Archive | August, 2012

Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 23 August 2012 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

At press time Tuesday, I took a second to take a call from a gentleman in our community who shared a story with me that I think you’ll enjoy.

He called to share some thoughts about how we can improve our “Guide to Jewish Life” (which I hope you all received) and suggested that we could do a better job describing the different streams of Judaism.

This guy, who I’ll call Sheldon, has been a member of our community for some time. He remembered my Uncle Chet, who used to man the Northaven office of the TJP and who died close to 30 years ago. At any rate, Sheldon didn’t get the weekly TJP, so he didn’t realize how chalk full our pages are of synagogue news and information differentiating the various streams. I think last time he saw a copy of our paper, we listed three synagogues in Dallas, and now we have more than 25.

I was touched by his call, though, and he shared a funny story. He said that many years ago he was on a date with a non-Jewish woman. He said the subject of his religion came up like he figured it would. He explained to her about Orthodox, Conservative and Reform Judaism, and that we call our houses of worship shuls and temples. He asked her, “Have you ever been to temple?” She replied, “No, but I’ve been to Waco!”

After I stopped laughing, I had to share that with you. If it’s an oldie but a goody, I hadn’t heard it yet. And, if you’d like to share a funny story with me that I can pass along to our readers, “Bring it on!”

Bryna Herskowitz earns Gold Award

The Herskowitz family is well-known to many in our community. We have covered the heartbreaking story of Barbie and Mark’s son, Richie, a Plano teen who lost his valiant battle with cystic fibrosis on Oct. 29, 2007. After his death, we shared stories of how his family and the greater Dallas Jewish and non-Jewish community honored his memory.

From his brother, Jordan’s one-man show “Jordy Pordy, Taking the Bull by the Horns,” USY projects and the March 2012 basketball tournament benefitting Richie’s Spirit Foundation, sponsored by UT-Austin’s AEPi chapter, Richie’s memory has been kept alive on so many levels and by so many.

When I was perusing a recent Dallas Morning News, I locked on Bryna Herskowitz’ name. She was listed among a large group of Girl Scouts who had earned their Gold Award recently. This is the highest honor that can be achieved by a Girl Scout.

I reached out to Bryna, and she was kind enough to share some details about what the award meant to her.

Bryna, writes:

“One hundred hours of leadership, six months of planning and 12 years of Girl Scouting is the amount of time I devoted to earn my Gold Award, the highest achievement in Girl Scouts.

“My Gold Award involved a rigorous amount of work in order to raise awareness for organ donation. I completed 11 presentations to over 300 people to help those still on an organ transplant waiting list. My inspiration for my Gold Award comes from my older brother, Richie, who received a double lung transplant due to cystic fibrosis. A chronic lung and digestive disease, cystic fibrosis leads to frequent hospitalizations and colossal pharmaceutical expenses.

“Unfortunately, Richie lost his battle to the illness while a senior in high school. My parents are still paying off funeral costs and medical bills for Richie. Due to these bills, my parents cannot fund my college education. Given that I am responsible for supporting myself throughout college, I have worked at the Jewish Community Center since I was 14 years old. I overtook the job from Richie after he passed away. I plan on working throughout college by holding a job on campus, as well as off campus at the local synagogue. I work diligently for the things I desire, and I acquired this trait from my hardworking parents. My father works three jobs to support our family, and my mother is the primary caregiver of my brothers and me. Family is the thing I value most in life, and I admire mine for their dedication to goals.

“After Richie’s organ transplant (at age 6), he had a new zest for life. His new set of lungs enabled him to enjoy activities that were once impossible. My family saw firsthand how one person’s selfless gift has a profound impact. I learned from my Gold Award that Richie is among a plethora of people who deserve the opportunity to live a longer, healthier life. Richie’s strength continually inspires me to live life to the fullest. ‘You only live once,’ Richie explained, ‘why miss the opportunity?’”

Bryna, you inspire me to not take things for granted and to give back to the community whenever I can. All of us here at the TJP wish you the best of luck as you begin your freshman year at UT-Austin. I am certain that on this larger stage, you will continue to spread the word about the importance of organ donation.

Temple Emanu-El to offer sweet class on Hebrew

Are you planning a trip to Israel? Do you want to learn to read, write and speak Hebrew? Do you just want to get more comfortable with the Hebrew side in our prayer book? Whatever your ultimate goal, “Chocolate Hebrew” can be your gateway to the ancient and modern language of our people.

In 13 hours and over five days, this unique, multi-sensory, non-threatening intensive class will take the mystery out of the Hebrew alphabet, according to a Temple Emanu-El statement.

The class will be led by Ruthie Precker, who has taught Hebrew at every level in the Dallas area for more than two decades at institutions including UNT, SMU, the JCC and Temple Emanu-El.

Participants must attend all five sessions. The class will meet in the Alexander Conference Room at Temple Emanu-El. Sessions are scheduled for 1:30-2:10 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9; 6-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday Sept. 11-13; and 6-9 p.m. Sept. 18.

Registration is required and space is limited. The cost for Chocolate Hebrew is $100, which includes materials.

For information or to register, contact Meirav Yaaran at or 214-706-0000.

Lauren Savariego and Julie Haymann join Virginia Cook, Realtors

Lauren Savariego and Julie Haymann joined Virginia Cook, Realtors last month.

Julie Haymann, left, and Lauren Savariego, center, recently joined Virginia Cook, Realtors, whose CEO is Virginia Cook, right. | Photo: Virginia Cook, Realtors

Each earned the Rookie of the Year awards in their first year in residential sales. Their career paths soon merged, and the team has built a successful business.

“Lauren and Julie bring an incomparable level of excellence to every transaction,” said Virginia Cook, CEO of Virginia Cook, Realtors. “Their professional values parallel those of our company. They combine expertise with a dedication to the clients and communities where they live and work.

Long-time Dallas residents, Julie and Lauren have an in-depth knowledge of the entire Dallas-area market, Cook said. As a result of the community in which they live, their business is centered in the neighborhoods of Preston Hollow, North Dallas, Uptown, Lakewood, Plano and Frisco.

“The Key Team is devoted to community service, as well as building a strong business,” said Sheila Rice, executive vice president of Virginia Cook, Realtors. “Julie and Lauren work diligently as volunteers enhancing their community where they are raising their own families. This is welcomed by their loyal base of clients who share their dedication to their local community.”

Most recently, Haymann has helped improve local parks with playgrounds for children. She has been a member of Team in Training for several years, raising more than $10,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She is also a co-president of Levine Academy’s Parent Association.

Savariego’s current community activities include serving on the board of Temple Emanu-El’s Early Childhood Education Center Parent Association.

Best of luck to Lauren and Julie on their new endeavor; they may be reached via email at or or by telephone at 214-682-5088 (Lauren) or 214-625-9504 (Julie).

