Archive | September, 2013

Exploring the eternal joy of Sukkot

Exploring the eternal joy of Sukkot

Posted on 19 September 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi,

I have often wondered if there’s a reason that the holidays of Yom Kippur and Sukkot fall so closely together. Is it a coincidence, or is there some connection between the two?

— Lee W.

Dear Lee,

friedforweb2The two holidays are actually intertwined in a deep way. We’ll try to touch on some of the connections.

When sitting in the sukkah, according to one view in the Talmud, we celebrate the booths the Jews sat in when leaving Egypt. Another view is that we commemorate the miraculous Clouds of Glory which protected and shaded the Jewish people during the 40 years of travels in the desert.

Those Clouds of Glory actually disappeared when the Jews lost their unique connection to God through the sin of the golden calf. They were almost destroyed for committing this sin, equated to idol worship, so soon after receiving the Ten Commandments at Mt. Sinai. Then began a three-month period of prayer and repentance, leading up to the day when God uttered to Moses, “I have forgiven as you requested.” This is the day which became known as Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Although the Jews were forgiven, they remained separated from God’s Divine Presence, the Shechinah. This was a deep source of sorrow to the Jews, to not have the loving connection they had enjoyed since they left Egypt, feeling God’s tangible Presence among them. Their opportunity to return the Shechinah to the camp of the Jews came through building the Tabernacle, a kind of movable golden temple that would travel with them throughout their sojourn in the desert.

The commandment to build the Tabernacle was given to Moses the day after Yom Kippur. The next day, Moses imparted the commandment to the people. The following two days the Jews began gathering the necessary materials to construct this edifice, and the day thereafter they began the long, difficult process of building the Tabernacle. That was five days after the first Yom Kippur, the 15th day of the month of Tishrei. God, on that day — to show His pleasure that the Jews had fully repented and so deeply desired His presence — returned the Clouds of Glory that had been absent since the golden calf. That was a day of incredible joy and ecstasy among the people, as they saw their repentance was complete and their eternal connection to God was irrevocable.

That day, the 15th of Tishrei, is the first day of Sukkot. It is the day of celebrating the Clouds of Glory: not the clouds that accompanied the Jews from the day they left Egypt, but the clouds that returned after their repentance at Yom Kippur.

This is one reason that Sukkot, more than any holiday, is referred to in the prayer book/siddur as “the time of our joy.” All the Jewish holidays carry with them a mitzvah to be joyous, but Sukkot transcends the others in this way. I’ll illustrate it with an example. Imagine a mother sitting in a hospital waiting room, her eyes filled with tears, not knowing if her son’s risky operation will be successful. He is barely holding on to life. Suddenly, the doctor emerges and says, “Lady, a miracle has happened. It worked! Your son’s going to live and be fine!” Those tears of pain and fear are now transformed into tears of joy, and her happiness goes far beyond our imagining.

The Jews were nearly destroyed due to the golden calf, and their existence held on by a thread. Their tears of repentance were finally replaced by tears of joy when those Clouds of Glory were returned. It was the ultimate celebration of Yom Kippur’s message of mercy and forgiveness, that their eternity was made secure.

This remains our joy on Sukkot even today. It is the joy that year after year, generation after generation, God continues to forgive us on Yom Kippur. And despite every attempt to destroy us and all we’ve done wrong throughout our history, the miracle of Jewish survival is still intact. We’re still here to sit in our booths today!

A wonderful and joyous Sukkos holiday to you and all the readers.

Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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A song for all as we begin the New Year

A song for all as we begin the New Year

Posted on 19 September 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2So often I write about books that must be read, and as a confirmed biblioholic, I will always speak to the power of books. Children’s books in particular hold a special magic in their simplicity and quiet truths.

There is also a special magic to music. Each summer at camp, I marvel at the songs that become everyone’s favorites. Why these songs? Is it the tune or the words? What can we learn from singing a song? There is wonderful Jewish music available for children and adults — perfect for “carpool Judaism,” or singing the songs and then talking about them. (Email me for suggestions: lseymour@jccdallas.org.)

Often we combine books with music. As we enjoy our fall holidays of Sukkot and Simchat Torah (my personal favorite), I have a great book and a great song for you. During Sukkot we read from the Book of Ecclesiastes, a very heavy book but a must to be read and discussed by grown-ups. Ecclesiastes is also a part of our American culture, thanks to Pete Seeger who wrote in 1961 a tune called “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (recorded by The Byrds in 1965). And, yes, there is a children’s book titled “Turn! Turn! Turn!” with a CD and everything.

Here are the words to remind those of us who are old enough to remember the song when it was new, and those who come to camp who sing it every summer. Sing it and share it. (And read the Book of Ecclesiastes; it is definitely a book for pondering!)

TURN! TURN! TURN!

CHORUS: To everything, turn, turn, turn
There is a season, turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under Heaven.

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep.

CHORUS

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together.

CHORUS

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late.

