Archive | December, 2013

Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin


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By Sharon Wisch-Ray

You may have noticed that there are a lot of pictures in this week’s TJP. I wanted to catch up this item from the Federation’s Open House on Sunday, Nov. 3. There was music by Dr. DJ Dreidel and a nice reception. The Federation staff was on hand to welcome community members and answer questions about the Federation.

I love to publish your photos. Organization events, family gatherings, recitals, sports performances, trips — they are all opportunities to share your news in the TJP. Happy New Year from everyone at the TJP.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 26 December 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Temple Shalom Brotherhood to host softball league’s 39th annual award breakfast Jan. 5

Temple Shalom’s Brotherhood and the Brotherhood Softball League invite the community to attend its 39th Annual Softball League Awards Breakfast, which will be held at 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 5 in the Radnitz Social Hall at Temple Shalom located at 6930 Alpha Road in Dallas.

Softball Commissioner Wayne Casper will present all spring and fall league awards to championship teams, division winners, division MVPs, Rookies of the Year, “Mr. Shalom Softball,” Fan of the Year, as well as other awards and possible Hall of Fame inductees.

Bob Weinfeld shared that Eric Nadel, voice of the Texas Rangers, will be the guest speaker. Earlier this month, Nadel was selected as the 2014 recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award, which is presented by the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y. annually for excellence in broadcasting.

“I’m so excited and tremendously flattered by this honor,” Nadel said. “As a kid from Brooklyn who was a radio junkie, I grew up idolizing six of the past winners of the Frick Award. It is mind-boggling for me to be a part of the list of winners. To arrive at this level of recognition, I’m very, very proud.”

Nadel will be recognized during the Hall of Fame awards presentation Saturday, July 26, as part of Hall of Fame Weekend 2014 in Cooperstown. Nadel has achieved the honor since he is the first Rangers radio broadcaster recipient of the Frick Award. He earned the highest point total in a vote conducted by the Hall of Fame’s 20-member Frick Award committee, after making it to the finalist list without winning for three straight years.

The Ford C. Frick Award is voted upon annually and is named in memory of the sportswriter, radio broadcaster, National League president and Baseball commissioner.

Nadel, who was born May 15, 1951, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y. as a Dodgers fan and graduated from Brown University in 1972 with a sports broadcasting career in his sights. After calling pro hockey and basketball games for most of the 1970s, Nadel was hired by the Rangers in 1979. He teamed with Mark Holtz on Rangers radio from 1982 to 1994, then took over as the team’s lead radio voice in 1995. He called Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th career strikeout on Aug. 22, 1989, and has been the narrator for the Rangers’ six playoff berths and two American League pennants since 1996.

Nadel learned Spanish upon the arrival of many Latin American stars on the Rangers in the 1980s, and has called games in Spanish in Latin American countries during the MLB offseason. Nadel’s signature home run call, “that ball is history,” has become a part of the Rangers’ lexicon.

Nadel was chosen from a list of 10 finalists selected in October, featuring three fan selections from an online vote and seven broadcasters chosen by a research committee from the museum. The final ballot featured broadcasters whose main contributions came from the mid-1980s to the present, identified as the High Tide Era following the restructuring of the Frick Award election process by the Hall of Fame’s board of directors this summer.

The 10 finalists were: Joe Castiglione, Jacques Doucet, Ken Harrelson, Bill King, Duane Kuiper, Eric Nadel, Eduardo Ortega, Mike Shannon, Dewayne Staats and Pete Van Wieren.

In September, a total of 20,968 votes were cast in the museum’s online fan poll for inclusion on the final 10-name ballot, with Doucet, King and Kuiper as the top three fan poll selections.

The 20-member electorate, comprised of the 16 living Frick Award recipients and four broadcast historians/columnists, includes Frick honorees Marty Brennaman, Jerry Coleman, Gene Elston, Joe Garagiola, Jaime Jarrin, Milo Hamilton, Tony Kubek, Denny Matthews, Tim McCarver, Jon Miller, Felo Ramirez, Vin Scully, Lon Simmons, Bob Uecker, Dave Van Horne and Bob Wolff. Historians/columnists on the committee are Bob Costas (NBC/MLB Network), Barry Horn of the Dallas Morning News, and historians Ted Patterson and Curt Smith.

