Archive | September, 2014

Reframing labels in the New Year

Reframing labels in the New Year

Posted on 25 September 2014 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2This is my favorite article that I must repeat every year just as our holidays repeat every year.

Yom Kippur is here and hopefully, we have all apologized to those we may have hurt on purpose or unintentionally. As we enter the New Year, let us remember to be the best we can be and help our children develop as well.

Each year at the High Holidays, we read a prayer by Reb Zusya. The commentary shares the thoughts of Reb Zusya: When I meet God, I will not be asked, “Why were you not Moses?” but rather “Were you the best Zusya you could be?” I am reminded of this each time we question why our children are not more this or more that — we compare and worry.

Years ago, the cry in education was “LABEL JARS NOT CHILDREN!” We strived not to label children and define them by that label. Today we say “Help children develop labels to identify themselves, but remember LABELS ARE NOT LIMITS!”

Let us learn to use our words to help our children “see” who they are and who they can be. Use words to reframe how we see our children and how they see themselves.

To help us with this goal of discovering who our children are and how we can help them achieve their potential, I am repeating this list from previous years. It is often a matter of looking at things from just a little different perspective — a change from “half empty” to “half full.”

Look through this list and start using new words to describe your child (and yourself)!

Some say … , you might say …

boisterous, enthusiastic
brooding, serious
clingy, loving
dreamy, imaginative
forceful, determined
inflexible, traditional
loud, expressive
non-participatory, an observer
picky, selective
shy, reflective
aggressive, assertive
bossy, a leader
chatterbox, communicative
controlling, determined
fearful, sensitive
impatient, passionate
insecure, cautious
manipulative, charismatic
obsessive, deliberate
self-centered, proud

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

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 25 September 2014 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

At this time of year it’s easy to reminisce of Days of Awe gone by spent at both Beth-El Congregation and Ahavath Sholom. Always members of both congregations, as a young child we mostly went to Beth-El.

My folks, TJP editors and publishers Rene and Jimmy Wisch’s first apartment was across the street from Beth El’s Broadway location in what is now a parking lot. Mom and dad always enjoyed the Reform services and made many friends, through chavurahs in the early years.

Yearly, without fail, we would rush to “the Temple” for Erev Rosh Hashanah services after being overstuffed with soup, brisket, stuffed cabbage and the like. We were a big crew and had the reputation of being late, it seems our seats in the balcony were reserved just for us and was that Rabbi Schur, of blessed memory, taking note of our entrance?

The receptions after Rosh Hashanah services were fun and always topped off by a Pepsi from the “pull a bottle” machine in the kitchen.”

Our days were usually spent at Ahavath Shalom, “the shul.” Mystery of mysteries, we weren’t on time there either, and relegated to the back of the sanctuary in the folding chairs. It was a full house and our entrance didn’t seem to be noticed as the back of the house was somewhat chatty.

Abe “Abela” Friedling was always on hand to pass out some candy to the kids when we got bored. And, when I returned in later years with my own children, Herbie Berkowitz, also of blessed memory, picked up the baton and passed out Tootsie Pops to my own brood.

Those were the days. I watched as families grew, shrank and grew again. I felt at home at the Temple and the Shul and will forever hold memories of High Holidays at both houses of worship near and dear to my heart.

How amazing it is that now in addition to the Temple and the Shul, one can worship at Chabad of Fort Worth, Chabad of Arlington, Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Beth Shalom in Tarrant County.

Regardless of where you hang your kippah, here’s “Wisching” all of the TJP readers and their families a Happy and Healthy New Year. May you be inscribed!

Marvin Beleck named Jewish Person of the Year

Everyone looks forward to Fort Worth’s best kept secret every year, the Jewish Person of the Year. Nobody was more surprised than Jewish Person of the Year committee member and the honoree himself Marvin Beleck.

Marvin Beleck and his wife Ava at the Jewish Person of the Year dinner Sept. 14 at Ahavath Sholom. | Photo: Courtesy B’nai B’rith Lodge

Marvin Beleck and his wife Ava at the Jewish Person of the Year dinner Sept. 14 at Ahavath Sholom. | Photo: Courtesy B’nai B’rith Lodge

“I was totally shocked and honored to receive this award and to be listed in future lists with such great Jewish community leaders as all past recipients who won,” said Marvin in an email to the TJP.

Dr. Carole Rogers, last year’s honoree, read Marvin’s “reveal” speech.

Known for his volunteerism in the Jewish community and community at large, his huge heart and his can do attitude.

Marvin is a native Texan who was born in Greenville and grew up in Tyler. He’s a foodie, and specializes in the Texas favorites of grilling, smoking meats, making barbecue sauces and canning fruits, vegetables and pickles.

Congratulations to Marvin, his wife Ava and the entire Beleck family for this distinguished honor.

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Should we make resolutions?

Should we make resolutions?

