Archive | October, 2013

Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 10 October 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Double simcha for the Sherwin family this month

Two simchas are coming up for Ken Sherwin this month.

First, his granddaughter, Ariella Arons, will get married to Yair Sharibi, Oct. 13 in Jerusalem.

Then Oct. 26, his son, Scott, will wed Ellen Blitz in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. Officiating at Scott’s wedding will be his sister Robbi Sherwin of Austin. Robbi, a rabbinical student at Jewish Spiritual Leaders Institute, has served for the past seven years as the spiritual leader of B’nai Butte Congregation in Crested Butte, Colo.

Robbi will be the featured entertainer for the “Daytimers” program Wednesday, Oct. 30, at Beth-El Congregation.

The “Daytimers” program generally meets earlier in the month, but because of the Sherwin’s double simcha, they are delighted to wait for an end-of-the-month date for this fabulous entertainer.

Cantor Robbi Sherwin loves traveling the world as a cantor and artist-in-residence. A multi-instrumentalist, inspirational singer and speaker, Robbi leads Shabbatons, life-cycle events and retreats specializing in spiritual connections to God through music and nature. She is one-third of the touring award-winning Jewish folk-rock band, Sababa! (with Steve Brodsky (Denver) and Scott Leader (Phoenix). Her “spirited Jewish songcrafting” has been sung, recorded and performed from Tulsa to Tel Aviv.

Catering for the Oct. 30 event will be Pak-A-Pocket, and guests have a choice of turkey pastrami, chicken schwarma or falafel, all on pita sandwiches. Cost is $9 for lunch or $4 for the program only.

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 of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

The Miró String Quartet will perform at the opening concert of the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth on Oct. 19.

The Miró String Quartet will perform at the opening concert of the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth on Oct. 19.

Chamber Music Society will open next weekend

The late Leon Brachman was an extraordinary patron of the arts. One of the projects he founded — 26 years ago — is the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth. I know Leon would be proud to know that the organization is stronger than ever, and has a new artistic director, Gary Levinson. The 2013-2014 season will debut with a concert at 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19 at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The Miró String Quartet will be featured.

Hailed by the New York Times as possessing “explosive vigor and technical finesse,” the Miró String Quartet is one of America’s highest-profile chamber groups and remains in place at the top of the international chamber music scene according to the Chamber’s website. Now in its second decade, the quartet continues to captivate audiences and critics around the world with its startling intensity, fresh perspective and mature approach.

The Miró regularly performs in the world’s most celebrated concert halls including Carnegie Hall, the Berlin Philharmonics Kammermusiksaal and Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw.

In April 2013, Gary Levinson joined the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth as artistic director. He joined the Dallas Symphony as the Senior Principal Associate Concertmaster in 2002. Chosen by Zubin Mehta to join the New York Philharmonic in 1987 at age 21, Levinson made his New York Philharmonic solo debut under the baton of Erich Leinsdorf in 1991, the same year he earned his Master of Music degree at the Juilliard School. He has also toured at Mr. Mehta’s request with the Israel Philharmonic. His teachers included Dorothy DeLay, Masao Kawasaki, Glenn Dicterow and Felix Galimir.

A prolific recording artist, Levinson is currently involved in three major recording projects. Asked by the Classical Music Recording Foundation to complete their comprehensive catalog of the chamber music works of Beethoven, he has recorded the ten sonatas for piano and violin with renowned pianist Daredjan Kakouberi. Koch Records will release a disc of award-winning composer George Tsontakis’ chamber music in which Levinson collaborates with David Jolley, Melvin Chen and others. Finally, a retrospective of the important women composers from mid-19th century to the present is due out with Albany Records in 2009. Works feature Libby Larsen, Louise Ferrenc and Victoria Bond among others.

Levinson’s video “DSO Studio: The Master Class” was released in early 2007. It is an attempt to both elucidate the craft of the professional violinist and address issues both budding violinists and kids simply interested in the language of music can incorporate in their lives. As co-director of the Élan International Music Festival, he leads an intensive program comprised of successful practice techniques to chamber music coachings.

Other chamber concerts will be held Nov. 16, Jan. 4, Feb. 8, March 29, April 19 and May 17, all at 2 p.m. at the Modern. Tickets can be purchased at 817-877-3003 or

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Lil Goldman Early Learning Center marks 60 years

Lil Goldman Early Learning Center marks 60 years

Posted on 10 October 2013 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

For the past 60 years, the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center in Fort Worth has fostered academic excellence in a fun learning environment, while also teaching basic Jewish traditions. What started as the Preschool of the Fort Worth Jewish Community with six students has blossomed into a year-round institution with 92 students that is well known throughout Tarrant County.

The preschool will celebrate its 60th anniversary Oct. 18-20. The weekend will include Shabbat evening and morning services honoring teachers and students, a champagne and nosh donor event and a community-wide picnic.

The celebration offers a way to honor the rich history of the school and also look to the future, said Karen Johnson, who is co-chairing the weekend with Marvin Beleck. Quality programming and demand  have led to the school’s longevity, Johnson said.

“It’s the oldest preschool in Tarrant County and it’s been the only Jewish one there. Having that type of foundation for the Jewish community has been invaluable,” she said. “For the kids, it’s a home away from home and an unbelievable learning environment. I love that Tarrant County has come together to celebrate these 60 years. That speaks volumes about the support over the years.”

Johnson’s son attended the school, as did Beleck’s children. His niece, nephew and grandson are current students.

The LGELC is housed in Congregation Ahavath Sholom, and students range in age from 2 months to 5 years old. The goals are to encourage children’s physical, social and emotional development; their sense of identity; multicultural exposure; Jewish traditions; the ability to get along with others; and more.

