Directors
Phone: (254) 859-5411
Fax: (254) 859-5225
gfc@urj.org
www.greene.urjcamps.org
The URJ Greene Family Camp has been offering wonderful facilities and fantastic programs to the Jewish youth and families of the Southwest since 1976. The summer program is geared toward campers entering grades 2-10. Check out our new facilities and download an application on the website. Contact GFC for more information.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 28 October 2010 by admin

Dallas youth philanthropist Leah Prager to be honored

The Greater Dallas Chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals, with presenting partner Communities Foundation of Texas, proud partners in philanthropy, will honor Leah Prager as Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy, at the 25th Annual National Philanthropy Day awards luncheon, Friday, Nov, 12, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, Landmark Ballroom. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with the luncheon from 12:00 to 1:30 p.m.

In addition to honoring six recipients, the luncheon event, emceed by long-time supporter Scott Murray, will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).For the past six years, 12-year-old Leah Prager, a student at Frankford Middle School, has organized backyard carnivals to benefit the Muscular Dystrophy Association and raised more than $85,000. The money helps pay for summer camps for kids with neuromuscular diseases as well as clinic services, research, orthopedic equipment and support groups.  This year, proceeds will also benefit Jewish Family Services Dallas Food Pantry, an affiliate of the North Texas Food Bank.  Approximately 350 people attend the carnival which includes games, food, entertainment and a silent auction.

Organizing carnivals for MDA is a family tradition.  Leah’s mother staged a carnival when she was 7 in her hometown of Longview.  The carnival became a signature event for MDA in the 1960s and ‘70s.  Inspired by her philanthropic parents, Erica and Bill, who are longtime MDA volunteers and active in other local fundraising efforts, Leah began to develop a servant’s heart as a preschooler and conducted a canned food drive at her school.   Over the years, her parents introduced her to families and children who were battling MDA, and one day she told her mother she wanted to do something to help a friend and others with the disease.  After learning about her mother’s work in conducting carnivals as child, Leah set out to do the same and has taken it to the next level beyond the guidelines and suggestions provided by MDA.  In addition to clowns, a fire truck from Dallas Fire-Rescue, game booths and food, Leah holds a silent auction featuring restaurant gift certificates, sports memorabilia, children’s activities, as well as jewelry and other items.

In the process of putting on carnivals over the years, Leah has inspired many friends to embrace the concept of giving to others. One friend from school organizes an arts and crafts party in the summer and charges a fee to benefit Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.  Another friend who coordinates a golf tournament has received event planning tips from Leah.

Her younger brother Jason is expected to carry on the tradition one day along with the help of friends who provide assistance on all aspects of the event.

Leah has been a guest at the National Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon in Las Vegas, appeared on local television and has been written about in numerous Metroplex newspapers.  Over the years, she has also participated in a variety of projects with Jewish Family Services including delivering holiday packages and collecting books.

“In addition to helping people, working on the carnival has also helped me to develop some important life skills,” added Leah.  “I’ve learned how to approach business people for donations and sponsorships; conduct meetings; motivate others to help, and follow up on details; always keeping supporters updated, and telling them how their donations are being put to work.  It’s been such a rewarding and life changing experience and I am grateful to my parents, friends, and community members and businesses that have made it such a success.”

The National Philanthropy Day Luncheon VIP Reception is sponsored by Parkland Foundation and The Mike and Mary Terry Family.  Luncheon tickets are $75 each, $750 for a table of 10, or $1,000 for a premium table of 10.  The luncheon media sponsor is KERA.  For further information on tickets and sponsorships, visit afpdallas.org or contact Madeleine Crouch at 972-233-9107, ext. 204, afpchapteroffice@afpdallas.org.

Cong. Nishmat Am to send 25-person mission to Israel

On Nov. 7, a group of 25 people will depart Dallas for a unique and special 10-day mission to Israel, under the auspices of Congregation Nishmat Am of Plano. As part of its celebration of its 5th anniversary, Nishmat Am is sponsoring this mission, aptly called “To Israel with Pride and Joy.”   Participants are guaranteed to see and experience Israel in a unique way that goes beyond the usual.

The key to the special nature of this mission is Congregation Nishmat Am’s spiritual, leader, Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen, who conceived the trip and will be personally leading it. Cohen was raised in Jerusalem in the shadow of some of its most treasured sites and under the tutelage and inspiration of some of its most learned and dynamic leaders. In addition to the guidance of a professional tour guide, Nishmat Am’s mission will benefit from Rabbi Cohen’s personal and inside look at Israel through his personal relationship with many of the country’s political and religious leaders.

Specially arranged for the group will be a reception at the Knesset with political leaders and a reception with officials of Yad Vashem.  The group will also have the privilege of a private meeting with the Ashkenazic Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Yonah Metzger.

The tour will have a unique educational dimension that will include Rabbi Cohen’s leading the study of ancient or historical texts connected with the site visits.

The group will enjoy the comfort and convenience of five star accommodations and professional tour services provided by Shami Waldman and the “It’s Time To Travel” tour agency.

