Archive | July, 2011

Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 21 July 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I cried all day thinking about the 8-year-old boy from Borough Park in New York who was kidnapped, murdered and dismembered. After I learned the murderer was a Jew, I became even sadder. What kind of a world do we live in? What is God telling us? It is loud, but it does not feel clear.

Thank you for your words of comfort and wisdom.

Loren M.

Dear Loren,

I fully share your feelings and your tears. I join you and I’m sure, many thousands of others, spending these dark days in weeping; and I share your feelings of loss, devastation and confusion. Crying for the suffering and loss of such a pure, innocent soul; for the pain of his family, teachers and friends. Mourning the loss and pain of Klal Yisrael for such a senseless, barbaric tragedy to have transpired to one of our extended family; multiplied many times over by having it perpetrated by (albeit by one severely deranged) “one of us”.

Sadly one of our greatest spiritual gifts, that of prophecy, is something we lack throughout our long, bitter exile. We can therefore never know with absolute clarity why this or any other tragedy has befallen us. All I can share with you are my personal thoughts and feelings and what my heart of hearts tells me we should be hearing and learning from this indescribable event.

What immediately came to mind was the tragedy of Pilegesh B’givah (The concubine of Givah, final chapters of the Book of Judges), in which a woman was dismembered and her body parts sent to the tribes of Israel to notify them of a horrific act perpetrated by members of the tribe of Benjamin. This sadly created a civil war with many tens of thousands of losses and the almost complete annihilation of the tribe of Benjamin.

This story, one of the saddest in all Jewish history, hit home for me with the terrible news of Leiby Kletzky ob’m. Scores of Jews around the globe prayed for the safe return of Leiby, only to have his brutally dismembered body “sent to all of us.” This informed us, the tribes of Israel, of a horrific act being perpetrated by … us all!

My friends, the message that struck deeply in my heart was that we often are inadvertently, through our words and actions, guilty of “murdering and dismembering” our fellow Jews. I am often dumbstruck when I sit across my desk from a man or woman who suffers verbal abuse from their spouses. At times it is a child from a parent or vice-versa, one co-worker to another, or one Jew in the community to another. Many of these individuals’ lives have been paralyzed or ruined, and we need to work on putting the pieces back together, often due to a mere word. How powerful are the words of our Sages that “life and death are in the hands of the tongue!”

How ominous is this message just days before the fast of the 17th of Tamuz, historically a day of calamity that set the stage for the impending destruction of Jerusalem?

The powerful message of the holy Chofetz Chaim, that the destruction and impending exile was brought about through acts of Lashon Hara and injury of fellow Jews, rings loud and clear today. Our Sages tell us that any generation in which the Temple was not rebuilt in must be guilty of the same sins that caused it to be destroyed.

It’s not for naught that the recent, senseless brutality was perpetrated by one who appeared to be an observant Jew. It’s a message to all Jews, letting us know exactly what we look like when we senselessly carry out similar acts with our tongues.

I humbly propose we hear this message, the message of little Leiby Kletzky. In his memory we all, together as a group, around the world, must study the works of the Chofetz Chaim daily; either at a family meal, at bedtime, or some other established time. These works are available in many languages and formats, for adults and children alike. One can visit the home page of the Chofetz Chaim Heritage Foundation to see the many choices of wonderful books, tapes and videos are available for study either by oneself or with the family. It would also be wonderful for friends to get together weekly or bi-weekly to study one of these works and/or talk about who might need help or friendship in the community. We should all brighten the world by seeking out individuals in need of a shoulder to lean on, a smile, a kind word or a bit of inspiration in their lives.

By resolving to hear and act upon this message, you readers have the power within you to create a revolution, one of loving kindness, middos and true caring about our fellow Jews.

In this way may we avenge the death of precious little Leiby, by replacing darkness with light. In his zechus and the merit of easing the pain and increasing the love of our fellow Jews, may we all merit to see the coming of Moshiach speedily in our days.

(For more on this subject and/or to send a message to Leiby’s family, visit

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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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 14 July 2011 by admin

CHAI hosts successful brunch, honors individuals

At the CHAI Generation to Generation Brunch are from left Cheryl Weitz, Ynette Hogue, Sandy and Louis Kushner, with brunch honoree Florence Kramer | Photos: Courtesy of CHAI

Community Homes for Adults, Inc. (CHAI) held their Generation to Generation fundraising brunch on Sunday, June 12 at the Brookhaven Country Club in Farmers Branch. The focus of the brunch was to honor individuals who have provided outstanding service and support to adults with cognitive disabilities. CHAI presented three guests with the Milton P. Levy Jr. Distinguished Leadership Award. This year’s award recipients were John D. Rosenberg, Florence

Kramer and Herbert “Buddy” Rosenthal.

“Milton Levy was very dear to our organization and it is important to us that his legacy is upheld through the Distinguished Leadership Award,” said Marcy Helfand, president of the CHAI board of directors. “We truly believe that this year’s recipients have stepped into the shoes of Milton in their dedication to assisting CHAI residents.”

Melissa Plaskoff with her mother and brunch keynote speaker, Jackie Waldman

Additional awards were given to young volunteers Molly Aaron, Elizabeth Fields and Andrew Fields for their voluntarism with CHAI’s residents.

Jackie Waldman, author of “The Courage to Give,” was the keynote speaker at the event. Jackie was named a CNN millennium hero and has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show” twice.

PJ Library books slated to arrive next month

Jewish children in Greater Dallas will soon receive free, age-appropriate Jewish-content books each month. Any Jewish child from 6 months through 6 years old can be enrolled to receive the books in the mail.