Nadel and his wife, Jeannie, reside in Dallas with their dog, Nemo, a lab/husky mix.

The award breakfast is free for spring and fall softball players and for paid-up Brotherhood members. Other community members are invited to attend the breakfast for a $5 suggested donation, and children are free. Softball players from spring and fall seasons are urged to donate blood that morning as part of the ongoing blood drive.

For more information, contact Bob Weinfeld at 972-814-6214.

Olivia Harris and Josh Goldberg performance to benefit Jewish Family Service

A rare opportunity will present itself at 8 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 29 at the Piano Gallery, 4343 Sigma Road, Suite 100 in Dallas, when local budding talents Olivia Harris and Josh Goldberg will perform. Doors open at 7:30 p.m. and a reception will follow. Part of the evening’s proceeds will benefit JFS operations and services.

Admission costs $20 for adults  and $12 for students. To reserve your tickets, call or text 214-693-3672. Seating is limited.

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Curl up with a good book

Curl up with a good book

Posted on 19 December 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2For many of us, being stuck inside with the ice storm was horrible. But for many more, it may have been wonderful. For me, there is nothing better to do than curl up on the sofa with a good book. For parents that also means including your child in this ritual. Children are never too old to be read to or at least read with — let your child read to you (then you can even close your eyes — but don’t snore!). Now here’s the Jewish part: the wonderful thing about Jewish children’s books is that our folktales (re-told with pictures) have many layers of meaning for all ages and all moments in time. One of my favorites is “The Secret Room” by Uri Shulevitz. It is filled with beautiful pictures, few words, lots of surprises and a message that each of us should read and remember! There are numerous biblical stories re-told and midrashim beautifully illustrated. Look for books by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso: “A Prayer for the Earth — the Story of Naamah,” “Naamah, Noah’s Wife,” “Cain & Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace,” “Adam & Eve’s First Sunset: God’s New Day” and many more. The list goes on — in fact, I have a collection of more than 600 Jewish children’s books, but I’m a bit crazy! These stories are an important part of our heritage and meant to be shared. Storytelling is an art form and our children love to hear the stories of our lives, so begin with the Torah — it is the story of our people. An important reminder that every good teacher knows: read the story first before you read it to your children (don’t be surprised by a challenging ending!). Books are ways of presenting challenging subjects to children. It is comforting to know that you are not alone with a problem, and if someone has written a whole book about it — well, you couldn’t be the only one!

Here are a few suggestions:

  • “The Boy Who Stuck Out His Tongue” by Edith Tarbescu
  • “Pearl Moscowitz’s Last Stand” by Arthur A. Levine
  • “Snow in Jerusalem” by Cornelius Van Wright & Ying-Hwa Hu
  • “The Apple Tree’s Discovery” by Peninnah Schram & Rachayl Eckstein Davis
  • “Grandma Rose’s Magic” by Linda Elovitz Marshall
  • “The Blessing Cup” by Patricia Polacco (her newest — read all the others)

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady

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

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 19 December 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

ADL’s Roberta Clark receives prestigious FBI award

FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge Diego Rodriguez recently announced the selection of Roberta Clark as the Dallas division’s recipient of the 2013 FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award. SAC Rodriguez recognized Ms. Clark at the Anti-Defamation League’s Larry Schoenbrun Jurisprudence Award luncheon Monday, Dec. 2, 2013.

Roberta Clark is presented with the 2013 Director’s Community Leadership Award by FBI Dallas SAC Diego Rodriguez. | Photo: ADL

Roberta Clark is presented with the 2013 Director’s Community Leadership Award by FBI Dallas SAC Diego Rodriguez. | Photo: ADL

The Director’s Community Leadership Award was formally created in 1990 as a way to honor individuals and organizations for their efforts in combating crime, terrorism, drugs and violence in America and is selected based on nominations from each of the FBI’s 56 field offices. Recipients of this award are recognized for their service above and beyond the call of duty to help keep America and its residents safe.