CHORUS

Laura Seymour is director of Camping and Youth Services at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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JET plans to soar in 5774

JET plans to soar in 5774

Posted on 12 September 2013 by admin

Like most Jewish organizations this time of year, the last few weeks have been busy for JET (Jewish Education Texas) and its directors, Rabbis Shalom Rodin and Tzvi Wachsman. Over the past several weeks the year-old organization held two pre-Rosh Hashanah events for young couples and families, as well as a Rosh Hashanah class at UTD for students.

Enjoying the JET “Dip the Apple” pre-Rosh Hashanah event are from left Kerri Goldfarb, Ryan Kahn, Aaron Epstein, Alyson Epstein, Eliza Goldfarb and David Goldfarb. | Photo: Shalom Rodin

Enjoying the JET “Dip the Apple” pre-Rosh Hashanah event are from left Kerri Goldfarb, Ryan Kahn, Aaron Epstein, Alyson Epstein, Eliza Goldfarb and David Goldfarb. | Photo: Shalom Rodin

Next on the calendar is a Sukkot party, “Pizza in the Hut,” on Sunday, Sept. 22, at a time and place to be announced. The event will have pizza, Sukkot projects, snow cones, Golly Jolly — a magic puppet show/balloon twister, and the opportunity to learn about and shake the lulav and etrog.

Although the focus of JET is for young couples and families who are learning about Judaism, all are welcome.

“If you are in your late 20s to early 40s and have young children, JET is for you,” said Rodin, who is enthusiastic about teaching Judaism to those of all levels of observance.

“JET is an unaffiliated Jewish organization with the goal of connecting Jewish people from all backgrounds to their heritage in ways that are modern, exciting, and relevant. We do so with events and programs that are social, educational and thought-provoking,” added Wachsman.

One new feature JET is offering is “JET Fuel for Thought,” a two-minute thought on the weekly Torah portion. It is sent in mp4 format, to make it convenient for everyone to listen — whether in your home, office or car.

To be added to “JET Fuel for Thought,” or to learn more about locations of upcoming events, email office@jetexas.org, call 214-389-9100 or visit www.JETexas.org.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 12 September 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

I’m pinch-hitting this week for Linda. It seems as though art, culture and history are in the air as a number or our museums and organizations have outstanding offerings as the New Year dawns.

From Jewish art at the the Museum of Biblical Art near Northpark Mall, to the historical exhibition of the Leo Frank case at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, there appears to be something of interest for everyone.

And, of course, the JCC’s Jewish Film Festival is happening this month as well. Wishing all of you a meaningful fast, and may each of you be sealed in the Book of Life.

‘Lumina’ artist, Kahn, at the MBA on Sept. 29

Since June, the Museum of Biblical Art in Dallas has been housing a special exhibition of biblical art, “Lumina.” The paintings feature New York artist Tobi Kahn, a painter and sculptor whose work has been shown in over 40 solo exhibitions and over 60 museum and group shows.

He was selected as one of nine artists to be included in the 1985 Guggenheim Museum exhibition, “New Horizons in American Art.” In cooperation with The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, Tobi Kahn created paintings based on illuminated manuscripts from the rare books room collection chosen by Sharon Liberman Mintz, curator of Jewish Art at the Library of The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Kahn will give a talk at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 29, at the MBA, 7500 Park Lane. The original Jewish manuscripts were catalysts for the creation of these extraordinary paintings. The exhibit opened June 18 and runs through the middle of October, the museum’s most popular time for tourists.

Kahn states: “I am thrilled to have my work exhibited in this museum. These paintings are for people from all faiths to talk about the spiritual dimension of their lives.”An audio tour has been created where the artist explains his art work and process.

“Tobi Kahn has created a series of abstract paintings in response to some of the greatest ancient Jewish illuminated manuscripts. ‘Illumination’ means source of light. These paintings express spiritual and intellectual enlightenment,” states Museum Curator Scott Peck. “Kahn’s work is like God’s light of revelation.” Each painting is a dialogue and conversation with treasured illuminated texts and sacred Jewish writings.

The exhibit will continue through Oct. 15.

Frank exhibit examines anti-Semitism in America

“Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited,” is now open at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, 211 N. Record St.

This exhibit examines anti-Semitism in America. Through a large number of artifacts, it revisits the murder case and trial that ultimately captured the attention of the nation and led to the lynching of a Jewish man in Marietta, Ga. in 1915.

In 1913, a jury convicted Frank, a superintendent in a pencil factory in Atlanta, of the murder of a child laborer who worked in the factory. Thirteen-year-old Mary Phagan’s body was found in the pencil factory cellar.

Frank’s conviction came after a long trial. To the outrage of many, Governor John Slaton, who believed Frank was innocent, commuted the former superintendent’s sentence to life in prison on his last day in office in June 1915.

Two months later, a lynch mob of 25 armed men, including pillars of Georgia’s legal community, kidnapped Frank from prison. The mob drove Frank 150 miles to Frey’s Gin, near Phagan’s home in Marietta, and hanged him. A large crowd gathered and took photographs.