“There’s no catch, no hidden agenda; the books are free,” said Meyer Denn, executive director of the Center for Jewish Education (CJE) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. “These are beautiful books that will enhance the Jewish life of any young family.”

It’s all part of The PJ Library, an international program created by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in Massachusetts, implemented in partnership with more than 140 communities throughout the United States, Canada and Israel. More than 75,000 books are mailed each month. “PJ” stands for pajamas. PJ Library books turn snuggly bedtime moments into Jewish moments.

Every month, a child will receive a book or music CD in the mail. The books are beautifully illustrated and are about Jewish holidays, values and folk tales. They come with reading guides to help parents discuss and participate in activities with their children around the themes found in the books.

“The Harold Grinspoon Foundation pays for about 60 percent of the cost of this amazing program,” said Denn. “The Mankoff Family Foundation will pay the rest because we think it’s important to get young Jewish families off to a great start. You do not have to be a member of a synagogue, or any Jewish organization to get PJ Library books. This is for everyone—members, non-members, two Jewish parents or inter-faith couples.”

Watch your mailbox in the coming weeks for a sample PJ Library book and information on how to sign up. Co-chairs of this initiative are Julie Liberman and Joy Mankoff.

For more information, contact Rivae Balkin-Kliman, PJ Library community coordinator, at 214-239-7193,, or visit for more information.

David Eisenberg takes the reins as Bnai Zion Texas region president

David Eisenberg, a long-time supporter of Bnai Zion, was recently elected as the new president of the Texas region. He follows Larry Strauss, the Texas region president for many years, who helped establish Bnai Zion in Dallas as one of the leading Zionist organizations in the city. David said, “Larry left me a big pair of shoes to fill, and with the help of the board and supporters, I am sure our region will continue to grow.” Avrille Harris-Cohen, Bnai Zion Texas regional director, noted that, “David is a wonderful supporter of Bnai Zion and I look forward to working with him in his new capacity.” Larry Strauss will continue to serve on the board as chairman.

Business Scene:

Marsh & McLennan Agency LLC (MMA), a subsidiary of insurance broker Marsh Inc., announced it has acquired Prescott Pailet Benefits LP (PPB), a $6 million employee benefits broker based in Dallas. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Formed in 2006 by the combination of Prescott Benefit Services and Pailet Financial Services, PPB offers a diversified mix of health, life, dental and disability products to a wide range of organizations. PPB will operate within MMA’s Southwest regional hub created by the November 2009 acquisition of Houston-based Insurance Alliance, further enhancing MMA’s depth and expertise in employee benefits in the region. All of PPB’s leadership and employees will join MMA and continue their longstanding support of and commitment to philanthropy in the Dallas area, including a continued commitment to the Jewish community.

“Prescott Pailet Benefits is an excellent addition to Marsh & McLennan Agency and is consistent with our overall strategy to acquire high-quality local talent and expertise to expand the resources available to our clients,” said Dave Eslick, chairman and CEO of MMA. “These complementary acquisitions are an essential component of MMA’s strategy to become one of our industry’s preeminent national firms primarily serving the employee benefit and property and casualty needs of companies across the United States.”

“I’m thrilled that Prescott Pailet Benefits will become part of Marsh & McLennan Agency’s Southwest hub,” said Woody Woodard, CEO of MMA’s Southwest operations. “The addition of PPB’s talented leadership and benefits team will enhance our ability to offer a full spectrum of property, casualty and employee benefit capabilities to our clients in the Southwest.”

“Becoming part of Marsh & McLennan Agency is the next step in the evolution of Prescott Pailet Benefits,” said Dan Prescott, principal of PPB. “Our clients will continue to enjoy the same high-quality service and care they’ve come to expect from PPB while benefiting from a broader array of capabilities and resources through MMA.”

PPB is the 11th acquisition MMA has made since November 2009.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 14 July 2011 by admin

In the Cohen’s garden for Don’s 80th are from left, back row, Bill Paine, Ben Cohen, Andrew Kaplan; third row, Dan Cohen, Greg Cohen, Jane Cohen, Steven Cohen, Amy Cohen, Joanna Kaplan, Brian Kaplan; second row, Kevin Berk, Jeffrey Berk, Dr. Don Cohen, Judy Cohen, Dana Cohen Paine, Dede Cohen Kaplan; front, Sam Berk, Sarabelle Berk and Will Cohen.

It is always fun for us at the TJP to share the good news and simchas of those we have grown up with.

It has been an exciting spring and start of summer for Judy and Dr. Donald Cohen. A retired pathologist and cycling enthusiast, Don celebrated his 80th birthday in March with a weekend of family dinner parties, lunches and a Sunday morning brunch. Honored guests included his four children, their spouses, and nine grandchildren.

Attending were Daniel and Jane Cohen and their sons, Ben and Greg, from Yardley, Pa.; Diana “Dede” and Brian Kaplan, and children Andrew and Joanna, from Bellaire, Texas; Steven and Amy Cohen and son William from Arlington; and Dana Cohen Berk and Bill Paine, and Dana’s children Kevin, Jeffrey, Sarabelle and Sam from Plano.

On Memorial Day weekend, Don and Judy traveled to Pennsylvania for the high school graduation of grandson Greg from the George School in Yardley. Greg, a stand-out on the George School varsity golf team, will attend Tulane University as a Business major in the fall. Older brother, Ben, a senior at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pa. , is a pre-med major and plays on the tennis and soccer teams.

