Archive | April, 2011

MITZVAH FOR A MARINE

MITZVAH FOR A MARINE

Posted on 29 April 2011 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

Marine Lance Corporal Brian Aft, 23, who has courageously served his country, was severely injured on the first night of Pesach, just weeks before his return from Afghanistan.  LCpl Aft is the son of Becky and Norman Slakman, the brother of Elyssa, and grandson of Marty (of blessed memory) and Sara Pfeffer.

A bring-your-own-picnic and blanket, to connect and appreciate LCpl Aft’s service, and to raise funds to help support the family’s needs will be held on Sunday, May 1, from 12:30 to 3p.m., at Coyote Creek Park in Plano.

LCpl Aft lost both of his legs after he and four other Marines stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED).  He has suffered additional injuries including a fractured wrist and a punctured eardrum from the same incident. LCpl Aft is recovering at Bethesda Naval Hospital and will be transferred to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where Becky, his mom and biggest cheerleader, will be by his side.

“I pray for him,” said Becky Slakman.  “He is a lucky young man who has a lot of people on his side pulling for him.  He has turned into a wonderful young man and we are so proud of who he is.”

The family are members of Temple Shalom, and LCpl Aft is a former student at Walden Preparatory and member of BBYO’s Monsky AZA chapter. Becky, Executive Director at the Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas, has worked tirelessly for decades at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and in numerous volunteer positions throughout the community.

While doctors will work hard to heal him, the community can help the family in a myriad of ways. Please come, bring your own picnic, a prayer for Chaim Feifel ben Rivka, and a donation, perhaps any combination of life, of Chai, $18.  At this time (as a charitable account has yet to be arranged), checks should be made to Norman Slakman, and are not deductible.  Monies will be given to the family, to offset the expenses that will come with their being there for this brave Marine.

Coyote Creek Park is located at 3900 Communications in Plano, TX 75093, and has basketball courts, baseball fields and room for a community to care.  For questions, or for those wishing to make a donation beyond next Sunday’s picnic, please e-mail Deb Silverthorn at mamatex@aol.com. To follow LCpl Aft’s recovery, visit https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/brianaft/createorsignin. Donations, which are not tax-deductible, may be mailed to: c/o Silverthorn, 5960 W. Parker Road, Suite 278 Box 134, Plano, TX 75093

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Racing to erase ovarian cancer

Racing to erase ovarian cancer

Posted on 28 April 2011 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

Team Genecov-Shrell is running the race of a lifetime; Julie Shrell’s lifetime. And with such support, she is bound to cross the finish line, front and center.  Diagnosed in October with Stage III Ovarian Cancer, Julie turned to her family for support, and they’ve never turned back.

A Dallas native, Julie is the daughter of Dr. Ed (of blessed memory) and Sally Genecov, and the sister of Dr. Jeff and Dr. David Genecov.  For the wife of Rob Shrell and mom to Simone, Marissa, and Gavin, the full-court push for support is at home and on the road.

“Right now I’m in remission, having survived a hysterectomy and seven rounds of chemotherapy,” said Julie, who, with longtime ties to both Congregation Anshai Torah and Congregation Shearith Israel, is a University of Texas and W.T. White graduate, and former charter member of the Sally Blum BBG chapter.  “We’ve had a bar mitzvah, we’re getting through our daughters’ senior year of high school, and this wasn’t going to stop us.  It certainly wasn’t in my plan but, so much for the plan.  For now, I feel like I’ve done everything I am supposed to do, and everything I can do.”

“Being there for each other is just what we do, it’s what our parents taught us.  We’re a family. How can you quantify that?” said Dr. Jeff Genecov who is running across race and triathalon finish lines in support of his sister’s fight against cancer.  Pledging to run one race a month, for 12 months, Jeff has already raised more than $14,900 of the $50,000 he has pledged to donate to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.  “Julie’s mission to raise awareness and to educate, to let people know the key is to catch the cancer early, is something I support wholeheartedly.  She wants to help others and we want to help her do just that.”

A Caring Bridge site (https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/julieshrell/createorsignin) on which Julie files reports of her own, explains symptoms for people to be aware of and other medical inferences may very well have saved the life of a reader – exactly Julie’s hope.  “I heard from someone who had read my site and it just sounded ‘too familiar,’ said Julie.  “It turned out the person did have cancer, it was pancreatic, not ovarian, but nonetheless she was able to be diagnosed and seek treatment.  If not for the Caring Bridge and this situation, who knows if or when it might have been caught.  There’s no such thing as ‘too early,’ to find cancer, and there’s no reason not to take a list of symptoms to your doctor and insist on testing.  The best case is there’s nothing wrong.  You don’t want to be one of the ‘worst’ cases, and be ‘too late.’”