Clark is the Anti-Defamation League’s community director for the North Texas/Oklahoma Region and a 2009 graduate of the Dallas FBI’s Citizens Academy. Her work has created strong liaison partnerships with community leaders, educators, interfaith leaders, law enforcement professionals and others. She further enhances these relationships by offering education and training opportunities to identify and prevent hate crimes and extremism.

SAC Rodriguez said, “Ms. Clark is devoted to educating law enforcement and the public, as well as providing guidance and assistance to community members who believe they have been the victims of discrimination or hate crimes. Her commitment, and her partnership with the FBI, makes her the Dallas recipient of the 2013 Director’s Community Leadership Award.”

Clark will attend a formal ceremony in April 2014, in Washington, D.C., where she, along with recipients from across the country, will be presented with the award by FBI Director James B. Comey.

Rabbi Michael Kushnick installed at Anshai Torah

Hundreds of congregants filled the sanctuary Friday, Nov. 1 at Congregation Anshai Torah to welcome Shabbat and participate in the installation of Rabbi Michael Kushnick. Deb Silverthorn submitted the news on behalf of Anshai Torah.

Kushnick, a native Dallasite, stated: “I came to the rabbinate at a time that is challenging, but that is not news to us.” Kushnick was raised in Florida, and aspired to become a rabbi since his early teens. Additionally he said “we’ve never before had as many opportunities, and religious freedom as we do now. It is a privilege to be here as a teacher, and friend of this community, and it’s something I take great honor in.”

“Anshai Torah has embraced the Kushnick family, and it has been my personal pleasure to welcome them to our shul, to our community and indeed, into the rabbinate,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, who singularly led Anshai Torah since its inception almost 15 years ago.

Joining Kushnick’s family and sharing in the installation of his former student, now colleague and friend, was Rabbi Daniel Nevins, Pearl Resnick dean of The Rabbinical School and dean of the Division of Religious Leadership of The Jewish Theological Seminary. Kushnick was a May graduate of the JTS. In addition to being his mentor, Nevins officiated at the 2009 marriage of the Kushnicks.

“It was an honor to teach Rabbi Kushnick and to see him go from being a kind, thoughtful person, to become such an intense lover and leader of Torah, is incredible,” said Nevins, noting that he and Kushnick began at JTS together six years ago, he as dean, Kushnick as student. “He has a humility and lack of pretension, a likeability that is genuine, and a true love for our tradition.”

Congregation Anshai Torah has grown from 150 families to more than 475 and “we are no longer the ‘little shul that could,’” said Board President Michelle Meiches, “we’re the wonderful shul that is.”

“In just four months here I’ve seen life cycles celebrated from baby namings to b’nai mitzvah, from auf-rufs to funerals, and it’s an awesome sensibility to already feel a part of our congregants’ lives,” said Kushnick, who celebrated his installation with his parents, Gwen and Dr. Richard Kushnick, as well as Talia’s mother Jill Saravay, her sister Rachel Andron, nephew Ezra Andron and uncle Josh Levin. “Talia, Nadav and I couldn’t be more appreciative of the welcome that’s been shared.”

Talia Kushnick has made her own local imprints as outreach liaison for the PEI (Policy Education Initiative) team at the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Institute for Curriculum Services: National Resource Center for Accurate Jewish Content in Schools. The role provides for her to create and support networks of Jewish parents of children in public schools, fostering a better understanding of and appreciation for Jewish contributions to Western civilization, history, culture and the world’s religions.

‘The Middle’ to host its third annual New Year’s Eve Bash

A note from Gloria Stayman, creator and founder of “The Middle,” shared that they will host the third annual New Year’s Eve Bash at the home of Stacey and Henry Clark at 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 31. There will be a DJ, dance floor, food, drinks, party favors and a promise that a “wonderful time will be had by all!”

Featured entertainment is Maco Amoyo, who has been the DJ since the inception of “The Middle.” He plays requests and the dance floor is busy throughout the night. In the past, this gathering has drawn crowds of more than 65 attendees to celebrate and enjoy the festivities.

The group is open to anyone of post-carpool through empty-nester age and of any shul affiliation can gather (mostly at host homes) to make new friends, celebrate Havdallah, schmooze and snack, at no charge (with the exception of New Year’s Eve to cover the cost of the DJ and the food). They meet monthly and have a great time with the all-inclusive/non-exclusive group of warm, welcoming friends.