The fun continued for the Cohen family last month when daughter Jordana “Dana” Cohen Berk was married to Bill Paine on June 18 at her home in Plano. Dana’s eldest son, Kevin,13, was best man, and daughter Sarabelle, 7, was maid of honor. Dana’s son Jeffrey, 9, was an usher, and younger brother Sam, was the ring bearer. Dana chose a fitted white cotton brocade dress with a straight skirt and cris-crossed strap detail over the shoulders and back. The groom Bill and all the male members of the wedding were formally dressed in morning suit attire consisting of black striped trousers, grey jacket, white starched shirt with stand up collar, and black ascot and stickpin. As maid of honor, Sarabelle wore a white gown fitted at the waist, with a full skirt composed of several layers of net. The bride and groom honeymooned in Arkansas.

Among family members attending the wedding were Dana’s sister and family, Dede Cohen Kaplan, her husband Brian, and their children Andrew and Joanna. Andrew, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona, is enrolled at the University of Houston, taking courses in preparation for the MCAT exam. Daughter Joanna, will return to the University of Georgia in Athens as a sophomore this Fall, where she is majoring in nutrition.

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Summer’s Here!

Summer’s Here!

Posted on 14 July 2011 by admin

A hallmark of summer

I remember it well. Sitting anxiously in the historic sanctuary of Beth El Congregation in Fort Worth for the religious school’s “closing exercises.” Everyone was fidgeting, and ready to head out to the spring-fed waters of Burger’s Lake for the end-of-the-year picnic. It was a tradition, as was Rabbi Robert J. Schur’s annual advice for how to best spend one’s summer. Without fail, the beloved rabbi — who has long since passed away — said, “Read a good book, take a long walk, and make a new friend.” To be honest, there aren’t too many things I remember with such clarity. And every summer I say the same thing to my own children. Here’s our TJP suggestions for how to accomplish Rabbi Schur’s suggestions.

— Sharon Wisch-Ray

Read a good book … or two

Two new books — one about Hank Greenberg, one about Jews’ roles in the black leagues — explore the American Jewish baseball experience.

Steve Lipman
Staff Writer, New York Jewish Week

“Hank Greenberg: The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One.” Mark Kurlansky, Jewish Lives, 164 pages, $25.

Unlike football and basketball, which venerate their current athletes as obviously the fastest and strongest and most talented (how many young fans of Michael Jordan even know who Wilt Chamberlain or Bill Russell are?), baseball honors its past. Like Judaism, which recognizes the greatness of previous leaders and of previous generations, baseball awards the title of its Golden Era to the years of the 1920s, the 1930s and the 1940s, when the “live ball,” home run-hitting style of play emerged. The home run records of Babe Ruth have long been eclipsed, but no subsequent player has challenged The Babe’s role as the best ever.

The mythical days of the National Pastime hold a special place for Jewish fans, whether in the storied career of Hank Greenberg, baseball’s first Jewish superstar, who nearly equaled Babe Ruth’s single season home run record and sat out a game on Yom Kippur in a time of growing anti-Semitism, or the largely unknown and unhonored men who served as partners with black America in promoting the sport’s separate black leagues, then in ending segregation in baseball.

Rabbi Alpert, associate professor of religion and women’s studies at Temple University, and Kurlansky, an author of 20 books, both bring a scholar’s research and writer’s grace to their subjects.

Kurlansky’s book, part of Yale University Press’ engaging Jewish Lives series, provides a fresh perspective and historical context to Greenberg, depicting him honestly as a man who had limited natural ability but became a star through hard work and year-round conditioning. Although an indifferent student in high school, Greenberg widened his intellect through a dedicated regimen of reading, and while thoroughly secular, he took a stand for his community — if not for a religious principle — by missing a late season game on Yom Kippur in 1934, leaving a mark on Jewish history that remained unique until the arrival of Sandy Koufax and Shawn Green decades later.

Greenberg, who changed his first name from Hymie but refused to change his last name, lived the rest of his life as a Jewish hero, a stature that gave him great discomfort. “Greenberg had never wanted to be known as the Jewish baseball player,” Kurlansky writes. “All he wanted to do was play baseball. But it was his lot to play baseball in the most anti-Semitic period in American history, and in times of anti-Semitism, Jews and anti-Semites alike garner attention. Whether he liked it or not, Greenberg was never going to be just a baseball player.”

“Out of Left Field: Jews and Black Baseball.” Rebecca Alpert, Oxford University Press, 236 pages, $27.95.

Then, in his second full season with the Detroit Tigers, while the team faced a pennant race with the New York Yankees, this son of an Orthodox family from the Bronx decided not to play on Yom Kippur, 10 days after — with a rabbi’s approval — he had played on Rosh Hashanah. “The decision resonated far beyond what he could have imagined,” Kurlansky writes. “It marked the beginning of the enduring myth of Hank Greenberg.”

Kurlansky tells about Greenberg’s financial savvy (negotiating his own contracts, he earned the second-highest salary in baseball, behind only Babe Ruth), his encounters with anti-Semitism (“he spent the better part of twenty years on the receiving end of anti-Semitic abuse in ballparks”), his run at Babe Ruth’s record 60-home-run season (“there is no evidence of conspiracy” on the part of anti-Semitic, opposing pitchers “against Greenberg”) and his army service (at the height of his career, he volunteered for the U.S Army during World War II, spending three years as a soldier).

The contours of Greenberg’s life are already known; Kurlansky succeeds in adding subtlety.

Rabbi Alpert’s book faces a different challenge — telling a story few people today know.

Her book, on the Jews — mostly businessmen and journalists — who were part of black baseball from the formation of the so-called Negro Leagues in the 1920s until the separate leagues ended three generations later with the breaking of baseball’s color line, grew out of her childhood admiration for Jackie Robinson, the first known African-American in modern-day Major League Baseball. Interested in the relationship between American Jews and “black baseball,” she discovered that “Jews came unexpectedly ‘out of left field’ to play a significant — although decidedly less heroic and more complex — role in the history of black baseball than I could ever have imagined,” she writes.

