Archive | March, 2012

Treating others correctly

Treating others correctly

Posted on 08 March 2012 by admin

By Laura Seymour

One area that is hugely important when it comes to teaching children is how to treat others. This can be difficult to teach, sometimes. On the one hand, we warn our children not to talk to strangers — any stranger. On the other hand, we encourage our children to befriend others; even other they may not know.

Many more of us are often dismayed about how our children might treat the “new” kid in the neighborhood, especially if that child is living in a difficult family situation, or is different somehow. “Stranger danger” aside, the Torah is pretty clear about how we’re to treat folks with whom we’re not familiar “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt,” Exodus reminds us. Nor is that the only time we’re admonished to love the stranger — the Torah repeats this 36 times, reminding us we were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy, for example, repeats this theme frequently:

“You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (10:19)

“For the Lord your God is God supreme … befriends the stranger, providing him with food and clothing.” (10:17-18)

“Always remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore do I enjoin you to observe this commandment.” (24:22)

This repetition tells us the importance of this concept; the reminder that we were once strangers in another land can help put us in others’ places.

This is an important discussion to have with your children — and it’s important they understand how to treat others, especially strangers. Certainly they need to be wary of certain types of strangers — I’m not suggesting your child run up to strangers and try to make friends. Rather, the focus of the discussion could be talking about a time when you felt different from others. Ask your child what he or she learned from that experience. Was your child ever a “new kid?” How did he or she feel, how nervous was he or she while waiting for someone to come over and say hello? What can your child do for another “new kid?” How can he or she make that other child feel more welcome at school or in the neighborhood?

The “takeaway” from this session is that, even if people are different, once we befriend others, we learn they are more alike to us than different.

Laura Seymour is director of Camping and Youth Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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Naming the Purim holiday

Naming the Purim holiday

Posted on 01 March 2012 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Readers,

This week, we’ll take a break from our series of 13 principles to answer a question concerning the upcoming holiday of Purim.

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I’ve always wondered why the holiday of Purim was given this name. The “Pur” in the story of Esther was simply the name of the lottery used to decide on what date Haman would enact his decree to destroy the Jews. But why would the entire holiday be named after a lottery of this type?

— Josephine W.

Dear Josephine,

I will answer your question in the classical Jewish way, with a question. Every book of the Tanach, the Jewish Bible, regularly mentions the name of God. How is it that the book of Esther, which relates the miracle of the Jews’ redemption from the Persian-Median exile, doesn’t mention the name of God even once?

One classical commentary, by the Vilna Gaon, answers with the following parable: There once was a king who had only one son. He loved his son, upon whom he showered many gifts. But as the son grew older, so did his haughtiness. In response, members of the king’s court grew to hate him and couldn’t wait for the day when they could “take care” of him.

One day, the son’s haughtiness got the better of him, and he slapped his father, the king, in the face. At that point, the king realized that he must do something drastic. He decided to send him to the dangerous forest for a while, hoping that, when faced with danger, his arrogant son would repent for his folly. The king called his closest aids, commanding them to protect his son while remaining hidden from him.

The day the son was sent into exile, he was accompanied by those who hated him, but who were commanded to protect him. The son faced many dangers and attempts on his life, but noticed that he was mysteriously rescued. In thinking about this, the son knew the only individual who had the ability to protect him was his father; but his father now hated him. But after thinking about it some more, the son realized that his father was, indeed, protecting him.

His father’s love for him was so great, he was keeping him alive and protected, even in the face of his arrogance. The son realized that the banishment to the forest was to teach him a lesson and through that realization, the son’s love and admiration for his father grew. Though it seemed as though the son’s survival was by chance, a coincidence, he realized that his survival was because of his father’s protection. He fully repented, returned home and asked forgiveness.

