Archive | February, 2013

Texts teach us about justice

Texts teach us about justice

Posted on 21 February 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2There are so many lessons we strive to teach our children, but we sometimes struggle to remember messages. So how do we practice justice and fairness, and strive to eliminate hatred and prejudice based on the teachings of Judaism? It’s a pretty tall order.

How do we teach our children and ourselves? We do so through our texts and by our example.

Fairness is a word that is really about justice (mishpat in Hebrew). Judaism has the message of justice deeply implanted in the spirit of Jewish life. The Torah and commentaries are filled with laws and examples of how to make a fair judgment and the importance of being fair and just.

  • You shall not render an unfair decision: do not favor the poor nor show deference to the rich; judge your neighbor fairly. (Leviticus)
  • Only to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God. (Micah)
  • Rabbi Hillel said, “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you.” This is a very easy way to understand how to treat others. However, being fair isn’t always easy or simple. Fair doesn’t always mean the same.

Try these conversation starters with your children:

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

Stories work well for discussions, too: A young boy came to a woman’s house and asked if she would like to buy some of the berries he had picked from his father’s fields. The woman said, “Yes, I would, and I’ll just take your basket inside to measure out two quarts.”

The boy sat down on the porch, and the woman asked, “Don’t you want to watch me. How do you know that I won’t cheat you and take more than two quarts?” The young boy said, “I am not afraid, for you would get the worst of the deal.” “How could that be?” she asked. The boy answered, “If you take more than two quarts that you are paying me for, I would only lose the berries. You would make yourself a liar and a thief.”

Talk about the meaning of this story with your family.

Laura Seymour is director of Jewish life and learning and director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

‘Hatikvah’ roots run pretty deep

‘Hatikvah’ roots run pretty deep

Posted on 21 February 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebA conjunction of the publication in TJP’s recent special wedding section of a piece on the history of “Hava Nagila” and several appearances by Eliezra Ben Yehuda, granddaughter of the man who brought Hebrew back from antiquity to the modern language it is today, turned me toward “Hatikvah,” the national anthem of Israel. We all sing it. But where did it come from?

Today, it’s easy to search a lot of sources for the song’s history, which is what I’ve done. It was originally a poem titled “Tikvatenu” (Our Hope), written in 1878 by Naftali Herz Imber, a Jew from what is now Ukraine. He first published it in his 1886 poetry collection called “Barkai” (Shining Morning Star), the name of an early kibbutz in Palestine, and it’s believed his inspiration was the founding of Petach Tikvah (Gateway of Hope).

But four years before his poetry appeared in print, Imber took “Tikvatenu” to Rishon L’Zion, where Samuel Cohen set its words to the music of an old folk song from his birthplace, Moldavia. Ingloriously enough, the name of that song translates to “Cart and Oxen.” (I bet none of us would ever have made such a connection with Israel’s national anthem. But more about the latter a bit later … )

Gloriously enough, the same music also appealed to the Bohemian composer Bedrich Smetana, who used it for one movement in his composition “Ma Vlast” (My Country). Symphony-goers recognize this today as “The Moldau,” and Jews often believe, in error, that “Hatikvah” was its inspiration. Not so. But neither was “The Moldau” the inspiration for “Hatikvah,” which some other Jews believe.

In 1898, a first competition was held for a Zionist national anthem (certainly not for an Israeli anthem that early on), and one of the leading entries was “Shir Ha-Ma’alot” (The Song of Ascents), which we easily recognize now as the introduction to our benching after Shabbat and holiday meals.

Prime Minister Menachem Begin liked this song so much that he read all its words aloud on the U.S. White House lawn when he signed the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979. But it didn’t win the early contest, and neither did “Hatikvah.” Actually, there was no winner at all at that time. It was 1905, at the Seventh Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland, when all the delegates sang “Hatikvah” together, that gave it the status of the organization’s actual, if unofficial, anthem. (Important sidelight: it was at this conference that a plan for a Jewish homeland in Uganda was roundly defeated.)

The poem as Imber first wrote it had nine verses, most filled with sad images of tears and mourning. The first begins “O while within a Jewish breast beats true a Jewish heart/And Jewish glances turning east to Zion fondly dart … ”. This upbeat chorus: follows: “O then our hope — it is not dead — our ancient hope and true/Again the sacred soil to tread where David’s banner flew.”

The final verse reads “Hear, brothers mine, where e’re ye be this truth by prophet won/Tis then our Hope shall cease to be with Israel’s last son.” The same optimistic chorus is its conclusion.

Postscripts: There was never a copyright on the old melody that became “Hatikvah,” so Samuel Cohen never received any recognized credit for its music. Imber died in 1909 in New York. Five years after its founding, the State of Israel disinterred his remains and re-buried them in Mount Herzl Cemetery in Jerusalem.

A bit of irony here, since it was Theodore Herzl himself who introduced the idea of a Ugandan Jewish homeland at the same conference whose delegates embraced “Hatikvah” while rejecting any future home outside of the Holy Land. Just maybe it was the poignant yearning of Imber’s song that turned against Africa whatever tide there might have been in its favor …

“Hatikvah” moved unofficially from Zionist to Israeli anthem status as soon as the new state was established in 1948. But it surprised me to learn that it didn’t become official until November 2004, when the Knesset amended the nation’s Flag and Coat-of-Arms Law to make it the Flag, Coat-of-Arms, and National Anthem Law. That flag, of course, is as it’s been since Israel’s founding: the blue star that Imber referenced as “David’s banner” in his hopeful chorus.

However, “Hatikvah’s” words of hope underwent an immediate, positive change reflecting fulfillment at the time of Israel’s founding. I’m old enough to remember singing the old version. How many of you can also claim that?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

‘Purim’ signifies God is in charge

‘Purim’ signifies God is in charge

Posted on 21 February 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I’ve always wondered why the holiday of Purim was given the name that it has. The “pur” in the Book of Esther was simply the name of the lottery used to decide which date Haman would carry out his decree. Why would the entire holiday be named after this secondary thought?

— Noa W.

Dear Noa,

friedforweb2The “pur,” or lottery, mentioned in the Book of Esther is the lot the wicked Haman cast to establish which date to initiate the first “final solution” to annihilate the entire Jewish people. This seems to convey a sense of happenstance to all that transpired throughout the Purim story. Is this indeed the case?

I will answer the questions in the classical Jewish way: with a question.

When studying the Book of Esther, one is faced by a question: All but one book of the Tanach regularly mentions God’s name. The only book that doesn’t is the Book of Esther. How is it that the very book that relates the great miracle of the Jews’ redemption from the Persian-Median exile doesn’t mention the name of God even once?

