Archive | June, 2011

Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 16 June 2011 by admin

‘The Samuelsohn Works’ dedicated at Tiferet Israel

From left, Jerry A. Candy, Susan Candy Luterman and Phillip Samuelsohn recently dedicated “The Samuelsohn Works” at Tiferet Israel

On Saturday, June 11 at the Sabbath morning service in the chapel at Congregation Tiferet Israel, the Luterman, Candy and Samuelsohn families dedicated “The Samuelsohn Works” in memory of their grandparents, Abe and Sadie Samuelsohn, and their parents, Florence and Yale Candy, and Marie and Martin Samuelsohn. Representing the families were the third generation, grandchildren of Abe and Sadie Samuelsohn: Susan Candy Luterman, Jerry A. Candy and Phillip L. Samuelsohn. A Kiddush luncheon sponsored by the Luterman-Candy-Samuelsohn families followed the service.

In 1953, when Golden Acres (The Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged) was under construction on Centerville Road, Abe Samuelsohn volunteered to build some furniture for their sanctuary. Thereupon he handmade the Torah reading table, the Aron Kodesh, and two cabinets, one for storing prayer books and one for storing tallitot. He donated these items in honor of the Samuelsohn and Candy families when Golden Acres opened in 1954.

In early 2006, the family heard rumors that Golden Acres was to be sold. The Luterman, Candy and Samuelsohn families wanted to make sure that the furniture Abe made would be preserved and used at a new Jewish facility when they relocated. After several inquiries and discussions, the family was able to negotiate an agreement with the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged, stating that if they decided not to use “The Samuelsohn Works,” as they were now called, they would be returned to the family. When Golden Acres was sold in 2007, it was still not determined whether a new Jewish home would use “The Samuelsohn Works.” After two years, it was finally clear that the Legacy at Preston Hollow would not be using these items in their chapel and they were returned to the family. “The Samuelsohn Works” were moved to Congregation Tiferet Israel in December 2008. The Luterman, Candy and Samuelsohn families proudly donated “The Samuelsohn Works” to Congregation Tiferet Israel. The synagogue is blessed and can utilize “The Samuelsohn Works,” along with the other furniture that Abe made for them for many years to come.

Abe made Eitz Chayim (Torah sticks) for the Torahs at Congregations Tiferet Israel, Shearith Israel and Temple Emanu-El when they moved to North Dallas. He crafted chairs and tables for the bimah at Tiferet Israel, all of which are still being used at Tiferet Israel. Abe also collected and repaired violins. In 1968, toward the end of his life, he heard the music department of Bishop College (later Paul Quinn College), the African American college in Dallas, perform a concert. Because he was so taken with their talent, he donated his entire violin collection, including a Stradivarius, to them. Another one of Abe’s noteworthy accomplishments was in 1934, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt commissioned Steinway and Sons to design and build a new piano for the White House and Abe was contracted and made the “Golden American Eagle” piano legs, the piano bench and a music stand. If you visit the East Room of the White House today, you can see the piano with Abraham Samuelsohn’s “Golden American Eagle” piano legs still standing and in use.

Jonathan Popa earns the rank of Eagle Scout

Jonathan Popa recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout

Mazel tov to Jonathan Popa, son of Carole and Marius Popa, who recently earned the rank of Eagle Scout. Jonathan is a member of Boy Scout Troop 536, located in Plano, in the Great Plains District of the Circle Ten Council.

The ceremony was held on April 10 in the Pole Barn at the Farmstead. Eagle Scout is the highest award a Boy Scout can earn. In addition to the 21 needed Merit Badges and other rank requirements, Jonathan completed a Leadership and Service Project for the Heritage Farmstead Museum in Plano. He created a new DVD that will be used in the Visitor Center. It will be used as an educational device to teach about the history of the Farmstead, as well as to give the intended audience a brief description of what they will see during their visit and many special events that take place throughout the year at the farm. Jonathan and his team of volunteers filmed special events at the Farmstead from August through December 2010. The final DVD was presented to the Farmstead in February 2011 Jonathan received his Boy Scout Ner Tamid Emblem in 2007. He graduated from Plano Senior High School last week and will attend UTD in the fall. Community service scouting runs in the Popa family. Sister Kate Popa earned her Girl Scout Gold Award in 2008.

JCC Annual Meeting set for June 28

The Jewish Community Center of Dallas invites its supporters to the 132nd Annual Meeting on Tuesday, June 28 at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served at 6:30 p.m. prior to the event in Zale Auditorium at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road. The program will honor the Leader of the Year, Angela Horowitz, as well as Eleni Wilsmann, the Hank Bodner Award winner and Heather Cordova, the Sam Slusher Award winner. These awards are named in tribute to past leaders of the JCC.

The board and leadership will pay tribute to outgoing Chairman of the Board, Alan Shor. Alan has been an active member of the J since 1996 when he moved to the Dallas area with his wife, Ruthie, and their children. They have been active participants in all areas of the J including sports and fitness, youth theatre, J camps and volunteering in the Habima Theatre Program. Alan has been a leader in the J board of directors since 2005, rising up through the ranks from board member to vice president to 2009 – 2011 chairman of the board. Through Alan’s leadership, the J has grown in strength and numbers.

The new officers and board members selected by the nominating committee are: Phil Rosenfeld as chairman of the board; Scott Cohen, Andy Dropkin, Angela Horowitz and Jay Liberman as vice presidents. Board members nominated to serve a two-year term include: Doug Baer, Jonathan Bard, Neil Beckerman, Susan Bendalin, Jared Caplan, Monte Hurst, Liz Liener, Anita Marx, Mitch Meyers, Michael Newman, Lori Ordiway, John Rosenberg, Amy Schachter, Ruthie Shor, Zev Shulkin and Wendy Stanley. Board members continuing to serve their un-expired term include: Sherry Goldberg, David Greenstone, Nancy Immerman, Laurie Judson, Benton Markey, Ann Ochstein, Andy Schultz, Jill Tannanbaum, Ellen Ungerman and Mike Weinberg.

Phil Rosenfeld, the incoming chairman of the board, has been an active member of the J since 2000. Starting in 2005, Phil has served on the J board of directors in varying capacities, moving from board member to vice president to the 2011-2012 chairman of the board. Phil has also served on many J committees, such as the J Early Childhood Committee, Building and Ground Committee and Capital Projects Task Force, to name a few. Phil is recognized as a hardworking leader who has always been passionate about the J, and the services and programs it provides.

Phil is also vice president at Colliers International in Dallas. In 2007, he established the Colliers Ownership Advisory Group at the commercial real estate firm. During the last few years, through the economic downturn, his team has worked with owners to help them maximize the value of their holdings, whether investors, investors who already own property or companies looking to own property.

This year’s Annual Meeting theme, Running the Distance, is a tribute to the leaders, staff and volunteers who continue to run together to make the J successful. Annual Meeting co-chairs are Jack Baum, Dan Prescott and Wendy Stanley.

For more information, visit

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Home Sweet Homeland

Home Sweet Homeland

Posted on 16 June 2011 by admin

Aliyah brings a Jewish heart home

By Lindsey Cherner
TJP Intern

Rachel Wolfson was all smiles on a recent field trip with her ulpan group outside of Haifa. | Photos: Submitted by Kerri Wolfson

Long after her possessions had been packed, her goodbyes had been said and her plans had been made, Rachel Wolfson turned to her mother at the airport and asked if it was too late to turn back. She was scared, but without hesitation her mother told her it was, and for that, her daughter will be forever grateful.

After her five-month internship ended in Tel Aviv with a non-governmental organization (NGO) for a political party, she felt she now understood the fundamentals of how politics were conducted in Israel, and had a glimpse into the Israeli professional lifestyle.

She discovered it was a constant challenge to keep her mind off the vibrant city of Tel Aviv and the friends that became more like her extended family. Wolfson told herself if she was still thinking about living in Israel once she was home, then she would go back.

“Physically I was living at home in Dallas, but my heart was still in Tel Aviv. That’s when I knew I had to go back,” Wolfson said. “I made aliyah so I could fill that void I felt in America.”

With the help of Nefesh B’Nefesh and the Jewish Agency for Israel, Wolfson was able to decide if she was qualified to make aliyah and was recommended the best-fit ulpan program by the representatives. The Jewish Agency described what life would be like as an olah, which means new citizen in Hebrew, and provided constant reassurance that she would be all right. Additonally, Nefesh B’Nefesh paid for her flight to Israel and provided Wolfson with many other benefits. For instance, she receives a living stipend once a month for the next six months and free health insurance for up to one year to help ease her transition into Israeli life.

“I encourage others because I [made aliyah],” Wolfson’s Jewish Agency representative, Shira Ozeri said. “It’s a lot easier now than it was before with the technology, despite the distance you can live in one world and take part in another.”

Ozeri was impressed by Rachel’s passion and remembers her eyes lighting up when she talked about Israel.