Posted on 25 September 2014 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

With Rosh Hashanah approaching, I have a dilemma. I was always taught as a child that this is the time we make resolutions to be better for the coming year. The problem is that I have done it every year for many years and have never kept the commitment for more than a couple of months, tops. Is it better to make a resolution that gets broken, or perhaps better not to commit at all?

— Rochelle W.

Dear Rochelle,

friedforweb2It’s true that Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the Jewish times for making resolutions (as opposed to Jan. 1), and it’s important to understand the context in which we make those resolutions before deciding what to do.

Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur mark the period known as the “Ten Days of Teshuvah” or repentance. This is the time that we reflect upon our actions and deeds in the past year, and attempt to make amends to God and our fellow man.

The teshuvah process consists of three parts: 1) Recognizing and feeling remorse over a past misdeed, 2) Accepting upon yourself never to repeat that misdeed in the future, 3) Confessing the misdeed to God and asking Him for forgiveness. When the misdeed affected another person, step one includes rectifying the wrong and attaining their forgiveness.

The Jewish concept of resolutions stems from part two. An element in the way we rectify our actions in the future is by committing to perform a positive act, which will ensure that we will not return to the misdeed. At times, we feel the need to elevate ourselves to a generally higher level of closeness to God, so we will commit to some mitzvah over the coming year that will affect us positively in all areas of our lives. It may be to accept refraining from a negative behavior or character trait as well.

Once we put the Jewish New Year’s resolutions into the context of teshuvah, we realize it’s not just a nice thing to do. Rather it’s an important part of the mitzvah we are commanded to perform at this time of the year.

In order to make it meaningful, I will suggest to you a paradigm shift in your conception of commitment. Your question suggests an oxymoron: a commitment you know you will break. Allow me to suggest that a commitment you know you will break is not a commitment at all. To commit and consistently not fulfill is a huge blow to your own personal integrity. You then develop a story about yourself that you don’t fulfill your commitments, not to yourself, not to God and not to others. This story about yourself becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Consider making a commitment to something small, doable and significant. Make that commitment with integrity. This means that you decide if your personal integrity depends upon that commitment. Think ahead of ways to ensure the fulfillment of your resolution. Decide that even if you slip up once, it’s not over. Rather clean it up and continue with the commitment the rest of the year. If you’re able to do that, you will exercise your “integrity muscles” and be a much stronger, prouder person for whom the sky is the limit for your potential growth and happiness.

When you listen to the shofar blast, allow it to awaken the hidden greatness within you as a Jew and a human being. Actualize that greatness by making this coming year a great one in all that you do!

Best wishes for a New Year of growth, meaning and joy to you, the dedicated staff of the TJP and 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 yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 25 September 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Laurie Miller is one busy professional. Laurie is always a pleasure to talk to, and a recent telephone conversation brought me up to date on what she is doing currently. Laurie founded Apple Care and Companion with her mother, Joyce Friedman, a licensed and board-certified social worker in 2006. The philosophy for the company then, which still holds true today, is to provide affordable, competent and loving care while granting peace of mind to the families involved.

Laurie, a native Dallasite, graduated from The Greenhill School and The University of Texas in Austin. After receiving her BBA in marketing, she moved back to Dallas and went to work in her family’s 78-year-old business called S.M. Hapsel and Son, which manufactured fine china, silver and glassware. Following the 20-year stint in the family business, she decided it was time for a career change. Laurie knew she wanted a career that would make a positive impact on other people’s lives, and after much research, came to the conclusion that “Eldercare” was the industry for her. She remembered how her grandparents enjoyed the freedom and happiness that comes from living in one’s own home and on one’s own terms. They had round-the-clock care from caregivers who assisted them with activities of daily living, which allowed them to experience independence without having to rely on their children. This allowed her grandparents to remain in their own home until they died.

Laurie is currently serving her second year as president of The Dallas Area Gerontological Society, (DAGS), which is now in its 25th year of service to the Dallas community.

In celebration of that, the Dallas Area Gerontological Society (DAGS) will present its annual forum from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 16 at the Fellowship Bible Church, 9330 N. Central Expressway in Dallas. The theme is “The Aging (R)Evolution: It’s Gonna Be Alright” with topics addressing current conditions and important trends in the aging population, including the growing influence of the Baby Boomers on this group.

DAGS is a nonprofit, voluntary member organization whose mission is to provide continuing education on gerontological topics, provide scholarships to individuals pursuing a career in the aging field, and to advocate for improved services for the elderly.

Forum speakers include Dr. T. Bryan Callister, Dr. Diana Kerwin and Dr. Paul Tobolowsky. CEUs are available for nurses, social workers, guardians, LPCs and administrators. Fifty-five exhibitors will be present to share important information with attendees. Professionals, family members and anyone interested in aging issues are encouraged to attend the forum at a reduced non-CEU rate. Students and senior citizens get a discount rate, too. Admission includes breakfast, lunch, snacks and DAGS membership for 2015.