“This is a school we have been devoted to, supported and think very highly of,” Beleck said. “We expect a great turnout for the celebration weekend, and about 400 people are already expected at the picnic.”

Lil Goldman, pictured here in 1972, started the Preschool of the Fort Worth Jewish Community now known as the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center six decades ago with a vision of providing quality education to youngsters in the community. The center’s 60th anniversary celebration weekend will take place Oct. 18-20. | Photo: Submitted by Debby Rice

Lil Goldman, pictured here in 1972, started the Preschool of the Fort Worth Jewish Community now known as the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center six decades ago with a vision of providing quality education to youngsters in the community. The center’s 60th anniversary celebration weekend will take place Oct. 18-20. | Photo: Submitted by Debby Rice

Lil Goldman (of blessed memory) opened the preschool as a new graduate of New York’s Bank Street School of Early Childhood Development. She taught six students whose parents paid $12 a month for tuition. It was the first preschool in the city that focused on child development and education.

Enrollment jumped to 14 students within three months, and in 1956 the preschool — located at Ahavath Sholom and sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County — became non-sectarian and opened enrollment to all. By 1988, there were 100 students and the school included extended day care programs for working parents and classes for children from 18 months to 5 years old.

Goldman’s daughter Jena Hall, who now lives in New York, said her mother not only touched the lives of the children, but entire families. She was thrilled to bring a vast curriculum to young children that included art, music and Judaism.

“My mom served as the founder, teacher and director of the school in the beginning, and was the religious school principal at Beth-El and the founder of a Jewish day camp,” Hall said. “She never wanted to stop working and had a vision that the school would live on for a long time. I am very touched and proud that they are celebrating the 60th anniversary, and the most important thing for the school today is that it can financially survive. I give credit to all of the people who have kept it alive. This is a lovely honor for Mother, but also a very important event.”

Throughout its history, the center has had many different names: It opened as the Preschool of the Fort Worth Jewish Community. Then it became the Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center Preschool. In 1982 it was renamed the Lil Goldman Early Childhood Learning Center.

When the JCC closed in 1999, the school was renamed the Jewish Community Play and Learning Center and operated under the Jewish Education Agency of the local Federation. The LGELC name was reinstated in 2001, after Goldman’s death in 2000.

Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger of Congregation Beth-El wrote about Goldman’s impact in a recent issue of the synagogue’s newsletter. He said the school is deeply rooted in both Fort Worth congregations and the overall Jewish community, and it’s great to celebrate the 60th anniversary together.

Mecklenburger’s son was a student at the school after the family moved to Fort Worth 30 years ago.

“It’s been a basic part of growing up Jewish in Fort Worth,” Mecklenburger said. “Lil was already retired when I got to town, but she was a delightful person who had a twinkle in her eye. She was a bright woman who made this a great place to live. It’s appropriate for the whole community to be celebrating, because everyone was involved with it in some way.”

Former student Jennifer Ratner believes attending the LGELC gave her a good Jewish foundation and solid background; both of her daughters were students as well. Ratner went to the Fort Worth Hebrew Day School from fifth though seventh grades.

Being a small Jewish community, everyone recognizes the importance of the school, Ratner noted.

“Finding my Jewish identity was established in the beginning, and I was able to foster that throughout school,” she said. “The Lil Goldman school had big impact in my life and made me want to continue the traditions and marry someone Jewish, and having my daughters have the same experience was special. I am looking forward to celebrating the milestone for the school. In Judaism, we learn to never forget the past and to celebrate it. [The weekend] really encompasses what the school is all about.”

The school has also influenced the lives of teachers Elaine Legere and Arlie Herreros. Legere has taught there for eight years and loves the engaging environment.

“We have a lot of fun and it’s the community, leaders and staff that’s allowed it to be around for so long,” she said. “Lil did a great thing when she started this school and I wish I could have met her.”

“It’s really all about the quality of what we offer,” added Herreros, who has taught there for 14 years. “It offers a Jewish education, but also basic morals and ideas that any child of any faith should get.”

For more information, call 817-737-9898 or visit

Anniversary weekend

Below is the schedule for the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center 60th anniversary celebration weekend, occurring Oct. 18-20.

Friday, Oct. 18, 7:30 p.m.
Community Shabbat service honoring past and present teachers, followed by an oneg at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth.

Saturday, Oct. 19, 9:30 a.m.
Community Shabbat service honoring past and present students, followed by Kiddush luncheon at Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen St., Fort Worth.

Saturday, Oct. 19, 8 p.m.
Champagne and Chocolate Nosh, a donor event for Lil’s Kids Club members, with a musical performance by Misha Galaganov, at the home of Rachel and Michael Goldman.

Sunday, Oct. 20, 12:30 p.m.
Community family picnic with food, pony rides, face painting, a photo booth, bounce houses and more at Ahavath Sholom. A commemorative tribute book will also be sold that afternoon.

The entire celebration, except for the Saturday evening event, is free and open to the community.

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Does being Jewish still mean anything to us?

Does being Jewish still mean anything to us?

Posted on 10 October 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebI have a habit of fitting bits of information together that at first may not look like they’re even related. Recently, I’ve been doing it again. My conclusion: “Someone, please tell me that none of this can really be true!” But, given the sources, I’m afraid it must be.

First item, widely reported by The Associated Press and, of course, by the Jewish press: Study results from the well-thought-of and to-be-trusted Pew Research Center, culled from its “Religion & Public Life Project,” show that more than 20 percent of American Jews today have no religion.

Well, how can they be Jews if they say they’re not Jewish? After all, isn’t our religion required in order for people to be Jews?

