Archive | June, 2012

Around the Town

Posted on 07 June 2012 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

In poking around on various synagogues’ websites, I came across an interesting column penned by Beth-El Congregation’s own Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger. The topic involved the need for taking time off. Not so much in terms of summer vacation, but in terms of Shabbat.

He pointed out the importance of giving oneself permission to take time off, noting that, in biblical times, there was no such thing as a “vacation; rather, our ancestors used Shabbat to take that time off.”

The essence of the column was that what we need is to reclaim Shabbat — and that summertime, with its more relaxed focus, might be a good time to do just that.

“Recharge your spiritual batteries each week,” Mecklenburger notes. “We should get off the daily treadmill long enough each week to ponder what our lives are about.”

Absolutely. Shabbat gives us the excuse to not have to work but rather, to reflect, pray and study — and, depending on what synagogue you attend, to eat and schmooze after morning services. Summer is a good time to see what Shabbat is all about. The day of rest so we can do well with the rest of the week.

For the seniors

Whether you’re a Fort Worth native or a newcomer, the local Jewish Family Services would like to welcome you to its senior (citizen) program, which meets 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Monday-Friday at Beth-El Congregation’s Great Hall.

A dairy lunch is served at noon. Also available are games and all-around fun and schmoozing.

For information, contact the JFS office at 817-569-0898.

More Congratulations

On the wedding front, mazel tov to Linda Rome and Donald Wooldridge on their recent marriage. Also, congrats go to Sandy and Ira Hollander on the marriage of their son, Adam, to Adelle Reeder (the couple lives in Houston); as well as to Marilyn and Larry McGee, on the marriage of their daughter, Sari Hochberger, to Mickey Barr, who live in New York.

There are more graduates to congratulate as well …

  • Alex Keller, son of Nancy Keller and Stewart Keller, a National Merit finalist who is graduating from Fort Worth Paschal High School. He will attend the University of Rochester.
  • Eli Holley, who is graduating from Oklahoma City University.
  • Kelly Ayn Putterman, granddaughter of Ruth and Jerry Berkowitz, who is graduating from the TCU School of Nursing. She begins work at Baylor All Saints Hospital this month.
  • Hailey Rubin, who is graduating from Paschal High School. Haley is daughter of Barry and Gwen Rubin and granddaughter of Elaine and Michael Griver. She will join her older sister, Kaitlyn, at Auburn University.
  • Melissa Beldon, daughter of Lori and Robert Beldon, who is graduating from Texas State University.
  • Danielle Knust, daughter of Ilana and Kurt Knust, who is graduating from North Crowley High School. She will attend Virginia Tech.
  • Jennie Brow, daughter of Jackie Brow, who is graduating from North Crowley High School.
  • Jenna Lee, daughter of Jim and Judy Lee, who is graduating from Fort Worth Country Day School.
  • Emily Englander, daughter of Marilyn and Marty Englander, who is graduating from Fort Worth Country Day School. She will attend George Washington University.
  • Ted Dayton, son of Drs. Greg and Debra Dayton, who is graduating from Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts. He will attend Columbia College in Chicago.
  • Jacob Micklin, grandson of Roz and Harvey Micklin, who is graduating from Monarch High School in Louisville, Colo. He will attend the University of Colorado.
  • Michael Mann, son of Sherry and Howard Mann, who is graduating from Aledo High School. He will attend Kansas State University.
  • And congratulations to Cara Ginsburg and Mark Jones — in addition to daughter Catie Noa Ginsburg, who graduated last summer from the University of Texas in Austin with a degree in international relations, the family is honoring Rory Lior Ginsburg, who is graduating from Paschal High School.

And finally, a hearty mazel tov to Rosanne and Bill Margolis, whose granddaughter Julie Sondecher received an Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship from the University of Texas at Austin. Julie was also named Distinguished Scholar at the university’s Honors Day Convocation.

A Daytimers Reminder

The next Sylvia Wolens Daytimers event at Beth-El Congregation; the organization’s annual movie and ice cream social.

The movie shown will be “Second Hand Lions,” a terrific coming-of-age film with Haley Joel Osment as a young boy spending a summer with his eccentric and rich Texas uncles (portrayed by Robert Duvall and Michael Caine).

The cost for this is $5 and includes the film plus all the popcorn and ice cream you can eat — a pretty good deal, actually. Fat-free, lactose-free and sugar-free ice cream can be ordered as well, just let Barbara Rubin or Hugh Lamensdorf know when you call.

And, if you want to make reservations, you can call Barbara (817-927-2736) or Hugh (817-738-1428) or log onto to reserve for yourself.

As always, the event exists thanks to financial support from the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

Coming in July

That’s right — with June started, it’s never too soon to talk about July. At any rate, a Kids-Who-Care musical will be performed at noon Wednesday, July 11, at Beth-El Congregation.

The performance is called “Choices: Be the Change,” and is an original musical questioning responses to life’s collisions and examines consequences of decisions. Any decisions — even deciding what to have for dinner — have its consequences.