“I haven’t felt too much of a culture shock because I already had a sense of what to expect,” Wolfson said. “People here are very pushy, but you have to be aggressive in Israel in order to get what you want. I actually enjoy it and find it very motivating.”

Before leaving for Israel in April, her Hebrew level was very basic. But with the help of Ulpan Etzion in Haifa, she has been surrounded by a support group of both teachers and other olim that take the time to make sure she learns Hebrew. Wolfson attends her ulpan five days a week for five hours each day; hers is specifically  offered to young adults with an undergraduate degree and requires a placement test upon arrival.

She has learned that the best way to learn Hebrew is to live in an area where people do not know English, forcing herself to practice with new people. In Haifa, she has been using what she learned in her ulpan and in everyday settings, and is now confident enough to order food at restaurants and speak with classmates in Hebrew.

Wolfson has also been sending emails to her mother on a daily basis. Each morning or evening she will start her email with a greeting in Hebrew like “Boker Tov” or “Lila Tov,” since she moved to Israel a little less than two months ago these phrases have begun to be used more and more frequently on a daily basis.

“I greet friends now by saying ‘Shalom’ and say ‘Boker Tov’ to greet my teachers in the morning,” Wolfson said. “Although these are simple phrases, my mom really enjoys these greetings because she knows I’m becoming more comfortable with the language and I’m using it regularly.”

Even though she is thousands of miles away from home, Wolfson has been surprised that her daily life has remained relatively unchanged. She still goes to class five days a week, those days have just shifted to Sunday through Thursday to allow her to observe Shabbat. After class she goes to the gym or beach and studies with friends. When she lived in Texas, she was worked to save money for her aliyah and then went to the gym and spending time with friends.

Although her lifestyle patterns are very similar,  she believes her life has been much more fulfilling in Israel. Even though she made aliyah without any friends or family, she has never felt alone in the welcoming Jewish community. However, she realized that life is a bit more challenging in Haifa.

“I have to take a 40 minute bus ride just to get to the gym, I cook and clean for myself, I have a much smaller room and I really hate having to flip a switch and having to wait for an hour in order to have hot water for my shower,” Wolfson said. “But all of that is only minor; I’m adjusting just fine.”

Contrary to common belief, Wolfson actually feels very safe living in Israel, one of her family’s primary concerns with her making aliyah.

“Sometimes I actually feel safer here than in the States, because the army here is so advanced and strong,” Wolfson said. “Israel should be viewed as a positive example by the United States in terms of protecting their citizens.”

Wolfson strongly believes that nothing in life should be too easy  and that people must try to achieve what they want. She has a bachelor’s degree in English and Government from UT Austin, but she felt she wasn’t being enriched culturally the way she was living life in America.

“Yes, life is much harder here and it is easy to become frustrated, but at the end of each day I feel like I have accomplished something new,” Wolfson said. “Even if it’s something small, like asking to buy a bus pass in Hebrew, or reading a Hebrew sign correctly at the supermarket, these are all things that I never did in America.”

Glossary of terms:

Olah(eh) — In Hebrew, means new citizen. Everyone making aliyah is considered an Olah (female), Oleh (male) or Olim (plural).

Aliyah — In Hebrew, means ascent. This can be seen by the immigration of the Jewish people to the land of Israel.

Ulpan — Is a course or school for teaching Hebrew by an intensive method, especially a school in Israel for immigrants. Rachel is currently attending ulpan etzion.

Birthright — A first time educational trip to Israel for Jewish young adults ages 18-26, created to strengthen the solidarity amongst Jews throughout the world.

Jewish Agency for Israel — Serves as a link between the Jewish people and Israel, helping to create and build the state, and has already brought over 3 million Jews to Israel. Their mission is to help forge strong connections to Israel with Israeli experiences, facilitating aliyah, encouraging social activism, serving as the first responder to crises in Israel and rescuing Jews from countries of distress.

Nefesh B’Nefesh — Provides Olim with employment resources, assistance with government absorption, community-based guidance and need-based financial aid in order to make each individual’s aliyah successful. This organization also helps with pre-aliyah guidance and support and is known for their group and charter aliyah flights.

Technology helps family stay connected with three children away from home

By Lindsey Cherner
TJP Intern

Rachel and her mother, Kerri Wolfson, at DFW airport the day Rachel departed for Israel.

Rachel Wolfson’s family was thrilled when she came home from Israel in August of 2010, only to find her in tears. She was physically in Dallas, but she insisted that her heart remained in Tel Aviv, where she had been interning with a non-governmental organization for the last five months.

“She was in tears all the time and wouldn’t stop thinking and talking about Israel,” her mother, Kerri Wolfson, said. “I think at that moment she made her decision to live there.”

With the advent of new technologies like Skype, Facebook and the constant use of e-mail, the Wolfson family has been able to stay in touch with Rachel, who is currently living in Haifa, more than 6,900 miles away from home.

Technology has kept the Wolfson family close, despite the three children living in three different cities. Brother Avi Wolfson graduated from MIT and is lives in Cambridge, Mass. where he works for a biomedical devices company while sister Deborah Wolfson is taking classes and working in Austin.

“We live in a world where we are accustomed to talk to whomever whenever we want,” Deborah said. “I just schedule a time to Skype her; I don’t even have her cell phone number.”

When Rachel decided to make aliyah, her family wasn’t surprised; they had been anticipating this decision since the moment she returned from her internship. Her father, Steven Wolfson, credits her decision in part to her independent soul and they way that she is always up to meet a new challenge. Deborah saw Rachel’s desire for knowledge lead her to the promised land for a second time.

“She’s very passionate about different cultures,” Deborah said. “I knew she wanted to immerse herself in that and make an impact.”

Deborah grew up particularly close with Rachel and as someone that went on birthright and is going back to Israel in two weeks as part of the David Project, she understands the connection young Americans have with Israel.

Rachel attended Akiba Academy of Dallas when she was younger, where many lessons revolved around taking care of Israel. As a whole, her mother believes her upbringing has been very Judaic, but she is still surprised by how much she wanted to go.

Although Rachel’s family has never really thought of her as a risk-taker, they have truly admired the way she was able to make aliyah without a single friend.

“It’s described as a hard life; you have to be a useful type of person,” Kerri said. “I can’t perceive myself [making aliyah], especially at my age.”

However, they have found a surprisingly large number of parents whose children are also abroad, with the majority living in Israel. The Wolfsons acknowledged the importance of a supportive family and the child being in the right frame of mind. They believe it’s important for families to realize that the young adult knows all of their reasons for wanting to leave, and the best way to try to understand their mindset is to look from their point of view.

“It’s not something you can wake up and do,” Kerri said. “Our rabbi had to write a letter just to prove he knew the family, they looked at our tax returns, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were background checks; it’s a pretty invasive process.”

Rachel’s mom is the only one in the family that has not yet been to Israel, but she hopes that will change soon. She plans to have an extended stay in Israel this year to visit Rachel and see the country.

The Wolfson family has witnessed what some argue to be a trend over the years of students doing year courses in Israel, and especially taking part in birthright. Rachel’s internship was just another example of young adults traveling to Israel and not wanting to leave.

“I went there in 1967 immediately after the Six Day War, and promised myself that I would return,” Steven said. “Time went by, and I still haven’t returned. I regret that. So, when [Rachel] had the courage to do what I lacked the courage to do, I rejoiced in her decision and her resolve to do it.”

Rachel went through the Jewish Agency for Israel and with the help of representative Shira Ozeri, was ensured of her eligibility to make aliyah and was advised on the best-fit ulpan program for her. Ozeri acknowledged that although making aliyah is seen as a lifelong dream for some, there are many other reasons for going. These include, but are not limited to, wanting adventure and seeing it as a moral obligation.

“You have to be prepared to be flexible, to bring along some of the old with the new,” Ozeri said. “We talk about it as a mosaic of colors and cultures that blend together in Israel making it unique and special.”

Rachel’s sister is at times concerned for her safety. She recalled one instance when they received an email that Rachel could hear bombs from where she was on the beach only to send a follow-up email that all was okay. It’s moments like these that make the Wolfson’s afraid.

“When you hear about the political turmoil and terrorism, it’s worrisome, but it’s funny, we know all about it over here but many times she doesn’t,” Kerri said. “So I just tell her she needs to stay away from it and surround herself with people with good intentions.”

Despite a scary email or two, they’ve been pleased with the safety and the overall happiness Rachel has managed to achieve in a short length of time. Her sister describes Israel as a homeland that “makes her feel safe in the midst of the chaos.”

The Wolfsons have come to accept the reality that Rachel will be living in Israel for at least three years and maybe even her entire life. Although at times they feel lonely, they’re reminded of Rachel’s first few days in Israel, when she actually didn’t know anyone. While Kerri continues to worry about the “motherly things,” she’s happy that Rachel is happy.

“You want your kids to experience life and leave the nest, so it’s been gratifying to me,” Kerri said. “I want my kids to stand on their own two feet.”

