Archive | April, 2014

Passover speaks to our core beliefs

Passover speaks to our core beliefs

Posted on 10 April 2014 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

Perhaps you can explain why Pesach seems to be so central to Judaism, far more than the other holidays, just judging by the level of participation by Jews that otherwise don’t do very much Jewishly. Just about everyone I know either hosts or participates in some Passover Seder even if they don’t go to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur. Do you have a reason for this?

— Micheal G.

Dear Micheal,

friedforweb2I also have wondered about this phenomenon over the years, and I think there may be a number of factors which puts the Passover Seder so high on the Jewish pedestal, some of them cultural, others spiritual.

One point I have always felt is a key factor is the centrality of Passover events to our belief system. The core of our belief in God is based upon the miracles which our people witnessed in Egypt during the 10 plagues, followed by the splitting of the sea.

When God “introduces” Himself to us by proclaiming in the Ten Commandments, “I am the Lord, your God,” He does not end the introduction by saying “who has created the heavens and earth” or “creator of the universe,” or any of the sort, which would seem to be the logical ending of this crucial introduction when He spoke to us directly for the first time. God, rather, chose to end this statement with the words, “…who has taken you out of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” Why would God choose to introduce Himself as one who has performed one isolated event rather than the much greater identity as the one who is creator of all?

The answer is, seeing is believing! The entire Jewish nation were witness to the miracles of Egypt; nobody was there to watch the Al-mighty create the universe. Although we believe He created the universe, it is an issue of belief not knowledge. The Jews of that time knew about the miracles of Egypt — they, themselves, had seen them with their own eyes. That is why God introduces Himself as the One who performed the miracles which they had recently experienced personally. From that they could extrapolate further and draw their own conclusions about creation. Although the Torah clearly spells out that God is the creator of the universe, the belief that this is true is predicated upon the knowledge of God’s power to do so by what He performed in Egypt. Hence, God’s introduction is as the doer of that one isolated event, the deliverance from Egypt. From that flows everything else we know about God.

This explains what seems to be a very strange passage in the Kiddush we recite over the wine every Friday night. In the Kiddush we say, “…gave us His holy Sabbath as a heritage, a remembrance of creation … a memorial of the exodus from Egypt…” The question is obvious: the creation predated the Exodus by thousands of years, how could Shabbos, which is a remembrance of creation, be a memorial for the Exodus which was long after the creation? The answer is implicit in our comments above — our belief that creation stems, in fact, from our historically verified knowledge of the Exodus from Egypt!

I feel that the universal observance of Pesach is somewhat connected to the appreciation the Jews have, deep down and often subconsciously, that all we believe as Jews has its foundation in the story we tell the night of the Seder. It is, therefore, very important that we get this point across to the participants and especially the children, to be the torch bearers of this message into the next generation. That is the mitzvah of the night: “V’hidgadta L’bincha B’yom Ha’hu” — “and you should tell your sons on that day…”

A wonderful, joyous and meaningful Pesach to all the readers!

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

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What’s in a smile? … Everything

What’s in a smile? … Everything

Posted on 10 April 2014 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2Passover is filled with lots of traditions, however the main goal is for us to teach and learn the story. To be able to study and learn is a gift given to free people.

After we get through the preparation for Passover, the holiday gives us the time to be together so during the days of Passover, here is something for conversation.

Every family should have a copy of “Pirke Avot, Chapters of the Sages.” There are so many different ones out there and Amazon is happy to help you choose. Every version has the same mishnayot (sayings), but the commentary is different. So get your copy now and enjoy!

Since Passover is a major holiday for welcoming guests, here is a mishnah that will make you think about how to be welcoming:

Shammai says: Make your Torah (study) a fixed practice; say little and do much; and greet everyone with a pleasant countenance.

— Pirke Avot, 1:15

There is so much to think about and talk about in that little but powerful quote and how you can apply it. It is wonderfully amazing when an ancient text is “proven” by modern science. An article posted on Psyblog reported that psychological research has shown at least 10 hidden benefits of smiling (greet everyone…).