One classical commentary, Rabbi Elijah of Vilna (known as the Vilna Gaon), answers this question with the following parable:

“There once was a king who had only one son whom he loved greatly and showered with many gifts. As he grew, so grew his haughtiness, and so grew many of the king’s court to hate him, just awaiting the day they could “take care” of the haughty prince once and for all.

“One day the prince’s haughtiness got the better of him and out of anger actually slapped his father the king in the face. At that point the king realized that he must do something very drastic to teach his beloved son a lesson. He will banish him to the dangerous forest for a while and there he will hopefully repent for his folly. Realizing the danger, the king called his closest aids and commanded them to protect his son from all his enemies. They must not, however, reveal themselves to him.

“The day the son was sent, the prince’s enemies went after him. He saw someone about to strike him when suddenly the attacker dropped with an arrow in his back. Breathing a sigh of relief, he wondered who had saved him. After two more attempts at his life, he was again and again mysteriously rescued. At that point, he sat down and began to think, realizing this could not possibly be merely a coincidence. Who possibly could be protecting him? Only his father has that ability, but his father surely hates him now. Who else could it be? Suddenly it dawned upon him; of course, it was his father.”

His father’s love for him was so great that he’s keeping him alive despite his rebellious act. His banishment to the forest was only to teach him a lesson. The son’s love and admiration for his father grew much greater than all the time he was in the palace, for he finally appreciated the depth of the king’s love for him. With that realization the prince fully repented, asked forgiveness and returned home.

The Jews were exiled into the dangerous forest of the Persian-Median, where our enemies surrounded us because we “slapped” our father, the King, in the face by serving idols and committing other serious transgression. Haman issued a decree to destroy us. God remained in hiding. He wanted to give us a chance to repent and see His love and protection, showing His love for us even at our time of rebellion.

That is why the name of God does not appear in the Book of Esther; the story transpired in a manner that saw no open miracles. There was a revelation every time God’s name is mentioned in the Tanach at that point. This was absent in the story of Purim.

The Jews in the Purim story began to notice many coincidences that led to their redemption. When they realized that these coincidences could not happen by chance, they deeply sensed and realized God’s love for them even in their degradation and repented with a full heart out of love. They then were returned to the palace, to Israel, to rebuild the Temple.

This is the meaning of the Talmudic statement when the sages searched for a hint for the Purim story and Esther in the Torah, and cited the verse “behold I will surely hide My Face on that day,” (Deut. 31:18). The words “surely hide” in Hebrew are “haster astir,” the second word having the exact spelling as the name Esther. Says the Vilna Gaon, the meaning of the Talmud’s question and answer are: how do we know that even at the time of “hester” (God’s being hidden) there still can be an “Esther,” a redemption!

The holiday is called “Purim” by name of the “pur,” the lottery. A lottery looks like it is being drawn by chance. The redemption came through the “pur” lottery to punctuate our realization that there is no “chance” in this world; the almighty is always present and in control of our matters behind the scenes.

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 yfried@sbcglobal.net.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Purim a time to dress up and let go

Purim a time to dress up and let go

Posted on 21 February 2013 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

Purim is considered to be one of the most enjoyable and fun Jewish holidays, as it commemorates a time when the Jewish people living in Persia were saved from extermination. It signifies a thankful and joyous affirmation of Jewish survival.

Purim, which begins at sundown Saturday, is similar to Halloween in that it has become a holiday that’s celebrated in America and features dressing up and eating sweets. But the two have very different meanings.

More than 500 people from all backgrounds attended Jewish Education Texas’ inaugural Purimpalooza Feb. 17 at Ann and Nate Levine Academy. Rides, attractions, carnival games, food, face painting and a DJ made the event fun for children and adults, as shown in the photos, in which children lined up for rides and enjoyed activities such as pumping up a balloon. Many people inquired about what JET does as an organization and learned its programs and events are geared toward families. | Photos: Tzvi Meltzer

More than 500 people from all backgrounds attended Jewish Education Texas’ inaugural Purimpalooza Feb. 17 at Ann and Nate Levine Academy. Rides, attractions, carnival games, food, face painting and a DJ made the event fun for children and adults, as shown in the photos, in which children lined up for rides and enjoyed activities such as pumping up a balloon. Many people inquired about what JET does as an organization and learned its programs and events are geared toward families. | Photos: Tzvi Meltzer

“Dressing up is part of what makes Purim so special,” said Rabbi Ben Sternman of Congregation Adat Chaverim in Plano. “The whole idea in the book of Esther is the hiddenness of her identity where she comes out and says, ‘Yes, I am part of the Jewish people and I’m saving them.’ God’s name is not mentioned in the Book of Esther either, so dressing up equates to concealing our identities as well.”

On Halloween, we ask people for candy, while Purim sees us making hamantaschen and offering people shalach manot baskets, he added.

Children like Halloween because they get to eat candy and dress up, and Purim can be just like that or even better, according to Congregation Shearith Israel associate Rabbi David Singer. Letting loose, dressing up and having fun is what makes Purim unique and something everyone can enjoy, he said.

“Purim is about celebrating all that is great about being Jewish,” Singer said. “By dressing up, we hide ourselves and the concerns of the day and enter into the world of fantasy. It’s a time to become someone else and pretending we can be royalty, just like Esther did. It’s a way of letting go. We need a time to let go, and that’s what Purim is about.

“If we make Purim just about going to synagogue to hear the Megillah read, we lose that point. It’s about celebrating a great moment in history and integrating that into our lives.”

Purim is one month and one day before Passover, Singer said, so it’s also seen as a way to have fun before celebrating a holiday that is much more serious.

A more religious reason people dress up for Purim deals with the fact that God was hiding himself in the story of Esther and we hide behind our customers, said Rabbi Menachem Block of Chabad of Plano/Collin County. By having the Jewish people dress up, it also allows God to dress up, he said.

“The function of a costume is to conceal and hide the person who is in it. That in essence, is the story of Purim because God was hiding and conceals himself,” he said. “God concealed himself and the Jewish people needed to overcome that challenge. Instead of rejecting him, the exact opposite happened. People gathered together to fast, pray and the miracle happened.”

More than 500 people from all backgrounds attended Jewish Education Texas’ inaugural Purimpalooza Feb. 17 at Ann and Nate Levine Academy. Rides, attractions, carnival games, food, face painting and a DJ made the event fun for children and adults, as shown in the photos, in which children lined up for rides and enjoyed activities such as pumping up a balloon. Many people inquired about what JET does as an organization and learned its programs and events are geared toward families. | Photos: Tzvi Meltzer

Drink responsibly on Purim

Purim is a time when we are commanded to eat, drink and be merry. A person is required to drink until they cannot tell the difference between Haman and Mordechai, according to the Talmud.