Cost of the program is $4 per person ($9 if you want the lunch as well). The menu will be posted in early June on the synagogue’s website —

And finally

Are you doing anything fun this summer? Traveling the seven seas? Visiting relatives and friends? Just hanging out? Let us know! Send your comments and pictures to me at

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Hagbah can be quite the lift

Hagbah can be quite the lift

Posted on 07 June 2012 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

A few years back, “The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit” was the hot read among Jewish book clubs. The story: A patriarchal mountain of an Egyptian is uprooted and forced to emigrate when a new government strips the Jews of their former status and dignity.

The author: Lucette Lagnado, a youngster when the change came, told this tale of her own father. He never adjusted to American life; she grew up to be an author of widely read books and a distinguished Wall Street Journal investigative reporter. In that role, she opens out segments of Jewish life not just for those who wouldn’t know them otherwise, but to us Jews who still and always have much to learn.

Case in point: her recent WSJ article about Hagbah — the ritual lifting of a Torah after the reading from it is complete.

“Hagbah is considered a tremendous honor,” she says. “It can also be a perilous undertaking. The average Torah scroll can weigh about 25 or 30 pounds. Accidents happen … ”

In explaining what happens after an accident, Lagnado cites Jonathan Sarna, renowned professor of American Jewish history at Brandeis, who warns that when someone drops a Torah, there is not only enormous shame, but enormous fasting: 40 days, from sunrise to sunset. And not only the butter-fingered one suffers; everyone in the congregation who is a witness must also carry out the prodigious punishment.

This potential reality is the reason that excludes men with bad backs from the honor. And even in the most egalitarian congregations, few women are called upon for Hagbah.

One who has done it, a physical trainer who lifts weights and also teaches Pilates, says that when she first picked up a scroll, “I was shaking. My own child told me, ‘Please! I don’t want to fast for 40 days!’” She watches men hold scrolls high over their heads and concludes, “It’s sheer faith that lets them get it up there.”

The possibility of disaster exists even absent Hagbah. Lagnado talked to one rabbi who said that while he was leading High Holiday services in a synagogue near Chicago, a Torah fell out when the ark was opened, and several dozen congregants fasted for 40 days after that. And during the Simchat Torah Hakafot in a Massachusetts shul, a congregant tripped and dropped the scroll he was dancing with. This was a Modern Orthodox congregation, so its rabbi decreed a different mode of atonement: a one-day communal fast plus much prayer, accompanied by generous charitable giving.

But ritual lifting is the primary concern, mostly because the many old and much beloved European Torahs are very heavy — and the Sephardic ones, with their silver-embellished wooden cases, are even heavier. Lighter scrolls are available today, but as Lagnado notes, in the cost department, “Less is often more. The lighter or smaller the Torah, the heftier the price tag.”

The usual Torah measures 22 inches tall. One about half that size — just 12 inches — needs much smaller Hebrew characters, which will require scribing with extreme care, which means slower writing, which will take much longer. That can add about $10,000 to the price of a conventional scroll, whose cost begins in the $35,000 to $40,000 range and may climb into the stratosphere after that.

There is one scribe who says he uses lighter parchment and can produce 12-1/2 inch Torahs, weighing only five pounds, for about $30,000 each. His primary customer? The U.S. military, which purchases them for Jewish chaplains.

At the extreme other end is a 4-foot, 58-pound Moroccan scroll regularly lifted by members of the Manhattan Sephardic shul, and its rabbi never worries: “We are a young congregation, “ he says. “We have a bunch of guys who came out of the Israeli army.”

But this provides small comfort for the New Jersey rabbi who suffers from a recurring dream: a congregant lifts a Torah “high up in the air, when it starts to tilt toward the ground. The rabbi lunges forward to catch the scroll, screaming ‘Watch out! Watch out!’ before he wakes up in a cold sweat.”

I was unhappy with Lagnado’s second book, “The Arrogant Years: An Egyptian Family in Exile” (she termed this a memoir, as if the first were not) because of the black brush with which she tarred all Jewish old-age homes after being highly dissatisfied with the New York one in which her mother spent her final days. But I’ve decided to forgive her after this “uplifting” Hagbah story.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 07 June 2012 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

In general, we don’t cover stories ourselves on Shabbat, but we always welcome submissions from our readers. Dr. Richard and Rozelle Gilman were kind enough to share news about a special Shabbat dinner at their Richardson home last Friday, June 1.

Richard Gilman of Dallas, left, hosted the Shabbat dinner June 1 featuring Brad Sham, center, and purchased by Glen Campbell. | Photos: Courtesy of Richard Gilman

It was the result of a Rotary Fundraising Gala live auction item titled “An Intimate Shabbat dinner with Brad Sham, Voice of the Dallas Cowboys,” which was purchased by Glen and Vickie Campbell for $900. The proceeds went to Rotary’s World Polio Eradication project. Glen is president of the Prestonwood Rotary Club in North Dallas.