And finally …

We love to hear from our readers. Send your news, simchas, and awards to or to me here at the office at 7920 Belt Line Rd. #680, Dallas, TX 75254.

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No one could have imagined Holocaust terror

No one could have imagined Holocaust terror

Posted on 16 August 2012 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Weeks ago, I promised more about my end-time in Poland, which was Warsaw. But before I write that, I want to share some other, vivid memories of Auschwitz and Birkenau.

I’ve complained that visiting Auschwitz was like touring a museum. But — why shouldn’t that be? It became one, officially, in 1947, and is now filled with statistics and visuals. Visitors must conjure up for themselves the horrors of starvation, suffocation, death.

Our little group walked single-file behind a guide, looking like prisoners ourselves, as he showed us Block 4’s symbolic urn of ashes, told us that 728 Poles who arrived in mid-June of 1940 actually had to buy tickets to ride on the train that brought them to this hellish place, noted that the two tons of human hair — so dull and dry — were taken from 50,000 prisoners 70 years ago, and the shoes — likewise behind glass — represented only 80,000 of the 200,000 youngsters under 14 who came here and of whom only a handful survived.

We saw the homely items so dutifully packed by the camp’s inmates for the journey that ended at an entry gate promising freedom through work: pots and pans, shaving mugs and brushes, prayer shawls; and the sad, battered suitcases into which these pitiful remnants of a previous life had been crammed, with the family names — familiar names, Jewish names — lettered on their outsides, still legible after all this time.

How could they have known? Or, perhaps, how could they not have known? The questions are still alive here where the people are not, whispered by the walls of the infamous Block of Death, by the concrete killing yard where straw soaked up the blood of those who were shot in groups that included young children, by stables built for 52 horses into which at least 400 people were shelved like cheap merchandise.

Birkenau is only a short distance away. Here, the first gas chambers and crematoria were built. Here stand a guardhouse, an observation tower, a gallows. And here is the sweet little house, behind a thicket of beautiful birch trees, where Rudolf Hess lived with his wife and five children — until, in April of 1947, he was hanged on that same gallows himself. Was the sky as blue on that day as on the day of our visit? Were the same puffy white clouds drifting lazily by? Was there a raven cawing, like the one we saw and heard, looking and sounding like death? Maybe it was channeling the poet’s “Nevermore.”

Soon after my return, a friend sent me a page torn from the book section of a weekend Wall Street Journal. Its lead piece reviewed the massive, three-volume history titled “The Jews in Poland and Russia” by Antony Polonsky.

The review was massive in itself, centered by a large image of a schoolroom crowded with boys studying Talmud with their melamad (teacher), hatted and bearded, sitting among them. The photo was taken in 1937 in a place now part of Ukraine. The caption tells us that all the Jews of this place, once a center of Hasidism, were rounded up for deportation to Auschwitz soon after Passover 1944.

Polonsky explains, as an academic historian, how this came to happen: The areas we now know as Poland, Lithuania and Ukraine had received Jews expelled from western and central Europe beginning as far back as 1300, and here developed the shtetl, described as “a private town owned by a Polish nobleman, distant from royal authority, with a Jewish-majority population generally permitted to manage its own affairs.” But later, much of this area came under Russian rule, with pogroms and persecutions following. Then Poland was invaded in 1939 and the Soviet Union in 1941 and, as a consequence, seven million Jews finally found themselves living in an area under the sole control of Nazi Germany.

Polonsky’s reviewer, Timothy Snyder, concludes, “After 2,500 pages, our sense of Jewish life is vivid, deep and rich. The world that is lost is real. We understand Jewish responses to the Holocaust better because we understand the world before the Holocaust. In Mr. Polonsky’s telling, the Holocaust is not part of any historical logic, no lesson that Jews had to learn. Its bottomless reality is worse and truer than any story that can be told about it.”

So, a historian is able make chronological sense of how the pre-Holocaust world set up, perhaps inevitably, the Holocaust itself. But, Auschwitz and Birkenau? Who can make any sense at all of them?

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 16 August 2012 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

In last week’s column, I’d written that Rosalie Schwartz suffered a stroke while visiting her daughter, Arlene Levy, in Houston. Rosalie’s son, Lewis Schwartz, responded by clarifying what actually happened.

Seems as though Rosalie was actually at Seton Hospital in Austin on July 19, awaiting the birth of her great-grandson, Harlan Cash Schwartz, when she suffered her stroke. She was rushed to Seton’s emergency room for immediate treatment and, on July 28, was moved to The Institute for Rehabilitation and Research’s Memorial Hermann in Houston, where she is undergoing therapy.

Meanwhile, baby Harlan is doing fine, as are the parents, Toby and Dana Schwartz. Thank you, Lewis, for sending this update — our wishes go to Rosalie for a complete recovery.

Beat the heat!

During the past few weeks, I’ve been running news about Fort Worth Hadassah’s upcoming event on from 3-5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26 at the studio of Etty Horowitz, 6628 Sahalle Dr. in Mira Vista.

This past week, Jane Cohen was nice enough to provide more information about this social — ice cream sandwiches and floats, similar to those served by Sweet Sammy’s on W. 7th Street in Fort Worth, will be in play. I’m salivating already. But the important aspect of this social is that participants will receive updates about some of Hadassah’s medical milestones.

In other words, schmoozing, treats and some really good information — all for just $10. Sounds like a really nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon in late August. For information, or to make your reservation, contact Jane Guzman Pawgan at 817-292-5578 or email her at

The travels of Fredi Stryer

Debbie Stryer-Levine tells us that her sister, Fredi Stryer, recently returned from a trip with friends to Scottsdale, Ariz.; Houston; and New York City.

While in the Big Apple, Fredi and her friends visited Ellis Island and Ground Zero and saw “Once” on Broadway. Also on the agenda were shopping and eating, and Debbie writes that everyone had a terrific time. I can well believe it — it sounds like it was a lot of fun.

And the travels of cousins

Zev Shulkin of Dallas, Lauren Gilbert of Arlington and Houdi Gilbert of Arlington — all cousins — are traveling in Israel this summer. | Photo: Courtesy Carole Rogers

We’re told that Lauren and Houdi Gilbert of Arlington are traveling in Israel this summer with their cousin, Zev Shulkin of Dallas. Lauren is the daughter of Cynthia and Burton Gilbert and the granddaughter of Sara Betty Gilbert and Sonny Lerner. Houdi is the son of Moshe and Ricki Epstein, while Zev is the son of Fredell and Allan Shulkin. Happy travels, cousins.

Happy birthday!

The following folks are celebrating birthdays this month. If I left anyone out, please let me know.

