Archive | August, 2013

A friend’s invitation provides unexpected, meaningful blessing

A friend’s invitation provides unexpected, meaningful blessing

Posted on 29 August 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebThis is the way networking is supposed to be: You join a group, meet people and good things will happen. And so it has happened to me!

One day recently, I had an email from Marion Garmel, an Indianapolis resident with whom I became acquainted last year in Scottsdale,  Ariz., at the National Federation of Press Women’s annual conference.

“I’m in Dallas for a big family reunion,” she told me. “And as part of the event, my brother, who has written a one-man play, is opening it to the public. Knowing you are interested in writing about Jewish activities and theater, I thought you might want to see it.”

The next afternoon, I was seated in a meeting room turned into a makeshift small theater in the Westin Park Central, watching Sam Simon perform “The Actual Dance.” He has already done so at a number of venues including the Midtown International Theatre Festival in New York and the Fringe in Washington, D.C., which is his home.

The subject matter is grim: How does a man react when his wife is diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer? But my father of blessed memory, a truly caring physician, always used to say, “Take whatever you get, and do the best you can with it.” Sam has done just that with a real-life story, that of himself and his wife Susan.

Sam almost literally waltzes out in front of his audience, setting an imaginary stage. He shares his vision of a grand ballroom in which an orchestra is starting to play someone’s special song. And as that someone, with partner, begins to move, Sam realizes that this is the someone’s last dance — the actual end of that someone’s life. Watching Sam, I could see the ballroom, hear the musicians tuning up and picture the dancers stepping onto the floor. …

This is not a stereotypically stoic man. Sam is raw emotion as he recounts, in words and movements, the course of Susan’s illness; the unexpected discovery of the cancer and the unrelenting cheerfulness of “Dr. Happy,” which finally flags when the doctor has to admit to a misread biopsy. Susan’s lymph nodes were indeed highly involved, and disease remained despite the double mastectomy. Sam is not afraid to cry in public.

The grimness is there, of course. But its influence dims as Sam plays out his role in all that happens when devastation strikes a loving, long-married couple: Susan’s suffering, and his sharing in it. They hold hands in their synagogue when her name is read out on the Mishebeirach list for the first time, and people ask what’s wrong. Sam discovers, and admits, that Susan is the stronger of the two of them in this new, undesired situation. He suffers with her, for her.

But in the end, when Sam hears the musicians tuning up again, this time for his and Susan’s favorite song — for their actual last dance together — something happens. The ballroom dissolves away. They do not take the floor. And there, now, in real life, is Susan: the healthy survivor, sitting and smiling in the back of that makeshift theater.

The two met as teenagers at a BBYO convention, married young, had children and lived through breast cancers that assailed members of both their families. Yet, they had never anticipated this for themselves. Susan’s ordeal began 13 years ago. Sam, the fourth child in a family of five, is now past retirement age and able to tour “The Actual Dance” full time. The play’s next stop will be Indianapolis, where his performance will open Hadassah’s 2013-2014 program year. Working the minimal audio effects (some bits of music, the sound of footsteps in a hospital corridor) will be my networking friend Marion Simon Garmel, the actor’s oldest sibling.

As I write this, I’m preparing to leave for Salt Lake City, site of this year’s NFPW conference. It will be a pleasure to see Marion again. Maybe, sometime in the future, I can do something good for her.

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Why, exactly, do we blow the shofar?

Why, exactly, do we blow the shofar?

Posted on 29 August 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

What should I be thinking about when I hear the shofar on Rosh Hashanah? It seems like there should be more focus than just how well of a job the blower did this year!

— Wishing you a happy Rosh Hashanah, Jill K.

Dear Jill,

friedforweb2I don’t want to toot my horn, but I blow the shofar in our shul and, like you, I also hope that people are thinking about more than just how I did. Or if I deserve to have my shofar’s license renewed (all humor intended).

The sages have pointed out many reasons for blowing the shofar; I will try to enumerate a few of them in the space I have available.

Maimonides, in his Code, offers the most popular understanding. His words are quoted in many machzorim, or High Holiday prayer books: “Even though the real reason we blow shofar is a Heavenly decree and its reason is not revealed, we find a hint for it in the verse, ‘Wake up the slumbering from your sleep. Wake up and repent!’ This is referring to the people who are ‘asleep’ in the vanities of the time.” According to Maimonides the shofar is a spiritual, annual alarm clock which awakens us from our reveries so we can become focused upon our purpose in the world and begin the process of tshuvah: self-improvement and growth.

Another important focus is that shofars and trumpets were blown upon the coronation of a king. Rosh Hashanah is the day when we “coronate the Heavenly King” and declare him as our King and we, his subjects. At the moment of hearing the shofar we resolve to live our lives as loyal subjects of our beloved King and to heed His decrees, the mitzvot — bringing only the highest honor to His Kingdom as dedicated members of klal Yisrael.

A further hint mentioned is that the Talmud declares the ram’s horn to be reminiscent of the ram offered by Abraham in place of his son Isaac. This further teaches us the lesson of complete dedication and subjection to the Divine will, regardless of the difficulty involved or the level of sacrifice required. This thought deepens the level our fealty to the Kingdom of Heaven.

One thought which I always feel connected to is the notion that our shofar reflects the shofar blast sounded by the Al-mighty at Mount Sinai. We accept upon ourselves, at the moment of hearing the shofar, to become more dedicated in the coming year to the study of Torah, and thereby more deeply connected to Sinai and all it represents.

