Archive | December, 2010

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 30 December 2010 by admin

The 18th annual Tiferet Israel Kosher Chili Cookoff is getting hotter

Delighted is the word for the team of volunteer chairpeople who have begun the mammoth preparation for the much-anticipated, traditional community event, the 18th annual Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff, at the historic synagogue which has celebrated its 120th year deep in the heart of Texas.

The Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff is scheduled for April 3, 2011, from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Tiferet Israel synagogue, located at 10909 Hillcrest (at Royal).

The projected 4,000-plus annual visitors will not only savor this festive event, but share in helping to secure meaningful funds as well. From its inception, the Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff is unique inasmuch as it is all-inclusive to the entire Jewish community regardless of religious affiliation. Its appeal extends to the non-Jewish community as well, as all can share in the spirit of giving back through the mutually beneficial grants that are awarded and the collection of foods for the JFS Food Pantry.

Tiferet Israel is proud of the fact that each year, a portion of the profits is granted to various charities. Grantees for 2011 will be: Jewish Children’s Regional Services, the Visiting Nurses Association Meals-on-Wheels, and the SoupMobile which serves meals to the homeless throughout our city. Jewish Family Service will also be the recipient of on-site collection of food and items for the Food Pantry.

The entire Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff is under the supervision of Dallas Kosher (Vaad Hakashrus). The event is a significant experience of partnership and camaraderie, and “the spirit of giving back to the community makes the event a more lofty challenge,” said Esther Hazan-Cohen, a valuable volunteer who has chaired the more than 200 other volunteers who eagerly assist, year after year.

Scott Janco, Steering Committee chair, said: “Although several cities, including Houston, are now hosting their own chili cookoffs, fashioned after ours, there is no question that the Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff at Tiferet Israel remains the prototype and the best, unsurpassed kosher cookoff.”

For more information, please visit Tiferet Israel’s Web site at www.tiferetdallas.org or call the shul at 214-691-3611.

Brick by brick, Yavneh’s Students4Students are building afar

It may not be recommended to judge a book by its cover but it’s certainly easy to judge students Dalit Agronin ‘12, Jori Epstein ‘12 and Rachel Siegel ‘13, co-presidents of Yavneh’s Students4Students, who co-chaired, with the JCC, the Nov. 22 Jewish Community Center Book Fair event. More than $10,000 was raised during the evening, which featured Marilyn Berger, author of “This is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes.” That money, together with the proceeds of last year’s S4S film night, which showed an HBO documentary and a second short film, both based on Dr. Hodes’ meaningful and life-changing efforts, will soon be sent to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, which will coordinate the building of a school in Gondar, Ethiopia.

“After hearing Dr. Hodes speak last year of the overwhelming number of Ethiopian children, 80 percent, that will never receive an education, I could not help but feel this huge obligation to somehow lessen that percentage,” Siegel said. “This is a Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes” tells the remarkable story of Yavneh Dad Rick Hodes’ journey from suburban America to Mother Teresa’s clinic in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Dr. Hodes arrived in Africa more than two decades ago to help the victims of a famine, but he never expected to call this extremely poor continent his home. “Our education at Yavneh has left an indelible imprint on our lives and our possibilities for the future,” Siegel said. “I cannot imagine a greater gift than to have a nurturing school to be able to attend each day, and I know that the education I am receiving now is a stepping stone for whatever lies ahead. It is because of this gift that I feel an obligation to try to allow other children to benefit from an education.”

“Although it is difficult to change the literacy rate and educational opportunities for the entire country, we hope that through funding this school, even a small number of children will now receive access to an education,” Epstein said. “It is truly an amazing feeling to know we will hopefully be able to provide an education to someone who may not have had one without us.”

“Students4Students is important to me because I have always felt the desire to give back to the less fortunate,” Agronin said. “Yavneh has given me such a great education and I feel like everyone, no matter where you come from, should be able to receive an education.”

For more information, or to make a donation to Students4Students, please e-mail info@yavnehdallas.org.

‘Wild Bill’ will shoot it up in Dallas, Jan. 2

The Texas Shomrim Society, a Jewish law enforcement organization, will present “Wild Bill,” a Western movie starring Jeff Bridges, on Sunday, Jan. 2. The movie is sponsored by the Texas Shomrim Society in support of the Dallas Sheriff’s Department.

Showtime is at 2 p.m. at the Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson in Oak Cliff. For details, please contact Robert Epstein, vice president of the Texas Shomrim Society, at 214-789-4408 or macabee1948@aol.com.

Unemployed or under-employed? Find out how to change that!

Jump-start your job search and start 2011 off right. Jeff Morris, the founder of CareerDFW, will be at Shearith Israel on Monday, Jan. 10, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., to show you what CareerDFW is and share some of his top career tips. Come network with others and get your job search in high gear for the new year. This program is open to anyone who is unemployed or under-employed.

Reservations are requested since space is limited. RSVP to receptionist@shearith.org or 214-361-6606.

Congregation Shearith Israel is located at 9401 Douglas Ave. in Dallas.

Melton courses to be offered in January

From January to March, several courses will be offered as part of the Melton Scholars Curriculum.

“The Holocaust as Reflected in Diaries and Memoirs” will be taught by Janet Baum on Wednesdays from Jan. 5 through March 9, 9–10:30 a.m. “Jewish Denominations: Addressing the Challenges of Modernity” will be held Sundays, Jan. 9 through March 13, 10–11:30 a.m., and “Judaism 101: A Beginner’s Guide” on Mondays, Jan. 10 through March 14, 7–9 p.m.; instructor for both those courses is Laura Seymour.

