Archive | May, 2013

The race is on

The race is on

Posted on 09 May 2013 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

The Bagel Run has attracted hundreds of people of all ages for a morning of exercise, fun and bonding with friends for the past 27 years.

The annual event will take place at 8 a.m. on Sunday, May 19 at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road in Dallas. Participants can choose to run in the 5K or 10K race, with a special 1K kids race and a rabbi’s run.

“We always have a lot of fun and people enjoy celebrating this day with their friends and family,” said Mark Kreditor, who started the Bagel Run and is co-chairing this year’s event with Zev Shulkin. “It’s one of the most enjoyable days of the year.”

The goal is to try to implement new things every time, Kreditor said, and some changes have been made this year.

Helping Boston in the aftermath of the April 15 Boston Marathon bombings will be part of the event, as all are encouraged to donate to the Boston Support Fund when registering for the race. One hundred percent of the money raised will go directly to Boston; the J is partnering with the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation for this endeavor, which will collect the money and then send it to The One Fund Boston.

This biggest change, however, is the addition of the Northaven Trail — which the J was instrumental in helping to create — to the 10K race, Kreditor said.

There will also be a “Harlem Shake” warm-up at 7:45 a.m., along with an aches and pain clinic after the race that will provide information about using foam rollers and injury prevention.

“Adding the Northaven Trail is the start of something big,” Kreditor said. “We always love trying new things, and the event grows every year. Many of us started doing the Bagel Run pushing our children in strollers. It’s always an opportunity for families to share a beautiful day and support our community.”

Kreditor started the Bagel Run as a way to celebrate Israel Independence Day and originally partnered with Jewish National Fund for the event. The race would take place in the morning, with an Israel Independence Day celebration in the afternoon.

Over the years, it has grown into what is has become today — a morning of fun for the entire family, Kreditor said.

It’s something the community looks forward to every year, Shulkin said.

“The J is the focus and center of the community, and the Bagel Run is a good day for a good cause,” he said. “It’s a great way to embrace physical fitness and be with friends and family. Mark Kreditor’s vision of uniting the entire community is the key to this entire event and it’s always a terrific morning.”

Added JCC president Artie Allen: “This is something that’s become a tradition. Everyone knows about the Bagel Run, loves it and enjoys it. In a day and age when we are all interested in overall wellness, it’s wonderful to have people prepare for a run that challenges them to meet a goal. The J is all about mind, body and spirit and that’s really important to us.”

The cost for the 5K and 10K run is $20 in advance or $25 on race day. The kids 1K is $8. A bagel buffet and awards ceremony will take place after the race.

For information and to register, contact Kerri Aikin at 214-239-7103 or visit

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 09 May 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

I am enjoying hearing from so many Fort Worth folks on an ongoing basis. Debby Rice was kind enough to alert me to the recent honor received by Harriette and Arnie Gachman by Baylor All Saints Medical Center. The Gachmans received the Elizabeth B. and W.A. Moncrief Sr. Award during the April 23 Heritage Awards Dinner at the Renaissance Worthington Hotel,

Arnie and Harriette Gachman | Photo: TJP Archives

Arnie and Harriette Gachman | Photo: TJP Archives

I’m told there was a wonderful turnout of ourtowners. The good folks at the All Saints Health Foundation, president Mike McMahon and Raquel Alafa, were kind enough to share the program notes with our readers who were unable to attend the event.

“Arnie and Harriette Gachman are steadfast friends of the Fort Worth community and Baylor All Saints Medical Center. Their families share a deep history of giving back, and each member contributes to that legacy. Even as a university student, Arnie assumed an early role in the family metals business, working in sales and documentation.

“In 1969, Arnie became general manager for Gachman Metals. He was named president in 1974 and purchased the business in 1986. Today, his son Iric has assumed the role of president, and with great pleasure, they work together daily.

“Arnie has served as a past national president of the Institute of Recycling Industries and as a board member for the Texas Cast Metal Association and the Recycling Council of Texas. He has also chaired the Metal Theft Advisory Committee for the Texas Department of Public Safety.

“Harriette returned to school after the birth of their two children to earn a degree in interior design. She is a professional member of ASID, the American Society of Interior Design, and has operated her own design firm for over 30 years.

“As a young child, Harriette moved to Shreveport so her family could oversee one of their clothing ventures. In those formative years, Harriette remembers learning the basics about fabrics as well as her parent’s hospitality for Friday night dinners. A true friend with a sincere interest in helping others, Harriette maintains some of those childhood friendships to this day.

“Arnie and Harriette have a son, a daughter and four grandchildren. Iric is married to Susan, and their children are Lexie, 14 and Jordan, 11. They reside in Dallas. Lesha is married to John Carlson, and their children are Ben, 12, and Gabbi, 7. They recently moved to San Antonio. John is currently overseeing the 7th Street bridge project in Fort Worth.

