Archive | February, 2014

Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Daytimers plan March event

On March 12, Daytimers will have Dina Malki speak about facts, myths, misconceptions, interpretations and the changing status of women in the Muslim world. The program begins at noon in the Great Hall at Congregation Beth-El.

One of the major sources of criticism against Islam is the status of women in Islamic tradition. Muslim women have been historically portrayed in the West through an array of representations, from “termagant” to “odalisque.” In today’s world Muslim, women have been looked at as oppressed and submitting to men.

Malki, a graduate student in Religious Studies pursuing a Masters in Islamic Studies and Christian Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut, lives in Arlington where she has participated in interfaith dialog for over a decade. She also writes for the Examiner, an online publication, where she covers Islam in Dallas and the Metroplex to give a realistic representation of her faith community.

Malki is not apologetic; she will point out every issue that is related to the oppression of women in the Muslim culture, but she will also explain how Islam, and the Qur’an, were both meant to liberate women. An important element in studying religious scripture is the cultural and historic context. This presentation will build on the significance of the relationship between religion and society or culture.

Lunch ($9) includes chips, cookie coffee and tea and will be catered by Pak a Pocket. Choose from chicken shawarma, turkey pastrami or babaganous.

The program only is $5.

For Reservations call Larry Steckler, 817-927-2736 or Hugh Lamensdorf, 817-738-1428 with your credit card. Please include your ZIP code and security code.

Daytimers visit Reunion Tower

On Wednesday Feb.12, a group of Sylvia Wolens Daytimers of Congregation Beth-El rode the TRE from Fort Worth to Dallas to visit the Reunion Tower. While on the train, they lunched on brown-bag meals, then once off the train, strolled through the underground tunnel from Union Station to the base of the Tower and took the elevator to the top.

Interactive video screens allowed everyone to explore Dallas from above. You can identify and zoom in on all the significant attractions throughout the city. Larry Steckler reports, “While there the Dallas Fire Department decided that it was a great time for a fire drill and we were quickly escorted out of the tower to the street below. It was a drill and we were free to return, but the warm sun was inviting and instead we wandered back to Union Station for our return trip.”

Daytimers atop Reunion Tower are from left, Mark Abramowitz, Bernard Zilberg, Larry Steckler, Tina Schreier and Ellen Adrian.

Daytimers atop Reunion Tower are from left, Mark Abramowitz, Bernard Zilberg, Larry Steckler, Tina Schreier and Ellen Adrian.

Come to Ahavath Sholom for movie night March 9

I think I was about 15, when I saw “Gentleman’s Agreement” for the first time. I was not only struck by Gregory Peck’s good looks, but by the subject matter. It was amazing to me that right after World War II and the Holocaust, Hollywood was willing to take on the subject.

If you haven’t seen the film or it’s been a long time, or you are just looking for something to do at 6:30 p.m., Sunday, March 9, I encourage you to attend the free screening at Ahavath Sholom. “Gentleman’s Agreement” is the fifth film in CAS’ 2014 Showtimes Film Series.

It is a drama about a journalist (played by Peck) who goes undercover as a Jew to conduct research for an exposé of anti-Semitism. The film was nominated for eight Oscars and won three: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Celeste Holm), and Best Director (Elia Kazan). The movie, based on Laura Z. Hobson’s 1947 novel of the same name, was controversial in its time. The film is 118 minutes; it will live on and continue to teach us life lessons forever.

The showing of “Gentleman’s Agreement” is co-sponsored by Ha Shomer and the North Texas/Oklahoma Regional Office of Anti Defamation League. ADL Community Director Roberta Clark will lead the discussion after the film.

As a special treat, Ha Shomer will provide ice cream and syrup to all who attend. Special thanks to Posy McMillen and her Ha Shomer team for all their help and support throughout the year.

All of the Showtimes Film Series films are free, so are the popcorn and cold drinks.

The 2013/14 Showtime Committee has done a great job planning and putting on the films. They hope everyone will enjoy the selections and look forward to seeing you at the film showings. Thanks committee members Liz Chesser, Elizabeth Cohen, Kate Cohen, Foster Owen, Dr. Jane Pawgan, Debby Rice, Reggie Rog, Jayna Sosland, Jim Stansbury and Riki Zide.

Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s 2014 Showtimes Film Series is funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, and their help is appreciated.

For more information call Congregation Ahavath Sholom at 817-731-4721.