There is no membership fee, so that all are able to join in the fun. Members of “The Middle” enjoy yearly Purim celebration, complete with costumes and karaoke (at Beth Torah) and a Secular New Year’s Eve party with a DJ. “We have a blast,” Stayman said.

The New Year’s Eve Bash is $20 per person and open to anyone who would like to attend, though an R.S.V.P. is required by Dec. 28. To R.S.V.P., for more information, or to be added to the email list, please call 214-364-9307, or email Gloria Stayman at

PJ Library wishes Sammy Spider a happy 20th

Children and parents are invited to celebrate Sammy Spider’s 20th birthday from 10:30-11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 22 at the Mankoff Center for Jewish Learning  at the Aaron Family JCC, at 7900 Northaven Road. Children will help Sammy celebrate his birthday with story time, snacks and fun activities. Please bring Sammy a birthday present — a new, unwrapped toddler toy or book to donate to Medical City of Dallas Children’s Hospital. Register to attend by contacting Beth Seltzer at or calling 214-239-7193.

PJ Library is a program that provides free Jewish-themed books and music CDs monthly to children from 6 months through 8 years.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 19 December 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

It was just a week ago, Dec. 12, when I received my “Daytimers” update from Barbara Rubin about the Jewish genealogy program held Dec. 11 at Beth-El. I remember thinking, space is going to be tight, I don’t want to let Barbara down. I hope we have room next week. I was so saddened, as I’m sure all of you were, to hear that Barbara had passed away Monday. I wasn’t surprised, however, that she was working until the end. My earliest memories as a small child are of her bustling around the JCC on a mission to make sure that all programs were in order. I remember admiring her when she was one of the first women at the shul to don a kippah, and I have come to depend on her for her regular installments of the Daytimers goings on. What follows is her last, but no doubt lasting contribution to the TJP and the Tarrant County Jewish community.

“‘Daytimers’ had an informative program on Jewish Genealogy, Wednesday, Dec.11, at noon at Beth-El synagogue featuring Dr. Barry Lachman, medical director, Parkland Community Health Plan, who has done extensive research on his own family from Lithuania and Ukraine.

“Weather scared many of the participants away, but the small group that attended got a lot of information.

“Next event for the ‘Daytimers’ will be a talk by Beth-El’s Israeli Shaliah, Gilad Altacevitz, ‘A Look at Contemporary Israel,’ at noon, Wednesday, Jan. 15.”

For information and reservations, call with your credit card to 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.

A memorial service for Barbara is planned for 5 p.m., this afternoon, Dec. 19.

Edythe Cohen and Rhona Raffel check in at the door with Roz Rosenthal and Jacquie Robinson at the ‘Daytimers’ program Dec. 11.

Edythe Cohen and Rhona Raffel check in at the door with Roz Rosenthal and Jacquie Robinson at the ‘Daytimers’ program Dec. 11.

CAS will screen ‘Keeping the Faith’ Dec. 25

My crew and I have a Christmas Day tradition … head to the movies. Sound familiar? Congregation Ahavath Sholom is accommodating your movie fix next Wednesday, Dec. 25.

At 3:30 p.m., CAS will show “Keeping the Faith,” the second film in its 2013/14 Showtimes Film Series.

“Keeping the Faith “ is a feel-good family film made in 2000 about two friends — a priest and a rabbi — who fall in love with the same beauty (Jenna Elfman). It is fun-loving, sweet, adorable, and really cute film to watch. Directed by Edward Norton and written by Stuart Blumberg, it stars Ben Stiller, Edward Norton, Jenna Elfman, Anne Bancroft and Eli Wallach. The film is 128 minutes.

All of CAS Showtimes Film Series films are free, as are the popcorn and cold drinks. Everyone in the community is invited.

The 2013/14 Showtime Committee has done a great job planning and screening the films.