This parable is similar to the Persian Jews discussed in the Book of Esther. In that story, the Jews were sent into exile into the dangerous forest, surrounded by enemies, because they slapped the Father, the King, in the face. Haman issued a decree to destroy the Jews, and God hid His face to give the chance to repent and see His projection. This is why the name of God doesn’t appear in the book of Esther; God was hidden throughout this story, though His protection was apparent. The Jews, realizing this, repented, then returned to the palace (in this case, Israel) where they could rebuild the Temple. Much like the son in the parable mentioned above, the Jews realized that, while God remained hidden, His protection of his people continued.

Now, in answering your question, the holiday is called “Purim,” named after Haman’s lottery, because it appeared as though that lottery occurred by chance. But the Jews’ redemption occurred when it was realized that there isn’t any such thing as “chance,” rather, the Eternal King has the power to exile us and protect us during that exile, until we can repent and return.

Next Wednesday night and Thursday, when Jews throughout the world read the Book of Esther, we celebrate the miracle of Jewish eternity, brought about by the Eternal King.

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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Song, study, understanding

Song, study, understanding

Posted on 01 March 2012 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Study is always made more fun with song. That goes for adults as well as for children. The rabbis knew this when they created trope to chant the Torah — we understand that Torah isn’t so much “read” as it is “sung.”

In more recent times, Debbie Friedman, of blessed memory, understood the power of music and song as well.

Of many of the songs she composed and sung, “Im Ein Ani Li Mi Li,” directly from Pirke Avot 1:14, truly clarifies the meaning of Hillel’s words. Friedman’s catchy tune, combined with the lyrics she posts both in Hebrew and English, allows us to ponder the interesting questions presented in this particular verse. Let’s take a look.

IM EIN ANI LI MI LI (Debbie Friedman)

Im ein ani li mi li. Uch’she ani l’atzmi ma ani
V’im lo achshav eimatai eimatai
If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
If I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?

Hillel was a rabbi and he taught us what to do.
The first part of his lesson said: you must be true to you.
You have to like yourself if you expect that others should.
Having self respect is something special, something good.

Myself is something special it’s the place I have to start.
But Hillel said we must make room for others in our heart.
Love yourself but care and share; don’t lock the others out.
Caring for yourself and others is what life’s all about.

Life is short, the time flies by, and just before you know
Today becomes last week and then along, long time ago.
Hillel said: Do what you must; act now, today, don’t wait!
Decide what is important, do it now, it’s not too late.

If you have a chance, go online and find this song — many artists are on YouTube performing it, which is a nice legacy for Friedman. But even deeper is the legacy Hillel leaves us with the following questions for discussion with you and your family.

  • If I am not for myself, who will be for me? What does it mean to take care of yourself first? Why is this the first message given?
  • If I am only for myself, what am I? What is our responsibility for others? Why is it important to care for others?
  • If not now, when? Why do we put things off for another day? It is important to act today for ourselves and for others.
  • And finally: Why did Hillel put these three questions together?

Laura Seymour is director of Camping Service at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 01 March 2012 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

At first I was a little stressed when a TJP columnist dropped by the office at press time on Tuesday. I’m a little stressed every press day … screening calls and visitors not pertaining to the current week’s edition (OK, my secret is out). In fact, family and friends know that someone better be bleeding, vomiting or have a fever over 100.3 to chat!

I felt a little bad when at first I said I didn’t have time to visit, but so relieved when Harriet pointed out to me that I had not run an item she sent me on Cong. Beth Torah’s Torah Fund honoree this year, Alisone Kopita. I thought for sure that we had placed that item in the Feb. 16 issue. Remembered flowing it into the pages myself.

But you see, this newspaper business is a bit like a game of Tetris as press day winds down, we have to squeeze type, move ads and as my dad, ahavah sholom, used to say “shoehorn” things in. The Kopita item indeed had been in the paper, but had gotten pulled at the last minute to accommodate a jump (newspaper jargon for a continued story) and not picked up for the Feb. 23 issue.

Thanks Harriet for flagging me down to get this right and for submitting the story. Incidentally, Harriet herself, was the Torah Fund honoree last year at Cong. Beth Torah.