Jeff’s “Racing to Erase Ovarian Cancer” trail has taken him to the Grapevine 10K, a TMS Duathlon in Ft. Worth, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Dallas 13.1 Half Marathon, the King Tut Sprint Triathlon at Stonebridge Ranch and  this Sunday’s Playtri McKinney Kiwanis Sprint Triathlon.  The 2011 schedule, which will total approximately 500km, still includes a Playtri Swim Races (6/4), Playtri Festival Olympic Triathlon (6/5), Disco Sprint Triathlon (7/17), Playtri Benbrook Sprint Triathlon (8/14), Austin’s AVIA Triathalon (9/25), Miami 70.3 Half Ironman Triathlon (10/30), Ft. Worth’s TMS Duathlon (11/13) and a 5K or 10K run in December.

“Most of the races are local and I hope those in the Metroplex will join me or come to cheer me on, but most importantly, I hope people will donate in honor of Julie,” said Jeff.  “I watched my dad fight his own medical battle, and I watch Julie have such a great attitude and such determination. When the going gets tough in my own life, they inspire me.  I made a commitment to Julie and to many others who will benefit from getting the word out, so even on a race day, when I’m up early and finding it tough to get going, I go anyway!”

Jeff’s donations, and race statistics and experiences, are being logged on a blog (http://racingtoeraseovariancancer.blogspot.com)   through Twitter (@jgenecov), and through his Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=group_182185308483620)  “I hope people will follow me, in person or through the various modes,” he said.  “The support is huge and appreciated!”

Twenty-five years an orthodontist, with offices in Plano and Dallas, Jeff attributes more than 25 percent of his current pledges to his patients.  “I sent an email to my patients, outlining my plan, and, almost overnight the response was incredible,” said Jeff.  “I’m hoping to receive some corporate sponsors, whose names will be posted on my race uniform, Facebook and blog.  The more we raise, the more we can spread the word.  That, in turn, means a greater population who can be served, and hopefully saved.”

“Religiously, spiritually, and ethically, this is what we are supposed to do.  This is family, and this is what we do,” said David, a craniofacial surgeon and the medical resource of the family.  “My sister has cancer, many people do.  What we needed to do was to educate ourselves, and I’ve been able to help identify the best medical care for her, and I’ve been there to translate for our family what really is going on.  Julie’s unbelievable attitude has been important and she’s responded well to the treatments she’s received.”

“What Julie has done to help others, throughout her life,” said David, “has come back many times over in these months and there have been many who have been there to support her.”

“Knowing so many people are behind me keeps me pushin, and keeps me going strong,” said Julie who, a loan officer with Southwest Bank, can count the days missed from work in the last six months on one hand.  “Right after I was diagnosed we had a family meeting wit, my husband, mymmo, and my brothers and their wives and it was clear I wasn’t going to go through this alone.  The diagnosis was a shock and we talked about what to do an where to go.  It was all a lot to take in but with everyone around me, we made it.”

“From the beginning our family and friends have been there and they’ve been involved in every way,” said Julie’s husband whose sister Etta Barry came from Minnesota to be by Julie’s side during chemotherapy and whose Father Zel, and family members Janice Lazarus, Mike Barry, Sue and Dave Leon, Saralee and Rabbi/Dr. Paul Shrell-Fox have raised the cheering banner in many ways, including through the purchase of many of the ovarian cancer awareness bracelets which Gavin sold, for his bar mitzvah project.  “Every step we’ve made since the first meeting, and going forward, has included the family, and there has always been a circle of friends and family on call to be there, at home or at the hospital.  The support of so many, in so many ways, has allowed us to concentrat, as a famil, on Julie and on her recovery.”

“Julie has attacked this with such strength and bravado.  She’s really gone at it full force,” said her mother, Sally.  “Everybody has been there for her in the right ways and, as armother, I couldn’t be more proud.  It gives us all strength and, as we see her now in remission, we look forward to what is next.”

“Adversity brings people closer,” said Julie.  “My parents always taught us that, in the end, all we have is each other and we have to support each other.  That’s a lesson we Genecov children are passing on to our own kids.”

Lessons learne, and lived.  While the road is not yet fully traveled, the prescription to Julie’s success is those who are all around her.  Run on, Genecov and Shrell Family –  run on!

To make a donation in Julie’s honor, visit http://racingtoeraseovariancancer.blogspot.com or for more information, email jgenecov@genecovorthodontics.com.

To read Julie’s story, visit https://www.caringbridge.org/visit/julieshrell/createorsignin.  For more information about the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, visit www.ovarian.org.

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 28 April 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I am a convert to Judaism

In Christianity there is heaven and hell.

What happens in Judaism? As I understand it we do not believe in hell.

What happens to someone like Hitler?