Not at all, according to Pew. This fifth of our overall population knows Judaism, but thinks it means something other than following the Jewish religion. These are secular, or agnostic, or atheistic, or humanistic Jews. They belong to our community, they say, because they share Jewish history and culture. “A large majority said remembering the Holocaust, being ethical, and advocating for social justice formed the core of their Jewish identity,” the Pew study noted.

But they do not observe the tenets of Judaism or follow its laws. Some say, quite openly and honestly, that they don’t believe in God!

“A large majority said remembering the Holocaust, being ethical, and advocating for social justice formed the core of their Jewish identity”: This is what Pew learned from interviewing 3,475 American Jews between Feb. 20 and June 13 of this year. The margin of error for the study is only plus or minus 3 percent. This is not a good finding for Judaism today, and bodes even worse tidings for the future.

Second item: If William Rapfogel weren’t a Jew at all, he might still profess, like those in the Pew study, that ethics and social justice are key features of the Jewish identity. But it’s now alleged that he looted a major New York Jewish charity for more than 20 years, making himself a millionaire in the process. If so, where were the ethics and justice in that?

I would hope that William Rapfogel weren’t a Jew at all, since even if he were secular in the extreme, he might still have followed those who in the Pew study professed ethics and social justice as key features of their identity. But where were the ethics and justice in Rapfogel’s looting of a major New York Jewish charity, something that went on for more than 20 years and made him a millionaire in the process?

I stopped to ask myself, when I read The New York Times’ damning report on Rapfogel’s behavior, why nobody had audited books or paid attention to a lot of things a heck of a lot sooner than after two decades. But — shades of Bernie Madoff — Rapfogel was such a beloved leader of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty that, according to the Times, “he was often referred to as the Prince of the Jews”!

I would not make a good criminal myself; I could never concoct a complex, devious scheme because I can’t even understand such shenanigans when I read about them. To me, it’s like trying to decipher a foreign language. The allegations against Rapfogel are full of terms like “kickbacks” and “slush funds.” He is accused of using this charity as “his own personal piggy bank.” The New York State comptroller calls the scheme “breathtaking.”

The charity itself is indeed a good one. It’s 40 years old, and last year alone helped more than 100,000 people, according to the Times report. When Rapfogel was fired, his attorney Paul Shechtman (which, sadly, sounds like another Jewish name) said this: “It’s a sad day, but happily, people who know Willie well are still in his corner.”

It’s a sad day, indeed, when Jews stop following Judaism, when the Madoffs and Rapfogels among us instead start trampling our ideals and taking advantage of others, including their trusting fellows.

As we prepare to mark 50 years since the loss of President John F. Kennedy, we might do well to remember something he said that is not so well known: “The great enemy of truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.”

Sadly, it’s time for us to face these truths: Not all Jews are good people. Not all Jews are even Jewish any more.

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Believe it or not, we’re all teachers

Believe it or not, we’re all teachers

Posted on 10 October 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2Each year I share with you the ways that we are teaching Jewish values to our children at camp.

Those of us who went to camp when we were growing up know how powerful the experience can be in creating Jewish identity — a fun time that teaches us more than we may have thought possible.

The songs, discussions and learning activities are all important.

But children also see Jewish values modeled by the young staff that they idolize, and those are the moments and the messages that stick.

Let me share this story from a parent:

When I pulled up to drop off my son for camp in the front of the building, there was an elderly couple that had stopped in front of us. The husband was dropping off his wife, who was using a walker.

The counselor, who was there for carpool, was helping the woman out of the car.

My son watched all of this and said to me, “I really like to see people help others.”

In ways big and small, the camp staff is changing lives by setting an example!

We know the powerful force of learning by modeling. It happens every day. Each and every one of us is a role model, even when we don’t know that we are being watched.

Here is an excerpt from a poem to remind us that our children are always looking. In fact, you may never know who is looking!

“When You Thought I Wasn’t Looking” by Mary Rita Schilke Korzan, 1980

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You hung my first painting on the refrigerator
And I wanted to paint another one.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you fed a stray cat,
And I thought it was good to be kind to animals.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you baked a birthday cake just for me,
And I knew that little things were special things.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you said a prayer,
And I believed there is a God I could always talk to.

When you thought I wasn’t looking,
You kissed me good-night and I felt loved.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, you cared,
And I wanted to be everything I could be.

When you thought I wasn’t looking, I looked …
And I wanted to say thanks for all those things you did
When you thought I wasn’t looking.

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

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Yahrzeit: its meaning and observance

Yahrzeit: its meaning and observance

Posted on 03 October 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi,

I have always observed my father’s yahrzeit on Nov. 25, the day of his burial. I recently was told that the custom is to observe it on the day of his death, which would be Nov. 23. Should it be on the day of death or the day of burial?

While we’re on the subject, could you fill me in on what should be done of the day of the yahrzeit?

With much appreciation,

— Phyllis P.

Dear Phyllis,

friedforweb2The yahrzeit (literally meaning “the time of year” in Yiddish), is observed on the day of death, not the date of the burial (Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chayim 568:8, Yorah Deah 402). The date observed, however, is the Hebrew date, not the English one.

You can contact me or any synagogue to find out the Hebrew date of Nov. 23 on the year your father passed away, and you should observe the yahrzeit on that date in the future. It is also significant to know if he passed during the day or after nightfall, since after nightfall it would be considered the following date (Hebrew dates begin on the previous night).

On the eve of the yahrzeit, it is customary to light a special yahrzeit candle that lasts for the full 24 hours. This is because the verse says Ner HaShem nishmat adam, “The candle of God is the soul of man” (Proverbs 20:27). This is why the yahrzeit candle is also referred to as the ner neshama, or “candle of the soul.”