Though the cover of “Out of Left Field” shows entrepreneur Max Rosner in a 1917 team photo with the Brooklyn Royal Giants, the book goes beyond Jewish ownership of black teams.

The rabbi, with significant historical background, tells of Jewish journalists who argued for the desegregation of baseball, a black Jewish team in Virginia, of Jews’ role in integrating sports. Of possibly greatest interest is Abe Saperstein, the founder and owner of basketball’s Harlem Globetrotters who had an active role in the Negro Leagues and helped the first black players get contracts in Japanese baseball.

For many, ownership of black baseball teams was primarily a business decision, Rabbi Alpert writes. “Anti-Semitism made Jews, and Eastern European immigrant Jews in particular, unwelcome in many traditional white businesses. European immigrants found opportunities in marginal or newly developing businesses, especially entertainment and sports,” she writes. “Small businessmen who lacked the financial resources to own teams in organized white baseball were in a position to make substantial sums in the undercapitalized world of black baseball.”

These owners, according to Rabbi Alpert, “were outsiders who lived on the other side of the racial divide. Their Jewishness sometimes made them the object of skepticism and antipathy. But at other times, being Jewish, and their presumed Jewish acumen, added to their power. Jewishness also occasionally inspired feelings of kinship based on the connection between oppressed minorities.”

In retrieving the story of the Jewish role in black baseball, Rabbi Alpert fills in an illustrative and symbolic gap in history, offering an insight into the relations between blacks and Jews that strengthened during the Civil Rights era and subsequently became frayed.

“The Jews of black baseball ended in obscurity, their customs and practices no longer acceptable,” she writes. “But as the children of immigrants and descendants of slaves, they accomplished more than was expected of them. Their lives and legacies confirm the complexity of black and Jewish identities and relationships, and underscore the importance of baseball as a location for understanding mid-20th century America.”

Reprinted with permission of the New York Jewish Week, Contact

Take a long walk

Rabbi Schur recommended taking a long walk, as something a good summer should not be without. Head out early before it gets too hot.

Arbor Hills Nature Preserve

6701 W. Parker Rd. Plano, TX
Park hours are 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Gates are closed when park is closed.

Located on the western border of Plano, Arbor Hills Nature Preserve is a 200-acre park featuring vast areas of natural beauty for walking, jogging, hiking, orienteering and other outdoor activity. Amenities include: playground, restrooms, paved recreational trail (approx. 2.3 miles), natural unpaved trails for pedestrians only, designated off-road cycling trail (approx. 2 miles), a natural biofilter for cleaning surface run-off from the parking lot before it reenters the ground water, tables, an observation tower, pavilion and an interpretive trail map.

Dog Park At Jack Carter Park

2601 Pleasant Valley Dr., Plano, TX
Dog park hours are sunrise to sunset daily

Dog Park info-line 972-941-BARK (2275)

The dog park is a double-gated, fenced, 2-acre area along Bluebonnet Trail, near its intersection with Chisholm Trail in central Plano. The park has benches, picnic tables, water stations for humans and animals and waste pickup/disposal stations. The dog park is closed for maintenance on the first and third Tuesday of each month.

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve

5901 Los Rios Blvd. (Between Jupiter and Parker Road) Plano, TX
Park hours are 5 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Gates are closed when park is closed.

Oak Point Park and Nature Preserve, Plano’s largest park, is an 800-acre park extending from Parker Road on the south to Chaparral Road on the north and from Spring Creek Parkway on the west to Los Rios Boulevard on the east. The park boasts 3.5 miles of concrete trails and 5 miles of soft surface trails located along Rowlett Creek. Nature trails are open from sunrise to sunset daily.

Dallas Arboretum

8525 Garland Road on White Rock Lake
Park hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Closed – New Years Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day

The Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Society is a privately-run division of the Department of Park and Recreation. For other information, including rental availability for weddings and public events, contact the Arboretum Offices at 214-515-6500.

Cedar Ridge Preserve

7171 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas, TX
Park hours are:
Nov. 1 – March 31 – 6:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.
April 1 – Oct. 31 – 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Closed Mondays

At an elevation of 755 feet, Cedar Ridge Preserve (formerly the Dallas Nature Center) is a slice of the Hill Country just 20 minutes from downtown Dallas. Cedar Ridge Preserve is a natural habitat of 600 acres, featuring about 9 miles of trails, native trees, grasses and wildflowers, butterfly gardens, limited picnic areas and wild mammals, birds, insects and reptiles.

White Rock Lake

8300 East Lawther Drive Dallas, TX
White Rock Lake is a unique, 1,015 acre city lake which offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, including:

  • Hike and bike trail (9.33 miles)
  • Audubon Society-designated bird watching area and wetlands site
  • Numerous scenic picnic areas
  • Rental facilities
  • Fishing piers for catfish, sunfish, and bass fishing
  • Special events, including the March of Dimes Walk America, White Rock Marathon, the White Rock Lake Trash Bash and numerous sponsored runs

Call 214-670-8890 for information.

The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge

9601 Fossil Ridge Road, Fort Worth, TX
Nature Center Hours
Refuge Weekdays 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Refuge Weekends 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Hardwicke Interpretive Center Daily 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Admission  $5 Adults (13-64) $2 Children (3-12; under 3 FREE) $3 Seniors (65+) $1 Discount per person (with Military ID)

The Fort Worth Nature Center and Refuge (FWNC&R) is a hidden jewel – a wilderness comprised of forests, prairies, and wetlands reminiscent of how much of the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex once looked. At 3,621 acres, the FWNC&R is one of the largest city-owned nature centers in the United States. Over 20 miles of hiking trails provide easy access to a myriad of natural wonders to be found on the refuge. The FWNC&R offers a variety of education programs and hikes for individuals, schools and families.