A Nefesh B’Nefesh guide to making aliyah:

6-12 months before aliyah
•    Set your target aliyah date
•    Fill out the online aliyah application at
•    Attend a pre-aliyah workshop, event or online webinar
•    Study Hebrew
•    Plan a pilot trip
•    Discuss your aliyah plans with family and friends

6 months before aliyah
•    Educate yourself about Israeli universities and ulpan options
•    Arrange for your pet’s documentation and vaccinations
•    Network for job opportunities
•    Apply for a new passport/renew your existing passport
•    Join the NBN Yahoo email group (
•    Follow Nefesh B’Nefesh (NBN) on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

3 months before aliyah
•    If you are an Israeli citizen, make sure you’ve applied for an Israeli passport
•    Start exploring living arrangements

8-10 weeks before aliyah
•    Receive notification from the Jewish Agency of Israel Eligibility Department
•    Apply for an aliyah visa at the Israeli consulate (takes one week longer during the summer months)
•    Receive notification letter from Nefesh B’Nefesh
•    Receive flight confirmation from Nefesh B’Nefesh
•    Submit any special flight requests

2 weeks before aliyah
•    Collect original documents to put in carry-on luggage, including university transcripts or diplomas
•    Confirm transportation to airport
•    Purchase enough prescription and over-the-counter medication for at least one month
•    Confirm that your Israeli address and contact information are on file with Nefesh B’Nefesh
•    Submit any special flight requests

Day of aliyah
•    If you are joining a Nefesh B’Nefesh flight, your ticket will be waiting for you at the airport
•    Arrive at the airport three hours before your flight time

Upon arrival in Israel
•    Schedule an appointment with your local branch of Misrad Haklita (ministry of Immigrant Absorption)
•    Contact your family

— Lindsey Cherner

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Around the Town

Posted on 16 June 2011 by admin

USYers enjoy Cowtown hospitality

Fort Worth was host to the Southwest Region of United Synagogue Youth’s (SWUSY) 51st Regional Convention. Over 85 teens and staff gathered at the Crowne Plaza Fort Worth last month for the convention. USYers explored Jewish values through the work of Dr. Seuss, elected new officers, took in the sights of downtown Fort Worth and enjoyed some delicious gelato along the way. USYers volunteered at the Ahavath Sholom Cemetery, took a tour through the “Natural Museum of Jewish History” and met the Last American Jew. Spending Shabbat together was incredibly special, and of course, senior speeches were a highlight along with banquet and the viewing of the SWUSY Year in Review! Thank you to all of the USYers and staff that helped in making the convention truly memorable – it was a wonderful weekend and Shabbat. Word is that the Ahavath Sholom crew were the “hosts with the mosts” and welcomed their peers from around the region.

Shul elects new officers

Congregation Ahavath Sholom held its annual congregational meeting on Sunday, June 5. At the meeting, the congregation held elections for officers and new directors. Continuing as officers for the 2011-12 term are: Marvin Beleck, president; Dr. Murray Cohen, 1st vice president; Ebrahim Lavi, 2nd vice president; Dr. Nancy Faigin, 3rd vice president; Edwin Bond, treasurer; Naomi Rosenfield, secretary; Stuart Isgur, parliamentarian. Directors elected for a three-year term: Michael Schwanz, J.R. Faigin, Aaron Levy and Hal Ratner. Directors continuing their terms: Irwin Blum, Suzanne Herman, David Saul, Rick Savitz, Jodi Berger, Elsie Blum, Harry Labovitz and Andres Zapata. At the meeting, the congregation approved the contract for the hiring of Rabbi Andrew Bloom as the next rabbi of the congregation. He will begin on August 1.

Other Ahavath Sholom news

The Ahavath Sholom confirmation students celebrated their confirmation this past Friday night with a Shabbat dinner at the shul followed by an 8 p.m. Shabbat service led by Rabbi Gary Perras and the confirmation students. An elegant Oneg Shabbat, sponsored by their families, was prepared and served by Elsie Blum and the members of the catering committee. On the following Monday, June 13, the students left for a trip to New York City where their teachers, Melissa Morgan and David Saul, introduced them first hand to the Jewish tastes, sights and sounds of the historic “Big Apple.” Follow their progress by going to the education page of the Congregation Ahavath Sholom Web site and clicking on “2011 NYC Trip.” Ahavath Sholom confirmands and their parents are: Sarah Alpert (Karen and Richard Alpert); Jerome (Jerry) Berger (Jodi and Scott Berger); Emily Derozier (Arlene and Greg Derozier); Aaron Eckles (Daina and Daniel Eckles); Bree Goodman (Rhonda and Ken Goodman); Benjamin (Benjy) Karten (Mona and Steve Karten); Alexander Max Landy (Linda and Bill Landy); Dorie Kaye (Valerie and Stephen Kaye); Elizabeth (Lizzy) Michan (Marina and Rafael Michan); Meagan Moses (Lisa and Shayne Moses); and Courtney Smith (Annette and Mitchell Smith). Mazel tov to the confirmands and their families.

On June 18, the Temple Beth-El choir, under the direction of Monica Braverman, will perform during the Kiddush luncheon at Ahavath Sholom following the Saturday morning service. On Saturday, June 25, Congregation Ahavath Sholom will honor Rabbi Gary Perras with a special birthday Kiddush luncheon after services.

Beth-El confirmands

Congregation Beth-El held its Confirmation Service on May 6 during Shabbat services. Confirmands and their parents are Pauline Bronstein (Antonia and Dale Bronstein); Jessie Brow (Jackie Brow and Jim Brow); Joshua Cristol (Rebecca and Louis Cristol); Hailie Hartman (Michelle and Cory Hartman); Lauren Pinto (Renee and Kirk Pinto); Emily Shelby (Erika and Scott Shelby); Cooper Simon (Sherry and Rick Simon); Adam Uptegraft (Susie and Jim Benson); and Ty Webb (Kelly and John Webb).

Mazel tov graduates

Congratulations to the following graduates and their parents: Kaitlyn Rubin, daughter of Gwen and Barry Rubin, who is graduating from Paschal High School; Isaac Siegel, son of Nancy and Aaron Siegel, who is graduating from Country Day School and will attend the University of Denver in the fall; Andrew Blumberg, son of Charna and Dan Blumberg, who is graduating from Duke University Law School and will go to work for a firm in New York City; Geoffrey Urbach, son of Michael Urbach, who graduated from the University of Texas in December; Randee and Jeff Kaitcer are doubly blessed: Randee’s daughter Rachel Romano is graduating from Baylor Law School, and her daughter Rebecca Romano is graduating from UT Austin and will attend UT Dallas for graduate school; Brett Moses, son of Rochelle and Buddy Moses, who is graduating from NYU; Elana Levy, daughter of Phyllis and Sheldon Levy, who is graduating from Stephen F. Austin University with an RN, BSN in nursing; Sari Hochberger, daughter of Marilyn McGee, who is graduating from Kansas City University of Medicine and Bioscience and will pursue a pediatric residency in the fall. Send your graduate’s news to

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Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 16 June 2011 by admin

There are many ways to use the word respect or honor.  The Hebrew word kavod comes from the Hebrew word meaning, “heavy.” This tells us that respect is a pretty heavy responsibility.  Respect, or kavod, begins with each person.  If we feel proud of ourselves, what we achieve and how we behave, it is self-respect. Imagine what a wonderful place the world would be if we all showed respect to one another. The rabbis teach us that every person should have two pockets. In one pocket, put a piece of paper that says, “I am but dust and ashes.” In the other pocket, the paper should say, “For my sake alone was the world created.”  When we feel too proud, we remind ourselves that we are but dust, and when we are feeling low, we remind ourselves that God created the world for us. When we recognize and acknowledge the value and worth of every human being, when we honor and respect the uniqueness of each person, then we will work with God on tikkun olam.

“Who is honored and respected? One who honors and respects others.” (Pirke Avot)

“Let your neighbor’s honor be as dear to you as your own.” (Pirke Avot)

Family Talk Time

  • Ask your children what respect means to them. If they cannot give a definition, share an example.
  • Talk about people you respect.  Who is a role model for you? What are the characteristics of the people you respect?
  • How is following rules a form of respect? What are the rules we follow to show respect?
  • In Leviticus, the Torah teaches us:  You shall rise before the aged. What does this mean?  Why is it so important to show respect to older people?

Shabbat Discussion

What does it mean to “love your neighbor as yourself?”

Is this hard or easy to do? Why?

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

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Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 16 June 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

My uncle, who is 72, was in excellent health until recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. The doctors believe that with his condition, he only has six to nine months to live. There is, however, an experimental surgery which could cure him completely, allowing him to live many more years. The problem is that this surgery is so risky, that there’s a 70 percent chance he could die on the operating table. He’s inclined to take the risk to live for years, but is concerned that perhaps it isn’t the right thing to do, as it may lose him the months that he knows he has left. He’s concerned that it’s like committing suicide. What is the right thing to do in this situation?

Ben N.