The Kabbalistic writings explain that the soul itself is a type of spiritual light. On the day of the yahrzeit, the soul has permission to travel about in the world. When the soul sees lights lit in its honor, it derives nachas from this, as the soul derives joy from lights lit for spiritual reasons. The word ner, spelled nun resh, also stands for the words neshamah ruach, or soul and spirit.

Kaddish is recited in a minyan on the day of the yahrzeit. If one cannot recite the Kaddish themselves, a synagogue, kollel or yeshiva can be contacted to appoint someone to say the Kaddish for them.

Kaddish means “sanctification,” as the Name of God is sanctified through the recital of Kaddish. This is to make up for the loss of a Jew, whose purpose in the world is to sanctify the Name of God through his or her life, known as a life of Kiddush HaShem.

Kaddish is not, as is commonly thought, a prayer for the dead. It is very much a prayer for the living, bringing honor to the Name of God by the very profound praises we utter through the words of Kaddish. When the progeny of the deceased utter such great praises in their memory, effecting a Kiddush HaShem, the soul of the deceased is endowed with a more illuminated, elevated and joyous state in the world in which they reside.

In addition, Torah should be studied on the day of yahrzeit. Torah study by the child of the deceased greatly benefits their soul — especially the study of Mishna, the letters in Hebrew also spelling neshama, or soul. It is customary to give tzedakah to the poor or to support the study of Torah, which is also a great benefit to the soul of the loved one. If possible, it is meritorious to visit the grave and recite special psalms that coincide with the Hebrew name of the deceased.

Many also have the custom of fasting from sunup till sundown on the day of the yahrzeit. Other customs are observed besides those we have mentioned, but these are some of the core ones.

The main thing to keep in mind is that your father’s “representative” in the world is you. The more mitzvot you observe and Torah you study, whether on the yahrzeit or any other day, brings him continued bliss and reward in the world in which he now resides. He continues, and will continue, to derive nachas from all the good things you do.

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 book fest

Jewish book fest

Posted on 03 October 2013 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

From a murder mystery set in Hollywood, to a children’s book about a girl looking for her missing “pipers,” to a historical profile of seven Israeli paratroopers, the lineup at Book Fest offers something that  appeals to everyone.

The annual event, formerly known as Book Fair, is hosted by the Aaron Family JCC and will kick off at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 16. Author Marcia Clark, the former LA attorney who served as head prosecutor in the O.J. Simpson murder trial, will share her new mystery novel, “Killer Ambition.”

The goal of Book Fest is to bring the best literature and writers to the community, and this year’s roster is strong, said Liz Liener, Book Fest chair. To be included, books must have a Jewish author or feature Jewish content; all of the writers this year happen to be Jewish.

“We are fortunate that so many big names are coming this year,” Liener said. “It’s not just about reaching out to the Jewish community, but to the entire community. This is a celebration of the written word and Jews are the ‘People of the Book,’ so we thought that tied together nicely. We also wanted to give it a new name to spice it up.”

The fact that the community gets to meet the authors is part of what draws people to Book Fest, said Rachelle Weiss Crane, the J’s director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living and Book Fest coordinator. Also, it is not a requirement to read any of the books before attending the events.

Book Fest concludes on Thursday, Nov. 21, when guest speaker Jane Weitzman, wife of shoe designer Stuart Weitzman, will share her book “Art and Sole.” The evening will also be a fundraiser to benefit Jewish Family Service’s breast cancer support program, a cause Weitzman ardently supports.

Book Fest will continue with one more event next year. The Spring Read will be hosted on March 2, 2014 by the Tycher Library of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

“I hope people see this as a fabulous way to meet authors,” Crane said. “It’s easy to go to a book store for a signing, but this is a way to get to know the author and ask questions. I want people to feel that they can come to any one of these events and learn about a book and the author’s craft, and perhaps decide to read the book afterward.”

Each presentation will include a Q-and-A session, and all of the books will be available to purchase.

Book Fest organizers are excited to showcase such a broad range of authors and books. They said there will be something to match any reader’s interest, whether that’s history, art or fiction.

“These books and authors are the best fit for our community,” Crane said. “Some are in high demand everywhere, and some are more specifically suited for us. We hope to reach a cross section of the community. When the authors come here, they really enjoy themselves and members of the community like meeting them.”

Linda Blasnik has been on the reading committee for Book Fest for about five years. She loves reading the selections and meeting the authors.

“There are a great variety of books this year,” she said. “We wanted to choose works that would challenge people, but also still be something they enjoy. What I like about these books is that they don’t scream Judaism, but still highlight that the authors are part of the Jewish culture. I am very excited about this year’s lineup.”

There is a lot to be learned from Book Fest, but Liener hopes people take away one thing in particular:

“I want them to see that reading is fun,” she said. “We want people to become more involved with books. We have found a great balance between having quality books and engaging speakers.”

Here’s the schedule for the 2013-2014 Book Fest. All events will be held at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road, unless otherwise noted.

Killer-AmbitionWED., OCT. 16

“Killer Ambition,” by Marcia Clark
7 p.m.
When the daughter of a billionaire movie director is found murdered in what appears to be a kidnapping scheme gone wrong, LA Special Trials Prosecutor Rachel Knight and Detective Bailey Keller find themselves at the center of a volatile, high-profile court case. A popular and powerful talent manager — and best friend to the victim’s father — is then revealed to be the prime suspect. The director vouches for the manager’s innocence, and soon the Hollywood media machine is waging an all-out war to discredit both Rachel and her case.