Various Purim celebrations around town this weekend have open bars, and the best way to enjoy the holiday and still have fun is to be conscious of how much you drink.

The best thing to do is exercise caution when drinking, just as you would while going out and having drinks with friends, said Rabbi Ben Sternman of Congregation Adat Chaverim.

“Drinking is part of the holiday, but drinking to the point of harming ourselves is forbidden in Judaism,” he said. “Everyone should have fun and enjoy themselves, but still be cautious when drinking on Purim.”

— Rachel Gross Weinstein

Purim events in the Metroplex

SAT., FEB. 23

Purimpalooza
4 p.m.
The event will begin with children’s activities such as mask and jewelry making, soccer kick, Haman can toss and a duck pond. An adults-only wine and cheese reception with comedy by Ed Brant will follow. The evening will conclude with a free congregational dinner and “A Very Disney Purim” shpiel with the story of Esther told through the music of Disney productions.
Info: Debbie Massarano, 972-661-1362, dmassarano@templeshalomdallas.org
Temple Shalom
6920 Alpha Road, Dallas

Adat Chaverim Purim Extravaganza
5 p.m.
A Megillah reading will be followed by a pasta and salad dinner and “When you Wish Upon a Shpiel” Purim story. Cost for dinner is $10 for adults, $5 per children or $30 maximum for families. Reservation required for dinner and payment is registration.
Info/RSVP: 972-491-5917
Congregation Adat Chaverim
6300 Independence Pkwy., Plano

Movie and Megillah Reading
5:30 p.m.
Congregation Ner Tamid will have an evening with the movie “Queen Esther,” followed by Havdallah and Megillah reading. Participants are asked to bring their own dairy dinner. Event will take place at home of Cantor Patti Turner; please call for address.
Info: 972-416-9738, www.congregationnertamid.org
Private Residence

CBS Players Performance
6 p.m., dinner; 7 p.m., show
Hear the story of Esther through the voice of the “Real King.” A Memphis-style barbecue dinner will be served. Presented by the Congregation Beth Shalom Players. RSVP is required.
Info/RSVP: Thressa, 817-860-5448, www.bethshalom.org
Congregation Beth Shalom
1212 Thannisch Drive, Arlington

Second Annual Purim Extravaganza
6 p.m.
The evening will include a parade and costume contest, an original Purim shpiel starring religious school students and adults, hamantaschen and more. Event is free and open to the community.
Info: 817-731-4721
Congregation Ahavath Sholom
4050 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth

Purim at Tiferet
6:45 p.m.
Join Tiferet Israel for a Megillah reading, followed by a Purim carnival that will include a children’s costume parade, bounce house, obstacle course, face painter, Israeli music and hamantaschen. There will be beverages, nosh and live entertainment available for adults as well in Vashti’s Lounge.
Info: Sarah Moore, 214-691-3611, sarah@tiferetdallas.org
Tiferet Israel Congregation
10909 Hillcrest Road, Dallas

Adult Purim Party
7 – 11 p.m.
Costumes are optional for this adults-only Purim party that will include a catered dinner, dancing to the music of The Schmaltzy Three, comedy and more. Cost is $15 per person and baby-sitting will be provided. Guests are asked to BYOB and bring a donation for the Tarrant Area Food Bank. Reservations are required.
Info/RSVP: 817-332-7141, www.bethelfw.org
Beth-El Congregation
4900 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth

Purim celebration
7 p.m.
There will be an evening service and Megillah reading, followed by a reception with a children’s costume parade and entertainment. A program by Mad Science will include the Purim story, magic, science tricks, hamantaschen and groggers. Event is free and open to the community.
Info: 972-618-2200, www.nishmatam.org
Congregation Nishmat Am
2113 W. Spring Creek Pkwy., Plano

Purim Extravaganza
7 p.m.
Congregation Shearith Israel will host an adult Purim celebration with a Megillah reading, a performance by Locked Out Comedy, entertainment by R and R Band, food and drinks. A movie will also be provided for children ages 4-10.
Info: 214-361-6606
Congregation Shearith Israel
9401 Douglas Ave., Dallas

Rock and Roll Purim
7 p.m.
Dinner will be followed by a musical shpiel and an evening of classic rock. Cost is $10 per person and costumes are encouraged. Evening is geared for adults.
Info: 817-581-5500, www.congregationbethisrael.org
Congregation Beth Israel
6100 Pleasant Run Road, Colleyville

Purim Celebration
7 p.m.
The event will begin with Havdallah, followed by the Megillah reading, a “song of Purim” parody and adult karaoke with food and drinks. Babysitting will be available.
Info: 972-234-1542
Congregation Beth Torah
720 W. Lookout Drive, Richardson

Saturday Night Live
7:45 p.m.
Adults in the community are invited to celebrate Purim with wine and sushi, a Megillah reading and entertainment. Cost is $20 per person and sponsorships are available. Event is presented by the Chabad Jewish Center of DFW-Mid Cities.
Info: 817-451-1171, www.arlingtonchabad.org
Chabad of Arlington
2136 Lindblad Ct., Arlington

Congregation Anshai Torah’s Adult Purim Party
8 – 11 p.m.
The theme for this third annual event is “Super Purim,” and guests are asked to dress up like their favorite super hero. Cost is $12 per person for Hazak members and $18 per person for others. RSVP required.
Info/RSVP: Debbie Butvin, 972-473-7718, debbie.butvin@anshaitorah.org
Congregation Anshai Torah
5501 W. Parker Road, Plano

Megillah Reading and Persian Feast
8 p.m.
The Sephardic Torah Center of Dallas will host its second annual Purim event. Guests are asked to come in costume and there will be prizes for the best one. Cost for dinner is $10 per adult and $5 per child ages 4-10. RSVP is required.
Info/RSVP: Rabbi Zecharia Sionit, 917-678-0385, stcd.reservations@gmail.com
Sephardic Torah Center of Dallas
6715 Levelland Road, Dallas

Young Adults Purim ‘Bomb’
8 p.m.
Join the Temple Emanu-El Young Adults group for a Purim celebration with sushi and karaoke. Costumes are encouraged and prizes will be awarded for best karaoke, geisha and samurai. Cost is $15 in advance and $25 at the door and that price includes sushi, karaoke and an open bar.
Info: Mimi Zimmerman, 214-706-0000, mzimmerman@tedallas.org
Orange Bar and Naan Sushi
2600 Cedar Springs Road, Dallas

