Archive | November, 2013

Dallas Doings

Posted on 21 November 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Reflections of Nov. 22, 1963

I celebrated my 16th birthday almost one week before President and Mrs. Kennedy’s planned visit to the Fort Worth and Dallas area on Nov. 22, 1963.

There was a flurry of excitement in the Wisch household, since my parents, Rene and Jimmy, would attend the breakfast honoring the president and first lady at the Hotel Texas, which was hosted by The Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce. Approximately 550 people attended — a mélange of prominent citizens, politicians, clergy and journalists — the women were anxiously awaiting the first lady’s arrival. Prior to the breakfast, President Kennedy addressed about 3,000 citizens who began gathering outside the hotel at approximately 5:30 a.m. The venue was tight since JFK and Jackie were due to arrive in Dallas around noon for a parade and festivities.

That Friday, Nov. 22, 1963 emerged as a dreary, rainy and cold day that had a sense of foreboding about it. Fort Worth was pumped to see the president and first lady. The climate in Dallas was not so friendly, as I recall.

Adlai Stevenson was ambassador to the U.N. at the time. He visited Dallas in October 1963 and was attacked by members of the crowd to which he spoke. The presidential visit had been scheduled since September 1963.

An avid reader, I remember a full-page ad placed on Page 14 in The Dallas Morning News with the header: “Welcome Mr. Kennedy to Dallas.” The ad had a maudlin black border around it. Its content was not appropriate (in my young opinion) for welcoming our president and first lady. There were 12 to 14 nasty questions that seemingly undermined President Kennedy’s policies. The ad was signed by The American Fact Finding Committee, which named Bernard Weissman as its chairman. The publisher of The Dallas Morning News at the time was E. M. “Ted” Dealey, who felt that the ad was consistent with a plethora of critical anti-Kennedy editorials and op-eds that were featured for several weeks in his newspaper. Dealey approved and accepted the ad in advance because it lined up with editorial views of The News. The Warren Commission later determined that both “Bernard Weissman” and “The American Fact Finding Committee” were bogus “fronts,” and that Joseph P. Grinnan, an oil broker and local leader of The John Birch Society, paid for the ad with approximately $1,500 funded by three men — H. R. “Bum” Bright, an oil man (who later became owner of the Dallas Cowboys); Nelson Bunker Hunt, a son of H. L. Hunt; and Edgar Crissey, an insurance company executive.

Some of my classmates and I were sitting in our English class (at Fort Worth’s Paschal High School) when an announcement interrupted the day’s lesson. President Kennedy had been shot while driving in a motorcade down Elm Street in Dallas. There was silence in the room. None of us knew what to say or do — President Kennedy’s dreams were our hope for our future. Could they be shattered so quickly with a senseless act? Within the hour, we received confirmation from the media that our president had been assassinated. Jackie’s attire for the day would signify a memory for all of us who witnessed reruns of her trying to shelter her husband’s body in her arms. I shall never forget her grace and courage either. I am certain that school was dismissed early that day. All of us were in a state of shock. How could a day that was supposed to be so good turn out so wrong? We were glued to our black and white TVs while the footage was played and re-played. Lee Harvey Oswald would be apprehended after mortally shooting officer, J. D. Tippet. Many of us attended religious services that evening to seek comfort and solace. The nation was in mourning. We clustered in groups, singing folk songs, trying to comfort one another. On the Sunday following JFK’s assassination, Oswald was being transferred to The Dallas County Jail. Once again, many of us watched in horror as the alleged presidential assassin was assassinated by Jack Ruby, a local club owner.

It is said that the late Stanley Marcus (head of Neiman-Marcus at the time) and a Kennedy supporter, reflected on those times. “The News, in my opinion, was almost single-handedly responsible for the prevailing state of mind in Dallas at the time of the assassination.”

It is now 50 years later, and although our moments in Camelot were brief, in my humble opinion, I am still trying to make sense of it all.

What follows is the Dallas Doings column written by Clare from the Nov. 21 edition of the TJP.

‘Dallas Doings,’ Nov. 21 1963

“Mr. and Mrs. Julius Tills and family expect to occupy their lovely new home at 6872 Greenwich by Thanksgiving. The Stanley Pearle and Ellis Carp families are giving their homes a new look for the season. Many others are building new ones. Happy living all!

“Mr. and Mrs. Walter Dworkis had a happy surprise for their tenth anniversary when Mr. and Mrs. Mike Cohen hosted them for dinner and a special cake at Club Village. Others seen dining out at very special places were: Mr. and Mrs. Marvin Labovitz of Fort Worth, at Dominique’s. Also of Fort Worth, Mr. and Mrs. Sol Saginaw and Mr. and Mrs. Louis Bogart with Dallasites, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Naxon at Old Warsaw.

“November 23 will be a great day for Paul Kaplan and his proud parents, Mr. and Mrs. B. Kaplan, 10428 Church Road. His Bar Mitzvah at Temple Emanu-El will be attended by his grandmother, Mrs. Sig Kaplan, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Sommers and Mrs. James Kaplan, all of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Mrs. Larry Feldman of Little Silver, N.J. After the service there will be a luncheon in Linz Hall, at the Temple for Paul and guests.

“The engagement and December 29 wedding date of Miss Brenda Lou Frucht and J. Stuart Brand was announced at an Open House on October 28 at the home of the bride-elect’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Archue Frucht of Houston. Mrs. David Lewis and Mrs. Harvey Lewis of Houston gave a kitchen shower in Houston for the bride-elect. Many other Houston parties and showers are planned for the Thanksgiving weekend. Dr. and Mrs. Louis Shlipak hosted an evening party last Saturday at their home, 2623 Hudnall, for the engaged couple. The wedding of Miss Frucht and Mr. Brand, son of Mr. and Mrs. Albert Joseph of Waco, will take place at Cong. Beth Yeshurun in Houston.

“CRIB CROWD NEWS is always happy whatever the season. This week brings two little dolls and two small gallants.

“Helaine Frances Golman chose November 5 to join her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Larry E. Golman and brother, Mark Edward, at 4833 San Gabriel. Proud grandmother, Mrs. Morris Geller of El Paso came for the welcome. Mr. Jake Golman of Dallas and Mr. Morris Geller of El Paso are the grandfathers.

“Mr. and Mrs. Gerald B. Darver, 4502 Abbott, became members of the new parents fraternity on November 5 when they welcomed Paulanne. Mr. and Mrs. A. Darver and Mr. and Mrs. M.G. Gurentz of Dallas are the happy grandparents.

“On November 7 little gallant Adam Martin Kahn was welcomed into the happy circle of sisters and brothers, David, Peter, Jill, Judy, Martha, Susan, Mickey and Debbie. Mr. and Mrs. Bernard Kahn, 6115 Royal Crest, are the proud parents of this happy group. Mr. and Mrs. Meyer Selzman of Cleveland and Dr. and Mrs. William Schaffer of Middletown, Ohio, are the proud grandparents. Great-grandmother Mrs. Elda Selzman also lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

“The other little gallant is Scott Howard Zale who was welcomed by his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Zale, 3130 Tower Trail, on November 9. Brother Andrew Gary joins the welcome with proud grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Frederick Schatten and Mr. and Mrs. Abe Zale of Brooklyn, N.Y. who were here for the Bris November 16 at Tiferet Israel. Great-grandfather, George Feinberg also lives in Brooklyn. Rabbi Sidney Weinschneider was officiant.

“Tiferet Israel was the scene for the November 11 Blessing and Naming ceremony for Robin Rene Benjamin, new little daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Benjamin. Grandfathers Phil Benjamin and Isaac Goldstein attended.
“The November 10 Bris of Seth Eli Naxon, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Naxon at their home, 9410 Baxtershire, was attended by Fort Worthians; Mr. and Mrs. Sol Saginaw, godparents of Seth Eli, Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Wisch, and Mr. and Mrs. Leon Brachman. Lou Glasser of Tyler also attended. Mr. and Mrs. Naxon flew to Charlotte, N.C. last week for a visit with family who were unable to attend the Bris, 4215 Cochran’s Chapel Road.

“Mr. and Mrs. M.M. Donosky left last week for a dream trip that will take them skimming the clouds to Boca Raton, New York on to Rome, Istanbul, Tel Aviv, Teheran, Bombay, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Christmas in Manila with her nephew, E.C. Geeslin, then on to Tokyo, Honolulu, Los Angeles and home well into 1964.

“A belated but happy birthday to Miss Kelly Kay Tills on her birthday Oct. 12.”