Dear Ben,

The Talmud discusses a case, which in some ways, is similar to your uncle’s query. There was once a Babylonian medical center where the doctors were known to be very proficient and cutting-edge in their field. There was, however, one small problem: They were known to kill most of their Jewish patients. The Talmud rules, of course, that one should not use these doctors, even if one had a sickness which could be life threatening. If, however, one suffered from a terminal illness that would surely cause his demise within a year, he would be permitted to seek medical assistance even from these doctors, since there is a chance of being healed — and not killed — by them. The Talmud asks: What about the months of life that he would have lived that may be forfeited if they would kill him? The answer given in the Talmud is a profound principle: “L’chaye Sha’ah Lo Chayshinan.” This loosely means that we are not concerned about short-term life in the face of potential, long-term life. (Talmud, Avoda Zara 27b).

Many authorities of Jewish law over the last 250 years have applied this Talmudic principle to a myriad of medical questions that have arisen. Since the flourishing of the medical field and its many procedures which have been developed during this time, your question has been asked in numerous forms. The core principle, however, is the same. Even when the likelihood of success is relatively small, your uncle is morally within the bounds of Jewish medical ethics to elect to undergo this procedure. This is predicated upon the prognosis that without the procedure, he is terminal with no hope for recovery. This is also based on the life expectancy of less than one year, which is the time considered by Jewish law to be terminal, or “short-term life.” If he were diagnosed to have over a year to live, the ruling may be different.

I would like to clarify; this ruling is not meant to minimize the tremendous importance the Torah puts upon every moment of life. The concept of “Chaye Sha’ah” or “short-term life” is one of complete life in the eyes of Judaism. We are commanded to desecrate the Sabbath to save the life of a Jew who we know will not live long enough to see another Sabbath. Conversely, to kill a person who only has moments to live is considered murder according to Jewish law. The point of the above ruling is for the same person to put upon the scales the terminal aspect of his life on one side to weigh against the possibility of prolonged life on the other side – with the risk of losing even the “short-term life” that is relatively sure he will have if no action is taken. This is the painstakingly difficult, soul-searching decision the patient, and only the patient (assuming full faculties are present in that patient) can and must make.

This is one of the exceptional examples in Jewish law when the decision actually lies in the hands of the patient, since either decision — to operate or not to operate — would be morally acceptable. At times, a patient may opt out of surgery to not risk missing the wedding or bar mitzvah of a family member or dear friend which will take place a couple months away and may be all-important to the patient. Another may prefer the risk, to have a chance of enjoying additional years of life, as your uncle is inclined to. In this type of scenario, there is no obligation either way, and to choose the experimental surgery would not be tantamount to suicide even if, God forbid, the surgery would turn out to not be successful.
May your uncle enjoy a complete and speedy recovery, and may you spend many more happy and healthy years together.

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

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Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 09 June 2011 by admin

Dear Families,

Summer, and especially camp, are times to learn about yourself and others in a different way and within a very special community of camp. This summer at the J we will be exploring different values. We will choose as a camp community and individuals what we stand for — what are those values that we hold dear and help us make the decisions in daily life? Does this sound like something just for adults? No — even our youngest campers make decisions based on what they value, and this summer, we are going to work on finding the words to describe what is important to us.

Learning about values and choosing the ones that reflect what we believe and hold dear is a process, however, it helps us during times when we are faced with challenges and dilemmas. As you think about the key values that direct your daily decisions, think about what those values look like, sound like, and even feel like. How do you measure that you are acting in accordance to that value? The biggest challenge is narrowing down the many possibilities because we can’t say that we stand for everything — we must be able to articulate the value and know what it means to us.

This summer, our campers will be participating in activities at home and at camp. Of course, at camp, we also wear our values on our t-shirts. Look for Camp Chai campers this summer and ask them what the back of their shirt is all about. Here are some values to start thinking about:

Kehillah — Community

Tikkun Olam — Fixing the World

Chesed — Kindness

Tzedakah — Righteousness

Hachnasat Orchim — Welcoming Guests

Derech Eretz — The Way of the Land

Hoda’ah — Appreciation

If you would like to learn more about the program we are doing at camp, and adapt it to your home, email me at, and I will give you the details. Each week in this column, you will learn about a new value for your home discussions.

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

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The Class of 2011

The Class of 2011

Posted on 09 June 2011 by admin


Academy of Torah in Greater Dallas celebrates the class of 2011

BACK ROW (left to right): Michael Portman, Heather Elsner, Alex Frankel, Kayla Bakhshian, Lauren Grossmann, Rose Pansick, Natalie Levine, Simone Shrell, Marissa Shrell, Max Berkowitz, Ross Yudkin, Poul Carsch and Kenny Livingston. MIDDLE ROW (left to right): Jonathan Rahmani, Scott Sebert, Max Intebi, Jared Katz, Aaron Shapiro, Ross Kahn, Lyle Sarembock, Taylor Ellis, Nathan Fleischman and Daniel Borejdo. FRONT ROW (left to right): Rabbi William Gershon, Rabbi Adam Raskin, Rabbi Eve Posen, Gail Herson, Iris Sheppard, Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, Rabbi David Glickman and Mark Stolovitsky. | Photo: Deb Silverthorn

The graduates of the ATID, (Academy for Torah in Greater Dallas) are prepared for their own “atid”, which, translated from Hebrew, means future. On May 26, the 30 students at Levine Academy celebrated the culmination of years of religious school education, and their completion of the ATID curriculum.

“The best we can give our children are the values to live by and the lessons of good morals and their heritage,” said Gail Herson, ATID education director. “The Jewish people have been around longer than almost any other, and we’ve suffered unspeakable tragedies. Still, we have never lost hope because crises makes each of us ask ‘who am I,’ and ‘what really matters to me.’”

The 2011 ATID graduates are Gabe Altman, Kayla Bakhshian, Max Berkowitz, Daniel Borejdo, Poul Carsch, Taylor Ellis, Heather Elsner, Nathan Fleischman, Alex Frankel, Mia Goetz, Lauren Grossmann, Bradley Harmon, Max Intebi, Ross Kahn, Jared Katz, Natalie Levine, Kenny Livingston, Nathan Oved, Rose Pansick, Rafi Parens, Michael Portman, Alex Rabhan, Jonathan Rahmani, Lyle Sarembock, Scott Sebert, Aaron Shapiro, Marissa Shrell, Simone Shrell, Ian Sugerman and Ross Yudkin.

“We, as rabbis, have known some of you since you were 5-years-old, and in these two years, you have inspired us,” said Rabbi William Gershon, of Congregation Shearith Israel, who teaches the ATID program, a community high school which began as a cooperative effort of Dallas area Conservative Jewish synagogues. “You may solve pollution problems, you may make incredible discoveries in the medical or legal fields, but you will always be Jewish and your Jewish education will sustain you. My challenge to you is that you will be passionate and always be connected,” Rabbi Gershon added. Other teachers include Rabbi Adam Raskin (Congregation Beth Torah), Rabbi Stefan Weinberg (Congregation Anshai Torah), Gail Herson, Rabbi Eve Posen (Levine Academy) and Mark Stolovitsky (Levine Academy).

“We and our students are blessed to have such effort put into incredible lessons of meaning,” said Herson, who gifted each student with a copy of Mitch Albom’s, “Have A Little Faith.” “To have such relevance in our weekly learning, taught by such respected, and respectful leaders of our community, is truly a gift.”

“We have nourished your souls with conversations, and helped each of you to look into your own selves to find your own beings,” Iris Sheppard, ATID Board president, told the students. “Our wish and hope is that you will continue to grow as people and as Jews, with a spark nourished by ATID.”

Each of the students took the opportunity to speak to the audience of friends and family. The made note of the cheerfulness of Gail Herson, the delicious breakfasts that awaited them each week and the friendship, and meaningfulness of the lessons in history and current events they learned. They also mentioned the  preparedness they received for defending, and educating others with a strong Jewish identity as they set forth to their higher education. “We expanded our Jewish family by coming to ATID,” said Alex Frankel. “I will miss this kind of learning.”

“May each of you never hesitate to stand for the Jewish people and to distinguish yourselves,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “You will each, as you head for campuses across the country, bring with you an intellectual curiosity. You have made it!”

Registration, for Jewish teens from the community, is now open for the 2011-2012 year. For more information email Gail Herson at


Akiba holds 2011 commencement ceremony

The Akiba Academy Class of 2011 | Photo: Holly Kuper

Akiba Academy held its 2011 commencement at Congregation Tiferet Israel on May 22nd. Scott Lacritz was named valedictorian, and Erin Wernick, the salutatorian. The 2011 Marcus Rosenberg Cup Winner for the most well-rounded student was Scott Lacritz.