All classes will take place at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road, Dallas. For more information and fee schedules, or to sign up, please contact Rachelle Weiss Crane at 214-239-7128 or rweisscrane@jccdallas.org.

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Around the Town

Posted on 30 December 2010 by admin

Former ourtowner Phoebe Raileanu, daughter of Laurie and Michael Raileanu, has been in the news in St. Louis. The Jewish Light’s Ellen Futerman shared the following story with TJP readers which appeared in an issue earlier this month. You can read more about Phoebe at www.stljewishlight.com

NJT finds a wonderful ‘Young Sophie’ for latest production

If anyone needs a little arm twisting to see the New Jewish Theatre’s next production, “Last of the Red Hot Mamas,” I’ve got two words for you: Phoebe Raileanu.

I really can’t vouch for Phoebe’s talents, although she did belt out a few bars of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” and it sounded pretty darn good, but I do know after talking to her for a while, I am smitten.

Phoebe, who celebrated her 18th birthday on Dec. 8, plays one of three incarnations of Sophie Tucker. For those unfamiliar, “Last of the Red Hot Mamas” examines the life of this colorful vaudeville and burlesque star, whose career spanned 60 years. Phoebe plays “Young Sophie,” Johanna Elkana-Hale portrays Tucker in the middle of her life and Christy Simmons is “Mature Sophie.”

“We’re not allowed to say ‘old’ Sophie. We were told to use ‘mature,’” jokes Phoebe.

No one seems more surprised than Phoebe that she landed the part. Not that she doubts her ability — she is passionate and confident about performing and knows her part inside and out. It’s just that this Clayton High School senior had never been cast in a leading role before. In fact, she was so frustrated about this fact that she gave up on show choir and other high school theatrical efforts this year, figuring she would do better to concentrate on her other interests.

Then, quite unexpectedly, she learned of the NJT auditions.

“I was walking out of school on a Friday when I ran into a friend who said there were auditions going on in [Clayton High’s] Black Box Theater,” she recalled. “He told me they were looking for a young, curvy belter and thought I should try out.

“I said OK, even though I wasn’t prepared. So I went to the audition and was kind of nervous. The girl before me sang ‘Everything’s Coming Up Roses,’ which was the only song I felt prepared to sing. I said, ‘I know the girl before me did this but I’m going to give it a different spin.’

“Then, right before Shabbat, they called, told me they thought I was great and offered me the role.”

Says Kathleen Sitzer, artistic director of NJT: “What we were looking for in casting Young Sophie was a young woman with a big voice who could match the other two Sophies both physically and vocally. Phoebe won it hands down.”

Typically, when something this major happens, the first thing Phoebe would do is run home and hug her parents. But that was impossible because they live in California, where Phoebe lived until she was 12. Her parents, Lorie and Michael, moved back to Los Angeles in the summer after Phoebe’s mother lost her job here. Phoebe’s father, who is a Jewish educator [in St. Louis, his most recent post was directing the Shaare Shalom Religious School of Shaare Zedek and Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel], has had to change jobs quite frequently, she says.

“I told my parents, ‘This is what is going to happen: You are going to move to California and I am going to stay here and finish my senior year at Clayton. You’re going to cry and I’m going to cry, but this is what needs to happen.’ They understood and agreed.”

Phoebe explains that in addition to “loving my school, my friends and everyone here,” she insisted on staying because she intends to speak at graduation. She says students vying for that honor are asked to write an essay, audition and then a panel of teachers and students decide by a vote.

“I’ve lived in 16 houses and attended seven or eight different schools,” says Phoebe, who also went to Solomon Schechter Day School here. “Clayton High is the one home I have been in longer than anyplace else in my life. It means so much to me.”

This year, Phoebe is living with Shaare Zedek Rabbi Mark Fasman and his wife Alice, who are great friends of the Raileanu (pronounced RAL-e-NEW) family.

“The Fasmans are so great to me, there is no way I will ever be able to thank them enough,” she says. “It was so natural for me to move in. When my family lived here, they were my parents’ closest friends.”

Phoebe, who is “modern Orthodox” and a member of Young Israel, hasn’t seen her parents since Rosh Hashanah. She wasn’t able to go home for Thanksgiving because she was in rehearsals for the play.

Finances are also an issue. Phoebe says that money is tight, just like it is for many families. She had hoped to go to college at George Washington University next year, but now thinks she will attend Ben-Gurion University in Israel, which she says is more affordable.

She plans to contribute to her college education and had been working as a waitress at Il Vicino in downtown Clayton before the restaurant had a fire and closed. She will get paid for her role as Young Sophie but not until the production is over, she says.

The good news is that her mother is coming to St. Louis to see Phoebe perform Saturday night and Sunday afternoon. The bad news is that it’s too costly for her father to come as well.

“I know this may sound a little weird, but I am totally in love with my parents,” she says. “It’s been really hard to be apart from them because I love them so much.”

And while she is thrilled her mother is coming, she adds: “My dad is my best friend in the whole world. He has been my biggest supporter. The best birthday/Chanukah present would be my dad coming to see me in the show. I wish more than anything he could come, too.”

As a postscript, Futterman shared with the TJP at presstime, that a Jewish Light reader read about Phoebe’s desire to have her dad at the show and donated airmiles to fly Michael out to St. Louis. What a mitzvah!