— Compiled by TJP intern Emily Rosenfeld

Make a new friend

Here is a smattering of opportunities to get to know some fellow Jews this summer. Of course, the J and your synagogue are a great place to get together as well.

July 17 and 31

DATA of Plano’s Family Fun in the Park
6:30-8:30 p.m.

Looking for fun for the family? Looking to meet other Jewish families? Join DATA for fun, entertainment for kids, and a raffle for great prizes. Free admission and snacks will be available.
Info: Nathaniel Zakon,
Russell Creek Park, 3500 McDermott, Plano

July 19, 26 and Aug. 2

Cinema Emanu-El
7 p.m.

The movies “Brothers,” “Just An Ordinary Jew” and “Wrong Side of the Bus” will be shown on consecutive Tuesdays, followed by discussions with members of the clergy. Admission is $4 for a single show and $12 for a season pass. Free popcorn, candy and soda will be available.
Info: Nancy Rivin at 214.706.0000 ext. 155,
Temple Emanu-El
8500 Hillcrest Road, Dallas

July 20 and 27

Israeli Dancing
7:30 p.m.

This class typically meets in the Oneg Room, but may be changed to the multi purpose room as needed.
Info: Linda Kahalnik, 972-234-1542
Congregation Beth Torah
720 W. Lookout Drive, Richardson

July 22 and Aug. 26

Story Fridays
10-11 a.m.

Story time with a twist for children 6 months to 2-years-old not currently enrolled at Levine Academy. The event is free, but reservations are recommended.
Info/RSVP: Mireille or Sheryl, 972-248-3032,
Ann and Nate Levine Academy
18011 Hillcrest Road, Dallas

July 26

Congregation Beth Torah Texas Hold’em Poker Night
7 p.m.

Come for a night of fun and friendship. $15 for members, $20 for non-members.
Info: Neil B.,
720 W. Lookout Drive, Richardson

Aug. 21

Chai Lights Ice Cream Social
2:30-4:30 p.m.

Chai Lights will hold a summer ice cream social followed by a travel program with Eleanore Avery.
Info: Bev Broman,
Congregation Beth Torah Oneg Room
720 W. Lookout Drive, Richardson

Aug. 28

JCC Jewish Arts Festival
10 a.m.-6 p.m.

The 13th Jewish Arts Fest of Dallas sponsored by the Jewish Community Center will return to the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center following a two-year hiatus. Combining the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of a culture steeped in thousands of years of history, the festival is a magical mosaic featuring an arts and craft exhibition and sale, music that will appeal to people of all ages, an array of interesting speakers, children’s hands-on craft activities and much more. The Arts Fest is a showcase for all of Dallas’ Jewish organizations and synagogues. It provides a wonderful opportunity for the community to learn about and interact with all of the various local Jewish organizations. The festival will provide many delicious kosher treats throughout the day for everyone’s enjoyment.
Info: Judy Cohn, 214-239-7115,
Meyerson Symphony Hall
2301 Flora St. Dallas

Aug. 30

Mothers’ Circle
9:30-10:30 a.m.

The Mothers’ Circle, a free educational program for mothers of all backgrounds raising Jewish children, is a support, education and experiential program with components including classroom discussion, practical instruction on Jewish living (cooking, home observance and holidays) and group work in family dynamics. The circle is designed to impart training in Jewish life skills via an interactive method, and provide a support network of peers that will help one another.
Info: Renee Karp,
Congregation Beth Torah
720 W. Lookout Drive, Richardson

Aug. 1 and Sept. 5

Evening Book Club
7:30 p.m.

The two books discussed will be “The Blindness of the Heart” by Julia Franck on Aug. 1 and “The Trials of Zion” by Alan Dershowitz on Sept. 5.
Info: 972-661-1810
Temple Shalom
6930 Alpha Road, Dallas

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Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 14 July 2011 by admin

Jewish Value of the Week: Fairness — Mishpat

Fairness is really about justice, or mishpat. Judaism has the message of justice deeply implanted in the spirit of Jewish life. The Torah is filled with laws and examples of how to make a fair judgment, as well as the importance of being fair and just.

Rabbi Hillel said, “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.” However, being fair isn’t always easy or simple.

Family Talk Time

  • Have you ever been treated unfairly? How did it make you feel?
  • Do you think it is fair that older children get to stay up later and do more things than younger children? Do you think it is fair that boys get to do things that girls don’t get to do?
  • Some families have a rule that if there is a piece of cake to share, one person gets to cut it and the other gets to choose the first piece. Is this a fair way to divide the cake? Can this system be used in other areas?

Shabbat Discussion

A young boy came to a woman’s house and asked if she would like to buy some of the berries he had picked from his father’s fields. The woman said, “Yes, I would and I’ll just take your basket inside to measure out two quarts.” The boy sat down on the porch and the woman asked, “Don’t you want to watch me? How do you know that I won’t cheat you and take more than two quarts?” The young boy said, “I am not afraid, for you would get the worst of the deal.” “How could that be?” she asked. The boy answered, “If you take more than two quarts that you are paying me for, I would only lose the berries. You would make yourself a liar and a thief.” Talk about the meaning of this story with your family.