See you at the movies.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

It Takes a Village — Hadassah programs do Dallas ‘proud’

From Feb. 9-10, the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah hosted four separate events, which featured Hadassah’s National Chair for Youth Aliyah Benita Ross. Members, associates and guests learned more about Hadassah’s youth villages and the benefits of members’ support.

The series was part of a four-city tour in the Greater Southwest Region of Hadassah. Ross shared stories and provided insight to the impact of youth aliyah.

Hadassah supports three youth aliyah villages in Israel. Since its creation in 1934, more than 300,000 individuals have been served.

Hadassah’s youth aliyah program provides shelter, nurturing and first-rate education to immigrant and at-risk Israeli youth from poor or dysfunctional homes. These adolescents and teens cannot live at home for various reasons — family violence, poverty, immigration hardships, sick parents, etc.

They are referred to Hadassah by Israeli social workers and teachers. Others are referred because they are orphans or because their parents could not easily integrate into Israeli society, and thus were unable to help their children become part of their Israeli peer group.

In addition to the full support and nurturing of the students at the villages, each year 100-plus students are selected to go on the Poland Heritage Mission. Scholarships subsidize youth aliyah’s annual mission to Poland, where the students visit the Warsaw ghetto and the Auschwitz/ Birkenau concentration camps to understand the Holocaust and its place in their Jewish heritage.

From March 30-April 3, a mission to Poland is being offered through Hadassah. Members and associates can meet students and intersect with the Youth Aliyah Poland Heritage Mission. Ross will lead the group on this inaugural mission.

Hadassah expressed its gratitude to its Chair Susie Avnery for coordinating all the events in Dallas; hosts, Robbe and Robert Epstein, Maura Schreier-Fleming, The Legacy at Willow Bend and Congregation Beth Torah; and committee members Amy Applebaum, Susan Blum Barnett, Carol Ann Bracken, Lilli Cirillo, Sheila Cooper, Janet Coppinger, Shirley Frankl, Rebecca Gerbert, Lisa Harris, Hanna Hochster, Marcia Kaufman, Sharon Kuhr, Rachel Leventon, Carol Rawitscher, Jo Reingold, Debby Rice, Linda Steinberg, Pamela Wainer and Sue Warren.

Contributions to Hadassah Medical Organization and/or to support its youth aliyah villages can be made at www.hadassah.org/dallas or you can call 214-691-1948 or email chapter.dallas@hadassah.org to arrange a meeting with one of our representatives. A gift made to youth aliyah will make a profound impact on these children’s lives.

Hadassah members and friends enjoyed the “It Takes a Village” programs. | Photo: Sharon Kuhr

Hadassah members and friends enjoyed the “It Takes a Village” programs. | Photo: Sharon Kuhr

Happy birthday Idarene Glick

Good wishes to Idarene Glick who will celebrate her 90th birthday with a celebration from 3-5 p.m. Saturday, March 1 at the Hyatt Residence on La Sierra. The almost nonagenarian was born Idarene Haas March 4, 1924, in Marlow, Okla. to parents Elece Zeve Haas of Nacogdoches and Emanuel Philip Haas of Weatherford.

Idarene Glick, then and now | Photos: Courtesy of Carol Hirsh

Idarene Glick, then and now | Photos: Courtesy of Carol Hirsh

Mrs. Glick lived in Marlow until 1943, when she moved to Dallas and lived with her aunt, Celine Haas Levy Glaser. In Dallas, she met and married Louis Glick July 4, 1944. Idarene and Lou had two daughters, Olga Strauss of Tucson, Ariz. and Carol Hirsh of Dallas, six grandchildren and six great-grandchildren. Guests are expected from Austin, Denver, Atlanta, Kansas and Oklahoma for a full weekend of celebrations.

Donna Bender receives 2014 Women’s Business Enterprise of the Year Award

Donna Bender, president and chief executive officer of The Donna Bender Company, was awarded the 2014 Women’s Business Enterprise of the year for businesses under $5 million.

The Women’s Business Enterprise of the Year Award recognizes a woman-owned business in each category (under $5 million and more than $5 million) that exemplifies outstanding performance in service, delivery or added value to their clients.

As an active member and advocate of The Women’s Business Council Southwest for five years, Bender stated that she is honored to be given this award for something that she loves and has the passion to do every day.

Businesses owned by women represent one of the fastest-growing segments of the business environment, not just locally, but nationally and internationally as well. The Women’s Business Council — Southwest offers certification, procurement, networking and educational programs that help Women’s Business Enterprises grow. The programs are offered throughout a four-state region, which includes Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico and Oklahoma.