Here they are:

1. Get others to trust you.

2. Smile for leniency.

3. Recover from social slip-ups.

4. Because otherwise I’ll feel bad.

5. Laugh off the hurt.

6. Grin for insight

7. Smile for sex.

8. Hide what you really think.

9. Smile to make money.

10. Smile and (half) the world smiles with you.

Added Bonus: Smile for longevity!!

As you talk about the Mishnah from Pirke Avot, toss in these psychological insights on smiling. Do you think the sages understood all of these benefits? Do you agree with them? One of the challenges of learning Pirke Avot is that every idea leads to a deeper understanding of ourselves — definitely a psychological ancient book!

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.

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

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JFS will welcome the ‘The Divine Miss M’ to Woman-to-Woman luncheon

JFS will welcome the ‘The Divine Miss M’ to Woman-to-Woman luncheon

Posted on 10 April 2014 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

Bette Midler’s career as an actress, singer, comedian, producer and philanthropist is legendary. She will share her story as the keynote speaker at the Woman-to-Woman luncheon next month.

The event, hosted by Jewish Family Service (JFS), will take place Thursday, May 1 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, 300 Reunion Blvd. Registration begins at 11 a.m. and the program begins at noon.

All funds raised at the luncheon will benefit JFS for the services it provides like counseling, the food pantry, the job resource center, services for senior adults, the Special Needs Partnership and more.

Bette Midler

Bette Midler

“Bette believes and supports everything JFS does and we are excited to have her speak,” said Linda Garner, who is co-chairing the afternoon with Beth Konig, Sheryl Pidgeon, Laurie Platt and Cindy Ray Yablonsky. “The event is going to be very fun, lighthearted and entertaining. In addition, it’s all about educating the community about what JFS provides and the impact it makes on people. I want everyone to know that the dollars raised help so many people and that’s what is important.”

Founded in 2004 by Ethel Zale, the Woman-to-Woman luncheon occurs every two years and celebrates the power and impact of women. Past speakers include Susan Dell, Karen Katz, Joy Behar, Diane von Furstenberg and Marlee Matlin.

Born in Hawaii, Midler began her professional career in several off-Broadway plays, prior to her work in “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Salvation” on Broadway in the late 1960s. She made her film debut in “The Rose” in 1979 and also starred in “Down and Out in Beverly Hills,” “Beaches,” “The First Wives Club” and “Parental Guidance” among others.

Midler released her first album, “The Divine Miss M” in 1972 and has released 22 albums since. Over the years, she has won four Grammys, four Golden Globes, three Emmy’s and a Tony Award.

Along with her success in the entertainment world, Midler founded the New York Restoration Project (NYRP), a nonprofit organization dedicated to restoring parks, gardens and open space in New York City. The NYRP partners with various environmental and community organizations across the five boroughs to green the parks, focusing on underserved and economically disadvantaged communities.

“We have had wonderful women inspire us over the years and I know Bette will do the same,” Zale said. “She is a talented, wonderful woman. It is gratifying to know that JFS will benefit so much from this wonderful gathering of supporters. We cannot wait to see Bette, but the results the luncheon will yield is the most exciting and important part.”

When Zale started this event, 200 people attended. She is amazed with how it has grown and evolved through the years and the impact it makes.

Added JFS CEO Michael Fleisher: “We are absolutely thrilled to have such a high profile fundraising event that’s put together by five incomparable co-chairs and staff at JFS. This event continues the tradition of taking significant steps forward in raising money and educating people about the work we do and the resources we offer to anyone in need.”

Tickets for the luncheon are $250 each and sponsorships are available. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $25 each or five for $100. Another online auction will take place for one week after the event.

For more information and to purchase tickets, call 469-206-1664 or visit

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 10 April 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

It is good to see the sun shining after some dreary weekend weather. I’ve noticed that my neighbors are busy with their spring planting, and that there is already a “Yard of the Month” sign on one of my neighbor’s lawn.

Unfortunately, it is not mine, but I do have a goal to get there one of these days.