“We hope you will enjoy the selections of our Showtimes Film Series and we look forward to seeing you at the film showings,” said Debby Rice. In addition to Debby, committee members Liz Chesser, Elizabeth Cohen, Kate Cohen, Foster Owen, Dr. Jane Pawgan, Debby Rice, Reggie Rog, Jayna Sosland, Jim Stansbury and Riki Zide have been doing yeoman’s work.

Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s 2013/14 Showtimes Film Series is funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. For more information please call the synagogue at 817-731-4721.

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Gender differences explored

Gender differences explored

Posted on 19 December 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

In a recent edition of Time magazine (Dec. 16, 2013) an article entitled “Boys Won’t be Boys” details the push in Sweden for “gender neutrality.” A number of Swedish schools are trying to stop using the word “boys” or “girls” altogether, and attempting to make all references and interactions with the children completely neutral, including toys and forms of dress. In every way possible, to attempt to erase the habits which they believe are imprinted upon boys and girls by society from the get-go which cause the differences we normally associate as masculine and feminine. The Swedes have even come up with a gender neutral term “hen” which means neither he nor she, which has become popular in their literature so not to distinguish genders in stories. They claim they are moving toward a gender-neutral society, which they hope will eventually equalize men and women in every way. This societal experiment fascinated me, and I was wondering if there’s a Jewish take on this?

— Shayna T.

Dear Shayna,

friedforweb2It is a core Jewish belief that every physical creation in this world is an external manifestation of a higher, deeper essence. The physical differences, which set apart men from women, are not accidental or incidental mere physical aberrations. They reflect profound spiritual and emotional dissimilarities between males and females, as the Talmud quips “women are like a different nation from men.” This sentiment was later captured in John Gray’s well-known volume “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.”

Our belief is that the differences described in that book, which punctuates the diverse emotional needs and thought patterns separating men and women, are not simply the result of societal conditioning. (Although, without question, society has some impact.) These are distinctions which have their roots in the very essence of the creation of man and woman. Just like they were created differently, (man from the earth, woman from the rib of man) so too their souls are distinctively unique.

The roots of these variations, according to the Kabbalists, are in the upper celestial Sefirot, where the Sefirot of Chachma and Binah are referred to as Aba and Ima, or Father and Mother. It is beyond the scope of this column to explain the meaning of those concepts, but let it suffice to state that those two Sefirot, or spiritual worlds reflecting the Will of God, are two completely different Divine entities which form the roots of femininity and masculinity down in our physical world, both of which are the manifestations of two very diverse and very beautiful reflections of the Divine Will.

To understand these differences more deeply, I refer you to an excellent work, “To Be a Jewish Woman” by my friend Dr. Lisa Aiken, a clinical psychologist and prolific author of Torah content. In Chapter 3, she points out that God found it necessary to create the first man and woman with different characteristics. The Torah underscores the importance of maintaining these differences through laws which maintain the distinction between the sexes. For example, it is prohibited for a man to wear women’s clothing, wear women’s makeup and vice versa. In general, Judaism emphasizes maintaining the differences that God created rather than diminishing them. This is because every creation has a distinct spiritual message to teach us. It cannot convey that message when its distinctiveness is undermined and obliterated.

Dr. Aiken explains how this does not imply inferiority at all to either of the genders, or that one is more powerful than the other. It does imply a different mode of expression for each gender’s unique power and influence, one more internal and the other more external.

Some opine in the article you mention that even from a secular viewpoint, the Swedes have gone too far. Certainly from the viewpoint of Judaism, this societal experiment is doomed to failure as society as a whole cannot uproot God-given differences and expect them to be integrated into civilization successfully. The only question, in my mind, is how much emotional pain it will cause along the way before they realize their failure.

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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Jerusalem of snow

Jerusalem of snow

Posted on 19 December 2013 by admin

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Just one week after a brutal ice storm paralyzed North Texas, Jerusalemites suffered a similar fate. Up to 60,000 households were without power at the apex of the storm. in the wake of what is being called Israel’s worst snowstorm in decades.

Electricity was restored in Israel by Tuesday, though isolated customers in Jerusalem still had no power.

The Israel Electric Corp., on its website Tuesday afternoon, urged the customers without power to contact the company’s service center.

At least four people died as a result of the storm, according to reports.

Mark and Carol Kreditor of Dallas were traveling in Israel during the storm.