Specific information is available on the DAGS website: www.dags.org. Pre-admission through the website is requested.

The forum will include a 25 -year retrospective by founding members on DAGS’ work in the community through the years.

DAGS holds monthly meetings at various locations in the greater Dallas area that are free and open to non-members. Each program is on an educational topic relating to aging. Dates, topics and locations of past and upcoming events are available at www.dags.org.

Although not part of DAGS’ original mission, the group added scholarship awards to encourage students to enter the field of gerontology. Each year, DAGS grants scholarships to deserving applicants who wish to advance their studies toward a certification or a degree in fields relative to aging studies. In 2014, DAGS has awarded $10,500 in scholarships, plus two named scholarships at Collin College and Dallas County Community College.

CoLodging Club named affiliate with the Golden Girls Network

Independent-minded women and men age 40 and over — with no desire to live in senior communities, assisted living, or with the children — can now seek like-minded housemates with the help of a new Texas affiliate of GoldenGirlsNetwork.com. An inaugural kick-off party is scheduled for Oct. 14 with Bonnie Moore, president of Golden Girls Network, leading a panel discussion on the benefits and realities of the Golden Girls Lifestyle. This event will be held from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at California Pizza Kitchen, 8411 Preston Road, Dallas. (RSVP: http://event.celebrations.com/GoldenGirlsNetwork )

“The addition of our Dallas-based affiliate, CoLodging Club led by Laurie Miller, marks the Texas launch of Golden Girls Network in response to the growing preference of single Baby Boomers nationwide to share their houses, condos, or apartments with compatible housemates instead of living alone,” said Moore, a retired attorney and accountant who founded Golden Girls Network, Inc. at her suburban Maryland home, which she has shared with roommates since her own divorce in 2008. The concept of shared housing among active, older adults has also sparked considerable media interest, beginning with Moore’s interview on NPR last year. In addition, segments have appeared on CBS, PBS, ABC, and France2, a French TV network. Articles have appeared in The Washington Post, Next Avenue, Kiplinger’s, Christian Science Monitor and in numerous retirement blogs.

Golden Girls Network is a nationwide electronic registry that provides an opportunity for older adults to connect with compatible housemates. “We do not do the matching for you,” explains Moore. Instead, individuals use the registry to identify shared living opportunities best suited to their particular needs. Individuals add themselves to the registry via the group’s website by providing a confidential profile and the type of living arrangement they are either offering or seeking.

In addition, support is available through shared housing seekers and providers through the company’s e-book titled “How to Start a Golden Girls Home,” and through free conference call classes hosted by Moore, where she offers anecdotal guidance and answers questions for seniors wanting to learn more about the shared-housing lifestyle.

Golden Girls Network, Inc. is based in Bowie, Maryland. For additional information, visit www.goldengirlsnetwork.com. To contact the Texas Affiliate: Laurie Miller, CoLodging Club, 972-802-1104, or email LaurieM@GoldenGirlsNetwork.com.

Les Weisbrod named by Best Lawyers® as 2015 Dallas Medical Malpractice Law-Plaintiffs ‘Lawyer of the Year’

Good wishes to Les Weisbrod, partner at Miller Weisbrod LLC who recently received the designation from Best Lawyers ® as 2015 Dallas Medical Malpractice Law-Plaintiffs “Lawyer of the Year.” Best Lawyers ® is the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession. A listing in Best Lawyers is widely regarded by both clients and legal professionals as a significant honor, conferred on a lawyer by his or her peers. For more than three decades, Best Lawyers® lists have earned the respect of the profession, the media, and the public, as the most reliable, unbiased source of legal referrals anywhere.

According to Michael Rustad, a professor of law at Suffolk University Law School in Boston, “Les Weisbrod has obtained more medical malpractice punitive damage jury verdicts for his clients than any other attorney in the United States.” In August 2014 Weisbrod obtained a summary jury trial verdict in Dallas County Court At Law No. 1 for $3.7 million on behalf of an injured 79-year-old client which included $2 million in punitive damages. Since May 1986, Weisbrod has tried or settled over 177 medical malpractice and medical product cases that have each resulted in verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more for his clients.

Weisbrod has served as president, president-elect, vice president, secretary, treasurer and parliamentarian of the American Association for Justice (AAJ) (formerly Association of Trial Lawyers of America). AAJ is the largest trial lawyer membership organization in the world and dedicated to preserving the civil justice system and making sure that powerful special interests are held accountable when they engage in misconduct or negligence. In 1991, Weisbrod was the co-founding chair of the Birth Trauma Litigation group of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America.

He has lectured to lawyer groups across the U.S., Canada, England and Australia, and has written extensively on medical malpractice and medical product topics. He is recognized nationally and internationally as one of the top plaintiffs’ medical malpractice trial lawyers in the United States.