A Story for Shabbat: ‘The Little Sharpshooter’

— from “Brainteasers From Jewish Folklore”

On his way home from military school, a young nobleman stopped to rest at an inn. Leaving his horse at the stable, he noticed a wall with a dozen bulls’ eyes drawn in chalk. There was a bullet hole in the center of every one.

“How can this be?” he thought. The clean holes could only have been made by a rifle at a good distance. Even he himself, who had won his school rifle prize, could never have shot so well.

Questioning the villagers, he was astonished to learn that the sharpshooter was a small Jewish boy dressed in rags.

“But you’re an insignificant little peasant,” he told the boy.

“And I can barely lift a rifle, Your Excellency,” the boy responded.

So how did the little boy manage to hit a bull’s eye every time?

He shot first and then drew the target around the hole.

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 14 July 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi:

I recently started keeping kosher, and had a philosophical debate with a friend who doesn’t. I want to use soybean sausages and bacon, like Morning Star Farms products, that have kosher symbols, because as long as they’re kosher, why not? But my friend argues that if I’m going to keep kosher, to eat “kosher traif,” is just a loophole and not in the spirit of what I’m trying to do. Do you feel this contradicts the spirit of the law?

L.P. Arlington.

Dear L.P.,

Mazal tov on keeping kosher! The 12th century sage R’ Moses Maimonides discusses the prohibition of consuming non-kosher foods. He quotes the Talmud which states, “One should not say, ‘I don’t want to eat non-kosher food,’ rather one should say, ‘I would like to, but what can I do, my Father in Heaven has decreed upon me not to.” Maimonides explains that this is a global statement which sums up much of the Jewish worldview, and  adds an important insight into the laws of kosher. We should not refrain from consuming non-kosher food because it is disgusting or nauseating to us. To abstain from non-kosher items for that reason would not constitute a mitzvah. It would rather be a personal preference. (I am challenged to fulfill this statement concerning the abstention from consuming certain items, like lobster, by saying I want to eat it but just can’t. I don’t have any yearning to eat one of those!)

The Talmud cites many stories of a pious and scholarly woman by the name of Yalsa. She would often seek out kosher foods that tasted like forbidden foods. Yalsa asked her husband, the renowned sage Rav Nachman, to find her something that tastes like blood which the Torah forbids us to partake. He cooked a piece of liver, which is permitted, but has a blood-like taste. The commentaries are bewildered why Yalsa would often look for foods, which tasted like forbidden ones.

One classical commentary, “Maharsh’a,” offers an explanation based on the above discussion of Maimonides. One should desire to eat the non-kosher, but refrain from doing so because of the decree of the Torah. Yalsa, in her great piety, aspired to fulfill the mitzvah of kosher only to perform the will of God. She therefore purposely created a yearning to consume forbidden foods by partaking in permitted items that tasted like them.

My family and I once took a tour of a non-kosher chocolate factory and at the end, they offered a free taste of all the chocolates you can eat. I felt that we truly fulfilled the mitzvah by refraining when that chocolate looked and smelled so good! (We were sure to make it up to the kids for their willpower by rewarding them afterward with other treats.)

You are correct that there is nothing negative about eating imitation non-kosher food. You have the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Yalsa and enhance your fulfillment of the mitzvah of kashrut. Not only is this not contradictory to the spirit of the law, it’s a chance to augment your performance of the mitzvah.

I fondly remember your exact question as one of the first questions I asked my mentor when beginning Yeshiva studies in Israel, precisely about Morning Star bacon and sausage, and this was the answer I received.

It’s important to mention one caveat to this concept. Maimonides points out that the desire to eat the “forbidden fruit” is considered a positive thing for certain mitzvot, like kosher, but not for all. There is a category of mitzvot which God has inculcated their self-evident nature into the creation, such as murder. It is definitely not praiseworthy to say “I would truly love to murder that guy, but, alas, I must fulfill the command of God.” Murder, theft, and other such mitzvot are called “mitzvos sichlios,” planted in our psyche, that they should be abhorred and not desired.

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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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 07 July 2011 by admin

Shir Tikvah Religious School helps Frisco families blast into summer

Riley Lambert, Preston Lewin, Cohen Lewin and Emerson Lambert celebrate the “Blast Into Summer” mitzvah project.

The Shir Tikvah Religious School of Frisco is gearing up for an incredible 2011-2012 school year. The Religious School is under the leadership of Director Misty Lewin and ISJL Curriculum Coordinator Stephanie Lambert.

“We wanted to begin this amazing school year by impacting our community,” said Lewin. “We celebrated this mission with our first annual ‘Blast Into Summer’ mitzvah project. The families of Shir Tikvah joined together and donated water guns, sunscreen, and bubble items to the Frisco Family Services Center.

“We are looking forward to making a difference by partnering with The Frisco Family Services Center throughout the upcoming school year,” she added.

Myrna Martinez of The Frisco Family Services Center joined the Shir Tikvah congregation at Shabbat services on Friday, June 17 to accept the “Blast Into Summer” donations. Rabbi Steve Fisch and the Shir Tikvah congregation celebrated this special moment as the children of Shir Tikvah brought joy to the lives of others.

The Shir Tikvah Religious School and congregation will be hosting their Open House event on Friday, August 5 at 7:00 p.m. at 7700 Main Street in the C3 Frisco Complex.

“We are excited to extend an invitation to the community to celebrate Shabbat with Shir Tikvah of Frisco,” said Craig Lewin, president of Shir Tikvah. “Families will be able to meet Rabbi Steve Fisch and be welcomed by the loving families of our congregation. The Religious School administration and staff will present their exciting program for the 2011-2012 school year, as well as enroll students for the fall. Following services, families are invited to experience a delicious oneg prepared by the families of Shir Tikvah, as well as activities for the children presented by the Religious School staff.”