Using her creativity and visionary skills, Bender brings 30 years of executive experience in marketing to her position. Her branded marketing and promotional strategy consulting company builds companies into brands. Bender provides a holistic approach to marketing and helps companies create an emotional connection with their clients.

Bender was active in Shalom Bayit and is involved in many other facets of the Jewish Community. For more information about The Donna Bender Company, visit http://www.donnaco.com.

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Purim takeaways for all ages

Purim takeaways for all ages

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2On March 2, we celebrate Rosh Chodesh Adar Bet and that means Purim is almost here — I hope you bought your costumes the day after Halloween! All too often, we feel that the holidays sneak up on us and we don’t take the time to get ready. The synagogues are already organizing so we should be as well. As we prepare, there are a number of things to do — and keep reading the next few weeks to learn more. Purim is more than costumes, noise and drinking!

1. Begin your Mishloach Manot preparations. The gift of food is an important mitzvah on Purim and we are obligated to send at least one gift of food to another person. This gift, usually called Shalach Manot, must consist of at least two types of food that are ready to be eaten, i.e., that require no cooking. This is definitely a family event for planning, preparing and delivering. We are also obligated to give gifts of money to at least two poor people — Matanot L’evyonim. This is a good time to make a family donation.

2. It is also time to get out your Megillah and read the story. As our children grow, we adapt the story to their understanding, but first we must understand the story ourselves. The Book of Esther is definitely a book for grown-ups so don’t miss out on the intrigue and s-e-x. There are many commentaries, so GOOGLE!

3. For older children and teens, issues of Jewish identity and anti-Semitism are both themes in the Megillah, making Purim a good time to talk about these issues. Here are some questions taken from The One Hour Purim Primer by Shimon Apisdorf that are good discussion starters:

  • Have you ever felt uncomfortable or unaccepted because you were Jewish?
  • Are you proud of being Jewish? If the answer is yes, ask for the reason why. If the answer is no, ask for the reasons why not.
  • Do you think it could ever become dangerous for Jews to live in the United States? Why or why not?
  • If it was against the law to celebrate Purim, would you celebrate anyway, risking your job, a large fine, six months in jail or being denied admission to college? (these were some of the possibilities many years ago in the Soviet Union)
  • Generally speaking, do you think religion is a positive force in the world or a negative one?
  • Talk about Jewish identity. What contributes to your identity — parents, school, friends, Israel, etc.?

After you do the preparation for Purim, go to your synagogue and celebrate — it is a great holiday filled with fun, food and friends!

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady,

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

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Yavneh Bulldogs make it deep into playoffs but fall short in TAPPS regional final 59-54

Yavneh Bulldogs make it deep into playoffs but fall short in TAPPS regional final 59-54

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

By Bryan Cytron

In front of a capacity crowd, Feb. 22, the Yavneh Bulldogs pulled away late to defeat Frisco Legacy Christian Academy 56-39. In doing so, the team moved to 32-4 for the season, extending their winning streak to 16.

Senior big men Itai Guttman and Adam Schor anchored the victory. Guttman recorded his 200th career block, while Schor added a double-double with 15 points and 11 rebounds, to go along with three rejections. Schor attributes his success to Coach David Zimmerman and a shift in his role on the team.

“Last year, I was more of a role player,” Schor said. “This year, I’ve become a force. Zimm (Zimmerman) always tells me to go up strong, and I feel like I’ve gotten better at that. With defense, I’ve learned the fundamentals much better.”

David Rudomin lays one up in the Yavneh Bulldogs 56-39 victory over Legacy Christian Academy. The Bulldogs were playing in the quarterfinals against Lubbock Christian at press time. | Photo: Yavneh Academy

David Rudomin lays one up in the Yavneh Bulldogs 56-39 victory over Legacy Christian Academy. The Bulldogs were playing in the quarterfinals against Lubbock Christian at press time. | Photo: Yavneh Academy

Zimmerman, 34, has coached at the college and semi-pro level, but said his head coaching position at Yavneh was a dream come true.

“This was a dream job because one of the reasons that I was always tied in with the Jewish basketball world was that I really got tired of hearing the stereotypes,” Zimmerman said. “I got tired of hearing that Jews can’t play sports and aren’t athletic. I’m a firm believer that it doesn’t matter if you’re white, black, Jewish or Christian. We all put our pants on the same way. I always wanted to go out and show that if you had a kid that was Jewish and wanted to succeed in the world of athletics, it was possible.”