“As the third generation of Gachmans in Fort Worth, Arnie and Harriette lead by example and endorse a lifestyle of giving back to the community. In addition to their generous philanthropic support of the Joan Katz Breast Center and Baylor All Saints Medical Center, they also contribute their time, energy and expertise to local organizations including: UNT Health Science Center, TCU, Beth-El Congregation, Jewish Federation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Boys and Girls Club, Jewel Charity and the Fort Worth Club to name a few.

“Baylor All Saints Medical Center is so pleased that Arnie and Harriette have allowed the foundation to honor them and publicly recognize their commitment to healthcare philanthropy. This hospital would not be the place it is today without the innate kindness and inherent generosity the Gachmans have bestowed. Their passion to help others has improved the journey for countless patients and families. All Saints Health Foundation extends its most sincere thanks to Arnie and Harriette for their trust and belief in the mission of Baylor All Saints Medical Center.

“Elizabeth and W. A. “Monty” Moncrief Sr. … set the highest standard for philanthropy, and it is in tribute to them that All Saints Health Foundation bestows an award bearing their name. The Elizabeth B. and W.A. Moncrief Sr. Award is given to a lay person whose life has been devoted to improving healthcare in our community through philanthropic support.

Previous winners of the award are:

1999: Anna Belle P. Thomas
2000: Mr. and Mrs. John P. Ryan
2001: Whitfield Collins
2002: Mr. and Mrs. Ralph E. Faxel
2003: Martha Sue Parr
2004: Mr. and Mrs. Ted Webb
2005: Mr. and Mrs. Nicholas Martin
2007: Mr. and Mrs. Paul Andrews
2008: Raymond B. Kelly, III
2009: Mr. and Mrs. Frank Turrella
2010: Mr. and Mrs. Dick Lowe
2011: Mr. and Mrs. Walker Friedman
2012: Mary Leonard

Among those serving on the host committee were Barbara and Morty Herman, Joan and Howard Katz, Michael and Etta Korenman, Marilyn and Jack Rubin and Allen and Elaine Schuster. Beth-El Congregation Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger delivered the invocation.

Congrats to the Gachman family.

Some funny money at JFS

Hedy Collins who heads up Jewish Family Services’ senior program reported on JFS’ annual “Funny Money” store at the end of last month.

Gail Berlin, Joyce Dooley and Judi Massis Leventhal volunteered to help seniors shop and check out their purchases at this year’s Funny Money store. | Photo: Courtesy Hedy Collins

Gail Berlin, Joyce Dooley and Judi Massis Leventhal volunteered to help seniors shop and check out their purchases at this year’s Funny Money store. | Photo: Courtesy Hedy Collins

For a few months every year, the participating seniors earn “funny money” for winning at card games and bingo, and participating in exercise classes. They get to spend the earned bucks at a one-day sale that includes toilet paper, paper towels, detergent, postage stamps (thanks to the generosity of the Sol and Annette Taylor Fund) along with new merchandise. There are also chachkes donated by the community.

It is a very hectic sale, with lots of fun and laughter. Hedy wanted me to be sure and thank Kim Marks, Robin Stein, Gail Berlin, Judi Massis Leventhal and Joyce Dooley. Added kudos to Maiu Ling and Marty Smith for shopping, preparing, keeping the crowd from getting too rowdy and for being their “village.”

Mortarboards in the air

Brian Lovelace, son of Marsha and Tim Lovelace, is soon to be a Razorback when he heads to the University of Arkansas in the fall. He will graduate from Aledo High School June 5 at TCU’s Daniel Meyer Coliseum. Brian is the grandson of Sonya and the late Mitch Stenzler of Fort Worth.

Keep that news coming

I love to hear from our readers. For next week’s column, I already have an update from Julian Haber on the JWV’s upcoming activities and news from Holly Clegg on her newest installment of the Trim & Terrific cookbook series, “Eating Well to Fight Arthritis.”

Keep the news coming. You can reach me at, 817-927-2831 or 7920 Belt Line Road, Suite 680, Dallas, TX 75254.

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Different ways to cover hair

Different ways to cover hair

Posted on 09 May 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebThe book is so fascinating, I’ve kept it out of its Tycher Library home far too long — long enough to read it three times. It’s called “Hide and Seek: Jewish Women and Hair Covering,” and it’s basically a collection of personal essays by an assortment of those who do cover, in an assortment of ways, with some stage-setting history and commentary by author Lynne Schreiber.

Do you believe the old truism that a Jewish woman covers her hair in order to save its “glory” for her husband’s eyes only? Leah Shein (pseudonym of a Chassidic mother of 10) blows that theory out of the water.

“I shaved my head the morning after my wedding,” she says, “and I shave it again every month before I go to the mikvah. This is what we Satmar women do, from generation to generation.”

There are several methods by which a woman can observe the mitzvah of kitsui (hair covering), totally or partially, after marriage. She may choose a sheitel (wig), or a tichel (scarf), or a turban, or a hat or some combination of the above. She may let a fringe of bangs (real or artificial) show in the front, or a bit of a ponytail in the back.