The graduates, the high school they will attend and their parents are:

Benjamin Allen
International Baccalaureate Honors Program, Plano ISD
Mireille Brisebois-Allen and Ira Allen

Hadas Cohen
Yavneh Academy
Kinerit and Shay Cohen

Daniel Coretz
Marine Military Academy
Rabbi Heidi and Alan Coretz

Manya Dubrawsky
Rabbi Mendel and Baila Dubrawsky

Ari Geller
Torah Academy of Bergen County (New Jersey)
Miriam and Paul Geller

Cassandra Gross
Yavneh Academy
Pearl and Ron Gross

Ori Guttman
Yavneh Academy
Atara and Danny Guttman

Frank Hoffman
Kathleen and Dr. Jeffery Hoffman

Scott Lacritz
Yavneh Academy
Dr. Laura Lacritz and John Lacritz

Alexandra Lavi
Yavneh Academy
Faye and Yoosef Lavi

Elvira Levi
Yavneh Academy
Rosa and Josef Levi

Yossi Oziel
Nina and Isaac Oziel

Ethan Pearson
Yavneh Academy
Sara Pearson

Elki Schonbrunn
Yavneh Academy
Dorit and Joseph Schonbrunn

Zak Schultz
Yavneh Academy
Nicole Schultz and Andy Schultz

Noah Weiss
Yavneh Academy
Barbara and David Weiss

Erin Wernick
Yavneh Academy
Sheryl and Stuart Wernick


For Levine Academy grads, love of school, family, friends and tradition set the stage

By Rebecca Bailey

For the 8th graders in the class of 2011, June 2 — graduation day — was their last day at Ann and Nate Levine Academy as a student. After graduation, they are now one of 30 classes of alumni to have attended the formerly named Solomon Schechter School. Each graduate had their moment to reflect on their years at Levine Academy in a graduation address, and whether they had attended the school since age 2, or had joined the class at the beginning of the year, they expressed a common theme: a love of Levine Academy and its indelible impact on their lives.

While attended by family and friends, graduation at Levine Academy is also a community event. Rabbis from both the Conservative and Reform synagogues participated in the ceremony along with a representative from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Those who took part this year were Rabbis Adam Raskin of Congregation Beth Torah, William Gershon of Congregation Shearith Israel, Debra Robbins of Temple Emanu-El and Stefan Weinberg of Congregation Anshai Torah, as well as JFGD Chairman David Veeder.
Congratulations to the students in the class of 2011 who will be attending the following schools next year:

Rebecca Bailey is the communications director for Ann and Nate Levine Academy.

Class of 2011:

Blair Altman
J.J. Pearce High School
Arthur and Dr. Barbara Altman

Steven Bokov
Yavneh Academy of Dallas
Galina Bokov

Rachel Brenner
Parish Episcopal School
Steven and Lauren Brenner

Raphael Burstein
Yavneh Academy
Brenda Time and Michael Burstein

Joseph Cheniae
Episcopal School of Dallas
Christopher and Karen Cheniae

Sabrina Chudnow
Shepton High School
Dr. Robert and Sharon Chudnow

Ben Crane
Hillcrest High School
Paul and Rachelle Crane

Raizelle Edwards
Parish Episcopal School
Robert and Dr. Sharon Edwards

Kayce Goldberg
Hillcrest High School
Steven and Shari Goldberg

Aaron Herschberg
Yavneh Academy
Gabriel and Eliane Herschberg

Jacob Herstein
Yavneh Academy
Scott and Bertta Herstein

Brittany Horowitz
Yavneh Academy
Robert and Stacy Horowitz

David Iola
Highland Park High School
Randall and Darci Iola

Austin Jacoby
Yavneh Academy
Dr. Eric and Karla Jacoby

Sydney Kane

J.J. Pearce High School
David and Marlo Kane

Melissa Kurtzman
Booker T. Washington High School
Matthew and Pamela Kurtzman

Jonathan Lantz
Yavneh Academy
Jeffrey Lantz and Patricia Levy

Mikayla Lewison
Yavneh Academy
Jason and Lauren Lewison

Andrew Murphy
Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas
Melanie Kuhr Murphy and

Eric Murphy
Bennett Oberstein Shepton High School
Edward and Stephanie Oberstein

Gabi Popp
Jasper High School
Daniel and Anna Popp

Grant Prengler
J.J. Pearce High School
Craig and Tami Prengler

Ryan Rawitscher
Greenhill School
Dr. David and Rosalyn Rawitscher

Serina Romick
Yavneh Academy
Jeffery and Shani Romick

Zachary Romick
Yavneh Academy
Jeffery and Shani Romick

Noah Shore
Parish Episcopal School
Dr. Kenneth and Patty Shore

Ryan Subel
Greenhill School
Gavin and Suzanne Subel

Ariel Veytsman
Gary and Anna Veytsman

Jacob Weiner
Shepton High School
Deborah and Jonathan Herskovitz and David Weiner

Sophia Witheiler
Dr. Daniel and Abbe Witheiler


Melton Adult Mini School of Dallas graduates 32 students

The Florence Melton Adult Mini School Class of 2011 | Photo: Courtesy of the JCC

The Florence Melton Adult Mini School of Dallas graduated an exuberant group of 32 students on Tuesday, May 31. Rachelle Weiss Crane, Melton’s director, welcomed the crowd and explained that The Florence Melton Adult Mini School is unique because it’s a sequential two-year course developed specifically for adult learners. It utilizes a sophisticated, text-based, pluralistic curriculum and students develop greater Jewish literacy and familiarity with texts. Each week, they seek meaning and connection to their lives from the texts, their teachers and each other.

Keynote speaker, Temple Shalom’s Rabbi Jeremy Schneider, who is also a Melton instructor, gave an impassioned speech and spoke about the importance of asking questions in the study of Jewish text. He urged the students to continue learning, and most importantly, to continue asking questions.

A highlight of the program was the presentation of the Honu Frankel Zest for Learning Award. This award is named in memory of Honu Frankel, a former student with a zest for knowledge and someone who set an example for all as she continued her Jewish journey each week, until the end of her life. The award is presented annually to the student who most embodies the characteristics of Honu Frankel. This year the winner is Mark Stromberg. Melton regional director, Annie Glickman, said, “I sat next to Beth Stromberg , the wife of theHonu Frankel Award winner, and she was thrilled when the big announcement happened. Both she and her husband were enrolled in the Sunday morning class. Their daughter, Ariella, was sitting between them and talked about how they’d discuss what they learned on the way home after they picked her up from Sunday school. What a Melton moment!”

The audience was filled with children, grandchildren, spouses, parents, teachers and friends. The room was buzzing with excitement and graduates were beaming as they stepped up to the podium. The teachers commented on what a great group of people they were privileged to learn with each week.

Melton classes begin the week of September 11, 2011. Contact Rachelle Weiss Crane or 214-239-7128 for enrollment information.

Class of 2011:

Beverly Broman
Julie Eichelbaum
Cathy Feldman
Diane Gerber
Jill Hance
Janet Kaner
Howard Klatsky
Wendi Klatsky
Diane Laner
Lana Latman
Norma Levitan
Debra Levy
Ellen Marks
Audree Meyer
Anna Miller-Goodman
Lynn Minsky
Ann Parker
Bernie Parker
Jody Platt
Diane Plotkin
Ali Rhodes
Roy Rhodes
Cristie Schlosser
Susan Sereboff
Karen Stock
Beth Stromberg
Mark Stromberg
Monica Susman
Leanne Svec
Alicia Wallace
Gail Wine
Kimberly Wolfinger


2011 marks largest graduating class for TTI

Senior class with headmaster Rabbi Shlomo Pacht on their senior trip to Israel.

Texas Torah Institute (TTI) celebrated its sixth commencement with a ceremony on Sunday, June 5, at the new Haymann Family Campus of TTI.  Sixteen students graduated, making the Class of 2011 the largest graduating class since the school’s founding.  Texas Torah Institute was founded in Dallas in 2003 as a traditional Yeshiva for young men, and this year had almost 70 students enrolled in its high school and college programs.

Fred Wagner, TTI’s academic dean, remarked during the ceremonies that in his almost 40 years as a school administrator, the TTI Class of 2011 was the most talented and dedicated group of students of his career.  Most of the graduates will be continuing their Jewish studies next year in advanced Jewish study programs throughout the United States and Israel, with many choosing to continue at Texas Torah Institute.

This year’s graduates, their parents and future educational plans are:

Yecheskel Amrami
Hagay and Tova Amrami
Yeshiva Ohr Yerushalayim

Dani Barak
David and Daphna Barak
Texas Torah Institute

Joey Davis
Bob and Rachel Davis
Texas Torah Institute

Aryeh Goldschein
Dr. Donald and Ilana Goldschein
Texas Torah Institute

Shlomo Rafaelov
Moshe and Carmela Rafaelov
Yeshiva Derech Eitz Chaim

Akiva Rodin
Rabbi Aryeh and Henny Rodin
Texas Torah Institute

Aryeh Roth
Jeff and Deena Roth
Yeshiva Ateret Yerushalayim

Dovid Rubinstein
Chaskel and Aviva Rubenstein
Pacific Torah Institute

Benjamin Rudansky
Dr. Max and Jill Rudansky

Samuel Slomowitz
Rivkah Slomowitz

Avrumi Solomon
Eli and Tzippi Solomon
Texas Torah Institute

Yisrael Sternberg
Rabbi Yonasan and Miriam Sternberg
Texas Torah Institute

Tani Teigman
Dr. Marc and Joyce Stock
Texas Torah Institute

Yishai Truxton
Ron and Ahuva Truxton
Texas Torah institute

Shlomo Isser Yachnes
Rabbi Yingi and Tzippi Yachnes
Pacific Torah Institute


Torah Day School graduates eighth class

By Chana Ruderman

Front row (l to r): Maya Parkoff, Tamar Cohen, Brocha Burr, Shira Kosowsky, Eliyah Shimon. Back row (l to r): Rachael Berk, Aliza Benpoart, Galit Rothschild, Aliza Rosenberg, Penina Bracha Abrams. Not pictured: Basha Rubinstein.