One final thought: Our shofar is a precursor of the shofar hagadol, the great shofar that will be sounded throughout the world with the arrival of Moshiach, the Messiah. This shofar will usher in the next period of history, the time we’re all waiting for! This is not just allegorical; rather, through our tshuvah when the shofar is blown on Rosh Hashanah, we actually bring the world a step closer to that final shofar.

I tend to focus my thoughts on all of the above during the blowing, as well as other things, some of them personal. Each person should think about what connects them most to the moment.

All of this is in addition to the most important thought of all: to have in mind that you will fulfill the mitzvah of shofar! (Make sure not to “blow” that one!)

Best wishes for a very meaningful Rosh Hashanah. May all y’all and our people everywhere be blessed with a sweet, joyous New Year filled with peace, good health and much blessing!

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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Jewish film fest

Jewish film fest

Posted on 29 August 2013 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

The healing power of music will stand out as one of the major themes at the Aaron Family JCC’s 17th annual Film Festival. Each year, the festival committee picks the best Jewish films from the past year to capture audiences and prompt discussions.

This year’s festival will run from Saturday, Sept. 7 through Sunday, Sept. 29. Nine films — from a romantic comedy, to an Albanian and Serbian movie, to a documentary — will shed new light on the joys and challenges of Jewish life, past and present, according to co-chairs Brenda and Peter Marcus.

“All of these films are going to grip audiences,” Brenda said. “We have something for everyone. They showcase excellence in Jewish films and some will even give a different viewpoint of Israel.”

There are several changes to the festival this year. The opening night movie “Paris-Manhattan,” starring Woody Allen, will be shown a second time later in the month for folks who missed it the first time and those who want to see it again. And besides the Angelika Film Center in Plano and the Zale Auditorium at the J, some of the films will be shown at a new location, the Studio Movie Grill on Spring Valley Road and Central Expy.

In previous years the festival has always featured a reception on opening night. But since that falls on the day after Rosh Hashanah this year, there will instead be a closing brunch with singing and dancing at the J on Sept. 29, following the last film, “Hava Nagila.” The brunch will be co-sponsored by Simcha Kosher Catering.

One more change: Question-and-answer sessions are scheduled after six of the movies, led by Michael Granberry of the Dallas Morning News, Southwest Jewish Congress CEO Gil Elan, UTD professors Zsuzsanna Ozsvath and David Patterson, music educator Mark Kreditor and film editor Christine Romero.

The entire festival is also supported by the City of Dallas Office of Cultural Affairs, said Judy Cohn, the J’s director of cultural programs who is retiring after the event. This is a way to bring in the greater community, she said.

“We want to bring people in from outside the Jewish community so they can understand the Jewish experience,” she said. “We live in a very multicultural city, and it’s important to understand everyone. This year’s festival will open with a light, happy movie that will draw everyone into the theater, and we close with a fun documentary to make them want to come next year.”

“One of the goals of the festival is to show the best Jewish-themed movies of the past year,” Peter Marcus added. “We have a great lineup this year and have added highly acclaimed Israeli films as well. We hope to expand the American version of Israeli life and its rich, complex culture.”

All of the films cost $11 in advance or $13 at the door; tickets for the final film and closing brunch cost $18 and must be purchased by Sept. 23. A season pass is also available for $95.

For more information, contact Cohn at 214-239-7115. To see film clips and purchase tickets, visit

SAT., SEPT. 7, 9 p.m.

Angelika Film Center,
7205 Bishop Road, Plano

Parisian pharmacist Alice Ovitz has been obsessed with the work and wisdom of Woody Allen since age 15. She even hands out DVDs of his films to her customers as medicine for their ailments. When the occasional suitor turns up, he never quite matches up to Woody. Will the seemingly ideal Vensent or the cynical Victor fare any better? Allen stars in this film.

“We are delighted to have a good romantic comedy to open the festival,” Peter Marcus said. “It’s light, like a soufflé and a breath of fresh air.”

There will be a Q-and-A with Dallas Morning News columnist Michael Granberry following the film, which is co-sponsored by Temple Shalom and Congregation Beth Torah’s Chai Lights, Men’s Club and Sisterhood.

“Paris-Manhattan” will be shown for a second time at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 22 at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road, Dallas.

SUN., SEPT. 8, 2 p.m.

Besa The Promise“Besa: The Promise”
Aaron Family JCC,
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas

During WWII, Albania gave asylum to Jews fleeing the Nazis. Albanians took the sacred oath — Besa — to protect the refugees. American Norman Gershman journeyed to Albania to photograph these heroes; there, Gershman met Rexhep Hoxha, who was desperate to fulfill his father’s promise to return the sacred prayer books left behind by the Jewish family he saved. Deeply moved, Gershman offered to help. This is a powerful documentary about the unknown bravery of the Albanians, many of them Muslims, who saved 2,000 Jews.

“This is an important aspect of the Holocaust that nobody knows about,” Brenda Marcus said.

The film’s editor, Christine Romero, will lead a Q-and-A following the screening.

Co-sponsor: The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

TUES., SEPT. 10, 7 p.m.

When Day Breaks“When Day Breaks”
Studio Movie Grill,
13933 N. Central Expy., Dallas

Serbian music professor Misha Brankov has just retired when the startling discovery of a small metal box turns his life upside down. He learns that his true parents were Jewish and inherits an unfinished musical score written by his real father. Stunned, Misha is driven to pay tribute to his lost parents by completing and performing this work at a memorial concert. Daunting obstacles threaten to thwart his passionate obsession, and the haunting music permeates this drama.