Sisters-WeissTUES., OCT. 22

“The Sisters Weiss,” by Naomi Ragen
7 p.m.
Rose and Pearl Weiss are sisters growing up in 1950s Brooklyn, N.Y., in a loving but strict ultra-Orthodox family. They would never dream of defying their parents or the community’s unbending and intrusive demands. Then, a chance meeting with a young French immigrant turns Rose’s world upside down. In rebellion, she begins to live a secret life, one that shocks her parents when it is discovered. With nowhere else to turn, and an overwhelming desire to be reconciled with those she loves, Rose bows to her parents’ demands and agrees to an arranged marriage. Pushed to the edge, she commits an act so unforgivable, it will exile her forever from her innocent young sister and all she has ever known.

Dan-Gets-a-MinivanMON., OCT. 28

“Dan Gets a Minivan,” by Dan Zevin
7 p.m.
Dan Zevin, the least hip citizen of Brooklyn, has a working wife, two small children, a mother who visits each week to “help” and an obese Labrador mutt that would rather be driven than walked. How he got to this point is a bit of a blur. There was a wedding, and then a puppy. A home was purchased in New England. His wife was promoted and transferred to New York. A town house. A new baby boy. A new baby girl. A full-time dad was born. A prescription for Xanax was filled. Gray hairs appeared; gray hairs fell out. Six years passed in six seconds. And then came the minivan.
This event is co-sponsored by the Sherry and Ken Goldberg Early Childhood Center at the Aaron Family JCC.

Guide-for-the-PerplexedTUES., NOV. 5

“A Guide to the Perplexed,” by Dara Horn
7 p.m.
Software prodigy Josie Ashkenazi has invented an application that records everything its users do. When an Egyptian library invites her to visit as a consultant, her jealous sister Judith persuades her to go. But in Egypt’s post-revolutionary chaos, Josie is abducted — leaving Judith free to take over Josie’s life at home, including her husband and daughter. Josie’s talent for preserving memories becomes a surprising test of her empathy and her only means of escape.
This event is also the annual Community Read, hosted by the Tycher Library of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

Polly's-PipersSUN., NOV. 10

“Polly’s Pipers,” by Helen Waldman
10 a.m.
Polly’s important pipers have gone missing. She has looked everywhere — under the bed, inside her closet and in the kitchen. Where can they be? Mommy wants to help, but isn’t sure what “pipers” are. Join Polly on this colorful and whimsical search.

Like-DreamersSUN., NOV. 10

“Like Dreamers,” by Yossi Klein Halevi
10:30 a.m.
In “Like Dreamers,” journalist Yossi Klein Halevi interweaves the stories of seven members of the 55th Paratroopers Reserve Brigade, the unit that helped restore Jewish sovereignty to Jerusalem during the Six Day War in 1967. Halevi traces events in Israel since that time and the divergent ideologies of its people, while also revealing the pivotal role each man in this band of brothers played in shaping the nation’s destiny, long after their historic victory.

Jacob's-OathTUES., NOV. 12

“Jacob’s Oath,” by Martin Fletcher
7 p.m.
As World War II comes to a close, Europe’s roads are clogged with 20 million exhausted refugees walking home. Among them are Jacob and Sarah, lonely Holocaust survivors who meet in Heidelberg. Jacob is consumed with hatred and cannot rest until he has killed his brother’s murderer, a concentration camp guard nicknamed “The Rat.” Now he must choose between revenge and love, between avenging the past and building a future.

The-Power-of-CitizenshipWED., NOV. 13

“The Power of Citizenship,” by Scott Reich
7 p.m.
Scott Reich asserts that the most powerful element of President John F. Kennedy’s legacy was his emphasis on the theme of citizenship, and that a rededication to the values Kennedy promoted will shine a bright path forward for our country. Evoking the hopes and aspirations of the 1960s, Reich recaptures the excitement of the Kennedy era. This book blends the romance of Camelot with the new frontiers of today — not only identifying modern challenges, but also offering a tangible blueprint for how to improve our public discourse, be good citizens and lift our nation to new heights of greatness. It hones in on the very essence of what made JFK so inspirational and timeless.
This event is co-sponsored by the Dallas Jewish Historical Society.

Art-and-SoleTHURS., NOV. 21

“Art and Sole,” by Jane Weitzman
6:45 p.m.
When Stuart Weitzman opened his first boutique on Madison Avenue in New York City, the store’s displays of specially commissioned designer shoes quickly became a tourist destination, drawing crowds from all over the world to its magical windows. “Art and Sole” presents the best of this carefully curated collection in vivid detail. From watercolor paper to playing cards, from fresh flowers to frosting, a vast range of inventive, beautifully crafted footwear is on display in this unique gift volume.
This event will take place at Neiman Marcus at Northpark Mall, and all proceeds from ticket and book sales benefit breast cancer support services at Jewish Family Service.

The-WantingSUN., MARCH 2

“The Wanting,” by Michael Lavigne
11 a.m.
In this novel’s galvanizing opening, celebrated Russian-born postmodern architect Roman Guttman is injured in a suicide bombing. His life is thrown into instability, and his perceptions become heightened and disturbed as he embarks on an ill-advised journey into Palestinian territory. The account of Roman’s desert odyssey alternates with the vivacious, bittersweet diary of his 13-year-old daughter, Anyusha — who is on her own perilous path — and the afterlife of Amir, the young Palestinian bomber who is now damned to observe the havoc he wrought, from beyond.
This event is also the annual Spring Read, hosted by the Tycher Library of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

Attendance at each event requires a ticket and RSVP. The price of most tickets is $10, but the “Polly’s Pipers” event, the Community Read and the Spring Read are free. The cost for the evening with Jane Weitzman is $36, or the ticket and book can be purchased together for $54. For more information about Book Fest and to RSVP, contact Rachelle Weiss Crane at 214-239-7128 or, or visit

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 03 October 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Who doesn’t like a road trip? Joining Carole Rogers recently for a trip to the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Ark., were Carole’s mom Anita Dellal who was visiting from New Jersey, Gail Granek, Pat Davis, Mary Frances Antweil and Julie Silverman (Mary Frances’ daughter who was visiting from Albuquerque).