The group returns on November 17 and only a few days later – on November 21 – Nishmat Am will formally mark its fifth anniversary with a Gala Dinner and Auction at the NTX Automotive Museum in Dallas. The program will honor Mr. Maurice Glazer for his devotion and dedication to the synagogue as one of its founding members and consistent supporters.

For more information about Nishmat Am’s Mission to Israel and its 5th Anniversary celebration, please contact the synagogue at 972-618-2200 or info@nishmatam.org

Maccabi info night rescheduled for next week

Due to the Rangers hard work and good fortune of making it to the World Series, the JCC has rescheduled its Maccabi Parent/Athlete Informational meeting to Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. in Zale Auditorium at the JCC. Next summer’s games will be held in Israel July 24-Aug.5; in Philadelphia, Aug. 14-19; and in Springfield, Mass. Aug.14-19. For more information about Israel contact Kerri Aikin at kaikin@jccdallas.org. For more information about Philadelphia and Springfield, contact Jon Mize at jmize@jccdallas.org

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 28 October 2010 by admin

Esther Rosen celebrates nintieth

Mazal tov to our good friend, Esther Rosen who on Sunday, September 26th, at Colonial Country Club, celebrated her 90th birthday at a reception hosted by her children and their families. Many of Esther’s friends and relatives from the surrounding Fort Worth community attended the reception. In addition, family flew in from as far away as California, Pennsylvania, Missouri and Florida to honor Esther. Hosts were Diane Rosen Newman and husband Jeff of Scottsdale, Ariz.; Lynn Rosen and Ted Strickland of Ashburn, Va.; Paula Rosen of Fort Worth; and Jay Rosen and wife Linda of Houston. Esther was blessed with the attendance of her six grandchildren, Tom Newman and his wife Jennifer of Phoenix, Ariz.; Ryan Newman and his wife Megan of Phoenix, Ariz.; Rachel Rosen of New York City; Zach Rosen of Houston; Jessica Strickland of Limerick, Pa.; and Erika Strickland of Royersferd, Pa. Esther was also thrilled to have her four great-grandchildren in attendance as well; Trey, Luke and William Newman and Nathan Cagliola. All of Esther’s nieces and nephews were able to join in the celebration: Phyllis Morris and husband Jeff and daughter Amanda of San Diego, Calif.; Robin Winterman Weber and husband Jeff Weber of Dallas; Lisa Winterman of Roanoke; David Rosen and his wife June, daughter Jennifer and son Daniel of Mesquite; Larry Rosen and Cathy Walenskey of Arlington; and Vicki Rosen Hamilton also of Arlington.

Other family members attending were Myron Rosenberg of Houston; Mr. and Mrs. Jay Rosenberg of Joplin, Mo.; Jeff Barnett and children of Austin; Faye Wanetick Mendeloff of Pittsburg, Pa.; Mr. and Mrs. Tommy Newman of Denton; Jennifer and Nate Hamilton of Denton; James Newman and Sachin Patel of Richardson; Wilma Rogers and Mr. and Mrs. Rick Rogers and daughter Gueniviere of Haslet, Texas; Mr. and Mrs. Michael Bezdek and son of Abbott, Texas; Barbara Bezdek of Waco; and Jim and Barbara Pottieger of Ft. Meade, Fla. Friends from The Franklin, where she resides, were also able to attend.

Saturday morning, Sept. 25, all out of town guests were treated to a lovely brunch at Blue Mesa in Fort Worth, hosted by Esther’s nieces and nephews who live in the Fort Worth area: Vicki Hamilton, David and June Rosen, Larry Rosen and Cathy Walenskey, Lisa Winterman and Robin and Jeff Weber.

Esther moved with her parents, Herman and Ida Cohen, of blessed memory, and brother Abe, of blessed memory, to Fort Worth from Savannah, Ga. when she was two years old and has been an active member of Congregation Ahavath Sholom for over 50 years, serving as Sisterhood President and on various committees. Esther was honored with opening the Ark at Shabbat services on Oct. 2.

The family is grateful to all who attended, making Esther’s 90th birthday party a very joyful and memorable event for her.

New Veterans book released

Jewish War Veterans Post 755 will kick off the sales of their new book, “They Were Soldiers In Peace and War, Volume 2” at their monthly meeting, Sunday Oct.31, at 10:30 a.m. at the Congregation Ahavath Sholom library on 4050 South Hulen Street, Fort Worth. A short introduction and readings from the book will be followed by a signing. Some sections in the book include World War Two and Korea, Women In the Military, a Jewish prospective, Rabbis and the chaplaincy, The sixties and seventies, Bosnia, Iraq The later Stage (interesting perspectives on our current conflicts from recently returning servicemen and women). There are more that fifty interviews of members mostly of our community and commentary on each era. A history of the earliest Jewish veterans, who they were, where they came from and their role form 1654 through the Civil War is also discussed in the book. The book is given free of charge to bat and bat mitzvahs from several local congregations. It is partially funded from a grant provided by the Tarrant County Jewish Federation. For further information contact Julian Haber, commander JWV 755, at julianhaber@aol.com or 817-346-1902.

Things are ‘rising’ at Ahavath Sholom

Saturday, Oct. 30 is USY Shabbat at Ahavath Sholom. Members of the SWUSY youth group will be joining Rabbi Gary Perras in leading services for the congregation. The USYers bring a special ruach (spirit) to Shabbat.