Beth Torah to honor Alisone Kopita at Torah Fund Brunch

Alisone Rochester Kopita will be honored as “Dedicated Volunteer in the Sisterhood, Synagogue and Community” at Congregation Beth Torah’s annual Torah Fund Brunch, scheduled for noon on Sunday, March 4 at the Addison Crowne Plaza Hotel.

Born and raised in northern California, Kopita, who was born into a Protestant family, converted to Judaism while living and working in North Carolina. Kopita, with her husband Jeff (a physician) and daughter Lily, relocated to the Dallas area in 1995 and are members of Beth Torah in Richardson. Kopita celebrated her bat mitzvah at Beth Torah in 1999 and began to lead services.

In addition to taking leadership roles in prayer, Kopita polishes the Torah’s crowns and breastplates in preparation for the High Holy Days. Furthermore, the Kopita family donated a small, lightweight Torah from Israel in honor of their children Lily and Phillip, who was born after the family relocated.

Kopita has been an important part of the preschool committee (which she co-chaired and represented on the synagogue’s board of directors). She has also taught preschool and kindergarten at Beth Torah.

In addition, Kopita volunteers at her children’s schools, Highland Park High School and St. Mark’s School, and is a volunteer with Phillip’s Eagle Scout Troop 730.

When she began two terms as Sisterhood president in 2008, she was not only its official board representative, but worked in the gift shop and the kitchen as well as on matters of finance, communication, and cooperation with all other congregational groups. She continues those involvements today, serving as an active advisor to current Sisterhood co-presidents Vikki Silvis and Esther Cohen.

The Torah Fund Brunch is open to the community. Cost is $32, along with a minimum contribution of $18 to the Women’s League Torah Fund. This year’s Torah Fund pins, depicting Hiddur Mitzvah — aesthetic bima embellishments — are presented to those at the $180 Benefactor level and higher.

For more information, contact the Torah Fund Chair Elaine Scharf, at 972-307-3521 or

Beth Torah’s Sisterhood is an affiliate of the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism.

Herzl Hadassah Life Saver Luncheon is March 12

With the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington concluding just a few days earlier, National AIPAC Board Member, Lillian Pinkus’ presentation at Herzl Hadassah’s annual Life Saver luncheon should be most enlightening.

Pinkus will speak about “Israel Today” on Monday, March 12 at 11 a.m. at the beautiful Town Village North, 12271 Coit Road, just south of Churchill Way. Cost is $15. Raffle tickets will be sold and are $1 each, or six for $5.

All proceeds from the lunch and raffle benefit Hadassah Medical Organization, which supports Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem and medical research.

To reserve your place, call Mimi Hamel, 972-241-2603. Attendees will also have the opportunity to purchase Tom Thumb and Central Market scrip for your grocery shopping and Passover supplies.

Texas Jewish Historical Society’s annual meeting

Fort Worth is the site for this year’s Texas Jewish Historical Society’s 32nd Annual Meeting, which will begin on March 30 and conclude on April 1. This will also coincide with the final weekend of “Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America through Galveston,” which is currently on show at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The event will feature a private tour, courtesy of the exhibit’s original curator, Austin anthropologist Suzanne Seriff, as well as a panel discussion featuring Seriff and filmmakers Allen and Cynthia Mondell (who will show clips from their docudrama, “West of Hester Street”). Another event for those arriving early enough on March 30 is an afternoon tour at the U.S. Bureau of Engraving (led by Jewish engraver Richard Baratz) and a banquet on Saturday night with keynote speaker Nick Kotz. Kotz, a San Antonio native, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author who is working on a book entitled The Harness Maker’s Vision: Nathan Kallison and the Rise of South Texas. The cost for the weekend meeting is $80 (not including accommodations. Those are available at the Marriott Residence Inn near West 7th Street). For more information, visit the TJHS website at Registration deadline is March 15.