Sincerely

Richard Amon

Richard,

In answer of your question I will quote a column which I wrote a number of years ago:

“Dear Rabbi Fried,

I grew up with the understanding that heaven and hell are Christian concepts. Recently I was surprised to hear that Orthodox Jews believe in these concepts. Is this true?

Steven R.

Dear Steven,

The Rabbinical writings often mention heaven and hell, and they are, in fact, very Jewish concepts. The Mishna says in Pirkei Avot “This world is comparable to  the entry hall of a king’s palace before the World to Come. Prepare yourself in the entry hall in order that you will be granted entry to the palace.” The “world to come” is referring to heaven, as it is referred to throughout rabbinic literature. Hell is called “Gehinom”, and is a very real concept. The only thing similar, however, between the Jewish and Christian concepts of heaven and hell are their English terms. Otherwise, they are worlds apart.

When we talk about ‘heaven” with reference to an afterlife, this Jewishly refers to two separate stages in the eternity of the soul. The first stage is where the souls go immediately after death. At that time there is heaven, more precisely “olam haneshamos” or the “world of the souls.” This is a spiritual “place,” or world, where the souls derive joyous bliss from basking in the light of G-d. Nearly all need to spend some time in Gehinom, or hell. The concept of hell is not a punishment, but a purgatory. It is compared to the smelting of gold, which in order to obtain high-grade, pure gold, it must be smelted to burn off and separate any impurities. Similarly, every wrong-doing performed in ones life places a blemish on one’s soul, like an impurity in the gold. For a maximum of 12 months, to the extent necessary, the soul goes through this purification process to burn off the blemishes, in order that the soul’s eternity will be unblemished and pure. That is the purpose of “hell’s fires”.

The Kabbalists explain that even Jews who believe in heaven often have a misconception. Heaven is not one large generic “place” that one either gets in if they have enough “tickets,” or doesn’t. Heaven is very private, very personal and unique for each soul. Each person builds his or her own heaven while in this world. With every mitzvah one performs, they are surrounded by a spiritual light from G-d, and with the completion of the mitzvah, that light goes up and becomes one more “brick” in the building of that person’s Olam Haba, next world. Heaven, the “next world,” is the sum total of all the light that individual illuminated through the fulfillment of mitzvot. That spiritual light is the extent of the person’s connection to G-d, and that connection is the reward itself. Every misdeed, or lack of fulfillment of a mitzvah, minimizes the light of that person’s portion in the World to Come, for eternity. Every mitzvah, conversely, adds eternal bliss and illumination to that person’s forever.

The final stage of Olam Habah in Judaism is the reconnection of the soul to the body, albeit in a greatly heightened state of body, in the period call the Resurrection of the Dead. This a very basic, core Jewish belief. It is predicated upon the great importance placed upon action by Judaism. It’s not enough that we think as Jews, but we must do. The soul is incapable of action without the partnership of the body. Therefore it is only right that the body should share in the eternal reward of its partner, the soul. No soul could don tefillin or light Shabbos candles without the body participating. The eternal body will be a spiritual representation of the physical body in the next world, which will actually grow out of the physical body, much like the butterfly grows out of the caterpillar after its “burial” in the cocoon.

I am not doing service to these core concepts by writing about them so briefly, but we can at least know clearly that these are very Jewish concepts when understood from a Jewish vantage. (There’s no satan there with a pitchfork).”

This is concerning hell in general. Whether or not someone like Hitler would even “merit” the purgatory of hell, which would purify his soul to attain supernal bliss, is not a simple question, as there is also a concept of “kaf hakela” where, rarely, certain souls are doomed to eternal pain and no cleansing.

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 April 2011 by admin

Dear Families,

Passover is over but the story doesn’t end – the three pilgrimage holidays are all connected and we are “walking” toward Shavuot.  However, between Passover and Shavuot, we have a few “new” holidays.   Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, followed by Yom HaZikaron, Day of Remembrance for those who died defending Israel, and then Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. These are all important dates and teach us that remembering our history is crucial to our survival as a people.

Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day, is the day of lots of celebration and this year, we hope everyone will be at the JCC to celebrate with all of the Jewish organizations in town.  There will be something for everyone plus food, music and fun. It is definitely an afternoon for the entire family so come to the J from 4:30 – 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 10,  and be ready to celebrate Israel.

Yom HaShoah and Yom Hazikaron are both somber times, yet we remember that the state of Israel was born out of the horror of the Shoah and through the fighting of the Israeli soldiers. These are events in our community for older children and teens with their families and give us a wonderful opportunity to talk with our children about Israel.