Just as the players were starting to show those signs, the team’s strength took a massive blow on Jan. 7, when senior guard Adam Karnett broke his finger against Celina. The team went on to win, but lost Karnett for the season. However, Karnett said the team’s chemistry and mentality got them through the pain and on to their deep playoff run.

“The team picked up right where I left off, as if I never even was gone,” said Karnett, who hopes to be back for the highly coveted Red Sarachek Tournament at the end of March. “We’re a team, and don’t revolve around one player. We didn’t miss a beat.”

The guard’s backcourt teammate, Sam Kleinman, said Karnett has always been the “heart and soul” of the team. Assuming more responsibility, Kleinman stepped up his play and led the Bulldogs to a perfect 10-0 District season. He capped it off in the District final against Brook Hill, when he hit a game-winning floater with four seconds left to win by one point. Against Frisco legacy, he found the seams and threaded 13 assists, tying his career high. Despite the heroics, he says that the team’s success is due to Zimmerman’s coaching philosophy.

“I’ve been telling people all two years that with Zimm, the whole style is different,” said Kleinman, a senior and team captain. “It’s more of a team game, and the goal is to get everyone touching the ball before we score. We are deep and he plays almost everybody on the bench every game. It makes a big difference.”

Zimmerman, who started coaching basketball at age 14, said that his coaching style took awhile to implement because of old habits.

“When I got here, there was an interesting mentality that you could see in tryouts and practices,” said Zimmerman, who has also coached Maccabi basketball teams since he was 18, the youngest coach in the tournament’s history. “Kids weren’t comfortable doing a lot of things, and really acted as though they were more of facilitators. They were used to facilitating to the next big superstar, and it took a really good amount of time the first couple of months to begin to change that mentality and have kids be less robotic and have the faith and confidence to do more in this different type of philosophy and system.”

His system helped vault the team into a quarterfinals showdown with defending state champion Lubbock Christian Tuesday, Feb. 25. At press time, the TJP learned that Yavneh lost that game, 59-54. A team filled with seniors, the Yavneh players want to leave their mark on the program sans regrets.

“We [seniors] really just want to leave everything on the court, and play every game like it’s our last,” said senior Adam Steinbrecher. “We don’t have a lot of games left and we see our high school careers coming to a close, so we’re just giving it all we have every game.”

Zimmerman said he gets as much from the players as they get from him. More than wins or losses, he believes his job is about impacting and improving the lives of his student athletes.

“Some coaches want a clear separation between themselves and the players,” Zimmerman said. “I want the players to respect the coaches as adults and teachers, but at the same time, I want players to know that my door is open and they can talk to me about what’s going on in their life.”

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A painful loss for everyone involved

A painful loss for everyone involved

Posted on 27 February 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebThe first person I thought of when I learned that Suzy Zeffren Rauch had passed away was my Boubby the Philosopher. She used to say, “There’s something wrong when children die before their parents. The order isn’t right.”

She knew from experience; she had lost two of her own. The first was a baby, one of the far-too-many felled by the influenza epidemic after World War I. The second was a married daughter who left a husband and two young children behind.

Suzy Rauch has also left two young children behind, daughters Shira and Eden, to mourn with her husband, Ron, and her parents, Jo and Jerry Zeffren.

I’ve known Suzy’s parents for a long, long time. When my husband and I moved to Dallas in 1980, we found a new congregation, Beth Torah. The Zeffrens were already members, and have been heavily involved in it for all these years. But our shul has seen little of them lately; they’ve been out in California, caring for their daughter during her illness, and for her family. What else would loving parents do when a child — for your children are always your children, no matter how old they are — is diagnosed with an disease that is potentially life-threatening, and turns out to be, in reality, life-taking?

Breast cancer is like that. It sneaks into the body and plays horrible games there. First it teases, presenting as a candidate for treatment, perhaps even amenable to cure. When it worsens, it may pretend to back off, for a time dangling the elusive hope of remission. But in Suzy’s case, it finally showed its true, ugly self as the killer it can be, a disease that raises hopes only to dash them, again and again and again.

And here’s an incredible irony: Jerry and Jo were founding members of our Beth Torah Chevra Kadisha, serving as its male and female chairs for all the years since. They’ve gone about their sacred tasks with quiet efficiency, sure hands and compassion above all. I hope that those who performed for Suzy this final mitzvah, the only one that can never be repaid, did so with the same sweet love that her parents have given to so many others.