Miriam’s Seder March 18

If you have never been to a Miriam’s Seder or been to one and loved it, then Cong. Beth Torah’s program from 5 to 8 p.m. on March 18 might be just for you. Open to the entire community, the cost of Miriam’s Seder is $35 with a book and $25 without one. Cong. Beth Torah is located at 720 Lookout Drive in Richardson. For questions contact Teri Oruch at or 972-517-0707.

Sheryl Crow to headline Vogel Alcove 25th anniversary celebration

Tickets are now on sale for the Vogel Alcove’s largest fundraiser of the year — a Sheryl Crow Concert — on May 14. The singer of hits like “Leaving Las Vegas,” “If It Makes You Happy,” and “The First Cut Is The Deepest” will perform at 8 p.m.

Sheryl Crow will headline Vogel Alcove’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Tickets to the May 14 event at the Meyerson Symphony Center range from $50-$250 and may be purchased through the AT&T Performing Arts Center box office by visiting or by calling 214-880-0202 (Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.). Tickets are non-refundable.

Event co-chairs are Beth and Jim Gold and Ann and Lee Hobson. Jim Gold is president, Specialty Retail, for The Neiman Marcus Group. Lee Hobson is managing partner for Highside Capital Management. Event vice chairs are Lael and Peter Brodsky; Rita Sue and Alan Gold; Erin and Mike McKool; Cynthia and Forrest Miller; and Ricki and Andy Rabin. Crow joins an impressive history of headliners including Vince Gill, Lyle Lovett, Kenny Loggins, Michael Bolton, Liza Minnelli, Johnny Mathis, Harry Belafonte, Tony Bennett, Marvin Hamlisch, Ray Charles and Itzhak Perlman.

For nearly 25 years, Vogel Alcove has provided free quality child development services for Dallas’ youngest victims of poverty: homeless children 6 weeks to 5 years old. Vogel Alcove is the only free comprehensive early childhood education program in the city of Dallas whose primary focus is to provide free childcare, counseling and case management for children and their families residing in 18 local emergency shelters, domestic violence shelters and housing programs.

Reminders from the J

The Music Man continues through this weekend. Also, Camp Fair Day is Sunday, March 4 from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. It’s the last chance to register for camp at 2009 prices.

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Around the Town

Posted on 01 March 2012 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

Unless you’ve been in hiding for the past several weeks, you’ve no doubt realized that we’re coming up on a pretty special time — a time of shpiels, happiness, fun and stories about courage.

I am, of course, talking about my upcoming visit to California to visit my mother.

Well, not really, though I will unfortunately miss all of the wonderful Purim celebrations taking place throughout Tarrant County (I’ll catch a couple on the West Coast instead).

With one of the mitzvahs at this time of year to listen to a reading (or two, or three) of the Megillah, there is no shortage of opportunities to do so.

I’ve written about these programs during the past couple of weeks and our calendar section also has a complete listing of events, shpiels, carnivals, festivals, services., etc., etc., etc., etc., from which you can choose.

And if you go, or are participating, SEND PHOTOS. I’d love to run them in an upcoming edition of “Around the Town.” I am, as always, at Please make sure the people in the photos are well-identified (and that the event is also identified) and the resolution is high enough for print.

May your groggers be loud, may your time be filled with joy and may this year’s celebrations be filled with festivities, laughter and celebration.

Thank you, Rabbi Bloom

I wanted to pass along something I received from Rabbi Andrew Bloom, spiritual leader at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. It was a “blast” e-mail, directed toward parents of children in the Fort Worth Independent School District, and it concerned issues pertaining to tests, sports, band activities and excused absences during the High Holy Days.

Rabbi Bloom explained that, in a recent meeting of multi-faith clergy and Fort Worth’s mayor, Betsey Price, he brought up this issue, and was rewarded with a positive letter from Sylvia R. Reyna, who heads up the FWISD.