Joyce Abramowitz

Sylvia Aderman

Julie Berman

Marvin Blum

Claudia Boksiner

Sara Blanc

Lia Bloom

David Brister, III

Kevin Cooper

Benjamin Cristol

Hili Dackman

Elizabeth Gordon

Marian Haber

Gerald Hecht

Eileen House

Terry Jolly

Frances Kleiman

Amit Krompass

Eric Kuptsin

Beverly Labovitz

Paul Labovitz

Ebrahim Lavi

Peter Lederman

Ethan Levi

Charles Levine

Richard Levine

Judi Massis-Leventhal

Carter Levy

Madelyn Luskey

Michael Luskey

Sophie Meeker

Joanna Meyer

Katherine Mintz

Sylvia Morgan

Michael Nason

Eva Rosenthal

Pat Rosenzweig

Sidney Roston

Easer Rovinsky

Sherwin Rubin

Karen Savitz

Myra Schussler

Elaine Schuster

Jim Stanton

Robin Stein

Gerald Zenick

Gene Vertkin

Sandra Williams

And finally

Thanks to everyone out there who is feeding me news — I appreciate it! Please keep it coming to me at Just as a reminder, “Around the Town” reports on news in Tarrant County — anything east of SH 360 should be directed to the attention of our fine publisher, Sharon Wisch-Ray, or managing editor Dave Sorter.

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Back to (pre)school

Back to (pre)school

Posted on 16 August 2012 by admin

By Judy Klein

For tots and toddlers, preschool is the beginning of a journey toward lifelong learning. For their parents, it can be a demonstration of the wonders of education. For both parents and children, plenty of educational surprises are in the offing when area preschools open the 2012-2013 school year later this month. New experiences are in store, as are lots of unique and fun ways to teach old lessons.

Akiba Academy of Dallas is celebrating “50 years of achieving the extraordinary,” director of early childhood education Jordana Bernstein said. Events and educational activities are planned throughout the year for the golden anniversary, and preschoolers will be learning “how big 50 is” by performing tasks such as counting 50 mezuzahs and doing 50 mitzvot.

Also in store for the tots is a new way to connect with nature: a mud garden. Children will wear mud shoes and special mud garden T-shirts to play, and they quickly discover the educational values associated with the fun of getting dirty.

The teachers’ toolbox is expanding at The Ann and Nate Levine Early Childhood Center, a Solomon Schechter School. Classrooms in the pre-kindergarten, and 2- and 3-year-old programs have received iPads, said Sheryl Feinberg, early childhood center director. Teachers are using them to experiment with photos, videos and other methods of enhancing current units of study.

The school’s Hillcrest play space is almost complete. This area adds to the existing working garden, sand beach and bike town. Plans include a soccer field, basketball court, swings and a music, art and water-play outdoor classroom.

Levine also has a new prayer book for 3-year-olds and pre-kindergarten. Created by Levine Rabbi Eve Posen, it is intended to help young children begin to understand what it means to be the “people of the book.”

The curriculum at Congregation Anshai Torah Preschool in Plano always includes new and innovative programs geared toward tots and toddlers, education director Bob Westle said. The creative environment fosters self-confidence and promotes Jewish identity, values and traditions in young children and their families. Alyse Feinberg is the early childhood director.

The parent-toddler and pre-kindergarten programs at Adat Chaverim in Plano meet on Sundays when religious school is in session. The youngest group begins at age 2 and gathers from 9-11 a.m. every other Sunday, while pre-kindergarten sessions are held from 9 a.m. to noon weekly.

Both programs use the Institute of Southern Jewish Life curriculum, director Valerie H. Klein said, which immerses the tots in a “joyful Jewish environment.” Special attention is paid to holidays and mitzvot as children learn from hands-on and meaningful activities.

Amelia Krajmalnik shows off her hands after a finger-painting project last year at Congregation Beth Torah Preschool and Kindergarten in Richardson. | Photo: Beth Torah

Beth Torah Preschool and Kindergarten is extending classroom hours, director Esther Wolf said. Early care will begin at 8 a.m., the school day will be 9 a.m.-2 p.m. and after-care hours will end at 5 p.m. For the first time, babies as young as 12 months will be accepted.

Also new this year, Wolf said, 3-year-olds will learn algebra and geometry. Introduced last year to kindergarten and pre-K classes, the “Growing With Math” program incorporates touching and feeling into counting. Pre-K tots will also learn “Handwriting Without Tears,” a literacy/phonics program that teaches how to write the letters of the alphabet, sound them out and read.

A big surprise for tots and parents is a new playground that offers three slides plus a wide slide, a rock wall to climb, a climbing ladder to the top, a sitting area, a spinner and musical instruments, Wolf said.

The Frisco Gan class of toddlers ages 1½-2½ meets from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Mondays and Wednesdays and/or Fridays. Under the direction of Rivkie Block and Tia Sukenik, the Jewish mothers’ day out program is beginning its second year. Held at Rosewood Academy in Frisco, a preschool childcare facility that offers classroom space and a covered outdoor playground, Frisco Gan delivers a first-time school experience in a warm, safe environment, Block said.

A new outdoor classroom called Naturescape debuted in January at the Sherry and Ken Goldberg Family Early Learning Center in the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center. Now ready to be fully utilized, early childhood director Tara Ohayon said, it consists of several learning areas in which a more natural outdoor experience is available.

Areas include a recirculating stream, mud pits and gardening. There also are spaces for art, building, and outdoor learning, and the gardening area will offer tots the added experience of eating what they grow.

Students at the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center at Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth learn about Lag B’Omer last year. | Photo: Lil Goldman Early Learning Center

Mr. Music, a ventriloquist, is joining the core curriculum for preschoolers at Lil Goldman Early Learning Center at Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth. He uses music and puppets to teach children about manners and more — adjusted to the Jewish curriculum, says Patricia White, director of the preschool.

There’s also a Mouse Club on tap for 3-year-olds in which they will experience computer learning. Other programs, some of which will be taught after school, include ballet, Music Makers and Stretch and Grow.

There’s a whole lot of healthy eating going on at the Temple Emanu-El Early Childhood Education Center, according to director Shelly Sender. Continuing a program begun last year, students are learning new ways to eat. No sugar is allowed, and they’re growing most of their food in the school’s 5-year-old garden, supplementing what else is needed with organic food from a farmer’s market.

The concentration is on healthy foods, so even birthday cakes have been eliminated in favor of fruits and berries, and lunches brought from home consist of a fruit, a protein and a vegetable.

Following up on the nature-based curriculum, there also have been changes as part of a five-year program to redo the classrooms. And in the works is a new Playscape, which is being designed and is scheduled to be completed by November.

At Torah Day School of Dallas, Imagination Station will focus on learning about life “Under the Sea” for the first half of the year and “Over the Sea” after that, according to preschool director, Becky Udman.

Students also will attend weekly sessions of Sensory Gym, where they will be taught a variety of sensory and large motor skills required to develop efficient sensory motor systems.

“In-trips” within the school will offer additional educational opportunities, and special visitors will help the preschoolers enjoy the excitement and benefits of field trips without leaving the school.