We would like to hear from our readers. Send your news to sharonw@texasjewishpost.com or 7920 Beltline Road, Ste. 680, Dallas, TX 75254. Our best wishes for a happy and healthy New Year.

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 30 December 2010 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

It’s painful for me to approach this issue, but my brother has recently “come out of the closet” and told us that he’s gay. I spoke to our Reform rabbi about it, and she says there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, it’s normal for whoever feels that that way is Jewishly all right. To me and my parents, it really doesn’t feel right and we’re not sure how to deal with it. Is it really Jewishly all right? Can anything be done about it?

Confused

Dear Confused,

The Torah, which is the source of Judaism, clearly states the Jewish view of homosexuality: “You shall not lie with a man in the way you lie with a woman, it is an abomination” (Leviticus 18:22). “And if a man will lie with a man as with a woman, they have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them” (Leviticus 20:13). As you see, the Torah labels this activity as an abomination and confers capital punishment upon the offenders. There is no prohibition against the feelings, which may be a person’s tendency; only the act is forbidden.

We, as Jews, face a tremendous challenge in today’s world where homosexual behavior, based on the studies of some scientists that show this behavior has biological roots, has been deemed acceptable and an “alternative lifestyle.” In the non-traditional Jewish world, these new societal norms have brought about a revolution in the way they deal with this phenomenon, reinterpreting the clear verses of the Torah to mean something else completely. Reform Judaism has rejected the traditional understanding of this prohibition, maintaining that it is merely prohibiting same-sex prostitution, making it a stand against the idolatrous practices of the Canaanite nations then inhabiting Israel rather than a blanket condemnation of homosexuality. For that reason they fully accept gay cantors and rabbis and most even ascribe some ritual to a same-sex “marriage,” hence what you heard from your Reform rabbi.

The Conservative movement has a spectrum of opinions among its ranks, some invoking the principle of “human dignity,” and since 2007 the AJU in Los Angeles and the JTS in New York have accepted openly gay and lesbian candidates to rabbinical school and to receive Conservative ordination.

Classical Judaism alone stands strong, holding up the timeless truths of the Torah as the benchmark of morality for all time. The view of the Torah historically did not mirror the mores of contemporary society; it was not accepted by the licentious societies of the time, especially by the Greeks, who favored homosexual love. Abraham was called “Ivri,” the sages tell us, because the Hebrew word implies that all the world stood on one side and he stood on the other. He was not afraid to stand up for the truth, even if it contradicted society and modernity.

What your brother needs is understanding and compassion, and to get him the help he needs to return to a heterosexual life so that he may one day marry and build a Jewish family. I once discussed this at length with the renowned psychiatrist Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski. He told me that this condition, with much work, can be and has been overcome. The main problem, he said, is finding a therapist today who feels there’s something wrong and a reason to cure this problem. There is an organization called JONAH dedicated to helping those who want to return to a normal, heterosexual life, with much success. Dr. Twerski cited a Midrash which states that there is no prohibition in the Torah that we have no desire at all to do; if we had no inclination to do it the Torah would not need to prohibit it. Our obligation, through Torah, is to recognize our proclivities to do certain acts and to curb our inclinations, subjugating them to the Will of G-d. We must show our utmost compassion to their situation, not rejecting these individuals as people or Jews, while at the same time not condoning their lifestyle. May you be there for your brother and help him be fully fulfilled as a person and a Jew.

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 30 December 2010 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

Judaism is filled with books, legends, stories, quotes and even bubbemeysas. Everything is to teach a lesson about life with a Jewish flavor. Sometimes we just come up with the right story or quote that fits the need at the moment. My children were driven crazy with my stories but hopefully they learned and will pass the stories down to their children.

Today there are wonderful books that give us stories, and books and even movies that are great for teaching a lesson. As expected, I just got a new book titled “Once Upon a Time … Storytelling to Teach Character and Prevent Bullying” by Elisa Davy Pearmain. Not only do you get the stories but you read ideas on follow-up conversations. Here is a story focused on wisdom, flexible thinking, courage, foresight, humility and compassion. That’s a lot to learn from one story. Aesop’s fables are wonderful for giving you the message — King Solomon makes it a little more challenging to draw out the lessons.

‘King Solomon and the Hoopoe Bird’

“King Solomon was known for solving riddles and understanding the language of every animal. Once when the Queen of Sheba was returning to her palace, King Solomon offered her a gift and she turned it into a test. She asked the king to build her a palace made entirely of bird beaks. King Solomon was worried and he called all the birds together. All of the birds came except for the Hoopoe Bird and the king was angry. He demanded the Hoopoe Bird be found and planned to punish it for disobeying.

“The bird cried, ‘Please do not be angry with me. I have been flying about to gain wisdom so I might serve you. Let me ask you three riddles. If you can answer them, you may punish me. If I can teach you something new, set me free.’ The first riddle: How long are the world and its creatures made to last? The King said they must last forever but he realized that he was changing the birds forever. The second riddle: What water never rises from the ground and never falls from the sky? The King answered that it is a tear made from sadness and he realized that the birds were crying because he was going to cut off their beaks. The third riddle: What is gentle enough to feed the smallest baby, and yet strong enough to bore holes in the hardest tree? The King knew it is the bird’s beak but he thought that he was going to take those beaks and how would the birds survive. The Hoopoe Bird knew that the King could now punish him. But King Solomon replied, ‘Yes, I knew the answers but I did not have the wisdom to see how my actions would affect others. You and all the birds are free to go.’”