Carole rented a van and everyone from the Monday night mahj group, except for Roz Rosenthal and Ruthie Hamill, hit the road.

Enjoying Bentonville, Ark. are, from left, Gail Granek, Anita Dellal, Carole Rogers, Pat Davis, Mary Frances Antweil and Julie Silverman. | Photo: Courtesy of Carole Rogers

Enjoying Bentonville, Ark. are, from left, Gail Granek, Anita Dellal, Carole Rogers, Pat Davis, Mary Frances Antweil and Julie Silverman. | Photo: Courtesy of Carole Rogers

Carole tells me that the museum was designed by Israeli architect Moshe Safdie and “built” by Alice Walton. It has the largest collection of American art including portrait paintings and sculptures. Walton wanted to teach people about art. The museum is free and it has amazing educational programs.

Safdie kept nature in mind when designing the museum. Its website states, “Rather than building at the edge of the ravine, overlooking the stream below, Safdie chose to let the landscape embrace the building, and make the spring water an integral part of the design. Two ponds were created with a series of weirs that manage the inflow from Town Branch Creek and nearby Crystal Spring. This natural spring, along with the striking glass and copper bridges that span the ponds, provided Crystal Bridges with its name.”

Carole explained to me that there are hiking trails all around the museum and one of them heads downtown which has the original Walton’s Five & Dime and the hotel where the group stayed, 21 C. The hotel has an art gallery on the bottom and the exhibits rotate a few times a year.

Carole provided lots of details about the unique hotel … “the place is art-themed, all floors decorated differently. Their ‘logo’ is the penguin and they have all these plastic penguins they move around. You can put them at your table when you eat … It is very fun and festive!”
While there, Carole ran into Yogi and Leslie Florsheim who were there for a wedding.

Jewish Person of the Year plans are underway

One of the highlights on the calendar each year is B’nai B’rith’s Jewish Person of the Year. The anticipation is always high to see who will be given the coveted honor year in and year out. This year’s banquet will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 10 at Beth- El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road in Fort Worth.

New Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg will speak, and the Texas Gypsies will provide live music for dancing. Riscky’s BBQ will cater. If you wish a kosher meal, it can be obtained with a prior request with your reservation.

In addition to the Person of the Year, B’nai B’rith will recognize its scholarship winners for the year. Nominations can be sent to: Request for Nominations, Isadore Garsek Lodge, 4420 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76107. Cost for the evening is $25. Beer and wine will be available for purchase.

To make a reservation, or if you have a question, you can contact Harry Kahn at 817-926-6566 or, Alex Nason at or Marvin Beleck at

Joining last year’s honoree, Alex Nason who will present the award to this year’s winner, are an esteemed group of individuals — many of blessed memory — who over the years have helped shaped Jewish life in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. I am amazed at this list.

They include: 1951, David Greines; 1952, I.E. Horwitz; 1953, Sol Brachman; 1954, Ella Brachman; 1955, Maurice Rabinowitz; 1956, Sophia Miller; 1957, Leon Brachman; 1958, Rabbi Isadore Garsek; 1959, Jerome Wolens; 1960 Louis H. Barnett; 1961, Dr. Frank Cohen; 1962, Rabbi Robert J. Schur; 1963, Dr. Abe Greines; 1964, I.E. Horowitz; 1965, Dr. Harold Freed; 1966, M.M. Goldman; 1967, Sidney Raimey; 1968, Ben Coplin; 1969, Leon Gachman; 1970, Sheldon Labovitz; 1971, Madlyn B. Barnett; 1972, Walter Nass; 1973, Herbert Berkowitz; 1974, Manny (E.M.) Rosenthal; 1975, Sam Weisblatt; 1976, Ceil and David Echt; 1977, Marcia Kornbleet Kurtz; 1978, Allen Wexler; 1979, Faye Berkowitz; 1980, Charles Levinson; 1981, Burnis Cohen; 1982, Sandra Freed; 1983, Sherwin Rubin; 1984, Bernard S. Appel; 1985, Leroy Solomon; 1986, I.L. (Buddy) Freed; 1987, Larry Kornbleet; 1988, Karen Brachman; 1989, Hortense Deifik; 1990, Ruby Kantor; 1991, Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger; 1992, Beverley Moses; 1993 Dr. Ron Stocker; 1994, Rowena Kimmell; 1995, Stuart and Rebecca Isgur; 1996, Miriam Labovitz; 1997, Harry S. Kahn; 1998, Leslie Kaitcer and Jeff Kaitcer; 1999, Dr. Michael B. Ross; 2000, Dr. Al Faigin; 2001, Lon Werner; 2002, Seymour Kanoff; 2003, Leon Brachman; 2004, Earl Givant; 2005, Al Sankary; 2006, David Beckerman; 2007, Hollace Weiner; 2008, Laurie Werner; 2009, Alfred “Shuggie” Cohen; and 2010, Dr. Barry Schneider.

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Are we closing our minds to the wonder?

Are we closing our minds to the wonder?

Posted on 03 October 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2We are now beyond the High Holidays and the school year is in full swing for students of all ages. At the J, I spend hours teaching children and adults. The subject is Jewish education of all sorts.

A lot of people are interested in the “how” and many others are interested in the “why,” but the hardest topic is the “who.” Talking about God is difficult for most of us, except for children: The wonder of God’s world and the magical aspects are so easy for them.