“This is a beautiful movie with tremendous character actors,” Peter Marcus said. “You will leave with a lump in your throat, but it’s a beautifully made movie.”

Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsvath, Leah and Paul Lewis chair of Holocaust Studies and director of the Holocaust program at UT Dallas, will lead the post-screening Q-and-A.

Co-sponsor: Congregation Shearith Israel

THURS., SEPT. 12, 7 p.m.

Gods Neighbors“God’s Neighbors”
Studio Movie Grill,
13933 N. Central Expy., Dallas

Avi belongs to a small band of self-appointed vigilantes patrolling the streets of coastal Bat Yam. Together, they terrorize the neighborhood, unreasonably enforcing strict codes of religious observance. Their frighteningly violent behavior is in stark contrast to the teachings of their gentle, charismatic rabbi. Enter pretty, independent-minded Miri, to whom Avi becomes powerfully attracted. When his gang targets Miri’s “immodest” behavior, Avi starts to question the path to faith that he has chosen.

“This is a very controversial film that shows a side of the ultra Orthodox,” Brenda Marcus said. “It’s like a thriller, but terrifying at the same time.”

Lt. Col. (Res.) Gil Elan, CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, will lead a Q-and-A after the film.

TUES., SEPT. 17, 7 p.m.

Studio Movie Grill,
13933 N. Central Expy., Dallas

To obtain protection for himself and his family in Nazi-occupied Germany, Walter Süskind pursues a post with the Jewish Council. But it involves the unimaginable task of having to decide which Jews are to be sent to the labor camps. When Walter discovers what really awaits his fellow Jews, he is horrified to be part of this heinous plan; courageously, he attempts to double-cross the Germans. This true story of heroism, released in the Netherlands last year, has taken audiences there by storm.

“We have never had a film like this before, that sees the Holocaust through the eyes of someone who was part of the Jewish community who sent Jews to concentration camps,” Brenda Marcus said. “It’s an interesting perspective.”

The post-screening Q-and-A will be led by David Patterson, Hillel Feinberg chair of Holocaust Studies at UT Dallas.

Co-sponsor: The Ackerman Center of Holocaust Studies at UT Dallas.

SAT., SEPT. 21, 9 p.m.

Closed Season“Closed Season”
Angelika Film Center,
7205 Bishop Road, Plano

On a remote farm in the mountains of the Black Forest, a German farmer, Fritz, and his wife Emma shelter a young Jewish man who is fleeing Nazi persecution. Unable to father a child, the impotent farmer proposes that the man impregnate Emma in exchange for sanctuary. At first repelled by the idea, Emma eventually relents, only to find herself falling for the stranger. Jealousy and betrayal erupt in this drama charged with eroticism and unexpected twists.

“This is a gripping movie on an unusual theme,” Peter Marcus said.

Co-sponsor: Congregation Anshai Torah.

TUES., SEPT. 24, 7 p.m.

Ballad of the Weeping Spring“Ballad of the Weeping Spring”
Studio Movie Grill,
13933 N. Central Expy., Dallas

Joseph Tawila was the lute player in a legendary Mizrahi band sadly torn apart by tragedy. Twenty years later, he is asked to reassemble the band for one final performance to honor the dying wish of a former band member. Joseph has many zany encounters as he travels throughout the land in search of accomplished musicians. Set in a mythical time and place in Israel, the film pays homage to American Westerns, with exotic instruments taking the place of guns.

“There is a scene in this movie that could have been taken from ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark,’” Peter Marcus said. “It has a comedic scene that will have everyone on the floor laughing, and is about the healing power of music.”

Music educator Mark Kreditor will lead the Q-and-A.

SAT., SEPT. 28, 9 p.m.

Fill the Void“Fill the Void”
Angelika Film Center,
7205 Bishop Road, Plano

Eighteen-year-old Shira is the youngest daughter of an Orthodox Hassidic family in Tel Aviv. As she is about to be married off to a very promising young man of her own age, her older sister dies tragically in childbirth. Shira’s mother, concerned that her bereaved son-in-law, Yochai, may soon leave the country with her only grandchild, proposes a match between Shira and Yochai. Shira is left torn between her personal happiness and her duty to her family.

“This is a tastefully done film, and we were sold on it after reading a critique in a London newspaper,” Brenda Marcus said.

SUN., SEPT. 29, 11 a.m.

Hava Nagila“Hava Nagila”
Aaron Family JCC,
7900 Northaven Road, Dallas

This documentary takes you from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the nightclubs of New York, as filmmaker Roberta Grossman weaves together the history of “Hava Nagila,” the Jewish song that transcended its humble origins to become a worldwide phenomenon. Featuring interviews with Harry Belafonte, Connie Francis, Danny Kaye, Leonard Nimoy and others.

The film will be followed by a closing brunch catered by Simcha Kosher Catering, along with dueling accordions and dancing.

Co-sponsors: Dallas Jewish Historical Society, Simcha Kosher Catering/Lowell Michelson.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 29 August 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

I am certain that Lil Goldman must have touched every Fort Worth Jewish family in some way over her many years as an educator. I know as we have sifted through photos in our home, there are a myriad of preschool photos of our various preschool classes, with Miss Lil’s lovely smile and elegant demeanor a part of every one. It is only fitting that the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center will hold its 60th anniversary celebration weekend Friday through Sunday, Oct. 18-20.