In 1986, the Georgia State Board of Pardons and Paroles pardoned Frank, citing the state’s failure to protect the superintendent and bring his killers to justice as reasons for the pardoning.

The pardon was inspired in part by the 1982 testimony of Alonzo Mann, who as an office boy saw Jim Conley carrying Mary Phagan’s body to the basement on the day of her death. Conley had threatened to kill Mann if he said anything, and the boy’s mother advised him to keep silent.

The testimony gave confirmation to those who thought Frank was innocent. However, those who found Frank guilty still believed the testimony provided insufficient evidence to change their views.

The trial had a long and far-reaching impact. It struck fear in Jewish southerners, causing them to monitor their behavior in the region closely for the next 50 years — until the civil rights movement led to more significant changes.

The Leo Frank trial caused ripples well beyond Atlanta. The case ignited the rebirth of the Ku Klux Klan and solidified the founding of the Anti-Defamation League.

The exhibit was developed by The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum. Its intent is to revisit the case of Leo Frank and pose critical questions relating to individual and moral responsibility, respect for individual difference, the fragility of the democratic process, responsible citizenship and the importance of community.

The exhibit presents the complicated and nuanced story of Mary Phagan’s murder, Leo Frank’s fate and the historical, cultural and political backdrop against which these events took place.

“Seeking Justice: The Leo Frank Case Revisited” will run through Dec. 31.

Temple Shalom to host community art auction fundraiser next month

Enjoy a special evening of art, wine and jazz as Temple Shalom Sisterhood hosts a community art auction at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the synagogue, 6930 Alpha Road in Dallas. The live auction will follow at 8 p.m.

A diverse collection of fine art at all price levels will be auctioned by Perry Berns, former director of the Wisby-Smith Fine Art Gallery. Berns has conducted live auctions for charities for 37 years, making Temple Shalom ecstatic to welcome him back for a third time.

Art lovers will be greeted with approximately 200 pieces from his unique collection. Originals in watercolors and oils, signed and numbered graphics and etchings of numerous well known international artists will be featured.

Also on the scene will be Jewish artist Mitch Goldminz, whose bold, contemporary and innovative work will be available for purchase. Well-known for his unique graffiti on subway cars and brick building artwork in Brooklyn, Goldminz relocated to Dallas in 1971, and was a member of the Dallas Police Department for 33 years.

Admission is $18 per person, and tickets are available online at www.templeshalomdallas.org or at the door. Patron packages are $150 per couple (includes four admissions tickets, private meet/greet/art tour, complimentary wine reception and other amenities). Hors d’oeuvres and desserts will be available for guests while they are entertained by “The Eddie Tann Band.” Wine will be available for purchase.

This Temple Shalom Sisterhood fundraiser supports youth programs, camp scholarships, community service activities and other social projects.

For more information, contact Anita Warner at awarner4470@gmail.com or Ali Rhodes, alicyn77@sbcglobal.net.

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Use words to help — not hurt — your kids

Use words to help — not hurt — your kids

Posted on 12 September 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Parents,

seymourforweb2Yom Kippur is here, and let us hope we’ve all apologized to those we may have hurt, on purpose or unintentionally. As we enter the New Year, let us remember to be the best we can be and to help our children develop as well.

Each year at the High Holidays we read a prayer by Reb Zusya. The commentary below is based on his thought: When I meet G-d, I will not be asked, “Why were you not Moses?” but rather, “Were you the best Zusya you could be?” I am reminded of this each time we question why our children are not more this or more that. We compare and we worry.

Years ago, the cry in education was, “Label jars, not children!” We strived not to label children and define them by those labels. Today we say, “Help children develop labels to identify themselves, but remember that labels are not limits.” Let us learn to use our words to help our children achieve their potential. Use words to reframe how we see our children and how they see themselves.

To help us with this goal, I am repeating this list from previous years. It is often a matter of looking at things from just a little different perspective: a change from “half empty” to “half full.” Look through this list and start using new words to describe your child (and yourself).

Adapted from the works of Mary Sheedy Kurcinka; taken from Kindermusik International, Inc.

  • Some say boisterous, you might say enthusiastic
  • Some say brooding, you might say serious
  • Some say clingy, you might say loving
  • Some say dreamy, you might say imaginative
  • Some say forceful, you might say determined
  • Some say inflexible, you might say traditional
  • Some say loud, you might say expressive
  • Some say non-participatory, you might say an observer
  • Some say picky, you might say selective
  • Some say shy, you might say reflective
  • Some say aggressive, you might say assertive
  • Some say bossy, you might say a leader
  • Some say chatterbox, you might say communicative
  • Some say controlling, you might say determined
  • Some say fearful, you might say sensitive
  • Some say impatient, you might say passionate
  • Some say insecure, you might say cautious
  • Some say manipulative, you might say charismatic
  • Some say obsessive, you might say deliberate
  • Some say self-centered, you might say proud

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady,

Laura Seymour is director of Camping & Youth Services at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas

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High Holiday cooking demands a watchful eye

High Holiday cooking demands a watchful eye

Posted on 12 September 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebWhat do you think about while you’re at the stove, preparing your holiday meals? Since I’m not a cook, I’m always recalling the few past triumphs and the more ubiquitous near-misses, and tossing a prayer or two into the pot with the ingredients of the moment.