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Remembering JFK

Remembering JFK

Posted on 21 November 2013 by admin

Journalist Steve North with the siblings of Jack Ruby: From left, Eva, Sam and Earl, 1989. | Photo: JTA

Journalist Steve North with the siblings of Jack Ruby: From left, Eva, Sam and Earl, 1989. | Photo: JTA


My history with the family of Lee Harvey Oswald’s Jewish killer

By Steve North

NEW YORK (JTA) — We were sharing a pastrami sandwich and pickles at the Los Angeles landmark Canter’s Deli. I was 24. She was nearly 50 years older, with a piercing voice as loud as her flaming red wig.

Her name was Eva Rubenstein Grant, and she was a little-known nightclub manager the morning of Nov. 24, 1963, when her brother left the apartment they shared in Dallas and blasted his way into infamy by fatally shooting Lee Harvey Oswald. It was history’s first live televised murder.

Jack Ruby, who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. | Photo: Central Press/Getty Images

Jack Ruby, who murdered Lee Harvey Oswald in 1963. | Photo: Central Press/Getty Images

Eva worked and lived with Jack Ruby and spent the rest of her life defending him against various allegations.

“I swear on my life, my brother was not three things,” Eva told me, her voice rising. “He was not a homosexual. He was not with the communists. And certainly not with the underworld.”

I listened with fascination to Eva that day in 1977. (Years later she was perfectly portrayed in a TV movie by Doris Roberts, the high-decibel mom from “Everybody Loves Raymond.” She died in November 1992 at age 83.)

“But Mrs. Grant,” I said. “Jack had ties to the ‘syndicate,’ as you call it, as far back as your childhood in Chicago.”

“Look,” she replied in exasperation. “We would see these people in the neighborhood and we’d ask, how’s your mother? How’s your sister? But that doesn’t mean Jack was connected with them. I grew up with a bunch of boys who turned out to be no good. Who knew?”

It was a quintessentially Jewish response, albeit delivered in Eva’s hybrid Chicago-Dallas accent. And the Rubensteins were a staunchly Jewish family, a fact that may have played a role in Ruby’s killing of Oswald, President John F. Kennedy’s assassin.

Ruby was born Jacob Rubenstein in 1911 to a family of Polish-Jewish immigrants. His parents, Joseph and Fannie, were a volatile couple. Joseph was a mean and abusive drunk. Fannie suffered from mental illness and at one point was committed to an Illinois state hospital.

Their eight children had their fair share of problems, both before and after the parents separated. Ruby and three of his siblings were made wards of Chicago’s Jewish Home Finding Society and placed in foster homes for periods of time during the 1920s.

Despite their dysfunctional world, the Rubensteins kept a kosher home, observed the holidays, sent their boys to Hebrew school and attended synagogue.

Ruby idolized Chicago Jewish boxing champion Barney Ross, who later described him as a “well-behaved” youth. But others recall Ruby’s hair-trigger temper and street brawls, especially when taunted by the non-Jews in his mixed Jewish-Italian neighborhood. Ruby’s biographer, Seth Kantor, relates that as an Air Force private, Ruby once beat up a sergeant who called him “a Jew bastard.”

After World War II, Eva moved to Dallas and began managing nightclubs and restaurants. Ruby received an honorable discharge from the Air Force in 1946 and joined Eva a year later in Texas. It was in 1947 that Jack, along with brothers Earl and Sam, legally changed his last name to Ruby.

As a young man in Chicago, Ruby reportedly ran errands for Al Capone’s cousin and henchman Frank Nitti. A former Dallas sheriff once testified that Chicago mafia figures told him that Ruby was sent to Texas to run nightclubs that were fronts for illegal gambling operations.

According to evidence uncovered by the U.S. House of Representatives Assassinations Committee in the 1970s, Ruby was later linked to mobsters Carlos Marcello and Santos Traficante, who the panel considered prime suspects in a possible mob conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy.

Whatever he was doing behind the scenes, Ruby became known as a nightclub owner and at some point began attending services at Congregation Shearith Israel. Rabbi Hillel Silverman, who was the Dallas synagogue’s spiritual leader from 1954 to 1964, says Ruby came to say Kaddish for his father.

“He came to minyan one day with a cast on his arm,” Silverman recalled. “I said, ‘Jack, what happened?’ He said, ‘In my club, somebody was very raucous, and I was the bouncer.’”

Silverman, now 89 and still leading High Holiday services every year, remembers Ruby well. Once Ruby showed up at the rabbi’s house with a litter of puppies and insisted the rabbi take one. When the family went to Israel one summer, Ruby looked after the dog.

“The day of the assassination, we had our regular Friday night service, which became a memorial service for the president,” Silverman said. “Jack was there. People were either irate or in tears, and Jack was neither. He came over and said, ‘Good Shabbos, rabbi. Thank you for visiting my sister Eva in the hospital last week.’ I thought that was rather peculiar.”

Two days later, Silverman spoke to his Sunday morning confirmation class, expressing relief to the students that Lee Harvey Oswald was not Jewish or there might have been a “pogrom” in Dallas. He then switched on the radio and heard that a “Jack Rubenstein” had killed the assassin.

“I was shocked,” said Silverman. “I visited him the next day in jail, and I said, ‘Why, Jack, why?’ He said, ‘I did it for the American people.’ ”

I interrupted Silverman, pointing out that other reports had Ruby saying he did it “to show that Jews had guts.” The rabbi sighed.

“Yes, he mentioned that,” Silverman said. “But I don’t like to mention it. I think he said, ‘I did it for the Jewish people.’ But I’ve tried to wipe that statement from my mind.”

Another person close to Ruby who tried, unsuccessfully, to block out the past is his nephew, “Craig” Ruby. (He asked that I not publish his real first name). His early memories are pleasant: Uncle Jack having a shot of whiskey with Craig’s father, doling out silver dollars to the kids, his flashy sports cars.

Like millions of Americans, Craig watched Oswald’s murder live on television. Soon afterward, he and his mother heard the name of the gunman.

“Did you ever hear the expression ‘The color drained from her face?’ I literally saw my mother’s face go from flesh to green,” he recalled. “At age 12, that was a little freaky to watch.”

Half a century after the fact, Craig is still bitter over the dramatic effect his childless uncle’s act had on the extended family, including bomb threats and huge legal bills. Given his last name, Craig was an easy target for bullies during his junior high school years in Dallas. But worst of all was facing Uncle Jack himself.

“One Sunday my dad insisted we go to see Jack in jail,” Craig said. “Outside, a police car’s siren started up, and my uncle was standing there with this incredibly intense, wild-eyed look on his face, and he yelled, ‘You hear that? You hear that? They’re torturing Jews in the basement!’ That particular experience was traumatic enough to where talking about it right now, 50 years later, is turning my gut into a knot.”

Silverman, who later testified before the Warren Commission, also vividly remembers his jailhouse visits.

“In prison, he deteriorated psychologically,” the rabbi said. “One time I walked in and he said, ‘Come on, rabbi, duck underneath the table. They’re pouring oil on the Jews and setting it on fire.’ He was quite psychotic.”

My initial connection to the Ruby family was through Eva, who I convinced to appear on ABC’s “Good Night America” program in 1976. Later I visited her several times at her apartment in Los Angeles, where she once gave me the last piece of stationary from Jack’s Carousel Club.

She introduced me to her brothers — Earl, who owned a dry cleaning store in Detroit, and Sam, who lived in the Los Angeles suburb of Sylmar. Sam showed me the one picture he had of their immigrant parents as well as the rusting car Jack drove to the Dallas police station the morning he shot Oswald.

In 1991, Earl allowed me to rendezvous with him in Dallas on the day he retrieved Jack’s gun, which he won after a decades-long legal battle. I later showed the weapon on television for the first time since 1963, shortly before it was auctioned off for $220,000.

The brothers also downplayed Jack’s ties to the mob. Sam, who died in 2006 at age 90, leaned in close and lowered his voice, confiding: “These guys would come into Jack’s club, and you had to be nice to them, ya know.”

Ironically, when Earl chose a place for us to meet in Dallas the day he was given Jack’s gun, he picked an Italian restaurant better known for its links to the Mafia than its lasagna.

Some conspiracy theorists believe Ruby was ordered to silence Oswald by his organized crime contacts. Others, who think the murder was an impulsive act, point to Ruby’s fury over an anti-Kennedy advertisement in a Dallas newspaper the morning of the president’s visit. It was paid for by a right-wing Jewish activist named Bernard Weissman, which Ruby thought put Jews in a bad light.

We will never know for sure. What Craig Ruby knows for certain is that he did not mourn his uncle’s death from cancer in 1967. His family had moved to Chicago by then and when he saw the headline announcing Ruby’s death, he felt like a weight had lifted.

As for having a connection to one of the darkest moments in American history, Craig Ruby’s view has not changed in 50 years.