“The king turned to the Queen of Sheba and she said, ‘This was my test and you passed. Not only are you clever, but also you are wise and compassionate. You can admit when you are wrong, and you can reward others for their wisdom. That is the greatest gift of all.’”

It is wonderful to read books; however, it is even better to become a storyteller. This book gives instructions on storytelling, but I tell you from experience, it is all about practice! Being a great storyteller is a gift but it can be learned and you must work at it. Remember, Judaism is truly an oral tradition — become a part of it!

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

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TCU’s Jewish students proud to be purple as the team heads to the Rose Bowl this weekend

TCU’s Jewish students proud to be purple as the team heads to the Rose Bowl this weekend

Posted on 30 December 2010 by admin

By Edmon J. Rodman

LOS ANGELES (JTA) — Texas Christian University may seem out of place at this season’s Rose Bowl — but not as much as a few of its fans.

The notion of Jewish students at TCU may seem like a mismatch, but don’t tell that to the several dozen Jewish students on campus who will be cheering as loudly as anyone when the team takes the field in Pasadena, Calif., on New Year’s Day. Who says the Horned Frog, TCU’s mascot, can’t wear a kippah?

The team’s dominant, undefeated season and top-flight performances in recent years have proved that it belongs among the NCAA’s elite teams, playing on the most storied stage in college football.

The school has about 60 Jewish students, out of more than 8,000 at the university, which is associated with the Christian church (Disciples of Christ), a mainstream Protestant denomination.

To serve them, TCU has a thriving Hillel, reports the organization’s adviser, Arnold Barkman, an associate professor of accounting and transplanted New Yorker who has lived in Texas since 1965 and been at TCU since 1974. Many students can be seen sporting the purple, white and blue Star of David Hillel T-shirts, and Jewish students, professors and staff can be found hanging out and enjoying a nosh at the bagel place across the street from the campus.

Barkman notes that the Brite Divinity School which is affiliated with the university sponsors the Gates of Chai Lectureship in Contemporary Judaism that has brought prominent Jewish writers and thinkers to campus, including Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, author Rabbi Harold Kushner and scholar Susannah Heschel. The Brite Divinity School also has a Jewish Studies Program.

The Hillel program, which does not hold regular Shabbat services, arranges home Shabbat dinners with area families and provides tickets for students interested in attending High Holy Days services.

Not that the situation at TCU will be confused with the Jewish life of its Rose Bowl opponent, the University of Wisconsin. On that school’s Madison campus, there are an estimated 5,000 Jewish undergrads, a gleaming new multi-story Hillel building, kosher meal plans and even an Orthodox student organization, JEM, that also fills its dining hall on Fridays. The school’s football team boasts a Jewish star lineman and NFL prospect, Gabe Carimi.

So how does that tiny Jewish squad deep in the heart of Texas even field a team? “We are scattered across the campus, but we show everyone there is a Jewish presence on campus,” says sophomore Kyle Orth, a music major and noted concert pianist who is serving as the TCU Hillel president.

Hillel’s (almost) monthly meetings on campus attract from five to 15 students to the new Hillel Conference Room in TCU’s Student Union and feature screenings of Israeli films and the construction and presentation of a yearly on-campus Holocaust exhibit.

“Going to a Christian college makes you aware of who you are as a Jew,” Orth says. It also “makes me aware of what I can bring to the world as a Jew.”

It is not a phenomenon limited to TCU. A number of Jewish students attend other schools across the country associated with Christian denominations, including Jewish “fighting Irish” at Notre Dame University in Indiana and Jews at the Jesuits’ Boston College.

At Boston College, about 2 percent of the school’s 9,000 students are Jewish, according to the director of Jewish life there, Elissa Klein. Tzvi Novick, the Jordan Kapson Chair in Jewish Studies at Notre Dame, serves as adviser to the Jewish Club there. Novick notes that Notre Dame has no Hillel and only a few Jewish students on campus.

Some of the students who attend Jewish on-campus groups at these Christian schools are simply curious. For example, according to Novick, at Notre Dame, non-Jewish students are active in the Jewish Club.

At TCU, Barkman says, students who are converting to Judaism attend Hillel meetings.

At Boston College, Klein has learned that “the millennial students want cultural exchanges.”

“One of our most active members is not Jewish,” Klein says. “We even get non-Jewish students who might miss their hometown Jewish neighborhoods and friends.”

Sounding like Orth at TCU, Klein says that attending a Christian campus “heightens the student’s ethnic identity. Jewish students feel like a real minority here.”

Klein says she fields calls all the time from parents asking, “Will my son or daughter be able to date someone Jewish?”

What brings Jewish students to a Christian campus?

“Students like Kyle [Orth] come to pursue a specific major,” Barkman answers. “Some just like to stay close to home. We had a student whose parents moved here from Israel, so it made sense to come here.”

Barkman says that in recent times, TCU’s administration has grown more sensitive to its Jewish and other non-Christian students.

“The school asked about food items served at campus luncheons which may be unacceptable to Jews and Muslims,” he says. “I suggested they alter their menu from pork and shellfish.”

Barkman also points to the school administration’s decision this year to stop an anti-Israel divestment group from meeting on campus. And TCU expects to have a new director of Jewish studies in the coming academic year. It’s also worth noting, he says, that the school has no chapel requirement. “Only one class in religion is required,” he says. “And there are a variety of classes to fulfill it, including a class in contemporary Judaism.”