Erev Rosh Hashanah is an annual event at my house, always with a very early meal — look at most shuls’ start times for the first official service of the New Year! And my menu is always the same: chopped liver for the appetizer, chicken soup with matzah balls, brisket and honey cake. The variations are the vegetables, whatever sounds good as go-withs; this year, a baked cauliflower concoction and a potato/carrot/prune tsimmes. With apples, honey and challah on the table, the six family members who join us there never complain. In fact, they always praise the brisket and the soup.

Brisket is a snap: I cut an onion into a heavy pan, add some salt and pepper and garlic, then pour over the well-trimmed meat whatever bits are left in the bottoms of bottles in the fridge. It’s always a mash-up: mustard, ketchup, marmalade, Worcestershire and/or soy and duck sauce(s) — a sort of clearing out of the old for a new start to the new year. The miracle of brisket is that it’s such a forgiving meat; no matter the combination, it always tastes wonderful.

But for chicken soup, I still consult the recipe from Sara Kasdan’s funny 1969 book “Love and Knishes,” which reminds me that celery tops with leaves are better than stalks alone, and a bay leaf is essential. This year, however, life got too busy for that recipe. So instead I bought eight boxes of Meal Mart’s chicken-soup-for-one and on Erev-Erev Rosh Hashanah, dumped the contents into my soup pot. Plenty of nice chicken pieces, I decided, but a little short on broth and the eight matzah balls were small and very soft, threatening to disintegrate. “I’ll fix this in the morning,” I told myself as I shoved the pot into the fridge.

Morning came very early, as I awoke at 3:30 a.m. with a nagging need to get started. So I went downstairs, started eight more matzah balls (big ones), then added some canned Manischewitz chicken broth to the pot and set it boiling on the stove. Then I proceeded to everything else I could do in advance. I was so busy, I forgot about the pot altogether until I heard a strange hissing and saw steam rising from the burner it was perched on. I had let all the water boil away!

I quickly moved the pot and turned on the fan, but it was already too late. Our home security system’s fire alarm started to blare. And continued to blare. Then the phone rang — my cousin, our system’s backup contact, making sure everything was OK. She had planned to come over at 4:30 p.m. bringing the chopped liver, but not to be calling me 12 hours earlier!

Then the big red truck arrived with its own siren blasting and lights blazing, waking the neighbors. Six firemen entered; not totally satisfied with my story and a peek into that burn-bottomed pot, they went through the whole house including the upstairs master bedroom — where my husband somehow managed to sleep through the whole thing!

After the firemen left, I scraped up the matzah balls, sliced off the thinly charred bottoms, added them to the pot and went back to sleep. Later, at dinner, I detected a faint whiff of smoke when I ate mine, but nobody else seemed to notice; everyone proclaimed the soup even more delicious than usual.

When I’m fixing Erev Rosh Hashanah’s cookbook soup next year, I know I’ll be recalling this near-miss that turned into a slightly singed, unrepeatable “secret ingredient” triumph. That old adage, “A watched pot never boils,” fails to warn what can happen when you don’t watch at all!

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 12 September 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

My parents’ break the fasts were legendary. I always marveled at how my mom, Rene, of blessed memory was able to do it all — get the paper out, raise five kids and be the hostess with the “mostest.”

There are more than a few insights and treasures in mom’s recipe box, one of the few items of hers I claimed. Every holiday, I open the battered black metal container and I hear my mother’s distinct voice as I take a walk down memory lane. There are notes for just about every Break the Fast and New Year’s Day party she had. Here’s an example, “Break the Fast 1991, approximately 100 people.

  • Egg salad, 4 dozen eggs
  • Lox and cream cheese: 4 lbs. cream cheese, 4 lbs. of lox, (adequate)
  • 5 large containers cottage cheese, 1 ½ pints sour cream
  • 5 ½ lbs. tuna (some left)
  • 5 cakes, (just right)
  • 8 dozen small Danish
  • 3 large jars of herring
  • 1 tall container white fish
  • Kugel, 1 large, 1 small –just right
  • 1 lb. Swiss cheese
  • Crackers
  • Gefilte Fish, 2 large jars (plenty)
  • Strawberries
  • 2 gallons of wine
  • A fifth of scotch (needed more)
  • Orange juice (1 large, 4 small)
  • 2 large cans tomato juice”

Without the help of computers I now realize that one way mom survived was by taking copious notes, being extremely organized and having an abundance of energy. She was one smart cookie and absolutely loved feeding a crowd.

I feel so close to her and her friends whenever I open “the box.”