“I wish to God it hadn’t happened to us.”

Steve North is a broadcast journalist with CBS News who’s been reporting on the Kennedy assassination since 1976.

View from President Kennedy’s motorcade through Dallas  Nov. 22, 1963. | Photo: Cecil Stoughton, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

View from President Kennedy’s motorcade through Dallas Nov. 22, 1963. | Photo: Cecil Stoughton, White House/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Jewish leaders respond to Kennedy assassination

Editor’s note: The TJP’s Editor and Publisher Jimmy Wisch covered JFK’s visit to the Metroplex firsthand. On the next few pages is the original text from the TJP Nov. 28, 1963 issue.

By Jimmy Wisch, TJPost Editor-Publisher

Messages from Jewish leaders offering condolences for the late President John F. Kennedy came pouring into the offices of the Texas Jewish Post as Dallas and Fort Worth synagogues held memorial services for the departed national leader earlier this week.

Sermons Friday evening, the same day of his assassination, choked up many rabbis. One was too grief-stricken to proceed and had to pause for a few moments before he could continue his sermon.

Dr. Nelson Glueck, President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, who gave the Benediction at the Inauguration of President Kennedy in January, 1961, issued the following message:

“In this hour of national sorrow I pray that the noble life which President Kennedy gave for the well-being and blessing of America and the world may end senseless strife and bitter discord among our people and result in that peace for his beloved country and for humanity for which he so endlessly and restlessly labored.

“More than ever before must we pray as I did at his Inauguration in Washington that God may ‘ensure the unfettered implementation of the letter and spirit of our Constitution for all the inhabitants of our land, to provide equal opportunities of learning and labor and well-being for all our citizens; and glad shelter to those who seek refuge with us from tyranny, to safeguard the physical and moral integrity of our beloved Commonwealth, founded on faith in Him.’

“May God bring strength and comfort to the late President’s widow and children, to his bereaved family and to all who love him.”

Mr. Solomon Litt, president of the National Jewish Welfare Board said: “The National Jewish Welfare Board is shocked and grieved by the tragic death of our nation’s President. Our sympathies go out to the members of his family and to his colleagues. Their loss is shared by all the free peoples of the world.

“In this critical moment of history, the National Jewish Welfare Board and its affiliated Jewish Community Centers and Armed Services Committees across the United States pledge continued support of the ideals for which John F. Kennedy stood, and for which he died. As an organization which was born on American soil and which has flourished in the American atmosphere of liberty for all, we affirm our constant devotion to the cause of freedom which he held so dear.

“We Jews are too familiar with the pain of martyrdom, but the impact of the blow is never softened by this familiarity. We join with our fellow Americans in this time of mourning, and earnestly pray that our President’s sacrifice will not be in vain.”

American Jewish Committee president A.M. Sonnasend said: “We are shocked and deeply saddened by the tragic death of the President of the United States.

“John F. Kennedy had come to represent the promise of America and the soaring spirit of humanity. In his life he gave expression to the age-old yearning of the people of the world for peace and good-will.

“Like Abraham Lincoln a century ago, he has given his life for the dream of freedom and human dignity.

“The grief at his death is felt in the hearts of all men. We shall mourn for him, in the words of Scripture, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a first-born.”

These were only part of a flood of condolences. Each, one could detect, was written with a heavy heart, burdened and breaking with pain.

John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy exit the Hotel Texas after the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Nov. 22, 1963. | Photo: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs.

President John F. Kennedy and First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy exit the Hotel Texas after the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Breakfast Nov. 22, 1963. | Photo: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.


Tribute to a Martyr

Editor’s note: Jess Jawin was the weekly front page column by TJP Editor and Publisher Jimmy Wisch. It was a play on words as well as his name, Jessard,  and his initials J.A.W.

The week began with high hopes.

The President of the United States of America was coming to Texas.

Fifty percent of his time was to be spent in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

Moreover, and perhaps more important, was the announcement that he was scheduled to spend the night at the Hotel Texas, Thursday, November 21.

What a great day for the history of this state and our communities, we thought.

Accredited as a member of the working press, we had planned to use this time to get all the coverage we could out of the President’s visit.

Then, as if destiny was already showing its face, our linotype operator did not show up for work. After several hours of checking, we discovered he had left his family without notice and was supposedly in California.

Still, the President of the United States of America was due and we thought the Texas Jewish Post should have a fitting welcome for him.

Luckily we know how to run a linotype. We burned the midnight oil and rammed out the copy on a machine that squirted hot metal instead of proper lines.

When we got the machine fixed it was well into Tuesday. We were ready for a press-run after our pages had been made up.

Then our press broke down.

It wouldn’t work and when it did, its reserve pressure nearly sent it through the side of the building.

Another day of travail.

Just the normal snafu, we mused. The President of the United States of America is coming. What’s a little breakdown compared to that.

By Wednesday the press was in good shape — almost better than it had been in years and we were joyed with the prospect of getting out earlier. Then, it happened.

The folder quit.

Instead of cutting the papers on the guide, it jammed them into the cutting blades and rollers making it impossible to run.


Following a night session we got the folder working right.

Then gloriously for an historic moment everything jelled on time and we completed our final run.

We personally took a copy of the Texas Jewish Post to the Texas Hotel with our November 21 Kennedy coverage. We thought the President would be interested in reading the TJP along with the daily newspapers. We arranged for him to have it in his room.

Well, we thought, this week wasn’t at all…

We were next to the President when he arrived at the Hotel Texas in Fort Worth. He and his wife brushed alongside, nodded, and instead of going into the lobby of the Hotel, the President and Mrs. Kennedy, after greeting the Hotel Manager, walked around their car and went toward the parking lot South of the Hotel where more than 5,000 well-wishers sent up a cheer of greeting as soon as they saw him.

The President’s smile was infectious.

Mrs. Kennedy was gracious.

Though they had been through a grueling day, they stopped and shook hands with hundreds that lined the barricades.

The following morning, our High Command and this old jaw rose at dawn and started the school lunches going and the early morning chores to get our tribe ready for school.

We both had to be at the office early to read some proof before we could cover the President’s Breakfast, Friday, November 22.

We made it.

We were at the breakfast covering the event. There were many people we knew. The breakfast was a huge success. In the group faces stood out: Pearl and Maurice Rabinowitz, Judy and Herman Morris, Sol and Etta Brachman, Rose and Sol Saginaw, Lila and Mark Cristol, Elaine and Dave Samson, Ann and Louis Bogart, Ben and Sara Betty Gilbert, Frank and Connie Messing, Sarah and Bob Kragen with Arnold, Mrs. Herman Baum and Kenneth Baum, Sello and Egon Herzfeld, Tobia and Ben Ellman with son Larry and mother, Mrs. Sophia Miller, the Bob Zodins, Morris and Rose Antweil, and oh so many more…

All had come to see the President of the United States of America.

And we’re sure that all had rushed through the morning — through one upset or another — to get there on time to honor the Chief Executive of this nation.

It was such a good, joyous vibrant feeling to be there.

And, adding to joy of joys, we saw our old colleague and buddy, Seth Kantor.

Seth, who works for Scripps-Howard as a Washington correspondent, formerly worked for the Fort Worth Press and the Dallas Times-Herald respectively.

This was indeed a great day.

And then the President entered.

A cheer went up for him.

Finally, after what seemed a long period of waiting, in came the First Lady. She was dressed in a pink suit, trimmed with a black collar. She looked more beautiful than she had appeared either the night before or in any of the newsreels or television or magazine photos we had seen.

The President finally spoke following some pleasantries and the acceptance of gifts.

One of the gifts was a Texas Hat. The President was asked to wear it. “Come up to see me in Washington Monday,” he answered. “And I’ll put it on.”

The President’s address mainly concerned Fort Worth’s position in the nation’s economy role the city is playing in the nation’s defense effort.

But the talk had an underlying plea for the cooperation of all people. It told about the support the United States of America was giving to the underprivileged nations around the world.

The President added: “I do not recite these facts for partisan purposes nor are they the result of any partisan effort. They are a result of America’s determination to be stronger and this State’s contribution to that strength. So long as international communism threatens peace — so long as fear and oppression are abroad — so long as force is regarded by any nation as an instrument of national policy — we must have the power to deter others from aggression.”

In closing the President said: “As a result of all these and other steps, we now have the capacity to resist and respond effectively to any attack by any means from any source. We intend to maintain that capacity until peace and justice are secure. And with the continued help of this City and State, I know we can achieve that goal.”

The Presidential party left Fort Worth and started for Dallas.

We were going to cover the event, too, but decided to let our Dallas office handle the assignment.

On the way back to our office we read the speech President Kennedy was to have delivered in Dallas at the Trade Mart to the Dallas Citizens Council, the Dallas Assembly and The Graduate Research Center of the Southwest.