For very young children, it is difficult to conceive of another country far away – most do not even understand Dallas or Texas or the United States. It is important, however, to build that connection to the land of Israel for our children.  There is a wonderful story that I remember each year at this time:  There was a little boy out in the field holding tightly to a string that went way up into the clouds. He kept his eyes looking up and his hands on the string pulling gently. A man came by and asked what he was doing. The little boy answered that he was flying a kite.   The man asked how he could know since he could not see the kite in the clouds. The little boy answered, “I know because of the tug.” Israel is far away but we can always feel that tug at our heart to know it is there.

We sing Hatikvah together and the words and music touch our hearts. For many of us, the words in Hebrew simply connect us to a land that speaks a language we are not conversant in, so here are the words in English – remember the yearning and the hope!

As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,

With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,

Then our hope – the two-thousand-year-old hope, will not be lost:

To be a free people in our land,

The land of Zion and Jerusalem!!

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

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 28 April 2011 by admin

Legacy Preston Hollow honors loyal volunteers

The Legacy at Preston Hollow, a family service-oriented community, recently hosted an event to honor and show appreciation toward the loyal volunteers that make a difference in the every-day lives of the residents of The Legacy at Preston Hollow community.

“I started my career as a volunteer,” said Jerry McDonald, executive director of The Legacy at Preston Hollow, in his remarks. “I soon understood the difference one person can make, and I realized I wanted to make impacting the lives of seniors a part of my life. So, I thank all of you greatly for the love and support you show our residents. You make a bigger difference than you know.”

Volunteers give time to The Legacy at Preston Hollow in many ways, including scheduling shopping trips, bringing their own pets in for pet therapy, playing piano at dinner time, giving manicures and reading to residents.

“So many of our volunteers come and go throughout the weekdays and weekends,” said Cheryl Weitz, community relations coordinator, The Legacy at Preston Hollow. “Because they often dedicate their time behind the scenes, we do not get to show our thanks as much as we like. This annual event is one small way for us to let them know that we value them year-round and that we recognize the profound impact they make every day.”

Klezmer Kabbalat Shabbat on May 6 at Cong. Shearith Israel features Jose Bowen

Join Congregation Shearith Israel for an inspiring Klezmer Kabbalat Shabbat next Friday, May 6. The service will be lead by Rabbi William Gershon and Cantor Itzhak Zhrebker, and will feature Jose Bowen, dean of the Meadows School of the Arts, and Algur H. Meadows Chair and Professor of Music at SMU. Kol Rina, Ornish Youth Choir, various talented musicians and students from the Weitzman Family Religious School will also perform. The concert is part of the Small/Waldman/Cohen Signature Series. Shearith Israel is located at 9401 Douglas Ave.

NCJW Installation Brunch to take place May 3

The Greater Dallas section of the National Council for Jewish Women will hold a brunch on Tuesday, May 3 to install its officers and board of directors for the 2011-2012 year. It will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at the home of Karla Steinberg. Krista Del Gallo, policy manager of the Texas Council on Family Violence, will be the keynote speaker.

The officers and board of directors for 2011-2012 are: Barbara Lee, president; Robin Zweig, president elect; Debbie Shtofman, vice president of administration; Yolanda Clark and Felise Leidner, co-vice presidents of community service; Debbie Greene, vice president of financial development; Marlene Cohen and Caren Edelstein, co- vice presidents of public affairs; Laura Diamond, vice president of public relations; Lauren Busch and Sondra Hollander, co-vice presidents of membership; Debby Stein, secretary; Joyce Goldberg, associate secretary; Stacy Barnett, treasurer; Carol Weinstein, associate treasurer.

The NCJW is a grassroots organization of volunteers and advocates who turn progressive ideals into action. Inspired by Jewish values, it strives for social justice.

Tickets are $36 per person. For more information or to register, call 214-368-4405, or visit www.ncjwdallas.org.

BBYO Young Leadership Program recently held in Dallas

The BBYO Young Leadership program was held recently in Dallas throughout the month of March, with 14 teens learning organizational skills to use in BBYO and in their every-day lives.  Through a hands-on, interactive and experiential approach, the teens focused on their strengths and set standards for themselves for their time in BBYO and in their future years as adults. As a continuation of the program, these teens will serve as mentors for the next Young Leadership group in the fall.

‘Ingelore’ premiers at Angelika May 4

HBO, 3 Stars Cinema and the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance invite the community to the Dallas premiere of “Ingelore,” a film by Frank Stiefel on May 4, at the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird Station.

This 40-minute documentary tells the true story of Ingelore Herz Honigstein, an 86-year-old deaf woman who looks back on her unlikely journey from Nazi Germany to America through the camera lens of her son, filmmaker Frank Stiefe.  Special guests Ingelore Herz and Frank Stiefel will be in attendance.

A Q & A will be held immediately following with Bart Weiss, artistic director of 3Stars Jewish Cinema.