TCU is not a campus of “Bible thumpers,” Barkman adds. “Everyone on the faculty knows I am Jewish,” he says. “I feel comfortable here. There is no bias on this campus.”

Of course, being Jewish at TCU still can garner some attention.

One such instance started with an announcement that TCU’s football team is going to switch to playing in the Big East Athletic Conference with Rutgers University.

Soon after the change was announced, Barkman received a call. “Hi, are you Arnie Barkman?” the caller asked. “The Arnie Barkman who I met at Camp Tel Hai in Pennsylvania?”

“It was a man I met at camp when I was 14,” Barkman says. “He works at Rutgers and wanted to see if there was anything Jewish at TCU.”

Gabe Carimi: Star in shul and on the football field

By Deborah Hirsch

PHILADELPHIA (JTA) — Gabe Carimi already knows that Yom Kippur won’t fall on a Sunday for at least the next 20 years.

The star left tackle at the University of Wisconsin looked up the dates in anticipation of being a potential first-round pick in this spring’s NFL draft. But first, Carimi will end his college career by leading the Badgers against the Texas Christian University’s Horned Frogs in the 97th Rose Bowl.

Carimi, co-captain of the Big Ten championship team, was recently named the conference Lineman of the Year and awarded the Outland Trophy, a national honor given to the best interior lineman. The civil and environmental engineering major has also been named Academic All-Big Ten four years in a row.

For Carimi, at 6 feet, 7 inches and 327 pounds, playing football and practicing Judaism both come naturally.

“It’s always just who I’ve been,” he told JTA.

Speaking by phone before an intensive series of Rose Bowl practices, Carimi recalled how his childhood baseball coach had sized him up and suggested giving football a try.

Of course, Carimi said, his mom always worried about him, but there wasn’t much danger of serious injury in peewee football. And even though sports practices dominated his schedule, he always reserved time to attend Temple Beth El, a Reform synagogue in Madison.

“He grew up at temple,” said Larry Kohn, the congregation’s education director.

Kohn chuckled at the memory of blessing Carimi during his bar mitzvah service, which he led in the rabbi’s absence. The teenager was already so tall, Kohn said, that he had to put his hands on Carimi’s shoulders instead of his head — even with the future football star bending down.

After becoming a bar mitzvah, Carimi continued his religious studies, celebrating his Confirmation and working as an assistant to a fifth-grade Sunday school teacher. For Chanukah one year, he asked his parents for a shofar and joined the men who share the honor of blowing the ram’s horn on the High Holy Days.

While football has become more time consuming lately, Carimi still joins his parents and older sister for Friday night services whenever he can.

“Our lives have been busy and Friday evening was the time to stop, take a deep breath, inhale, exhale, just kind of get back in touch with what’s important,” his dad, Sanford Carimi, said.

“It always felt like home there,” Gabe Carimi said. Plus, he added, after nine hours a day at Camp Randall Stadium during football season, there wasn’t time to get involved with the campus Hillel.

To Kohn, the fact that Carimi ­continues to prioritize Shabbat and take on a leadership role at his synagogue, on top of commitments to football and academics, speaks volumes about his “spiritual strength and devotion.”

“A lot of kids, when they hit college, sort of take a break and return after they have kids,” Kohn said. “He’s a model of a long-term commitment to a task and to a value.”

Carimi has also made a point of maintaining some observance of the High Holy Days, even when football interferes. When Yom Kippur fell on a Saturday during his freshman year, he fasted until an hour before the night game.

This past September, the holiday coincided with an afternoon face-off against Arizona State University. Carimi wrestled with whether he should play at all, even going to his rabbi for advice.

“I’ve always fasted, even when I was young,” he explained. “It’s a moment of clarity to kind of take the focus off the whole world and everything you have to do — just focus on trying to make yourself a better person.”

Ultimately, he came up with his own compromise: Instead of fasting from sundown to sundown, he started the fast early enough to give himself a few hours to recover before the game.

“Religion is a part of me and I don’t want to just say I’m Jewish,” Carimi said. “I actually do make sacrifices that I know are hard choices.”

As long as coaches respect those decisions, Carimi said, he has no problem respecting the team’s longstanding religious traditions. The Badgers, for example, have a Catholic priest lead prayers before every game. So as not to seem “socially different,” Carimi said, he opts to sit together with the group and listen quietly.

Outside of football and Judaism, Carimi has developed a passion for construction through his engineering studies, his woodworking hobby and two internships. This spring, he’ll work with an adviser to complete a final capstone design project.

As much as he likes engineering, Carimi said, he’s happy to put it aside for a pro football career. After the Rose Bowl, he’ll get two weeks off before returning to the field to train for the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

More important than any football achievement, Sanford Carimi said, his son has proven to be a smart thinker with strong character and self-esteem. Even when he thinks about a huge honor like the Outland Trophy, he said, “that would mean nothing to me if he wasn’t a good kid.”

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Israel @ the Center brings Israeli educators to Dallas

Israel @ the Center brings Israeli educators to Dallas

Posted on 27 December 2010 by admin

Sigalit Baizlay (left) and Ariella Apt from the Rambam School in Akko were part of the delegation of Israeli teachers that came to Dallas during Chanukah.

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

For five days, Israeli educators visited Dallas to learn about American culture, teach classes at local schools and stay with host families. They left an indelible imprint on the Dallas Jewish community and built connections for the future.