Preschool information

Akiba Academy of Dallas
12324 Merit Drive
Dallas 75251
Phone: 214-295-3400
Expected enrollment: 125
First Day of school: Aug. 20

The Ann and Nate Levine
Early Childhood Center,
A Solomon Schechter School
18011 Hillcrest Road
Dallas 75252
Expected enrollment: 140
First Day of school: Aug. 20

Adat Chaverim
6300 Independence Parkway, Suite A
Plano 75023
Expected enrollment: 8
First Day of school: Sept. 9

Congregation Anshai Torah Preschool
5501 W. Parker Road
Plano 75093
Expected enrollment: 38
First Day of school: Aug. 27

Beth Torah Preschool & Kindergarten
720 W Lookout Drive
Richardson 75080
972-234-1542, Ext. 222
Expected enrollment: 70
First Day of school: Aug. 27

The Frisco Gan
c/o Chabad of Plano
3904 W. Park Blvd
Plano 75075
Expected enrollment: 9
First Day of school: Sept. 5

Sherry & Ken Goldberg Family
Early Learning Center
Aaron Family Jewish Community Center
7900 Northaven Road
Dallas 75230
Expected enrollment: 175
First Day of school: Aug. 27

Lil Goldman Early Learning Center
Ahavath Sholom
4050 S Hulen
Fort Worth 76109
Expected enrollment: 95
First Day of school: Aug. 23

Temple Emanu-El Early
Childhood Education Center
8500 Hillcrest Road
Dallas 75225
Expected enrollment: 275
First Day of school: Aug. 27

Torah Day School of Dallas
6921 Frankford Street
Dallas 75252
Expected enrollment: 70
First Day of school: Aug. 24

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 16 August 2012 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Mazel tov to Walter Baroff, who will celebrate his 90th birthday on Monday, Aug. 20.

Soon to be a nonagenarian, Walter Baroff celebrated his birthday with family and friends on Aug. 4. Seated on either side of him are his son, Charles Baroff, and his daughter, Elise Donosky. They are surrounded by four generations of his nieces and nephews. | Photo: Courtesy of Elise Donosky

Earlier this month, Elise and Robert Donosky and Lynda and Jeff Markowitz hosted a weekend full of events to celebrate Walter’s 90th.

Relatives came from as far away as Washington, California, Colorado, Maryland and Tennessee to join his family from the Metroplex.

Plano teen makes aliyah, joins Israeli Defense Forces

Eve Bar Knaan, 18, of Plano made aliyah to Israel Monday on a Nefesh B’Nefesh charter aliyah flight that left from JFK Airport in New York.

Immediately after becoming an Israeli citizen, Eve will join the Israel Defense Forces. She boarded the flight Monday along with 350 other olim, among them a record high 127 soon-to-be IDF soldiers.

The special Friends of the Israel Defense–Nefesh B’Nefesh flight was organized in cooperation with the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption, the Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and Tzofim Garin Tzabar.

Eve Bar Knaan, left, with other Texas olim at JFK Airport before boarding the Nefesh B’Nefesh charter flight to Israel. | Photo: Shahar Azran

The soon-to-be soldiers, along with the other olim, were greeted in Israel by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as part of a special ceremony at Ben Gurion Airport.

“My grandparents fought in the independence war of 1948 and I want to contribute my time to the army as well,” said Knaan. “I am the first generation to be born out of Israel and I don’t want my children to follow in my footsteps. I want them born Israeli. I want them to live the Israeli life.”

Nefesh B’Nefesh is celebrating its 10th anniversary this summer, marking a decade since its inaugural charter Aliyah flight in 2002. The milestone comes as the organization prepares to welcome more than 2,500 North American and British Jews making Aliyah this summer on two charter and seven group Aliyah flights.

Nefesh B’Nefesh will bring 4,800 newcomers to Israel this year.

JSI’s third-year kickoff

The Jewish Studies Initiative will kick off its third year at a dessert reception and class at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 26 at the home of Myra and Stuart Prescott, 11743 Valleydale. Rabbi Hanan Schlesinger, the evening’s honoree and JSI director, will offer a class on the “The Global Politics of Rosh Hashanah and What it Means to You.”

In addition to the Prescotts, hosts for the evening are Celia and Earl Bills, Suzanne and Gary Booth, Rhonda and Todd Cohen, Carole Ann and Jay Hoppenstein, Janine and Charles Pulman, Barbara and David Radunsky, Jaynie Schultz and Ron Romaner, and Carole and Joram Wolanow

To RSVP, contact Carole Wolanow at or 214-890-7583.

Contributions will be solicited for Jewish Studies Initiative of North Texas 2012-13.

Connecting Our Faiths event slated for Aug. 29

Rav Schlesinger also tells us that the public is invited to join Connecting Our Faiths at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug 29 at Temple Shalom. The impact of Moses on Judaism, Christianity and Islam is discussed.

Guests will hear three religious leaders, including Schlesinger, who will explain the Jewish perspective. Rev. Doug Skinner will explain the Christian standpoint and Imam Yahya Abdullah, who will explain the Islamic point of view on the birth and life of Moses.

They will explain various aspects of the life of Moses, including his life with the Pharaoh of Egypt, the Exodus, the parting of the Red Sea, delivery of the Ten Commandments and various other aspects of his life as understood by these three faiths.

Robert Hunt (from the SMU School of Divinity) and Newell Williams (from the TCU Brite Divinity School) will present commentary on the words of the three speakers.

The audience can ask questions of the speakers after the discussion for further clarification.

The goal of the evening is to promote understanding and harmony between members of the three faiths and therefore work toward tearing down the barriers of misunderstanding and distrust that often separate the faith communities, Schlesinger said.

Refreshments will be served following the lecture.

For information, call Marzuq Jaami at 972-998-4240 or Tricia Harris at or 214-808-2082.

James Reisman named Dentist of the Year

Dr. James Reisman of Dallas was named Dentist of the Year by the Dallas County Dental Society during its recent officer installation dinner and ceremony.

Dr. James Reisman, with his wife, Karen, after he received the Dentist of the Year award from the Dallas County Dental Society. | Photo: Courtesy James Reisman

Reisman is a former president of the organization and has served in all DCDS leadership positions.

Among his accomplishments, he spearheaded the establishment of the Dallas County Dental Foundation, which focuses on enhancing access to oral-health care, education and research in the area.

He remains on the DCDS Foundation board and is working on new fundraising ideas.

He was chair of the society’s nominating committee and is a member of the Academy of General Dentistry, American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists and the Pierre Fauchard Academy.

An avid rancher and outdoorsman, Reisman and his wife, Karen, have two children, Courtney and Brett.

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Don’t send Jewish history to the bench

Don’t send Jewish history to the bench

Posted on 16 August 2012 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

I would like to share with you my family’s joy in the wedding this past week of our son Elisha with Jordana Swigard, an amazing girl from a wonderful family who are pillars of the Jewish community in Seattle. Mazel tov.