Much will depend on the culture and practice of the group to which she belongs; if she doesn’t cover in a way that meets its standards, there may be accompanying doubt about how religiously she observes other mitzvot — maybe her home isn’t kosher enough for her peers to eat in, so they won’t take a chance.

The ultra-frum Satmar woman wears scarves only, never a wig, which might appear — especially if it’s made from her own hair — real, and so would raise question about whether she was really covered or going the forbidden “au naturel” route.

Rabbis have long debated the issue of what covering is required, but since most believe that kitsui is not a law ordained at Sinai, there’s a lot of latitude. Some women cover all the time, some only when they leave their homes, some in their homes but just in the presence of non-family visitors. Some may cover wherever there might be any man, but will uncover when among women only.

Social factors are usually the determiners, for the kind and place of covering are both public and personal matters.

One woman, not originally from a covering milieu, married into such a group, and in the dozen years since, says the practice has become a part of her, yet something she never takes for granted.

“It’s created for me a new self-image,” she says. “It’s another step forward toward the ideal of a perfected personality.”

There have been times in history when most women, not just Jews, covered their hair in many cultures. (This might be a good day to see, or re-see, the film “Girl with a Pearl Earring,” which provides a fine glimpse of how Europeans covered back in the 1600s.) It’s a sort of paradox that when Jewish women once covered to look no different from everyone else, today’s coverers are making strong statements about which among a number of groups claims their primary allegiance.

I also have before me the statements of two women — one an Arab, one from India — who have chosen to cover with the traditional Muslim hijab.

“I do this out of liberation, not repression,” says one. “I make it impossible for people to judge me by the way I look — a fundamental aspect of female empowerment.” Says the other: “In a society that embraces uncovering, how can it be oppressive if I decide to cover up? I see hijab as the freedom to regard my body as my own concern, to secure personal liberty in a world that objectifies women.”

So, here’s a thought: Maybe the daughters of Isaac and Ishmael share some basic beliefs in the matter of covered-hair modesty?

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 02 May 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Mazel tov to Akiba Academy seventh-grade students Sarit Perl, Max Nurko and Evie Dunsky, who have qualified for Duke University’s Talent Identification Program (TIP).

Akiba Academy seventh-graders, from bottom, Sarit Perl, Evie Dunsky and Max Nurko qualified for the Duke University Talent Identification Program. | Photo: Courtesy Akiba Academy

Akiba Academy seventh-graders, from bottom, Sarit Perl, Evie Dunsky and Max Nurko qualified for the Duke University Talent Identification Program. | Photo: Courtesy Akiba Academy

All three students qualified for state recognition, meaning they met the state-level qualifying score, while Sarit also achieved grand recognition with a score that exceeds those of 90 percent of college-bound seniors who took the same test.

In addition to being enrolled in the seventh grade, a student must have scored in the 95th percentile or higher on an accepted subtest or total battery/composite of a grade-level standardized achievement test to qualify.

The Duke TIP helps educators and families determine how advanced their students’ abilities are and what level of educational challenge is appropriate. Eligible seventh-graders may take the ACT or SAT college-entrance exams, which reveals further insights to the students’ abilities and provides them with valuable benefits and resources.

“Our goal is to develop students who are independent thinkers, lifelong learners and active participants in a democratic society,” Akiba headmaster Rabbi Zev Silver said. “To support this goal, we are dedicated to the teaching strategies, organizational processes and program content that will enable all students to be responsible, productive members of society.” Akiba students consistently score in the high average or superior range on achievement tests and have an illustrious history of qualifying for the Duke Talent Identification Program.

Levine eighth-grader recognized for writing

For many of us who had children in Jewish day schools, Ann and Nate Levine Academy seventh- and eighth-grade language arts teacher Joanie Geffen leaves an indelible blueprint on her students’ lives.

Good wishes to Mira Fradkin, daughter of Yanina and Meir Fradkin, who was recognized for her outstanding writing skills in the National Council of Teachers of English Promising Young Writers’ Contest.

Students in Geffen’s eighth-grade class initially wrote on a national topic, using any genre. This year’s topic was “Connections.” All the students did their writing in class.

Levine had one entry into the contest, and Geffen selected Mira’s poem. Once her work was chosen, Mira also had to submit her best writing, which was an essay based on a short story.

The writing was evaluated on content, purpose, audience, tone, word choice, organization, development and style. Mira was one of 51 students — and the only one from Texas — to be designated an “outstanding writer” among 211 entrants.

“Anyone who reads one of Mira’s pieces, especially if it happens to be poetry, is amazed at its wisdom and oh so skillful usage of language,” Geffen said. “Her writing reflects maturity and subtlety, well beyond her 14 years. Honestly speaking, as soon as I read Mira’s poem titled ‘Scribbles on the Sidewalk,’ I smiled broadly and thought that we have a winner. Her ability to manipulate the English language, captivating the reader, is exceptional”

On a personal note, it is good to see that Joanie is still hard at it and getting better and better. We are lucky to have her share her love of English with Levine students.