‘Like Totally Purim’
9:30 p.m.
The Intown Chabad will host its eighth annual Purim party. The event this year is ’80s themed and ’80s cover band The Spazmatics, will provide entertainment. Guests are asked to dressed in ’80s gear. The evening will also include interactive Megillah readings and an open bar. Tickets cost $25 in advance and $45 at the door; VIP tickets are also available of $45 in advance and $65 at the door.
Info: Rabbi Zvi Drizin, 214-810-6770, http://www.eventbee.com/v/spazmaticspurim
West End Event Center
2019 N. Lamar St., Dallas

Purim: A Super Celebration
10 p.m.
Come dressed as your favorite superhero for an evening with Makom, the young adults group of Congregation Shearith Israel. There will be an open bar and music by Alex and Mike Molayem. Advance tickets are $25 and $35 at the door.
Info: Rabbi David Singer, 214-361-6606, www.makomdallas.com
House of Blues
2200 N. Lamar St., Dallas

SUN., FEB. 24

Purim at Tiferet
8 a.m.
Tiferet Israel will have a Megillah reading, followed by a Purim carnival that will include a children’s costume parade, bounce house, obstacle course, face painter, Israeli music and hamantaschen. There will be beverages, nosh and live entertainment available for adults as well in Vashti’s Lounge.
Info: Sarah Moore, 214-691-3611, sarah@tiferetdallas.org
Tiferet Israel Congregation
10909 Hillcrest Road, Dallas

Purim Celebration
8:30 a.m.
The celebration will kick off with minyan and a Megillah reading, followed by a Purim shpiel and carnival. Race to Shushan, knock down the Hamanyata, make Queen Esther some jewelry and many more games and crafts.
Info: 972-234-1542
Congregation Beth Torah
720 W. Lookout Drive, Richardson

Purim Family Extravaganza
9 a.m.
Activities for the day include a traditional and interactive Megillah reading, a petting zoo, face painting, a game truck arcade and a family concert with R and R band. Hot dogs, hamantaschen and drinks will also be served.
Info: Suzanne Minc, 214-361-6606, sminc@shearith.org
Congregation Shearith Israel
9401 Douglas Ave., Dallas

Purim Celebration
9:30 a.m.
A PowerPoint Megillah reading and children’s activities will highlight the morning. Everyone is encouraged to come in costume.
Info: 972-539-1938
Congregation Kol Ami
1887 Timber Creek Road, Flower Mound

Purim Shpiel and Carnival
10 a.m.
The Purim Shpiel will kick off the morning, followed by the carnival that will feature games, bounce houses and food; everyone is encouraged to come in costume. Cost is $10 for non-member religious school students. Those who are members get in for free, plus 15 game tickets. Hot dogs, beverages and chips will be available for purchase during this event.
Info: 972-491-5917
Congregation Adat Chaverim
6300 Independence Pkwy., Plano

‘The Wizard of Oyz’
11 a.m.
Celebration will include a congregational lunch, adult Purim brunch and children’s carnival games and face painting. Cost for the lunch is $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 10 and younger; brunch, which includes mimosas, is $15 per person. Registration required for both events.
Info/Registration: Carolyne Ojwang, 214-706-0000, www.tedallas.org/purim
Temple Emanu-El
8500 Hillcrest Road, Dallas

iVolunteer Purim
Noon
Young professionals will join for a Megillah reading and brunch, then deliver mishloach manot packages to a Holocaust survivor or elderly in the community. Event is free.
Info: Ilana Weltman, ilana@iVolunteerDallas.org
Intown Chabad
2723 Routh St., Dallas

Hunt for Haman Community Purim Carnival
12:30 – 3 p.m.
Carnival will feature bounce houses, ponies, face painting and much more. A lunch of a hot dog or black bean burger with fries and a drink is available for $5. Carnival tickets are 25 cents each, or 25 tickets for $5. Event is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial assistance from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School supporting foundation and supported by Beth-El Congregation, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Beth Shalom and Chabad of Fort Worth/Tarrant County.
Info: 817-569-0892
Beth-El Congregation
4900 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth

Purim in Italy
4 – 6 p.m.
Events for children include a Megillah reading, “learning tower of pizza” contest, and mishloach manot baskets, and separate Megillah reading, wine bar, Italian dinner and mad science show will be available for adults. Event is free, but RSVP is required.
Info/RSVP: 972-596-8270, www.chabadplano.org
Chabad of Plano
3904 W. Park Blvd., Plano

Purim Masquerade
4:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Join DATA of Plano for a Texas-style dinner, games, face painting, a children’s costume parade, adult costume competition and more. Cost is $25 per adult and $7 per child in advance and $30 per adult and $9 per child at the door; guests are asked to BYOB.
Info: Rabbi Nasanya Zakon, 917-270-2990, nzakon@dataofplano.org, or Rabbi Yogi Robkin, 214-422-6140
DATA of Plano
3251 Independence Pkwy., Plano

Purim Seudah
4:30 p.m.
Tiferet Israel will have its annual Purim Persian feast. Cost is $15 for adults, $5 for children under 13 and free for children under 3; $40 maximum for immediate family. RSVP required.
Info/RSVP: Sarah Moore, 214-691-3611, sarah@tiferetdallas.org
Tiferet Israel Congregation
10909 Hillcrest Road, Dallas

Grand Purim Feast
5 p.m.
The event will feature food, a Megillah reading and a masquerade. Cost is $18 per adult and $10 for children; sponsorships are also available. Registration required.
Info/Registration: 817-451-1171, www.arlingtonchabad.org
Chabad of Arlington
2136 Lindblad Ct., Arlington

Purim in the Jungle
5 p.m.
Chabad of Dallas will have a Megillah reading, Purim jungle feast and special jungle show. Prizes will be awarded to those dressed in costumes. Cost is $25 for adults and $10 for children; sponsorships are available. RSVP required.
Info/RSVP: 972-818-0770, www.chabadofdallas.com/purim
Chabad of Dallas
6710 Levelland Road, Dallas

Purim Feast a la Korean
5 p.m.
Chabad of Fort Worth will host a Korean-style dinner prepared by chef Shinran Blostein. Cost is $18 for adults and $9 for children. RSVP required.
Info/RSVP: 817-263-7701, rabbi@chabadfortworth.com
Chabad of Fort Worth
5659 Woodway Drive, Fort Worth

Purim Seudah
5 p.m.
Congregation Nishmat Am will have a Purim dinner for the entire family. Cost is $18 for adults, $10 for children ages 5-16 and children ages 1-5 are free. Seating is limited, so RSVP is required.
Info/RSVP: 972-618-2200, www.nishmatam.org
Congregation Nishmat Am
2113 W. Spring Creek Pkwy., Plano