In the meantime, there are a lot of doings in Dallas — we are just a happening city.

Levine Endowed Lecture on Jewish Studies tonight at SMU

Dr. Nathan Katz will speak at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, April 10, at the McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall at Southern Methodist University. This is the 16th installment of the Nate and Ann Levine Endowed Lecture on Jewish Studies. Katz will speak on “Balancing Identities — The Jews of Cochin, South India.”

“Are they Indian or are they Jewish?” is the obvious question for anybody who has ever encountered the Jews of Cochin or even heard about them. This talk will explore the question and explain why it doesn’t do justice to this very old, distinguished and creative community.

In Katz’s lecture, attendees will get an introduction to the people of “Jew Town” (sic) through the trained eye of a scholar who is widely recognized as the world’s authority on the subject.

Katz is a distinguished professor in the School of International and Public Affairs at Florida International University. Among his 15 published books are “The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India,” “Who are the Jews of India?” and “Spiritual Journal Home: Eastern Mysticism to the Western Wall.” Katz has also published hundreds of articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries.

His research focuses on Indo-Judaic studies, an area that he helped pioneer. His publications concern Jewish communities in India, ancient world links between India and Israel, comparisons of themes within Judaism on the one hand and Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism on the other, in addition to Hindu-Jewish and Buddhist-Jewish dialogue.

In 1990, Katz was invited to join a delegation of eight scholars and rabbis who met with the Dalai Lama at his palace in Dharamsala, India for extensive Jewish-Tibetan dialogue.

In 2009, he addressed the first quasi-official dialogue meeting held in the West between swamis and rabbis.

He has spent many years in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal) and was trained in the classical thought and languages of the subcontinent. Katz founded the world’s only program in the study of spirituality at FIU.

Two Dallas leaders named to national board of NCJW

The National Council of Jewish Women installed Joni Cohan of Dallas as vice president and Sue Tilis, also of Dallas, as member of the board of directors at the organization’s 46th national convention March 8. The delegates joined with nationwide members to celebrate the organization’s 120th anniversary in St. Louis, Mo. Nationwide leaders gathered to launch new anti-human trafficking initiative and continue commitment to reproductive rights.

The convention also laid out policy and advocacy goals for the 2014-2017 terms, elected officers, and honored national leaders who continue to make a difference on issues of concern to NCJW.

The “NCJW convention has brought together some of the best minds of our organization to share ideas and motivate one another moving forward,” said Cohan. “I look forward to continue working with my fellow board members and officers and upholding NCJW’s mission of social justice for women, children and families.”

Cohan has served on the national board for more than 10 years, and is now entering her second term as national vice president. During her time on the board, she served as the vice chair for the 2008 national convention. She has been the national co-chair for State Public Affairs Advocacy Network and president of NCJW, Greater Dallas Section. She was co-chair of Washington Institute 2013.

“We are fortunate to have Joni Cohan and Sue Tilis as members of NCJW’s newly elected slate of officers and board directors,” said NCJW President Debbie Hoffmann. “NCJW’s convention reinforced our commitment to today’s pressing issues which includes sex trafficking and reproductive rights. I know Joni and Sue will be strong leaders for NCJW’s mission of social justice for women, children and families.”

Tilis is chair of NCJW’s 46th national convention and previously served as national commissioner and president of NCJW, Greater Dallas Section and the New Orleans Section. She has served on the board of directors of the American Jewish Committee, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society, B’nai B’rith Youth Organization: Dallas, the Jewish Federation of Dallas, Vickery Meadow Learning Center and the Dallas Furniture Bank.

At the convention, attendees participated in a conversation on human trafficking with Bradley Myles, CEO of the Polaris Project; Malika Saada Saar, special counsel on Human Rights at The Raben Group; Holly Austin Smith, a survivor of child trafficking and an advocate against all forms of human trafficking; and Kimberly Ritter, an executive at Nix Conference & Meeting Management who spearheads the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) trafficking initiative, which is dedicated to combating child sex trafficking on hotel properties; and “Feminist Voices for Change” — a dynamic panel of women across different generations and disciplines who discussed the role of modern-day progressive social change leaders.