On Wednesday, Nov. 3, at 10:30 a.m., the “For Women Only” program will resume under the leadership of Rabbi Perras. This program was started 20 years ago and has a large following within the community. All are welcome to attend.

Finally, in conjunction with “For Women Only,” Naomi Brand will kick-off the new “Challah and Halacha” program. Starting at 9:30 a.m. the group will prepare challah dough and after class will go back and bake the risen dough. The finished challot will be donated to needy families in the community. For more details, contact Naomi Brand at 817-731-4721.

Beth-El to honor Paul Schwartz on his 90th birthday

On Friday, Nov. 12, at 5:30 p.m., Beth-El Congregation will hold a special reception in honor of the 90th birthday of Paul Schwartz. The reception will be followed at 6 by an adult Kabbalat Shabbat service in the sanctuary, featuring participation by Jewish War Veterans, and a concurrent service for children in the chapel. A volunteer choir will sing.  Mazal tov to Paul Schwartz on reaching this milestone!

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The Search for Beshert

Posted on 28 October 2010 by admin

Jewish geography

By Tamar Caspi Shnall

The Jewish community is small. It’s even smaller when you’re dating. And it shrinks to minuscule proportions when you only take into account those that are seriously looking for their beshert. Chances are you’ll see the same people on J*Date, at YAD events and working out at the JCC. If you happen to run into someone you’ve never seen before, odds are they’re the friend or relative of someone you’ve already dated or your friend or relative has already dated them. The Jewish dating world can quickly become incestuous.

There was one guy on J*Date whose dad grew up with my mom. And another J*Dater’s grandparents were close with my grandparents many years ago. I know it sounds cute, but it can get obnoxious. Once I was set up with a guy I supposedly knew when I was little. My mom even pointed him out in pictures from my second birthday party. A charming story, but it didn’t equal fate.

I met one guy at a Jewish event who had recently moved to town after graduating law school. After adding him on Facebook, I found that he knew many of my elementary school classmates and I was able to do a quick, undercover background check, receiving the blessing from all our mutual friends. Although he wasn’t my beshert, I was able to utilize the Six Degrees of Jewish Separation to my advantage.

A few years ago, I met a guy at the AIPAC Policy Conference. We quickly discovered his best friend and my sister dated in college but it wasn’t until a few months later, playing Jewish geography, that we found out I had previously dated his sister’s best friend’s brother. It may seem a distant enough relation, but it was enough to skew his view of me. Apparently the kind of woman who would date the one guy isn’t the same type of woman the other guy sees himself with. Confusing, but yet still credible in a twisted sort of way.

Which brings me to a topic many people have written me about: With the eligible Jewish singles community being so small, is it okay to date an ex’s friend? Really, it’s up to the friend to decide what he or she is comfortable with. When I ask friends if they would care, most of them say no, so try not to dwell on the topic; otherwise you will incite suspicion. Don’t concern yourself over what your ex could be telling your new beau because you have no control over it. You have to just hope that the new prospect likes you enough not to be swayed by anything else.

Another instance of the small world we live in came to me while I was on a blind date. I suddenly had the realization that the guy would be perfect for my friend Julie. I got really excited at the idea of making a shiduch, but telling him that wasn’t going to be so easy. Even though I thought he was a quality guy, passing him off to my friend — as amazing as she is — would still be a form of rejection. They were both getting glowing praise from the same person, a perfect use of Jewish geography! Alas, after a few dates the sizzle fizzled.

Jewish geography can be good, for the most part. You know what kind of company the person keeps, who their friends are and if they’re an all-around good guy or gal. But it can also ruin a perfectly good prospect. Sometimes it’s better not to know whom he or she has dated, because that’s their past and may not reflect who they are now or who they are around you, and really, that’s all that matters.

Tamar Caspi Shnall recently married a Dallasite but has 15 years’ worth of dating advice to share! If you have any dating dilemmas, you can e-mail her at thesearchforbeshert@gmail.com.

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 28 October 2010 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I have a question about Cain and Abel. If God knows everything, which we believe He does, then He knew that Cain would kill his brother. But He let it happen. I know this question has so many examples. I’m aware of the “free will” aspect that we humans have. So then, because we have free will and G-d knows everything, He lets these things happen for reasons that we humans cannot understand. Is this correct or…?

Zamira R.

Dear Zamira,

You are correct that G-d, who is all-knowing, allows us to exercise our free will even to carry out actions which are contrary to His desire. This is despite His knowing that these actions will transpire even before they are committed.

Free will is a necessary component in the makeup of a being which was created “in the image of G-d.” Just as G-d has the ability to do whatever He wants, unconstrained by anything to limit His choice, so too must man have such freedom of choice if he is meant to be in that image.

There is, however, a major difference. Man is, at times, only given the appearance of free choice in situations where the outcome of what he chooses goes contrary to G-d’s master plan. For example, consider an attempted murder of an innocent person. At times the attempt is successful, sometimes not. What does it depend on, if G-d would allow the gun to fire or cause it to misfire?