Rabbi David Aaron, author of “Endless Light” and many other books, says, “I say that I do not believe in God; but what I believe in, I call God.” We get caught up trying to intellectualize something that isn’t in that part of the brain. Discovering the world with all of our senses brings us closer to a relationship to God, as we explore the wonders around us.

How can we be open to experiencing wonder? Many years ago, a parent told me that she was at the park with her 4-year-old and a friend who also had a 4-year-old. A rainbow appeared in the sky, and the parent began explaining the science of rainbows to her child as his brow furrowed and he tried to understand the complexities.

Nearby the other parent talked with her child about the miracle and beauty of God’s rainbow, and her child was wide-eyed with wonder and excitement.
The scientific parent sadly told me, “I missed an incredible moment to experience God with my child. How can each of us be open to the wonder of God’s gifts and be thankful every day?”

We whispered, “God, speak to us.”
And a meadowlark sang.
But, we did not hear.
So we yelled “God, speak to us!”
And, the thunder rolled across the sky.
But, we did not listen.
We looked around and said,
“God, let us see you.”
And a star shined brightly.
But, we did not notice.
And we shouted,
“God show us a miracle.”
And a life was born.
But, we did not know.
So, we cried out in despair,
“Touch us God, and let us know you are here.”
Whereupon, God reached down and touched us.
But, we brushed the butterfly away and walked on. …

— Unknown

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

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 03 October 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

JWV Ladies Auxiliary helps veterans 1 veteran at a time

JWV Ladies Auxiliary has had the privilege of sponsoring both the men’s and the women’s clothes closet at the VA for the last several years. Every few weeks, members pile up the donations that they’ve amassed from all of their donors and donations are delivered to the VA. One of the most amazing parts of this process is that the ONLY thing the group does is the driving.

The VA offers veterans who may be homeless or substance abusers, or both, the opportunity to participate in a program where they can work for volunteer services, attend classes, stay clean and sober and get back on their feet while transitioning into society with skills and dignity. These are the people who bring the carts out to the curb, unload the cars, sort through donations, catalog everything and then stock the two closets. They do it with pride, with smiles, and are so grateful for our help.

Many of the members say that their favorite part of the process is getting to talk to them and tell their stories. Over the last few years, JWV Ladies Auxiliary have met some amazing people.

A sergeant in Iraq who spoke five languages and was a translator told them that he made a better soldier than a husband and found himself living on the streets for years when he returned from the war. Miraculously, he found this program at the VA. He is currently in college and living on his own.

Volunteers met a woman last week who came back from overseas to learn her husband was in jail and her children had been abused. She became homeless and a drug addict. However, she somehow found her way to the VA, has been clean since June and is enrolled in community college this fall to study substance abuse counseling.

These are our veterans and the VA helps them one veteran at a time. They served their country. Their stories inspire us all of the volunteers to continue serving them.  Please keep those donations coming. Gently used, clean clothing and accessories welcome. Call Jo Reingold at 972-479-9856 to schedule pick up.

Congregation Beth Torah to roll out the red carpet

Congregation Beth Torah will honor some of its most cherished members at its “Red Carpet Affair” gala scheduled for 7:45 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26. The catered dinner at the Richardson synagogue will pay tribute to 18 Beth Torah members, including some of its founders and most generous supporters over its four decades.

Among those being honored are: Grace Bascope and Dan Gruen; Patti and Howie Fields; Ethel Gruen; Rona Kesselman; Raye and Paul Koch; Carol and Mark Kreditor; Sherie and Howard Mintz; Arlene and Lou Navias; Carol and Allan Rosen; and Shirley and Larry Strauss.

The evening will feature dinner and entertainment, as well as individual tributes to the honorees. Tickets are $125 per person, with sponsorship and tribute book opportunities also available. Proceeds will benefit the Conservative congregation of nearly 400 families, which serves Dallas and its northern suburbs. Congregation Beth Torah is located at 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson. For more information, call the synagogue at 972-234-1542.

Levine Academy announces Tom Elieff as new head of school for 2014-2015 year

Good wishes to Tom Elieff, who recently accepted the position as head of school at Ann and Nate Levine Academy, beginning in July 2014.

Tom, who graduated with a B.A. from Brown University and an M.A. from Northwestern University, is the “triple threat” that the school was fortunate to appoint as the steward for its future. Tom has been actively involved with Jewish communities in Dallas, Houston and Seattle. There, he accomplished successful capital campaigns, developed best practice academic programs and established top-notch administrative teams.

Additionally, he has held 19 years of leadership positions in two preeminent college prep schools in the country, including headmaster at Lake Forest Academy on Chicago’s North Shore, and most recently as head of the upper school (grades 9-12) at St. Mark’s School of Texas.

He and his family have been intimately engaged with the Dallas Jewish community during his tenure here. Tom’s credentials are sure to foster a seamless transition as current Head of School Mark Stolovitsky passes the reins to him.

Save the date:  Nov. 6

The Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Israel-Texas Science and Education Foundation will honor Noble Energy with the 2013 Bridge Builder Award. This year’s dinner will be held at Houston’s Westin Galleria Hotel, 5060 W. Alabama Street.

The Bridge Builder Award is given each year to an outstanding business and/or leader who has had a significant impact on the capital growth of both Texas and Israel. Texas-based Noble Energy’s commitment to their operations in Israel is a perfect example of the synergy between Texas and Israel, and that of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce.

The Bridge Builder Award Dinner provides essential funding to enhance the mission of the Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce and the Israel-Texas Science and Education Foundation. The commitments made in support of the dinner ensure that we increase economic development by fostering understanding, cooperation and business relationships between Israel and Texas. Each year, a forum is created for top executives to network and present a leader in the industry with the Bridge Builder Award.