For more information, visit To learn more about the Shir Tikvah Religious School contact Misty Lewin at 214-733-1167.

Cinema Emanu-El presents four outstanding films in July and August

There are few things more synonymous with summer than the big screen, and Temple Emanu-El aims to oblige with its annual summer film festival. From a spellbinding Israeli thriller, to a search for Jewish identity by a young journalist in present-day Germany, Cinema Emanu-El presents four outstanding films as the series opens on July 12.

“We are pleased, once again, to be able to present another group of outstanding films as Cinema Emanu-El continues to bring thought-provoking and diverse films to Dallas each summer,” said Cinema Emanu-El chair, Leslie Null.

The four films for 2011 are:

Tuesday July 12, 7 p.m.
“The Debt” (2007)

A spellbinding, Israeli thriller, “The Debt” dramatically unravels the haunting complexities of a secret Mossad mission when, three decades later, disturbing information revealed in an obscure German newspaper forces an agent to revisit her worst nightmare. Subtitled. The film received four Israeli Academy Award nominations. Post film discussion to be led by Rabbi Adam Allenberg.

Tuesday, July 19, 7 p.m.
“Brothers” (2009)

A secular Kibbutznik’s world is shaken when his long-lost brother, now an orthodox Jewish lawyer in the United States, arrives in Israel to defend students who refuse military service. This topical Israeli drama portrays the struggle between two radically different visions of the future of the Jewish State. Subtitled. The film won the Audience Award at the San Diego Jewish Film Festival. Post film discussion to be led by Rabbi Asher Knight.

Tuesday, July 26, 7 p.m.
“Just an Ordinary Jew” (2005)

In this probing drama set in present-day Germany, a young journalist struggles with his Jewish identity. The private emotional avalanche that ensues may leave you wrestling with your own sense of self and what it means to be Jewish in 21st century America. Subtitled. This film was screened at both the San Francisco and San Diego Jewish Film Festivals. Post film discussion to be led by Cantor Richard Cohn.

Tuesday, August 2, 7 p.m.
“Wrong Side of the Bus”

In this moving documentary, an eminent professor of psychiatry returns to Cape Town after a 40-year absence, accompanied by his teenage son, to seek forgiveness for what may be his complicity in South Africa’s shameful past. This film was screened at the Boston and Atlanta Jewish Film Festivals. Post film discussion will be led by Rabbi Debra Robbins.

All screenings will be in the Tobian Auditorium at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Road in Dallas. Tickets are $4 per film, or $12 for a season pass. For tickets or information, contact Nancy Rivin at 214-706-0000 or

The Cinema Emanu-El film series is presented annually at Temple Emanu-El.

Mazel tov to Eleni Wilsmann

Mazel tov to Eleni Wilsmann, recipient of the Hank Bodner Award for Good Sportsmanship last week at the Aaron Family JCC Annual Meeting.

The Hank Bodner Award is given each year to a young athlete between the ages of 15 and 19 who has displayed excellence in sportsmanship, leadership and citizenship in athletics and academics. Hank Bodner was instrumental in creating the youth sports program at the J, and was a role model for its young athletes.

Eleni Wilsmann began her journey at the J at the age of eight and has been playing tennis there ever since. Eleni is an exceptional athlete who also excels in volleyball and softball as a student athlete at Lakehill Preparatory.

Aside from third place TAAPS 2A girls singles in tennis, this year she was awarded RBI leader with 37 RBIs in 2A/3A softball, first team all district in softball, first team all district in volleyball, and Honor Club Award in recognition of participation in three varsity sports while maintaining at least an A-B Honor Roll -status for the entire school year. In addition to her athletic qualities, Eleni also possesses the unique ability to be great with kids. After attending tennis camp at the J as a youngster, she was hired as a teen to be a tennis camp counselor and instructor and has been working in that capacity for the last four summers. Next year, she will attend Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla. Eleni is an outstanding person and athlete whose competitiveness and ability to teach young people have made her who she is today.

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Cuttin’ Loose

Cuttin’ Loose

Posted on 07 July 2011 by admin

Some risk is good

By Laura Seymour

Ben Kaplan

There are many of four-letter words that we love to hear at camp. My favorite is, “risk.” Now, more than ever, children need to challenge themselves and take appropriate risks, and camp is the place to do it. Risk means something different to every child — for some, it is singing in

front of a group and for others, it is staying overnight. Campers at the J are challenged to try new things and get involved. One favorite is messy play! After a very heavy rainstorm, there was an incredible mud pile. Many kids jumped right in but for some

it was a little scary and as they put a tentative foot in, they were cheered on. Being in nature is important and feeling confident enough to play in the mud or go on a hike or stand under the falls at Turner Falls gives kids a chance to experience something special. For more information about J Summer Camps, visit

Evan Bernstein

Gad 1 boys having fun in the mud

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Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 07 July 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

You may have seen the story about the new statute in Texas allowing tenants to put mezuzot on their exterior doorways. Apparently, this was in reaction to a situation where a resident was prohibited from putting up a mezuzah by the rules of his apartment community. I was curious what Jewish law would have said about this situation. If a Jew finds himself living in an apartment complex that prohibits hanging anything in doorways, what is he supposed to do? Defy the ban and hang a mezuzah anyway? Move and incur substantial inconvenience, costs, and possibly lease violation penalties? Or do the property rights of the apartment complex owner simply override the biblical commandment?

Steve B.