Yavneh names 2012-13 Star Scholars

Congratulations to this year’s Yavneh Academy Star Scholars, freshmen Joey Goldman, Mitchell Levinson and Sammy Weyser. The Star Scholarship awards are presented to students for whom their attendance at Yavneh signifies a new experience in Jewish day school education.

Yavneh Academy’s 2012-2013 Star Scholars are, from left, Sammy Weyser, Joey Goldman and Mitchell Levinson. | Photo: Deb Silverthorn

Yavneh Academy’s 2012-2013 Star Scholars are, from left, Sammy Weyser, Joey Goldman and Mitchell Levinson. | Photo: Deb Silverthorn

“I’m honored to make the presentation to these wonderful and successful students,” head of school David Portnoy said. “Joey, Mitchell and Sammy came to Yavneh from outside of a Jewish day school program, and they have flourished, succeeded and become great assets to our Yavneh family.”

Von Trapp concert honors WWII vets, Holocaust survivors

The World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth and the Daughters of World War II will host what is certain to be a memorable evening of music to honor WWII veterans and Holocaust survivors on the 68th anniversary of V-E Day.

Vocalist Elisabeth von Trapp, granddaughter of “The Sound of Music” inspirations Maria and Baron von Trapp, will perform a benefit concert at 7 p.m., Wednesday, May 8 at the Dallas City Performance Hall, 2520 Flora St.

Her performance will be a tribute to the veterans and Holocaust survivors to commemorate V-E Day, or Victory in Europe Day, the public holiday that celebrates May 8, 1945. That was the date when the WWII Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of the armed forces of Nazi Germany, thus ending the war in Europe.

Presenting sponsors are Sherry and Kenny Goldberg. Community sponsors are the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, DFW Honor Flight, city of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, VITAS Innovative Hospice Care and Belmont Village Senior Living.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Daughters of World War II, whose mission is to honor all veterans of the war and preserve their memories.

Etcetera, Etcetera, Etcetera

There’s still time to schedule an appointment with Kerri Lacher ( to re-invent and add to your spring and summer wardrobe.

Kerri is hosting a trunk show of Etcetera’s latest fashions May 3-8. Etcetera features women’s clothing styled in classic lines sold in Kerri’s home.

She has more than 250 pieces of clothing to choose from in sizes 0-16.

The new lines are launched four times yearly. The current line will be available for one week only. In most cases, items will ship to the customer the following week. In addition, I’ve heard that dresses, jackets, pants, blazers, suited looks, casual clothes and shorts are available. Kerri says that the collection is geared toward professional women ages 25 and older.

In addition to individualized and personalized appointments, Kerri can assist with wardrobe building. She stated that her grandmother’s mantra was, “You never have a second chance to make a first impression.” Great advice for all of us.

Kerri attended the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of the Alpha Epsilon Phi sorority. She graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas and is the mother of Lauren and Blake. She worked for Herman Miller as an account development manager. She is married to Rick Lacher.

Kerri can be reached at 214-701-7827.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 02 May 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

It was wonderful to catch up recently with Bernie Appel and Dick Abrams at the University of North Texas Jewish Studies Program’s inaugural presentation of the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Award, to UNT Chancellor Lee Jackson April 18 at Donna and Herb Weitzman’s beautiful Dallas home.

If you’ve ever met Richard Golden, the tireless and passionate Jewish Studies Program director, it’s easy to see why so many ourtowners have gotten behind the JSP and serve on the advisory board. In addition to Bernie, and Dick, the current board chair, are Morty Herman and Arnie Gachman.

The Jewish Studies Program has seen tremendous growth in recent years, and if Jackson’s April 18 remarks are any indication, the university is firmly committed to the program.

According the program’s website, the UNT initiative is the only Jewish studies program at a public university in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. UNT is the largest university in the North Texas region, with more than 36,000 students and more Jewish students than all other Dallas-Fort Worth universities combined.

The Jewish Studies Program includes 48 courses on Jews and Judaism across seven of UNT’s colleges, taught by 28 faculty in 12 departments. Thirteen courses are on the State of Israel. By way of comparison, only two of the top 20 U.S. universities offered seven or more courses in Israel in the academic year 2008-09.

The Jewish Studies Program offers multiple scholarships from seven endowments and programs. The program offers a minor in Jewish studies and plans to establish a Master of Arts in Jewish studies.