It’s very difficult to try to describe in words the emotions, after pouring two decades of love and caring and effort into a child, to stand under the chupah with them and be part of the culmination of all that growth — at the same time celebrating a new beginning and a new existence where all one’s teaching and praying and hoping will take on a life of its own.

The best way to share in the Simcha is to share with you some words of Torah that I offered under the chupah that night.

The recent Torah portion, Ekev, delivers one of the most cherished mitzvos that affects our lives daily, the mitzvah of birkat hamazon, the grace recited after a bread meal, commonly known by its Yiddish name of benching. “You will eat and you will be satisfied, and bless Hashem, your God, for the good land that He gave you”. (Deuteronomy 8:10)

This mitzvah is comprised of three blessings rooted in verses in the Torah and a fourth blessing, which is rabbinical. Within these blessings, we thank the Almighty for the bread and food we have eaten.

In the first blessing, we hint to the manna that fell for the Jews in the desert. In the second blessing, we thank God for the redemption from Egypt, the giving of the Torah, the mitzvah of bris/circumcision and the covenant implicit within and for the good and expansive land of Israel with all its bounty and special foods it provides us.

In the third blessing, we mention the holy Temple and Jerusalem, and we pray for its rebuilding. In the final blessing, we thank God for being good to us, especially in reference to certain events connected with our exile.

For years, I have been bothered by this question: Why is it not sufficient just simply to thank God for the bread? Why must we go through a mini Jewish history lesson every time we eat bread?

The answer, I believe, is implicit in another verse that introduces the mitzvah of grace after meals. God says, “You shall remember the entire road on which Hashem, your God, led you these 40 years in the wilderness … ”

Some authorities count this verse as one of the 613 mitzvos. It is a mitzvah for every Jew to realize that he or she doesn’t live for the moment and was not born in a vacuum; every Jew is the composite of all of Jewish history. We all contain within our lives and our souls the exodus from Egypt, entering the land of Israel, the city of Jerusalem and all Jewish history that has transpired. Each of us forms the next link in the chain of Jewish history.

Those authorities contend that this mitzvah also includes every Jew’s individual, unique remembrance of their own personal journey in life. One should appreciate the kindnesses, events and people who have added to their life experience and have contributed to the makeup of the person he or she has become.

Another verse in that portion (Deuteronomy 8:3) indicates that bread is the staff of life. Hence, when we “bench,” or recite grace, we are not simply thanking God for the bread we have eaten. We are thanking Him for being alive.

For us Jews, being alive means all the events that go into making us who we are, “remember the entire road … ” Hence the mini history lesson; it is said in the context of thanksgiving for all that makes up our lives as Jews.

Especially standing under the chupah, the bride and groom should give thanks for being who they are as Jews and recognize that moment for becoming the next link in the chain of Jewish history. They should give thanks for their parents, siblings, teachers and network of people and kindnesses that have brought them, by the hand of God, to whom they are today.

That should be the pretext and foundation by which a couple should build their home and their lives.

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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Hillel’s new plan: Programming for and by students not so involved in Hillel

Hillel’s new plan: Programming for and by students not so involved in Hillel

Posted on 15 August 2012 by admin

By Neil Rubin

ST. LOUIS (JTA) — Meet 22-year-old Jeremy Moskowitz, the poster child for what Hillel hopes will be a revolution in campus Jewish life. The catch: He didn’t spend much time at Hillel during his four years at Duke University.

Moskowitz attended Jewish day school before college, but chose Duke in part because it was “less Jewish.” Once on campus, he stayed away from Hillel except for a few Shabbat dinners, instead throwing himself into Greek life as a leader of the AEPi chapter there.

Hillel President Wayne Firestone, third form left, speaking with Syracuse University student outreach leaders at the Hillel Institute, hosted by Washington University in St. Louis. | Photo: Jonathan Pollack

But a Hillel staffer challenged him to reach out to students uninvolved or little involved in Jewish life. By his senior year he had agreed to serve as a Hillel Peer Network engagement intern, a key role in the international campus organization’s thrust to use students not very involved in Hillel to reach other students not very involved with Hillel — with programs having  little if any overt connection to Hillel.

In Moskowitz’s case, this meant building his own 12-by-12 sukkah and inviting 28 people over for a meal, and hosting a Passover seder for 73 fellow students — Jews and non-Jews — in his backyard, not to mention cooking 80 or so matzah balls and creating his own hagaddah that included photos, jokes, traditional prayers and Mad Libs (Hillel provided kosher chicken and seder plates).

“A friend called her mom after and said, ‘You’ll never guess where I just was. I was at a Passover seder,” Moskowitz says with a grin while taking a break from last week’s Hillel Institute, a gathering at Washington University here of about 1,000 Hillel professionals, student leaders and guests.

For Moskowitz, the conference was the star of a post-graduation yearlong stint as the Bronfman fellow at Hillel’s Schusterman International Center, the operation’s headquarters in Washington, where he will serve as an assistant to Hillel President Wayne Firestone, learning the ins and outs of running a high-profile international organization based in the nation’s capital.

For the wider Hillel movement, the gathering in St. Louis served as a rollout venue for a new five-year strategic plan that the organization’s board approved in May. The plan, pushed by Firestone, looks to build on the work of Moskowitz and the other 1,200 peer outreach interns on 118 campuses — and moves further away from the traditional model of focusing primarily on improving programming inside the walls of campus Hillels for the most Jewishly engaged students.

It has an ambitious mandate: The 800-plus Hillel professionals active to varying degrees on more than 500 campuses are now supposed to “engage” 70 percent of identified campus Jewish students, having “meaningful” interactions with 40 percent of them and turn 20 percent of them into Jewish leaders.

“Jews are leaders all over campus, but we had to come back to teach them about what it means to be Jewish,” says the low-key Firestone, who can rattle off statistics one moment while retelling stories of a student’s profound shift in Jewish identity the next.

Speaking of students like Moskowitz, Firestone adds, “When we get them to talk about and understand what it means to be Jewish, we have a force multiplier. We think about them as ‘prosumers,’ not just people we are servicing but people who are building communities.”

The goal is being implemented by retraining staff, putting senior Jewish educators on some key campuses, putting Israeli shlichim, or envoys, on others and injecting a mantra of engagement into all things Hillel. Costs for the effort remain elusive, and privately some staffers worry about the new thrust sapping resources from existing programs as well as how their results will be measured. Nonetheless, it is taking root and Hillel has reams of statistics, studies and plans that it says shows the push is worthwhile.

Some in the Jewish world are taking note. Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, spent two days at the conference in St. Louis to study how the engagement effort could help his movement.

“What everyone sees at Hillel is an incredibly smart, transformative process to literally re-create a whole different kind of campus Jewish life,” Jacobs told JTA. “It’s really remarkable to watch, certainly for someone in the midst of our own refocusing and realignment.”