Purim Seudah
5 p.m.
Dinner will be followed by a concert for children with musical guest Howie Kahn. Event is open to the community, please call for price and reservations.
Info/RSVP: Lisa Zelenetz, 972-661-0127
Congregation Shaare Tefilla
6131 Churchill Way, Dallas

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 14 February 2013 by admin

A Dallas delegation traveled to Boca Raton, Fla., for last month’s Israel Bonds Leadership conference. The three-day conference was a stimulating and informative mix of panel discussions, keynote addresses, workshops and a Shabbaton. Of the 100 participants in the conference, Texas was well represented with six young leaders and members of the senior leadership team. Delegation members are, from left, Frankie Shulkin, Nate Levine, keynote speaker Bob Woodward, Jason Schwartz, Renee Stanley, Karen Garfield and Nathan Mitzner. Manuel Rajunov and Claire Miller are not pictured. | Photo: ZimZoom Photograhy

A Dallas delegation traveled to Boca Raton, Fla., for last month’s Israel Bonds Leadership conference. The three-day conference was a stimulating and informative mix of panel discussions, keynote addresses, workshops and a Shabbaton. Of the 100 participants in the conference, Texas was well represented with six young leaders and members of the senior leadership team. Delegation members are, from left, Frankie Shulkin, Nate Levine, keynote speaker Bob Woodward, Jason Schwartz, Renee Stanley, Karen Garfield and Nathan Mitzner. Manuel Rajunov and Claire Miller are not pictured. | Photo: ZimZoom Photograhy

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Peter Goldstein, licensed architect and educator at Dallas’ Skyline High School, received a Distinguished Fulbright Award in Teaching grant, and he will be one of 20 U.S. citizens going abroad through this program during the current academic year.

He will study at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, while working with high school students there to map the architectural, historical and topographical features of their home city.

Goldstein has taught for 12 years in the Dallas ISD magnet architecture program at Skyline, where he was named Teacher of the Year. His work, with that of his students, has been included in many publications and featured in the Dallas Museum of Art’s 2011 exhibition, “Sculpting Space: 299 Chairs.”

“Mapping a Sense of Place” is the name of Goldstein’s South African project. Through it, “I hope to open doors for students into the architecture and design professions, and encourage understanding of the diverse and multi-cultural cities of today’s world,” he said.

As he works in the university’s School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics, he also intends “to investigate the relationship between architecture and place, and create a multi-layered map of Cape Town that will provide a portrait of the city as seen through the eyes of its students.”

He explains: “My project builds on the idea that architecture is a universal language, a meaningful way to understand the people and institutions forming the fabric of our urban centers.”

After returning, Goldstein hopes to use his model to promote the mutual understanding of culture and place in Dallas.

Goldstein’s wife and son will travel with him. The family lives near White Rock Lake in Dallas; Michelle Brodsky Goldstein’s business, Goldstein Financial Future, is also located in the city.

“Because my world is financial planning grounded in U.S. law and taxation, I won’t be able to work with South Africans,” she said, but she will continue to serve existing clients using email and Skype.

She will also take a leave of absence from her current position, shared with Staci Mankoff, as vice president of financial development for the Dallas Section of the National Council of Jewish Women.

Son Zachary Sol Goldstein, 8, will attend Term 2, roughly third grade, in Cape Town’s Reddam House School.

The three Goldsteins will leave Dallas March 11. They’ll return four months later.

The Fulbright Program is sponsored by the U.S. government as an international educational exchange designed to increase mutual understanding with people of other countries.

Congratulations to the Goldsteins, and thanks to Harriet Gross for sharing the details of the award.

Pearlman Becomes Bridge Life Master

Allen Pearlman has reached the Life Master milestone, the highest ranking within the American Contract Bridge League, based on masterpoints.

Pearlman went over the top (more than 300 masterpoints) on Dec. 31, playing with frequent partner Marv Migdol. They were first overall in a special afternoon session, racking up 3.2 master points.

Bridge is actually Allen’s No. 2 hobby. No. 1 is model railroading.

Allen is married to Marilyn, and they’re long-time residents of Far North Dallas. A native of Brooklyn, he became a pharmacist before going to medical school.

The Pearlmans are members of Temple Shalom and The Joker’s havurah.

A bridge party honoring Allen will take place from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at Bridge Academy of North Dallas, 12250 Inwood Road in Dallas. The lunch buffet will be followed by bridge at 12:30 for those who want to stay and play.

Sports shorts

Congratulations to Aaron Moss, son of Mike Moss and Jill Chastens, who signed a national letter of intent to play football with Henderson State University on Feb. 6, National Signing Day.

Aaron Moss signed a national letter of intent Feb. 6 to play football at Henderson State University. | Photo: Courtesy Randy Robertson

Aaron Moss signed a national letter of intent Feb. 6 to play football at Henderson State University. | Photo: Courtesy Randy Robertson

Aaron has played linebacker and strong safety for the JJ Pearce mustangs. He totaled 90 tackles last season at J.J. Pearce High School, including 38 unassisted tackles and four tackles for lost yardage.

An all-District 9-5A selection, Aaron earned Defensive Player of the Week honors three times in 2012.

Henderson State is a public liberal arts university located in Arkadelphia, Ark. The Reddies compete in NCAA Division II Great American Conference.

Smart Cookie

Added congratulations to Mesorah High School for Girls senior Keren Moyal, daughter of Rabbi David and Irit Moyal of Dallas, who was named one of Texas’ 10 distinguished finalists by the Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, a national program honoring middle level and high school students for outstanding volunteer service.

Keren raised $10,000 by recording two inspirational music CDs to support Camp Simcha at Chai Lifeline, a summer camp for children struggling with life-threatening illnesses.

Keren, who was inspired by her outreach with a young leukemia patient, Bekkie Floriana, also worked with Chai Lifeline to implement “Project Together,” a national program to match teenagers to young children struggling with their illnesses as a way to provide comfort and companionship.

Next year, Keren plans to attend a seminar in Jerusalem, (Machon Raaya), and then continue her college education, hopefully at Touro College in New York City. As a distinguished finalist, Keren received an engraved bronze medallion.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Welcome to the family, Gingy

Welcome to the family, Gingy

Posted on 14 February 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebEverything is a story. This week, mine begins with happiness: I’ve become a great-grandma for the second time. Andrew Robert has joined his cousin, Alexander James, as the first representatives of our family’s next generation.