Additionally, NCJW honored Jezebel Founder Anna Holmes; military sexual assault litigator Susan Burke; abortion rights activists Dr. Julie Bindeman and Dana Weinstein; and later abortion provider Dr. Shelley Sella. The conference also briefed attendees on best practices for organizing in their own communities and lobbying local and state governments.

Pat Peiser of Dallas receives NCJW’s Enduring Leadership Award at St. Louis Convention

At the same convention, NCJW honored Dallasite Pat Peiser with its Enduring Leadership Award. This award honors women who have proven instrumental in moving their sections toward accomplishing the organization’s mission in a pioneering way for 10 or more years.

Peiser is a charter life member of the Dallas Section of NCJW. She previously served as NCJW section president and on NCJW’s national board. As section president she founded LIFT (Literacy Instruction for Texas), which serves more than 6,500 adults annually. Additionally she co-founded director of Safeguards for Seniors, and was its director. Safeguards for Seniors is a NCJW project promoting safe medication use. Peiser is also the co-founder and a past board member of Jacob’s Ladder, a welfare-to-work training program.

“We were very excited to honor Pat with our Enduring Leadership Award. Women like her, who demonstrate exceptional dedication and conviction, are the reason NCJW is able to actively effect change in our communities and nation,” said NCJW CEO Nancy Kaufman. “Pat is a change agent who makes it possible for NCJW to affect the lives of thousands in our communities.”


Good wishes to Kathi Wenrich, who has been promoted to chief advancement officer at the Volunteer Center of North Texas.

After leaving the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas as major gifts officer in 2012, Wenrich joined the staff of the Volunteer Center of North Texas as the senior director of sales and business director.

The chief advancement officer is the senior development officer for the Volunteer Center of North Texas. Wenrich’s responsibilities include providing executive leadership for a comprehensive advancement program (annual giving, corporate and foundation giving, major and planned giving, and development research) and to increase the Volunteer Center’s visibility among key influencers, constituents and major donors.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 10 April 2014 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Naturally, we have a lot of content about Passover this week. If y’all are like me, your mind is racing down your to-do list trying to get things in order for your seders. While those seated at our seder table change year in and year out, it is a unique time to contemplate our shared history, as a people, as a family and as members of a free society. My best wisches to you and yours for a happy, meaningful Passover.

Speaking of seders

The annual Tarrant County Women’s Seder is set for Sunday, April 20, the sixth day of Passover, at the Mistletoe Heights home of Kim Factor. The seder, a Pesach potluck from 2 to 4 p.m., will include singing, spirituality, camaraderie and reflection.

Marcia Kurtz enjoys the 2005 Tarrant County Women's Seder. | Photo: Courtesy of Hollace Weiner

Marcia Kurtz enjoys the 2005 Tarrant County Women’s Seder. | Photo: Courtesy of Hollace Weiner

Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, the local women’s seder began in 2003 in a private home with 24 guests. The next year, attendance doubled. By the third year, it was hosted in the Great Hall at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation. During the years since, it has moved to Arlington’s Beth Shalom, to Fort Worth’s Ahavath Sholom, back to Beth-El and returned to the intimacy of a private home.

A special Haggadah, compiled by cantorial soloist Monica Braverman, includes a blessing for both Miriam’s cup and Elijah’s cup. Instead of celebrating the traditional “four sons,” cups of wine will be raised to four special women from the local Jewish community. At last year’s seder, cups were raised to Dolores Schneider, who has successfully battled illness; educator Rachel Jacobi; Holocaust survivor Brigitte Altman; and community leader Eileen House, who was departing Fort Worth and helped plan the initial seder.

There is no admission fee for the seder, except to bring a dish to the potluck. RSVP to Laurie James at or to Angie Kitzman at the Jewish Federation, or at 817-569-0892.

The Kippah Project

How many times have you attended a bar or bat mitzvah and returned home with a souvenir yarmulke or kippah in your pocket or purse? If you have attended services on a regular basis you probably have a bag or drawer full.