The Jewish Studies Program is a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

For information about Jewish studies at UNT, visit

University of North Texas Jewish Studies Program advisory board members Bernie Appel, far left and Dick Abrams, far right, congratulate UNT Chancellor Lee Jackson, center, the first Bernard and Audre Rapoport Award recipient. Joining them are Margaret Jackson, next to Appel, and Julie Abrams. | Photo: Sharon Wisch-Ray

University of North Texas Jewish Studies Program advisory board members Bernie Appel, far left and Dick Abrams, far right, congratulate UNT Chancellor Lee Jackson, center, the first Bernard and Audre Rapoport Award recipient. Joining them are Margaret Jackson, next to Appel, and Julie Abrams. | Photo: Sharon Wisch-Ray

Family calls on Jacobson

It was nice to hear from Corrine Jacobson, who recently enjoyed a visit from her niece Betsy Batwin, Betsy’s daughter and son-in-law Rachel and Jeff Morris, and their baby, Amiee.

They are all from the Orlando, Fla., area.

Corrine said she had a fun day. Many will remember Betsy as Jimmy and Annette Rosenthal’s youngest daughter. Hearing from Corrine reminded me of a story my mom shared with me frequently about how Corrine was the most organized person in the world.

Mom told me that Corrine was known to make school lunches for her brood a week at a time and freeze them ahead of time. I think of this often when I’m rushing around making lunches for my own crew, and I think mom must have shared this story with me because I may be the least organized person.

When I shared this with Corrine, she said that being organized is still an important part of her life at 85, and she was tickled pink to hear the anecdote.

Save the date: May 19

Congregation Beth Israel will hold a blood drive from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday, May 19 at the synagogue, 6100 Pleasant Run Road in Colleyville. Registration is now open.

Although walk-ins will be accommodated, those who register in advance will be seen at their scheduled time.

To register, visit For information, contact Barry Klompus at 817-271-1569 or

In conclusion …

I’m thrilled to be hearing from so many readers! Please send your news to me at Graduation is right around the corner; share your graduate’s info with me by email or feel free to call at 817-927-2831. I look forward to hearing from you.

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Teach patience as a virtue

Teach patience as a virtue

Posted on 02 May 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2A very overlooked value today is patience, and we tell parents of young children to “hurry up and teach your kids to wait.” Charles Fay, the man behind “Love and Logic,” says, “There are few greater gifts we can give our children than the ability to delay gratification.”

The lesson is learned best when you are young instead of becoming adults who can’t wait to have things so we buy now and then pay 20 percent interest on credit cards. Here are the “easy” steps:

1. Model patience and delayed gratification; parents have to walk the talk.

2. Help your children get plenty of patience practice.

3. Reward good waiting — and remember, the most powerful reward is when someone they love gives them a big hug and says, “I noticed that you waited so patiently in the store.”

Now, what is the Jewish message? Well, we Jews are certainly known for our patience — look how long we have been waiting for the Messiah. In Hebrew, the word for patience is “savlanut.” It means patience, but also tolerance.

The root of the word is “sevel,” which means suffer, or “sivlot,” which are burdens. These are very interesting connections to this important concept. It is not easy to be patient, and often we do suffer and it feels like a tremendous burden. Patience is hard work.

The “Love and Logic Journal” ends the lesson on patience with this story:

“I recently witnessed an incredibly patient child getting on an airplane with her mother. This child was in her fifties. Her frail mother was in her eighties. This child patiently steadied her mother as she rose from her wheelchair and struggled to walk onto the plane. When they reached their row, this child patiently helped her mother into her seat, stowed her mother’s luggage, and made certain that her mother was comfortable.”

Let us remember that all things in life come full circle. Someday we will all move very slowly. At that time, we will be thankful for the patience we showed our children.

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

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Some prayers for special day

Some prayers for special day

Posted on 02 May 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebThis is America’s National Day of Prayer. What an interesting concept for a nation that seems to have ongoing difficulties interpreting what “separation of church and state” means.

Our Continental Congress, under the leadership of George Washington, first recommended, but did not establish, a national Prayer Day way back in 1775. It took until 1952 to make the observance a matter of law. That was the work of Harry S. Truman, who endorsed such a day, but said that every president should be free to pick the date of his choice. Truman’s was the first Thursday in May, followed by his successors, and finally named for official annual observance in 1988.

Truman’s idea, like Washington’s, was that all religions should unite just once a year for simultaneous prayer. Of course there would be objections, as there are today. As recently as April 2011, the Freedom From Religion Foundation entered an appellate court challenge to the constitutionality of the day. The group might have been satisfied if the words “humiliation” and “fasting” were added to “prayer,” as suggested, but no such action was taken.

So here we are on America’s 62nd National Day of Prayer. All over our country, people are approaching God in the various ways of their choice, to give thanks or to petition for better days to come. Or inevitably, to look back at Newtown and Boston and West, and ask “Why?” There’s little chance of receiving direct answers, but we can all take comfort in the fact that, as a nation, we have truly been united by these tragedies; their destructions and devastations and deaths have somehow brought us together, if only for a moment.

The National Day of Prayer is just that: a moment in our country’s time. So I’m using this time, this day, to share a few prayers with you.