The speech told of the link between leadership and learning and how essential it was at the community level. However, “It is even more indispensable in world affairs. Ignorance and misinformation can handicap the progress of a city or a company, but they can, if allowed to prevail in foreign policy, handicap this country’s security. In a world of complex and continuing problems, in a world full of frustrations and irritations, America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason — or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”

The President would have continued: “There will always be dissident voices heard in the land, expressing opposition without alternatives, finding fault but never favor, perceiving gloom on every side and seeking influence without responsibility. These voices are inevitable.

“But today other voices are heard in the land — voices preaching doctrines wholly unrelated to reality, wholly unsuited to the Sixties, doctrines which apparently assume that words will suffice without weapons, that vituperation is as good as victory and that peace is a sign of weakness. At a time when the national debt is steadily being reduced in terms of its burden on our economy, they see that debt as the greatest single threat to our security. At a time when we are steadily reducing the number of Federal employees serving every thousand citizens, they fear those supposed hordes of civil servants far more than the actual hordes of opposing armies.

“We cannot expect that everyone, to use the phrase of a decade ago, will ‘talk sense to the American people.’ But we can hope that fewer people will listen to nonsense. And the notion that this nation is headed for defeat through deficit, or that strength is but a matter of slogans, is nothing but just plain nonsense.”

President Kennedy used biblical passages to highlight his speeches. His speech in Dallas would have concluded with the following passage: “We in this country, in this generation, are — by destiny rather than choice — the watchmen on the walls of world freedom. We ask, therefore, that we may be worthy of our power and responsibility — that we may exercise our strength with wisdom and restraint — and that we may achieve in our time and for all time the ancient vision of ‘peace on earth, good will toward men.’ That must always be our goal — and the righteousness of our cause must always underlie our strength. For as was written long ago: ‘except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.’”

The rest of the heartbreaking story you know.

It has stunned a nation into an unbelievable grief. A sort of fantasy that says, “Surely this is a dream. It has not happened. He will be with us tomorrow.”

But, alas, these tomorrows never come.

They are the realities of today.

We as a people need much soul-searching.

We need to examine our fears and jealousies, our prejudices and our intolerances.

Once and for all let us stand up and say that this death will not have been in vain.

Let us rededicate ourselves to the foundations which have made the country great and strong.

For the protection of the rights of the individual and upholding of the dignity of the individual.

For the uplifting of all peoples, everywhere…for we are the torchbearers of Freedom. If we are not the American Dream, the American Ideal has perished.

Let us once, in unison, outlaw the emotionalism of Hate from our land and march hand in hand for Brotherhood under the Fatherhood of God.

This will be the greatest tribute we can pay to the memory of our dearly beloved President.

President John F. Kennedy was more than a President. He was a human personality, a father, husband and friend to many.

The greatest recollection we have of the President concerns a departure he made from Washington while Mrs. Kennedy was convalescing in Europe several weeks ago.

John F. Kennedy was both President and Father in this particular scene. The helicopter landed and was waiting to whisk him away on some important government business.

John Jr., not quite three, came perilously close to where the helicopter waited as the President boarded it.

John Jr. was in tears. He seemed to be crying as most average children do when Daddy goes off someplace, “Daddy, Daddy.”

The President looked at his son.

Suddenly one detected the impulse for him to take his son in his arms and carry him along with him.

But then he hesitated.

The Father was the President of the United States of America.

An officer came up and took John Jr. away.

The Father took another long last eager look at his son.

Then the President of the United States of America entered the helicopter and it departed on its governmental mission.

He had to go.

But, oh, so young, dear God.

Oh So Young!

Rest in Shalom, in sweet peace, dear John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

Your people will never forget you!

John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. The head table at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, Hotel Texas Nov. 22, 1963. From left, Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy. | Photo: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs.

The head table at the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, Hotel Texas Nov. 22, 1963. From left, Lady Bird Johnson, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and President John F. Kennedy. | Photo: Cecil Stoughton. White House Photographs. John. F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

Eulogy to the President

John F. Kennedy, thirty-fifth president of the United States

A poem by TJP Editor and Publisher Jimmy Wisch appeared on the front page of the Nov. 28, 1963 edition. Copyright 1963 TJP

Here was a noble man
Imbued with the spirit of America
And of being an American.

Here was a courageous fighter
On the battlefields of valor
And in the Halls of Congress

Here was a gifted leader
With a vision of the future
For all the people of his nation

Here was a man with heart
Who, though born to riches,
Tried to eradicate poverty

Here was a gentle man
Of great respect
For the aged, the weary, the downtrodden

Here was a man of high hopes
Who translated his beliefs
Into action for the general good

Here was a true patriot
Who asked not “What Can America Do For Me,
But What Can I Do For America”

He did all he could
He gave all he could
Here was John Fitzgerald Kennedy

The Thirty-Fifth President
Of The United States of America.
May he rest forever in Sweet Peace

President and Mrs. Kennedy descend the stairs from Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963. | Photo: Cecil Stoughton/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.

President and Mrs. Kennedy descend the stairs from Air Force One at Love Field in Dallas Nov. 22, 1963. | Photo: Cecil Stoughton/John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.


A fitting memorial

The tragic events which have occurred this past week have numbed the hearts of Americans of all major political beliefs.

The assassination of President Kennedy, our youngest president, and among our most courageous, is a deed that blotted out the life of one of our country’s greatest patriots and leaders.

President Kennedy had the courage of his convictions.

He spoke of those convictions in every corner of this great nation — whenever and wherever he had the chance.

His last official pilgrimage of progress was to our own state of Texas where though cognizant of some fanatical attitudes against him, he made the journey to meet the people and bring peace to a state that seemed divided politically.

Assuming office during a period of international crisis, he devoted a major part of his efforts to deflate the possibility of a nuclear conflict — a conflict in which he said there would be no victor, no victory, —just “ashes in our mouths.”

However, even when his political adversaries were charging him with timidity, he showed his courage and ability of leadership by standing up for the rights of the United States of America.

But President Kennedy was much more than the presiding officer of his nation.

He was a leader of his people.

He saw clearly that we couldn’t preach the values of democracy abroad if we did not practice them at home.

He abhorred the policy of hate and tried to institute a true feeling of Brotherhood and mutual respect between all men.

President Kennedy saw two burning questions which were weak points in our democracy. They were namely the lack of an insurance program for the aged and the need for a true Civil Rights Bill.

He earnestly believed that it was unfair to torment the aged citizens of our country with the prospect of being impoverished by catastrophic or lesser illnesses. With dignity he appealed to the nation to give our senior citizens the security of knowing that their own insurance program would provide for their needs in case they were stricken in later life.

He worked so hard to achieve this and, alas, had not. Even when the statistics from nations all over the world showed that we were greatly lacking in this respect.

The other major setback came in the delay in enactment of a Civil Rights Program for Negroes which is a century late.

President Kennedy clearly saw that in a world where most of the population is colored, the white man could not preach democracy if he did not practice it himself. This is simple reasoning.

President Kennedy wanted to change that situation.

He wanted to provide Negroes with the rights they should have enjoyed a century ago.

It is a sad and heartbreaking commentary that two of the nation’s greatest presidents — Lincoln and Kennedy each with similar dedication — should have been assassinated.

There will be many proposals for monuments to President Kennedy within the next few weeks.

These will be proper and should be constructed.

But, perhaps, we can give him the greatest monument he deserves. That would be speedy enactment by the Congress of a Medical Insurance Plan for our Senior Citizens and the Civil Rights Bill to guarantee the rights of all the people of this great nation.

This would truly be the greatest monument we could give him.

This would translate his death into a living reality.

This would certainly make his living triumphant.

And his martyred memory emblazoned upon all citizens of the United States now and forevermore.

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Poem transcends broad cultural boundaries

Poem transcends broad cultural boundaries

Posted on 14 November 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebThe most popular Japanese poem in America is any “haiku,” a spare little construction featuring 17 syllables in three lines: five—seven—five.

The most popular American poem in Japan, more accurately a prose poem called “Youth,” is 242 words long!

Its author, Samuel Ullman, died in 1924 in Birmingham, Ala., where he remains the pride of the Jewish community for his many contributions to the city. But not so much for his poetry. It’s still largely unknown to the rest of the United States, while it has become a lasting influence in Japan.

Born in Germany in 1840, Ullman was 11 years old when his family moved to Mississippi, and 44 when he relocated to Alabama, after serving in the Confederate Army.

In Birmingham, he became a member of the city’s first board of education, somewhat surprisingly for his time advocating equal opportunities for black children. Simultaneously, he was president of Temple Emanu-El, still a leading Reform congregation today.