I remember when Bea Levine of blessed memory taught me how to make stuffed cabbage. Last week, as I prepared stuffed cabbage for our yontif dinner, I could hear her whispering in my ear (ok, let’s be honest, she wasn’t a whisperer) “make a little package and line them up like soldiers.” Every cabbage leaf I roll and place in the pan I still say that to myself.

Miriam Labovitz taught me how to make the best Passover sponge cake ever and how to whip and fold in egg whites. She had a different kind of drawl of course and it’s crystal clear in my mind’s eye as well.

So many people who influenced me and my family in so many ways — their names too many to enumerate but their legacies live on in “the box” and on our yontif table.

As you gather with your families this Yom Kippur and Sukkot, I wish you good health and happiness in the coming year. For my many errors here at the TJP (also too many to enumerate), please forgive me and G’mar Chatima Tovah.

A bronze star for ‘Tumbleweed Smith’

Beth-El congregant Bob Lewis, a West Texas columnist and radio personality better known as “Tumbleweed Smith,” will be honored Oct. 26 with a bronze star on the Texas Trail of Fame in the Fort Worth’s Stockyards National Historic District. Lewis, the voice and the producer of “The Sound of Texas,” a syndicated radio show, has compiled the largest private oral-history collection in the country.

Beth-El Congregant Bob Lewis, aka “Tumbleweed Smith.”

Beth-El Congregant Bob Lewis, aka “Tumbleweed Smith.”

As a guest speaker, he enthralls audiences with tales excerpted from his oral-history archive. He and his wife, Susan Zack Lewis, commute to Beth-El from their home in Big Spring, 260 miles west of Fort Worth.

The Trail of Fame recognizes “significant contributions to the preservation of the history and grandeur of the Western way of life.” Also among this year’s inductees are oilman- philanthropist Perry Bass and Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe. Previous inductees were Will Rogers, Zane Grey and John Wayne. Recipients’ names are inlaid on a bronze star resembling a U.S. Marshall’s badge that is placed in the sidewalks on Exchange Ave.

Corrine Jacobson shares JFK recollection in video

Corrine Jacobson was among the fortunate JFK fans to attend the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce breakfast for President John F. Kennedy on Nov. 22, 1963, the last morning of his life. Her vivid recollections were recently videotaped for the archives of TCU’s Bob Schieffer School of Journalism. CBS anchorman Bob Schieffer incorporated Jacobson’s recollections into “Fort Worth Remembers JFK,” a symposium he led at TCU.

Here is the text of Jacobson’s vignette: “This day will be with me forever. Four of us went to the breakfast at the Hotel Texas full of anticipation of seeing the president and his wife with other dignitaries. There was no disappointment. Kennedy was handsome, and he won us all over at once with his speech and smile. To be in the presence of a living president was memory making, but with his good looks and stature, he made the story of the presidency so alive. Jackie was late and made a grand entrance with her pink pillbox hat and immediately was the center of attention. LBJ and others were present, but she was a picture from a storybook. My son was playing in the Arlington Heights High School band as the presidential motorcade left the city. We all returned to our offices or to school, only to immediately hear on our radios that the president had been shot in Dallas. The world stood still. Everyone went home from work and school. Silence took over the city.” Fort Worth Remembers JFK.

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Yom Kippur: Day of sadness or joy?

Yom Kippur: Day of sadness or joy?

Posted on 12 September 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi,

I often feel depressed when we get close to Yom Kippur, just knowing I’m going to be spending such a somber, sad day. Also, I feel like a rat because I have done so many things wrong that I feel like it’s chutzpah to even ask God for forgiveness. I would appreciate it if you could provide me with some insight that would make the day a little more palatable for me. L’Shanah Tovah.

Shari W.

Dear Shari,

friedforweb2Wow. If I thought Yom Kippur was a solemn, sad day that I just needed to live with for 25 hours, I would be depressed as well! It’s just that I don’t see it as a sad day at all; there’s actually a lot of room for joy on Yom Kippur, as we will see. Perhaps it is a different kind of joy than we’re accustomed to, but joy it is, nevertheless.

Let us look at the laws that are unique to Yom Kippur (aside from the laws which apply to every Shabbat and to Yom Kippur as well). There are five areas we are to refrain from: eating, drinking, marital relations, wearing leather shoes and bathing or applying oils on our skin for pleasure. How are we to understand these laws? Is God out to get us or to cause us pain?

The early commentaries explain that it is quite the opposite. On Yom Kippur the gates of Heaven are opened and the Al-mighty uplifts all those who are connected to Yom Kippur to their ultimate spiritual heights. Our tradition teaches that we become on that day like angels in Heaven. In the deeper sources it is said that we, for a day, actually enter a higher realm similar to that of Olam Habah, the next world. Maimonides writes, “Olam Habah has no eating or drinking; the righteous are sitting with their crowns upon their heads and basking in the bliss of the Divine Presence.” This means that in the next world the righteous will become like angels who have no need for physical food or drink. The “crowns” are their spiritual heights and connection to something higher; their sustenance to remain alive is the direct connection to the Al-mighty’s presence.