Weisbrod received his B.A. magna cum laude in 1975 from Claremont Men’s College and his J.D. in 1978 from Southern Methodist University Law School, and he is board certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in Personal Injury Trial Law and Civil Trial Law.

Special New Year’s Greetings to all our readers. Please send us your holiday news — or share any holiday traditions or thoughts. May you all have a happy and healthy New Year.

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Please remember

Please remember

Posted on 25 September 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebToday, we pray. Next week, we’ll be readying for Yom Kippur and the recitations of Al Chait — for the sins I have sinned…

But Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, best known for his book “Jewish Literacy,” reminds us that now, in advance of standing before God to confess our sins, we might look at the good things we’ve done and “confess” our mitzvahs as well. Last year at this time, in Al Chait format, he provided us with a more positive plea:

“For the mitzvah we performed by remembering the good another had done for us, even when we were upset with him or her…For the mitzvah we performed by standing up for justice when we saw another mistreated…For the mitzvah we performed by remembering to thank and express gratitude to anyone who has helped us…For the mitzvah we performed when we heard an ambulance siren and offered a prayer to God on behalf of the sick person inside…For the mitzvah we performed by donating to charity cheerfully…For the mitzvah we performed by apologizing to a child whose feelings we had unfairly hurt…

“ALL THESE THINGS, GOD, PLEASE REMEMBER, AND PLEASE HELP INSPIRE US TO DO MORE SUCH ACTS DURING THE COMING YEAR.”

We could all make our own mitzvah lists, but Rabbi Telushkin has performed his own mitzvah by making a comprehensive one for us:

“For the mitzvah we performed by blessing our children on Shabbat…For the mitzvah we performed by returning a lost object to its owner…For the mitzvah we performed by visiting a sick person… For the mitzvah we performed by helping someone find work…For the mitzvah we performed by teaching our children Torah…For the mitzvah we performed by studying Torah ourselves…For the mitzvah we performed by hearing a negative rumor about another and refraining from passing it on…For the mitzvah we performed by refraining from snapping at the one person who has chosen to share our life — our spouse…”

Then repeat here, as above, those words reminiscent of Al Chait: “ALL THESE THINGS, GOD, PLEASE REMEMBER…”

And now, for the conclusion of Rabbi Telushkin’s list:

“For the mitzvah we performed by being compassionate, forgiving those who have hurt us and seek our forgiveness…For the mitzvah we performed by asking those whom we have hurt for forgiveness…For the mitzvah we performed by not unfairly exaggerating the bad traits of those whom we dislike…For the mitzvah we performed by interacting with non-Jews in a manner that brings credit to the Jewish people…For the mitzvah we performed by accepting responsibility for the wrongs we have committed, not blaming our bad behavior on someone else…For the mitzvah we performed by staying in close communication with elderly parents…For the mitzvah we performed by not using the words ‘always’ and ‘never’ when we are angry with another…For the mitzvah we performed by not making comments that can inflict irrevocable hurt on one with whom we are angry…

“ALL THESE THINGS, GOD, PLEASE REMEMBER, AND PLEASE HELP INSPIRE US TO DO MORE SUCH ACTS DURING THIS COMING YEAR.”

I confess to have taken some liberties with Rabbi Telushkin’s list, omitting a few items entirely, cutting out or changing words in some others. For these sins, dear readers, please forgive me; you can find “For the Mitzvah” in its entirety with a simple search on your computer. But now, I’ll take one further liberty by adding something of my own:

For the mitzvah I have tried to perform by taking all things that life has handed me during this past year and doing the best I could with them…This, God, please remember, and please help inspire me to do more of this in the year to come.

My promise for 5775: To read the newest of Rabbi Telushkin’s many books: “Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History.”

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Tikkun olam in action

Tikkun olam in action

Posted on 25 September 2014 by admin

By Elan Kogutt
Dr. Rick Hodes, always trying to put patients at ease, helps a child hear her heartbeat. | Photo: Courtesy of Elan Kogutt

Dr. Rick Hodes, always trying to put patients at ease, helps a child hear her heartbeat. | Photos: Courtesy of Elan Kogutt

Standing in the examination room at the Cure Hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, I was struck with awe while watching Dr. Rick Hodes examine patient after patient with severe spine and heart disease. The line was endless and in only one day we examined over 70 patients — twice the number of patients a doctor in the U.S. would see, all presenting some of the worst spinal cases an American doctor would see in his lifetime. My journey to Rick’s clinic was not short — in fact, it dates back 12 years.

