Archive | April, 2012

Daughters of Abraham has healing potential

Daughters of Abraham has healing potential

Posted on 19 April 2012 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

I have so much yet to share with you about my recent visits to Eastern Europe’s once-great, now vanished centers of Jewish life. So it’s more than a bit ironic that, on this very day, Yom HaShoah 2012 — the date chosen as Holocaust Remembrance Day because it marks the start of the brave Warsaw ghetto uprising — I’m postponing our virtual walk through historic streets as I take a side trip to share a dilemma I faced about tonight:

Should I attend the annual Dallas Holocaust Memorial program at Temple Shalom? Or should I accept an invitation to join a group of women who will be meeting at that time to bring The Daughters of Abraham to our city?

The Daughters already meet in many cities across this country and in Canada. They are Jewish, Christian and Muslim women who read, talk, even eat together on a regular monthly schedule. The idea was born in September 2001, when Edie Howe joined women of all faiths in a Cambridge, Mass., church to begin dealing with the aftermath of 9-11. The group she was inspired to found began with discussions of books rooted in the three faiths descended from the one man who gave monotheism to the world. Edie died of breast cancer a few years ago, but the inspired movement lives on as her memorial.

“We could have named ourselves after our mothers, Sarah and Hagar,” the Daughters say. “But that would highlight our differences. By naming ourselves after our father Abraham, we are saying that there is more holding us together than dividing us.”

The initial local meeting of what many — and I’m one of them — hope will become a thriving group here is being spearheaded by the dedicated Jewish women of Temple Emanu-El. And it was one of them, a good friend of mine, who asked me to come to the first get-together this evening. But I was concerned: Did the incipient Daughters not notice that their timing was poor? Didn’t they see that they would be in conflict with our community’s official recognition of the Holocaust, its tribute to the ever-decreasing number of survivors in our midst, its resolute answer to those who still maintain that this most horrible human tragedy of all time never happened?

I told my friend that I thought the date was inauspicious to say the least, and that I couldn’t even consider attending, although I’m a long-time supporter of interfaith dialogues of all kinds. I became active with the National Conference of Christians and Jews way back, when I was in college. And as a young mother, I was part of a national initiative called “Panel of American Women,” which sent us to speak honestly before various groups on how our religions and ethnicities impacted our own lives. (Each Panel team included a Protestant, a Catholic, a Jew and an African-American, but no Muslim, since there were virtually none to be seen on the U.S. landscape a half-century ago).

So at first I was terribly off-put by her answer to my objection: “For me, opening a dialogue of this nature is a fitting way to keep another Shoah from happening.” Maybe it’s even a kind of tikkun olam, she suggested.

Well — I thought I knew all about repairing at least local worlds! In my pre-Dallas, suburban Chicago life, I served on our town’s Human Relations Commission and worked hard for years to stabilize local communities as integrated ones during a time of rapid “white flight” and accompanying resegregation. So I sent my friend another message — a rather terse one, I’m afraid: “I can’t quite agree with you … There are other groups of this kind already going strong that are more sensitive to dates of this kind … However, ‘sobre gustos,’ as the Spanish say … ” Then I added my favorite line from the great Confucius: “One way is not for all.”

But I’ve been thinking: Maybe I was too harsh, too quick with my response. Maybe it is right to begin a new attempt at intergroup understanding, a new effort to make “Never Again!” a reality, on this very evening.

So this is my apology for hasty pre-judgment. Tonight, I will be at Temple Shalom, but part of my heart will be with the women becoming Daughters of Abraham in our city. And I hope they’ll know I’m opting out for this evening only, and will allow me to join with them next time.

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Communities prepare for Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations

Communities prepare for Yom HaAtzmaut celebrations

Posted on 19 April 2012 by admin

Celebrating Israeli Independence Day in the Diaspora

Events brimming with music and food reminiscent of the Israeli “street” connect Jews of the Diaspora with the Jewish State on the anniversary of its independence.

By Maxine Dovere
JointMedia News Service

Throughout the Jewish world, celebrations of Israel’s Independence Day will crowd calendars around the fifth day of the month of Iyar. The date commemorates the moment of the first public reading of Israel’s Declaration of Independence by Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948.

Events brimming with music and food reminiscent of the Israeli “street” connect Jews of the Diaspora and supporters of the Jewish State with Israel on the anniversary of its independence. Individuals and organizations, families and friends, young and old gather in synagogues, concert halls, clubs, parties and picnics to celebrate the 64th Anniversary of the modern State of Israel. At the beginning or conclusion of each event, the notes of “Hatikvah” bring emotions to a high.

Faces striped in blue and white bring a smile, Israeli music lifts spirits and generations dance the hora until they are breathless. Jewish organizations, from the Friends of the Israel Defense forces to Dor Chadash to local JCC’s to synagogue Hebrew schools gather to bring a bit of Israel to their local holiday events.

Locally, festivities take place on Thursday, April 26 (in Dallas) and Sunday, April 29 (in Fort Worth).

The bounce house will be back at this year’s Israel Independence Day celebration. | Photo: Lisa Rothberg

In Dallas, at the Aaron Family JCC at 7900 Northaven Road, the vibrant culture of Israel and its various cities will be on display with help from contributing Jewish organizations. During the event, participants will take part in Israeli dancing, participate in an ecology program, create wax dolls and beeswax candles and enjoy pita making and mud and spa products. Also on hand will be bounce houses, a petting zoo and carnival games for children.

Unique to this year’s event is a musical performance by Bein Hametarim from Dallas’ partnership region in Akko. Also, there will be a Walk Israel Challenge, where walkers, runners, bikers, joggers or swimmers (a map is available on the JCC website), record their miles they do until the event and then everyone will finish the walk together on the field at the J.

Earlier in the week, on April 24, there will be a community Yom Hazikaron service memorializing fallen Israeli soldiers at the Ann and Nate Levine Academy, 18011 Hillcrest Road. The program, which will be conducted in both Hebrew and English, begins at 7 p.m.

A few days later, Fort Worth and Tarrant County will host its own celebration at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, complete with klezmer bands, Israeli dancing, a Judaica marketplace, crafts, games, face painting, Maccabiah Games, Israeli food, a kibbutz and raffle. The event will start at 1 p.m. Before the event a Yom Hazikaron memorial service honoring those who have served in Israel’s armed forces will take place at Beth-El Congregation. Congregation Ahavath Shalom is at 4050 South Hulen Street; Beth-El Congregation is across the street at 4900 Briarhaven Road.

Nationally, celebrations will take place in New York, St. Louis, Chicago and elsewhere.

Concerts featuring Jewish and Israeli performers and bands will enhance the Israeli Independence Day events in New York. Moshe Hecht, a New York-based “folk rock” artist and a member of the Chabad-Lubavitch community, brings a rock twist to traditional melodies.

“So much of what I’m doing is about Israel,” Hecht said. “Yom HaAtzmaut is about the land of Israel, not only about the state of Israel. Chabad creates a balance between the founding of Israel as a modern State and Torah values. We celebrate Israel every day, not only on a specific day of the declaration of Independence.”

Independence Day celebrations in the Diaspora mirror the excitement and enthusiasm of celebrating in Israel. Judy Ross, who spent several months of the year in Israel for decades, said she loved being in Israel for Independence Day, recalling the fireworks and the exuberant dancing.

“For days before the fifth of Iyar, people were hanging flags and banners from every window, from every balcony,” she recalled. “Entire blocks were festooned with color. Neighborhoods turned into forests of flags, seas of blue and white.”

Even the fireworks, she says, are special in Israel on Independence Day, decorating the skies in every town with color and sparkle. The dancing, she says, is “so uniquely energetic — it brings everyone together. Every town had a celebration.”