The upshot of this is that the rabbi and administrator will meet further to discuss this and other religious issues. By the time I pen my next column, that meeting will have taken place, and I’ll hopefully have an update to share with you.

Those of us in Johnson County also have our issues. There have been, for example, a couple of times during which members of our family have had to gently remind those who conduct invocations at sporting events that students of all faiths are present. I’ve heard from a couple of other outlier families that they’ve had to do the same thing.

Tying this in to Purim, we know what can happen if we decide to remain silent about our heritage. This is why I’m cheered at what Rabbi Bloom did … and that he received such a positive response.

JWI meeting is March 7

If you missed Dr. Carole Rogers at the WRJ brunch, there is another opportunity to hear her speak on issues faced by seniors on March 7 at Beth El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road.

The program begins at 9:30 a.m. and a light breakfast will be served. Everybody is welcome.

Call Ina Singer, 817-292-1580 if you have questions.

Daytimers swing into Spring …

The next meet will be at noon on March 14 at Beth-El Congregation. Attendees will get to enjoy a swing dance demo by Chandler Smith (with TCU) and Angelia Williams (with Thurston Energy).

More importantly, this duo has taught dance together for six years and have taught workshops on swing cruises.

Lunch is available (Pak-a-Pocket is catering this month); the cost is $9 if you want lunch, $4 if not.

Interested? Contact Barbara Rubin at 817-927-2736, Hugh Lamensdorf at 817-738-1428 or visit

On the business scene …

Mazel tov to Stuart J. Isgure who was recently named 2011 Fort Worth Agent of the Year by New York Life Insurance Agency.

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Purim Sameach

Purim Sameach

Posted on 01 March 2012 by admin


Congregation Anshai Torah Purim Party
7:30 – 11 p.m.
Congregation Anshai Torah will host its annual musical extravaganza, ”Peace, Love and Purim.” There will be desserts, dancing and a cash bar. Advance tickets are $20 per person or $25 at the door. Tables of eight are available for $200. Sponsorships are also available and RSVP is required.
Info/RSVP: Debbie Butvin,
Congregation Anshai Torah
5501 W. Parker Road, Plano


Purim Carnival
1:30 – 4 p.m.
Gather up your Esthers, Mordechais and Hamans and come out for an afternoon of games, food and fun! Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, this event will include cake walks, pie-tossing, bouncehouses, costume contests, spiels and more!
Info: 817-569-0892;
Congregation Beth Israel
6100 Pleasant Run Rd., Colleyville

Purim Bash
3 – 5 p.m.
Join DATA of Plano for a family Purim party. Kids will enjoy face painting, games, arts and crafts and a science experience, while adults join in discussion with DATA rabbis. The cost is $5 per child and $20 per family.

3251 Independence Pkwy., Plano


Purim Super Shpiel
5:30 p.m.
Come to Temple Emanu-El dressed as your favorite superhero. After the Super Spiel, enjoy a congregational dinner followed by games for kids, a mitzvah project for all and a wine, cheese and dessert reception for adults. Cost is $5 for children 10 and under and $10 for adults.
Info: Carolyne Ojwang, 214-706-0000,
Temple Emanu-El
8500 Hillcrest Rd., Dallas

Purim Paparazzi
6 p.m.
Join Congregation Shearith Israel for its annual Purim party. The evening will include a Megillah reading and family Purim celebration and an adult after-party. People are asked to dress as famous Hollywood stars or biblical characters. Everyone is invited to bring an unopened box of macaroni and cheese to use for groggers; the boxes will then be donated to JFS Food Pantry.
Info: Mona Allen, 214-361-6606,
Congregation Shearith Israel
9401 Douglas Ave., Dallas

Purim Extravaganza
6 p.m.
Join Congregation Ahavath Sholom to hear a reading of the Megillah and see an original Purim spiel written, directed and produced by Louise Vermillion with help from the CAS religious school’s all-star cast. Also included: A parade, costume contest and hamantaschen.
Info: 817-731-4721