King David prayed that he should be punished only by G-d for his misdeeds, not by mortal man. What is the difference? The distinction is in the way the punishment is meted out. Let’s say a person has accumulated enough negatives in his account to merit the dropping of a 50-pound boulder on his head. It can be dropped in two ways: either an entire boulder dropped at one time or numerous pebbles over a long period of time. It’s the same 50 pounds — he’s getting all that’s coming to him. But the first way, exacted with strict judgment, will mean his immediate end. The second way, paid out with kindness, may be painful but can be endured. King David was praying that whatever might be coming to him should come only through G-d, who would deliver the payload with kindness in a way that he could tolerate.

If a man chooses to go after his victim, G-d might allow that man to succeed in his attempt to kill him, as his free choice will not be limited, and, after all, the victim has the whole boulder in his account. If a gun is fired at him, G-d wouldn’t cause it to misfire if all the person is doing is, unknowingly, drawing on the victim’s account and meting out the judgment in an unkind way, different than the way G-d would have paid it out if He had delivered it over time.

In the situation where the gun is caused to misfire, the attempted murderer still gets the negative points for his choice and effort to commit the murder. This addresses a larger question: Does G-d’s knowledge of the future limit our free choice? The answer is, it does not; we are not judged by the outcome of our actions, rather the choice and the struggle to do or not do the right and wrong things. Only our choices of what to attempt to do and not do are in our hands, not the end results of those choices.

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 28 October 2010 by admin

Dear Parents and Children,

The start of the school year is filled with so many wonderful beginnings. For a Jewish school, we add all the holidays that come one upon the other without a minute to spare. We have been sooooooo busy! And now, the holidays have ended — ALMOST…

Each year, I make sure to comment on a very special “American” holiday. Oct. 31 is a holiday that we do not celebrate at most Jewish schools. Halloween is not a Jewish holiday and although the religious aspects of the day have been long forgotten, Halloween is the eve of All Saints’ Day which also was called All Hallows’ Eve. All Saints’ Day had its origins in 837 when Pope Gregory IV ordered the church to celebrate a day in honor of all saints. Over time, the holiday focused on witches, death, skeletons, etc. Today, however, the day is very much an American experience for most of us. The roots of the day have long been lost, yet the debate among Jews continues.

Rabbi Daniel Gordis, in his wonderful book “Becoming a Jewish Parent” (which I highly recommend) questions raises a number of issues but says: “In the final analysis, what we do about Halloween may not be important. How we think about it, how we talk about it, and what our kids’ reactions to the issue tell us about their identities — those are the crucial issues about which we ought to think and speak very carefully.” Rabbi Gordis questions: “If not participating is going to make our kids resent being Jewish, are we doing enough to fill their lives with positive Jewish moments, with a deep sense of identification, with supportive and loving Jewish community?” We want our children to have a positive Jewish identity and we, the adults in their lives, need to think and plan for wonderful Jewish moments to create memories and reasons to be proudly Jewish.

How you choose to handle this holiday is a family decision but I do have my yearly recommendation. On Nov. 1, RUSH to every store that sells costumes and get great ones for dress-up and especially for Purim — our time to dress up! The sales are fantastic!

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

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2010 election

2010 election

Posted on 28 October 2010 by admin

By Rachel Gross

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 2. Nine local Jewish candidates shared their thoughts about Judaism and the upcoming election with the TJP. Other local Jewish candidates are, Marty Lowy, Larry Mitchell, and George White.

Larry Praeger

Candidate for justice of the 5th District Court of Appeals Place 2; www.praegerforjustice.com

How does being Jewish influence your role on the bench?

I have a good understanding of our constitution and I can appreciate the separation of church and state issues and have an appreciation of how the constitution was written the way it was for the first amendment. I have an appreciation for the need of fairness and trails.

How do Jewish values or ethics play a role in your decisions?

Need to be based on the law but a great portion of our law is based on Jewish values, fairness, charity, things of that nature. I take that with me each day.

Why are you passionate about the law?

In my legal career, I’ve been a state prosecutor, and I have an appreciation for the need of fair trails. Only someone who has represented individuals like I have can get an appreciation of our system of trials. I have experienced it from all different sides: criminal and civil cases. Fairness of trials is a big issue to me, and that’s partly why I’m running.

What do you want TJP readers to know about you?

I want readers to know that I understand issues facing all people. I have a desire to make sure our government and trials are conducted fairly and without bias and prejudice. I’ve never run for anything before and I believe people should vote for me because I’m fair.

Judge Mark Greenberg

Running for re-election of County Court at Law 5; www.judgegreenberg.com

How does being Jewish influence your role on the bench?

I grew up in Galveston. Both my father and mother were first generation Americans and my grandparents immigrated from Eastern Europe. When I think of my own family and the Jewish community of my youth, I think of good people, with a strong work ethic, who valued family, education and community…Those are values that I try to bring to my courtroom each day.

How do Jewish values or ethics play a role in your decisions?

One of my favorite Bible verses comes from the prophet Micah who taught us to “do justice and to love goodness, and to walk modestly with your God.”  Justice, goodness, modesty—I believe that is a good formula for a civil justice system.