Torah Day School of Dallas graduated its eighth class of eighth grade students on June 1. A number of speakers mentioned the fact that this is the first group of students that are fully the product of TDSD, having progressed through all the grades.

Of course, the group included students who came to TDSD from other schools and other cities over the years. Both the boys’ class and the girls’ class have achieved a level of achdus, togetherness, that would make it impossible to tell who is new and who is not.

Each student was presented an award for a particular middah (character trait) that teachers felt was especially apt for him or her.

Academic awards were also given. Valedictorian of the girls’ class was Shira Kosowsky, and salutatorian was Brocha Burr. Valedictorian of the boys’ class was Benjamin Singer, and salutatorian was Moshe Schick.

The graduates were a diverse group, as their choices of high schools reveals. The boys’ class includes

Yehuda Benklifa, son of Rabbi Hanania and Adira Benklifa, who will attend Texas Torah Institute; Daniel Elfenbein, son of Ester and Victor Elfenbein, who will attend Mechina of South Florida; Meir Epstein, son of Norman and Cheryl Epstein, who is undecided; Tommy Erlich, son of Moshe and Fran Erlich, who will attend Yavneh Academy of Dallas; Yitzy Feigenbaum, son of Rabbi Aryeh and Chaya Feigenbaum, who will attend Mesivta of Long Beach; Shlomo Fried, son of Rabbi Yerachmiel and Miriam Fried, who will attend Yeshiva Ner Israel; Gavi Lashak, son of Rabbi Israel and Bella Lashak, who will attend Yeshiva Ner Israel; Yirmiyahu Rich, son

Front row (l to r): Gavi Lashak, Yirmiyahu Rich, Benny Singer, Yehuda Benklifa, Moshe Schick. Back row (l to r): Jordan Shafron, Yitzy Feigenbaum, Daniel Elfenbein, Binyamin Rosenberg. Not pictured: Tommy Erlich, Meir Epstein, Shlomo Fried

of Rabbi Yaakov and Susan Rich, who will attend Yeshiva Beth Moshe in Scranton, PA; Binyamin Rosenberg, son of Oscar and Aviva Rosenberg, who will attend Yeshiva Ner Yisrael; Moshe Schick, son of Rabbi Yonason and Malkie Schick, who will attend Yeshiva and Mesivta of Baltimore; Jordan Shafron, son of Drs. Larry and Jackie Shafron, who will attend Texas Torah Institute; and Benjamin Singer, son of Drs. Mike and Miriam Singer, who will attend the DISD School for the Talented and Gifted.

Graduates in the girls’ class all plan to attend Mesorah High School for Girls. These girls include Penina Bracha Abrams, daughter of Rabbi Yehuda and Esther Abrams; Aliza Benporat, daughter of Joseph and Roya Benporat; Rachael Berk, daughter of Richard and Dianne Berk; Brocha Burr, daughter of Rabbi Noach and Bitsy Burr; Tamar Cohen, daughter of Rabbi Sharon and Avishag Cohen; Shira Kosowsky, daughter of Rabbi Avraham Zev and Daniella Kosowsky; Maya Parkoff, daughter of Seth and Dana Parkoff; Aliza Roseberg, daughter of Rabbi Shellie and Rachel Leah Rosenberg; Galit Rothschild, daughter of Shimon and Louise Rothschild; Basha Rubinstein, daughter of Lew Rubinstein and Mindy Goldstein; and Eliyah Shimon, daughter of Rabbi Ronen and Odelia Shimon.

In his concluding remarks, Rabbi Yerachmiel Udman, the headmaster of TDSD, mentioned that the Torah tells us that Hashem considered Avraham very dear to Him because he taught his children Torah. “After hearing the reflections of our graduates and the role that their Torah education plays in their lives, we, along with their parents, can take great pride in having furthered Hashem’s love for the Jewish people by giving our children the gift of a Torah education,” Rabbi Udman said.


2011 Yavneh Academy graduates are on their way

By Deb Silverthorn

Yavneh Academy of Dallas’ 16th commencement exercises were held on Sunday, May 29. “From the world of teenagers, you now go forth on your own path,” said Head of School Don O’Quinn. FRONT ROW: Leigh Bonner (valedictorian), Abbie Denemark (salutatorian), Leora Mitzner (summa cum laude), and Sarah Weiss (magna cum laude), were honored as leaders, along with their 21 classmates.

Yavneh Academy of Dallas’ Class of 2011 is bound for greatness as the students received their diplomas, well wishes, and turned their tassels on Sunday, May 29. The administration of Yavneh Academy announced the award of valedictorian to Leigh Bonner, of salutatorian, to Abbie Denemark, of summa cum laude, to Leora Mitzner, and, magna cum laude, to Sarah Weiss. The school’s Sylvia and William Epstein Golden Wedding Anniversary Fund Award for Excellence in Judaic Studies honors were bestowed upon Denemark and Weiss, and Yavneh’s Gabbai award, was given to Jonathan Sulski. All honors were conferred during commencement ceremonies at Congregation Tiferet Israel.

“Each of us has discovered a passion at Yavneh, and it is my hope that this passion will not wane when we are met with greater challenges, or daunting new environments, but we will make our mark wherever we go,” said Bonner who will spend next year in Israel, studying at Midreshet Lindenbaum, before attending Barnard College in New York. “We will be presented with countless opportunities in our daily lives to make a difference. I urge you to accept responsibility whenever, and from wherever, it comes.”

“As we graduate and move forward, it is important that we remember both our individual and our shared journeys,” said Denemark, who will also study in Israel, at Midreshet Moriah, and then at Brandeis University in Massachusetts. “Both are a part of who we are and where we come from, therefore both can provide insight into where we are going in the future.”

Prior to certifying the class for graduation, head of school Don O’Quinn spoke to each student aloud, recalling a memory from the past four years, or sharing with the audience special traits, honors and talents of each child. “You represent the culmination of a vision and never before has that so thoroughly been represented,” he said of the Class of 2011 which has raised more than $100,000 to help numerous causes around the world. “You came here as children and you leave as beautiful young men and women. You leave here a family and you made the Yavneh family a stronger one. We are better for having met each and every one of you. How rare that is.”

The students thanked Yavneh devotees Ethel Gruen, Carol Kreditor, Rabbi Adam Raskin and Allyn Schmucker for their roles in supporting the school in many ways, over many years. Kreditor, outgoing board president, spoke on behalf of Yavneh’s Board of Directors. “Yavneh is a special and unique place that provides much more than a diploma. We look at you graduates and know we have done our job,” she said. “Beyond the classrooms, you are leaders, living the tenet of tikkun olam, of repairing the world, and you take with you a true sense of Jewish purpose.” Blessings were shared by Yavneh’s Naomi Schrager and Rabbis Howard Wolk and Meir Tannenbaum, as well as Jeff Rasansky who offered greetings from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Steve Sonday accompanied the students during the processional and recessional.

“As a parent of now three graduates, Annette and I thank Yavneh for its commitment to excellence. At Yavneh, the faculty doesn’t teach subjects, they teach students and there’s a difference,” said Rabbi Wolk, a Yavneh faculty member, JFS Community Chaplain, and father of graduating Shimi. “Our graduates leave with values based on our holy teachings. Yavneh’s logo, the Star of David surrounded by an atom, exude our mission to bring Torah ethics and morality to the society around us. The academic achievements of our students shine, but more important is their individual and collective efforts which are a model for all who follow.”

The 25 members of Yavneh Academy’s 16th graduating class received 99 acceptance letters to universities and colleges, Israeli yeshivot and seminaries. They received more than $620,000 in scholarships, and served 10,865 hours of community service. Their average score on the SAT was 1804 and 26 on the ACT.

“From the world of teenagers, you now go forth on your own path,” said O’Quinn. “You go with the hopes and dreams of the generations sitting around you, and those who could not be here.”