Celebrate Earth Day at the J
8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Join the J to celebrate Earth Day. Participants will be able to shred boxes, exercise and explore the new Naturescape. Everyone is also encouraged to wear green.
Info: Carrie Ann Ring, 214-239-7138,
Aaron Family JCC
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas


Temple Emanu-El Tot Shabbat
9 – 11 a.m.
Tot Shabbat is geared toward families with young children who wish to capture that special Shabbat feeling. Stories, dance and music will be a part of the spiritual experience. The Tot Shabbat program welcomes all children up to age five and their families.
Info: Karen Haney, 214-706-0000,
Temple Emanu-El
8500 Hillcrest Road, Dallas

Parents Night Out
7 – 10:30 p.m.
Spend a Saturday nght hanging out with friends, playing games and watching movies in pajamas. Open to kids in kindergarten through sixth grade. Cost is $20 for J members and $28 for non-members, and siblings are $12. A $5 fee will be added if registered after April 17.
Info/RSVP: Abbii Cook, 214-239-7189,
Aaron Family JCC
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas

Girls Gymnastics Parents Night Out
7 – 10:30 p.m.
Dress in pajamas and get ready for nail painting, games, a movie on the mats and gymnastics. Girls are asked to bring leotards or athletic wear. Open to kids in kindergarten through sixth grade. Cost is $20 for J members and $28 for non-members, and siblings are $12. A $5 fee will be added if registered after April 17.
Info/RSVP: Amy Postel, 214-239-7176,
Aaron Family JCC
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas


JCC Deca Challenge
7:30 – 9 a.m.
Ten events in one day including competitive sports and recreational activities. Strength and endurance will be judged based on age groups, starting at 50 years of age and older. The games will begin with opening festivities and conclude with an awards ceremony. Start training as an individual or practice with a group for any of the following: bowling, billiards, Wii games, table games, basketball free throw, 3-on-3 basketball, indoor cycling, table tennis, swimming and a two-mile fun walk.
Info: Heather Cordova, 214-239-7149, or Tom Easterling, 214-239-7178
JCC, 7900 Northaven Road, Dallas

Karen Leynor Mitzvah Day
8 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Congregation Beth Torah will host its annual community-wide mitzvah day, which will include activities on and off-site. There will also be free babysitting and breakfast for all who attend.
Info/Registration: Stacey Clark,
Congregation Beth Torah
700 W. Lookout Drive, Richardson

Anshai Torah Hazak Trip
9:30 a.m.
The Anshai Torah Hazak group is sponsoring its annual trip to Choctaw Casino. The bus will leave from the synagogue at 9:30 a.m. Cost is $10 per person and includes $10 slot play and a discounted buffet meal with a free player card. Event is open to Anshai members and friends. RSVP is due by April 8. Send check to synagogue payable to Hazak to Carl Uretsky.
Info: 972-473-7718
Choctaw Casino
3735 Choctaw Road, Durant, OK

Good Sports Extravaganza
1:30 – 3 p.m.
The Dallas chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women invites the community to its annual Good Sports Extravaganza. This year’s event will feature Mark Elfenbein, host of the 105.3 the Fan Talk Show, and mystery sports celebrities. Cost is $36 per person. RSVP is required by April 17.
Info/RSVP: 214-368-4405,
Congregation Shearith Israel
9401 Douglas Ave., Dallas

Congregation Adat Chaverim Guest Speaker
4 p.m.
Rabbi Joel Zeff of the Jewish Studies Initiative of North Texas will speak on the topic of “The Evil Eye, Envisioning its True Meaning.” Event is free and open to the community.
Info: 972-491-5917
Congregation Adat Chaverim
6300 Independence Pkwy., Plano

Congregation Anshai Torah Sisterhood Sushi Event
5:30 p.m.
Members of the Congregation Anshai Torah Sisterhood are invited to join Tim Paek, owner and chef of C-Rolls Sushi, as he teaches the fine art of sushi rolling. There will be a supply fee for this event.
Info: Kathryn Kaplan,
Congregation Anshai Torah
5501 W. Parker Road, Plano


J Book Fair
7 p.m.
Author Ellen Frankel will discuss her book “Syd Arthur.” Cost it $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
Info: Rachelle Weiss Crane, 214-239-7128,
Aaron Family JCC
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas

A Taste of Hebrew
7 p.m.
Hosted by Congregation Shearith Israel, this class is for those who can read Hebrew at various levels. It will be taught by Dina Eliezer, director of the Weitzman Family Religious School. The cost is $20 for the entire series. RSVP is required.
Info/RSVP: Lindsay Gray, 214-361-6606,
Congregation Shearith Israel
9401 Douglas Ave., Dallas
Also on April  30


Short Story Book Club
7 p.m.
Author Linda Frank will share her book “After the Auction,” which discusses the pilfering of art by the Nazis. Event is free and open to the community.
Info: Nina Golboro, 214-239-7132,
Mankoff Center for Jewish Learning
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas

Yom HaZikaron Community Memorial Service
78:30 p.m.
The evening will be dedicated to the memories of all who gave their lives in defense of Israel. Music will be provided by Bein Hametarim, from Akko, Dallas’ partnership region in Israel. Childcare will be available at 6:45 p.m.,  RSVP required. Event is free and open to the community.
Info: Sarah Glauben, 214-615-5275,
Ann and Nate Levine Academy
18011 Hillcrest Road, Dallas


SWJC Community Briefing with Gil Elan
7 – 8:30 p.m.
Commentary and analysis on the latest breaking news from Israel and the Middle East. Free and open to the public.
Info: 214-361-0018,
Aaron Family JCC
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas


Israel Independence Day
4:30 8 p.m.
Experience Israel through fun, food, entertainment and learning. The J will be transformed into Israel and attendees will experience what the different cities have to offer. Event is free and open to the community.
Info: Laura Seymour, 214-239-7110,
Aaron Family JCC
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas


Story Friday
10 a.m.
Join Levine Academy for story time with a twist: Early Childhood Director Sheryl Feinberg brings stories to life using puppetry, flannel boards, song and music.
Info: Mirelle Brisebois-Allen, 972-248-3032,
Ann and Nate Levine Academy
18011 Hillcrest Road, Dallas


“Jews in American Politics”
9:3011 a.m.
Speaker Robert Epstein will discuss the careers of Henry Kissinger, Joe Lieberman, Rahm Emanuel, Robert Rubin, Barney Frank and others. A kosher brunch will be served.
Info: Robert Epstein,
Aaron Family JCC
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas

“My Spouse’s Parents: Their Role In My Life”
9:2011 a.m.
Join the CSI Family Center as Yolanda Swopes, marriage and family therapist from Jewish Family Service, explores the unique dynamics of family. Private questions will be answered following the main presentation. Refreshments will be served before the presentation begins. Event is free, and babysitting is available.
Info: Suzanne Minc, 214-939-7340,
Congregation Shearith Israel
9401 Douglas Ave., Dallas

Volunteer Appreciation Brunch
10:30 a.m.
Tiferet Israel will honor its volunteers. Event is free and babysitting is available.
Info: Jennifer Williams, 214-691-3611,
Tiferet Israel Congregation
10909 Hillcrest Road, Dallas

Yom HaZikaron
12:30 p.m.
Join the Tarrant County Jewish community to honor the memories of those who gave their lives for Israeli defense.
Info: 817-569-0892
Beth El Congregation
4900 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth

Israel Independence Day Celebration
14 p.m.
Fort Worth and Tarrant County will host its celebration which will feature klezmer bands, Israeli dancing, a Judaica marketplace, crafts, games, face painting, Maccabbia Games, Israeli food, a kibbutz and raffle. The program is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation. Event is free and open to the community, but a $5 donation is suggested.
Info: 817-569-0892
Congregation Ahavath Sholom
4050 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth

J Book Fair
3 p.m.
Author Ann Koffsky will share her children’s book, “Noah’s Swim-a-Thon.” Event is co-sponsored by the PJ Library. Event is free and open to the community, but RSVP is required.
Info/RSVP: Rivae Balkin-Kliman, 214-239-7193,
Mankoff Center for Jewish Learning
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas

Levine Academy Annual Gala
610 p.m.
State Senator Florence Shapiro will be honored, and special recognition will be given to teachers who have taught at the Levine Academy for 25 years or more. Cost is $180 per ticket and sponsorships are available. An online auction also began on April 17. RSVP is required.
Info/RSVP: 972-248-3032,
Westin Galleria
13340 Dallas Pkwy., Dallas

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What makes one a hero?

What makes one a hero?

Posted on 12 April 2012 by admin

By Laura Seymour

A very important word (and idea) in Hebrew is giborim which means heroes.

Today more than ever, our children need heroes in their lives, and we have an abundance of great ones throughout our Jewish tradition.

While trying to make sense of the craziness in the world, stop to think of the heroes who have stepped forward to do the right thing. Think about the giborim in your lives — who were the role models and mentors who changed your life?

For most of us, our first heroes were our parents and family, then we expanded our world as we grew to include biblical heroes and historical ones.

As we close our celebration of Passover, we remember the heroes of the Exodus from Moses to Puah. One goal as parents is to help our children find heroes in Jewish tradition, as well as to be the Jewish heroes in their lives.