Congregation Ahavath Sholom
4050 S. Hulen Rd., Fort Worth

Purim of Feast Appetizers
6 p.m.
Congregation Beth Torah will host this fun evening. Stay afterward for the Megillah reading at 7 p.m. All those dressed in costume are automatically entered in the contest. Conclude with a spiel. A dessert and coffee bar will also be available.
Info: 972-234-1542,

Congregation Beth Torah
700 W. Lookout Dr., Richardson

Intown Chabad Purim Party
6:30 p.m.
The theme for this year’s party is Dress to Kill. The event will feature a first-class dinner, cocktails and entertainment. Tickets are $100 each.
Info: 214-810-6770

The Sky Club
3401 Lee Pkwy., Dallas

Purim’s Got Talent
6:309 p.m.
Join Congregation Beth Israel for a child-friendly, adult inclusive, talent-filled celebration. There will be a spiel, followed by a special Purim oneg.
Info: 817-581-5500
Congregation Beth Israel

6100 Pleasant Run Rd., Colleyville

Purim Spectacular
6:30 – 9 p.m.
Children will enjoy a kid-centered family Megillah reading including groggers and Purim surprises. Childcare will be available and kids will also get to enjoy a bounce house, magician and games. Open to the community.
Info: Rabbi Aaron Kaplan,
Congregation Shaare Tefilla
6131 Churchill Way, Dallas

Megillah Reading and Persian Feast
7 p.m.
The Sephardic Torah Center of Dallas invites the community to celebrate Purim. Everyone is encouraged to come in costume and prizes will be awarded for the best costume. Cost is $10 per adult, and $5 per child age 4-10.
Info/RSVP: 972-677-7720,

Sephardic Torah Center of Dallas
6715 Levelland Rd., Dallas


Purim in China
5 p.m.
Chabad of Plano invites the community to celebrate Purim in China. The evening will begin with a family and adult Megillah reading along with a masquerade. It will continue with a Chinese Purim dinner, crafts and a Chinese lion dance show. Event is free, but RSVP required for the dinner.
Info/RSVP: 972-596-8270,
Chabad of Plano
3904 W. Park Blvd., Plano

A Taste of Purim
5:30 p.m.
Experience the flavor of Israel for Purim. Guests will listen to the Megillah, enjoy freshly squeezed juices and shwarma, taste Israeli wine, write a note to be sent to the Western Wall and take a photo by the kotel. Event is hosted by Chabad of Dallas and open to the community. Cost is $18 per adult, $12 per child and kids under 3 admitted free. RSVP required by March 2.
Info/RSVP: 972-818-0770,,
Chabad of Dallas
6710 Levelland Rd., Dallas

Purim in China
6 p.m., Megillah reading; 6:30 p.m., dinner
Enjoy a multimedia Megillah reading, a delicious themed dinner, complete with hamantaschen, music and prizes for the best costumes. Cost is $15 for adults; $10 for children and $40 for families. Sponsorships are available for $180 and $360.
Info: Chabad of Arlington, 817-451-1171;

2136 Lindblad Court, Arlington

Purim in Persia
6 p.m., Megillah reading at 7:30 p.m.
The Chabad of Fort Worth and Tarrant County will host its annual feast. The meal will be prepared by Jacob Kohannim, former owner of Marsala Restaurant in Grand Prairie. Also on hand: family games and music. Cost is $18 for adults, $9 for children; sponsorships available for $180.
Info: 817-263-7701;

Sonnenschein Chabad Jewish Center
5659 Woodway Dr., Fort Worth

Purim Fun and Live Entertainment
7 p.m.
Guests will enjoy heavy hors d’oeuvres, wine, beer, entertainment by singer Michelle Citrin and Purim fun. Hosted by the Temple Emanu-El Young Adults Group. Cost is $10 per person and RSVP is required.
Info: Mimi Zimmerman, 214-706-0000,

Temple Emanu-El
8500 Hillcrest Rd., Dallas

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