A reception with beverages and hors d’oeuvres begins at 6 p.m., followed by the screening at 7 p.m. Tickets are free, but RSVP is required. Seating is limited and there will be reserved seating for members of 3 Stars Cinema.

To RSVP, email 3starscinema@gmail.com by May 3.

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Around the Town

Posted on 28 April 2011 by admin

JEA to honor Rosenfields

Just a reminder that Naomi and Mark Rosenfield will be honored by JEA this weekend. The 2011 Bubbe and Zayde tribute will take place this Saturday, April 30, from 8:30 to 11 p.m. at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth.

Guests will enjoy an open bar, hor d’oeurves and desserts. Tickets cost $25 each and the dress is cocktail attire. For more information, contact JEA director Patricia White at 817-737-9898 or info@lilgoldmanschool.org.

Exciting course being offered at Chabad of Fort Worth

Oasis in Time: The Gift of Shabbat in a 24/7 World will begin on Monday, May 11 and run for the next six Wednesdays through June 15. It will explore the Gift of Rest, how the gift of Shabbat provides a sense of self-worth; the Gift of Investment, how Shabbat is the culmination of a week’s work and how people can get the most out of life’s experiences; and the Gift of Love, discussing how the Shabbat candles and heightened spiritual awareness on Shabbat illuminate the need to value the uniqueness of others, while also investing in family and interpersonal relationships.

Each class will take place from 7:30p.m. to 9 p.m. It costs $89, with 10 percent discount if paid before May 4. It has been made possible by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Students can register by visiting https://www.myjli.com/index.html?task=student&cid=20733.

Chabad of Fort Worth is located at 5659 Woodway Drive. For more information, call 817-263-7701.

Texas Boys Choir to Appear at “Daytimers”

The next event for Daytimers will be a presentation of The Texas Boys Choir Town Choir on Wednesday, May 11, at noon at Beth-El Congregation. The Town Choir is one of two choirs in the Texas Boys Choir’s training program for young singers. It is composed of boys in grades five through eight.

The choir sings in up to 3-part harmony and, as the name suggests, performs locally throughout the academic year in a variety of entertainment settings.

Lunch will be a pizza and salad buffet catered by Palio’s Pizza Café. The lunch will include assorted pizza and Palio’s dinner salad or caesar salad, cookies, tea or coffee. Cost is $9 per person, or guests may attend just for the program at $4 per person.

For reservations, call Barbara Rubin, 817 927-2736, or Irv Robinson, 817 731-7447. Checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Rd., Fort Worth, TX 76109.

The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

Central High School presents “The Survivor” May 3

The Central High School Theatre Department will perform “The Survivor” on Tuesday, May 3 at the Scott Theatre, 3505 W. Lancaster Ave. at 7:00 p.m. Parking for the Scott Theatre is in the Western Heritage Parking Garage or in the surface lots surrounding the Arts Center, for approximately $5.00.

This gripping drama takes place in the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. A group of determined teenagers organize to resist the Nazis. They begin by smuggling food into the ghetto. Eventually, they form the nucleus of the Warsaw uprising. These heroic young people make a pact: if anyone survives their dreadful ordeal, he or she will tell the story of what happened to them. There was only one survivor, and this is the story he told.

The Central High School Theatre Department selected this play for the UIL one-act competition. For the past two years, Central has made it to state competition and this performance made it to the district competition. The company’s musical this year, “13,” about a boy about to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah while moving from NYC to a small town in Indiana, just received 8 Betty Buckley Award nominations for outstanding high school theatre, one of which is for best show.

This performance, which is free and open to the community, is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Tandy/Posy McMillen Endowment for Holocaust Education, the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation and the Multicultural Alliance.

Tarrant Area Food Bank receives national recognition

Tarrant Area Food Bank, a member of the national food bank network Feeding America, has received, for the second consecutive year, the national organization’s Model Food Sourcing Program of the Year award. This year’s award recognizes the Food Bank’s newly developed “Store Donation Road Show,” a presentation made by Food Bank staff to educate and thank staff of grocery stores donating fresh and frozen foods to the Food Bank. The Road Show helped increase grocers’ donations of perishable foods 125 percent and elevate monetary grants from stores 157 percent, according to Jim Macphearson, food industry liaison for Tarrant Area Food Bank.

Each year, Feeding America acknowledges a member food bank that finds a new or innovative approach to securing more food and grocery products for their community while utilizing a reasonable amount of funding and staff contributions. The recognized program serves as a model that other member food banks can replicate to help them feed more people in their own communities.

The Model Food Sourcing Program of the Year is one of several Hunger›s Hope Awards given each year at the Feeding America Network Summit, where Tarrant Area Food Bank’s executive director, Bo Soderbergh, recently accepted the award.