Phil Kabakoff shows the Kippah Project on display at Congregation Beth Shalom. | Photo: Courtesy of Ben Weiger

Phil Kabakoff shows the Kippah Project on display at Congregation Beth Shalom. | Photo: Courtesy of Ben Weiger

Several years ago Phil Kabakoff, a longtime member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington, found that there was a large bag of kippot stored in his house and wondered how many other congregants had accumulated a similar collection. Why not display them someplace?

After discussing this question with several other members of the congregation, Phil decided to frame them and present them to the congregation as a history of all those celebrating this mitzvah.

First, it was a matter or sorting through his collection to eliminate duplicates and then putting them in chronological order. Then asking others for their kippah collections to sort through and find any that were missing. Keeping those and returning the rest. It was determined early in the process that he would only collect bar and bat mitzvah kippot of members that have Congregation Beth Shalom stamped inside the kippah, as it was hard to determine if a kippah from a wedding had taken place at the temple or if the wedding was of members of the congregation. This also helped sort those bar and bat mitzvah’s from other congregations that were attended over the years.

Phil tried to reconcile his list with that from the congregation office, but found that while there were records of who had attended religious school and when their bar or bat mitzvah should have taken place, records did not show if the ceremony had actually taken place. Some families moved, some did not have a bar or bat mitzvah. Some had a bar or bat mitzvah, but did not have a kippah.

A list was made of all those known to have had a ceremony both by date and alphabetically. This was circulated though the congregation to determine if someone knew of any corrections to the list or if anybody was left out.

Finally after several years of working on the Kippah Project, it was brought up to date and the kippot were framed, showing the imprint on the inside of each kippah. There is also a corresponding listing of everyone whether they had a kippah or not. The kippot are now on display in the social hall of Congregation Beth Shalom and will be added to as b’nai mitzvahs are celebrated in the future.

Stop by and view the history of b’nai mitzvahs at Congregation Beth Shalom.

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Pesach prep Dallas-style

Pesach prep Dallas-style

Posted on 10 April 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebThere’s more to getting ready for Pesach than planning menus and cleaning house. I took advantage of two wonderful opportunities this year.

First, there was the Kosher Chili Cook-off. For 2014, the 21st annual, this was a day of Jewish camaraderie under blazing blue skies, the perfect time to overdose on chametz. All those beans and spices had my palate crying for the grateful respite that bland matzo would usher in just a couple of weeks later.

And then, just three days later, was the annual Freedom Seder. For 2014, this year’s run-up to Passover was an evening of multiracial and religious mingling, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Civil Rights Act in the context of our much earlier Exodus. Congregation Tiferet Israel should be mightily congratulated for the first event, and Dallas Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Council for the second.

Our Passover seder, widely touted as the most observed of all Jewish rituals, is also the most adaptable. The afikomen can be hidden by adults or stolen by children. There can be a cup of water on the table to honor Moses’ sister Miriam, joining the oh-so-traditional cup of wine to welcome the Prophet Elijah. Or — as here April 2 — there can be a comparison of Hebrew slaves leaving Egypt for freedom to modern-day former slaves putting the evils of segregation behind them. The Exodus story plays well in this newer context.

At Shearith, every table of eight had its own box of matzo and seder plate so that all could partake of our symbolic foods as referents for a much more modern escape from slavery. And the large bottles of grape juice made it possible for everyone, including those whose religions frown on wine, to partake of the Four Cups. This interfaith aspect was heightened as Catholics, Protestants and Muslims joined with Jews in solo and group readings from a Haggadah prepared especially for this occasion.

The first Freedom Seder, we learned, was held almost exactly 45 years before this one; April 4, 1969, in Washington, D.C., on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s assassination. That was, as our special Haggadah informed us, “the first major event to publicly connect the struggles of the Israelites enslaved in Egypt with the struggles of African-Americans to achieve equality and liberation in the United States.”