We are incredibly lucky to be a five-generation family; my mother was the oldest of 12, and her youngest brother is, happily, alive and well at 90. The newbies are his great-great-great nephews.

I took becoming a great-grandma in stride, but somehow I couldn’t believe that my own son was a grandpa. “How does it feel?” That’s what I asked him when “Lex” arrived 20 months ago. Ever practical, he responded, “Well, I have three daughters. I always figured this would happen, sooner or later.”

And now, thanks to a second daughter, he is grandfather to “Gingy,” who was nicknamed — Israeli-style — immediately after birth because of his flaming red hair. Redheads run in our family, at least one per generation, but no redhead has ever had a redhead. When my carrot-top grandson Ben was born, my daughter and I sat down together and mapped out a tree of the family “gingys.” We wound up sliding off our chairs and rolling on the floor with laughter.

When my son graduated from high school, I wrote a column for our local newspaper that remains one of the best things I’ve ever done. In it, I talked about how frightening it was to be the mother of a first child — how much there was to learn, how hard it was to cope with the inevitable illnesses and injuries, how difficult it sometimes was to control waves of anger at “unacceptable” behaviors.

“I had never been a boy,” I said, “and I had forgotten how to be a child.” My refrain throughout was, “Someday I’ll look back on this and laugh.” But my ending was, as the grown young man who towered over me took off for college, “Now I’m looking backward and forward, and I am not laughing at all.”

I read this to him first, asked his permission to publish it and listened carefully to his response, which was “What can I say?” I sent a copy to him when his own first child graduated from high school. I’m hoping now that he’s already passed on copies to his two older daughters, the mothers of his two grandsons — the mothers of my two great-grandsons.

More years ago than I like to think about, I taught Sunday school with a woman who managed to put all kinds of wisdom into a very few words. She had two children, then found herself surprisingly pregnant with a third. She wasn’t happy until after he was born, when she had a “revelation”: “I have the recipe for the perfect child,” she told me. “Have three, and throw away the first two.” That was because, she explained, “By the time the third arrives, you’re done experimenting. You’ve learned what you need to know. You don’t worry. You look at him, and he looks at you, and you say to each other, ‘You do your thing and I’ll do mine, and we’ll get along just fine.’ And you do.”

I don’t know. I never had a third child; just my firstborn son and then his sister.

My daughter’s two boys are so different from each other that it’s difficult to believe they were born to the same parents, grew up in the same house, sat around the same table eating the same food. Differences aren’t always spotted as early as red hair, but inevitably, they emerge.

Her firstborn is now a musician and high school band and choral teacher in Chicago, while red-headed Ben has found happiness as a budding pastry chef in a small Montana town. His mother, herself a kitchen whiz who especially loves to bake, says that when he’s ready to open his own business, she’ll go there to help him. I shake my head. None of them ever learned any of these things from me …

The new cousins, Lex and Gingy, will grow up near each other, celebrating holidays and all special occasions together. I hope to be granted the years to see what their futures turn out to be — to be as astounded as I’ve been by my son and his three daughters, by my daughter and her two sons.

They are the sources of my stories, the pages in the story of my life. And what are any of us if not our stories?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 14 February 2013 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

As you read this week’s column, you’re no doubt thinking about a special holiday, one in which love triumphs over all and sweets are presented — and consumed — in mass quantities.

I am, of course, referring to Purim. (Did you really think I’d say Valentine’s Day?)

We all know the story of how good triumphs over evil, as Queen Esther begs King Ahasuerus to hold back Haman’s desire to kill the Jews in 4th century Persia. We all know the story — but each year, we’re commanded to listen to the Megillah, the Book of Esther.

This year, Purim begins on Feb. 23, a Saturday evening, and there are plenty of activities throughout the area to help us fulfill this mitzvah. These range from kid-friendly Purim shpiels and carnivals (complete with costume parades) to adult-only celebrations where, according to halachich law, it’s OK to drink to excess. If you do so, however, be sure you’re not driving.

The point here is that Tarrant County Jewish organizations are offering a lot of opportunities to listen to the Megillah and to celebrate the good-versus-evil tale that doesn’t grow old with the retelling. Check out the calendar at www.tjpnews.com for more information on when, where and what.

Speaking of love

Heartfelt congratulations go to Cantor Shoshana Abrams of Congregation Ahavath Sholom, who is engaged to Mordecai Kaikov, son of Miriam “Mimi” and Roni Kaikov.

Mordecai Kaikov, son of Miriam and Roni Kaikov, got down on bended knee on Groundhog Day to propose to Shoshana Abrams, cantor at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. More details will be forthcoming.

Mordecai Kaikov, son of Miriam and Roni Kaikov, got down on bended knee on Groundhog Day to propose to Shoshana Abrams, cantor at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. More details will be forthcoming.

A very excited future mother-of-the-groom wrote us the following, which I think conveys the nachas this union has brought:

“Mordecai Kaikov on bended knee proposed to Cantor Shoshana Abrams of Congregation Ahavath Sholom on Groundhog Day, Feb. 2. Mordecai chose this day for the proposal as he knew it would make his late grandpa happy and forever be a memorable day. The young couple met at CAS in Fort Worth, and while the proposal was a surprise to Cantor Abrams, there was no surprise to family and friends. Their love and affection is incredible — huge — Texas Style!”

This is wonderful news for all concerned, and we’ll look forward to learning an official wedding date.

Meanwhile, following Purim’s festivities …

… the partying doesn’t stop. On Saturday, March 3, Congregation Ahavath Sholom is hosting its own birthday bash — 120 years, to be precise.

This will takes place at the synagogue at 4050 S. Hulen in Fort Worth. The evening will begin at 7 p.m. with Havdallah and continue through a party consisting of dancing, silent and live auctions, gaming for prizes and lots and lots of food.

Money raised from the event will benefit the Legacy Fund for the continuation of youth education, among other things. The event is free to members and $60 per person for non-members. To purchase tickets and make reservations for the anniversary gala, contact Ahavath Sholom at 817-731-4721 or info@ahavathsholom.org.

This photo of a 1950s preschool class at what is now the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center is part of an exhibit celebrating the preschool’s 60th anniversary. How many of these kids do you know? | Photo: Fort Worth Jewish Archives

This photo of a 1950s preschool class at what is now the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center is part of an exhibit celebrating the preschool’s 60th anniversary. How many of these kids do you know? | Photo: Fort Worth Jewish Archives

Nor is CAS the only institution celebrating an anniversary

Sixty years ago, the preschool now known as the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center opened, becoming Fort Worth’s first preschool. At the time, the preschool had six students, one teacher and tuition of $12 a month — and it occupied a room at Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s Myrtle Street synagogue.