That is a positive hope. I also have some negative ones. I hope that no one has attempted to mitigate this harsh loss with wordy clichés, like “At least she isn’t suffering any more,” or “She’s in a better place now.” In our clumsy attempts to comfort, it’s hard not to say something. But often, no words are necessary; they cannot convey what a warmly clasped hand or a loving hug can do so much better. If we have to speak, “I’m sorry” is probably all we should say.

My Boubby the Philosopher said her final words many years ago: “Please, no eulogy. If people don’t know me by now, it’s too late.” With them, she wrote the end of her own long life story, in which she had done much. She was a stalwart of her shul’s Chevra Kadisha, and in her memory, I have served with Jo on ours. But Suzy Zeffren Rauch’s life was not long, and her story was not yet over. It remains for her parents, her husband, her children, to extend it by sharing their memories of this beautiful young woman as they move on. Which all of them must.

Of course the order is wrong. No parents should have to suffer the agony of burying and mourning their own children. But again, a precious life has ended, leaving those who gave it its beginning to shed their bitter tears of grief. I hope that as Jo and Jerry Zeffren move on with their own lives, those memories of their daughter — to whom they had given the middle name of Hope — will comfort them. For them: Ken yehi ratzon. May this be God’s will.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Good wishes to Jewish social media powerhouse Susanne Goldstone Rosenhouse, who was honored with the Leslie Nelkin Special Service Award at NJOP’s (formerly the National Jewish Outreach Program) 20th annual dinner, Feb. 11, at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City. This award is given to Jewish engagement practitioners who have made exceptional contributions to their field. An NJOP team member since 2004, Rosenhouse is currently the NJOP social media coordinator and the driving force behind NJOP’s highly influential social media platforms @JewishTweets/JewishTreats.

In March, she will be moderating a core conversation at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, entitled “Is Facebook Making Houses of Worship Go Extinct?” The discussion plans to cover how social media has changed the role of the religious meeting place. It will also examine how communal religious spaces are needing to adapt to be more than just the physical space people come to pray, but to also be places that foster connections and relationships in new, innovative and experiential ways. She is also currently working toward a certificate in Experiential Jewish Education at Yeshiva University.

Rosenhouse works remotely from Dallas where she lives with her husband Evan and daughter Rebecca Noa, a fifth generation Dallasite.

Camp scholarships available through DJCF

The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation is here to help individuals at every stage of life — even those hoping to attend Jewish summer camp. The Essie and Reuben Rosenbloom Jewish Overnight Camping Fund of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation was established to provide scholarships for children and teens in the Dallas/Fort Worth Jewish community who otherwise would not have the opportunity to attend Jewish camps. These scholarships are based solely on financial need, covering partial to full camp costs. All applicant information will remain strictly confidential.

The summer camp scholarship applications are now available for Summer 2014 — please visit www.djcf.org for more information. Applications are due no later than March 29, 2014.

For questions, contact Marna Edenson at medenson@djcf.org or 214-615-5278.

Jewish-Latino Alliance workshop scheduled

The Jewish-Latino Alliance of AJC will host a workshop from 1-4 p.m., Sunday, Feb. 23 at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road. This workshop, called “Bridging America-Diverse Roots and Common Ground,” gives Jewish and Latino community leaders the chance to meet informally and find ways to help one another on issues ranging from immigration reform to overcoming stereotypes.

This is particularly important in Texas where Latinos number close to 40 percent of the population, or to put it in “Jewish terms,” Latinos in Texas outnumber Jews in Israel. Therefore, it is imperative for the American Jewish community to build a relationship now with this segment of the population.

The program is based on a curriculum used nationwide and will be facilitated by Meyer Denn, director of the Federation’s Center for Jewish Education; Ann Schaffer, director of AJC’s Belfer Center for American Pluralism; and David Ayon, senior fellow at Center for the Study of Los Angeles, Loyola Marymount University.

Tiferet Israel’s annual Chili Cookoff adds Medical City Dallas as new partner

I can almost smell the myriad aromas in the air — and know that Tiferet Israel’s Chili Cookoff is coming soon, March 30 to be exact. I heard it through the grapevine that Tiferet Israel is proud to have Medical City Dallas as a sponsoring partner for the Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff.