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlins charged us all, at the start of this seder, to “reach across faiths and denominations to do God’s work in this world.” Leading our way through this adapted Haggadah was Rabbi Adam Roffman of Shearith, who clarified its new context in his introduction: “Our personal experience of being slaves and strangers in Egypt instills in us a responsibility toward those in our society who are at risk for discrimination and oppression. Passover therefore fuses history and the future, because the freedoms we enjoy today give us the opportunity to identify and aid others in need.”

Of course, this wouldn’t have been a truly Jewish experience without food! At the proper point, we put down our Haggadahs to enjoy conversation with our varied tablemates over a festive meal. “Dayenu” had already been explained; now, as dinner ended, everyone rose spontaneously and clasped hands around our tables to sing together that American anthem of freedom, “We Shall Overcome.”

Watch for announcements of next year’s Freedom Seder, and plan to attend both it and the Kosher Chili Cook-off, already calendared for March 22, 2015 — two great experiences open to everyone. But first: let’s all have a glorious Passover!

(A personal plea: As a judge for this year’s Cook-off, I sampled entries identified only by numbers; I don’t even know if my own favorite was one of the winners. So would someone from the group that cooked up that delicious chili featuring kidney beans and much cilantro please contact me? I’d like your recipe — for after Pesach, of course!)

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Blue skies and a bowl of red

Blue skies and a bowl of red

Posted on 03 April 2014 by admin

The Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off celebrated its 21st anniversary Sunday, March 30. Around 4,000 people of all ages attended the annual communitywide event at Tiferet Israel Congregation.

Henry Litoff won second place in the beef category.

Henry Litoff won second place in the beef category. | Photos: Rachel Gross Weinstein

Fifty teams competed this year, and winners were judged in both beef and vegetarian categories. Six organizations — Akiba Academy, Aaron Family JCC, Jewish Family Service, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Congregation Shearith Israel and Congregation Shaare Tefilla — all received certificates of appreciation for being part of the chili cook-off since its inception.

The Mazik Brothers also celebrated their 10th year of providing live music at the event.

The winners this year were:


First place: Camp Young Judaea

Second place: Henry Litoff

Third place: Levine Academy

Best vegetarian chili

Tiferet Israel

People’s Choice Award

Moishe House

Moishe House won the People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row. | Photos: Rachel Gross Weinstein

Moishe House won the People’s Choice Award for the second year in a row.

Camp Young Judaea took home the top prize this year.

Camp Young Judaea took home the top prize this year.

Ann and Nate Levine Academy finished third in the beef category.

Ann and Nate Levine Academy finished third in the beef category.

































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Thinking about God’s gender

Thinking about God’s gender

Posted on 03 April 2014 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

We always refer to Hashem as male. We say “Him,” “Avinu Malkenu,” etc… but actually because Hashem is not a person, we cannot define “Him” as having a specific gender.

But lately I feel like it is easier for me to feel like I have a loving relationship with “Him” if I see him as a mother, rather than a father.

The problem is, it makes davening slightly confusing…

And I was also wondering, is it “Orthodox” to think this way? I remember having read somewhere that when we address Hashem in the male form, it is based on convention. What do you think?

— Rivka N.

Dear Rivka,

friedforweb2The fact that God, we believe, has no physical form or body, and is largely referred to in our Torah and Scriptures in masculine form, is a profound philosophical question discussed by our sages.

The Kabbalists explain this to reflect upon the relationship between God and the world. In the creation of new life there is a partnership between a husband and wife. In this act of God-like creation, the man gives of himself to the woman; she receives his seed which is ‘’planted’’ in her and in this way life is formed.

Many references in Jewish sources compare the Al-mighty’s connection to the world, as well as the way He sustains it, to the relationship between a man and a woman. He pours down His bounty physically such with rain, and spiritually, from the heavens down to the earth, which is the recipient. Like the female, when the earth receives the bounty from above, its fertility allows and enables new life to be borne out, in the diverse flora and fauna of the planet.