Leadership for the event includes:  Honorary Chair Fred Zeidman, Chairman Emeritus United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Dinner Chair Arie Brish, CEO of cxo360 and member of the board of directors, Texas-Israel Chamber of Commerce; Host Committee David Wiessman, Alon USA; Lisa Atlas Genecov, Locke Lord LLP; Raanan Horowitz, Elbit Systems of America, LLC; Jeff Morris, Alon USA; and Blaine Nelson, Cooper Institute. Master of Ceremonies will be David L. Ronn, McGuireWoods LLP.

Tickets are $250 for TICOC members, $300 for non-members. Contact Leah Singleton at to purchase tickets and for more information.

Cantor Don Croll appearing in ‘The Sunshine Boys’ at CTD

If you miss Cantor Don Croll on the bimah, you can catch him on stage at the Contemporary Theatre of Dallas where he is acting in “The Sunshine Boys.” Croll has the role that George Burns played in the movie.

“The Sunshine Boys” opened Sept. 19 and runs through Oct. 13. Show times are Thursdays at 7:30 p.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. The show may be extended, but that is to be determined.

The actor who was originally cast in this role dropped out, and Croll accepted the part with only four days to learn the script. Croll acted in “So Help Me God” at Theater Three in August, performing in a play for the first time in 24 years.

For ticket information, visit

News and notes

• The Dallas Area Support Group Meeting for Sjögren’s Syndrome, is at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 at Blue Mesa Grill, 14866 Montfort Drive in Addison. For reservations, please contact, the Metroplex area’s Sjögren’s Syndrome support group leader, Cathy Ingles at 948-8606 or This is certain to be a good forum to exchange ideas with other Sjögren’s  patients and have questions answered. Contact Cathy by 5 p.m. on Oct. 4 if you are interested in attending.

• The deadline to register for Temple Shalom’s 12th Annual Charity Golf Tournament is Friday, Oct. 4. The tournament, which will be held on Monday, Oct. 14 at The Honors Golf Club, will benefit Temple Shalom Youth Programs and Snowball Express. The mission of Snowball Express is to create opportunities for joy, friendship and communal healing among families of fallen military heroes. For questions, contact Ken Braswell at 972-809-7312 or Registration, which is $250 per player, can be completed at

• Congregation Shearith Israel will launch its Family Center R&R from 9:15-10:15 a.m., Sunday, Oct. 6. Every other week, the Family Center will offer enriching experiences for parents to relax and learn while their kids enjoy parallel programming. For more information, contact Katie Copeland at or 214-361-6606.

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Exploring the historical roots of Reform Judaism

Exploring the historical roots of Reform Judaism

Posted on 03 October 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebAround the world, many people of the Christian faith are already preparing for 2017, when the Lutheran Church will commemorate a date that is commonly considered the birthday of Protestantism.

On the eve of All Saints Day, Oct. 31, 1517, the German monk Martin Luther dared to challenge the leaders of his own Catholic Church by nailing “The 95 Theses” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany. This event, almost 500 years ago, is recognized as the start of the Protestant Reformation.

Reform. That’s the key word. Luther was angry at his church, but he didn’t mean to abandon his religion and give rise to another one. His desire was to begin a debate about some Catholic ideas that rubbed him the wrong way. His biggest complaint involved “indulgences,” the then-common belief that a person could earn his way to salvation by making monetary contributions to the Church. Luther was protesting the idea that anyone might simply buy a path to eternal life.

Indulgences, he said, amounted to a corruption of the faith, and not a direct route to heaven.

The American Luther Research Center, headquartered right here in Dallas, recently presented the third in an annual series of major lectures leading up to the 500th anniversary of “The 95 Theses.” I attended last year’s lecture and learned a lot; I went again to this latest one, but found it unsatisfying — and not for matters of content. My extreme tinnitus certainly contributed to the problem, but the venue was a large hall, and the speaker, with a soft voice, continually bowed her head and read her text below the underpowered microphone instead of looking up and talking into it.

However, these circumstances gave me a chance to let my mind wander some, from Luther back to Jesus, and then ahead to the earliest reformers of Judaism.

Luther’s bold action in response to the church leaders of his time seems very similar to something the New Testament says Jesus did: In the Jerusalem Temple courtyard, he overturned the tables of money changers who were in the business of buying and selling animals for sacrifice. Jesus had no more intention then of birthing a new religion, a total breakaway from the old, than did Martin Luther at the door of Castle Church. The new religions — Christianity out of Judaism, Protestantism out of Catholicism — were actually started by followers of those early reformers.

Look at what happened to Judaism during the time of the European Enlightenment. That was an age of openness that offered civil inclusion to our people. They were able to mingle with their Christian neighbors — learning about them and from them — and, as a result, wanted to become more like those neighbors in their worship. We can date our own “reformation,” the start of our Reform movement, from the end of the 1700s and well into the mid-19th century. And its central place was Germany. Stately hymns, prayers in vernacular languages instead of Hebrew, and the use of organ music in services: all of these reforms were Jewish adaptations of Lutheran practices. So, in a way, Reform Judaism owes something of itself to Martin Luther!

It’s our glory and saving grace that although we’ve divided ourselves into varied streams, we don’t “protest” in the same way. Somehow, we’ve all managed to stay together under the one great umbrella that is Judaism. Christian Protestants have almost too many subdivisions to count, some of them not even recognizing some of the others as fellow Christians. This year’s Luther lecture emphasized the ecumenical — unity and cooperation between splintered groups. We Jews already live that concept for ourselves. We call it am Yisrael.

I will return for next year’s lecture and hope then for more “enlightenment.” Maybe someone will give microphone lessons in advance to the 2014 speaker!

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