Talk with your children about giborim — share who your Jewish heroes are today and why. Here are some great questions for your Shabbat dinner time:

  • Do heroes need to be perfect? Why or why not?
  • What do we look for in role models? Can we have many mentors?
  • How can we be a role model? For who? What do you need to know to be a role model?
  • Why is it important to know about Jewish heroes?
  • Does a person have to be Jewish or do something for Jewish people to be a Jewish hero?
  • Are Jewish heroes just models for us in our Jewish part of our lives?

Keep in mind those throughout the world who are waiting and hoping for a hero to step up and find a way to take heroic steps each day. With the courage and strength to step forward, sometimes we will become unlikely heroes.

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

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Around the Town

Posted on 12 April 2012 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

This column is going “to bed” a little early, thanks to the holidays. I’d like to remind everyone out there that Yom HaAtzmaut begins this year on the evening of Wednesday, April 25. If there are any observances, celebrations, commemorations and so on pertaining to Israel Independence Day, well, get ‘em in! Also, has anyone in your family made aliyah? Did you, yourself, do that at one point? Are any of your loved ones or friends in Israel? Please let me know — it would be a timely and lovely contribution.

Looking Ahead, Post-Pesach

If you’re like me, you’re probably at the point where you’re about matzahed out. A recent column by Holly Clegg, daughter of Ruthie and Jerry Berkowitz, gave me something to look forward to. She writes about the “luscious lemon,” a nice, sunny fruit. Various links on her column will take you straight to her lemon pie recipe. This is a definite “not-kosher-for-Passover” type of recipe, but it looks ridiculously easy to make. So link to the recipe (and others) by logging on to

Holly, by the way, knows about more than lemons. She’s an outstanding chef who has been featured in a variety of national publications and is the author of many books. Here’s what I like about her — she’s a fan of quick and flavorful cooking, as well as healthy eating. She’s based in Louisiana, where she’s a regular on “This Week in Louisiana.” Hopefully she makes that delicious lemon pie on the show.

Yom Hashoah Reminders

On April 15 at 6:30 p.m., Congregation Beth Shalom, 1212 Thannisch Dr. in Colleyville, will host a program dedicated to those who risked their lives to save others. The program will begin with a memorial service and a performance of the Holocaust Cantata by the A Cappella Choir and University Singers of UT Arlington. The service will also include Holocaust survivors as well as readings from journals and interview transcripts from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. This appears to be a wonderful way to remember the vanished six million, as well as the souls who tried to protect them.

Final Reminder for the Daytimers

The next event will take place Wednesday, April 18 and will feature a trip to Dallas to view the Kennedy exhibit at the Sixth Floor Museum. The group will meet at the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center at 1001 Jones St. at noon (to board the TRE to Big D). The train is scheduled to return to Fort Worth by 4:45 p.m. Cost of the trip is $15 (and includes train fare, museum admission and bottled water). For information and reservations, have your credit card handy and call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736 or Hugh Lamensdorf, 817-738-1428. You can reserve for yourself, too, by logging onto

Jewish Community Blood Drive

May might be the time when flowers are in full bloom (and anyone remembering the storminess of “Tornado Tuesday,” April 3 will be thankful for that). May is also the time during which the Jewish Community Blood Drive will take place — specifically, Sunday, May 6, between 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road. This drive is taking place in conjunction with Carter BloodCare, and while walk-ins are welcome, it’s better to make a reservation. You can do so by calling Dan Halpern at 817-426-3239.

May 24 is the Deadline

To get in your application for one of two $1,000 scholarships being given by Isadore Garsek B’nai B’rith Lodge # 269. The scholarships are available to parents or guardians of high school seniors headed off to college. The parents/guardians must be members of the Isadore Garsek lodge, or members of an established Jewish synagogue in Tarrant County. The parents/guardians must be members in good standing of either organization for at least 12 months. Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement as well as accomplishments, outside interests and participation in school-oriented and outside activities. Scholarships will be presented at the annual B’nai B’rith Jewish Person of the Year banquet, which will take place June 3. The deadline for applications is May 24. Questions? Contact Dr. Barry Schneider at or get in touch with your synagogue’s youth advisor or rabbi.

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Pesach: We witnessed it

Pesach: We witnessed it

Posted on 12 April 2012 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

We have had quite a discussion in our family why it is that Passover is the most observed Jewish holiday and have come up with a variety of reasons, of which I will not bore you with at this time. We decided to submit this to you to perhaps shed some more light on the subject and we appreciate your words. Chag Sameach.

— Charles and Rita L.

Dear Charles and Rita,

Jewish sociologists have spilled much ink over this question and, as you found in your family, there are numerous takes on the subject. From a purely sociological perspective, there is some merit to all of the reasons found, but still, in my book, doesn’t add up to the intensity of dedication to the seder that we find in Jewish households throughout the world for over 3,000 years.

I would like to offer a perhaps metaphysical or spiritual reason why we find this to be so. Let us begin by observing the wording of the Ten Commandments, where God introduces Himself to the Jews as “I am the Lord, God who has taken you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Why did God not first introduce Himself as the Creator of the universe? The builder of breathtaking mountains, the sun, stars and moon? This is a question the earliest commentators to the Torah grappled with.

One of the earliest Jewish philosophers, Rabbi Yehuda Helevi, author of the “Kuzari,” built the foundation of his philosophy on this question. It goes, in a nutshell, as follows: You cannot compare what you believe to what you have seen. Although we believed that God created the universe, there was no innocent bystander at the time to observe that Creation.

The entire Jewish nation, however, were living witnesses to all that had transpired over the past few years: the 10 plagues; the splitting of the sea; the falling of food, the manna, from the sky; and finally, the greatest revelation of all, God Al-mighty speaking directly to the entire Jewish nation at Sinai.

This thought is emphasized by God in the verse that He proclaims: “You have seen that from Heaven I have spoken to you!” This is a major departure from any and all other religions which claim divine revelation; all others claim this to an individual or small group. Only the Torah claims this happened to an entire nation. (This claim is actually accepted by Christianity and Islam, they both believe in the Divine Revelation of Torah at Sinai; they only claim that God later changed His mind).

That is why God introduced Himself as the One who brought the Jews out of Egypt; this is the foundation of our belief system. It is not simply a “faith,” but a belief based upon historical verification.

The Jews are commanded to recite the Shema, the acceptance of the Oneness of God, twice a day, morning and night. This recitation ends with the acceptance that God took us out of Egypt, an ending that seems out of place. The early commentators explain that our acceptance of the Oneness of God is not complete unless one truly believes in the historical story of the leaving of Egypt, as that is the foundation of our belief. (R’ash, Orchos Tzadikim).

Nachmanides, in his classical commentary to the Torah, explains further that out of our belief in the open miracles of Egypt and those which followed, we come to our well-known Jewish weltanschauung that all which transpires in our day-to-day lives is through direct intervention by the “Hand of God.” If God can control the world in the way of open miracles, He has the power to also perform “hidden miracles” which compose the stuff of our very lives.

This, I put forth, as a more profound reason why Pesach is so deeply rooted in the Jewish conscious and observance; if forms the foundation of our entire belief system and forms who we are and what our mission in the world is as a people. All seven days that we eat matzah and refrain from bread and leavened products we are proclaiming that there is a God, He is present in our lives, and this is our message to ourselves and all those around us.

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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Kosher food service and other Jewish history of the Titanic

Kosher food service and other Jewish history of the Titanic

Posted on 12 April 2012 by admin

Availability of kosher food aboard Titanic sheds light on immigration via England

By Marshall Weiss

(The Dayton Jewish Observer) — Of the 2,225 people aboard Titanic on its maiden voyage, 1,512 perished in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic when the ship went down in the early hours of April 15, 1912.

Twenty-seven Jewish Titanic survivors received assistance in New York from the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, and 10 are pictured here. | Photo: HIAS Photo Collection at YIVO

Charles Kennell was among the nearly 700 crew members to die that night. Born in Cape Town, South Africa, the 30-year-old Kennell signed on to the White Star Line’s Titanic on April 4, 1912. He listed his address as 6 Park View, Southampton, the port city in southeast England from which the Titanic would embark.

Kennell had already served on the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic, which took its maiden voyage in 1911. Now he came aboard the larger, more luxurious Titanic for wages of four pounds a month. Kennell was the ship’s “Hebrew cook.” The Titanic had kosher food service.

Midway through the great wave of Eastern European Jewish immigration to America — which brought two million Jews to the United States between 1881 and 1924 — major passenger lines crossing the Atlantic began instituting kosher food service for its Jewish passengers, mainly immigrants in third-class steerage.

But historians and authors who explore and preserve the body of knowledge about Titanic know little else about kosher food and Jewish life aboard the ill-fated liner.