The community is invited to take part in the celebration, which will include something for everyone. There will be Friday evening Shabbat services honoring all Lil Goldman teachers at Beth-El Congregation; Saturday morning Shabbat services honoring all Lil Goldman students at Congregation Ahavath Sholom; and a Saturday night Champagne and Chocolate Nosh honoring 60 years of learning at the home of Rachel and Michael Goldman for the Lil’s Kids Club members and major donors to the school. The weekend will culminate from 12:30 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20 with a huge family celebration picnic at Congregation Ahavath Sholom.

The picnic is free of charge to everyone and the entire community is invited. There will be live entertainment, pony rides, a photo booth, bounce houses, a laser maze for the kids, as well as kosher hot dogs and hamburgers. Coordinators hope all past and present students will participate in the celebration. This picnic is for “the young and the young-at-heart.” That includes everyone.

A special 60th anniversary tribute book, which will tell the story of the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center throughout the decades, will be presented during the weekend. To add your “tribute,” “family story,” or “personal message” to support the important work of the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center, contact the office at 817-737-9898 or visit Tributes are available from a $36 one-line greeting to an entire front or back page for $1,800. Many people are purchasing pages and putting their family photos in the book to show how their families have grown through the generations. Money raised from this campaign will provide a safety and security update to the school playground for generations to come. Karen Telschow Johnson and Marvin Beleck are co-chairs of the celebratory weekend.

Learn about Chisholm Trail Parkway

Are you tired of construction detours? Are you wondering about the huge pillars and bridges that surround you whichever direction you turn? At 12 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at Beth-El, the “Daytimers” will find out all about the Chisholm Trail Parkway, how this massive construction project is coming along and how it will affect traffic in the future.

The people in charge of this project, Kevin Reilly, corridor manager, and Sam Lopez, project communication manager, will show pictures and maps, and give a detailed explanation of the project, including which roads will be closed forever.

Catering will be a “Daytimers” favorite, Boopa’s Bagel Deli, and guests have a choice of turkey and hummus on a sesame bagel, cream cheese and assorted veggies on a pumpernickel bagel, or lox and cream cheese on an everything bagel, plus chips, cookies, coffee or tea. Lunch is $9, or guests may attend for $4 for cookies, and coffee or tea. Anyone who would like to order bagels for yourself delivered with the lunch order, may call Boopa’s with a credit card at 817-232-4771.

For information and reservations, call with your credit card to Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, Larry Steckler, 520-990-3155, or Hugh Lamensdorf, 817-738-1428, or reserve for yourself at The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation

Date Change for Robbi Sherwin

Former Fort Worth resident Robbi Sherwin will headline the Daytimers’ Oct. 30 program. | Photo: Ginny Belofsky

Former Fort Worth resident Robbi Sherwin will headline the Daytimers’ Oct. 30 program. | Photo: Ginny Belofsky

The “Daytimers” program for Oct. 23, featuring Cantor Robbi Sherwin, is postponed until Wednesday, Oct. 30. Robbi reported, “The good news is that my brother, Scott, is about to remarry a wonderful woman, Ellen Blitz. She is a sweetheart and fits beautifully into our family. The bad news is, my father and I have to fly to Florida to attend the wedding (I am the officiant) and we need to leave on the day that I am scheduled to come to the Daytimers, Oct. 23.” So all is well, and it has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 30. Please change your calendars. Incidentally, it’s been a busy couple of years for Robbi. She is due to graduate rabbinical school in July 2014; was elected vice-president of the Women Cantors’ Network’ and just won a number of awards along with her band Sababa for their music. Congrats!

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This holiday, look for the star inside

This holiday, look for the star inside

Posted on 29 August 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2Every Jewish holiday is filled with rituals and traditions. Rosh Hashanah, for some, means synagogue and shofar; for most, it also means apples and honey. This wonderful story — presented in a somewhat shortened version — is part of our family’s holiday celebration. Please credit Peninnah and Rachayl if you pass it along, making it  as long or short as your storytelling skills allow.

“The Apple Tree’s Discovery” by Peninnah Schram & Rachayl Eckstein Davis

In a great oak forest where the trees grew tall and majestic, there was a little apple tree. One night the little apple tree looked up at the sky and saw the stars, which appeared to be hanging on the branches of the oak trees.

“Oh G-d, oh G-d,” whispered the little apple tree, “how lucky those oak trees are to have such beautiful stars hanging on their branches. I want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches! Then I would feel truly special.”

G-d looked down at the little apple tree and said gently, “Have patience, little apple tree.”

Time passed. Tiny white and pink apple blossoms appeared on the branches of the little apple tree. People walked by it and admired the beautiful blossoms. But night after night, the little apple tree looked up at the sky with the millions and millions of stars, and cried out, “Oh G-d, I still want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches.”

And G-d looked down at the little apple tree and said, “You already have gifts. Isn’t it enough to have shade to offer people, and fragrant blossoms, and branches for birds to rest on?”

The apple tree sighed and answered simply, “Dear G-d, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, but that is not special enough! What I really want more than anything in the world is to have stars on my branches!” G-d smiled and answered, “Be patient, little apple tree.”

The seasons changed again. Soon the apple tree was filled with many beautiful apples. And still, when night came to the forest, the apple tree looked at the stars in the oak trees and called out, “Oh G-d, I want more than anything in the world to have stars on my branches! Then I would feel truly special.”

And G-d asked, “But apple tree, isn’t it enough that you now have such wonderful apples to offer people? Doesn’t that make you feel special?”