“Carol and I are visiting our nephew at rabbinical school in Jerusalem,” Mark Kreditor said. “We left Dallas in the ice storm to arrive to a Jerusalem snow storm. The staff at our Federation in Dallas have been wonderful making sure we are safe.”

On Sunday, Israel began transferring fuel to Gaza to run the strip’s sole power plant, committing to send more fuel on Monday and Tuesday. Two days earlier, Israel allowed fuel transfers into Gaza to provide gas for home heating.

Members of the Israeli Defense Forces assisted in clearing roads in the Palestinian Authority areas of the West Bank.

The Jerusalem Light Rail resumed service for the first time since last week early Tuesday morning, and public bus transportation began running regularly in and out of the city.

Some schools in Jerusalem re-opened an hour late on Tuesday morning. Schools remained closed in the northern city of Safed and in areas of the West Bank.  Hebrew University in Jerusalem remained closed due to traffic issues, however.

The main road to the Etzion bloc south of Jerusalem remained closed Tuesday due to large snow drifts and dangerous ice patches.

“We were as prepared as a country should be for an event like this,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a Saturday evening news conference amid calls for an investigation into responses to the emergency.

Reports estimate that repairing storm damage will cost Israel more than $34 million.

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Celebrating faith in place of protest

Celebrating faith in place of protest

Posted on 19 December 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebWhen neo-Nazis marched in Skokie, Ill., back in 1977, there was counter-protest. When notorious Westboro Baptist Church came to Dallas in 2010, there was counter-protest. But earlier this year, Rabbi David Glickman championed a different way to counter a protest.

The date was Nov. 9, marking the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Germany’s “night of broken glass” that resonates for many as the tangible start of the Holocaust. The protest place this year was Kansas City, Mo. And that is where Rabbi Glickman made his stand: instead of taking to the street, go to shul.

Last year, Glickman left Dallas after more than a decade as a Shearith Israel associate rabbi to become spiritual leader of a large, prominent home to Conservative Judaism in Kansas City. Nov. 9 this year, Kristallnacht’s 75th commemoration, fell on a Saturday, which prompted an advance message to his congregants the day before:

“Tomorrow afternoon, there will be a neo-Nazi group rallying in our city. Organizations and individuals from the Jewish community will be counter-protesting. I, however, will not be among them… I will not dedicate any time on Shabbat morning to discuss this group…because I do not want to waste one minute of our time on our holy Sabbath. I will not allow those Nazis to take away even one minute of celebration of Shabbat.”

He went on to explain: “I do not believe that the greatest threat to the Jewish people is currently anti-Semitism…The lack of Shabbat celebration is a far greater threat to the future of the Jewish people than a fringe group of anti-Semites. The best recipe for fighting anti-Semitism today is to create more pro-Semitism.”

Rabbi Glickman was quick to note that a number of Shoah survivors and their children had told him they felt the need to protest actively, even on Shabbat.

“I make absolutely no judgment in these situations,” he said. “Because survivors have lived a life I cannot imagine.” But for others: “If one is making a choice between going to the store or going to this protest — go protest evil. However, if one is making a choice between celebrating Shabbat or protesting — I recommend celebrating Shabbat…The question, of course, is — how do we fight evil? I, for one, do not want to draw attention to a fringe group of evil-doers and give them the power to diminish Shabbat…If you want to really protest the Nazis, double-down on Shabbat. Invite twice as many people to your home for dinner. Bring more people [to shul] to sing ‘Am Yisrael Chai — the Jewish People Live!’”

“I am not just concerned about the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht,” Glickman emphasized. “I am also thinking about who will be there to protest the 150th anniversary of Kristallnacht.”

More than 30 years ago, a neo-Nazi group expressed its intention to march through the south suburbs of Chicago, my home at the time. Our clergy of all faiths proposed this to their various congregations: “At the hour of the protest, go to your own church or synagogue. We alone will be present to confront them, wearing our robes, our collars, our kippas and tallit, standing together, facing them in absolute silence.” I cannot say for certain whether this quiet “threat,” or some alleged difficulty in securing a parade permit, caused the would-be protesters to back off, but their planned demonstration never happened.