“It’s been a very tough subject to get much on,” said Charles Haas, president of the Titanic International Society. “My research has generated more questions than answers. It’s been, in a way, frustrating because I haven’t been able to find anybody who knows for sure almost anything.”

Haas and John Eaton are authors of five books on Titanic including the meticulous “Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy,” which has just been released in a newly expanded third edition.

Over the years, they’ve cultivated friendships with Titanic survivors and their descendants, conducted Titanic research in England and Northern Ireland, and have plunged to the ocean floor to see the Titanic’s wreckage.

The two are among the guest lecturers on the Titanic Memorial Cruise from Southampton to New York, April 8-19 aboard the Balmoral cruise ship.

The White Star and Cunard lines, as well as the German lines all had kosher facilities by the time Titanic sailed, Haas said.

Based on information Haas has found about kosher kitchens on other ocean liners of the time — particularly on Titanic’s sister ship Olympic — he believes, “we have some probably reasonable assumptions in terms of Titanic.”

The earliest reference Haas has found about kosher service on an ocean liner dates to 1904.

“There’s an article in the Trenton Times in June 1904 and it says, among other things, ‘American Line officials arranged another innovation in the form of special kosher cooks for the Jews. The English will have their meals served separately and their cabins will also be separate from those of the Jews.’ And that was on the S.S. Philadelphia.”

One of the big names in shipbuilding at that time, Haas said, was Albert Ballin, chairman of the Hamburg-American Line. In 1905, Ballin, who was Jewish, decided to place separate kosher facilities on all of his steamships between New York and Bremen.

According to a contemporary news article about the Hamburg-American line, the addition of kosher service was “in accordance with a request from a number of representative Jewish organizations.”

Valery Bazarov, director of family history and location services for HIAS, the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, also confirmed the first decade of the 20th century as the beginning of kosher food service on liners crossing the Atlantic. He added that HIAS, which continues to help resettle Jewish refugees to America, established a kosher kitchen at Ellis Island in 1911.

Jewish steerage passengers on Titanic — as was the case on other liners departing from England for America — were primarily refugees from Eastern Europe. But why would they stop over in England first?

“To get out of immediate danger, and more than that,“ Bazarov explained. “It was not only immediate danger like a pogrom; it was also immediate danger if someone was drafted to the Russian army.”

Transmigrants through Britain

A century ago, the term of conscription to the Russian army was three mandatory years. Bazarov referred to conscription as “the underground pogrom, only much longer and much more painful.”

The Jews of Eastern Europe, he added, were limited in their successes because of pervasive antisemitism. “It was not just immediate danger but just the quality of life as a whole,” he said, that also led them to flee.

“To travel abroad, all Russians, not only Jews, needed foreign passports,” Bazarov said. “And to get it, they wrote a petition to the local authorities. They needed to bring the certificate about their relationship to the military service. Without that, they wouldn’t be allowed.”

That’s why so many Eastern European Jews forged or purchased forged passports, he said.

Some Jews fled to England because they couldn’t afford the ocean passage; some tried to make lives for themselves there. Others were required by law to keep moving.

“Even at that time, two stop-overs cost less than a ‘direct flight,’ like now,” Bazarov said.

England’s National Archives has estimated that between 1881 and 1905, up to 100,000 Eastern European Jews settled in England. Parliament curtailed this immigration in 1905 with the Aliens act. Most Eastern European Jews could then only stop over in England as “transmigrants,” on their way to other destinations.

The British National Archives has also estimated that between 1880 and 1914, approximately one million Jewish transmigrants arrived at England’s eastern ports, crossed the country “quickly,” and departed via England’s western ports.

Before liners offered kosher food, Jews who kept kosher had to fend for themselves, bringing their own food. Some didn’t survive. Despite the Jewish value of pikuach nefesh — that saving a life takes precedence even over keeping kosher — Haas cited a Washington Post article from Nov. 2, 1909 about Gisella Greiner, a “young Hebrew immigrant,” who died of starvation in Ellis Island’s hospital. Kosher food was not available during her nine-day voyage across the Atlantic; she chose to fast.

Even for those passengers who didn’t keep kosher, food service in the old steerage system could be a vile experience.

In December 1909, the U.S. Immigration Commission reported on steerage conditions to the U.S. Congress. The report described the “disgusting and demoralizing conditions of the old steerage,” in which 300 or more people would sleep in large compartments. There were no regular dining rooms for steerage class. A minimum number of tables and seats were set in common areas.

An immigration commission agent described the sleeping compartment of one of these liners as subdivided into three sections: “one for the German women, which was completely boarded off from the rest; one for Hebrews; and one for all other creeds and nationalities together. The partition between these last two was merely a fence, consisting of four horizontal 6-inch boards. This neither kept out odors nor cut off the view.”

A color illustration of a portion of the third-class dining saloon on Olympic and Titanic from a White Star Line publicity brochure. Most third-class passengers were on their way to start new lives in America. | Photo: Titanic International Society Archives

That particular liner did have a separate galley and cook for kosher food. “They used the same tables with others if they used any, and were served in the same manner,” the agent reported. “Their food seemed of the same quality.”

It was competition for steerage passengers, the 1909 report continued, that led the major lines to develop improved steerage conditions.

Haas said, the “new steerage” arrangements of the White Star Line, particularly those of Olympic and Titanic, provided third-class passengers with foods they had neither seen nor could ever afford before, such as oranges.

“The White Star Line, although we tend to think of them as the steamship line of luxury, they really catered to the third class, because they made more per head on the third class tickets than they did on a first-class,” Haas said. “And if they could get word-of-mouth advertising where immigrants reached America and wrote home and said how wonderfully they were treated on the White Star Line’s ships, that was the best kind of advertising they could hope for.”

On Olympic and Titanic, Haas said, the largest cabins in third class accommodated six. In some cases, there were cabins for four and even two.

“The third class, in most cases, were accustomed to waiting on others,” Haas said. “And here for the first time they had stewards serving them. And there’s even a notice on the bottom of the menu saying, ‘any complaints regarding the lack of civility from a steward should be reported to the chief steward immediately.’”

As in all steerage arrangements of the time, Titanic’s third-class passengers were segregated by gender. The men were in the bow of the ship, unmarried ladies in the stern, and families were also in the stern.

Haas, who is not Jewish, has attempted to track down details of Titanic’s kosher facilities while conducting research in Belfast, where the Titanic was built, at Harland and Wolff shipyard. He’s never seen a kosher-only menu card specific to Titanic.

“All of the existing menus for the Titanic, to the best of my knowledge, there’s not specific reference to that,” Haas said. “I don’t know whether that would have been done by word of mouth or it might possibly have been at the time passengers booked their tickets.”

He and Eaton have seen a generic 1911 White Star third-class menu that indicates the availability of kosher meat. The menu was part of an advertisement for Olympic.

“In terms of artifacts that have been retrieved from the ocean floor,” he said, “we’ve not seen any kosher service dinnerware, although we do know from the Olympic, what the design (for dishes) looked like and everything.”

Karen Kamuda, vice president of Titanic Historical Society Inc. and Titanic Museum in Indian Orchard, Mass., said in an email that her understanding of kosher food service on Titanic comes from Paul Louden-Brown, a former society vice president and author of “The White Star Line, An Illustrated History.”

She explained that on Titanic, all kosher “china, stoneware and silver-plate or other serving utensils were marked in Hebrew and English either ‘meat’ or ‘milk.’” The same standards, she indicated, “applied for all classes, and even first class silver-plate was marked ‘milk’ or ‘meat.’ Kamuda added that “rabbis regularly inspected the liners’ catering departments in both Southampton and New York.”

A few clues

Eaton, Haas’ writing partner, puzzles at the scarce documentation of kosher service aboard the Titanic.

“There are fundamental questions of when and who decided to hire a ‘Hebrew Cook’ for Titanic’s kitchen,” he explained in an email. “Who and when were (which) Jewish authorities called in for consultation? For the actual implementation of the facility … the ‘victualizing’ inventory for the Titanic is well known: all sorts of cookware as well as serving plates and tableware are categorized and listed. But nowhere is there any mention of or separate designation for ‘kosher’ items.”

But Eaton did remember that about 20 to 25 years ago, likely at the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Holywood, Northern Ireland, he caught a brief glimpse of a Titanic deck plan that included a space indicated by an arrow for kosher service.

“It was a small space as I recall,” he said, “scarcely large enough for a single sink or workspace. It was not the size of a full installation of ranges and sinks, by any means.”