Israeli and Arab teens will join David Broza for a Dallas concert March 6 at SMU. | Photo: Courtesy of Levenson Brinker Public Relations

Israeli and Arab teens will join David Broza for a Dallas concert March 6 at SMU. | Photo: Courtesy of Levenson Brinker Public Relations

Talented young Arab and Israeli artists bridge the divide through the power of music

The Dallas Polyphony concert is part of a multi city tour in the U.S. featuring two youth string quartets. Each quartet consists of two Arab and two Jewish student musicians. David Broza, an Israeli singer songwriter and a strong supporter of Polyphony, will play along with the student musicians. Broza’s appearance with this group is exclusive to Dallas. The concert will be held at 8 p.m., Thursday, March 6 in the Caruth Auditorium at SMU’s Owens Art Center, 6101 Bishop Blvd.

Polyphony is a not-for-profit organization whose purpose is to bridge the divide between Arab and Jewish communities in Israel by creating a common ground where young people come together around classical music. It uses the language of music to create the harmony of possibility. The programs supported by the Polyphony Foundation currently reach more than 4,000 Arab and Jewish young people and provide training and employment for more than 40 faculty and teachers.

Polyphony’s Foundations’ Co-Founder and Director of Programming Nabeel Abboud-Ashkar, received the Yoko Ono Lennon Courage Award for the Arts in 2012 for his work with the Polyphony Foundation.

Dallas program Chairs, Betty Jo and David Bell and Rabbi Nancy Kasten, believe that bringing this group to Dallas offers our community a different and inspiring picture of Arab-Jewish relations in Israel.

As of Jan. 29, 2014 community partners include: Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, Southern Methodist University Meadows School of the Arts, Shirley Kasten Memorial Fund, Temple Emanu-El Music Committee and Wilshire Baptist Church.

For information about sponsorships and partnerships contact nkasten75229@yahoo.com or betbell@swbell.net. Tickets are $40 and can be ordered at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/570379

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A paradoxical instruction: forgetting and remembering

A paradoxical instruction: forgetting and remembering

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebIt’s funny about connections.

Case in point: I was waiting in a doctor’s examining room where a soundless film of animals on an African plain was running on a flat-screen TV. Two lions, relaxing together in a clump of grass; a mama giraffe, bending her long neck down to nuzzle her baby; a cheetah, watching a herd of zebra moving slowly past. No violence here, unless that cheetah intended to get up and go after the oldest or the youngest, the stragglers at the end of the zebra pack.

This got me to thinking about the recent flap over the possible shooting of a rare African black rhino. The hunting club that auctioned off this “prize” opportunity realized $350,000 through its offer. Some man wanted to kill that animal enough to pay a staggering sum of money for the privilege. Maybe the winner wants the rhino’s head for a trophy; maybe he’s happy just basking in bragging rights.

But of course there was backlash, so the hunting club made a big gesture. It didn’t rescind the auction or the killing that would result; its defense was that the rhino singled out for this big event was too old to breed, so he’d make an OK, even ideal, “sacrifice.” And a portion of the money paid by the killer-to-be would go toward preservation of other endangered species in the marked-for-death rhino’s home territory.

This also got me to thinking: Haven’t we read about something similar in the Torah? After the Hebrews crossed the Red Sea, out snuck the lurking Amalek to kill the old and the weak bringing up the end of the Exodus line. He wasn’t after trophies or bragging rights, or getting rid of the “non-productive” members of that long, long line; he wanted to slaughter our people, so he started by attacking the most defenseless of them. And this made me wonder once again about the contradictory instructions God has given us: Remember Amalek, but also blot out the name of Amalek for all our generations.

How can we remember and forget at the same time?

We’re told that Haman was a descendent of Amalek, and soon we’ll be blotting out his name again at Purim, as we do every year. But don’t our shouts and noisemakers constitute remembering rather than forgetting?

We’re told that Hitler, too, is a descendent of Amalek — in spirit if not by actual birth. He and his Nazis were blotted out with the defeat of their Third Reich, but we still remember them. I guess we must. Hitler, Haman and Amalek all belong to our history.

If that poor old rhino’s life is actually blotted out, will he be forgotten? Or will he always be remembered?

In the long-gone age of black and white TV, there was a “Twilight Zone” episode about a greedy hunter whose den walls displayed the mounted heads of the many exotic animals he had killed. But in the last moments of the program, one den wall sported a new trophy: the mounted head of the hunter himself. I can never forget that image. It comes back to me every year at Purim, on Yom HaShoah and when I see today’s color clips of the world’s few remaining black rhinos.