Also taking notice is the University of Toronto. Hillel’s Ask Big Questions initiative has been adapted campus-wide by the university’s president, David Naylor. The push fosters conversations around “practical and existential topics” such as politics, social change, biology and God.

Launched last year on 13 campuses, the initiative has involved 72 fellows building relationships with 3,574 students, according to Hillel.

The engagement agenda began in earnest in 2008 when the Jim Joseph Foundation gave Hillel $10.7 million that was used in part to create 10 senior Jewish educator positions on various campuses. They set to work with 12 campus entrepreneur interns — students whose goal was to speak one on one with their peers about where they might fit into Jewish life offerings on campus.

By Hillel’s calculations, those educators and interns took part in a combined 746 personal encounters with students in one year. About a third of the students said they never or rarely went to the Hillel building.

“The No. 1 reason students told us they didn’t participate in Hillel was that they didn’t know anyone who was going to be there or didn’t think they’d like the people there,” said Graham Hoffman, Hillel’s associate vice president of strategy. “By cultivating relationships with these people we can overcome that.”

To figure out how to push forward with its new vision, Hillel hired the Monitor Institute, the consulting firm that helped Teach for America plot a blueprint for achieving its goals. Even with a well-researched plan, implementation will not be easy — it requires recruiting, training and retaining staff, says Scott Brown, a Hillel executive vice president.

“We need more investors and resources to do this,” Brown said. “If it’s about relationships and strategies, you need more hands on deck to do all this at a higher level.”

Hillel directors who buy into the concept say the bottom line remains making students comfortable enough to talk about their emerging identities as young adults. That’s what Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg says is her focus as the supervisor of the Northwestern University Hillel’s Campus Rabbi & Questions That Matter program and the previous three years as the senior Jewish educator at the Hillel at Tufts University.

“The heart and soul is the relationships,” she said. “People who previously had no reason to care about Judaism or thinking it didn’t have anything for them, once they began to trust me or my interns, their willingness to be open to a new experience was extraordinary.”

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Ryan hailed by Jewish GOPers, organizations see him as a face of budget confrontations

Ryan hailed by Jewish GOPers, organizations see him as a face of budget confrontations

Posted on 15 August 2012 by admin

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Anointing Paul Ryan as his running mate, Mitt Romney attached a name and face to his fiscal policy.

Jewish Republicans, including the House majority leader, say they are thrilled with Wisconsin’s Ryan emerging as the ticket’s fresh face, hailing the lawmaker as a thoughtful and creative budget guru bent on taming out-of-control federal spending.

Mitt Romney introducing Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate during a rally Satirday in Manassas, Va., Aug. 12, 2012. | Photo: Creative Commons

Ryan’s name is well known to Jewish community leaders who have been grappling with the Republicans’ chief budget shaper since the party retook the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010.

It’s just not one they’re happy pronouncing.

The Washington groups that deal with budget policy have had many interactions with Ryan, who as chairman of the House Budget Committee authors Congress’ proposed budget.

They have not been happy ones, although speaking on background, the first thing Ryan’s Jewish and Democratic interlocutors emphasize is that he is as affable and gracious one on one as he appears to be in public. But Jewish groups see Ryan’s plan threatening Medicare and Medicaid, programs that are cornerstones of care for the Jewish elderly — a population growing faster than among most other religious and ethnic groups.

“The Republicans can write off Florida, or at least its Jewish vote,” said one organizational insider who has a strong working relationship with both parties.

Jewish Democrats made it clear that they were ready to seize the moment.

“Ryan’s signature budget plan drew the profound concern and even ire of many in the American Jewish community because of its plans to end Medicare as we know it, slash vital social safety net programs, and increase the burden on seniors, the middle class and the poor — yet Romney today proudly hitched his horse to Ryan’s dangerous plan,” the National Jewish Democratic Council said Saturday after Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential candidate, announced his pick.

Ryan and his defenders argue that his proposals will drive down costs by spurring competitive pricing and save popular entitlement programs from eventual bankruptcy.

“Paul Ryan has challenged both party leaderships in Washington to face up to growing fiscal problems that threaten to blight our nation’s future.,” the Republican Jewish Coalition said in its statement welcoming Romney’s announcement on Saturday. “And while congressional Republicans have responded to the challenge, Democrats have ducked responsibility.”

Outside of his leadership on budget issues, Ryan, 42, has not been preeminent in many of the areas that traditionally have attracted Jewish organizational interest.

Elected in 1998, he visited Israel in 2005 on a trip organized by the American Israel Education Foundation, an affiliate of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee.

Along with Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), he has joined Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.), the House majority leader, as the “young guns” heralding a more robustly conservative Republican Party, one that appeals more to the Tea Party insurgents who fueled the Republican takeover of the House in 2010.

Cantor has often pointed out the diversity embodied by the trio — Cantor is a Southeastern observant Jew, Ryan is a Midwestern Roman Catholic and McCarthy is a Western Protestant.

“Having worked closely with Paul, I’ve seen firsthand the energy and commitment he brings to pursuing the kind of pro-growth economic policies we need to create jobs and reduce our massive debt,” Cantor said in a statement. “Quite simply, Mitt Romney could not have made a finer choice for the future direction of our country.”

Ryan has followed Cantor’s lead on foreign policy, co-sponsoring signature pieces of legislation that the majority leader initiated, most recently one that enhances security cooperation between the United States and Israel.

“America has no better friend in the Middle East than the nation of Israel. Not only is Israel the region’s only fully functioning democracy, with a government based on popular consent and the rule of law, but it is also a valuable ally against Islamic extremism and terrorism,” Ryan says on his congressional page.

William Kristol, the leading neoconservative thinker, was among those touting Ryan, although Politico reported that the campaign’s response was “sarcastic” when a reporter asked whether Kristol’s advocacy was a factor in the pick. Politico also reported that Dan Senor, Romney’s top Middle East adviser known for his close ties to the pro-Israel community, will be advising Ryan ahead of his convention speech in late August and his debate with Vice President Joe Biden, which is scheduled for Oct. 11 at Centre College in Kentucky.

Ryan has not interacted extensively with the small Jewish community in Wisconsin, but those who have met him say he’s an eager student of the Middle East.

“He’s thought a lot about those issues, although he might not be an expert like he is on the nitty gritty of the budget,” said Nat Sattler, who has been active in Wisconsin Republican politics and has met Ryan at Republican and pro-Israel events. “Knowing his ability to suck up information, I’m sure he is becoming an expert.”

Ryan still lives in his hometown, Janesville, in the southern part of Wisconsin. Its Jewish community is tiny but has two notable children: former Sen. Russ Feingold and his sister, Dena, the state’s first female rabbi.

Ryan has backed cuts to the overall foreign assistance budget, although he favors funding at current levels for Israel. AIPAC and other pro-Israel groups generally are committed to maintaining foreign assistance funding overall, and not just for Israel.