Without saying a word, the apple tree answered by shaking its branches. At that moment, G-d caused a wind to blow. From the top of the apple tree an apple fell. When it hit the ground, it split open. “Look,” commanded G-d, “Look inside yourself. What do you see?”

The little apple tree looked down and saw that right in the middle of the apple — was a star. And the apple tree answered, “A star! I have a star!”

And G-d laughed a gentle laugh and added, “So you do have stars on your branches. They’ve been there all along; you just didn’t know it.”

Epilogue: When we want to cut an apple, we usually cut it by holding the apple with its stem up. But in order to find the star, we must turn the apple on its side. Likewise, if we change our own direction a little bit, we too can find the spark that ignites the star inside each of us. The star is right there within you. Look carefully, look closely, and you’ll find that beautiful star.

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

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 29 August 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

I am always glad to hear from TJP readers. I recently received the following from Dr. Craig and Julie Paul:

“Our daughter, Jennifer Paul, is an actor in the New York Theater. Recently she was in a musical entitled “Holy Cow” at the New York Theater Festival this summer. “Holy Cow” ran for three weeks. The New York Theater Festival is held every summer and usually runs 40 shows. Jennifer was nominated for best supporting actress in a musical and won! Jennifer graduated from J.J. Pearce High School, and Brandeis University in Massachusetts with a degree in theater arts. She has been a working actor and resident of New York City for six years. Jenny is proud of her Texas heritage. In her spare time, she enjoys taking long walks down the Roosevelt Island Boardwalk, playing volleyball, keeping up with friends and fans on Facebook as well as experimenting with different types of cooking.” We hope to see more of Jenny soon on both TV and in film.

Jane Slater to appear at Congregation Beth Torah’s Men’s Club on Sunday, Sept. 8

Celebrity sportscaster Jane Slater, co-host of the Elf and Slater Show on 105.3, The Fan, will be the guest at the Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club monthly lox and bagel breakfast meeting on Sunday, Sept. 8. Slater talks sports daily on the Cowboys flagship radio station and will bring an insider’s view of training camp as well as her perspective on the team’s 2013 season, which kicks off that night with a game against the New York Giants. The public is welcome at the breakfast, which begins at 9 a.m. Cost for the breakfast is $10 for adults and $5 for students. Beth Torah is located at 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson. For additional information, contact the synagogue at 972-234-1542.

Gladys Golman/Faye Dallen Special Needs Fund awards $70,000 in grants to agencies

The Gladys Golman/Faye Dallen Special Needs Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation has announced $70,000 in grants awarded to nine institutions in the Dallas area.

This year’s grant recipients include Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas, Congregation Shearith Israel, Congregation Kol Ami, Ann and Nate Levine Academy, Torah Day School, Congregation Beth Torah Religious School and Preschool, Anshai Torah Preschool and Akiba Academy.

The 2013 gifts will help advance teaching capabilities, promote inclusion in the schools, provide educational seminars and training days and purchase enabling technology to further contribute to classroom success for young students with learning differences. These include autism/Asperger’s syndrome, ADD/ADHD, dyslexia and other learning challenges and neurological disorders.

“2013 has been our best fundraising year to date,” said Golman-Dallen co-founder Louis Zweig. “In addition, we have also had a record number of grant submissions, which is indicative of the growing awareness and need among our institutions for help in the special needs area. We are most appreciative of all the support received, enabling us to foster new programs in so many institutions this year.”

Makom celebrates first birthday this month

On Aug. 16, 2012, 65 curious individuals came together to re-imagine what Jewish life could look like in the 21st century, to begin building an untraditional take on traditional Judaism for young Jews in Dallas. The goal is to take the synagogue out of the synagogue, build a peer-led community of Jews in Dallas that weren’t afraid to think big and bold.

A little over one year later, Makom is thriving.

“We gather monthly for First Fridays, our unique take on Shabbat, where 150 Jews come together for davening that moves the soul and dinner that delights the palette. We get together on the third Thursday of every month for Jewish learning that is timely and timeless, pushing us to mine the tradition for meaning and purpose,” said Makom founder Rabbi David Singer. “We take over event spaces, art galleries and bars for unrivaled holiday celebrations that combine holy excitement with a dash of irreverence. We engage in the passionate pursuit of justice and making this world a better place through actions and activities big and small.”

Makom is a Hebrew noun meaning a place, space, area or spot. Singer noted that Makom will host a celebration of the New Year — “Night of the New Moon” — will take place at 7 p.m. tonight, Aug. 29 at the 6th Street Bar, 3005 Routh St. For additional information on Makom, contact Rabbi Singer at 972-939-7341.

Irv Munn recognized as Five Star Wealth Manager

Good wishes to Irving “Irv” Munn, a Certified Financial Planner™, who has been named as a recipient of the 2013 Five Star Wealth Manager award. Five Star Professional partnered with Texas Monthly Magazine to find wealth managers who satisfy 10 objective eligibility and evaluation criteria that are associated with wealth managers who provide quality services to their clients. Fewer than four percent of the wealth managers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area were selected. Evaluation criteria included client retention rates, assets managed, households served and education and professional designations.

Irv is the president of Munn & Morris Financial Advisors. The firm comprises a team of private wealth managers that help high net worth individuals manage and coordinate their financial affairs. Irv said, “The key to long-term growth is to avoid large losses. Our proprietary investment process incorporates an exit strategy to make the portfolio conservative when there is a strong indication of a significant market downturn. We will also deploy tactical modifications designed to improve performance by emphasizing asset classes that are currently outperforming.”