It all started when Dr. Hodes came across two abandoned orphans at Mother Teresa’s Mission in the room for sick, unadoptable kids: Dejene and Semegnew. They had ‘V’-shaped spinal columns, severe deformities caused by tuberculosis of the spine. In fact, Semegnew had a 120-degree angle in his back. After careful deliberation, Rick decided to adopt the boys, understanding that in doing so, their surgeries could be covered under his health care plan. Not only was he getting them surgery, but he was also becoming their dad for the duration of their lives, no matter what happened.

He phoned a stranger, Jaynie Schultz, to ask if there were any resources in the Dallas Jewish community to help the kids. Jaynie immediately volunteered, “What a great story — we’ll take the kids.” Being close family friends with the Romaners, I found myself at their house every Shabbat and many weekdays. Twelve years later, Dejene, now a handsome and very intelligent young man with no sign of any physical deformity, and I are still very good friends.

I finally got the chance to go to Ethiopia to see Dejene’s birthplace and Dr. Rick’s amazing work when Liberal Arts Honors, my program at UT, selected me to receive a “Wise Wanderer Scholarship.” This scholarship afforded me the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia and teach English to children at a youth center serving an impoverished community.

Elan Kogutt, wrapped in Tefillin, in the front yard of Rick Hodes’ house with Tuberculosis of the spine patients Mengistu, Behailu and Mikias. | Photo: Courtesy of Elan Kogutt

Elan Kogutt, wrapped in Tefillin, in the front yard of Rick Hodes’ house with Tuberculosis of the spine patients Mengistu, Behailu and Mikias.

I enjoyed the time I spent teaching, traveling and experiencing Ethiopian culture, and I learned more in four weeks than I thought possible. However, the most special moments were those I was able to spend with Dr. Hodes. An American doctor who has lived and worked in Ethiopia for over 25 years, Hodes is the medical director of Ethiopia for the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC).

While training in internal medicine at Johns Hopkins, “Dr. Rick,” as Ethiopians call him, went to Ethiopia as a relief worker during the 1984 famine. He returned to teach at the medical school in Addis Ababa, and then to work for JDC, caring for over 60,000 Ethiopian immigrants to Israel. In 1991, he was a physician in “Operation Solomon,” overseeing all of the medical care to the Ethiopian Jews airlifted to Israel.

He has also worked with refugees in Rwanda, Zaire, Tanzania, Somalia and Albania. Currently, he is the senior consultant at a Mother Teresa’s Catholic mission helping the impoverished and runs a major program to help patients with heart disease, spine deformities and cancer.

Dr. Rick works at every waking moment, and some speculate as to whether he even sleeps. With such limited access to health care in Ethiopia — one doctor for every 40,000 Ethiopians — and with him personally running the only spine clinic in the country, he believes it is his duty to help as many patients as possible. Without any arrogance he said to me, “If I didn’t help them all these people (his constant influx of patients) would die.” He works at three different clinics seeing patients for free, often giving money from his own pocket to pay for expenses such as the patients’ bus fare so they can continue to visit. From 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. he will see anywhere between 50 and 90 patients, diagnosing a vast variety of illnesses, simple and complex.

Above all, he is known for helping young people with diseases of the spine, especially kyphosis and scoliosis, which devastate East African countries. He works tirelessly to find and diagnose Ethiopians and match them with funding, surgeons and facilities to undergo surgery. When he sees a patient walking with a spinal deformity while driving, he will pull over, introduce himself and say, “Get in the car, we’ll treat you.”

When I was there I was fortunate enough to witness the process from start to finish: patients timidly coming in to meet Dr. Rick, going through intensive medical tests to prepare their medical file and ensure surgical candidacy and flying from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Accra, Ghana where they would get life-saving surgeries at FOCOS Hospital. As they lined up for Rick to take their picture, I felt as though I could make out a word from the misshapen spines.

Over the course of my stay, I was able to get to know Rick on a personal level from spending many hours at his house. He never knows how many kids there are, with many of them coming and going, either to recover from surgery or visit for follow-up. He welcomes his adopted children’s family members and often patients as well, providing them with food, shelter and private school education. As he said, “Mother Teresa’s is a Catholic home that welcomes everyone, my house is a Jewish home that welcomes everyone.”

I was incredibly inspired by Dr. Rick. He combines a love for others with practical application. I will always cherish the memory of putting on Tefillin with Rick in his front yard while two adorable young boys with severe TB of the spine in the first stages of the extensive surgery process, reminiscent of the position my friends were once in, played soccer around us. I prayed the portion of the daily prayers about healing the sick with extra kavannah (strength) that day.

To learn more about Dr. Rick Hodes or make a charitable donation to his projects, visit his website www.rickhodes.org. He is the subject of a book titled, “This Is A Soul: The Mission of Rick Hodes” by Marilyn Berger. A new film about him, “Zemene,” will premier in Boston September 28.

Elan Kogutt is a graduate of Yavneh Academy of Dallas and is now studying psychology and business at The University of Texas at Austin.