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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 21 April 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi,

In the Haggadah, which we’re using for our seder this year, it says “on the second night of Passover, we begin counting the Omer.’” Nobody attending our seder had previously heard of this practice. Could you please give us some insight?

Sincerely,

Mark L.

Dear Mark,

The Jewish people’s journey toward nationhood began on Passover. The Exodus redeemed them from physical slavery and subjugation, but they still lacked a national identity and purpose. This was conferred upon them only later – when the Jewish people heard the words of G-d at Mt. Sinai. (Exodus / Shemos chs. 19 & 20). In those moments, the newly formed nation obtained its spiritual identity and national calling through the Torah, and the redemption was complete. This world-altering event, the revelation of the Torah to the Jews at Mt. Sinai, took place on the seventh day of the Jewish month of Sivan, in the year 2448 (1313 BCE). Every year, the seventh of Sivan is celebrated as the festival called Shavuos.

The Torah emphasizes the link between Passover and Shavuos, the very beginning of the redemption from Egypt and its culmination, through the commandment of Sefiras Ha’omer. We count the days and weeks from the second day of Passover until the festival of Shavuos. (We begin the counting only on the second night of Passover, not on the first, in order not to detract from the celebration and joy of the Exodus, with a reminder that the redemption was not yet complete).  (See Sefer Hachinuch mitzvah 306).

The words Sefiras Ha’omer actually mean “the counting of the Omer.” The Omer was an offering of newly harvested barley that was brought to the tTemple in Jerusalem on the 16th of Nisan, the second day of Passover. (Leviticus/Vayikra 23:10-14). In contrast to the Passover barley gift, the offering on Shavuos was bread made from wheat flour, (ibid 23:17).

Barley is often used as animal fodder, while wheat is predominantly for human consumption – and bread is an exclusively human food. Thus, as we count from Passover to Shavuos, we also mark our spiritual progression from slavery to our material animal needs to the increasingly human realm of free will, intellect and attachment to G-d; as humans in their highest form. Through the counting of 49 days, we count our elevation, day by day, into the realm of Torah life and our growth as a “mensch”. (See Gateways to Judaism, Becher, Ch.12).

The Kabbalists explain further that 49 days of counting, comprised of seven weeks of seven days, represents the epitome of the physical world. Seven, in Judaism, represents physicality, such as seven days of the week, the seven musical tones, etc. The multiple of seven times seven is the essence of that concept. The Jews had sunk to 49 levels of impurity during their sojourn in Egypt. Egypt itself was at the level of 50, the point of no return. The Jews needed to leave immediately at that point, because to tarry any further endangered them to sinking to the point of no return. Hence, there was no time for the bread to rise, and they had Matzaoh. The rising of the bread, the chametz, represents the inclination to haughtiness and evil. By leaving with great speed to fulfill G-d’s command, they stopped the “rising of the bread,” in its tracks. The next 49 days were devoted to growing and acquiring positive character traits, one by one, day by day. At day 49, the Jews had perfected themselves and freed themselves of the 49 levels of impurity, now ready to receive the Torah. On day 50, they entered the spiritual realm which transcends the physical, the square multiple of seven, into the realm which is diametrically opposed to the negative “50” of Egypt. This is the world of Sinai, of Torah, of the All-mighty. This is the real purpose of our redemption on Passover; hence it begins with, and connects to, the Haggadah.

Best wishes for a joyous and meaningful Pesach to all the readers!

Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 21 April 2011 by admin

Dear Families,

During Passover, our home looks very different – tinfoil on the counters, boxes on the floors, cabinets taped closed, different tablecloths, etc. Someone new walking in would wonder what was going on (unless, of course, they did the same things in their homes). It’s pretty easy to identify a Jewish home on Passover, and on many other holidays as ritual items come out as needed. However, the question is: what makes your home Jewish on a daily basis? How would someone know they have walked into a Jewish home? How do you remember your “Jewishness” from an ambiance perspective – what are the visual reminders?

Take a family walk through your home starting at the front door and look for those things that identify your home as a Jewish one. From there, decide what you might change (and you might not do anything). What are some possible signs?

Mezuzot – Front door?  Back door? Every room?

Jewish art – pictures, ceramics, ketubah…

Ritual objects – where do you keep your Shabbat candlesticks?  Is the menorah put away except on Chanukah?

Jewish books on the book shelves

What else?

Talk about the intangibles that make your home a Jewish home – what are the sounds and the smells? How are holidays and special days unique?  Much of Jewish practice and celebration happens in the home – the rabbis tell us that our dining room table is our “temple” where we bring the family together for blessings.