The Center for Jewish Education (CJE) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas hosted 22 educators from Dallas’ partnership region in Akko and Mette Asher during Chanukah. The group represented pre-K through 12th-grade teachers and principals who shared their teaching methods with students and teachers.

During their visit, the teachers also participated in Shabbat-related activities with their host families, attended events at Congregation Anshai Torah and Beth Torah, toured the Aaron Family JCC and got a glimpse of Jewish life in America.

It was made possible through a new CJE initiative called Israel @ the Center, whose purpose is to bring Israel to classrooms to create cultural, religious and social bonds between students in Dallas and Israel. Meyer Denn, CJE executive director, said this was the first event of its kind to take place in Dallas and he believes it was successful.

Sydney Denn with her dad Meyer Denn, executive director of the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; and Israeli teachers Niva Shochat and Iris Altit at the Beth Torah Chanukah celebration.

“We both benefited from this because they learned about Jewish life in America and we learned more about Israeli culture,” he said. “The relationships they made with the host families were incredible, and being in the schools was uplifting for both sides. This is the best way to engage American teachers and students about Israel.”

Dallas is one of 16 U.S. Jewish communities within the central region that form the Partnership with Israel to collaborate with Akko and Mette Asher in the Western Galilee of Israel, making a direct impact on the day-to-day lives of Israeli citizens. The others are: Fort Worth, San Antonio, Austin, Waco (Texas); Akron, Toledo, Canton, Dayton, Youngstown (Ohio); South Bend, Indianapolis, NW Indiana (Indiana); Des Moines (Iowa); Omaha (Nebraska); Louisville (Kentucky).

Photo: Courtesy of Miranda Winer Members of the Israeli teacher delegation, host families and Dallas Jewish community professional joined together for a Chanukah event at Congregation Anshai Torah. Twenty-two educators came to Dallas from the Partnership region in the Western Galilee to build connections with American students and teachers.

Developed in 1994 by the United Jewish Communities (UJC) and the Jewish Agency for Israel, the Partnership with Israel program helps Jews in Israel bridge the geographical and cultural gaps that divide them. Harold Gernsbacher, United States chair for the Partnership for the Western Galilee, said having the Israeli teachers in Dallas accomplished that mission.

“It’s important that we continue to build bridges and use our partnership community as a catalyst for the future,” he said. “We are supposed to be building a better Jewish tomorrow, and teachers are the core of that. They fill our kids’ minds with the exposure for them to want to be Jewish. The Israeli teachers were fantastic. It was a life-changing experience and was an extraordinarily bright moment.”

The Israeli educators consisted of a group of 17 first- through eighth-grade teachers and their coordinator, and a smaller one of five early childhood teachers and their coordinator.

In addition to their other activities, they visited the religious schools of Congregation Adat Chaverim, Anshai Torah, Beth Torah, Kol Ami, Shearith Israel and Temple Emanu-El. They also taught lessons at Akiba Academy, the J Early Childhood Center and the Ann and Nate Levine Academy.

Eliad Eliyahu, education coordinator for the Jewish Agency for Israel, led the delegation of 17 teachers who came from eight different schools. He said the trip was a great way to bring everyone together.

“In order to make a real connection to the Jewish world, our students in Akko need to understand what it means to be Jewish in other parts of the

Ahuva Lavi, principal at the Eshcol School in Akko, facilitates a lesson about Chanukah to fourth-graders at Akiba Academy.

world,” he said. “The twinning between the students in America and Israel is a great way to do this. The most important part is that Israeli and American teachers are working together to come up with ideas. They are enriching students’ lives and it helps them better understand Judaism across the world.”

Sigalit Baizlay, a principal at the Rambam School in Akko, said this was her first trip to the United States and now she has a better understanding of American life. She hopes to bring back everything she learned to her students.

“I only knew what America was like before by hearing about it,” she said. “I now see the connection between America and Israel and realize how important we are to each other. We are one Jewish family.”

Ahuva Lavi is the principal of the Eshcol School in Akko. She and science teacher Meerav Ben Aruya facilitated a lesson at Akiba Academy about oil and its connection to Chanukah, and told students about their school. They also shared letters that Eshcol students wrote for their Akiba counterparts, and hopes to continue the connection between them.

“It is so nice to make this connection in person,” she said. “We had warm hospitality in Dallas. Being at the day schools, religious schools and working with the teachers allows me to see what everyone is like. This experience was meaningful, exciting and interesting.”

Not only did the educators make an impact on the teachers and students, they influenced their host families as well. Michael and Deborah Fripp, members of Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound, hosted two teachers, who taught the fourth- and fifth-grade classes at Kol Ami Religious School.

Michael said having them in their home was especially meaningful for their three young children, who now have a deeper connection to Israel.

“We learned so much from them and they helped bring out the joy in Judaism,” he said. “Our kids learned about the culture of Israel. We plan on staying in touch with them as a family, and Kol Ami plans to keep its partnership with them. They helped transform Israel from a physical place kids read about to someplace that’s real.”

Local educators reflect on their experience with Israeli teachers

Throughout their five days in Dallas, the delegation of Israeli educators visited local Jewish schools and had a lasting effect on students and teachers. The plan is to continue working with them so American and Israeli students can learn more about each other.

The educators also interacted with American teachers to share ideas of how to make classroom lessons effective and bring Israel directly to American students.

Rabbi Zev Silver, head of school at Akiba Academy, said the Israeli teachers got a good sense of what Akiba is about and they were amazed that all denominations of Judaism can learn in one place, something that doesn’t happen too often in Israel.