Irv received his undergraduate degree from UCLA and his Master’s degree from the University of Texas. He is also a CPA, but recently sold his accounting firm to devote more time to financial planning. He has been a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services for 15 years.

Munn & Morris Financial Advisors is independent of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Securities are offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. It is located at 14180 Dallas Parkway, Suite 530, Dallas. For further information, contact Munn at 972-692-0909 or

Irv and his wife, Cindy, are the parents of two children. They have been long-time members of Temple Shalom. Irv actively serves on the board of directors of many charitable organizations throughout the city. He is an avid athlete, participating in softball and golf in addition to other sports-related activities. Mazel Tov, Irv!

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Parents, too, are mitzvah heroes

Parents, too, are mitzvah heroes

Posted on 22 August 2013 by admin

Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2This summer we have been studying mitzvot through “mitzvah heroes.” Each week we have remembered “We are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us!”

Kibud Av V’em is the mitzvah of honoring your parents, and it is so important that it is one of the Ten Commandments. Honoring your parents is different than loving them, and we show honor in different ways at different ages. According to the Mishnah, honoring parents is one of the mitzvot for which one is rewarded in this world and in the world to come. The Zohar says: “Honor your father and your mother just as you honor G-d, for all three have been partners in your creation.”

Mitzvah Hero of Today’s World — Your Parents

There are times when we are angry at our parents, and times when we have certainly thought — and maybe said — some not-so-nice things. Being a parent is the hardest job there is, and the most heroic thing parents do is love their children unconditionally. Even when parents are angry with your actions, they never forget that most important mitzvah, B’tzelem Elohim, we were created in God’s image. A parent’s job is to remember this and to help each of us become all that we can be.

Parents aren’t perfect, and that’s good, because children aren’t perfect either. Parents are the perfect hero because they are real and we can strive to be like them. All of the mitzvot we studied this summer are taught to us by our parents and demonstrated by our parents. Being a parent is one of the hardest jobs, but also the most rewarding.

In Our Ancestor’s Footsteps — Your Ancestors

Our theme for the summer has been all about “heroes,” “mentors” and “role models.” Each week, we’ve been reminded that “we can see further because we are standing on the shoulders of giants.” We are challenged to look at the “giants” in our history and our families, to appreciate all they have done and the lessons we can learn from them.

It is a true mitzvah to honor those who came before us. We honor them by working to emulate their good qualities. We must ask our parents and grandparents to tell us the stories of our family heroes, and we must pass those stories down to our children. And, most importantly, we learn how to be heroes to those coming after us.

Finish these Statements:

My parents fulfilled the mitzvah of Kibud Av V’em by:

My (fill in the blank) fulfilled the mitzvah of Kibud Av V’em by:

I can fulfill this mitzvah by:

Family Talk Time

  • The commandment is to honor your parents, not to love them. How is that different? Can you honor without love? Can you love without honor?
  • Our parents are the most important “heroes” or “mentors” in our lives. Let your parents tell you what they admired about their parents. And the children should tell in what ways they would like to be like their parents.
  • Many of us think about the “perfect parent” or the “perfect child.” Have a family talk about what this “perfect (fill in the blank)” would be like. Why would that be so great? How could we each try to be closer to that ideal?

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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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 22 August 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

There is nothing more gratifying than hearing from a TJP reader, that an article they read made a difference for them. When I bumped into Sheri Allen recently, she shared with me that she will be traveling to Israel for the first time this fall with Rabbi Debra Robbins from Temple Emanu-El. Allen learned about the trip from the July 4 TJP article about the delegation Robbins will lead to join others in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Women of the Wall. In December 1988, a multi-denominational group of about 70 women approached the Western Wall with a Torah scroll to conduct a women’s prayer service. Many women, and men on the other side of the mechitzah (barrier separating men and women), began to scream, curse and even threaten the group. Since then, Women of the Wall has been working to pray together, while wearing tallit and bringing a Torah to the women’s section. The women have prayed at the Western Wall once a month for the past 25 years. We look forward to a report from Sheri about her trip.

Selichot and Scholar in Residence Programs

There will be two simultaneous programs next weekend for Selichot services. At 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 31, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Rabbi Andrew Bloom will present “How to Secure Your Person and Your Soul.” Selichot services will follow immediately after.

Also at 8 p.m., on Aug. 31, at Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington, Rabbi Shira Lander will present, “The Direction of Prayer — Toward Jerusalem?: A Text Study.” The program will be followed by a brief reception and Selichot service.

The Selichot program is the finale of a three-part scholar in residence weekend at all three of Tarrant County’s Reform synagogues. Lander will begin at Beth-El Congregation at 8 p.m. Friday evening Shabbat services, when she will speak on, “The Mechanics of Prayer,” followed by an Oneg Shabbat. At the 10 a.m. Shabbat morning service, Lander will be the guest of Congregation Beth Israel 6100 Pleasant Run Road in Colleyville. There she will speak on “The Development of Prayer: A Text Study.”