Rabbi Glickman’s suggestion was of the same kind: Instead of shouting lustily on the street, let us make a joyful Jewish noise within the sheltering walls of our synagogues. In his message to his own congregants, he noted his personal thanks to the many Kansas City leaders of other faiths who were standing in solidarity with the city’s Jews and their clergy in opposition to these neo-Nazis. He also provided a statement all of us might accept as a guide for our collective future: “Vibrant Jewish living is the true failure of Hitler’s mission.”

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Nelson Mandela dies at 95

Nelson Mandela dies at 95

Posted on 12 December 2013 by admin

By Moira Schneider

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (JTA) — In the early 1940s, at a time when it was virtually impossible for a South African of color to secure a professional apprenticeship, the Jewish law firm Witkin, Sidelsky and Eidelman gave a young black man a job as a clerk.

It was among the first encounters in what would become a lifelong relationship between Nelson Mandela and South Africa’s tiny Jewish community, impacting the statesman’s life at several defining moments — from his arrival in Johannesburg from the rural Transkei region as a young man to his years of struggle, imprisonment and ascension to the presidency.

Archives, SAJBD Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd at the Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation in Cape Town on a visit shortly after being elected South Africa’s president in 1994. Joining Mandela, from left, are Rabbi Jack Steinhorn; Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, Alon Liel; Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris; and Mervyn Smith, chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. | Photo: SA Rochlin

Nelson Mandela salutes the crowd at the Green and Sea Point Hebrew Congregation in Cape Town on a visit shortly after being elected South Africa’s president in 1994. Joining Mandela, from left, are Rabbi Jack Steinhorn; Israel’s ambassador to South Africa, Alon Liel; Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris; and Mervyn Smith, chairman of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies. | Photo: SA Rochlin Archives, SAJBD

Mandela, who died Thursday Dec.5 at 95, wrote of the early job in his autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” and acknowledged the disproportionate role that Jews played in the struggle against apartheid. Lazer Sidelsky, one of the firm’s partners, treated him with “enormous kindness” and was among the first whites to treat him with respect.

“I have found Jews to be more broad-minded than most whites on issues of race and politics, perhaps because they themselves have historically been victims of prejudice,” Mandela wrote.

The late philanthropist Mendel Kaplan showing late South Africa President Nelson Mandela around the South African Jewish Museum, which was opened by Mandela in 2000. | Photo: Shawn Benjamin/Ark Images

The late philanthropist Mendel Kaplan showing late South Africa President Nelson Mandela around the South African Jewish Museum, which was opened by Mandela in 2000. | Photo: Shawn Benjamin/Ark Images

South Africa’s Jews remembered Mandela, the country’s first democratically elected president, as a close friend, one with deep ties to prominent community figures and a partner in the decades-long effort to end apartheid.

“I was extremely privileged to lead the community during his presidency,” said Mervyn Smith, who was chairman and later president of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, the community’s representative body. “We met with him on many occasions and the talk was direct and open.”

For Mandela, who rose to prominence as a leading opponent of the discriminatory racial regime known as apartheid, Jews were vital allies. Jewish lawyers represented him in multiple trials, and Jewish activists and political figures played leading roles in the fight.

But Mandela’s ties to prominent South African Jews were personal as well as political. The former president’s second marriage, to Winnie Madikizela in 1958, took place at the home of Ray Harmel, a Jewish anti-apartheid activist. Harmel made Winnie’s wedding dress at Mandela’s request, according to David Saks’ history “Jewish Memories of Mandela.”

When Mandela married again in 1998, he invited Chief Rabbi Cyril Harris to offer a private blessing on the nuptials that were scheduled to take place on Shabbat.

“After a warm exchange of greetings, Rabbi Cyril spoke quietly to them and blessed them,” Cyril’s wife, Ann, wrote later. “They stood through the blessing holding hands and with eyes closed. One could almost imagine the chuppah.”

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in 1918 in the village of Mvezo, in the southeastern part of the country. As a young lawyer he was active in the African National Congress, which was beginning to challenge laws it considered unjust and discriminatory.