At times there are references to God in the feminine, such as in certain prayers recited during the days of repentance around Yom Kippur and certain fast days. These prayers are tapping into God’s trait of mercy. The woman’s womb, in Hebrew, is called “rechem,” which is the root of the word “rachamim,” or mercy.

The main thing to keep in mind is that these subtle nuances in Jewish sources are masking very deep messages. Continue asking questions so you will unmask those messages and delight in the amazing world of our tradition.

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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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 03 April 2014 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

I would like to think that I am the world’s biggest Rangers’ fan. My passion is no match, however for the Cohen clan.

If you happened to be watching NBCDFW 5 news on Opening Day, you might have seen former ourtowner Shirley Cohen, 88, attending her 42nd consecutive Texas Rangers opener. Shirley and her family, are longtime season ticket holders and arguably the world’s biggest Rangers fans.

“I’m hoping for the best. I have a stack of rally flags like this,” Shirley told NBCDFW’s Scott Gordon, gesturing with her hands. “And I’m not throwing them away until we win the World Series,” she quipped! You can still catch Shirley’s clip online at

Three generations of the Cohen family enjoyed Opening Day festivities and tailgating at Globe Life Park March 31. Back row from left are Elizabeth Cohen, Murray Cohen, Denise Kleiman and Reed Cohen. Seated are Shirley Cohen and Kate Cohen. | Photo: Courtesy of the Cohen Family

Three generations of the Cohen family enjoyed Opening Day festivities and tailgating at Globe Life Park March 31. Back row from left are Elizabeth Cohen, Murray Cohen, Denise Kleiman and Reed Cohen. Seated are Shirley Cohen and Kate Cohen. | Photo: Courtesy of the Cohen Family

TCU Hillel to host Holocaust Museum, speaker April 7-8

The TCU Chapter of Hillel, the Jewish student organization, will present a Holocaust Museum from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, April 7 and Tuesday, April 8 in the Ballroom of the Brown Lupton University Union

Magie Furst will speak about her personal experience as a child in the Kindertransport at 7 p.m., Tuesday, April 8 in the Ballroom. Kindertransport was the program that rescued more than 10,000 European children by transporting them to Great Britain before the outbreak of WW II. There is no charge for either the museum or Mrs. Furst’s presentation and the public is welcome.

Visitor parking is available on Stadium Drive across the street from the University Union. Contact Arnold Barkman, at or 817-257-7553 for questions.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 03 April 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

JCRS honors the Tolmas family

The spectacular setting of the Freedom Pavilion of the National World War II Museum served as the venue for 500 guests, as the Jewish Children’s Regional Service presented “The Jewish Roots of Broadway” and honored members of the Tolmas family of Dallas and the Scharff family of Louisiana.

Dallas honorees at the March 22 Gala in New Orleans included Alan and Gina Tolmas, Jeanie Tolmas and Hyman and Connie Tolmas.

The event featured live entertainment directed by renowned musician and artist Harry Mayronne and highlighted Jewish contributions to the evolution of Broadway. The live acts were enhanced by historic video from some of the great Jewish performers, writers and lyricists.

Guests from the Metroplex included Marilyn Englander, new JCRS board member and recent past president of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and her husband, Marty, Jaime and Esther Hazan-Cohen, Lionel and Gloria Reiman and Allan and Sandra Cantor.

The JCRS funds more than 150 Jewish youth each year from the Dallas/Fort Worth Area for services such as overnight camp scholarships, financial aid for college and special needs assistance.

JCRS President Leon Rittenberg III expressed great pride in the opportunity for JCRS to honor both the Tolmas family and the Scharffs, who have each devoted a great deal of time, effort and generosity, on behalf of the services of JCRS, the only regional Jewish children’s agency in the United States, as well as the oldest Jewish children’s agency. “Seldom does any organization get an opportunity to recognize, at once, multiple generations of two wonderful and committed families,” he explained. “Each of these families has produced a JCRS president, which in the case of the Tolmas family, is Jeanie Tolmas M.D.”