Lander is the Anna Smith Fine senior lecturer and advisor in Jewish Studies at Rice University. She earned her doctorate in Judaism and Christianity in Late Antiquity from the University of Pennsylvania in 2002, and holds a masters degree and rabbinic ordination from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. Her most recent publications include a commentary on Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians for Oxford University Press’s Jewish Annotated New Testament. Her current book project explores how Christians, Jews and practitioners of traditional Roman religion of fourth- and fifth-century north Africa used shrines and houses of worship to compete for religious authority, and produced narratives of vandalism and violence to create new self-understandings. Before moving to Texas, she taught at the University of Maryland, St. Mary’s Seminary and University, Johns Hopkins University and the Beth Tfiloh Dahan Modern Orthodox High School. Lander was also the inaugural Jewish scholar on the staff of the Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies in Baltimore. She is married to Dr. David Portnoy, head of school of Yavneh Academy in Dallas, and they have two grown sons.

Beth Israel Blood Drive

It is not too late to participate in Congregation Beth Israel’s blood drive from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25. Walk-ins are welcome, but those with appointments will be taken first. Please have a good meal and drink plenty of fluids before your donation. To register, visit

Daytimers held a second summer Ice Cream Social, because of the opportunity to view the superb British film, Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith. Picking their favorite flavors are, from left, Barbara Rubin, Ethel Schectman, Jacquie Robinson, Rosanne Margolis, (partially obstructed) Claudia Boksiner, Dr. David Cristol, and running to the table in the background, Dr. Irvin Robinson.

Daytimers held a second summer Ice Cream Social, because of the opportunity to view the superb British film, Quartet, directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith. Picking their favorite flavors are, from left, Barbara Rubin, Ethel Schectman, Jacquie Robinson, Rosanne Margolis, (partially obstructed) Claudia Boksiner, Dr. David Cristol, and running to the table in the background, Dr. Irvin Robinson.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 22 August 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Todd Aaron receives ZBT’s Edwin N. Sommer Award

One of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity’s most prestigious brotherhood accolades, the Edwin N. Sommer Award, was presented to brother Todd Aaron, Lambda (Texas) ’84, on Saturday, July 27, at ZBT’s 2013 annual International Leadership School.

The Edwin N. Sommer Award is presented occasionally to a ZBT alumnus for “selfless dedication to the ideals of Zeta Beta Tau Fraternity.”

Todd has proven his dedication through his work with his own Lambda Chapter at University of Texas-Austin, leading the charge to reconnect brothers and alumni in recent years. Affectionately known by Longhorns as “Doc. T,” Todd has led a true resurgence of alumni involvement at Texas. Lambda is now the largest Zeta Beta Tau chapter, with nearly 200 undergraduate brothers, many of whom are legacies.

In a recent renovation of chapter property, brothers chose to name the basketball court the “Doc. T Court” in Todd’s honor. Todd also works to help the chapter with Dads Days, parents’ club, recruitment recommendations, risk management advice, connecting with the local Jewish community, conferring with the university and general chapter advising.

“There are many that will raise their hand to help out or volunteer for a variety of meaningful causes. But very, very few that will roll up their sleeves and get into the trenches and get dirty with the troops and actually DO the work needed,” wrote Billy Osherow to Aaron, his former roommate and other ZBT members. “Your leadership is unparalleled and so many of us have remained connected and committed to ZBT because of the inspiration which you exemplify and provide. It is a rare gift to be able to equally lead 18-year-olds, as well as, 40-50-60-year-olds.”

Mazel Tov Todd!

Sara ‘Rosie’ Tesson joins Temple Shalom as youth advisor

Temple Shalom President Aric Stock recently announced the appointment of Sara “Rosie” Tesson as Youth Advisor, effective immediately.

Rosie recently returned to Dallas from Greene Family Camp, where she was on this year’s staff and worked with many teens and kids during the summer. She is a long-time member of Temple Shalom, where she celebrated her bat mitzvah, was confirmed and was very active in SHFTY. Rosie graduated from Texas State University and has a teaching certificate.

The word from Rosie is that she is “very excited” to be joining the Temple Shalom staff, in a part-time capacity, working with teens and assisting the clergy with developmental programming for this important young group of the congregation. She will also be teaching in Next Dor as well as working with Ozrim.

Heart failure education series to begin at The Heart Hospital, Baylor Plano Monday, Sept. 9

Deepika Gopal, MD will present a lecture on “What Causes Heart Failure?” from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 9. Distinguished Baylor cardiologists will offer the sessions monthly (free to the public) and speaking on a variety of subjects.

The seminar is located at The Heart Hospital, Baylor Plano Auditorium, 1100 Allied Drive, in Plano. It is open to anyone experiencing heart failure, or having a loved one managing the condition.

Lisa J. Brodsky assumes new leadership role at Community Homes for Adults (CHAI)

CHAI, the pioneering non-profit organization that began 30 years ago to serve adults with cognitive disabilities, has named Lisa J. Brodsky, an experienced non-profit leader as its new chief executive officer.

Brodsky, who most recently served as director of planning and allocations for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, began on Aug. 19 She replaces Lea Rosenthal-Bond, who is retiring after 18 years of service.

“I am thrilled and honored to be joining an organization with a legacy of excellent programs, outstanding services and loving environments for adults with cognitive disabilities,” Brodsky said. “With our committed families and a strong board, we will work together to pursue a shared vision that continues CHAI’s dedication to people with special needs.”

Said Mike Todres, president of the CHAI board of directors, and Susan Bates, board president-elect: “We’re thrilled that Lisa is joining CHAI as the new chief executive officer. Lisa’s experience, her passion and her credentials make her an outstanding choice for CHAI residents, families and staff members.”

CHAI accepts adult applicants ages 18 and over from all religious denominations and income backgrounds. Residents live in home-like settings where they can progress toward achieving their full potential with as much independence as possible. CHAI relies on private donations, grants from foundations and funding from governmental sources when available, as well as private-pay fees where possible.