My mentor, Rav Shlomo Wolbe, ob’m, often said this statement of Maimonides about the world to come is also an apt description of Yom Kippur. It is a day in which we refrain from food and drink because we, as “angels for a day,” simply have no need for physical sustenance and other mundane pleasures. We, rather, spend the day in the very deep and profound joy and bliss of basking in the presence of the Al-mighty, whose presence is very palpable on that holy day.

That elevated state of consciousness and closeness to G-d is precisely what stirs us to teshuvah, the thoughts of repentance. When He brings Himself so close to us, we are ashamed of our wrongdoings and perform the confession (vidui), and resolve to improve ourselves. Rav Wolbe emphasized that the only time one should feel any sadness or remorse during Yom Kippur is when you are reciting the confession. The rest of the day is, as we said above, a time to feel deep and profound joy in the spiritual heights of this special day and in our close connection to the Al-mighty.

No matter how much you may have done wrong, God doesn’t want you to live in the past but to focus on a better future. That’s why it is misplaced chutzpah to think you can’t ask for forgiveness; that’s precisely what God is waiting for! His hands are stretched out, just waiting to embrace you. All you need to do is jump into the embrace and receive the immense love that He’s waiting to bestow upon you. Just tell Him that you want that connection and that love from here on, and you have it!

May you and all of us merit to connect to Yom Kippur on the deepest level — one that will grant us an eternal connection and a sweet New Year, with peace in Israel and for all of klal Yisrael throughout the world.

Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 05 September 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Among the fondest memories I have of the beginning of Rosh Hashanah stemmed from early childhood. At the time, we lived on South Adams Street in Fort Worth. There were two Jewish families in my elementary school — the Coplins and our family. Judy, Susan and Sharon were “but a twinkle” in my dad’s eyes as he used to say. Many of you know that my mother, Rene, (obm) was not a native Texan, although she qualified for distinctive status after living here almost 66 years with her “Y’all come back now, you hear?” Mom was so many things to different people — daughter, wife, mother, grandma, bubbe, friend and truly never knew a stranger. She was a transplant from Roxbury, Mass., where she and her brother, Arnold, grew up with my Grandma Radin (who was widowed as a young mother) or “Gittel” as mom called her. Looking back, I knew that the holidays were coming when a cherished package arrived from Grandma Radin — a tin of teiglach, which was a delicious confection of twisted and gooey honey pastry. Tasting it would be at least a five-napkin affair, and the sweetness has remained all these years. Although Gittel could not join us in Fort Worth due to her poor health, she sent her sweetest wishes for a Happy New Year in the form of the tin of delicacies. The tradition continued for many years — and although there were a few good chefs in the Wisch family, no one tried to duplicate this delicacy, for as Carly Simon once sang “Nobody Does it Better.” And, believe me, that is truth, not kinfolk lore. Every Shabbat, mom and I would walk to the neighborhood grocery store, Huddleston’s. She would march back to see the butcher and have him hold up the hens for her perusal. “Are these the freshest you, have?” she would ask in her Boston dialect. She would then re-examine them for the coveted egg yolks that made the chicken soup a gastronomic delight. I remember feeling special when one or two of those yolks appeared in my soup — it was placed there with love and care — and I am sure many of you readers may remember this old fashioned chicken soup as well. Mom rendered her own chicken schmaltz as well — and left it on the counter to cool. The soup pot was simmering on the stove. I was young, and a little hungry or thirsty, so I thought that I would taste what I thought was plain chicken soup. I knew immediately that it was not soup that I tasted but the rendered schmaltz. I have looked back over the years and laughed at the mistake. It may have been a lesson that I taught my children. I have learned to ask before tasting anything unless I am doing the cooking.

Another tradition I remember is going to Mehl’s Shoeland in Fort Worth for Yom Tov shoes. My mother did not drive, even though she worked full-time, when most moms did the Donna Reed thing and were housewives. I know that we did not walk there — but somehow we got there, and were outfitted for the holidays. The Mehls (Bess and Meyer obm) had a secret under their cash drawer. There, hidden from childrens’ eyes, were trays of rings with sparkling multicolored stones for both boys and girls. We knew we had to behave. When the transaction was completed, Mr. or Mrs. Mehl would pull out the trays of glittering gems, and the decision making process began — so hard to choose — would it be the rubies, sapphires or the emeralds? Mehl’s was a wonderful shoe store that provided spectacular customer service and also served many generations of Fort Worthians — and Dallasites. My children, Amy, Reuben, Jordana and Ethan each got their first pair of high-tops and dress shoes at Mehl’s.