Class of 2011:

Eitan Barak
University of Toronto
Enrique Welcher and Inna Barak

Brittany Barnett
Midreshet Harova, Muhlenberg College
Dr. Brian and Michelle Barnett

Shiran Boim
Art Institute of Dallas
Yoav and Rachel Boim

Leigh Bonner
Midreshet Lindenbaum, Barnard College
Gary and Andi Bonner

Alexandra Burk
Babson College
Lowell and Faith Burk

Jessica Cohen
Simmons College
Andy and Karen Cohen

Abbie Denemark
Midreshet Moriah, Brandeis University
Howard Denemark and Dr. Grace Tannin

Melissa Diamond
Tulane University
Eric and Risa Diamond

Zoe Elewitz
Blinn College
Marc and Jacque Elewitz

Samuel Epstein

Texas A&M
Leonard and Tina Epstein

Michaiah Gartner

University of Kansas
Dr. Jay and Mary Jo Gartner and Tarron Gartner-Ilai and Doron Ilai

Sara Jane Goldenberg
University of Texas at Dallas
Brian and Juliana Goldenberg

Shelbi Karlebach
University of Missouri
David Karlebach and Sharon Shalet

Jared Katz
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Bruce and Debbie Katz

Zev Klein
Derech Etz Chaim, SUNY/Binghamton
Dr. Mordecai and Doris Klein

Jamie Kleinman
University of Georgia
Jay Kleinman and Nancy Kleinman

Elan Kogutt
Yeshivat Orayta, University of Texas at Austin
Jeffrey and Judy Kogutt

Faith Medina
Texas Woman’s University
Yaffa and Elishema Medina

Leora Mitzner

University of Southern California
Judy Mitzner, Avi Mitzner and Shelley Meyers

Kathrine Solomon
Texas A&M Commerce
Kristyle Solomon

Jonathan Sulski

Mechinat Yeud Drexel University
Cyril and Cheryl Sulski

Michelle Tanur
St. Edward’s University
Drs. Eduardo and Monica Tanur

Noa Waks
University of Texas at Austin
Willy Waks and Helen Waldman

Sarah Weiss
Machon Maayan, University of Maryland
David and Barbara Weiss

Shimon Wolk
Reishit Yerushalayim, Rutgers University
Rabbi Howard and Annette Wolk

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 09 June 2011 by admin

Akiba Academy of Dallas teacher wins prestigious education award

Mazel tov to Gail Mabel on winning the Grinspoon Steinhardt Award from JESNA. Gail holding flowers is shown with, from left, Andy Schultz, Akiba Board president; Center for Jewish Education Director, Meyer Denn; Akiba Co-Head of School Rabbi Zev Silver; Akiba Early Childhood Director Jordana Bernstein; and Center for Jewish Education Assistant Director Melissa Bernstein.

Akiba Academy of Dallas recently announced that Gail Mabel, teacher and Early Childhood leadership team member, has been awarded the 11th annual Grinspoon-Steinhardt Award for Excellence in Jewish Education for the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Grinspoon-Steinhardt Awards for Excellence in Jewish Education are funded by The Harold Grinspoon Foundation and The Steinhardt Foundation for Jewish Life, and are administered by the Jewish Education Service of North America (JESNA). These awards are designed to recognize, honor and support outstanding Jewish educators in North America.

Ms. Mabel’s award was presented by Meyer Denn, executive director of the Center for Jewish Education at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD). The JFGD partners with Grinspoon-Steinhardt in selecting the local educator to be honored, and also furnishes a monetary prize to the recipient. Since its inception in 2000, the award has been presented in nearly 80 communities across the country.

“Gail is a true leader in our early childhood program, and because of her genuine love for Jewish early childhood education, children and families, she has become a ‘go to’ person for other educators in our program,” said Jordana Bernstein, Early Childhood director for Akiba Academy.

Not only do Gail’s colleagues speak highly of her efforts in the classroom, so do many of the parents of her students. Evan and Robin Stone, whose three children attended Akiba and were taught by Ms. Mabel also praised her. “While Gail has all of the traditionally important qualities to make a great early childhood teacher, she also brings special gifts, including observational talents that result in her classroom being a truly personal experience for the children,” they said

“I’m still so surprised that I’m not sure that it has sunk in yet,” said Ms. Mabel. “This I am sure of – I love everyday that I teach; even though there are some days I have miles to go and so much to learn! Akiba is such a special place and the people and children I work with are so unbelievably knowledgeable and supportive that I feel this award belongs to us all,” she added.

Gail was selected for year’s award from a pool of more than 500 educators in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She has been instilling Jewish values and educating the children of Akiba for more than 20 years.

Marc Stanley named to U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council

National Jewish Democratic Council Chair, Marc R. Stanley, was named to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council. The Council oversees national Holocaust awareness and remembrance efforts. It also serves as an advisory board for the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C.

“On behalf of the board, staff, and members of the National Jewish Democratic Council, I am thrilled to extend our organization’s delight and feelings of pride and honor that President Barack Obama has appointed our Chair Marc R. Stanley to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council,” said David A. Harris, president and CEO of the NJDC.

“Marc’s appointment to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum Council reflects his decades-long record of service to the American Jewish community, as well as his personal commitment to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and expanding education about that tragic period in history. We know that Marc will contribute mightily through his service on the Council, and we are positively ecstatic for Marc and wish him the best as he begins this endeavor.”

The Council was established by Congress in 1980 to succeed an earlier Presidential Commission on the Holocaust. The Council was responsible for carrying out the main recommendations of the early commission to:

• Establish a living memorial to honor the victims and survivors of the Holocaust;

• Create a Committee on Conscience to collect information on and alert the nation to actual or potential outbreaks of genocide throughout the world; and

• Mark a national Day of Remembrance of Victims of the Holocaust and to hold it annually.

In addition to serving as NJDC’s chair, Marc R. Stanley is a founder and partner of Stanley Iola, LLP, a law firm that focuses on complex litigation nationally. Stanley is also a vice-chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, and treasurer/co-chair elect of the Foundation for Jewish Culture.

He has served as president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association, president of the Dallas Trial Lawyers Association, president of the Dallas Home for the Jewish Aged and president of the Southwest Region of the American Jewish Congress. Stanley has previously been appointed chairman of the Texas Public Finance Authority and as a member of the Board of Visitors of the Air University of the United States Air Force. He received his B.B.A. from George Washington University and a J.D. from the University of Texas. Mark resides in Dallas with his wife, Wendy, and is the father of three.

Joel Allison of Baylor Health Care System receives prestigious B’nai B’rith Healthcare Award

Baylor Health Care System President and CEO, Joel Allison, has earned the 2011 B’nai B’rith National Healthcare Award. The award has recognized outstanding leaders in the health care field for 29 years. A gala award dinner was held May 16 at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Chicago.

For nearly three decades, B’nai B’rith has highlighted the outstanding work of health care leaders and corporations that set the standards for health and education initiatives to better the lives of people throughout their communities and around the world.

“Joel Allison’s dedication to community service, excellence in leadership and outstanding philanthropic commitment in the health care community exemplifies the spirit of this prestigious award,” said B’nai B’rith International Interim President, Allan J. Jacobs.

President and CEO for 11 years, Allison has accumulated many accolades for his work in the health care field, including being listed as one of the “100 Most Powerful People in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare from 2004-2010, The Dallas Fort Worth Hospital Council’s “Boone Powell, Sr. Award for Excellence” in 2008, and in the same year, the “Earl M. Collier Award” for distinguished hospital administration from the Texas Hospital Association.

The recipients of the B’nai B’rith National Healthcare Award have shown a history of dedicated leadership and outstanding civic involvement in the health care field and in the broader community. Award winners support philanthropic causes benefiting health, youth and education programs.

“Baylor Health Care System’s commitment to providing patient-focused prevention and wellness services expertly combine ministry and healthcare,” B’nai B’rith International Executive Vice President Daniel S. Mariaschin said. “Joel’s leadership and dedication to high quality care is an asset to the health care community.”

Before leading Baylor Health Care System, Allison earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and religion from Baylor University and a master’s in health care administration from Trinity University. He also graduated from the Advanced Management Program at Harvard Business School. Co-chairing the awards dinner were Yoshi Honkawa, a health care advocacy consultant; Charles S. Lauer, retired publisher of Modern Healthcare Magazine who won the National Healthcare Award in 1994; and Thomas F. Zenty III, CEO of University Hospitals and winner of the 2010 National Healthcare Award.

Honorable Menschen: Congregation Nishmat Am brings aid to Joplin, Missouri

Andy Schrempf of Plano, together with his wife Wendy, drove a trailer-load of clothing and household items to Joplin, Missouri that was collected as part of Congregation Nishmat Am’s effort to assist the tornado-ravaged city. In addition, cash donations were given by members of the congregation. Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen of Nishmat Am commented that, “the immediate and generous response of our synagogue members and others in the community bears witness to our ability to rally around the need of others.”

Thank you to Andy, Wendy, and the many others who contributed, and to North Texas Trailer who donated the trailer for this mission.