It is in the area of domestic spending that the clashes between Ryan and the Jewish organizational community has been evident.

On the record, however, organizational criticism often does not often name Ryan because such groups do not want to make enemies or to seem partisan. But even absent names and party affiliation it can be scathing.

In 2011, the Jewish Federations of North America and the Jewish Council for Public Affairs — the two leading policy umbrellas addressing economic issues — were blunt in a joint letter to Congress members slamming plans that originated with Ryan that would transition parts of Medicare, the medical program for the elderly, to a Medicare Exchange in which a variety of private plans would be made available.

The plan also would convey funds for Medicaid, government-funded insurance for the poor, in block grants to the states. JFNA and JCPA objected to the loosening of federal controls over how such money is spent.

“We recognize that this country’s very significant budget deficit threatens the long-term prosperity of our nation,” it said. “We also believe that the major entitlement programs protect the health and economic security of our most vulnerable citizens.”

It continued: “Within the current framework of Medicaid and Medicare, we believe that it is possible to restrain growth and rein in costs,” read the April 2011 letter. “We are capable of strengthening their long-term viability without a fundamental restructuring that turns Medicaid into a block grant or Medicare into a voucher program.”

As the budget debate has become more rancorous this year, the JFNA has opted out, although among other Jewish groups the criticism has become more pointed.

Also featuring in the Jewish criticism of Ryan’s plans are his proposals to slash spending on assistance for the poor, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, formerly known as food stamps.

The Reform movement’s Religious Action Center has taken to naming Ryan in its broadsides against his budget.

“By ending the entitlement status of Medicaid and Medicare, fundamentally altering the tax system, and slashing spending for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and education programs, the Ryan plan would turn our backs on our obligation to care for all Americans,” said a statement in March from the RAC. “We are commanded in Deuteronomy, ‘Do not harden your heart and shut your hand against your needy kinsman.’ ”

Ryan’s defenders note that much of his plan was shaped in coordination with Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who happens to be Jewish — although Wyden now disavows much of the claim. Wyden notes that he joined Ryan in shaping the plan in part based on the understanding that it would keep intact President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which Romney and Ryan have pledged to repeal.

“If you repeal the Affordable Care Act, what Mr. Romney is saying is, he just wishes for the best,” Wyden told the Oregonian.

Jewish community officials say that privatizing entitlement programs is more likely to drive up costs for individuals than it is to keep overall costs down.

“A competition approach is not appropriate for people who are higher risk,” said Rachel Goldberg, the director of senior advocacy for B’nai B’rith International. Ryan’s plan, she said, would lure younger and healthier Medicare-eligible Americans into cheaper plans, which in turn would drive up costs for older and less healthy citizens.

Ryan’s defenders note that Obama’s plan also incorporates cuts to Medicare. They argue that Ryan’s plan, broadening options for recipients, is the more efficient and the likelier to prevent further cuts.

“Everyone acknowledges the program is the foremost driver of our long-term debt,” Rich Lowry wrote in National Review Online. “Both Ryan and the president use the same formula of roughly GDP growth plus inflation for setting Medicare’s global budget. The difference is that the president wants a bureaucratic board to get the savings through arbitrary limits on prices that ultimately will limit access to care, while Ryan wants to get the savings through competition and choice.”

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Hungary’s dropping of claims against alleged Nazi arouses suspicions, potential counter charges

Hungary’s dropping of claims against alleged Nazi arouses suspicions, potential counter charges

Posted on 15 August 2012 by admin

By Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Trained by life in surmounting grief, Marika Weinberger focuses on the silver lining in the recent decision in Budapest not to try Hungarian war criminal Laszlo Csatary in connection with the murder of her nine uncles in 1941.

“At least now I won’t need to testify and relive the pain,” Weinberger, 84, told JTA in a phone interview from her home in Sydney, Australia. She says she is nonetheless prepared to do “everything necessary to bring Csatary to justice.”

Efraim Zuroff, above, tracked down alleged war criminal Laszlo Csatary in Budapest, but with the dismissal of some of the charges against Csatary, a Hungarian lawyer called for the indictment of Zuroff. | Photo: Creative Commons

Weinberger claims that Csatary, a former police officer who was arrested last month in Budapest, was responsible for deporting her uncles to a killing site in Ukraine. Yet prosecutors in Budapest last week dismissed her claims without ever speaking to her, raising concerns by Weinberger and others about the seriousness of the investigation.

The Federation of Jewish Communities in Slovakia has called publicly for Csatary’s extradition to that country based on information it claims to have that points to Csatary taking property from Jews in Kosice, a city in eastern Slovakia. Those charges also are being investigated, says Martin Kornfeld, the federation’s CEO.

Kornfeld adds that he has no indication that alleged acts of cruelty by Csatary to Jewish prisoners were being investigated. He notes that the acts were addressed in Csatary’s 1948 conviction in absentia by a Czechoslovakian court for torturing prisoners at Kosice.

The office of Budapest’s chief prosecutor, Dr. Zsolt Grim, did not respond to interview requests for this article.

According to Weinberger, her father told her that Csatary had organized the deportation of her mother’s nine brothers from Kosice on Aug. 19, 1941.

Her testimony was part of the file that the Simon Wiesenthal Center had prepared on Csatary that led to his arrest last month. The center’s research implicates Csatary in the deportation of 300 people from Kosice in 1941 and another 15,700 in 1944.

Csatary was arrested after London’s The Sun newspaper published an expose about him. Csatary had fled to Canada in 1949 after the Czech court sentenced him in absentia to death for war crimes. He returned to Hungary in the 1990s after Ottawa revoked his citizenship.

Last week, the Budapest Prosecutor’s Office dismissed Weinberger’s testimony and dropped the charges from 1941, saying Csatary was not in Kosice at the time and lacked the rank to organize the transports. The Hungarian prosecution team is said to be continuing to probe allegations pertaining to the allegations from 1944.

Weinberger, a former vice president of the Sydney Jewish Museum and a past president of the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, stands by her story.

“I was young, but I remember the name Csatary,” she said. “It surfaced when my father was trying to find out what happened to my uncles.”

Weinberger says she even recalls the weather on the night of the deportation, adding, “I remember it better than I remember what happened yesterday.”

According to Weinberger, her father found out that on Csatary’s orders, four of her uncles were recalled from forced labor to Kosice for deportation with her remaining five uncles and another 300 people.

“To think that Csatary went to all that trouble to have them murdered,” she said. “No one bothered to ask me what I know. Now he’s off the hook.”

As the conversation progresses, the memories shake Weinberger’s determination to look at the glass as half full.

“It’s a big disappointment,” she acknowledged. “I was recently very ill and I thought I wouldn’t live much longer, but I drew solace from knowing that the man who killed my uncles would be brought to justice.”