I have long believed the idea of remembering and forgetting at the same time to be impossible. But, is it possible that what God has told us is to remember not to forget Amalek? To forever remember not to forget all those who hunt and kill creatures weaker than themselves?

Making connections is what I like best. Here, I’m connecting the dots of Amalek, Haman, Hitler and a modern-day hunting club, and further connecting them to the possibility that blotting out is actually a way to remember. A poor old rhinoceros has taught me this. When the hunter shoots, the animal will be blotted out, but I will never forget him.

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A kosher beginning

A kosher beginning

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

Thank you for your explanation of pork in last week’s column. My wife and I have been contemplating keeping a kosher home since our move to Dallas two years ago. One thing holding us back is that participating in Jewish communal events is very important to us and we don’t want to miss them because they’re not kosher. We also have become very confused by the plethora of kosher symbols we see in the stores, we hear some are reliable and some are not. Lastly, how do we transform a non-kosher kitchen into a kosher one? Could you help us get over these hurdles?

— Marc L.

Dear Marc,

friedforweb2Luckily you are in Dallas! Dallas is one of the unique communities in the U.S. where nearly all Jewish organizations hold their communal events under Dallas Kosher. This is the local certification organization which ensures the highest standards of kosher, enabling the kosher-observant to participate in nearly all such events.

This did not just happen! Largely it is thanks to a longtime (18 year), conscientious effort by then Executive Director Jeri Finkelstein. She worked with many community organizations to help them understand the importance of kosher and how crucial it is for the Jewish community to operate under the highest common denominator, enabling participation by all. Her efforts have been richly rewarded by educating a community which is now an example to the rest of the country. Many cities have taken notice how, despite our many differences, the Dallas Jewish community works together. This is also a credit to the warmth of the Jewish community and their willingness to accept Jeri’s suggestions. Dallas Kosher has been a key unifying force in our community, using kosher as the glue which holds us together. One of the crown jewels of this success is the Annual Kosher Chili Cookoff, which brings together nearly every Jewish organization in Dallas in a day of unity which is unrivaled probably anywhere else in the world. So you’re in the right place at the right time!

Dallas Kosher, under the directorship of Rabbi Sholey Klein (Kashrus Administrator) and Rabbi David Shawel (Director of Supervision) have propelled their organization to the top of the list of local kashrus organizations in America, and is well-known for its integrity and service. To “kosher” your kitchen, you simply need to contact them and schedule an appointment, and they will walk you through the entire process. You can reach them at rabbiklein@dallaskosher.org or rabbishawel@dallaskosher.org.

Lastly, your question came at just the right time for you to take advantage of a wonderful communitywide educational opportunity in March: Dallas Kosher Month. In addition to talks and classes, Kosher Month features exactly what you are looking for: a guided tour of local grocery stores led by Dallas Kosher to explain and clarify which products and insignia are trustworthy and fit the Gold Standard of kashrut. Another hands-on feature is a “Kosher Home Kitchen Tour” of actual kosher kitchens in local homes. There will be a gourmet challah-baking class, a class entitled “Kosher 101” and a talk on “The Kabbalah of Kosher” (given by yours truly).

You can get all the details for this exciting program, as well as sign up if you can join, by going to www.dallaskoshermonth.com. (I hope you won’t be startled by the very unexpected picture you will find there!) As you will notice, this program is being run in the spirit mentioned above, with many diverse synagogues and Jewish organizations listed as co-sponsors, showing once again the uniqueness of the Dallas Jewish community!

Best of luck and success, and let me know how it goes!

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

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Judaism’s link to health and fitness

Judaism’s link to health and fitness

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2This past week, our J staff welcomed staff from six JCCs across the U.S. to learn together. We enjoyed a workshop that prepared us as trainers.

Please wait and watch for the announcement, but I’m not giving away the secret of our training!

A major part of this program is about a Jewish value that is key for JCCs: Sh’mirat HaGuf — caring for the body. Many people are surprised that Judaism has a long history of health and fitness.

Here are a few texts that stress why and how to care for our body (no they didn’t recommend using weights or the treadmill):

  • “The body is the soul’s house. Shouldn’t we therefore take care of our house so that it doesn’t fall into ruin?”

— Philo Judaeus

  • “Since by keeping the body in health and vigor one walks in the ways of God — it being impossible during sickness to have any understanding or knowledge of the Creator — it is a man’s duty to avoid whatever is injurious to the body and cultivate habits conducive to health and vigor.”