What do you want to share with TJP readers?

I hope to create an atmosphere in my courtroom that is conducive to zealous advocacy while maintaining the dignity of the judicial process. To achieve that, I must be a skilled listener (listening is a skill that improves with use) who is patient and knowledgeable about the law, so that regardless of whether parties win or lose, they feel they had their day in court and that my ruling was informed, impartial, and based on the evidence and controlling law.

Bruce Kaye

Candidate for Justice of the Peace, Precinct 3, Place 3; http://www.dallasdemocrats.org/content/bruce-kaye

How does being Jewish influence your role on the bench?

Justices of the Peace can marry people, especially for interfaith couples where one side doesn’t want to convert. They may have difficulty finding people to marry them and I can bridge the gap for those people. I will have great respect for people who enter the courtroom.

What Jewish values or ethics play a part in your verdicts?

I’ve been a lawyer for 17 years and do litigation, criminal, civil and entertainment law. Our whole legal system is built on the Judeo- Christian value system where you are given a code and follow it, where you can rule on the law.

Why are you passionate about the law?

In elementary school, I always defended kids if they did something wrong. I have a passion for getting to the truth and for those who are in situations where they need a mouthpiece to speak for them.

What do you want to share with TJP readers?

People need to vote and shouldn’t complain about things and not do anything about it. Voting is the only way to affect change and I want to do that on a local level. I want to make all schools in the area use the court for mock trial and other ways to get kids over to see how system works.

Judge Jeff Rosenfield

Running for re-election of the Dallas Country Criminal Court of Appeals 2; www.judgerosenfield.com

How does being Jewish influence your role on the bench?

I believe in God’s laws and try to follow them as best I can. I try to strictly follow the Ten Commandments and think about them as I live my life. Part of my life is being a judge, so God’s laws are always on my mind.

What Jewish values or ethics play a part in your verdicts or decisions?
Treating all people fairly, humanely, compassionately yet firm and definitely impartial. Trying to be patient with all those involved in the system.

Why are you passionate about the law?

The law has always been interesting to me. It is elastic and always evolving. It is challenging and since I am a competitive person, it satisfies my desire to be challenged or competitive.

What do you want to share with TJP readers?

It is a great privilege and honor to serve all the citizens of Dallas county. I take my job seriously and work hard at making this court fair, impartial, efficient, professional and non-intimidating. We have had four years of success in this court and I ask for your vote to allow me to continue to serve you in this capacity.

Judge Carl Ginsberg

Running for re-election for the 193rd District Court; www.ginsbergforjudge.com

How does being Jewish influence your role on the bench?

Part of being a judge is making decisions, which, though they adhere to the law, may be unpopular according to the politics of the day. As a Jew, I can identify with doing the right thing, though it may not always be popular with large segments of the community.

What Jewish values or ethics play a part in your verdicts?

Tzedek Tzedek Tirdoff (Justice, Justice Shall you pursue – Deut 16:20)

Why are you passionate about the law?

My first legal job after school was to clerk for an Appellate Justice, who had a sign on her door, which read, “Justice, Equality, Freedom – without lawyers, these are just words.” Without passionate, committed lawyers protecting our democratic values, there would be little to separate us from a police state or a plutocracy.

What do you want to share with TJP readers?

In a participatory democracy, everyone must contribute in some way to the administration of government, which, for most people, means, at least, voting and serving on juries. Therefore, please vote this November 2, and please answer your jury summons when you receive it.

Judge Emily G. Tobolowsky

Running for re-election of the 298th Civil District Court Dallas County; www.judgetobolowsky.com

How does being Jewish influence your role on the bench?

Being Jewish has instilled in me a strong sense of justice and fairness. I try to be mindful that every case, large or small, is important to the parties involved, and I endeavor to treat all who appear before me with dignity and respect.

What Jewish values or ethics play a part in your verdicts?

While verdicts are technically reached by a jury as opposed to a judge, when I render judgments, I am likely to be as compassionate and ethical as I can while applying the law to the facts.

Why are you passionate about the law?

Because it is, at its core, Jewish.  I consider being a lawyer and judge a vehicle for bringing more goodness into the world.

What do you want to share with TJP voters?

I would like readers to know that I strive on a daily basis to be the best judge I know how to be, and that I ask for their votes because I work hard, I have 30 years of experience in the law, and because I am fair.

John Goren

Candidate for County Court at Law No. 3; www.johngoren.com

How does being Jewish influence your role on the bench?

It would be my duty to follow the law regardless of my personal opinion. Nevertheless, I would anticipate that, as with any judge because we are human beings, my upbringing, culture and experiences naturally would affect how I would view matters in subtle ways.

What Jewish values or ethics play a part in your verdicts or decisions?

My values are those transmitted to me by my Jewish parents and grandparents as well as those absorbed through my long membership at Temple Emanu-El. While all judges are tasked with applying the law to the facts at hand, I undoubtedly look at the matters through my own Jewish lens. A surprising amount of the law in our country emanates from the Bible, and many rules for how judges should conduct themselves are as relevant today as they were in Biblical times.

What do you want to share with TJP readers?