My favorite, what I call “the all-purpose prayer,” is what I’ve used many times when asked to give the benediction at gatherings of people of many faiths: “As a group, we must strive to meet our common goals, and so I ask, May God send us enough joy to keep our hearts singing … enough hope to enrich our lives … enough trials to keep us strong … enough leisure to refresh our spirits … and enough love to make our world seem beautiful.”

A prayer from our Jewish tradition, which has unquestioned application to all people: “Lord, let there be love and understanding among us. Let friendship be our shelter from life’s storms. Help us to walk with good companions, to live with hope in our hearts and eternity in our thoughts, that we may lie down at night in peace, and rise up on the morning ready to do your will. Eternal God, we give thanks for the gift of life, wonder beyond words; for the awareness of soul, our light within; for the world around us, so filled with beauty; for the richness of the earth, which day by day sustains us. For all of these and for the fellowship we share, we offer thanks.”

From Pauline Phillips, the original “Dear Abby”: “O Heavenly Father, we thank Thee for food and remember the hungry. We thank Thee for health and remember the sick. We thank Thee for freedom and remember the enslaved. May these remembrances stir us to service, that Thy gifts to us may be used for others.”

And finally this, again from our Judaism’s treasure trove, something truly and especially appropriate on this fractious year’s National Day of Prayer: “May it be your will, O Lord our God and God of our ancestors, to guide us in peace, and to direct our steps in peace, to bring us to peace, and to lead us in life, in joy and peace. You are our God who hears all prayers and petitions. Blessed are you, O Lord, who hears our prayers.”

Please take the time to pray today. Amen.

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Blessing for after crash

Blessing for after crash

Posted on 02 May 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

friedforweb2Please indulge me to take this opportunity to share some profound feelings that overtook me this week; feelings that invoked tears of trepidation followed by overwhelming tears of joy.

I will describe this in the context of a blessing we recite on occasion, a blessing known as “hagomel,” or the thanksgiving blessing (see Artscroll Siddur Page 143).

The full text of this blessing is “Blessed are You Hashem, King of the universe, Who bestows good things upon those who don’t deserve it; Who has conferred every goodness upon me.”

The Talmud teaches that there are four categories of people who recite this blessing, the common denominator being that they were in a life-threatening situation and were delivered safely. The four are:

  • One who was very sick and was cured.
  • Someone who was captured by dangerous captors and freed.
  • One who traversed a dangerous desert and arrived safely to their destination.
  • One who navigated an ocean and arrived safe and sound to shore.

Anyone who meets these criteria recites the blessing in front of a minyan; usually it is done at the Torah reading in shul, but not necessarily. Some women recite this after childbirth, either at the bris or some other time when a minyan is present.

The original source of this blessing was in the Temple offerings where a thanksgiving offering, korban todah, was brought by any of the same four individuals mentioned above. (See Rashi to Leviticus 7:12). Today, in place of that offering, we recite the thanksgiving blessing and have a thanksgiving feast every year on the date upon which one had a unique rescue from imminent mortal danger.

Last week, one of our beloved DATA rabbis, Rabbi Yehoshua Quinn, who is a Cohen, was in Austin performing a pidyon haben, a special ceremony done on the 30th day of the birth of a firstborn son. On the way back, near Temple, Texas, we were informed that he was in a terrible traffic accident, knocked under an 18-wheel tanker truck.

We could not reach him for a few hours and were completely in the dark as to his situation. All we could do was pray and weep.

After finding out that he was fine, and then seeing the Temple newscast that related what a miracle it was that he was alive and well, new tears of relief and joy replaced the previous tears.

It was truly a reason for thanksgiving, blessings and looking forward to the thanksgiving feast where all his colleagues and students can thank the almighty for the blessing that Rabbi Quinn will continue to enrich our lives and the lives of his family in the merit of the many mizvot he performs for many years to come.

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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On campus

On campus

Posted on 02 May 2013 by admin

UT Latin-Jewish seder shares exodus stories

By Tracy Frydberg
LULAC member Juan Belman speaks during the Texas Hillel’s Latino-Jewish seder last month. | Photo: Courtesy Texas Hillel

LULAC member Juan Belman speaks during the Texas Hillel’s Latino-Jewish seder last month. | Photo: Courtesy Texas Hillel

A mariachi band and enchiladas are not usual components of a seder, yet the Latino-Jewish seder that took place April 8 at Texas Hillel was no ordinary Passover feast.

Hosted by the Latino-Jewish Student Coalition (LJSC), 120 students, faculty and community members gathered together to celebrate Passover and its universal theme of freedom from oppression. The multicultural evening served to draw a parallel between the Jewish people’s slavery and ultimate redemption from Egypt with modern stories of oppression affecting people across Latin America

The event was also part of University of Texas at Austin White Rose Society’s Human Rights Symposium and was additionally co-sponsored by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, Mexicanos en Exilio and the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies.