These days, the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center fills an entire wing at the synagogue, has an enrollment of 92 children, employs a staff of 19 and has an annual budget of $800,000.

A new commemorative exhibit at CAS celebrating the preschool’s 60 years includes class photos from each decade (including the one on page 8) and a plaster handprint made by CAS’ current president, Murray Cohen, when he was a preschooler in the 1950s.

The exhibit is organized by the Fort Worth Jewish Archives, with research provided by Hannah Klein and Joe Klein and arrangements made by Diana Krompass and Hollace Weiner. Additional thanks go to Hollace for supplying the information and photo as well.

And then there’s art

Or rather, a panel presentation titled “Biblical Influences on Modern Synagogue Art and Architecture,” which takes place at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 7 at CAS, 4050 S. Hulen in Fort Worth.

The panelists — noted architects David R. Stanford, Gary M. Cunningham and Lynn Milstone — will speak about synagogues — more specifically, ancient worship places around the world in comparison with contemporary architectural practices.

Local sculptor Etty Horowitz will also be on hand to serve as the program’s moderator.

The event is free to the public, but space is limited. Interested? Call 817-731-4721 for information or to make your reservation.

The final word

The main themes of this particular column involve 1) anniversaries and 2) Purim. If you have photos and/or news of either one, please send them along by emailing me at awsorter@yahoo.com.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Be a good sport with Jewish values

Be a good sport with Jewish values

Posted on 14 February 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2Many years ago, I was asked to add a “Jewish value” to the weekly notes for junior basketball players at the Aaron Family JCC. With junior basketball at the J going strong, I have looked again at these values. It is an interesting challenge to look at values and competition.

As I continue to read the sports page, I think more and more about how we can teach our children important values that are in line with the competitive spirit.

Here are a few of my favorite “Jewish Sports Values.” I continue to struggle with this: Is it ethical to foul someone on purpose in basketball? It certainly opens up great conversation with the children.

Hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests)

For the opening week of junior basketball, let us remember this very important Jewish value of welcoming others. This can include welcoming new members of your team, showing hospitality to visitors in the stands and, most important, creating an atmosphere of kindness toward all who come to play, watch, coach and officiate.

Kavod (respect)

A most important Jewish value for us to remember is kavod — respect for our teammates, our coaches, our referees, our fans in the bleachers and ourselves. Showing respect and honoring those we play with makes the game a positive, learning experience for all. “Who is honored and respected? One who honors and respects others.” (Pirkei Avot)

Shmirat lashon (guarding your tongue)

An important value in life and certainly in sports is the value of shmirat lashon. The rabbis teach us so many lessons on the importance of watching our words — both the ones we say and the ones we listen to. In the heat of a game (or in the heat of anger), we often say things that we wish we could take back, but once the words are out, the damage has been done. We all know this but it is so hard to control.

Even — or maybe especially — in professional sports, we hear of athletes, coaches and even owners saying or tweeting things, then wishing they could take the words back (this would make a good discussion topic). Let us practice the skill of “guarding our tongue” as well as the skill of “guarding the ball.”

Sayver panim yafot (a pleasant demeanor)

This is an important value in all areas of life, but how does it relate to basketball? Basically, this value can be translated to “put on a happy face.” When we show the world a smile, we usually get smiles in return.

On the court, let us not show our competitive face looking angry. Competition is fun and our faces can show that — and when our faces show smiles, our spirit changes.

Laura Seymour is director of Jewish life and learning and director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Happy hundred

Happy hundred

Posted on 14 February 2013 by admin

The National Council of Jewish Women Greater Dallas Section’s centennial honorary host committee, comprised of the past section presidents, will be honored at the centennial luncheon Feb. 26. Sitting, from left, are Bette Miller, Sue Tilis, Julie Lowenberg, Joni Cohan, Pat Peiser, Katherine Bauer and Syl Benenson. Standing, from left, are Barbara Lee, Cheryl Pollman, Kyra Effren, Anita Marcus, Marlene Cohen, Jody Platt, current president Robin Zweig, Betty Dreyfus, Joy Mankoff, Phyllis Bernstein, Marsha Fischman, Brenda Brand, Janice Sweet and Kathy Freeman. Jeanne Fagadau, Darrel Strelitz and Maddy Unterberg are not pictured. | Photo: Lara Bierner Photography

The National Council of Jewish Women Greater Dallas Section’s centennial honorary host committee, comprised of the past section presidents, will be honored at the centennial luncheon Feb. 26. Sitting, from left, are Bette Miller, Sue Tilis, Julie Lowenberg, Joni Cohan, Pat Peiser, Katherine Bauer and Syl Benenson. Standing, from left, are Barbara Lee, Cheryl Pollman, Kyra Effren, Anita Marcus, Marlene Cohen, Jody Platt, current president Robin Zweig, Betty Dreyfus, Joy Mankoff, Phyllis Bernstein, Marsha Fischman, Brenda Brand, Janice Sweet and Kathy Freeman. Jeanne Fagadau, Darrel Strelitz and Maddy Unterberg are not pictured. | Photo: Lara Bierner Photography

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

The first meeting of the National Council of Jewish Women Greater Dallas Section took place Wednesday, Feb. 26, 1913. Its 100th birthday luncheon will occur exactly 100 years later — Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013 — when the chapter will honor a century of leadership, advocacy and community service in Dallas.

The luncheon will take place at noon at the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Center, 5410 LBJ Fwy. in Dallas. At the event, the past presidents of NCJW Dallas will be honored, a historical video will premiere and journalist and keynote speaker Laura Ling will discuss how she has advocated for women’s rights over the years and relate her experience of being detained in North Korea in 2009.

“Laura Ling and her sister, Lisa, stand up for women’s rights around the world, and that really matches our mission so well,” said Jody Platt, co-chair of the centennial committee with Rhona Frankfurt. “NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for women, children and families. We do community service and advocacy in the community, and the history of Dallas has been interwoven within our chapter over the years. This is exciting for all of us.”

NCJW’s Dallas section started with 75 women who met at Temple Emanu-El and were committed to community service, past president Barbara Lee said. Volunteer projects were under way by 1914, and they included immigrant aid, medical inspection of schools, day nursery and free kindergarten.

It pioneered many initiatives such as:

  • The Dallas area’s first after-school program.
  • A recreational club for seniors.
  • First Family Outreach, which counsels families at risk and works to prevent child abuse and neglect.
  • Establishing HIPPY (Home Instruction Program for Preschool Youngsters) in Dallas.
  • Co-founding the Greater Dallas Coalition for Reproductive Freedom to combat threats to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling on abortion.