My desire to serve as a judge emanates from my family’s strong tradition of community service. My father, Jack Goren, was president of the Dallas Chapter of the AJC and a national vice president of the AJC as well as president of several other organizations. My mother, Leah Goren, was the first director of the Dallas Ballet. This tradition has led me to be active in my community. I am a past Director of the AJC Dallas Chapter and former member of the Worship Committee of Temple Emanu-El.

Bonnie Lee Goldstein

Candidate for justice, Place 4 of the 5th District Court of Appeals; www.bonnielessforjustice.com

How does being Jewish influence your role on the bench?

Being Jewish is an integral part of how I grew up. I was fortunate to experience many types of religions and being exposed to both Judaism and Christianity in non-threatening ways, and it helped shaped me in being accepting and tolerant.

How do Jewish values or ethics play a role in your decisions?

It’s how I approach both being an attorney and a judge. I look at things honestly and impartially. Judaism has a strong ethic when it approaches how you view the legal system, the courts, fairness and impartiality.

What do you want to share with TJP readers?

This has been the most amazing, rewarding and challenging experience. I’ve been a practicing lawyer for 20 years and haven’t been outside my comfort zone for about 15. I have been able to go places and meet people I may not have otherwise met, from all walks of life and religions.The exposure I’ve had makes me qualified to sit as a justice because I have the civil and criminal background. That will help me be an appellate justice because I have had exposure and experience in many facets on the law. I believe I can utilize all of that. I chose the right career and the path is now taking me in this direction.

State Senator Florence Shapiro

Running for re-election of District 8; http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/members/dist8/dist8.htm

Every elected official brings his or her life’s experience with them to their office and mine is no different. I find my Jewish values and history play a part in all my decisions. Integrity and hard work are a hallmark of my value system.

I am most passionate about our children and their future. All children deserve to be safe and to be educated and I have worked toward this end my entire political career.

My years of service as a volunteer lead me into the sphere of politics many years ago and I believe I am a public servant today still as a volunteer.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 21 October 2010 by admin

From generation to generation in Israel

JoAnn Rosenberg tells the TJP,

“I made a wonderful trip to Israel this summer to visit my granddaughter, Jennifer Brill, who is studying for her master’s at Ben-Gurion University. There were so many ecstatic moments for me on this visit. The first day I arrived, Jennifer met me at the airport. En route from Tel Aviv, the new highway was breathtaking. I was admiring all the trees off the highway as far as I could see. I told Jennifer how I planted so many of them, all my life in Dallas.

“We went to the Jerusalem Wall at the end of the Sabbath. That was, as always, very emotional, yet inspiring. My granddaughter encouraged me to navigate my way through the crowd so I could touch the Wall. We spent one day at the Diaspora, but I wish we could have spent more time there. There is so much Jewish history there. the most sensational and moving day in Israel for us was when we went to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. I knew that my father, Sidney J. Rubenstein of Dallas, was a founder in 1965. As many times as we have been to Israel, had family go to school there, live there, and even one nephew spending two years in the Israel Defense Forces, no one went to look for the founders’ plaques. First, we went to the Mount Scopus campus and met some very kind ladies who directed us to the campus at the Safrat Ram, the Edmon J. Safra Campus. When we arrived at that campus, the first building had a wall of plaques on the outer side. Above them read, ‘The Society of the Founders of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.’ I was so excited to see that! Jennifer said, ‘Mimi, you will never find it.’ Luckily it was in alphabetical order; I walked up to the R’s, and it immediately jumped out at me! What a terrific day that was to have generations side by side, my father’s blessed memory, my granddaughter and myself to witness the history of our family together.”

Levine Academy students rank among nation’s best and brightest

Year in and year out, Ann and Nate Levine Academy students achieve recognition as some of the brightest in the nation. Levine students have achieved top placement in national mathematics competitions, literary competitions, Judaic/Hebrew competitions, NewBowl and a myriad of other prestigious academic events. This year, Levine Academy is pleased to announce that 18 of its fifth- and seventh-grade students qualified for the 2010 Duke Talent Identification Program (TIP). To qualify, fifth- and seventh-grade students must have scored at the 95th percentile or higher on the verbal or math sections on the standardized achievement test taken last year.

Duke TIP, the largest program of its kind in the nation, identifies gifted children and provides resources to nurture the development of these exceptionally bright youngsters. Qualifying fifth-grade students may participate in Duke TIP’s Talent Search program and are given the opportunity to take the EXPLORE test which was developed by ACT for eighth-graders to evaluate their academic development. In addition, the fifth-grade students receive a variety of academic resource materials, academic courses they can do at home and the opportunity to participate in the Talent Search Writing Contest.

Qualifying seventh-grade students may participate in the Seventh Grade Talent Search program and are invited to take the college entrance exam, ACT or SAT, with high school juniors and seniors. Over the years, Levine Academy students have been among the top performers in the nation and have received national recognition and invitations to participate in a variety of summer academic college-based programs throughout their high school years. Each summer Levine students can be found on the campus of Duke University, taking advantage of the wonderful academic programs Duke TIP has to offer.