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Around the Town

Posted on 18 September 2014 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Congratulations to Marvin Beleck who was named Jewish Person of the Year by the Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith Sept. 14 at the annual dinner. I look forward to sharing more details about what I hear was a splendid evening as well as some photos in next week’s column.

It’s the time of year when the High Holidays and preparing for them are on everyone’s mind. There is no better way to get into the spiritual mindset than to attend Selichot services, and the Reform and Conservative synagogues of Fort Worth and Tarrant County along with the Jewish Federation have a dandy program in store for attendees.

This year’s Selichot scholar will be Rabbi Marla Feldman, executive director of the Women of Reform Judaism. Rabbi Feldman will deliver a trio of lectures. At 8 p.m., Friday, Sept. 19 at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, she will speak on “Just Say No! The Commandments you Should Not Follow.” Beth-El’s Shir Hallelujah, volunteer choir, will sing. Rabbi Feldman will be at Beth Israel in Colleyville at 9 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 20. Her topic will be “Lift Up Your Voice Like a Shofar: Hearing Isaiah’s Call.” On Saturday evening at 8 p.m. at Beth Shalom in Arlington, the topic will be “Standing Together and Leaning In: Reform Women Changing the World.”

Rabbi Feldman has an extensive and impressive resume. As the executive director of the Women of Reform Judaism, the women’s affiliate of the Union for Reform Judaism, she represents 65,000 women in 500 sisterhoods throughout North America. As both a Reform rabbi and a lawyer, Feldman brings a unique perspective to issues relevant to Jewish people.

Previously, Rabbi Feldman served as the Union for Reform Judaism (URJ) director of development, director of the Commission on Social Action and director of the Department of Social Action.

In 2010 she obtained a Certificate in Fundraising from the NYU Heyman Center. Feldman received her J.D. from the University of Florida in 1993 and is a member of the Florida Bar. She was ordained from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (New York) in 1985 and received her B.A. in Jewish Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1979.

Rabbi Feldman represents the URJ in national coalitions and has served on many nonprofit boards, including the Save Darfur Coalition, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Rabbis for Human Rights-NA, Jewish Coalition for Disaster Relief, Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues and the interfaith advisory boards of Cover the Uninsured Week and National AIDS Partnership.

Before joining the staff of the URJ, Rabbi Feldman worked in the Jewish Community Relations field in Detroit and Delaware and served congregations in Orlando and Sarasota, Florida.

Rabbi Feldman’s social justice work has taken her to Asia, South America and Africa. Most recently she delivered mosquito nets to refugees in Kenya through the URJ Nothing But Nets campaign. She has led numerous “mitzvah corps” service learning programs throughout the U.S. and Israel.

Feldman is the author of several Reform Movement action manuals. Her articles, Op Eds and modern midrash have appeared in periodicals, books and newspapers throughout the country.

An opportunity to save a life

Beth-El Congregation will start the year off with an important project on Yom Kippur. Partnering with the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism the temple will hold a swab drive to help collect potential bone marrow donors Oct. 4. Potential donors will be entered into the bone marrow registry.

Registration is simple. It requires a quick cheek swab and completion of a consent form. Potential donors must be between the ages of 18 and 60 and in general good health.

The only way that you will ever know if you are eligible to save a life is by taking this first step. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Social Action Chair, Laurie James, at playswithwords@sbcglobal.net.

I have known a number of people who have both been recipients of bone marrow and donors who matched through cheek swab programs.

By the time the next edition of the TJP hits your mail box it will be 5775. On behalf of the Wisch family and the entire TJP staff, we wish you a happy and healthy new year. May you be inscribed. And that’s a 30 for 5774!

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Tiferet Israel takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Tiferet Israel takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted on 18 September 2014 by admin

Elandra and Marty Weinberg

Elandra and Marty Weinberg

On what can only be called a “brisk for September” morning, members of Tiferet Israel showed up for Marty Weinberg Sunday, Sept. 14, with both towels and checkbooks in hand.

Weinberg, once a dentist, has been battling amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, ALS. As the ALS ice bucket challenge doused the nation this summer, it seemed only fitting that Tiferet Israel would honor their own longtime member with a challenge of their own.

The synagogue has been a tremendous source of strength to the Weinbergs, Elandra, Marty’s wife told the TJP.

Although unable to communicate, through speech, Marty watched the proceedings with rapt attention. “He’s very emotional,” said Elandra, overwhelmed by the outpouring of support herself.

As of Sept. 16, The Ice Bucket Challenge has raised $113 million in donations. Donations can be made to The ALS Texas Chapter, 2251 Chenault, Carrollton, TX, 75006 or online at http://webtx.alsa.org/.