Prior to services, the house was filled with an array of spectacular aromas — and our table was full of family, friends—all loved ones. Dad would welcome everyone and say the blessings as well as metaphorically describe how the holiday related to current Jewish events. Coffee and dessert would just be served when dad began tapping his watch — we knew that it was time to leave for services and usher in the New Year. At this holiday season, I wish each of you your own sweet memories, the wonderful aromas, and a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Former TJP intern to work as script coordinator for ‘Good Morning America’

Good wishes to Naomi Nason, daughter of Meryl and Scott Nason, who interned as a staff writer for the TJP in 2011. Naomi graduated from Chicago’s Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism in June. After a cruise in the Adriatic and Mediterranean in August, Naomi relocated to the Big Apple where she is a script coordinator for ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

Dr. Andrew R. Zinn named dean of UTSW Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

Good wishes also go to Dr. Andrew R. Zinn, who has been named dean of UT Southwestern Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. A geneticist, Zinn is currently a professor in the Department of Internal Medicine and the Eugene McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development. Zinn will head the graduate school, which is ranked in the top 20 programs in the nation for biological research. The program has nearly 650 students. In addition, Dr. Zinn will continue to lead the Medical Scientist Training Program, which annually enrolls about 10 outstanding M.D./Ph.D. dual-degree students from around the world who have laboratory investigations experience and a strong desire to pursue a medicinal (sic) research career.

Zinn was a UT Austin honors graduate and began researching protein synthesis there before earning his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from UT Southwestern. He was inducted to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society as a medical school student, and also received the 1988 Nominata Award, the highest honor awarded to graduate students by the school. Additionally, he has an active Genetics Lab, and heads the MD/Ph.D. Medical Science Training Program.

He is the third son of Betty Zinn and the late Dr. Myron Zinn, (obm), of San Antonio; and the brother to Dr. Phil Zinn, Bert Zinn also from San Antonio and Dorothy Zinn Ph.D. of Matera, Italy. He is married to Lizzy and according to her, “he is an amazing dad and moral compass and adoring father to Meyer and Sophia.” He is an assistant scoutmaster for Boy Scouts of America’s Troop 730 at St. Marks School of Texas. “He is most admired by his walking buddy, Shadow, a 105 lb. black lab he adores over every human inclusive,” Lizzy also stated. The Zinns are members of Temple Emanu El. Andrew’s hobbies include fishing in Nantucket. An outstanding chef, Dr. Zinn is known for his amazing smoked blue fish that he makes from his late father’s recipe. He is an avid herb gardener. This is truly a testament to the statement that busy people get things done! Congratulations to the entire Zinn family.

Temple Emanu-El Couples Club encourages membership for all Jewish community seniors

Recently, founding President Nelda Golden, spoke at a meeting of the Temple Emanu-El Couples Club. She talked about the importance of joining a club like this one. Nelda, and her husband Stan, formed this club as part of the non-existent senior program at Emanu-El at that time.

Temple Emanu-El Couples Club President Carole Cohen (left) and Founding President Nelda Golden | Photo: Submitted by Buddy Gilbert

Temple Emanu-El Couples Club President Carole Cohen (left) and Founding President Nelda Golden | Photo: Submitted by Buddy Gilbert

The Temple Emanu-El Couples Club was founded 24 years ago. It is a social club that is open to all members of the synagogue and members of the Jewish Community as well. One member of the couple should be 55 years of age or older. It is comprised of duos interested in socializing with other Jewish couples for dinners, parties and other fun and interesting activities. The ideal purpose is to have an opportunity to make new friends and reconnect with past acquaintances.

Fun-filled events are planned for November, December and January, which include wine socials, catered dinners and professional entertainment. For additional information, call Presidents Carole or Barry Cohen 972-867-0079, Membership Chairs Roslyn and Richard Polakoff 972-701-8271, or Rozann and Harry Hermann 972-235-3455.

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Israel trip is transformative for group of Dallas Jewish women

Israel trip is transformative for group of Dallas Jewish women

Posted on 05 September 2013 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

Fourteen women, 14 ways to express magnificence — all in the same vein. Dallasites who recently returned from the 2013 Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project summer mission to Israel can’t say enough about their experiences, and their energy is beyond contagious. Unanimously, they hope to fill one or two busses, of 50 women each, to attend next summer.

“I now understand my connection to heritage, to who we are and to how we should live as Jews,” said trip participant Summer Pailet. “My family is now enjoying challahs that I bake, we have taken Shabbat to a new level, we’ve celebrated Havdallah on our patio. My own personal commitment to Judaism, and to the Jewish life I want to bring to my family, has been heightened to a level I never imagined.”

Back row, left to right: Devorah Zakon, Ayelet Nesher-Haviv, Leanne Svec, Ilise Kohleriter, Randi O’Brien, Summer Pailet and Melissa Bernstein. Front row, left to right: Laura Lacritz, Kim Zoller, Carolyn Braswell, Julie Shrell, Lisa Gerstenfeld, Hudy Abrams and Cheri Shapiro. | Photos: Courtesy of Summer Pailet

Back row, left to right: Devorah Zakon, Ayelet Nesher-Haviv, Leanne Svec, Ilise Kohleriter, Randi O’Brien, Summer Pailet and Melissa Bernstein. Front row, left to right: Laura Lacritz, Kim Zoller, Carolyn Braswell, Julie Shrell, Lisa Gerstenfeld, Hudy Abrams and Cheri Shapiro. | Photos: Courtesy of Summer Pailet

Joining Pailet in Israel were Hudy Abrams, Melissa Bernstein, Carolyn Braswell, Lisa Gerstenfeld, Ayelet Nesher-Haviv, Ilise Kohleriter, Laura Lacritz, Randi O’Brien, Cheri Shapiro, Julie Shrell, Leanne Svec, Devorah Zakon and Kim Zoller. Zoller and Lacritz, each traveling for a second mission with JWRP, worked as group madrichot or leaders.