A key CHAI program is the Wolens Program Services, a network of services provided to the residents of the CHAI group homes and members of the community which engages them in interesting, constructive social, educational and spiritual activities and helps them become appropriately employed. Acceptance into community life as competent and valued members of society is key to the personal success of persons with cognitive disabilities.

Approximately 75 percent of CHAI group home residents are Jewish. “We have many rich traditions and a culture that emphasizes inclusion. I would like to carry on and strengthen our residents’ and clients’ ability to have meaningful engagement in our community,” Brodsky said. “I want to integrate and collaborate within our community to make sure those we support are included in all the great things that our Jewish community has to offer.”

On Sept. 29, CHAI will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a special “30 Years of Excellence Brunch” at the Westin Galleria.

Brodsky has extensive non-profit management experience. Before joining the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, she served as program officer/grant manager for the AT&T Foundation, where she oversaw grant awards; she also previously served as director of programs and services for the Alzheimer’s Association and in many leadership roles at the Jewish Community Center, among them as director of adult programs and special events.

She earned a Bachelor’s degree in social work from Arizona State University and a Master of Science in social work from the University of Texas at Arlington.

CHAI is licensed by the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services and is a beneficiary of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. More information is available at

Dallas BBYO hosts new member pick up

Just a reminder that BBYO’s new member pick up will be held on Sunday, Aug. 25, and the All Member Kick Off Event will be held from 7:30-9:30 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 1 at the Aaron Family JCC outdoor pool.

We would like to hear from our readers. Send your news to me at

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Posted on 22 August 2013 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

Ner Tamid means “eternal light,” and since 1984, Congregation Ner Tamid has been just that for the Jewish community. That light will continue to shine bright in Lewisville — and beyond — for many years.

The Reform synagogue dedicated its new space and sanctuary at a ceremony on Sunday, Aug. 11. The congregation moved in March to Hebron Office Plaza, 751 Hebron Pkwy. in Lewisville, after years of conducting services in homes.

Being in a new area allows Ner Tamid to be more of a presence in the Jewish community, said Cantor and Para Rabbi Patti Turner. The synagogue has about 25 families and is hoping to expand.

“It’s wonderful. It took a lot of hard work and dedication to move, but now we can give people the opportunity to worship and be part of a community,” she said. “I believe you can achieve kavanah [doing something with heart] anywhere, but when you are in a communal setting with a grand ark and being in an area bigger than a living room, it inspires people to pray with even more heart. This gives us a sense of stability, that we are here to stay.”

Members of Ner Tamid and guests unite for a dedication service of the synagogue’s new space. | Photo: Rachel Gross Weinstein

Members of Ner Tamid and guests unite for a dedication service of the synagogue’s new space. | Photo: Rachel Gross Weinstein

The dedication began with a ribbon cutting, followed by a service, mezuzah hanging and Torah reading. Rabbi Brian Zimmerman of the Union for Reform Judaism, Rabbi Frank Joseph of Temple Beth-El in Corsicana, Rabbi Avraham Bloomenstiel, the Jewish community’s sofer, and Bradley Laye, interim president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, were all in attendance.

The three rabbis each hung a mezuzah in different areas. Bloomenstiel also wrote the new Sefer Torah and noted that it will allow Ner Tamid to have many simchas in the coming years.

Zimmerman, who works with various Reform congregations in the Southern U.S., praised Ner Tamid for its perseverance throughout the years and continuing to stay strong.

“Ner Tamid is an eternal light, and it’s not always easy to keep that light lit,” he said. “You bring Torah everywhere and will continue being an eternal light. In these 29 years, wandering at times in homes, in places you rented and created and built with this ark and light, you kept the light bright, and sometimes it was easier than others. I want to offer a different type of Mishebeirach. We often think of that as a prayer for the sick, but it means, ‘May God bless those in need of blessing.’ This one is for people who struggle and strive, who sing and dance and sweat and cry to keep synagogues alive. The prayer is both what you do for each other and what you do for the community.”

Ner Tamid is a storied congregation with a rich history, Laye said during his remarks. Everyone involved — from volunteers, to lay leaders, to members — should be proud to be part of what it has accomplished, he said.

“There is a quote that Rav Cook, the first chief rabbi of Israel, used to describe the state of Israel: ‘What is old make new, what is new make holy.’ If there is anything that typifies that, it’s what we are experiencing today,” Laye said. “It’s a source of pride, and the prayer that will happen here, the families that will grow up here, the b’nai mitzvot and other simchas you will celebrate here, should only bring much success and strength. Thank you for all you are doing to provide another light in another area — to provide a beacon for folks to participate and join our Jewish faith.”

Randy Friedberg, Ner Tamid president, said moving was a dream the synagogue had for a while, and he is grateful it was able to happen. Growing and being a presence in the community are the ultimate goals, he said.

Having their own space is very rewarding, Friedberg said, and he is excited for the future.

“We are thrilled to be in Lewisville,” he said. “We have been around for a long time and continue to move forward, grow and be a place where people can gather, pray, make friends and be social.”

Added Joseph: “I remember Ner Tamid when I lived in Carrollton and would walk there on Friday evenings. It has kept going and keeps getting stronger. It goes on to persevere and is a microcosm of the Jewish people, because we never give up. I see a strong, wonderful Ner Tamid, and this is just the beginning. There will be many more blessings and reasons to celebrate in the years ahead.”

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