“We are so proud that we consistently have a strong percentage of our fifth- and seventh-grade students qualify for TIP,” said K-8 Principal Dr. Susie Wolbe. “We attribute this not only to their natural abilities, but also to the strong curricular base the school provides. We never teach to the test. We simply stress the skills required for a student to be successful. This is why our students excel again and again.”

To learn more about Levine Academy students’ other state and national achievements, contact Dr. Wolbe at 972-248-3032 or swolbe@levineacademy.org.

Congratulations to the following students qualifying for the seventh-grade TIP: Elise Eisenberg, Jonas Frenkel, Jordan Gernsbacher, Shira Hovav, Elena Okowita and Molly Paley.

Congratulations to the following students qualifying for the fifth-grade TIP: Isaac Ableman, Emma Ableman, Cameron Eisenberg, Sophia Fineberg, Carly Hacker, Kayley Horowitz, Josh Kane, Heather Kurtzman, Courtney Rawitscher, Sam Stafford, Seth Sugerman and Sam Weinstein.

‘Wall of Heroes’ project under way by JWV at the Dallas J

Post Historian Jerry Kasten, of the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Dallas Post 256 of the Jewish War Veterans of America (JWV), informs TJP readers that a visual photo exhibit of veteran members, both current and deceased, is being prepared to go on permanent display at the J at 7900 Northaven Road.

The display, titled the “Wall of Heroes,” will feature photos taken of members in their service uniforms, serving our country in peace and in war. It will identify each member, providing name, arm of service, rate or rank, service years, location and job assignment, and will include members who have served from World War II up to the present.

The JWV, the oldest existing veterans’ organization, was established in 1896. Originally formed by Civil War Jewish veterans to counter anti-Semitic charges that “Jews don’t serve,” it continues its pride of country; in fact, Jews have served in each and every war since the American Revolution.

Current JWV members who have not already done so are requested to submit their service photo (from 2-1/4 by 3-1/4 inches, up to 5 by 7 inches) for this project in an envelope, with the appropriate information, to the JWV mailbox at the Dallas JCC as soon as possible. Families of deceased members are also invited to participate in this worthwhile project. Kasten suggests that larger-sized photos can be minimized to the requested dimensions at a conveniently located Walgreens or CVS store, and then submitted. Since the photos will not be returned, it is advisable also that copies be made at these stores.

In other JWV news, Post Commander Dick Lethe dropped by the TJP office and shared some exciting news about the Post. In August, the Post received the highest awards in community services and monthly newspaper at the national convention, held in Savannah, Ga.

Lethe encourages anyone who has srved honorably in the military to join the veterans of the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Dallas Post 256. For more information, write the Post 255 in care of the JCC, 7900, Northaven Rd., Dallas, TX 75230.

‘Kosher Chic’ arrives at Shearith

Congregation Shearith Israel Sisterhood will celebrate the arrival of its new cookbook, “Kosher Chic,” on Sunday morning, Oct. 24, from 10:30 a.m. to noon in the Ornish Garden.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 21 October 2010 by admin

CAS welcomes Rabbi Gary Perras

Congregation Ahavath Sholom is pleased to welcome Rabbi Gary Perras as rabbi of the congregation. Rabbi Perras, a member of the Rabbinical Assembly with over 40 years of experience in the rabbinate, comes to Fort Worth from Jacksonville, Fla. He will provide spiritual and educational leadership to the members of the congregation, and counsel and guidance to its leadership.

Pirke Avot (1:6) teaches, “Find yourself a teacher; get yourself a friend.” Congregation Ahavath Sholom did both when they engaged Perras as the new rabbi. Rabbi Perras, or “Rav” as he prefers to be called, has only been in town for two weeks and he has already endeared himself to everyone he has met. The feeling in the community is that it is a pleasure to come to the shul and learn from the new rabbi.

On Nov. 6, Rabbi Perras will be honored and officially installed during Shabbat morning services. A special Kiddush luncheon will be provided by Elsie Blum and the CAS Catering Committee and staff in honor of the occasion. The entire community is invited, and this will be a great opportunity for everyone to come and “meet the rabbi.” Hope to see you there.

Comedian lights up Beth-El

If you passed by Beth-El on Sunday, Oct. 17 at about 4:30 p.m., you probably heard raucous laughter coming from the sanctuary. Over 275 members of the Tarrant County Jewish community were being entertained with wonderfully clean and funny jokes by Rabbi Bob Alper. Rabbi Alper, who was a classmate of our Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger, has been doing stand-up comedy for the past 24 years. He can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, has been featured on CNN’s “American Morning” and is the author of the inspirational book, “Life Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This.” Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation, this community event, planned as a thank-you to its many supporters, was a big success. People came from all over Tarrant County for a great laugh. In addition, the audience brought non-perishable foods as “admission” for the Tarrant Area Food Bank and managed to amass 254 pounds of goods! Thanks go to committee members Karen Anisman, Jill Imber and Renee Pinto for getting the word out and helping to sell Rabbi Alper’s DVDs, 20 percent of the sale of which came back to the Federation.