The Tolmas family was honored March 22 by the Jewish Children’s Regional Service in New Orleans. Pictured from left are, front row, Dr. Jeanie Tolmas and Dr. Hyman and Connie Tolmas; back row from left, Alan and Gina Tolmas and their daughters Sheina and Cara. | Photo: Courtesy of Ned Goldberg/JCRS

The Tolmas family was honored March 22 by the Jewish Children’s Regional Service in New Orleans. Pictured from left are, front row, Dr. Jeanie Tolmas and Dr. Hyman and Connie Tolmas; back row from left, Alan and Gina Tolmas and their daughters Sheina and Cara. | Photo: Courtesy of Ned Goldberg/JCRS

Each member of the Tolmas family has either provided distinguished service on the JCRS board, served as a JCRS officer and/or has been instrumental in setting up at least one of the four scholarship funds that the Tolmas family has established at JCRS.

Within the Tolmas family, Alan and Gina were the first within the family to relocate to Dallas, having come separately to the Metroplex in the 1970s and 1980s.

Alan is a CPA and the founder of Texas Financial Forensics LLC, a firm that that provides forensic accounting and business valuation services. He has been president of both the Estate Planning Council of North Texas and the DFW Chapter of the American Society of Appraisers.

Gina is the founder of GST Interiors, Ltd. and an interior design studio that provides both commercial and residential interior design services. She is a member of the Texas Association of Interior Designers and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas.

Alan and Gina have been active members and leaders with many Jewish and civic groups within Dallas, including Tiferet Israel, Shaare Tefilla, Hillel of North Texas, Israel Bonds, Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, Hadassah and Altrusa. They are the proud parents of two college students — Sheina, who attends NYU and Cara, a student at the University of Michigan.

After Hurricane Katrina, Alan’s sister, Jeanie Tolmas and their parents, Hyman and Connie Tolmas relocated to Dallas.

Jeanie is a board certified pediatrician, specializing in adolescent and travel medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Medicine. She practiced for many years at the Tulane University Student Health Center and in 2004, was named by New Orleans Magazine a “Top Doctor.”

Within JCRS, she chaired for a number of years the Case Committee, a committee that has funded special needs Jewish youth for decades, long before this population came to the wide attention of the national Jewish community. She served as JCRS president from 2003-2005.

Since living in Dallas, Jeanie has been active with numerous Dallas organizations, including CASA, ECHAD, JFS and the JWV Auxiliary, to name a few.

When members of the family relocated to Dallas in 2005, there were returning to Connie’s hometown.

Connie Cohen Tolmas, is a Dallas native and grew up with a large, extended family in Dallas. In New Orleans, she was an active volunteer with the NCJW, the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Charity Hospital, Jewish Federation and her synagogue, Shir Chadash.

She met Hyman Tolmas when she was a Tulane undergraduate and the couple were married in 1950.

Hyman practiced adolescent pediatrics in Greater New Orleans for 59 years prior to Katrina, in a career that included a thriving private practice, professorships at both Tulane and LSU Medical Schools and practice privileges at eight local hospitals. While his academic accomplishments, awards and recognitions have been numerous, it is perhaps the generations of past patients whom have come forward to remember “Doc Tolmas” that may be one of the most endearing elements of this current recognition.

The evening’s entertainment was directed by a New Orleans’ celebrated artist Harry Mayronne. After contracting to perform the entertainment, Brian learned that Hyman Tolmas was an honoree and proudly revealed to the JCRS event committee that he was among Hyman’s childhood patients 40 to 50 years ago.

The JCRS served more than 1,500 Jewish youth in 2103, funding 1,400 of them. The agency assists Jewish youth who reside in seven Southern states, including Texas. There are many residents of Greater Dallas who are current or former camp, college or special needs scholarship recipients. The agency is primarily supported through contributions from individuals, families and family foundations.

Learn more about the event, the honorees and the important work of JCRS by going to the JCRS website:

By contacting the office at 1-800-729-5277 you can receive a 28-page booklet that not only tells about the honorees, but also chronicles Jewish contributions to Broadway.

The agency address is P.O. Box 7368, Metairie, LA 70010-7368.

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