In the 1950s, Mandela was tried for treason. He was acquitted with the help of a defense team led by Israel Maisels. Several years later, when he was accused of attempting to overthrow the apartheid regime during the Rivonia Trial, Mandela was defended by several Jewish lawyers.

Mandela was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in 1964. He served most of his sentence on Robben Island, a former leper colony off the coast of Cape Town. The legendary, feisty Jewish parliamentarian Helen Suzman visited him there. Another prison visitor was the journalist Benjamin Pogrund, who worked frequently with Mandela in the 1960s.

In a 1986 visit at Pollsmoor Prison, Pogrund informed Mandela that his son would shortly be celebrating his bar mitzvah. Afterward, the boy received a personal note from the future president.

“From a man serving a life sentence — and at that stage with no idea when he might be released — it was a kind and thoughtful action for a youngster he had not even met,” Pogrund said, according to Saks.

Mandela was released in February 1990 after 27 years. Four years later, he was elected president. Among his appointees was Arthur Chaskalson, a member of his defense team during the Rivonia Trial, as the first president of the new Constitutional Court; he later became chief justice.

Mandela’s deep ties to the Jewish community continued during his political career. On the first Shabbat after his election, he visited the Marais Road synagogue in Sea Point.

“Almost his first celebration was with the Jewish community,” Smith told JTA.

In 1994, at the opening of an exhibition on Anne Frank, Mandela recounted how a handwritten version of her diary had inspired him and fellow prisoners on Robben Island.

On Israel, Mandela’s relationship with the Jewish community was not free of controversy. His African National Congress cultivated close ties with the Palestine Liberation Organization and Mandela warmly embraced its leader, Yasser Arafat.

Confronted with Jewish protests, Mandela was dismissive, insisting that his relations with other countries would be determined by their attitudes toward the liberation movement.

“If the truth alienates the powerful Jewish community in South Africa, that’s too bad,” Mandela was reported to have said, according to Gideon Shimoni, author of “Community and Conscience: The Jews in Apartheid South Africa.”

Shimoni also recounts a 1990 encounter at the University of the Witwatersrand with a Jewish student.

“Your enemies are not my enemies,” Mandela said.

According to Saks, Mandela stressed his respect for Israel’s right to exist even as he defended his relationships with Palestinian leaders. It was perhaps illustrative of his policy of inclusivity that Mandela accepted an honorary doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in 1997 when many in his party remained opposed to any ties with Israel.

On a visit to Israel in 1999, Mandela invited Harris to join him.

“He made us proud to be South Africans,” Smith said. “His presence at any communal occasion was electrifying. The Jewish community’s pride in its relationship with President Mandela will be forever enduring.”

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Thoughts about Thanksgivukkah

Thoughts about Thanksgivukkah

Posted on 12 December 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2Chanukah + Thanksgiving = Thanksgivukkah! Thankfully it is all over, but shouldn’t the messages continue all year and all through our lives? Over the past weeks, I have read more on the Internet about these two holidays than I thought was possible to write. After reading, wondering and thinking, I hit delete on most, but one I kept was by Joshua Ratner. Here is the message (shortened) to lead us through the year and beyond.

Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday for gratitude. It is a day for giving thanks for the bounty we enjoy in our lives. Gratitude, of course is an important part of Judaism. A famous Jewish saying from Pirkei Avot 4:1 is “Who is rich? One who appreciates what one has.” We are encouraged in the Talmud to recite 100 blessings each day (BT Menachot 42b).

But Chanukah is not primarily about gratitude. It is about (re-)dedication. Gratitude is (at least within Judaism) inherently passive, a mental process of reflection and appreciation, of self-cultivation. Dedication is about taking action, about embodying values, about doing what is necessary to enable a life of sacred meaning. This lesson of dedication, of action in pursuit of the holy and the good, is one which all of American society would do well to receive.

Of course, action in pursuit of the holy, unmediated by gratitude, can lead to zealotry. But gratitude unmediated by dedicated action equals mere platitude. The duality of gratitude and dedication is what makes “Thanksgivukkah” a truly special holiday.

Chanukah + Thanksgiving = Thanksgivukkah: let’s not wait another 70,000 years before we take the opportunity to commit to gratitude and dedication on a daily basis.

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady,

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

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