Eaton made a return visit to the Ulster museum last spring and asked if staff could find that deck plan again. They were unable to locate it. At the end of March/beginning of April, he and Haas were scheduled to be in Belfast for a week, ahead of the centennial cruise, and “will likely make an effort to locate the plan then.”

Haas said before Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, was scrapped in 1935, all the contents of the ship were sold via auction. The auction included Olympic’s kosher kitchen and supplies, including a cooking range with rack and hood, stoking irons, dressers, cupboard, sink, tilings and light fittings.

Tim Sluckin is secretary of England’s Southampton Hebrew Congregation, which dates to 1833. According to England’s Jewish Year Books, the seaport city was home to 20 Jewish families in 1905, 60 Jewish families a decade later.

Though Sluckin isn’t aware of any hard documentation, in an email conversation, he indicated that, “It is known that for many years the kosher butcher (in Southampton) was kept in business by supplying the ships … our butcher was getting the meat from our rabbi, who was also the shochet (kosher slaughterer).”

Martyn Rose, president of Southampton Hebrew Congregation, also affirmed in an email that, “Although there was kosher food on the Titanic, it would have been the same for all liners calling or using Southampton as a base at that time. Indeed until the mid 20th century, when liner travel to the USA and beyond Southampton had kosher meat suppliers, and our minister (rabbi) was the shochet.”

The 1909 U.S. Immigration Commission report on steerage conditions may give an indication of the role of Charles Kennell, Titanic’s Hebrew cook.

An immigration agent who reported on “new steerage conditions” wrote of the unnamed line she investigated: “The Hebrew steerage passengers were looked after by a Hebrew who is employed by the company as a cook, and is at the same time appointed by Rabbi as guardian of such passengers. This particular man told me that he is a pioneer in this work. He was the first to receive such an appointment. It is his duty to see that all the Jewish passengers are assigned to sleeping quarters that are as comfortable and as good as any; to see that kosher food is provided and to prepare it. He has done duty on most of the ships of the _______ Line. On each he has instituted this system of caring for the Hebrews and then has left it to be looked after by some successor.”

This immigration agent also reported that friends and acquaintances, and “various nationalities” were quartered together as much as possible, and that “the few Jewish passengers were assigned staterooms distantly removed from all others.”

Yet all of these upgraded accommodations for steerage passengers in general and Jewish immigrants in particular couldn’t substitute for the absence of common-sense safety measures at every level on Titanic.

Speeding through a North Atlantic ice field, its crew ignoring warnings from nearby ships, lifeboats for only half of those on board, poor communications among crew members, and an off-duty wireless operator on the nearest ship, Titanic struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14 and sank at 2:20 a.m. on April 15.

Of the 710 third-class passengers on board, only 174 — one fourth — escaped death. Most died of hypothermia in the 28-degree ocean after the ship sank.

The survivors arrived at New York’s Pier 54 at 9:30 p.m. on April 18 aboard their rescue ship, the Cunard liner Carpathia. Third-class passengers had to wait until 11 p.m. to disembark. According to Haas and Eaton, “federal immigration officers waived the usual examination of steerage passengers.”

The following day, The New York Times reported that “A score of the Titanic’s steerage were taken to the Hebrew Sheltering Home and Immigrant Aid Society, 229 East Broadway for the night.” According to HIAS records, the agency assisted 27 Titanic survivors.

If the body of Titanic’s Hebrew cook, Charles Kennell, was ever retrieved, his remains were never identified.

Marshall Weiss is the editor and publisher of The Dayton Jewish Observer.


The survival story of Leah and ‘Filly’ Aks, immigrant third-class passengers

By Marshall Weiss

(The Dayton Jewish Observer) — When Titanic departed on its first and last voyage from Southampton, England on Wednesday, April 10, 1912, 18-year-old Jewish immigrant Leah Aks and her 10-month-old son, Philip were on board.

Titanic survivors Leah and ‘Filly’ Aks | Photo: John P. Eaton-Charles A. Haas Titanic Collection

Passover had concluded the day before. On sailing day, Leah was pleased to find that the third class was not completely booked; she and Philip had a cabin all to themselves.

Leah was born in Warsaw, Poland. In London, she had met Sam Aks, a tailor who was also from Warsaw. They were married there.

“In London he was barely making a living,” wrote Valery Bazarov, historian for the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, in a piece about the family for HIAS. “A cousin who lived in America visited him in London and told him that if he came to America he’d make money very quickly. So he came over, got a job and soon saved enough money to bring Mrs. Aks and the baby over.”

Sam settled in Norfolk, Va. and entered the scrap metal business. In “Titanic: Women and Children First,” author Judith B. Geller indicates that all the money Sam earned was used for Leah and “Filly’s” trip to join him. Their arrival in Norfolk would mark the first time Sam would meet his son.

Though Leah and Filly were booked onto an earlier ship, Bazarov explained that Leah’s mother convinced her to wait a week and travel on Titanic, considered the world’s safest liner.

Four days into their journey, after the ship struck an iceberg, Leah and Filly followed other third-class passengers to the bottom of the third-class staircase at the rear of the ship.

At 12:30 p.m., the crew permitted women and children in this group to make their way to the boat deck. When crew members saw that Leah and Filly couldn’t get through the crowd up the stairs, they carried the two. Leah and Filly made it to the boat deck, part of the first-class area of the ship. Madeline Astor, the young wife of millionaire John Jacob Astor, covered Filly’s head with her silk scarf.

According to Bazarov, a distraught man — who had been rebuffed by the crew when he attempted to get into a lifeboat — ran up to Leah and said, “I’ll show you women and children first!”

The man grabbed Filly and threw him overboard.

Leah searched the deck until someone urged or pushed her into lifeboat 13. She sat in the middle of the Atlantic with 63 others in number 13, a broken woman. Hours after Titanic went down and the cries for help from those dying in the water faded away, the liner Carpathia arrived at daybreak.

Leah searched the deck of Carpathia in vain for her baby. Despondent, she took to a mattress for two days. Titanic survivor Selena Cook urged Leah to come up on deck for air. When she did, she heard Filly’s cry.

Unknown to Leah, Filly had fallen into lifeboat number 11, right into another woman’s arms. In Geller’s account, the woman is presumed to have been Italian immigrant Argene del Carlo. Her husband was not permitted to follow the pregnant Argene into the lifeboat.

“Argene shared her warmth with Filly through the long night,” Geller writes. “Toward morning she began to believe that God had sent this child to her as a replacement for Sebastino (her husband) and a brother for the child she carried in her womb.”

On the deck of Carpathia, the woman who had cared for Filly since Titanic sank refused to give Leah the child.

Leah appealed to the Carpathia’s captain, Arthur Roston, now put in the role of King Solomon.

In an e-mail interview with The Observer, Gilbert Binder, the husband of Leah’s late granddaughter, Rebecca, described what happened next.

Binder said that Filly was returned to Leah because “she identified him as a Jewish baby and he was circumcised. The (other) woman was Catholic and Italian and her male child would not have been circumcised.”

After their arrival in New York, Leah and Filly were taken to HIAS’ shelter and remained there until Frank could come for them.

“Leah Aks gave birth to a baby girl nine months after arriving in this country and intended to name her Sara Carpathia,” in honor of the rescue ship, Binder explained. “The nuns at the hospital in Norfolk, Va. got confused and named the baby Sara Titanic Aks. I have a copy of her birth certificate.” Sara was Binder’s mother-in-law.

Leah lived until 1967; her son, Filly, until 1991.

Marshall Weiss is the editor and publisher of The Dayton Jewish Observer.


How 10 came to be buried in Titantic section of Halifax’s Jewish cemetery

By Marshall Weiss

(The Dayton Jewish Observer) — No one knows for certain how many Jewish passengers were on board Titanic, let alone how many of them died. Of the more than 1,500 people who went down with Titanic, ships later recovered only 340 bodies.

From left, Frank Fitzgerald, a man believed to be Rabbi Jacob Walter, and Fred Bishop, who was responsible for ordering, cutting, and engraving stone, per a contract with the White Star Line, at the completed Titanic section in Baron de Hirsch Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, November, 1912. | Photo: Russ Lownds via the John P. Eaton/Charles A. Haas Titanic Photograph Archive

The White Star Line chartered three ships from Halifax, Nova Scotia and contracted almost every available embalmer in Nova Scotia to recover and embalm the remaining bodies.

At a makeshift morgue set up in the Mayflower Curling Rink in Halifax, family members or representatives on their behalf came to collect the remains that could be identified. Bodies that were neither identified nor claimed would be buried in Halifax.