The next step is to think about other Jewish places in your lives. One of my J team’s responsibilities is Jewish ambiance at the J.  What does that entail?  What makes the J look and feel Jewish?  What about other Jewish organizations?  Synagogues have it easy but what about our Federation building or Jewish Family Services building or the offices of our many organizations? What should these places look like “Jewishly”?

The goal?  How do we “remember” our Jewishness in our daily lives – when we are “walking on our way?”   What do you carry with you both physically and internally that says, “I am Jewish?”  How do you make those decisions?  When Passover ends and the tinfoil is taken off the counters, don’t let the questioning end?  We continue to challenge ourselves to question and repair our world from the inside out.

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

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 21 April 2011 by admin

Friends of Fair Park to honor Gold Metal Recyclers, Goldbergs

Crediting them for saving last year’s traditional July 4th fireworks celebration, Friends of Fair Park will present its 2011 Spirit of the Centennial Award to Gold Metal Recyclers and the Goldberg family for their longstanding commitment to Fair Park and the surrounding South Dallas neighborhood. The 18th-annual celebration will be held Thursday, April 28, at a noon luncheon in the Crystal Terrace at Dallas Music Hall. Gold Metal has been an active member of the community for 35 years, and the Goldberg family has lived and worked in the area for over 80 years.

Last year Friends of Fair Park was poised to cancel Fair Park Fourth, Dallas’ official July 4th celebration, complete with fireworks, the Dallas Wind Symphony and free museum admission. The City of Dallas had partnered with Friends of Fair Park for years, and due to tight budget issues resulting from the economic downturn, the nonprofit Friends organization did not feel it was appropriate to ask them to participate. After months of trying to find a new sponsor, Friends realized that it wasn’t possible to present the fireworks show people expected, and canceled the event.

“With less than two weeks to go, Gold Metal Recyclers stepped forward and joined our other partner, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, to make sure the event took place,” said David Luther, chair of Friends of Fair Park. “Fair Park Fourth-on-the-Fifth was a huge success, attracting tens of thousands of Dallasites to gather together and celebrate our nation’s birthday. It would not have happened without Gold Metal Recyclers.”

Friends president Craig Holcomb adds that the Award is not just about one event.

“This is about three generations of the Goldberg family, going to work every day in South Dallas and doing their part to create a more vibrant and sustainable community,” said Holcomb. “The Goldbergs have proven to be good citizens contributing to the welfare of the South Dallas area by providing hundreds of jobs, giving back to charities and organizations in need, preserving natural resources, and putting millions of dollars back into the economy.”

In November 2010, The Dallas Morning News named Gold Metal Recyclers as one of Dallas’ Top 100 Places To Work, and Gold Metal was recently listed by the Dallas Business Journal as the 20th largest privately owned company in Dallas.

Through the years, Gold Metal has made contributions to hundreds of charities and organizations, including CityArts Festival at Fair Park, the Dallas Black Chamber of Commerce, Dallas ISD, Dallas Children’s Book Fair, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, The Jewish Community Center, Dallas Black Firefighters Association and many more. Most recently, Gold Metal cosponsored the Dallas: Hope For Haiti relief event. Gold Metal employees also work as “earth-friendly activists” to teach the community about the importance of recycling.

“The entire Goldberg family is very honored to receive this wonderful recognition from Friends of Fair Park,” said Kenny Goldberg, president of Gold Metal Recyclers. “Nothing feels better than being recognized as a good neighbor by your neighbors. We are committed to South Dallas and look forward to continued strong involvement in coming years.”

The presenting sponsor of the luncheon is K&L Gates LLP, and other sponsors are Texas Instruments (TI) and Burdin Mediations.

The Spirit of the Centennial Award began in 1994 when Judge David Fox was the inaugural honoree. About Friends of Fair Park. Other recipients include Hugh and Matilda Robinson; Walt Humann; Lt. Governor Bob Bullock; the Texas State Legislature; Mary Ceverha, Rita Cox and Carol Reed; State Fair Association; Michael A. Jenkins; Cathy Bonner, Matrice Ellis Kirk and Dealey Herndon; Candace O’Keefe; Rep. Steven D. Wolens; Paul Dyer; Texas Instruments; Rep. Terri Hodge; The Field Scovell Family; Craig Holcomb; The Meadows Foundation; Dallas Area Rapid Transit; and George A. Shafer.

The purpose of Friends of Fair Park is to promote the year-round use of Fair Park; to support the Fair Park Museums; to encourage thoughtful planning for Fair Park’s future; to preserve the buildings, art, sculpture and related artifacts of the 1936 Texas Centennial.