Ullman didn’t start writing until his 70s, when he retired from a distinguished business career, probably because of the onset of deafness. His 50 essays and poems were virtually unknown until one of the poems found its way to General Douglas MacArthur.

During World War II, MacArthur hung a framed copy of “Youth” over the desk in his Manila and Tokyo offices, between portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. And when it came to the attention of Panasonic’s founder many years later, the poem became a Japanese inspiration. There are now several versions, but this is considered Ullman’s original:

Youth is not a time of life—it is a state of mind, it is a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a predominance of courage over timidity, of the appetite for adventure over love of ease.

Nobody grows old by merely living a number of years. People grow old only by deserting their ideals. Years wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul. Worry, doubt, self-distrust, fear and despair—these are the long, long years that bow the head and turn the growing spirit back to dust.

Whether they are sixteen or seventy, there is in every being’s heart the love of wonder, the sweet amazement at the stars and starlike things and thoughts, the undaunted challenge of events, the unfailing childlike appetite for what is to come next, and the joy and the game of life.

You are as young as your faith, as old as your doubt; as young as your self-confidence, as old as your fear, as young as your hope, as old as your despair. When the wires are all down and all the innermost core of your heart is covered with the snows of pessimism and the ice of cynicism, then you are grown old indeed.

But so long as your heart receives messages of beauty, cheer, courage, grandeur and power from the earth, from man and from the Infinite, so long you are young.

“Samuel Ullman and ‘Youth’: The Life, The Legacy,” written by Margaret England Armbrester, was published in 1993. A year later, the Samuel Ullman Museum, in his former home, was jointly opened by the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the Japan-America Society of Alabama; it is now a place of pilgrimage for Japanese visitors to the United States, especially businessmen who proudly carry copies of “Youth” in their wallets. Somehow, this Jewish American’s words have become an inspiration to an entire nation.

Why? The University of Alabama Press, publisher of Armbrester’s book, opines that “The message of ‘Youth’—its optimism and its challenge—reflects the substance of Ullman’s life. Spanning the experience of Jewish immigrant, vanquished soldier, and progressive community activist…one man’s vision continues to affect people decades after his death.”

I imagine the “vanquished soldier” aspect may still resonate with the Japanese.…

Next week, I’ll tell you about the conference that took me to Birmingham to “meet” Samuel Ullman.

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Chanukah’s most cherished symbol

Chanukah’s most cherished symbol

Posted on 14 November 2013 by admin

Photo: Rachel Gross Weinstein | These two wedding menorahs, made of stainless steel and found objects, are part of George Tobolowsky’s “Elements of Hanukkah” exhibit on display at the Museum of Biblical Art through Jan. 12, 2014.

Photo: Rachel Gross Weinstein | These two wedding menorahs, made of stainless steel and found objects, are part of George Tobolowsky’s “Elements of Hanukkah” exhibit on display at the Museum of Biblical Art through Jan. 12, 2014.

‘Elements of Hanukkah’

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

Sculptor George Tobolowsky uses found objects to produce his works of art. He recently created menorahs and sculptures highlighting the meaning of Chanukah, which are now on display at the Museum of Biblical Art.

The exhibit, called “The Elements of Hanukkah” opened on Nov. 6 and will run through Jan. 12, 2014. It features various menorahs made with items like U-bolts and wrenches, and tells the story of Chanukah through sculptures called “The Maccabean Warrior,” “The Destruction” and “Fighting Fire.”

Tobolowsky wants members of both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities to learn more about Chanukah, its history and how it can be highlighted in different ways.

“I want everyone to get an appreciation for found-object art, and learn a little bit more about Chanukah, menorahs and Jewish history,” Tobolowsky said. “The Chanukah menorah is unique in that it’s only used one time a year, and 90 percent of all Jewish homes have one. After studying about menorahs and reading about the history, I came up with my own interpretations of them.”

Those interpretations are what make the exhibit unique. One of the menorahs is made from recycled torches, while another called “The War Menorah” uses stainless steel and bombshell casings. Tobolowsky also makes his own stands, which many of the menorahs are set on.

The artist has produced more than 350 sculptures in the last 10 years and created his first piece of Jewish ceremonial art last year — a menorah owned by the Museum of Biblical Art. It takes Tobolowsky anywhere from a week to 10 days to make smaller pieces, and up to one month for larger ones. He often works on multiple projects at a time.

His sculptures are featured throughout Dallas, at the University of Texas and Texas A&M, and in San Antonio, Chicago, New York and other cities. He is currently working on sculptures for a memorial in West, Texas, the site of a devastating fertilizer plant explosion earlier this year that killed 15 people; that tragedy also inspired the “Fighting Fire” sculpture featured in the Chanukah exhibit.

All of the pieces in the show were completed during the past year, Tobolowsky said. He read many books about menorahs to learn about the history, and that’s also part of what inspired his creations.

“The history is very interesting to me, and I learned about both the importance of the menorah and about the religious side of it,” he said. “Every piece [in the exhibit] has a circle in it, which represents that continuation of life. Found objects like U-bolts also lend themselves to a nice design for a menorah. When viewing the menorahs and sculptures, I like seeing the relationship from one piece to the next.”

Tobolowsky’s designs are wonderful and his ideas make them even more unique, said Museum of Biblical Art Curator Scott Peck. He believes anyone who sees this exhibit will be impacted by it.

“The Chanukah story is timeless and this is a really strong exhibit,” Peck said. “What better person to communicate the beauty of Chanukah than George Tobolowsky? It’s sophisticated and there is a lot of depth to his thinking. Each menorah and sculpture is different, and it’s a really great design. There is a lot of Jewish art around right now and we are happy to showcase something like this.”

Added Tobolowsky: “I am excited for people to see this exhibit, especially younger children who don’t know a lot about Judaism. Hopefully, the Jewish community will understand the Musuem of Biblical Art better after seeing this and will visit it more often. The whole purpose is to educate people.”

The Museum of Biblical Art is located at 7500 Park Lane in Dallas. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays; 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday; and closed on Monday.

Regular admission is $12 and $10 for seniors and students. For more information, call 214-368-4622 or visit For more information on Tobolowsky and his other work, visit

History of the menorah

By Binyamin Kagedan/

From the Chabad House to the White House, there are few more ubiquitous symbols of Jewish presence than the menorah.

From its first mention in the book of Exodus, the menorah has pervaded the literary and visual culture of the Jewish people, predating the Star of David as a uniquely Jewish insignia by at least a millennium. In fact, one rabbinic tradition suggests that the emblem on David’s shield was not a star at all, but a menorah! While the star is the centerpiece of Israel’s flag, the menorah was chosen as the nation’s coat of arms, and large, ornate menorahs grace both the Knesset and Ben Gurion Airport. Countless Jewish organizations, schools and synagogues weave the menorah image into their logos, and many have taken the word as their names. What is the story of this potent symbol, and why has it captured the hearts and imaginations of the Jewish people for so long?

Most people, including U.S. presidents, come across the menorah primarily on Chanukah. The technical name for the eight-branched candelabras lit each night of Chanukah is chanukiyah, a modern-Hebrew word. The word menorah is used colloquially for these ritual objects, but technically refers only to the seven-branched golden oil lamp meticulously described in God’s instructions to Moses regarding the building of the Tabernacle.

A replica of the Jewish Temple’s menorah, made by The Temple Institute in Israel. | Photo: The Temple Institute, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem via Wikimedia Commons

A replica of the Jewish Temple’s menorah, made by The Temple Institute in Israel. | Photo: The Temple Institute, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem via Wikimedia Commons

References to the menorah appear throughout the Bible, though is it not clear that it always looked the same, or that there was always just one in the temple; I Kings tells that Solomon had 10 golden menorahs made for his temple. Nevertheless, there is ample indication that a menorah existed in one form or another throughout the First and Second Temple periods. The iconic image found on the Arch of Titus in Rome, depicting the menorah and other temple objects being carried away as the spoils of Roman victory over Judea, confirms that a seven-branched menorah was a part of Temple worship up until the end. Yet the whereabouts of the final menorah of the Second Temple remain a great mystery.

In his beautifully written work, “The Tree of Light: A Study of the Menorah,” L. Yarden suggests that the concept and form of the menorah are likely to have derived from the ancient mythological idea of the Tree of Life, found in different forms throughout the cultures of the ancient Middle East. Images of sacred seven-branched trees guarded by cherubic figures can be found on Persian pottery dating back to 2300 B.C., well before the centralization of Temple worship in ancient Israel. The almond tree, which is native to Israel and has special significance in Jewish lore and ritual, may have been the original inspiration for the menorah’s upward sloping design. It is quite possible that the menorah represents a blending of the Tree of Life idea with another important Israelite symbol of the divine presence, the luminous, ever-burning bush encountered by Moses. Indeed, the tradition surrounding the menorah tells that it was tended to day and night by the Temple priests so as to stay continuously lit, the original “Eternal Light” found in today’s sanctuaries.