Dear Steve,

We all applaud the wisdom and fortitude of Governor Rick Perry of Texas, who, in June, signed the bill you mentioned into law. Now, apartment owners do not have the right to prevent Jews from attaching a mezuzah onto their doorposts. This came about as the result of a complaint of a Houston couple ordered by the administration of their apartment complex to remove their mezuzah and, after refusing to do so, they were fined. The Florida state legislature passed a similar bill in 2008.

What you raise is a fascinating question: in a situation where no legislation is in place, apartment owners would have the legal right to forbid their tenants to attach mezuzot to their doorways. This would raise numerous questions.

According to Jewish law, one cannot fulfill a mitzvah through violating someone else’s property rights; to do so could be considered theft. A mitzvah performed through stolen property is considered a sin.

This issue is discussed by the Halachic authorities of Jewish law with regards to the mitzvah of building a sukkah; one cannot build a sukkah structure on the property of another without their permission. To do so could render it a “sukkah gezulah” or a “stolen sukkah,” which the Torah disqualifies as a structure worthy of fulfilling that mitzvah. There are times that apartment complexes have ordered a Jewish tenant to remove their sukkah, which creates a serious problem; to defy that order and use the sukkah anyway could be self-defeating, as the sukkah may be disqualified according to Jewish law.

This, incidentally, can be an issue even in a complex where the owners are understanding and allow the building of a sukkah if the Jewish tenant is lax in taking down the sukkah until some time after the holiday; this could become a Chillul Hashem, the desecration of G-d’s name — besides inciting the management to think twice whether to allow this practice in future years!

The very same concern could apply to a mezuzah which is attached against the legally binding directives of the owners; one would arguably not fulfill the mitzvah if he or she would defy that order and attach the mezuzah. (This is besides the above issue of Chillul Hashem).

As far as costs, penalties and difficulties in breaking a lease and relocating, the Halachah would require one to pay even up to one fifth of their estate to fulfill a positive mitzvah; if the loss would be more than that amount they would not be required to do so.

I think the simplest solution in such a situation would be somewhat of a surprise. The ideal place to attach a mezuzah is on the outside doorpost to be seen when entering the home. According to most authorities, however, in situations where that would not be possible, one fulfills the mitzvah by attaching the mezuzah onto the inner side of the doorpost as well. This ruling is utilized, at times, when the structure of the door does not permit the attachment of the mezuzah on the outer right side of the doorway (and to attach a mezuzah on the left side is not a fulfillment of the mitzvah). If the attachment outside the door is not possible for other than structural reasons, such as the directives of the owners, one should attach the mezuzah to the inside of the doorpost and would therefore not need to relocate to fulfill this mitzvah.

Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of  many works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Send questions to him at

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 07 July 2011 by admin

Thank you to my buddy Rafael McDonnell, who graduated Trinity Valley School with me and has had a distinguished journalism career for attending the B’nai B’rith Person of the Year dinner two weeks ago and filing the following report. Incidentally, Rafael is eager to cover more Fort Worth events and profiles, send your story ideas to me at

Last year’s Person of the Year winner Shuggie Cohen at left, and the 2011 honoree, Dr. Barry Schneider.

Barry Schneider admits his resume can be daunting, but he can now add B’nai B’rith‘s 2010 Fort Worth Jewish Person of the Year to that list. The 50th annual award, given by the Isadore Garsek Lodge #269, was presented at a dinner on June 26 at Mira Vista County Club.

Schneider’s background includes 20 years in the U.S. Air Force, 17 years with the Fort Worth ISD, immediate past president of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, past commander of the Fort Worth post of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S. and past board president of Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington.

Last year’s Fort Worth Jewish Person of the Year, Alfred “Shuggie” Cohen, said Schneider has worked with “virtually every Jewish organization in Tarrant County and stepped up to take positions of leadership in those organizations.”

“I don’t think about my resume — I just do it,” Schneider said. “Maybe it’s because of my military background, where you are expected to do things within the community. We’ve been here for 30 years, which is longer than I have lived any place in my entire life. It’s what being Jewish is about: participation, helping in the community and doing what’s necessary. “

Schneider was actually a member of the selection committee for the award, so he was surprised to be picked. “If you look at the group of honorees over the past 16 years, I’m awestruck to join them. I never would have expected it,” he said.

After retiring from the Air Force, Schneider joined Fort Worth ISD, first in human resources, and later moved to the district’s research department before retiring in 2004. He admits that he’s busier than ever in retirement.

“Retirement is the best job I’ve ever had. I should have done it years ago,” he said. ”It’s about the control of time; I do the things I want to do and that are important to the local community, the Jewish community and the greater community. It’s fun, it’s not work.”

Schneider is also a member of the National Jewish Committee on Scouting. He said, “I was an Eagle Scout, and remained active in scouting while in the military.” Schneider’s son is an Eagle Scout as well.

Schneider was born in St. Louis. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from California State University, Northridge and a master’s in management, guidance and counseling from the University of Southern California. Schneider and his wife, Delores, have been married since 1967 and have two children.

Alex Nason, first vice president of the Isadore Garsek Lodge, said Schneider was an ideal choice for the award. “He’s my kind of guy, a nice person. My wife and I are fortunate enough to have Delores and Barry as our personal friends. You can count on him whenever you need to,” he said.

“There are plenty of people in our community doing a great job for the Jewish community in Tarrant County, but Barry has done much more than an average person,” Nason added.

B’nai B’rith also awarded two scholarships as part of the program to Ben Cristol, son of Dr. Louis and Rebecca Cristol and Carly Karten, daughter of Steven and Mona Karten. Cristol graduated from Paschal High School and will attend Washington University in St. Louis; Karten graduated from Western Hills High School and will attend the University of Texas at Austin. The Texas Gypsies provided musical entertainment for the evening.

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