LJSC is an organization under Texas Hillel created last year to build a strong relationship between the Latino and Jewish communities on the UT campus. Its ultimate goal is to partner at UT and beyond as allies on educational initiatives, immigration reform, Latino education and support for Israel.

Modern stories of exodus and triumph were shared at the seder.

While Jews declare “next year in Jerusalem,” undocumented individuals across North America hope next year will bring their family safety and security in the United States. With more than 600 undocumented students at UT-Austin, the seder was an opportunity to highlight students who have their own stories of exodus.

Several undocumented UT students shared their “stories of self” with the crowd. These personal narratives portrayed the difficulties of life as an undocumented student in the United States and the necessity their families felt to leave their native homes in search of freedom and opportunity.

Incoming LJSC president Maria Rentaria said it was wonderful to see two beautiful cultures intertwine.

“The seder epitomized solidarity between two different yet similar cultural groups, it reflected collective action, which is the first step in fostering success,” she said. “The support of the Jewish community on Latino issues like immigration reform, the DREAM Act and raising awareness on the effects of the drug cartels in Latin America has empowered me to continue to advocate and act for these issues.”

The seder also provided an opportunity to engage Latino leaders and organizations on the shared values and goals of the Latino and Jewish communities.

“LULAC is always honored to help sponsor events like the seder hosted by the Latino-Jewish Coalition and Texas Hillel,” Christian Smith, LULAC’s campus relations director, said. “The Jewish seder embodies such a theme in perhaps some of the best ways. The prayers sung of the Hebrews’ journey to escape Pharaoh and the stories of modern men and women who had to leave their homelands to pursue a better life were both wonderfully paired.”

Tracy Frydberg is a University of Texas at Austin sophomore from San Antonio.

High school students and their families stand in front of the A.I. and Manet Schepps Hillel Building at Texas A&M University during the Aggie Jewish Open House Weekend April 19-21. | Photo: Trudi Herstein

High school students and their families stand in front of the A.I. and Manet Schepps Hillel Building at Texas A&M University during the Aggie Jewish Open House Weekend April 19-21. | Photo: Trudi Herstein

A&M Jewish Open House a success

Mother Nature provided magnificent weather for the second Aggie Jewish Open House Weekend, April 19-21 at Texas A&M University in College Station.

The event is geared toward high school students interested in A&M and their families. Guests came from Dallas, Houston and Austin.

Activities included Shabbat services, ice-breaker games, campus tours, community tours, question and answer sessions, meals sponsored by Hillel and Chabad, schmoozing time, Havdallah, a Jewish Greek life ice cream social sponsored by Sigma Alpha Mu and Zeta Beta Sigma and a good-bye breakfast on Sunday.

Next year’s Aggie Jewish Open House Weekend will take place Feb. 14-16.

Planned in conjunction with Aggieland Saturday, high school students can visit A&M colleges and departments of their choice, meet staff and professors, get specifics on those potential majors and learn in-depth facts and details on all things Texas A&M, with the Jewish component added in.

— Submitted by Aggie parent Trudi Herstein, a member of the Texas A&M Hillel corporate board

BBYO Louis Brandeis #932 chapter members participating in the sale of 2013 AZA cards include, front row from left, Josh Collins, Zach Trotter, chapter sweetheart Lauren Siegel, Evan Cantor and Jason Shindler. Second row, Elliott Galanter, Aaron Herschberg, Jacob Herstein, Matt Engelson, Cameron Smith and Mitchell Bradley. Third row, Ryan Sukenik and Noah Adler. Back row, Jonah Silverthorn and Braden Fineberg. | Photo: Deb Silverthorn

BBYO Louis Brandeis #932 chapter members participating in the sale of 2013 AZA cards include, front row from left, Josh Collins, Zach Trotter, chapter sweetheart Lauren Siegel, Evan Cantor and Jason Shindler. Second row, Elliott Galanter, Aaron Herschberg, Jacob Herstein, Matt Engelson, Cameron Smith and Mitchell Bradley. Third row, Ryan Sukenik and Noah Adler. Back row, Jonah Silverthorn and Braden Fineberg. | Photo: Deb Silverthorn

Brandeis BBYO helps by selling AZA Card

It’s in the cards for B’nai B’rith Youth Organization’s Louis Brandeis #932 chapter members to make a difference.

The 2013 AZA Card is on sale, with more than 70 local merchants providing varied discounts from May 10-27. Proceeds will support Brandeis chapter scholarships, the Human Rights Campaign and the Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center.

“We hope to improve the lives of people in our community, and to connect with stores, restaurants and other merchants in the area, giving everyone who participates a chance to be associated with positive causes,” said Braden Fineberg, 16, a sophomore at Dallas Townview Magnet School, and Brandeis’ treasurer.

“We can’t thank those who have come on board enough, and the response has been incredible — by the businesses signing on and by the public as we’ve started selling the cards,” said Fineberg, who initiated the fundraiser, noting that BBYO and its chapters are registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. “This project has gone beyond our expectations and we look forward to a successful program.”