Whereas, Yarden explains, the Star of David is never mentioned in canonical Jewish texts, nor does it appear on Jewish monuments before the Middle Ages, the menorah image can be found wherever Jews lived since the fall of the Second Temple, all across Europe and Asia. Synagogues built between 200 and 700 CE in Israel and beyond commonly sport menorahs carved into stone reliefs and laid into floor mosaics. Menorahs also adorn large numbers of Jewish gravestones from the throughout the post-Temple period, both within Israel and at various locations around the ancient Roman Empire: Sicily, Sardinia, Malta and Milan, as well places in Spain, Portugal, France and Greece. Yarden’s book offers dozens of examples of the centrality of the menorah in Jewish art and architecture past and present, including vivid photographs of original ancient pieces.

Jewish thinkers through the centuries have been drawn to the power and beauty of the menorah image and its effortless fusion of the natural with the man-made, of form with light. To Zechariah it was a beacon of the future redemption of Israel; to Josephus it represented the seven known planets that illuminate the cosmos; for Philo it manifested the light of divine wisdom; in the Zohar, it holds the primordial light of the ein sof, from which all being emanates; for Herzl, a metaphor for the possibility of Jewish national renaissance. Today, the menorah continues to capture the imaginations of rabbis and laypeople, artists and thinkers, religious and secular, an enduring symbol of eternal hope.

Binyamin Kagedan has an M.A. in Jewish Thought from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 14 November 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

12-year-old piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick to perform at JCC Nov. 24

Attendees will be in for a treat when Ethan Bortnick, the 12-year-old piano prodigy, will perform at 4:30 p.m., Sunday, Nov. 24 at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center (The J) Zale Auditorium, 7900 Northaven Road. He will perform everything from Beethoven to Bieber.

Piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick will perform at the JCC Nov. 24.

Piano prodigy Ethan Bortnick will perform at the JCC Nov. 24.

Bortnick has moved audiences nationally and internationally as a pianist, composer, singer, entertainer and a driven humanitarian, dedicated to combining his musical pursuits with his charity work. At age 3, the Hollywood, Florida native begged his parents for piano lessons and discovered an uncanny ability to hear a song once and play it back note for note, the musical equivalent of a photographic memory. Ethan has toured the world, connecting with diverse audiences in countries such as South Africa, Brazil and Australia. In 2011, he made history as the youngest entertainer to headline a show in Las Vegas with his residency at the Las Vegas Hilton Theater, a venue revered for putting on iconic shows by legends such as Elvis Presley, Tony Bennett, Barry Manilow and Barbra Streisand. Ethan was recently certified a Guinness World Records titleholder as “The Worlds Youngest Solo Musician to Headline his Own Tour.”  He has also earned the distinction of being named the youngest musician to be endorsed by a premier instrument manufacturer through his Gibson Guitar/Baldwin Piano sponsorship.
When Ethan was 5, his younger brother had three heart surgeries and that powerful time inspired him to use his musical talents to benefit charity. He has supported such charities as Miami Children’s Hospital, the Boys & Girls Club, Starkey Hearing Foundation, ONEXONE and Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, among others. Through his appearances at benefits and galas, he’s helped raise more than $30 million for nonprofits around the world. He hopes to add more zeros to that impressive sum. At these charity events, he’s shared the stage with legends like Elton John, Josh Groban, Andrea Bocelli, Beyoncé, Reba McEntire, among many others. Recently, he joined some of music’s biggest names including Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Black Eyed Peas, Justin Bieber and Tony Bennett as the youngest of the all-star lineup that recorded “We Are The World 25 For Haiti.” His deep musical knowledge, broad tastes and staggering talents make his performances a treat for the whole family. Onstage, Ethan performs relaxing jazz, dazzling classical music, raise-the-roof rock n’ roll and his own memorable originals. He knows hundreds of songs that he can instantly call up to memory. Just by looking out at the crowd and gauging their reactions to songs, Ethan can tailor a pleasing and enjoyable in-the-moment performance. Sets can go from Beethoven, to the Beatles, to Bieber.

The piano whiz does not come from a musical family. He began at the age of 3 picking out melodies with one finger on an eight-note children’s keyboard. Around this time, he pleaded to study on a real piano with formal lessons. He soaked up the music of diverse artists and composers like Mozart, jazz pianist Bill Evans, Little Richard and Elton John, and began writing originals at 5 years old.

Ethan has been featured on many national late night and morning television shows, including multiple appearances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Good Morning America” and “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” where he was named one of Oprah’s “All Time Smartest, Most Talented Kids.” In 2010, Ethan made history as the youngest musician to create and host his own award-winning, nationally televised concert special on PBS. Also in 2010, Bortnick released his debut CD & DVD, “Ethan Bortnick & His Musical Time Machine”  (Razor & Tie), a diverse collection of imaginatively interpreted covers of well-known pop songs and impressive original compositions.

Tickets for the one-time show range from $10-50 and can be purchased at or by calling (214) 739-2737.

Coats-for-Kids project update

In 2000, the Coats-for-Kids project was founded by Brad Wohlander, who was Temple-Emanu-El’s Brotherhood president at the time.  The annual program has grown remarkably with more items collected each year. This year more than 1,000 items were donated.  The Brotherhood collects gently-used coats, jackets, hats, gloves, scarves and blankets for both children and adults.

Marilyn Guzick and Alan Harris delivered eight very large bags of clothes on behalf of the Temple Emanu-El Coats-for-Kids project. | Photo: Courtesy of Alan Harris

Marilyn Guzick and Alan Harris delivered eight very large bags of clothes on behalf of the Temple Emanu-El Coats-for-Kids project. | Photo: Courtesy of Alan Harris

Recipients of the items are the police department’s East Dallas storefront and Vickery Meadow Neighborhood Alliance Food Pantry & Clothes Closet who distribute the warm clothing to needy children and adults. The service project has become a collaborative effort with the hard work and efforts of their donors—members and friends of Temple Emanu-El as well as the religious school children; Boy Scout Troop 729; Congregation Beth Torah; First Unitarian Church of Dallas; The Legacy Willow Bend knitting and crocheting club; and Preston Hollow Presbyterian School. Additionally, Tot Shabbat and Sababa families of Temple Emanu-El created special gift bags for knitted items. Special recognition and thanks to Mannie Herskowitz of Lone Star Cleaners and Laundry, who picked up the clothes from Temple Emanu-El, professionally cleaned them and delivered them to the recipient agencies.

Andrew Kasten performs in ICT’s ‘Our Town’

Andrew Kasten wraps up his role in “Our Town”  Nov. 14.

Andrew Kasten wraps up his role in “Our Town” Nov. 14.

Good wishes to Andrew Kasten who has been performing in the Irving Community Theatre’s production of Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize winning play “Our Town.” This is the 75th anniversary of the play, which runs through Nov. 16, with shows Thursday through Saturday, and a Sunday matinee. Kasten, a native of Dallas, is the husband of Reyna, father of Eli and the son of Deanna and Jerry Kasten. He is a graduate of the University of Texas Austin and Case Western Reserve School of Law. Andrew has appeared in numerous plays in local theaters, including Theater Three, Watertower Theatre, Richardson Theatre Center and the Plano Theatre Center.

Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association raffle underway

It is time once again for the DHFLA raffle. This year’s raffle includes some fabulous prizes such as a $100 gift certificate to Al Biernat’s Restaurant (; a $100 gift certificate to Café Pacific (; five mid orchestra tickets plus a valet parking pass for the Feb. 27 production of “The Little Mermaid” at the Music Hall at Fair Park; two $250 gift certificates (1 per winning name) at Skibell Fine Jewelry (; an assortment of Starbucks selection of coffee and teas, plus seven dozen handmade Mandel bread; and a Wilson Tennis racket, bag and three packages of tennis balls (a $75 value).

The raffle is a wonderful opportunity to support the organization by purchasing one ticket for $36, or three tickets for $100. The raffle prize drawings will be held Tuesday, Nov. 26. For additional information regarding ticket purchase, please contact Deborah Dana, at the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan office at 214-696-8008.