Ultimately, 10 bodies were buried in a special Titanic plot at Halifax’s Jewish cemetery, the Baron de Hirsch Cemetery. All were male; only three were identified.

The story of how these bodies came to be buried there began on the evening of May 2, 1912. By then, the makeshift morgue had the first 59 bodies ready for burial at Fairview Cemetery, a nonsectarian cemetery. The funeral was to take place the following morning.

As John Eaton and Charles Haas document in “Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy,” late on the night of May 2, Rabbi Jacob Walter went to the curling rink, inspected as many coffins as he was able, and decided that eight victims had been Jewish. He had their coffins separated for interment at de Hirsch.

The rabbi continued his work the next day, bringing his tally of Jewish bodies to 18. “During the memorial service in town, (Walter) had gone to Fairview Cemetery, where the caskets were arriving from the Mayflower Rink for interment, opened the caskets, satisfied himself that 10 contained victims of the Jewish faith, and directed the undertaker’s team and several leading citizens of Halifax’s Jewish community to take them to the adjacent Baron de Hirsch cemetery.”

Eighteen bodies, presumed to be Jewish, were then at Baron de Hirsch; members of the Nova Scotia Jewish community hastily prepared to dig graves and inter the remains properly before the Sabbath would begin that evening.

When the funeral service began at Fairview, those present realized 10 coffins were missing.

Authorities then prohibited the Jewish community from burying the second set of remains Walter had identified but did allow the burial of the first eight at de Hirsch. Authorities also granted two more burial permits for “Hebrew” victims on May 4.

Walter was allowed to inspect all other bodies at the morgue. He declared there were 44 Jewish bodies in all. But his skills at determining who was Jewish weren’t always reliable.

One victim buried at de Hirsch was a Catholic, Michel Navratil, who traveled under the name “Hoffman.” The White Star Line determined that four of the deceased Walter had identified as Jews were also Catholics; others bodies had been claimed by family members.

In the end, the 10 bodies in question — which had been in the de Hirsch receiving vault since the day they were almost buried — were returned to the curling rink.

Marshall Weiss is the editor and publisher of The Dayton Jewish Observer.


Kosher deli in England a Titanic survivor’s legacy

By Marshall Weiss

(The Dayton Jewish Observer) — Manchester, England is home to an estimated 20,000-30,000 Jews, roughly 40 percent of whom keep kosher. Three of the community’s six kosher butcher/delicatessen shops are run by Richard Hyman and his wife, Joanna.

Richard Hyman, great-grandson of Titanic survivor Joseph Abraham Hyman, in front of the family business his great-grandfather started a year after the ship sank. | Photos: J.A.Hyman Titanics Ltd.

The 99-year-old family business, known to locals as “Titanics,” was born out of the most famous maritime disaster in history.

Richard, 42, is the great-grandson of Joseph Abraham Hyman, a survivor of the Titanic who was a third-class passenger aboard the ship.

“He was traveling alone,” Richard says of his great-grandfather in an e-mail conversation with The Observer. “The idea was that the streets were paved with gold in the U.S. and he would earn money to send back to the family so that they could follow in.”

Born in Russia in 1878, Joseph Abraham Hyman lived in Manchester before boarding Titanic at Southampton. He listed his destination as Springfield, Mass., where he planned to join his brother. Three days after the sinking, when the rescue ship Carpathia arrived in New York on the evening of April 18, 1912, Hyman gave extensive accounts of the disaster to The New York Herald and The New York Times. Both were published the following day.

After Titanic’s collision, Hyman related, he ultimately made it to the boat deck. He found himself on the starboard side near collapsible boat C and noticed this was the last boat at that part of the ship.

“The forward deck was jammed with the people, all of them pushing and clawing and fighting, and so I walked forward and stepped over the end of the boat that was being got ready and sat down,” he told The New York Times. “Nobody disturbed me, and then a line of men gathered along the side, and only opened when a woman or a child came forward. When a man tried to get through he would be pushed back.”

Also on collapsible C was J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line.

Hyman told The New York Herald that after the men had rowed collapsible C about a half mile from Titanic, they heard a small explosion and a terrible cry. “The cry was blood curdling and never stopped until the Titanic went down, when it seemed to be sort of choked off. The cry is ringing in my ears now and always will.”

Shaken to the core, Hyman’s wife refused to make the crossing to join him in America, Richard says. But Hyman, too, was afraid to travel by ship to England.

“So a cousin of his got him drunk and put him on a boat back,” Richard explains. “We don’t know who the cousin was, as I don’t think my great-grandfather spoke to him again!”

Hyman got the idea for a kosher deli/grocery store while he was in New York. This kind of shop was new to England. Although Hyman named his business J.A. Hyman Ltd., locals referred to him as “the man from the Titanic.” Soon enough, customers began calling the North Manchester shop “Titanics.”

Hyman died in 1956, 13 years before Richard was born. The family tells Richard that his great-grandfather never spoke about his escape once he was back in England.

“We still have customers who come in and tell me now they used to get the salmon fligel (fin) of Jewish lollipop as they called it from my great-grandfather when they were little — a tradition that still continues today,” Richard says.

In addition to their North Manchester store, less than half a mile from the original shop, the Hyman family also has two others south of Manchester.

Their website (, with the slogan, “You Shop, We Schlep!” accounts for 15 to 20 percent of their retail business. They ship all over the United Kingdom and deliver from the far north of Scotland to the southern tip of England.

“The same items are popular now as they were then,” Richard says. “We make our own smoked salmon to the original recipe along with pickles, salt beef, etc. I have also just started making my grandfather’s hot dogs, salamis and pastrami again; he had written down his recipes and it has taken me years to decipher his handwriting and measurements, but they are still great now.”

Richard started working at Titanics as a “Sunday boy” after his bar mitzvah. He says his parents didn’t pressure him to enter the family business.

“I went to university to keep my options open, however my grandparents wanted me to carry the business on,” he says. “It is a very hard business to be in and you have to love it and live it for it to succeed.”

Richard took over the business from his father, Stanley. These days, Stanley acts as an advisor.

“Changes are vast though,” Richard says. “People now want convenience, they want to get cooked foods or have something that is easy to prepare and cook.”

Titanics, under full-time supervision of the Manchester Kashruth Authority, offers its customers, traditional to modern selections, cooked and raw. “We are one of the few proper kosher butchers in Manchester now,” he says. “There used to be 50 plus.”

As far as Richard and Joanna’s children — Callum, 9; Leo, 5; and Jessica, 3 — are concerned, Richard doesn’t pressure them to join the family business. But he’s trying to give them the same love of food that he has. “If they do decide that it is what they want to do for a career, they have that knowledge.”

Marshall Weiss is the editor and publisher of The Dayton Jewish Observer.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 12 April 2012 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Former Congressman Martin Frost D-Dallas phoned me last week and shared that he recently endorsed Marc Veasey for the democratic nomination in the newly drawn 33rd Congressional District that spans the DFW Metroplex. Frost was the only Jewish Congressman from Texas in the 20th century. “Marc worked on my Congressional staff for six years prior to his election to the Texas Legislature from Fort Worth in 2004 and is an unusually qualified candidate to serve the new 33rd district,” Frost said.

Former U.S. Congressman Martin Frost, left, pictured with Marc Veasey.

Other key Dallas supporters include former State Representative Steve Wolens, former Mayor Adlene Harrison, NJDC chair Marc Stanley, and longtime Democratic party activists Norman and Audrey Kaplan and Tina Wasserman.

On May 15, Wendy and Marc Stanley will host a an event in their home for Veasey. Additionally, members of the Dallas Jewish community will be participating in an event for Rep. Veasey at the home of long-time Dallas Democratic fundraiser Jess Hay on April 25.

The newly created 33rd Congressional District is 80 percent combinded Black and Hispanic and is expected to elect the Metroplex’s second minority member of Congress. The population is about evenly divided between Dallas and Tarrant counties, with the highest turnout precincts in Tarrant County. It included portions of Oak Cliff, Grand Prairie, Irving, Arlington and the east and north sides of Fort Worth.

An update from Shearith’s impact committee

In order to address poverty in the Dallas community, Shearith Israel’s IMPACT committee — Involve More People And Change Tomorrow — has creatively incorporated the Tikkun Olam message to highlight charities in need and provide a vehicle for action during communal gatherings.

Benjamin, Jacob and Daniel Weinstein along with Gordon Cizon organized Shearith’s collection of mac and cheese to donate to JFS’ food pantry.