He said they plan on videoconferencing with schools in Akko, and Akiba students will write letters to their Israeli counterparts.

“We don’t always have an understanding about the depths and breadths of the north region of Israel, and we want to expose our students to the beauty of eretz Yisrael,” he said. “Anytime you bring in people from Israel, it’s wonderful. They were interactive and nice. Our students saw how excited our teachers were; it was impactful. We want to bring Israel to them in real ways, and this was an opportunity to do so. We hope that putting them together with us will enhance our children’s learning of Israel.”

Alyse Eisenberg, Jewish studies coordinator for the Early Childhood Center at Levine Academy, hosted educators at her home and also had six of the early childhood teachers come to Levine. She said they created a whole day of activities that were beneficial for the students and teachers.

“Having visited Israel before, I had an instant connection with them,” she said. “Because the Israeli teachers and our teacher met each other, the connection between the two will happen more frequently. With young kids, we try to make connections to Israel any way possible and this was a nice way for them to see people from Israel. This is a first step.”

Ruth Schor, director of the Congregation Beth Torah Learning Center, hosted teachers at her home also, and said it was an exhilarating experience, as she is Israeli and her husband is American.

The teachers visited Beth Torah classrooms and engaged students in Chanukah related learning through singing, dancing, sports, games and video presentations. Schor said this helped students better understand life in Israel.

“Celebrating Chanukah with the Israeli teachers in our schools, homes and synagogues add a more personal touch to the Partnership,” she said. “The Partnership with Israel, although there is full awareness of its importance and values, presents challenges as well. It requires true resourcefulness, commitment, creativity and more. Spending the time with teachers who brought the spirit of Israel to our classrooms, homes and heart during the holiday of Chanukah, rekindled our commitment to make the Partnership with Israel a priority of our Jewish educational program.”

Two Israeli teachers visited Congregation Adat Chaverim as well. Religious School Director Valerie Klein said she liked how they provided a different point of view to students about the culture of Israel.

She added that they talked about what it was like to celebrate Chanukah and discussed the Israeli army with older children. She looks forward excitedly to seeing what this continuing partnership will bring.

“We are going to continue the connection by writing letters and e-mails,” she said. “It was good that they could put a face to Israel. I want to foster a love and connection with Israel and the best way to do that is through personal connection, and we did that. It was a neat experience.”

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Victory Night

Victory Night

Posted on 16 December 2010 by admin

Community members gathered at Cowboys Stadium on December 11 for food, fun and dancing to benefit the Legacy at Preston Hollow.

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Around the Town

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Around the Town

Posted on 16 December 2010 by admin

Carter Haber helps Samaritan House as mitzvah project

What a delight it was to hear from our good friend, Tricia ­Carter-Haber, who updated us on the mitzvah project of her and Howard Haber’s son Carter. When reviewing his bar mitzvah project options, Carter chose to assist the children of Samaritan House. The agency houses low-income families with parents suffering from HIV/AIDS.

When Carter met with Family Health and Education Coordinator Rick Isaminger to explore possibilities for a project, he learned that the agency still needed presents for its Angel Tree. AirRite Air Conditioning had agreed to donate presents for 20 children, but there were still 51 children without a sponsor. Not one to think small, Carter stepped right up and offered to find donors for all 51. Another two names were later added to the list. At a suggested level of $50 per child, that would mean raising over $2,600. “I’ll take care of them,” he said. “Not everyone understands about AIDS and how hard it is for these kids.”

Carter went about fulfilling his commitment with zeal and with a sincere desire to help children who otherwise would face a bleak holiday. Following his English teacher’s advice, he approached potential donors face-to-face rather than by e-mail. His results have been spectacular: over $6,000 had been raised at press time, including a dollar-for-dollar match by Merrill Lynch, Tricia’s employer, for donations made by its employees. The managers’ group at Merrill Lynch also pooled the money they would ordinarily have spent on gifts for each other and donated the money to Carter’s project.

Raising the money was only the start. Carter had selected Samaritan House partly on the basis of the fact that the agency would supply him with wish lists made by each child and would allow him to choose the presents. Carter took this responsibility seriously, learning the names and wants of each child and going out of his way to get exactly what had been requested. After mammoth shopping expeditions to Old Navy (which supplied a bag for each child) and Toys “R” Us (which opened an hour early to help Carter select toys and donated a $50 gift card), the Haber garage began to resemble a well-organized warehouse.

For the next step in the process, Carter used a $100 donation collected at a family gathering to buy wrapping paper. Every evening he brought the presents for 10 of the children into the living room for wrapping, doing most of the work himself. When everything was complete, the Samaritan House van was dispatched to collect the 53 bags. On Dec. 15, the Youngman Family Room became Santa Central, with Samaritan House parents picking up a bag of presents specifically tailored to each child’s wishes.

For a volunteer project of this scope, an experienced adult would face considerable challenges. For a 12-year-old just embarking on a lifetime of doing “good deeds,” it is a remarkable achievement. Carter’s parents and Beth-El Congregation have much to be proud of. Not only has Carter demonstrated considerable acumen as an organizer and fundraiser, he has also shown clearly that he understands the very personal nature of the way in which Samaritan House helps its residents recover their health and their lives. Compassion is hard to teach, but it’s clear that Carter has learned that lesson and is well-equipped as a doer of good deeds.