While Rozelle prepared a sumptuous Shabbat dinner, Richard fired up the bar. The highlights of the evening, however, were Sham’s stories and revelations about Dallas Cowboys players, coaches and owners, and the policies, politics and issues surrounding pro football and other sports.

When there was a brief lull in sports topics, Brad shared stories about his recent interfaith tour of Israel, which involved 40 congregants of Temple Emanu-El and 40 congregants of Wilshire Baptist Church. They visited all the holy sites together with discussions from Rabbi David Stern and Rev. George Mason.

Sham, in appreciation of his service as celebrity guest, was honored as a Rotary Paul Harris Fellow on the spot, representing an additional $1,000 donation to Rotary’s “End Polio Now!” campaign

Dallas Cowboys radio broadcaster Brad Sham, left, was the guest of honor at a Shabbat dinner purchased by Glen Campbell, front right, during a live auction at a Rotary Club findraiser.

Rotary Club members in 180 countries have been working to eradicate polio around the world. Through their good works, the number of countries with the live virus has been reduced from 125 in 1985 to only three countries (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Nigeria) last February. More than 1 billion children have received the vaccine.

Thank you to the Gilmans for sharing their unique Shabbat experience last week. Do you have a Shabbat or chavurah experience you’d like to share with the community? Send them my way at

Andrew Fields: a budding filmmaker

Andrew Fields, son of David and Julie Fields and a rising senior at Greenhill School in Addison, is no stranger to film festivals. Since March, Fields’ films have been featured in several festivals, one of which won at Austin’s South by Southwest (SXSW).

Out of 23 high school films accepted, Fields’ “Boom,” co-directed by fellow Greenhill students Daniel Matyas and Brian Broder, won the SXSW Jury Award, Texas High School Shorts competition (you can read more about Matyas, who recently graduated from Greenhill on Page 23 of this week’s issue). The film was produced as a part of an assignment in which students, mentored by artist Trenton Doyle Hancock (who produced artwork at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington), were allowed to utilize only $15 worth of objects. The students completed the film in two days.

In addition to “Boom,” Fields co-directed “Plasticine Dream,” with Greenhill student Samantha Fine. “Plasticine Dream,” also accepted into South by Southwest, brings the lives of clay figures turn into a reality.

Fields’ film “Knit Picky” also transforms everyday objects into living creatures. “Knit Picky,” produced and directed by Fields under the pseudonym Bobby Jorgenson, was presented at SXSW and the Los Angeles Film Festival. The film utilizes sock puppets as a means to delve into greater concepts such as bullying, racism and exclusion.

All three of Fields’ films — “Boom,” “Plasticine Dream” and “Knit Picky” — were featured in the Dallas International Film Festival.

To watch the videos, visit and search by film name.

New stamp club officers

The Israel Stamp Club, Society of Israel Philatelists Dallas Chapter has named its slate of new officers.

Assuming the role of chapter president is Lawrence Goldman; Gordon Cizon is treasurer. Re-elected are Bob Partegas, vice president; Gerald Vaiser, secretary; and Don Weitz, media specialist. This election was prompted by the sudden and unexpected passing of Arnold Paddock, the organization’s long-time president.

Members of the Israel Stamp Club collect stamps and special issues of many countries, including Israel, and meet monthly at the Aaron Family JCC.

The next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Monday, June 18. Guest speaker will be Perry Denton, program chair of the Dallas-Park Cities Philatelic Society. He will discuss “Stamps at the Back of the Book.” Guests are always invited to attend.

DATA raffle features $10,000 Bachendorf’s gift card

Dallas Area Torah Association in is the midst of its annual spring scholarship raffle, which benefits myriad programs and classes sponsored by DATA throughout North Texas. This year’s grand prize is a $10,000 gift certificate to Bachendorf’s Fine Jewelers.

Rabbi Nasanya Zakon told me at press time that plenty of tickets are available and there are price breaks for purchasing more than one ticket.

The drawing will take place on June 20. To purchase tickets visit, For information, call DATA at 214-987-3282.

News and notes

• The Frisco Gan, a mother’s day out program serving the North Collin County and run by Chabad of Plano/Collin County, has just completed its first year of programming.

A third day will be added this fall, and the Frisco Gan will have a special summer camp from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays throughout July. The program is geared for children 18 months to 2½ years old.

For information, contact Rivkie Block or Tia Sukenik at 972-596-8270 or visit

• Basketball guru and skills development coach Tayler Faust will conduct basketball skills development training at the J, 7900 Northaven Road this summer.

Players will take part in sessions consisting of precise skills, drills, and stations aimed at improving scoring skills and techniques. Following the skill work, players will be placed in game-specific situations to implement and incorporate the new skills learned during that day’s session.

Each session will open with a brief recap of skills learned the previous week and no two sessions will be the same. Cost is $20 per session for J members and $30 for non-members.

Classes will be held from 4:45-6 p.m. Each day is separated by grade level: Mondays (grades 4-6), Tuesdays (grades 7-8), Wednesdays (grades 9-10) and Thursdays (grades 11-12).

For information contact Faust at or 214-239-7175.

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