Temple Shalom’s community art auction, “Art, Wine and All That Jazz,” was a great success Oct. 26 thanks to the event’s organizers. Shown from left are, Brenda Butnick, Gail Davidson, event Co- Chairs Anita Warner and Ali Rhodes  and Sisterhood Co-President Keo Strull. | Photo: Scott Butnick

Temple Shalom’s community art auction, “Art, Wine and All That Jazz,” was a great success Oct. 26 thanks to the event’s organizers. Shown from left are, Brenda Butnick, Gail Davidson, event Co- Chairs Anita Warner and Ali Rhodes and Sisterhood Co-President Keo Strull. | Photo: Scott Butnick

Temple Shalom Jazz and Art evening huge success

More than 300 people enjoyed an evening filled with art, wine and all that jazz Saturday, Oct. 26. The Eddie Tann Jazz Band entertained guests as they mingled, enjoying hors d’oeuvres and desserts from 17 local restaurants while viewing a diverse collection of art. Local artist Mitch Goldminz had a beautiful display of contemporary art for sale.  Auctioneer Perry Burns enriched the evening with his knowledge and expertise of fine art while orchestrating the live auction. The Temple Shalom Sisterhood organized the evening, which was and co-chaired Anita Warner and Ali Rhodes.

News and Notes

Special thanks to one of my “regular” readers, Jane Rutland Ray, for her lovely note of congratulations and encouragement. Jane has been a loyal reader and subscriber for years and knows a great deal about Dallas history. It is always a pleasure to receive a written note—and once again, many thanks, Jane.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 14 November 2013 by admin

Past Person of the Year honorees along with Shirley Givant congratulate Dr. Carole Rogers, center. Back Row from left, Sherwin Rubin, Shirley Givant, Jeff Kaitcer, Dr. Michael Ross, Dr. Al Faigin, Harry Kahn and Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger; front row, from left: Leslie Kaitcer, Earl Givant, Alex Nason, Dr. Carole Rogers, Laurie Werner and Lon Werner. | Photos: Sharon Wisch-Ray

Past Person of the Year honorees along with Shirley Givant congratulate Dr. Carole Rogers, center. Back Row from left, Sherwin Rubin, Shirley Givant, Jeff Kaitcer, Dr. Michael Ross, Dr. Al Faigin, Harry Kahn and Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger; front row, from left: Leslie Kaitcer, Earl Givant, Alex Nason, Dr. Carole Rogers, Laurie Werner and Lon Werner. | Photos: Sharon Wisch-Ray

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

We have always covered the Isadore Garsek Lodge B’nai B’rith Lodge #256 Person of the Year Award dinner. However, it’s been quite some time since I attended the event personally. I was looking forward to seeing old friends, not to mention sampling the Riscky’s Barbecue. As I drove over, I contemplated how amazing it is that the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish community can keep this amazing secret….revealing the Person of the Year in a “This is Your Life” fashion, and not leaking the winner beforehand. Let’s face it, we are not the best secret keepers.

Honoree Dr. Carole Rogers and last year’s honoree, Alex Nason, left and master of ceremonies Jeff Kaitcer

Honoree Dr. Carole Rogers and last year’s honoree, Alex Nason, left and master of ceremonies Jeff Kaitcer

The excitement was building for me, as I approached Beth-El Congregation. I knew I’d made the right decision to attend the dinner when I saw my good friend Carole Rogers saunter in behind me. She seemed genuinely excited to see me too, and in typical Carole fashion, she made sure I had a place to sit, up front.

The evening was underway. Master of ceremonies Jeff Kaitcer, a former Person of the Year honoree himself, kept the night moving. Garsek Lodge President Harry Kahn (another former honoree) led the full house in a moment of silence for those members of the community who had died in the last year. The Pledge of Allegiance was then recited. Congregation Ahavath Sholom Rabbi Andrew Bloom gave the invocation and HaMotzi and Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger (yet another past honoree) of Beth-El Congregation delivered the benediction.

Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg shared the impact B’nai B’rith has had on his life and some thoughts for the future of the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish Community.

Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg shared the impact B’nai B’rith has had on his life and some thoughts for the future of the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish Community.

New Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg shared some thoughts about the importance of maintaining a thriving Jewish community in Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Goldberg, who hails from Omaha, Neb., shared how B’nai B’rith helped shape his Jewish life and identity. He explained that many a Jewish community dinner was planned in his living room growing up, as his dad was co-chair of the B’nai B’rith community event in Omaha. It was by his dad’s example that he learned what it means to be a member of the Jewish community. “Giving back and working to better the community is just what we do,” he said. “He was and is my model. Those B’nai B’rith banquets that I attended in my young eyes were the greatest show of strength for the Jewish people in Omaha Nebraska.”

Goldberg also shared his views about the importance of the Federation in the Jewish community and summed it up simply that on numerous levels, “Federation helps our people.” Goldberg concluded, “We are the handlers of a 5,000-year-old tradition, it is our responsibility to write the next chapter.”

Greeting guests are, from left, Elaine Stanton, Jim Stanton and Louise Vermillion

Greeting guests are, from left, Elaine Stanton, Jim Stanton and Louise Vermillion

In the next portion of the program, Robert Chicotsky announced the three academic scholarship award winners: Josh Cristol, son of Rebecca and Louis Cristol of Fort Worth; Sarah Rothschild, daughter of Michele and Jeff Rothschild of Arlington and Cooper Simon, son of Sherry and Neil Simon of Keller. Josh is attending the University of Texas where he is studying engineering. Sarah Rothschild is studying broadcast journalism at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater. Cooper is studying technical theatre with a concentration in lighting design at the University of Oklahoma in Norman. Each recipient was awarded $500.

The big moment arrived and Alex Nason, last year’s winner, began the narrative revealing this year’s winner. Early on it was clear that this year’s Person of the Year is Jewish Family Services’ Dr. Carole Rogers. Carole moved to Fort Worth in 1999, not long after completing her doctorate in psychology at Baylor and a stint with the Texas Youth Commission. A native of New Jersey, Carole quickly adapted to Texas and made Fort Worth her home. I was privileged to meet Carole before her move to Fort Worth in a women’s basketball league at the Dallas JCC. A better teammate, a person couldn’t ask for. I was fortunate to experience Carole’s kindness firsthand when she reached out to my mother, Rene, after my father, Jimmy, died in 2002. Mom came to love Carole as another daughter, which I imagine is a sentiment shared by many in Fort Worth. They were so close.

Over the years, Carole and her able team have raised the level of services and programming at JFS to new heights. She is generous to a fault at times with her time and resources.

Perhaps the most moving part of the evening was when Mary Frances Antweil read a letter from Carole’s mom, Anita Dellal.

“You are a person of integrity, you are a person whom I respect, and a person on whom I can rely, I’m sure that those in your community feel the same way about you,” wrote Dellal.

But, it was Carole’s own words that resonated so deeply with me.

“I never expected to be able to do the work that I loved to do and be part of a community that I love at the same time. This community is so caring and so warm and has been very, very accepting of me. You’ve allowed me to do good work, quality work and be the person I am and maintain integrity and that doesn’t happen very often in very many places. So I thank all of you,” said Carole.

It seems apropos that this week’s d’var Torah (find it on p. 16), written so beautifully by Rabbi Dan Lewin is about how the way a person deals with success lends insight into their nature. He opens his column with, “One’s true character is perhaps more evident after success, when she or he emerges on top,” and concludes with the idea that the true measure of a person is evident when their success leads them to be more humble. That modesty, Lewin writes, brings a person closer to God.

“You don’t receive an award like this without standing on the shoulders of many, many people,” said Carole.

If you know her, then you know that despite her many good deeds carried out on a daily basis, Carole probably didn’t even make her own list of candidates for this year’s Person of the Year. I cannot think of a more deserving person, and I am so thankful that I was there to see it in person.

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Compassion should be our nature—not a rule

Compassion should be our nature—not a rule

Posted on 14 November 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I was very touched by a picture posted on AOL this week, showing a hooded African-American man who had fallen asleep on the shoulder of a yarmulke-clad Jewish man on a New York subway. The picture went viral, as many saw it as a restoration of real humanity in a place we least expect to see it. And it was one of the rare instances when something nice actually makes it to the news! Was this religious Jew’s action (or inaction, by letting the man sleep on his shoulder and not moving), based on a teaching of Judaism, and if so, which sources?

— Melissa L.

Dear Melissa,

friedforweb2Thanks for the tip! I looked up the picture and accompanying comments, and I, too, am very moved by that scene and what it represents. That Jewish man said just the right thing when asked what motivated him to allow the other man to continue sleeping. It had nothing to do with race or any rationale; it was simply a case of another human being who was tired, and he had a shoulder to provide. This observant Jew has so internalized the teachings of Judaism, and gets the “big picture” that our heritage represents. He did not need to give any thought whether or not to help another human being.… It was obvious!