Carter will celebrate his bar mitzvah on Feb. 19 at Beth-El Congregation. He will continue to collect donations for Samaritan House and can be reached at carter@fdtrainingsystems.com.

Arlington gets menorah display, courtesy of Chabad

Chabad of Arlington’s Rabbi Levi Gurevitch arranged for a menorah display in a public place (Veteran’s Park) and on the fifth night of Chanukah, Chabad and friends threw a party with latkes, dreidels, sufganiot and music. Arlington Mayor Robert Cluck lit the shamash, and Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County Director Mort House lit the first candle.

CAS Shabbat dinner set for Dec. 31

Congregation Ahavath Sholom invites the entire community to welcome Shabbat with a festive reception and Shabbat dinner for the whole family on Dec. 31. Kabbalat Shabbat service begins at 6 p.m., followed by a champagne reception at 7. Dinner will follow from 7:30 until 9. Cost per adult is $25; per child, $10. While everyone is welcome, reservations are a must, so call today. Deadline for reservations is Dec. 22. Please RSVP by calling the synagogue at 817-731-4721.

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 16 December 2010 by admin

By Rabbi Yarachmiel D. Fried

Hi Rabbi Fried,

I am e-mailing you several questions about buying and selling on the Internet with regard to the laws of Shabbat:

1) Is one allowed to own an online company that would allow people to purchase things even on Shabbat? Or would they have to shut down their Web site on Shabbat?

2) Is one allowed to sell something online with an ongoing auction even if it doesn’t end on Shabbat, if there is a possibility that people would place a bid on Shabbat?

3) Is it a problem if the seller uses the “buy it now” option (such as on eBay) and someone happens to purchase the item on Shabbat?

Thanks,

Nathan R.


Dear Nathan,

There are four separate issues involved in your question; one is that of your “vessels” resting on Shabbat, i.e. your computer site, if you are the owner of the site or the company which utilizes a site. Second is the question of mekach umemkar, or involvement in business transactions on Shabbat. Third is the issue of sechar Shabbat, deriving monetary benefit from a transaction completed on the Shabbat. Last is that of mar’it ayin, or the desecration that could be caused by it being known that a Jewish-owned site is functioning on Shabbat, possibly leading others to desecrate the Shabbat. (Although there are varying opinions regarding this question, some more stringent, I will answer you in accordance with the opinion of most contemporary authorities.)

The first concern, the “resting” of vessels, is a dispute between the Houses of Hillel and Shamai. The decision of the Talmud is like the opinion of Beit Hillel that one’s vessels need not rest on Shabbat. So as long as the process (in this case, the site) was set into motion before Shabbat and the owner of the vessel, i.e. the computer, is not involved with it in any way during Shabbat, the process can continue on Shabbat.

For the same reason there is not a concern of involvement in business transactions, “mekach umemkar,” since it is an inanimate object, i.e. the computer, and not the owner, which is performing the transaction.

As far as deriving monetary benefit; we can draw a comparison to the case in which earlier authorities have allowed the owners of vending machines to keep their machines operative on Shabbat. Although the owners receive monetary benefit from the purchase of candy or other items on Shabbat, this is not considered “sechar Shabbat.” This is through exercising the principle of “havla’ah,” meaning that the Shabbat benefit is factored into the overall outlay of goods and services, i.e. the weekday purchases of the candies, servicing the machines, etc. All this renders the payments of Shabbat to cover many weekday activities and therefore to be permitted. This is the same principle which allows us, for example, to pay a cleaning lady for her work on Shabbat as part of her pay for the entire week. It also allows a hotel owner to rent out rooms on Shabbat, as the payment includes his cleaning, laundry and other peripheral costs which accrue during the week.

Furthermore, the authorities have allowed the vending machines as long as they are not distinguishably Jewish-owned. The same would apply to owning an Internet business; as long as it’s not clearly a Jewish-owned business, the final concern of “mar’it ayin” would not be a concern at all.

In summary, your site can remain operative during Shabbat, even if you utilize a “buy now” option.

Much success in your business!

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 16 December 2010 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

I love lists and I love books, so when I got the book “100 Essential Books for Jewish Readers” I was thrilled. The book was published in 1998; now there are many more books to be added to the list (and, of course, I have my favorites). However, there are some that every Jewish home should have on their bookshelf. If you received gift cards to bookstores for Chanukah, now is your chance to add to your Jewish bookshelf.

Here are a few suggestions from the book:

  • The Tanach (pick your choice of many)
  • “Does God have a Big Toe?” by Marc Gellman
  • “On Women and Judaism” by Blu Greenberg
  • “The First, Second and Third Jewish Catalogs” by Michael Strassfeld
  • “Basic Judaism” by Milton Steinberg
  • “I and Thou” by Martin Buber
  • “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl
  • “Jews, God and History” by Max Dimont
  • “Heroes and Hustlers, Hard Hats and Holy Men” by Ze’ev Chafets
  • “The Wall” by John Hersey
  • “The Sunflower” by Simon Wiesenthal
  • “On Being a Jewish Feminist” edited by Susannah Heschel
  • “Jephte’s Daughter” by Naomi Ragen
  • “This is My God” by Herman Wouk

This is a great beginning but only the beginning. We are called the People of the Book yet we are really the “people of the books.” There are so many wonderful Jewish books — old ones, new ones, classic texts (I can’t believe that Pirke Avot was not listed — it is a must on every family’s bookshelf and should be read often), irreverent novels and more. Send me your favorites (lseymour@jccdallas.org) and I will pass them along.

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

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