At the Tiferet ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in honor of Marty Weinberg Sept. 14 are, from left, Ed Jerome, Warren Abrams, Rick Cohen, Elandra Weinberg, Marty Weinberg and Joseph Blashka; second row Julie Doucet, Sonia Meltzer, David Bock and Shirley Rovinsky; and back row Peter Lesser, Tina Israel, Stuart Roosth, Irv Rovinsky, Ilya Kisin and Zev Shulkin

At the Tiferet ALS Ice Bucket Challenge in honor of Marty Weinberg Sept. 14 are, from left, Ed Jerome, Warren Abrams, Rick Cohen, Elandra Weinberg, Marty Weinberg and Joseph Blashka; second row Julie Doucet, Sonia Meltzer, David Bock and Shirley Rovinsky; and back row Peter Lesser, Tina Israel, Stuart Roosth, Irv Rovinsky, Ilya Kisin and Zev Shulkin

Dr. Zev Shulkin, Ed Jerome Julie Doucet and Nancy Walker give the “Ice bucket” treatment to Rick Cohen, Peter Lesser and Stuart Roosth.

Dr. Zev Shulkin, Ed Jerome Julie Doucet and Nancy Walker give the “Ice bucket” treatment to Rick Cohen, Peter Lesser and Stuart Roosth.

Julie Doucet douses Sonia Meltzer and Naomi Sanit as Warren Abrams looks on.

Julie Doucet douses Sonia Meltzer and Naomi Sanit as Warren Abrams looks on.

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Midnight service is worth staying up for

Midnight service is worth staying up for

Posted on 18 September 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebWhen I was a youngster, Selichot wasn’t a part of my life. Looking back, I don’t know why. Rosh Hashanah was very important, of course, but its lead-up, a night filled with preparatory prayers, was something I hadn’t even heard of.

My family belonged to a traditional synagogue, but my father was barely involved, and my mother was more dedicated to its social than its religious aspects. I’m sure there were Selichot services, but nobody in my house ever went to them.

In Sunday school, however, I learned that “Prayer, Penitence and Charity Avert the Severe Decree.” There was lots of praying on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, even more penitential prayers on the latter, and annual High Holy Days appeals for charitable giving.

I’ve learned much more since then. Tefillah — tshuvah — tzedakah are basic blocks in the building of Jewish life. We talk to God; we talk to people, and ask their forgiveness for any wrongs we may have caused them over an entire year; we help those in need. But we don’t do these things only because they may “avert the severe decree.” We’re all going to face the fall of that final hammer some time, regardless of our behavior; even saints pass away. But until we do get our last call, prayer, penitence and charity enrich our lives.

I first learned about Selichot as a religious service when I belonged to a Reform congregation and sang in its all-volunteer-members choir. For years, my husband and I joined three other couples for an annual “Play and Pray” evening: we had an early dinner together, indulged in a few rubbers of bridge, then walked to our nearby temple for the midnight prayers. I loved the food and the friendship, but the palpable uplift in the sanctuary was best of all.

My son, who’s now a grandfather himself, became bar mitzvah on the Saturday morning before Rosh Hashanah. In the evening, our home was so full of family and friends, busily enjoying each other and reluctant to see such a beautiful day end, that no one noticed when I slipped away a few minutes before midnight to walk to the temple and sing the Selichot prayers with the choir.

It was the last time I was ever able to do so. A few days later, I had devastating surgery: removal of a tumor took away the right parotid gland in my neck and necessitated scraping the facial nerve; my vocal chords were involved, and never recovered from the trauma. But oh, those glorious memories!

Different congregations observe Selichot in different ways, and there are also differences as times change. That’s one of the glories of Judaism — our ability to flex, to adapt, to meet new needs without severing old connections altogether. Now there’s often a lesson of some kind before the praying begins, before the prayers that give Selichot its name are recited; even the midnight recitation that remains a tradition for some has been moved up earlier on the clock for others. But wherever we are, whatever time it is, we are still all Jews together, saying the same prayers, promising the penitence and charity that may — or may not — “avert the severe decree” (which may soon be written into the Book of Life for some of us anyway).

In some synagogues, there’s another beautiful tradition associated with Selichot: before the prayers begin, the Torah scrolls are unburdened of their colorful mantles and redressed in pure white for the season of tefillah, tshuvah, tzedakah that will follow. I leave the service cleansed, at peace, forgetting for a precious moment that there will be many battles of many kinds to fight in the coming New Year.

If you’ve never attended a Selichot service, please think about doing so this coming Saturday evening. All congregations will welcome you — no tickets required — for this most meaningful start to another New Year. Shana Tova to us all!

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 18 September 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Blake Orth, “Lone Soldier” to speak at Nishmat Am in Plano, Sept. 20

Residents of Dallas and Plano are in for an educational and riveting evening, Saturday evening, Sept. 20, when Blake Orth of Plano will share his experience as a “Lone Soldier,” who served in the Israeli Defense Forces in “Operation Protective Edge” in Gaza this past summer. Blake’s presentation will be held at Congregation Nishmat Am, 2113 W. Spring Creek Parkway, as part of its Selichot program.