Friends of Fair Park was formed in 1987 when the Magnolia Lounge in Fair Park was to be demolished. This had been the Magnolia Oil Company’s hospitality suite during the Centennial and later had been home to the Margo Jones Theater where “Summer and Smoke” and “Inherit the Wind” had their world premieres. Alarmed, a group of business leaders, historic preservationists, and Fair Park advocates founded Friends of Fair Park with the express purpose of restoring the Magnolia. They raised $750,000 and then decided to restore the entire park. Friends of Fair Park is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation.

Individual tickets are $150 each and sponsor tickets are $250 each. Sponsorships are still available for tables of ten from $1,500 to $10,000. For more information, call 214-426-3400.

The Old American names Scott Robbins Director of Instructional Programming

Mazel tov to Scott Robbins, a PGA Member Professional and GOLF Magazine “Top Regional Instructor,” who was recently named director of Instructional Programming of The Old American Golf Club in The Colony.

Robbins will design camps, clinics and schools; provide private instruction; and coach the junior team at The Old American’s learning center, which is headed by PGA TOUR coach and groundbreaking putting technician, Marius Filmalter.

“The Old American will offer instructional programs catering to golfers of all ages and skill levels,” says Robbins. “We are committed to providing golfers with coaching that translates to increased shot making ability and, ultimately, lower scores.”

Prior to his work at The Old American, Robbins was a teaching professional at some of Texas’ most prestigious resorts and clubs. Since beginning his career in 1976, the University of Texas alum and Dallas-native has earned numerous honors including: “Top Regional Instructor,” GOLF Magazine, “Top 100 Instructors in America” nomination, GOLF Magazine; “Top 100 Performer,” Play Golf America; “Top 50 Instructor,” Golf Range Magazine; and “Teacher of the Year,” Northern Texas PGA.

“Scott is one of the most well respected teachers in the entire country,” says Jeff Kindred, PGA General Manager. “Having him and Marius onsite to provide instruction will cement The Old American’s place as one of Texas’ top golf learning centers.”

Since opening in September, The Old American has garnered an impressive list of accolades including “Best Courses You Can Play” by Golfweek and “Best New” by GOLF Magazine, LINKS Magazine, Golfweek and AVID Golfer. It was designed by Tripp Davis and PGA TOUR/Ryder Cup star, Justin Leonard.

For more information about The Old American Golf Club visit www.theoldamericangolfclub.com or call (972) 370-4653.

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Around the Town

Posted on 21 April 2011 by admin

More than 130 folks attend JFS’ Annual senior seder

Jewish Family Service (JFS) Senior Director Hedy Collins tells the TJP, “Under Harry Kahn’s culinary expertise and Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’Nai B’Rith, the Jewish Family Service Community Senior Seder was a huge success.”  More than 130 people attended the seder led by Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger of Beth-El.  Community members and volunteers took part in the service as well.  Gail Berlin and Jaclyn Daiches sang the blessing over the candles, and Ilana Knust led the Shehechiyanu It was the start of a lovely service and was enjoyed by all who attended.

“We look forward to the community senior Thanksgiving  – hopefully Harry will be able to recuperate from all the hard work by then.  Thank you to all who made this luncheon a success — cooks, volunteers, clean up crew, dish washers, etc.  It takes a village and thank goodness we have the support of the Jewish Family Service Board of Directors who assisted and the Federation Director and President, (who are part of the “Village”), along with the rest of the community.

“Jewish Family Services also wants to thank Hadassah for the wonderful Passover goody bags given for the program.  This helps our seniors and families in the community that would not have the means to have Passover at home.  The sisterhood of Beth Israel also contributed to these special bags. This year everyone recieved 5 lbs of Matzah, gefilte fish, horseradish, soup mix, wine, cake, apples, nuts and dried fruit.  Thank you for your generosity and for caring and for being a large portion of our village.”

‘Daytimers’ tour Acme Bricks

“Daytimers” had a remarkable Tour of the Acme Brick Company Art Collection, Wednesday, April 13.  Most of the 27-piece collection was developed especially for the architecturally beautiful building, and included many pieces made from the actual tools used in brick processing

Following the docent guided tour, the group ate lunch either on the beautiful patio overlooking the Trinity River Trail, or inside in the Acme Brick café.

Tour guide, Rhonda Morton, talked the guests through the three-story building, and in many cases, pointed out how art objects were designed to match the work that is done in that section of the building.

The next event for Daytimers will be a presentation of The Texas Boys Choir Town Choir, Wednesday, May 11, at noon at Beth-El Congregation.  Lunch will be a pizza and salad buffet catered by Palio’s Pizza Café.

For reservations, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Irv Robinson, 817-731-7447.  Checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Rd., Fort Worth, TX 76109.

The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

It’s that time of year again with graduation upon us. Send us news about your graduate. We love to hear from our readers, send news to sharonw@texasjewishpost.com. A health, happy Passover to all of you from the Wisch family and the TJP.

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