“Our commitment to Jewish values and to help repair the world has been a guiding force in why we do the work that we do,” said Maddy Unterberg, a past president who is co-chairing the luncheon with Marsha Fischman, Adrienne Rosen, Janice Sweet and Patty Traub. “This is what will also allow us to continue our work for the next 100 years.”

NCJW centennial luncheon co-chairs are, from left, Marsha Fischman, Janice Sweet, Adrienne Rosen, Maddy Unterberg and Patty Traub. | Photos: Submitted by Barbara Lee

NCJW centennial luncheon co-chairs are, from left, Marsha Fischman, Janice Sweet, Adrienne Rosen, Maddy Unterberg and Patty Traub. | Photos: Submitted by Barbara Lee

Today, the Dallas section is involved with various community service projects, including Attitudes for Attire; Hello Israel, which introduces students to the country; the Immigration Citizenship Initiative; and the Vickery Meadow Food Pantry. It also supports Israel by laying the groundwork for social changes and continues to advocate for women’s issues.

Being a Jewish woman today means supporting Israel and leading by example, said current section president Robin Zweig. These two elements are what will continue to make the organization thrive for the next 100 years, she added.

“NCJW’s support of Israel does not waver, and we have many programs in place that demonstrate our ongoing work for Israeli youth, women and families,” Zweig said. “As impactful and strong women, we are a force for social change, and we are powerful advocates for women’s rights. NCJW’s history is filled with the pioneering work of our leaders who have started and led long-lasting programs in Dallas that remain in place today.”

The luncheon is the major event to celebrate the centennial, but the organization will also conduct smaller centennial-related events throughout the year.

The year kicked off with a day of community service last month at various organizations. Other events planned are NCJW Shabbat celebrations, study groups and a Chanukah party in which 100 menorahs will be lit. A centennial history exhibit and a centennial quilt will debut at the luncheon.

NCJW Dallas was one of the first women’s organizations in the area, Lee said, adding that the committed volunteers and passionate women in the community are also what have made the organization what it is today.

“This was one of the first places to do community service in Dallas,” she said. “L’dor v’dor — from generation to generation — this is how we have survived 100 years.”

Added Zweig: “As we look forward to our next 100 years, being a Jewish woman means cultivating future leaders and volunteers to carry on our legacy. All are needed for this endeavor. We are 100 years young and we are proud of our past; we are proud and strong Jewish women. Our best days are ahead of us.”

Tickets for the luncheon cost $125 each and sponsorships are available. RSVP and payment are due by Feb. 18.

For information and to RSVP, call 214-368-4405 or visit www.ncjwdallas.org.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Tearing garment a law of mourning

Tearing garment a law of mourning

Posted on 14 February 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

We recently had a loss in our family, and the observant children of my cousin ripped their garments at the funeral. I have seen people pin a “torn” piece of garment onto their jacket as a sign of mourning, but not actually tear the garment itself. What is the significance of this custom?

— Jonathan R.

Dear Jonathan,

friedforweb2What you noticed is actually not a custom, rather one of the basic tenets of mourning in Jewish Law (“Code of Jewish Law,” Yoreh Deah Ch. 340 pp. 1-39). This law has numerous sources in the Torah and Prophets, as well as in rabbinic writings.

One of the first examples in the Torah is that Jacob rent his garments when he heard Joseph had been killed, (Genesis 37:34; see also 37:29, II Samuel 13:31, II Kings 6:30).

“K’riya,” or tearing one’s shirt and/or jacket, is a core Jewish response to tragedy, especially the loss of a close relative. Today, it is customarily performed during the funeral, although at times it is performed upon receipt of the news of the passing, such as if one cannot be present at the funeral.

There seems to be a dichotomy of faith at the time of k’riya. On one hand, a blessing is recited upon the act of tearing: “Blessed are You, God, King of the Universe, the True Judge.” This affirms our trust and belief in the almighty that this loss was not senseless, but that God in His infinite wisdom has deemed it the right thing at this time. On the other hand, k’riya expresses the deepest pent-up emotions of loss and sorrow.

This is not a contradiction. Judaism recognizes that mourners — despite their faith — still need to express pain, grief and, at times, anger. This powerful, symbolic act gives expression to all those emotions. It is, says the Talmud, a tremendous relief for the soul of the mourner.

Tearing one’s shirt or jacket also symbolizes the annulment of personal dignity and disregard for adornment and pleasure at this moment of loss.

There is a deeper Kabbalistic message, as well. K’riya dramatically expresses our recognition that the body is merely the “clothing of the soul” and our belief that the soul lives on for eternity. It is only the body that has been torn away from them and us, but their spiritual essence remains.

The gentile world of old was accustomed to tearing their very flesh when a loved one departed, symbolizing a finality of the loss by leaving a permanent scar. The Torah forbids us to cut our skin in this manner (Leviticus 19:28). This is because we believe every death is actually a birth — into another world, where the soul lives on. By renting our garments and not our bodies, we express this belief that the loss is not final.

This is also the reason that wearing black at the funeral or shiva is not a Jewish custom, as it is in other religions. (This non-Jewish custom has been mistakenly adapted by many Jews.) The loss is not final or eternal, which black clothing represents, and we have faith in the “true judge” that all is not “black,” but there’s a hidden goodness even in the worst occurrences.

The Talmud states that k’riya is performed not only to mourn a close relative, such as a parent or sibling, but also when any fellow Jew passes away, even if there was no connection. The Talmud equates being present at the passing of a fellow Jew to being present if a Torah scroll was burned, a tragedy that also necessitates k’riya.

K’riya is also performed if one’s rabbi/mentor of many years passes. This is much like one would tear k’riya for one’s own parent, as the Torah equates a Torah teacher to a parent.

K’riya also applies to one who sees the destroyed Temple mount in Jerusalem, the symbol of our exile and all its tragedies, if one has not seen it for a while. We do this when going to visit the Kotel for the first time on a trip to Israel.

Unfortunately, this practice, which has been the Jewish way of mourning for millennia, has been abandoned by many, replaced by the pinning of a torn black ribbon. Besides having no source in our literature or tradition, this act does nothing to help one cope with grief.

In the words of one secular Jewish mourner, upon first learning of the practice of k’riya, he exclaimed, “I’ve got plenty of jackets, but I only had one father.”

One clinical psychologist, an observant woman, said many who have abandoned k’riya and traditional Jewish mourning end up in her practice when, she believes, many of them would not have needed her had they allowed their emotions to be fully expressed through our time-tested and timeless laws of mourning.

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 yfried@sbcglobal.net.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

View or Subscribe to the
Texas Jewish Post

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here