Blake Orth

Blake Orth

Blake is the son of Erik and Brenda Orth, who are members of Congregation Nishmat Am. Blake moved to Israel in 2013, and joined the IDF in April following his arrival there. He is now an Israeli citizen and a member of a Paratrooper Brigade.

The term, “Lone Soldier” is designated for those members of the IDF who are not natives of Israel, but have come to serve from another country.

Blake is now on leave and will give a firsthand account of this past summer’s conflict from a soldier’s point of view. On Sept. 22, he will return to Israel to re-join his unit.

The program begins at 9 p.m. and is open to the public at no charge. Traditional Selichot services led by Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen and by Cantor Jacob Cohen will take place at 10 p.m., following Blake’s presentation.

For more information please contact Congregation Nishmat Am at 972-618-2200 or at info@nishmatam.org

Rachel Drazner named a National Merit Scholarship Semi-Finalist for 2015

Lakehill Preparatory School is proud to announce that senior Rachel Drazner, daughter of Laurie and Mark Drazner, and Park Cities resident, has been awarded the distinguished honor of National Merit Semifinalist for the Class of 2015.

Approximately 1.4 million juniors in more than 22,000 high schools across the country entered the 2015 National Merit Program by taking the 2013 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT).

The nationwide pool of Semifinalists, which represents less than 1 percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to advance in the competition for National Merit Scholarships, with a combined worth of more than $33 million, that will be offered next spring.

“As a National Merit Semifinalist, Rachel represents some of the most academically talented in the country,” said Headmaster Roger Perry. “We join our teachers and her proud parents in congratulating her for this highly esteemed academic honor.”

From left, Bnai Zion Texas Region Executive Director Avrille Harris, Covenant Church Colleyville Campus Pastors Cyd and Ricky Texada and Bnai Zion Texas Region President Diane Benjamin at the Sept. 7 Restored Hope Ministries event.

From left, Bnai Zion Texas Region Executive Director Avrille Harris, Covenant Church Colleyville Campus Pastors Cyd and Ricky Texada and Bnai Zion Texas Region President Diane Benjamin at the Sept. 7 Restored Hope Ministries event.

More News from Bnai Zion …

On Sunday, Sept. 7, Bnai Zion Texas Region President Diane Benjamin, and Texas Region Executive Director Avrille Harris, attended Pastor Sam Pollinzi’s event for Restored Hope Ministry, where they were given the opportunity to promote the annual Bnai Zion Texas Region Gala on Nov. 9. More than 600 people attended Pastor Pollinzi’s event including pastors from Covenant Church’s Colleyville Campus as well as others.

Pastor Pollinzi spoke about Israel and the safety of the Jewish people. Following his speech, he invited Harris to explain the priority of the premier project of the Bnai Zion Foundation (www.bnaizion.org), which will be the construction of a new protected underground Emergency Department at the Bnai Zion Medical Center in Haifa, Israel.

“With al-Qaida at the Syrian border, and Hezbollah continuing to arm Lebanon, the Medical Center must be prepared to save lives. Plans for the new protected emergency facility have been completed, and the hospital will begin to build; however, outside contributions are vital to finish this project,” Avrille emphasized. Proceeds from the gala are being earmarked for this purpose.

Many of the pastors attending the event are familiar with Bnai Zion and support its life-transforming work in Israel. Avrille was assured by many of those attending the Restored Hope Ministry event that they would try to obtain tables at the upcoming Bnai Zion Gala, where Jaime A. Davidson, M.D., FACP, MACE, and a clinical professor of medicine at the Touchstone Diabetes Center at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, will receive the Bnai Zion Distinguished Humanitarian Award in recognition of his work in diabetes as well as global diabetes education programs.

Previous recipients of this award have included Dr. Stephen Swisher, Dr. Craig Rosenfeld, Dr. Brian Cohen, Dr. David Genecov, Dr. and Mrs. Tim Shepherd, Herb and Donna Weitzman, Pastors Mike and Kathy Hayes, Pastors Larry and Tiz Huch and other prominent individuals in the Dallas community.

Michael Medved, nationally syndicated radio host, best-selling author and veteran film critic, will be the featured speaker at the event. A frequent guest on many TV talk shows, Medved writes a column for USA Today, where he serves as a member of the board of contributors.

Ynette Hogue and Janice Pullman are the gala co-chairpersons.

Bnai Zion, in its existence of 106 years, supports humanitarian projects in Israel that improve the lives of thousands in need across the religious, ethnic and economic spectrum. Its projects in medical, educational, social service and cultural areas transform and strengthen Israeli society. One hundred percent of all designated gifts to Bnai Zion are transferred to its projects in Israel.

For additional information and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Avrille Harris, at 972-918-9200 or email avrille.harris-cohen@bnaizion.org.

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