JCC Golf tournament set for Monday

Join the JCC for the 24th Annual Erwin Waldman Memorial Golf Tournament. Funds raised benefit the Joanie I. Weinstein Camp Scholarship Fund and the Elaine Quint Schrager Preschool Enhancement Fund at the J. The tournament takes place on June 13, at the Coyote Ridge Golf Club in Carrollton. For more information, visit or contact Kerri Aikin at 214-239-7103 or email

Sign On to Cohen’s College Connection Summer College Essay Clinic

A Picture may be worth a thousand words but it is the words students bring together to tell their story, their history, and to share who they are, is the essence of the college application essay. Cohen’s College Connection has created a one-to-one Summer Essay Writing Clinic, running through August 1, to help students bring those words together.

“There’s only one chance to make that first impression and, in the application department, the essay is what allows you to stand out,” said Carol Gene Cohen, who for 24 years has supported students in their efforts to get into colleges and universities around the country. “There are millions of students applying to colleges and it’s important to be ‘the one’ beyond the test scores, grade point average, and resume. This is the student’s voice.”

Dr. Sheila Runnels, Cohen’s College Connection’s essay specialist, spent more than 30 years as a high school principal and honors English and undergraduate college English teacher, and she taught a Principal and Leadership program in graduate school.

Working with Cohen’s College Connection students to help them create and complete all of the essays necessary for their college applications, Dr. Runnels enjoys getting to know her students, and helping them get to know themselves. “The essay is all about the student, it’s what makes them stand out to the admissions officers and it’s important to do that in a concise, exciting, and meaningful way.”

Cohen’s Summer Essay Writing Clinic provides six, one-hour sessions, to be held at Cohen’s College Connection’s Addison offices. In that time, students will work on and complete both activity and personal statements, required by most colleges and universities. As individual school essays are not posted until applications are available, later in the summer and early fall, the Clinic will prepare the students to format so that they will be able to manage any future essays. If more than six sessions are necessary, additional arrangements are available. For registration or more information, call 972-381-9990, email, or visit

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Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 09 June 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

We are getting an assignment over the summer break from religious school to define our understanding of G-d. We haven’t found anything that clearly defines what Jews believe that G-d means, and we hope you can help us.

Chelsea K. and Taylor W.

Dear Chelsea and Taylor,

This is truly an important assignment. Most people go through life without ever stopping to think who G-d is, even if they believe in Him. In fact, you can have a room full of people that will all raise their hands when you ask who believes in G-d, but when you ask them to define what they mean by that, everyone in the room will have very different or even contradictory ideas.

In many religions, G-d is a philosophical concept, someone they believe in by looking around at the world and seeing there must be a Creator. Although Judaism has that as part of our belief, the source of our belief in G-d is different. We don’t “believe” in G-d, rather we “know” G-d exists by him revealing Himself openly to our entire people through the miracles He performed for us in Egypt, in the desert, and by speaking directly to us when He uttered the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. That’s why G-d introduces Himself to us in the first of the Commandments as “I am the Lord your G-d who took you out of the land of Egypt…” (Shemos/Exodus 20:2). He didn’t say “…who created the heavens and the earth,” because we didn’t see those things, and G-d wanted our belief to be based upon facts we experienced personally, and to extrapolate what we know to other things we believe.

Another thing we learn from Egypt is that G-d didn’t just create the world and leave it alone. He knows what is happening, cares about the world and interacts with it. He speaks to people through prophecy, as He spoke to Moses, and makes changes in the world when necessary for those He loves.

Maimonides, the classical 13th century Jewish philosopher, encoded 13 core principals of Jewish belief, the first five of which deal with our belief in G-d. These principals include that G-d is the source of all existence, doesn’t need anything else outside of Himself to exist, but everything else needs Him. Secondly, G-d is an absolute oneness; not only to say that no other gods exist, but that His oneness includes all that exists in the universe. Thirdly, G-d has no physical characteristics whatsoever, no front or back, arms or legs. The fourth point is that G-d is infinite, always existed and always will and is above time.

Lastly, only G-d is to be worshipped and prayed to and nothing else. This, at one level, means not to worship idols. More deeply, it means that we have a loving relationship with G-d. Serving Him is our opportunity to express our love and appreciation for all blessings He showers upon us continuously.

All of these points are discussed by Maimonides and other great Jewish philosophers, but in a nutshell, these are some of the key points of our belief in G-d. I wish you the best of luck in discussing and internalizing these ideas!

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

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 09 June 2011 by admin

Jewish Federation holds annual meeting

Marilyn Englander was elected new president of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for 2011-2012

On June 2 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, an enthusiastic gathering of members celebrated the Federation’s 75th annual meeting. In the absence of outgoing president Dr. Barry Schneider, past president Eddie Feld chaired the meeting. Eddie began by recognizing his nominating committee of Karen Anisman, Red Goldstein, Alyson Halpern and Dolores Schneider.

Marilyn Englander was unanimously elected president for the 2011-2012 year. In her acceptance speech, Englander especially emphasized the need to reach out to younger constituents in the community as well as the growing Jewish community in Northeast Tarrant County. Marilyn’s focus will be on positive change, which builds on the fine efforts of her predecessors. In addition to Marilyn, Jeff Hochster was elected vice president of campaign and allocations; Karen Kaplan, vice president of administration; Len Schweitzer, vice president of community relations; David Nudleman, treasurer; and Linda Hoffman, secretary.  Kenneth Baum, chair of the Endowment Committee and Susan Luskey, chair of Jewish Family Services, make up the remainder of the executive committee.

Retiring Board Members Karen Anisman, Patty Garsek, Rick Klotz and Roz Micklin were honored for their years of loyal service to the Federation. In addition to Englander, members elected for a second term or newly elected include: Arnie Barkman, Shayne Moses, Barry Schneider, Jennifer Siegel, Lisa Wax and Ben Weiger.

This year’s recipient of the Barnett/Brachman Young Leadership Award was Julie Marks of Congregation Beth Israel. Julie is the new president of CBI. Along with Julie, Dr. Sam Kleinman of Beth-El Congregation was awarded the Sylvia and Jerry Wolens Award. Sam has been a member of the Federation Board and and on the Allocations Committee for the past two years. Both recipients will receive a stipend to attend the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in November.

Other people were recognized for their valiant volunteer efforts in programs and/or committees. They were Karen Anisman, Jill Imber, Renee Pinto, Len Schweitzer, Karen Kaplan, Roger Simon, Barbara Rubin, Alyson and Blake Halpern, Lauren and Aaron Moses, Mikhail Kisin, Marianna Kisin, Amy Hamilton, Jennifer Siegel, Suzie Kuptsin, Melissa Morgan, Shayne Moses, Julie Berman, Elizabeth Cooper, Cora Latta, Posy McMillen, Linda Negron, Shoshana Howard, Rivka Marco, Naomi Brand, Shoshana Isgur, Susan Luskey, Marilyn Englander, Eddie Feld, Kenneth Baum, Hollace Weiner, Rosalyn Rosenthal, Jeff Hochster, Lisa Wax, Ben Weiger, David Nudleman and the Shir Hallelujah Choir.

The featured speaker of the evening was Gil Elan, executive director of the Southwest Jewish Congress, (a recipient agency of a Federation Campaign allocation). Gil provided an update on recent events in the Middle East and the potential impact on Israel.

The meeting concluded with refreshments and a lot of camaraderie to celebrate another successful year for the Federation.

Mark Kreditor returns to ‘Daytimers’

Mark Kreditor and fans John Giordano and Jack Gerrick at a previous Daytimers event.

“Daytimers” are eagerly awaiting the return appearance of Mark Kreditor with his program, “Jews of the American Songbook.” The show, at Beth-El, Wednesday, June 15, at noon, will include songs from “Cabaret” to “Bye-Bye Birdie,” all written by Jewish composers.

A large crowd is expected for his fifth appearance at “Daytimers.” Holding early reservations so far are Bettye Baccus, Mike Blanc, Fannie Brooks, Bootsie and Joe Coggan, Edythe Cohen, Roberta Corder, Hortense Deifik, Yale and Shayna Gancherov, Mimi Klotz and her son Steve Klotz, Henrietta Krumholz, Phil Landsberg, Mike Maltzman, Evelyne Neimand, Irv and Rhona Raffel, Sandy Richard, Roz Rosenthal, Barbara Rubin, Sherwin Rubin, Rosalie Schwartz, Len and Rosemarie Schweitzer, Hy Siegel, Audrey Sloter, Fanette Sonkin, Avette Stenzler and Al Wexler.

Kreditor served as the annual campaign chair for The Ann and Nate Levine Academy for over 10 years, and has written original music for the school. He donates all the proceeds from his programs to Levine Academy. Guests are asked to be generous, and bring their cash and checks made out to Levine Academy. Last time Kreditor was in Fort Worth, the “Daytimers” raised well over $400 for the school.

Lunch will be catered by Jimmy John’s Sandwich Shop, and guests will have a choice of a turkey, tuna or vegetarian sandwich. Cost is $9 for the lunch and program, or guests may attend for the program only for $4. For reservations, call Barbara Rubin at 817 927-2736. 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.

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