Naomi Brand appointed as CAS education director

On the heels of engaging a new rabbi, Congregation Ahavath Sholom has more good news to share. Naomi Brand has been appointed education director. Her first task will be to implement an innovative curriculum that has been developed by the Education Committee of the synagogue under the direction of David Saul. After the first several weeks of the program, both parents and students are excited and looking forward to what’s coming next.

One of the changes that Naomi has already implemented is to do away with the afternoon Hebrew classes, replacing them with additional time on the weekends and special Shabbat programming. Another feature of the new curriculum is the use of guest teachers to supplement regular classroom activities.

Naomi’s next project, already in the works, is a ramp-up of adult education programming. Stay tuned, it’s going to be good.

Dr. Maria Sirois returns to ‘continue the journey’

The Hadassah of Fort Worth committee bringing Dr. Maria Sirois back to the community is working tirelessly to make their Nov. 7 event, “A Community-Wide Women’s Celebration II — Continuing the Journey: A Women’s Retreat with Dr. Maria Sirois,” an inspirational and meaningful program for everyone.

Last year Dr. Sirois, an inspirational speaker, seminar leader and author who has worked at the crossroads of wellness, psychology and spirituality for nearly 20 years, left each woman with the understanding of what she most needs to strengthen and nurture her care for herself.

This year the discussion will not only be revisited but continue. Women will learn techniques of how to sustain that care so that they can continue to bring their particular gifts to their family and community.

“Through research and clinical anecdotes, through mindfulness practice and group discussion, we’ll uncover how we build a scaffolding within ourselves from which to thrive, and a connection with each other from which to repair our larger world,” Dr. Sirois explains. “We’ll explore resilience, humor, creativity and the health benefits of understanding how happiness and meaning in life work together.”

So don’t miss out on this unique event. Save the date: Nov. 7 at Mira Vista Country Club from 1 to 5 p.m. Refreshments and light fare will be served. Event tickets are $25. To make a reservation, please contact Randee Kaitcer at 817-377-0505 or e-mail randee_k@charter.net.

Committee members include: Ava Beleck, Rhoda Bernstein, Loretta Causey, Elizabeth Cohen, Jane Cohen, Jennifer Daley, Gail Granek, Linda Hochster, Etty Horowitz, Sandy Hollander, Eileen House, Shoshana Howard, Rebecca Isgur, Randee Kaitcer, Karen Kaplan, Marcia Kurtz, Linda Lavi, Susan Luskey, Posy McMillen, Carol Minker, Melissa Morgan, Zoë Stein Pierce, Jennifer Ratner, Naomi Rosenfield, Debby Rice, Dolores Schneider, Louise Vermillion, Laurie Werner and Margie Zentner.

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 21 October 2010 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

Here’s a question to follow up on the most recent of your always interesting columns: In Judaism, which do you consider the more accurate or normative belief — that (1) all humans have the same soul, reflecting how we are all created in the divine image and that all of humanity started with one person, or that (2) Jews have a soul that is of a qualitatively higher level than non-Jews ?

Kol tuv,

Larry L., Ph.D.

Dear Larry,

Hope things are well in El Paso!

Let’s start by saying that no two human beings, Jewish or not, have the “same soul.” Just as no two people have the same face, features or personality, also no two individuals have the same soul. This does not contradict the fact that all human beings descend from the first man any more than you would expect all human beings to display Adam’s face! The Mishnah asks why G-d created only one man and woman and all of mankind should descend from them; why not just directly create many human beings and populate the world immediately? The answer is to teach the uniqueness of each human being; just as the entire world emanated from one person, every individual is also considered like an entire, unique world. Being created from Adam is not to lose individuality, but rather to acquire it at the highest level.

As we mentioned, the same way that our face, hands and feet are uniquely different than those of any others, so too are our souls. This is because each body and soul is exclusively crafted to be a perfect match. Every soul has a different purpose which it was sent to this world to accomplish. A soul can achieve nothing in the physical world on its own; it must have a corporeal partner so that the two unified partners, body and soul, can carry out their distinct role. If the bodies are different, it must be that the souls are different, both reflecting in a hidden, mystical way their ultimate purpose on the stage of history.

If this is true concerning individuals, it surely follows concerning nations. Each professional football team has something unique about it which sets it apart from the other teams. Every player is part of his team and at the same time an individual. Different nations throughout history have their distinct role, and the citizens of that country are recognizable as such: One can tell a Frenchman from an Englishman by their language, mannerisms and attitudes, and often by their philosophies of life. This was true of Rome, Greece and others. The individuals of these nations would function both as part of their respective nations and as unique persons. Their souls were endowed to them in line with their individual purposes and the purpose of their nations.

This is certainly true concerning the Jewish people. We were charged to serve as a “light among the nations” illuminating the world to the higher purpose of creation. To do so we had to receive the Torah at Sinai. You need a larger-capacity light bulb to receive and spread all the energy necessary to light up a baseball field than the small bulb used as a night light in the hallway. Similarly, we needed to be endowed with an expanded soul which would be capable of receiving all the vast spiritual energy contained in the Torah as it was transmitted to us at Sinai. Our unique purpose mandated a unique, enlarged soul. This was not just for the generation of Sinai, as our charge to continue carrying the bright torch of Torah continues throughout the generations. This is our essence and our mission!

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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