“I love Israel, and I love Jewish women, and this is an unbelievably powerful way to connect,” said Abrams who, with Zakon, has led nearly 80 Dallas women in five years on JWRP tours. “Jewish women need to take a moment to immerse themselves and just ‘be.’ We all need this energy. Each time I go it’s an honor to see where their souls are.”

“I’ve been home a month and I’m still fueled by this journey,” said Pailet. “I’m so appreciative to Hudy and Rabbi Shlomo Abrams, and Devorah and Rabbi Nasanya Zakon, of DATA Far North Dallas and the Jewish Learning Center for their tireless efforts to connect us to our discovered inspirations. It’s in their merit that this opportunity exists for our community.”

“Jewish women were the leaders of the feminist movement that created social change, and we believe it is up to Jewish women to also lead a new social movement based on values,” said Lori Palatnik, JWRP co-founder. “Our mission is to create a Jewish women’s movement that inspires a renaissance of positive values that transforms ourselves, our families and our communities.”

Founders and followers of JWRP are married, single, older, younger, observant and non-observant women — a patchwork creating the quilt to warm the spirit of Jewish families. The T.A.G. (Transform and Grow) Missions to Israel, designed for women with children under the age of 18, are subsidized; participants are responsible for airfare, a few meals and spending money.

“We’ve found that many women returning home send their children to day schools, they’re getting involved in their synagogues, giving tzedakah, baking challah, and more are making trips to Israel with their families — seven of whom have made aliyah,” Palatnik said. She noted that close to 4,000 women have traveled on the program. More than 1,200 women from 13 countries attended this year.

“We’re humbled by how our organization has uplifted families and communities, “she said.

Zoller, who first made the JWRP trip three years ago, chose to return this summer as a leader. “This is a lot of pure enlightenment, without any proselytizing. It’s about the ‘why’ and ‘how’ you feel it, and how to bring it back to your family,” she said.

Zoller was inspired by a class taught by Rabbi Gavriel Friedman of Jerusalem, and hopes to host his visit to the Dallas community in October.

“The wisdom of the Torah belongs to all of us and through our travels, women are touring the land, learning what happened historically, bringing the land alive,” said Palatnik. “They take classes that provide wisdom for life. Everything we do with this project is special; every day is the best day and every moment is a blessing.”

Kim Zoller (center) and Summer Pailet (right) make a special friend during the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project Summer Mission.

Kim Zoller (center) and Summer Pailet (right) make a special friend during the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project Summer Mission.

Among the moments not to be forgotten were a gathering at the top of Masada — which included a naming ceremony for those participants without Hebrew names — and a visit to the Kfar Yeladim David orphanage, where the women helped raise $1,000 to purchase furniture for the facility. They shared Havdallah on a rooftop, the backdrop for a meeting with IDF soldiers and an opportunity to thank them for their service. They rode camels, kayaked on the Jordan River and floated in the Dead Sea. There were visits to Yad Vashem and the Aish HaTorah World Center, along with prayers and dancing at the Kotel.

The program shares the values of Jewish life, including humility, anger, joy, optimism, honesty, self-worth, kindness and gratitude. Classes included “Gossip, Lies & Lessons,” “The Kabbalah of Love,” “World Perfect,” “Why the Jews,” “Light Up Your Life — Here Comes Shabbat,” “Putting the ‘Jewish’ into Values,” “Shabbat: Heaven on Earth” and “Israel Advocacy: How You Can Make a Difference.”

As a teen, Shapiro would have loved to go to Israel and for many reasons, the opportunity didn’t come together. The daughter of a Holocaust survivor who lost most of his family and then much of his faith, Shapiro said that to finally get to visit the country — where Jews can be Jews no matter what, where she saw mezuzot on the doorposts of the hotels — was incredible.

“It wouldn’t be enough to go and ‘just see the sites’ again,” said Shapiro, who hopes to return as a leader in 2014. “I’ve had a blind love for Israel for all of my life and now my eyes are wide open. This trip gave me a clarity and connection that I never understood. It was a spiritual immersion.”

Braswell, who is “still feeling it,” left for Israel proud to be a Jewish mother; after returning home, she was proud to be a Jewish woman.

“As Jewish women we’re the light for our families, and JWRP, with no judgment at all, helped each of us to break down barriers and brighten our homes,” said Pailet. “This journey was Jewish life through a new lens.”

For more information, contact Hudy Abrams at hudisabrams@gmail.com or visit jwrp.org.

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