As part of Shearith’s Purim celebration, IMPACT held a “Shake than Donate” campaign in which congregants were encouraged to bring boxes of macaroni and cheese to use as groggers during the Megillah reading, which were then donated to the Jewish Family Service Food Pantry. As a congregation, over 300 boxes of mac and cheese were collected and painstakingly counted by Gordon Cizon and Benjamin, Daniel and Jacob Weinstein, sons of Craig and Krista Weinstein, ages 4, 5 and 7 respectively.

The IMPACT committee is actively growing the social action culture, synagogue-wide, through a variety of programs and projects. Through food and financial collections which benefit JFS, Austin Street Shelter, Family Gateway and MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, congregants are able to actively participate to make a difference. Just like hunger, IMPACT does not take a vacation. Visit to see how you can make a difference.

Dallas BBYO sponsors private premiere screenings of Hollywood’s ‘Bully’documentary

Committed to respect and inclusion of all, Dallas BBYO is proud to sponsor screenings of “Bully,” a feature-length documentary that depicts “a year in the life” of five teens who are examples of North America’s bullying crisis. BBYO is the exclusive partner in bringing the “Bully” movie to Jewish teen audiences, and has partnered with Keshet, NFTY and Repair the World along with many other organizations across the country to ensure the screenings reach the largest number of Jewish teens possible. Dallas is one of 15 communities screening the film.

All Dallas-area Jewish youth and their families are invited to see the film with BBYO before its worldwide release followed by a unique discussion and anti-bullying training session immediately following the film. The film will be shown on Tuesday, April 17, at 7 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center at Mockingbird Station. The cost is $5 for teens and $10 for adults. Advance registration is required.

“Bully” tells the remarkable stories of five brave families that will challenge viewers to move from shock and resignation about bullying to action, transforming schools and communities into places where empathy and respect are valued and bullying is unacceptable. As an exclusive partner of “Bully,” BBYO brought the film’s director, Lee Hirsch, to BBYO’s International Convention last month in Atlanta for the first all-teen audience screening of the film and a private Q & A session. BBYO is also listed on “The Bully Project” website and film credits.

“No matter how shameful it is to admit, every teen witnesses bullying in our schools in some form and we don’t always want to talk or think about it,” said Kara Simon, a senior from Dallas. “I’m proud to be a part of an organization like BBYO that sees the importance of this film’s message and is working to bring it to as many teens as possible.”

For those looking to take action against bullying now, BBYO is collecting signatures from teens and their families as a part of BBYO’s Stand UP for Each Other Campaign for Respect and Inclusion, a grassroots effort focused on creating safe and welcome communities for all Jewish teens. All signatures will contribute toward The Bully Project’s goal to reach one million teens with an important message to take action and put an end to bullying.

To sign the petitions, learn more and register, visit

To read more about “Bully” and BBYO visit

Yavneh competes in Yeshiva University basketball tourney

Jewish high schools from across North America went head to head at Yeshiva University’s 21st Annual Red Sarachek Invitational Basketball Tournament last month. The tournament, named for legendary former YU Maccabees coach Bernard “Red” Sarachek, featured 20 Jewish high school basketball teams in a dramatic tournament played before live crowds and broadcast to audiences in the thousands.

After five days of thrilling basketball and friendly competition, the YULA Panthers of Los Angeles, CA were crowned champions of Sarachek, defeating the SAR Sting of Riverdale, NY by the score of 45-35. Yavneh academy participated in the tournament and Yavneh senior Jordan Prescott was named to the 2nd Team All-Tournament team. Jordan is the son of Stephanie and Dan Prescott of Dallas. At the start of the season, Jordan, who plays small forward and guard was named an as an all-state preseason basketball player in Texas High School Basketball magazine. Jordan’s senior year capped a stellar career at Yavneh where he became the second-leading all time scorer and now holds the assist record for the school. He has been accepted to a number of colleges, including the University of Texas at Austin. His plans for next year are not confirmed, he could be a Longhorn, or head to Israel for a gap year. Mazel tov to Jordan

Controversial Israeli film part of Dallas International Film Festival programming

3 Stars Jewish Cinema will be a community partner with the Dallas International Film Festival (DIFF). They will be co-sponsoring the controversial Israeli film “Policeman” (Ha-Shoter) which won three awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival and a special jury prize at the Locarno Film Festival.
“Policeman” is Nadiv Lapid’s polemic feature film debut. It is 105 minutes long and is in Hebrew with English subtitles.

A compelling drama, the film deftly presents disparate stories, juxtaposing two very different factions of devoted warriors. The first half exhibits the day-by-day behavior and vitality of an elite Israeli counter-terrorist unit led by Yaron, a macho and charismatic young man. He and his comrades are ardently devoted to protecting Israel and its people. The film switches gears by shifting to a radical group of young revolutionaries bent on kidnapping wealthy Israeli businessmen in order to expose the increasing disparity between the rich and the poor. Shira, a young and naive poetess obsessed with her manifesto on social injustice, brandishes guns and words in equal measure.

When the anti-terrorist unit encounters the violent young radicals, they learn that a new threat to the security of their country may not emanate from the usual suspects. The two stories collide with an alarming confrontation between the policemen and the small faction of political activists.

There will be two screenings. The first is on Sunday, April 15 at noon at the Magnolia Theater located at 3699 McKinney Ave. The second is Wednesday, April 18, 1:30 p.m. at the Angelika Film Center Dallas/Mockingbird Station.

Tickets are free for 3 Stars Jewish Cinema members. Please RSVP to or you can purchase tickets at the DIFF website:

Colin’s music will premiere in Lewisville

On Saturday, April 21 at 7 p.m., the Lewisville Civic Chorale will present Fauré & Rutter: Requiem with orchestra and guest artists: Rebecca Winston, soprano; Timothy Bergan, bass. The performance will feature the world premier of “Blessed Shall You Be,” a work by Susan Colin, Flower Mound composer/resident. The concert will be held at the Medical Center of Lewisville Grand Theater (MCL Grand Theater), 100 North Charles Street, Lewisville, 75057.

General Admission is $15; $10 for seniors; $5 for students and children. Discounted tickets are available and are $30 per family (up to two parents with children)

Pay online with paypal by visiting

Press notes

Just a reminder, this year’s Zweig End of School Year bash will be held from 2-4 p.m. on April 15 at Bowl 300. Bnai Zion will hold it’s annual brunch in support of Ahava Village for Children and Youth in Kiryat Bialik on May 6 at the Westin Galleria. Honorees are Brett Diamond, Ben Fine, Brett Lazarus, Jodi Barris Sanchez, Shane Stein, Robin Finkelstein Stone and Dawn Spechler Strauss. Fore more information contact Avrille Harris-Cohen at 972-918-9200 or avrille.

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Making ritual more than rote

Making ritual more than rote

Posted on 05 April 2012 by admin

By Laura Seymour

A long-ago demographic study found that the Passover seder was the most “observed” ritual of American Jews. That meant that we Jews sit down for a seder more often than lighting Shabbat candles, more often than going to synagogue on the High Holy Days and even more often than celebrating Chanukah. There are many thoughts on why the seder seems to be the most popular ritual, but most feel it has to do with home, family, and food (probably not in that order).

The question this survey didn’t focus on, however, was “what does your seder look like?” or “what activities take place at your seder?” For some, the answer could include kashering the house, burning the chametz, having a long seder in Hebrew and carefully keeping the rules during the holiday. For others, the answer might involve inviting a lot of people, worrying about the food and — oh yeah — having matzah and lots of it.

The important aspect here is not to let any observance — Pesach or any other one — to become rote. There is a reason why we subsist on matzah — and no leavened bread — for the full eight days (and it isn’t because of the taste).

If you’re one of those who struggles with the lack of leavening and tends to cave early, consider taking Joel Lurie Grishaver’s “Matzah Challenge.” This challenge is in his book, “40 Things You Can Do to Save the Jewish People,” and he writes “The matzah challenge is good, because it gives you a Jewish accomplishment in your life. It’s easy to do with kids — just think of all the charts on which you can paste gold stars. But, the matzah challenge is also good because it teaches us the Bet Hillel lesson. If you manage to get through a whole week — going to all the ordinary places you need to go, doing all the things you need to do — and bread (chametz) has not crossed your lips, you’ve proved that ordinary life and being a Jew can go together — that neither has to lose.” A powerful message indeed.

If you already follow the rules of Passover, and think the matzah challenge isn’t necessary, carefully consider why you follow those rules — and discuss those reasons. The goal here is to add meaning to the rituals of the holiday, rather than going through it just because our bubbie, or father, or rabbi tells us we have to.