Brynn Ginsberg, an adviser with BBYO’s Fannie Sablosky chapter, heard about the project and immediately knew that the fundraiser was a fit for Zinga Frozen Yogurt, for which she works as marketing and events director.

“We are so proud to be supporting the AZA Card program,” Ginsburg said. “We see lots of BBYO kids here every Saturday night, and we’re proud to see that the community is important to them, that giving back is what is important to them.”

Brandeis president Jacob Herstein, a Yavneh Academy sophomore, spoke about how cancer has become a cause for the chapter.

“Part of BBYO is about standing up for what we believe in and the causes we are supporting, we definitely ‘stand up’ for completely,” Herstein said. “Pancreatic cancer has affected a number of boys in our chapter, and throughout our region and it has brought lots of pain. We want to be part of the cure, hoping no other teens experience the tragic losses that our friends have endured.”

He also spoke about the Human Rights Campaign.

“In supporting the Human Rights Campaign, we realize the difference we can make as young people speaking with respect, and by bettering ourselves and how we treat everyone,” Herstein said. “We hope to set an example.”

Robb Puckett, co-chair of the local HRC Steering committee and a member of the National Board of Governors, is impressed.

“We are completely impressed with the thoughtfulness of these young men’s behavior,” Puckett said. “The road to equality can be slow, but as you change hearts and minds, the path is cleared. These boys see a problem and they want to be the change. It speaks much greatly to the character of the kids, their parents, and their community that they looked at how many young people speak, some of them included, and they wanted to change the behavior. We are honored to be chosen by the Brandeis boys as beneficiaries of the AZA Card program.”

Reaching out further to support those in the area, Brandeis members are hosting a toiletry drive to benefit those served by the Samaritan Inn Homeless Shelter in McKinney. Toiletries including hygiene and household cleaning supplies and household paper goods will be collected through Saturday, May 4.

“It’s easy to lose focus about what is important,” said Herstein. “When you give back, you get back to the basics of creating strong Jewish bonds, and strong Jewish values.”

To purchase an AZA Card, visit To make a donation to the Brandeis collection for the Samaritan Inn Homeless Shelter or for information, email

— Submitted by Deb Silverthorn on behalf of the BBYO Louis Brandeis Chapter

UNT conference tackles Middle East

The Middle East was the focus of the University of North Texas’ second semi-annual peace conference in late March.

The two-day event presented 16 scholarly sessions, three keynote speakers, a cultural show and an art exhibit.

Richard Golden, director of the UNT Jewish studies program, chaired a session, “Israel in the Contemporary Middle East.” Speaking personally and as a historian, Golden spoke about weaknesses in the conference’s program, especially a refusal to hold sessions on the two greatest conflicts in the region — terrorism and Sunni-Shia violence.

Golden explained that the media fixation on Israel creates a distorted perception of the nation and is the result of multiple factors, the most important being the refusal of Arab nations to accept the existence of the nation state of the Jewish people.

That factor concerned David Patterson, Hillel Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies in the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. In “The Wall of Hatred: Hamas, Fatah and the Muslim Brotherhood,” he cited multiple examples of Islamist Jihad hatred of Jews around the world as the primary obstacle to authentic peace.

Patterson provided extensive evidence on pervasive Jew-hatred in speeches, religious texts, actions taken and charters of Islamist Jihad movements. He notes as examples the PLO goal, “the annihilation of the Zionist entity,” as stated in its charter, and the former grand mufti of Jerusalem, who said “He who kills a Jew is assured a place in the next world.” Patterson makes clear that Muslim Jew-hatred is not based on what Israel does.

Patterson concluded his lecture with a concern. “By refusing to refer to Islamic Jihadists as either Islamic or as Jihadists, we take a position that reflects an inexcusable, willful ignorance of the history, religion, culture, languages and everything else that goes into the making of Islamic Jihadism. There can be no moving forward until we recognize, behold and say what we are dealing with.”

Randall Geller, post-doctoral teaching fellow in Israel studies at the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies of the University of Texas at Austin, spoke on “Dilemmas of Minority Recruitment and Conscription in Israel, Turkey, and India: a Comparative View.”

He discussed how the leadership of the Jewish majority in Israel has balanced its commitment to the state’s democratic ideals and the principle of equality on the one hand, and its commitment to creating a Jewish state and ensuring its security on the other.

Patterson explained the history of conscription policies of minorities (Muslim, Druze, Circassian, Orthodox) through the lens of the Israel Defense Forces and the contradiction between the assimilation of minorities in the IDF and the need to use the IDF as a tool of nation-building.

He compared IDF conscription with similar dilemmas of minority inclusion/exclusion shared by the democracies of Turkey and India. The three nations have adopted historically different solutions to the challenge of incorporating minorities in the military.

— Submitted by Katie Malone-Miller

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