Many of the mitzvot of the Torah only apply from Jew to fellow Jew, such as the mitzvah to love your neighbor as yourself. The Hebrew word rey’echa, which is often translated as “thy neighbor,” connotes a feeling that someone is beloved by you, and technically applies only to fellow Jews who are family. This mitzvah, however, together with the other mitzvot of the Torah, is intended to go far beyond its technical nature.

The fulfillment of the mitzvot, together with service of God, is meant to refine one’s character and mold an individual with sterling traits which will be exercised across the board, in dealing with Jews and gentiles alike. The sum total of Torah teachings instructs us to identify the “image of God” that is inherent in all people, treat them with the utmost respect and integrity, and reach out to them with a helping hand. This is implicit in “Kiddush HaShem,” the far-reaching mitzvah of sanctifying the name of God in all we do, which forms the underpinnings of the mitzvah system. It is further implied in our mission as an “Ohr L’amim,” a “light unto the nations”; the way we act toward others should be the paradigm modeled by all those around us.

If you ever see an “observant” Jew who deals with others in a dishonest or less than respectful way (sadly, there are examples of this), it is not a flaw in the system itself. His or her actions, rather, reveal that that individual only performed mitzvot by rote or as a societal nicety, but never internalized their message. By not seeing the big picture, they missed the boat.

Rabbi Nissan Alpert, a venerated student of Rabbi Moshe Feinstein, was once walking in Manhattan with a student of his own, when he came across a very heavy, drunken man who had collapsed into a sewer ditch and remained sleeping there. Rabbi Alpert went to great efforts to help the man stand up and move to a clean area of the sidewalk where he could rest instead. After this, the student asked the rabbi why he would put so much effort into the respect of a person who obviously had lost all respect for himself. The rabbi, surprised at the question, exclaimed, “He’s also a tzelem Elokim!” (created in the image of God).

Those who watched the observant man on the subway were quoted as saying that when his seatmate fell asleep on his shoulder, he didn’t even flinch for a moment. May we all internalize our Judaism to the extent that to be a mensch is so completely natural, we wear it on our sleeves. Or our shoulders!

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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We teach our children, but can they teach us?

We teach our children, but can they teach us?

Posted on 14 November 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2It is an honor to have people come up to me and say that they read my article and really liked it, or maybe even learned something from it. I am surprised that these comments come from people of all ages, not just families with children. But that brings up the question, “Who is my audience?”

This may sound surprising, but as someone who is devoted to teaching children, my strongest belief is that the best way to do it is to first teach adults. In fact, the sages once argued about what to do if you had only enough money to teach the father or the son, but not both. Who should get priority? The decision was a “no brainer” to those sages: The father must receive the learning, and he will teach his children!

Each day I sit with preschoolers, teaching values, telling stories and creating memories. The little ones listen, and so do the teachers, who often come back to me with questions and reflections. My hope is that all ages can learn and pass on the wisdom they have gained — in all directions and to all people. As Ben Zoma says, “Who is wise? He who learns from all people.”

We can teach our children about the “how tos” of Judaism. But we can also learn from children, especially about faith and belief. Children have no trouble talking about God or believing the stories; we, the adults, are the ones who often struggle with belief.

This week I leave you with the challenge to continue learning, questioning — and even struggling — with faith. Here is a quote from contributor Art Green: “The question is not: ‘Do you believe that God created the world, and when?’ but rather ‘Do you encounter a divine presence in the natural world around you’ and ‘What does that encounter call you to do?’”

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.

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

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‘You be the judge,’ in circumcision dispute

‘You be the judge,’ in circumcision dispute

Posted on 07 November 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebDo you read the Reader’s Digest? People who like “real” books tend to pooh-pooh the Digest’s line of “condensed” ones; even its name makes you think of a quick meal, doesn’t it?

But sometimes the Digest pushes a hard-to-resist button, as it did with a “You Be the Judge” article on circumcision. Imagine: a topic that is seriously controversial in our Jewish communities today, making the cut (no pun intended!) for Digest inclusion.

Consider for a moment: On the Orthodox side, there’s the Torah and Law of Moses. For less observant modernists, who are vocal on anti-cruelty, eschewing meat no matter how humanely slaughtered, and backing PETA’s call for ethical treatment of all creatures, there’s the question of infant pain. (There’s also the question of sexual sensation, but let’s not go there now, OK?)

So here’s the real story, with a real dilemma. Lia Boldt, a divorced mother in Oregon, learned one day from her 9-year-old son that his father — who had custody of him — was taking him to be circumcised the very next day.

Lia was aware that her former husband, James Boldt, was a new Jew-by-choice. And she knew that her son, who had been raised in the Russian Orthodox Church, was now getting his religious education in a synagogue. She was even accepting of the fact that the boy might someday convert to Judaism and then be circumcised. But what she didn’t know, until he casually dropped his bombshell, was that the boy didn’t want the bris — and was afraid to tell his dad.

So early the next morning, she filed for a temporary restraining order on the procedure. When she had that in hand, she filed another motion, one that would keep him from being circumcised at all. And finally, she filed again, this time to have the son’s custody switched from father to mother — to her.

There’s bad blood in so many unhappy divorce cases. Lia had lost custody in the first place because the court ruled that her hostile attitude would turn the boy, then 7 years old, against his father. Now, two years later, James Boldt responded with his own affidavit that not only did his son want to be circumcised, but that stopping the procedure would violate his fatherly religious rights. Lia lost in the first court, but she persisted, claiming that circumcision could have “grave and drastic consequences,” both physically and emotionally. Up, up and away went her appeal, until it finally reached the Oregon Supreme Court.

The father’s position was supported by the American Jewish Congress, the Anti-Defamation League and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, all of whom reminded the court that custodial parents are the ones who make both religious and medical decisions for their children. But the mother was backed by Doctors Opposing Circumcision; John Geisheker, the group’s executive director, noted, “The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that parents can’t use their belief system to endanger or cause pain to a child.”

Now, BEFORE you read the verdict in the next paragraph, decide how you would rule in the case (as the Digest challenged its readers).

What actually happened was that deliberations went on and on for five long years, during which time both parents were making claims, but nobody was talking to their son. Finally, someone asked the boy for his feelings on the matter. And he, by then 14 years old, said 1) he didn’t want to be circumcised; 2) he didn’t even want to convert; and 3) he was afraid to tell any of this to his father.

So what happened afterward? The Boldts finally agreed to agree: 1) on joint custody, and 2) to accept their son’s decisions on religion and its requirements.

Did James cave in? Did Lia gloat? Who knows? But was their son really the winner?

Why not take up the provocative challenge of the Reader’s Digest? “You be the judge.”

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Look to the Torah for the best life lessons

Look to the Torah for the best life lessons

Posted on 07 November 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2I grew up, like many of you reading this, with Disney movies and “Father Knows Best.” We were led to believe that what we saw on screen was the perfect life. It wasn’t my life, but it was something to hope for. It seemed possible that people could live “happily ever after,” because we saw those ideal outcomes on TV.

But our modern sitcoms and movies are entirely different. Who could possibly want to live the life we see in some of these reality shows and scary movies? We have gone from one extreme to the other.

The purpose of stories is to teach us life lessons, and for hundreds of years our stories came from the Torah. To which side does the Torah go in presenting those real-life stories? To the perfect “happily ever after” or to the horribly dysfunctional?

To find out, the assignment is simple: Read the book! Reading Torah for the story value is wonderful. Once you get past worrying that you won’t understand all the details or even all the words, you can really get into the stories (which are not so different from the life problems we all face today).

Read the stories listed below, and think about our Torah heroes. They were all far from perfect, and yet they were heroic. Can you learn from imperfection? Can the heroes be role models in spite of their mistakes? Have we changed so much from biblical times?

  • Start with God: Why did He put that tree in the Garden? Was He a good role model as a parent for Adam and Eve? Why did He like Abel’s gift better than Cain’s?
  • Noah (Genesis 9:18-29): This is a great story for children, because they love the animals and the ark. But think about what happened later, after the flood. What caused the family breakdown?
  • Abraham: Where do we begin? He made lots of mistakes. How did he handle Sarah and Hagar (Genesis 16:1-6)? And later, the ultimate test, the Akedah (Genesis 22:1-18). Did Abraham pass or fail?
  • Sodom and Gomorrah, and Lot and his daughters: Talk about dysfunctional!
  • Sibling rivalry and favoritism: Rebecca and Isaac; Jacob and his wives; and Jacob’s favorite son, Joseph. The list goes on and on.

All of that, and we aren’t even out of the Book of Genesis. So what can we learn? Many students in my classes say to me, “Tell us the answer.” And my answer here is the same, “What does the story tell you about how to live your life? What does it tell you today, at this point in time, and what will you learn when you read it again?”

Enjoy your reading. The Torah is an amazing book!

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.

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

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