Quickly regaining her composure, she says, “Actually, I’m not surprised they dropped the charges. I’m sure they would’ve found a way to ignore my testimony even had they agreed to hear it.”

Weinberger was deported to Auschwitz in 1944 along with other family members. Only she, her sister and an aunt survived the Holocaust.

The dropping of charges pertaining to 1941 “and other points” lead Kornfeld, the Slovakia Jewish federation’s CEO, to believe that “Hungarian authorities are trying to avoid a decision on Csatary in court and are trying to find points that make the trial positive for Csatary.”

What is known is that in 1944, at the age of 29, Csatary owned a large house in one of Kosice’s most affluent neighborhoods — one that Kornfeld says was well beyond his salary at the police force. By the end of World War II, Kornfeld adds, Csatary also owned a foreign-made luxury car that few Czechs could afford.

“Our opinion is that it looks like Csatary took a lot of money and/or property from Jews from Kosice and that this was [used as] part of his business in Canada,” where Csatary was an art dealer, Kornfeld says.

Meanwhile, Efraim Zuroff, the New York-born Nazi hunter who tracked down Csatary in Budapest, says he is “very perturbed to learn that no one from the prosecution had spoken to” Weinberger. He adds, “This dismissal raises questions about the objectivity of prosecutors.”

The dismissal has Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Israel office, facing challenges of his own related to the case.

Citing the dismissal, a well-known Hungarian lawyer this week called on the Budapest Prosecutor’s Office to indict Zuroff. Futo Barnabas told the conservative newspaper Magyar Nemzet “There are now valid grounds to charge Zuroff with deliberately making a false accusation.”

The charge, which is meant to discourage libelous complaints, carries a five-year prison sentence in Hungary.

It is not uncharted territory for Zuroff. Last year, a Hungarian court summoned him to answer libel accusations leveled at him by Sandor Kepiro, a suspected war criminal whom Zuroff had exposed.

Zuroff was found not guilty; Kepiro stood trial in Hungary and was acquitted last year. The acquittal was appealed, but Kepiro died last September before the start of the new proceedings.

Peter Feldmajer, president of Hungary’s Federation of Jewish Communities, says that indicting Zuroff for accusing Csatary “would be an act of insanity.”

“It is for a court to determine whether accusations are justified,” he said of the charges against Csatary. “To try someone for accusing a convicted war criminal of deporting Jews, this is madness.”

Zuroff stands by his work, saying that the Simon Wiesenthal Center is doing the Hungarian people and government “a tremendous favor by giving them the opportunity to honestly confront the bloody history of the Holocaust in court.”

Weinberger, following the developments from Sydney, continues to count her blessings.

“I’m glad,” she said, “that I left Europe and went to the farthest corner on earth that I could find.”

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Struggling to maintain normalcy near the troubled Sinai border

Struggling to maintain normalcy near the troubled Sinai border

Posted on 15 August 2012 by admin

By Ben Sales

KEREM SHALOM BORDER CROSSING, Israel (JTA) — Drivers who reach the end of Israeli Route 232 purportedly face a choice: A sign points them either northwest, toward the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, or southeast, toward the Nitzana border crossing between Egypt and Israel.

But the intersection — located at the meeting point of Israel, Gaza and Egypt — is really a dead end; drivers cannot proceed in either direction. Rafah has been under Egyptian control since Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2005. And a year ago, Israel closed off the road that runs to Nitzana, along the country’s southern border.

Residents of Kerem Shalom, near where Gaza, Egypt and Israel meet, have painted bright pictures on the concrete wall that surrounds two-thirds of their kibbutz. | Photo: Ben Sales/JTA

What drivers do meet at the end of the route is a simple red and white roadblock. To the left is the beginning of Israel’s security fence on the border of the Sinai Desert that is set to be completed this year. To the right is Israel’s Kerem Shalom border crossing with Gaza, which is closed to civilians. Next to that is a concrete wall separating Gaza and Israel. Litter dots the immediate area.

The Israeli army has stepped up security in the area since Egypt’s revolution began last year, and Israel issued a travel warning this month regarding the Sinai. On Aug. 5, terrorists killed 16 Egyptian soldiers and crossed into Israel down the road from the Kerem Shalom crossing, where they were killed by Israeli security forces.

But across the street from the concrete wall, one woman sits smiling in a purple food truck. Bold letters on the side of the truck advertise: “To soldiers with love, from the loving Tami Mommy.”

Tami Muyal, 62, has been operating the truck for 12 years, including the past 3 1/2 years in this location.

“There’s no way a soldier gets to me and leaves hungry or thirsty,” she said.

From 6:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Muyal offers soldiers anything from popsicles to baguette sandwiches at a discount or even for free, depending on how much cash they have on hand. She knows many of them by name.

“I had a dream to open a rest stop for soldiers,” said Muyal, formerly a bookkeeper. “It’s a challenge, not like sitting in an office. There’s sand, dust, heat, and it’s great.”

Muyal has moved her truck around Israel’s South, at one time stationing it in Gush Katif, Israel’s former settlement bloc in Gaza.

“A sniper could hit me right here,” she said, pointing beneath her brown, curly hair at a slightly wrinkled forehead.

Muyal doesn’t feel safe where she is on the Egyptian border, either. She says the border crossing has seemed abandoned, save for increased Israeli army traffic, since trouble began in the Sinai last year. She lives in the area, where she raised four children.

“I ask myself, ‘What am I doing here?’” she said. “The situation is scary. I don’t think anything is clear. I’m here alone. Where would I go?”

Born in Tunisia, Muyal moved to Israel with her family when she was 10, in 1960. Since then she has lived in this area, for the past 40 years in the nearby town of Yesha. Despite the frequent threats of violence, Muyal declares confident faith in the Israeli army — “an army I’m proud of.”

While Muyal has inserted herself in the middle of the army’s activities, the nearby Kibbutz Kerem Shalom less than three miles away is striving to continue a normal routine despite the unrest across the border. The area was the site of the 2006 kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit by Hamas, the terrorist organization that governs Gaza.

Now the concrete wall that divides Gaza and Israel surrounds two-thirds of the kibbutz. Bright murals cover parts of the wall, but most of it remains gray.

“When you live here, you don’t see it,” Ofer Kissin, who heads the kibbutz’s security, said of the wall. “We’ve returned to routine life. It takes time, but we’re used to situations like this.”

Kissin said that five families had recently joined the kibbutz, bringing its total to 30. The collective nature of the kibbutz helps residents weather the attacks, Kissin says, but the true source of the community’s secure feeling comes from the military presence nearby.

“The army takes care of us,” he said. “Kids run around here at night.”

Kissin declined to give specifics on the Israel Defense Forces’ presence around Kerem Shalom, nor did the IDF provide details on its operations there.

Muyal also says the IDF allows her to stay calm even while working at the intersection of two tense borders.

“The soldiers are brave, they love the land, nothing scares them,” Muyal said. “I’m not ready to give in.”

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