May your celebration be joyous and complete with family, good food and meaningful discussion.

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

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 05 April 2012 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

By the time you read this column, young Sorter and I will be at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, preparing to fly to Florida to share Passover with in-laws, sisters and brothers, nieces and nephew and cousins.

Passover celebrations were fun when Young Sorter and his cousins were kidlets — but now, as the kidlets have grown into teens and young adults, I’m hoping the discussions will be more interesting and insightful (assuming, of course, we can ban all texting devices from the seder).

There is a lot going on in the world today that demands our attention, and to my mind, the Passover seder, with its ritual observances of our flight from Egyptian slavery to freedom, presents the ideal opportunity to discuss how current freedoms are being eroded and threatened — and what we can do to prevent that from happening.

I extended the invitation some weeks ago to share your own Passover experiences; please feel free to send them to me at

May your Passover celebration this year be meaningful and may you find enjoyment in the company of family and friends at this time of year. Chag sameach!

Never Forget

Last week I mentioned that, even in the midst of our Passover celebrations, we need to look ahead to commemorate those in the past. Holocaust Remembrance Day — Yom Hashoah — is on April 19. Activities will take place up to, and on the day itself, to commemorate the six million lost and those who fought the hated regime that caused such destruction.

Beginning Monday, April 9, the TCU Chapter of Hillel will present a Holocaust Museum in Brown Lupton University Union’s ballroom, located on the TCU campus at 2901 Stadium Dr., in rooms 3301 C and D.

The museum will operate between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. on April 9-10; and from noon to 4 p.m. on April 11. At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 10, Harriet Cohen with TCU’s social work department will discuss “Lessons Learned from Visiting Holocaust Death Camps.” Both museum and Dr. Cohen’s talk are open to the community at no charge.

For further information, contact the Hillel faculty advisor, Dr. Arnold Barkman at 817-257-7553 or

On April 15 at 6:30 p.m., Congregation Beth Shalom, 1212 Thannisch Dr. in Arlington, will host a program dedicated to those who risked their lives to save others. The program will begin with a memorial service and a performance of the Holocaust Cantata by the A Cappella Choir and University Singers of UT Arlington. The service will also include Holocaust survivors as well as readings from journals and interview transcripts from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

The program is also being sponsored by Sponsored by The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from The Dan Danciger/Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation as well as the Multicultural Alliance of Texas.

Even if you don’t attend these or other programs, please take a moment on April 19 to commemorate those who perished, as well as the brave souls who tried to help.

Successful Ladies Auxiliary’s Donor Luncheon

At the Ahavath Sholom Ladies Auxiliary Donor Luncheon are from left Barbara Ragland, Michel Bloom, Rabbi Andrew Bloom, Congresswoman Kay Granger, Annette Smith, Marina Michan and Rhonda Goodman.

The Ladies Auxiliary of Congregation Ahavath Sholom hosted its annual donor luncheon (one of the group’s main fund-raising events) on April 1, with Congresswoman Kay Granger as guest speaker — between all of her subcommittee assignments, Congresswoman Granger oversees 70 percent of all discretionary spending in the United States.

The photo shown here speaks volumes about the success of this event; congratulations to the women who attended and who put it all together.

Also Successful; Senior Seder

Hedy Collins writes that the B’nai B’rith Senior Seder, which took place March 29 at Beth-El Congregation, was a resounding success. More than 125 people attended and were treated to a seder service led by Beth-El’s Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger. Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s Rabbi Andrew Bloom also stopped by to say a few words.

Marcia Kurtz, Gloria Sepp, Jaclyn Daiches and Judy Weinstein at the Senior Seder

The meal was outstanding, and included everything from soup to nuts; or in this case, matzah balls to macaroons. Hedy notes it was served by “smiling, hard-working volunteers from the community,” all of whom were led by Harry Kahn. “As I always say, ‘it takes a village.’ Thank you to all who made the luncheon possible,” Hedy writes.

Need Money for College?

If your family has a high school senior who plans to head off to college, and you’re looking doubtfully at your bank statement in the meantime, consider applying for one of two Isadore Garsek B’nai B’rith Lodge # 269 scholarship.

The $1,000 scholarships are available to parents or guardians who are members of the Isadore Garsek lodge, or who are members of an established Jewish synagogue in Tarrant County. The parents/guardians must be members in good standing of either organization for at least 12 months.

Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement as well as accomplishments, outside interests and participation in school-oriented and outside activities.

Scholarships will be presented at the annual B’nai B’rith Jewish Person of the Year banquet on June 3.

The deadline for applications is May 24.

Questions? Contact Dr. Barry Schneider at or get in touch with your synagogue’s youth advisor or rabbi.

The Next Daytimers’ Event …

… will take place Wednesday, April 18 and will feature a trip to Dallas, via the TRE, to view the Kennedy exhibit at the Sixth Floor Museum. The group will meet at the Fort Worth Intermodal Transportation Center at 1001 Jones St. at noon, and to keep costs down, lunch will be a do-it-yourself affair.

Barbara Rubin tells us there is a Subway sandwich shop at the ITC, if anyone wants to buy lunch to eat on the train. The train is scheduled to return to Fort Worth by 4:45 p.m. Cost of the trip is $15 (and includes train fare, museum admission and bottled water).

For information and reservations, have your credit card handy and call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736 or Hugh Lamensdorf, 817-738-1428. You can reserve for yourself, too, by logging onto

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More to Pesach cleaning than simply a chore

More to Pesach cleaning than simply a chore

Posted on 05 April 2012 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I’m cleaning my house for Pesach as I have done every year since becoming more observant. I’m changing over the dishes, covering my counters and more. Although I know I need to do this, I’m having trouble getting anything spiritual out of all this cleaning and working. Could you give me anything to focus on that might help?

— Sonya L.

Dear Sonya,

To tell the truth, I think what’s bothering you bothers most women, and their male helpers as well, when going through the drudgery of Pesach cleaning. The traditional blessings around this time of year are for a Purim sameach (a joyous Purim) and a Pesach kasher (a kosher Pesach). One Chassidic rebbe used to wish people a kosher Purim (it’s easy for Purim to be joyous, harder to make it proper and kosher) and a Pesach sameach (it’s often tough to bring Pesach in with joy with all the hard work it takes to get there).

If we take a new look at Pesach preparation in the context of understanding what a Jewish holiday is about, we can take a new and redeeming look at Pesach cleaning.

The concept of a yom tov, or holiday, in Judaism is very different from that of the secular world. In the world at large, time is a continuum, which moves in a straight line. We mark off times to represent days and dates, but those dates have no relation to the same date a year ago or many years ago. When one celebrates July 4, it is an important commemoration for events that took place more than 200 years ago, but those events happened only at that time. We celebrate them on the anniversary of when those events transpired.

In Judaism however, as explained by the Talmud and the kabbalists, time is not a continuum, rather it is a cycle. Every date takes us back to the source of that date. If at any given time of the year, God chose that date to reveal the Divine Presence and shone the great light of the Shechina onto the world, when we return to that date of the year-cycle that light is still shining just as brightly as the day He performed the miracles of revelation. There are some who clearly see and experience that light, those whom have elevated themselves to higher spiritual levels. But for the rest of us, that light is shining on us in a hidden way; that hidden illumination is the source of holiday holy-day, or holiday.

As such, a Jewish holiday is not something you do, rather it’s something you enter. For example, to relive the feelings of love and Heavenly protection in the desert, we need to actually leave our homes and enter a different physical and mind-space. This is why we live in a sukkah for seven days. We don’t just observe Sukkot, we enter the world of Sukkot.

On Shavuot night, which occurs seven weeks after Pesach, the custom is to remain awake all night, studying Torah. Through this total immersion in Torah we leave our worlds and enter the space of Sinai.

With Pesach, we are enjoined not only to observe Pesach, but also to transcend our world and enter into the world of Pesach. This is implicit in the statement of the haggadah that every year every Jew should see himself/herself as if they themselves are leaving Egypt. That’s only possible if you leave your familiar surroundings and enter a new world, the world of Pesach.

This is the reason we need to clean our homes of the familiar foods, even sell them to a non-Jew through the rabbi, and put out special tablecloths and dishes. We are no longer in our familiar homes, but have left those homes behind for our new homes — our Pesach homes. In the new home we are empowered to enter a new mind-space, the world of Pesach. With every cabinet you clean and every shmatte you use up, you’re one step closer to entering the world of redemption!

Wishing a wonderful, joyous and kosher Pesach to you and all the readers!

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

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