— Maimonides

  • “Washing your hands and feet in warm water every evening is better than all the medicines in the world.”

— Babylonian Talmud

  • “ … there is no such thing as excessive body movements and exercise. Because body movements and exercise will ignite natural heat and superfluities will be formed in the body, but they will be expelled. Exercise removes the harm caused by most bad habits, which most people have. Exercise refers both to strong and weak movements, provided it is a movement that is vigorous and affects breathing, increasing it. It is good for the preservation of health to shorten the exercises.”

— Maimonides

The sages saw a close connection between medicine and religion — between the body and the soul. Our bodies belong to God and have been given to us on loan. Caring for your body by keeping it clean and healthy is a religious duty that honors God; neglecting your body or intentionally abusing it is a sin that profanes God.

So join us at the J in The Lieberman Family Wellness Center — it’s a Jewish activity!

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.

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

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The beat will go on

The beat will go on

Posted on 20 February 2014 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

Nearly 2,000 Jewish teens participated in an afternoon service project Friday, Feb. 14 in Frisco. They not only learned hands-on CPR training, but also took the Jewish values of tikkun olam and mitzvot to heart.

BBYO Stand UP Day took place as part of BBYO’s International Convention that occurred in Dallas Feb. 13-17. The event was coordinated with the Dallas Division of the American Heart Association and held at Frisco Memorial Stadium. The goal was to train the teens in CPR, who in turn taught hundreds of middle schoolers from the Frisco School District what they learned.

Pictured here are the Dallas are teens who participate in the BBYO Stand UP Day service project at Frisco Memorial Stadium Feb. 14, which included CPR training and the making of a PSA. | Photo: Submitted by Gabe Cahn

Pictured here are the Dallas are teens who participate in the BBYO Stand UP Day service project at Frisco Memorial Stadium Feb. 14, which included CPR training and the making of a PSA. | Photo: Submitted by Gabe Cahn

Before departing for Frisco, the teens heard from U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist Dana Vollmer; Ben Rattray, CEO of change.org; and Natan Sharanksy, chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel, via video message.

“Today, we showed what this movement is really about,” said Gary Levine, a senior at Yavneh Academy and one of BBYO’s international vice presidents. “This year, we wanted to do something we all feel passionate about in order to make a difference. It’s wonderful to come together with teens from all over the world with the same goal in mind. Dallas has always been a powerhouse for BBYO and it makes me proud that we were able to host the convention and do something like this.”

In addition to the CPR training, the teens built and sent 500 teddy bears to children with heart conditions across the American Heart Association Network. The day ended with filming a public service announcement encouraging others to learn CPR and to be prepared for different emergencies.

BBYO’s Stand UP initiative empowers teens to identify a cause that inspires them, and develop their own campaign to affect positive change. By implementing their own campaigns at the local, regional and international level, teens gain invaluable experiences in the areas of community service, philanthropy and advocacy. Past projects included the topics of hunger, cancer, homelessness, genocide, human rights, bullying and more.

Having this project focus on CPR is even more meaningful because Texas has the highest bystander rate, meaning that it has the fewest number of people that know what do in a life-threatening situation.

“It’s great that we were all able to come together for this and show our passion for leadership and Judaism,” said Lexi Prager, a Hillcrest High School student who is the regional president of the North Texas/Oklahoma Region of BBYO with Jacob Herstein. “It shows that we can make an impact in the communities we live in. This was a wonderful learning experience and it was great to participate with 2,000 of our brothers and sisters.”

Herstein, a Yavneh junior, noted that he was not only proud to be part of this project, but to also represent the thriving Dallas Jewish community.

“The best part of [Stand UP Day] was that everyone was working together and learning something really important,” he said. “When we announced that IC was going to be in Dallas, we expected it to be a big showing and we really got what we were hoping for. It’s absolutely amazing. I was just elected in December and this is a great way for me to start. It’s so great to show everyone in BBYO how great the North Texas/Oklahoma chapter is as well.”

“The fact that we are all here shows what BBYO is capable of,” added International President Mika Stein of Dallas. “For us, we live by the seven principles of AZA and one of them is to keep a healthy mind and body; our Stand UP project falls right in the lines of that. This is my fourth time attending IC and it’s been amazing to see how it’s grown. I couldn’t be more proud that this this convention is happening in my city.”

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